Is it time to retire "outragefilter" as deletion reason? June 4, 2019 9:25 AM   Subscribe

In the most recent Fucking Fuck thread, a member buttoned after having a post deleted - the deletion reason was listed as "This is classic outragefilter, sorry." As per a mod suggestion, I'm starting this MeTa to discuss whether the community finds value in deleting posts for this reason.

"Outragefilter" was described by a mod in the latest FuckingFuck thread as "we have always said that posts that are just single link news posts about something that will make everyone furious are usually not great discussions".

My issues with continuing to use this as a deletion reason are: 1) the mods are not a diverse group, and as time goes on, membership has gotten more diverse, so there's no way they can know what is going to make (literally or figuratively) everyone furious, 2) we have tons of single-link posts that don't really create discussions- discussion is not the only way Mefites interact with the content of a post, and 3) if previous posts which might have been called "outragefilter" did not go well, that's because of the type of comments Mefites chose to make, not because there's anything inherent about single-link-negative-news-story posts that precludes good discussions from arising.

To spur discussion about the usefulness of continuing to use "outragefilter" as a deletion reason, here's some questions for members who are not mods (no offense to mods, but the current mod line is pretty clear, and I'm more interested in whether the mod line aligns with how the membership feels):

Do you think that this specific deleted post was an example of outragefilter? Why or why not?
Do you think that having outragefilter as a potential deletion reason benefits Metafilter? Why or why not?
Do you think that a policy of deleting single-link-negative-news-story posts benefits Metafilter? Why or why not?
posted by 23skidoo to Etiquette/Policy at 9:25 AM (950 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble



I think at the very least the phrase "outragefilter" should be retired; at this point it reads as condescending and trivializing to me.

Also this:

the mods are not a diverse group

is a problem that has become more and more glaring and inexcusable to me as time has passed and I'm wondering if others feel the same way.
posted by lalex at 9:38 AM on June 4, 2019 [72 favorites]


To me, Outragefilter is when we post, not just bad news, but asshole people/organizations doing what they do, there’s not much we can do about it, and the only real response is “Christ, what an asshole.” ... What moves a post from Outragefilter to Non-Outragefilter, to me, is when we include a “what you can do” section, which gives us actionable ways to help...
This comment by greermahoney sums up my feelings on the subject. So, yes it was outragefilter in that it did not provide, in the post, a way to help or an example of people helping the situation. I do think it is a valid reason for deletion, since we can all get bad news anywhere we want. Yes I think a single link about something horrible should be deleted, since it only serves to make people mad and we are all mad enough, aren't we? I am all for single links to interesting or positive things, but single links to crappy things need something more.

In this case, I think the deletion should have encouraged the poster to repost with more information about the role of race in museums (historical and present) and what is being done to counter the racism and erasure in most museums.
posted by soelo at 9:44 AM on June 4, 2019 [18 favorites]


All I can say is, every post I've glanced at after it was deleted as "outragefilter" has struck me as one I would have immediately skipped anyway. I have yet to personally disagree with such a deletion.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:47 AM on June 4, 2019 [20 favorites]


because this came up as the reason why the mods missed the context around the post before deleting it, I just want to say:

mods, please monitor the fucking fuck threads.

people are not just using them as a fuss closet to blow off steam. almost every day I see somebody post something implicitly if not flat-out suicidal there. I don't know if it's better or worse for anyone in that situation having these threads around as an attractive place to voice those thoughts, but I'm so uncomfortable with "flag if you see something, we're not watching it" as the policy around these threads.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:55 AM on June 4, 2019 [24 favorites]


I'm a white person (for current definitions of white) originally from the Boston area. I think more context would have been great, but I also think deleting that post made this community worse. That story is real news - Boston is still de facto segregated and racist actions like that in the art world in that city - that stuff needs to be talked about, big time. If jj's mama didn't have the bandwidth to add links or other context, maybe someone else could have.

Outragefilter is, IMO, a demeaning way to refer to something like this.
posted by wellred at 9:56 AM on June 4, 2019 [79 favorites]


If there's a further trend toward... bad news, basically, and especially bad news that basically amounts to "The world sucks, and the systems in control are inaccessible to the average person" on the front page, I'll probably have to become even more selective in what I engage with on the front page. There have been so many literally-fatalist posts and comments on the Blue recently that I'm starting to think that there are people who find any expression of joy to be a distraction from the important job of observing suffering.

I think this goes back to the fact that Metafilter can't be all things to all people. I'm not an American, and so often, I'm stuck reading the dystopian fantasies of people I can't help - it's not a very pleasant place to be. I don't know about this individual deletion, but there does seem like a trend toward using Metafilter as a space for venting and axe-grinding in a way that it hasn't been in the past. Now, the fact that Metafilter is perhaps the only place people can have an outlet like that is a major consideration - but I think the fact that not everyone, not even the mods, signed on to monitor a constant stream of the worst things happening in the US.
posted by sagc at 10:01 AM on June 4, 2019 [64 favorites]


That story is real news

But doesn't that just make it newsfilter then?
posted by Jahaza at 10:07 AM on June 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


The story is news, then plus context it becomes good content.
posted by wellred at 10:10 AM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


The original post was way too thin and poorly contexted, and it wouldn't have taken much more work to make it not thin. If someone doesn't have the time or resources to pull together two or three related links to expand the context, then they should wait until they do or just pass on the opportunity. There's no points for being the first to post a link, it doesn't need to be rushed like that. This is not a difficult concept, surely, for someone who's read the site long enough to be posting to the Blue? What got posted was appropriate for Twitter, not here, and it would be an outrage-share on Twitter, where there's not enough room to bundle that link with additional context like you can here. It IS outragefilter as it was posted, and there were ways to make it not be that but those choices weren't made.

The reason I read posts on the blue is specifically because they are crafted packages of information, not dropping a link with one vague clause about humiliation and expecting the commenters to do work that should have been done in the post. I would have flagged the post if I'd seen it, and if I had posted something like that (I wouldn't, for this reason) I would expect to get a buzzer noise and maybe a comment to try it again better.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:16 AM on June 4, 2019 [50 favorites]


There is a nearly limitless volume of outrageous things happening in the world right now, so I don't think anyone can make a good case against some level of curation to ensure that the front page doesn't consist entirely of bad things. But it has to be done in a way that's fair, and doesn't make people feel like their outrage isn't as valid as someone else's.

I agree that using another term besides the "outragefilter" shorthand is a good first step. Whatever value that term adds in succinctness to those who are familiar with all MetaFilter traditions is more than lost to the negative impact it has on a person or group who's been curtly told their outrage has been filtered. If the post is too thin, say that. If recent FPPs have trended too much toward bad things and it's the judgement of the staff that it's not the right time for another one, say that. These are all defensible reasons to exercise their editorial control. Yes, that takes more time for the mod on duty to type, but deleted posts happen seldom enough that it should be a rounding error compared to, say, the amount of work that has to be done to keep the megathreads on track.

Beyond retiring the term, I'm not sure what else can be done. There is always going to be tension between those who want a more "best of the web (deprecated)" front page versus those who want it to be a more "this is important, you should read it" front page. If the OP had added a dozen other links to substantiate the post, would that have swayed those who feel the FPPs are too negative?
posted by tonycpsu at 10:25 AM on June 4, 2019 [18 favorites]


it speaks to a narrowness in thinking to not realize that "sharing personal experiences which are similar to the ones in the post" is a completely valid way to have a decent conversation around a thin but negative post.

"Venting threads" have been recognized as a style, kind, or use of Metafilter posts.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:34 AM on June 4, 2019


"sharing personal experiences which are similar to the ones in the post" is a completely valid way to have a decent conversation around a thin but negative post.

but do we (Metafilter) want "thin but negative" posts, do we? I believe the consensus has been that we don't. But consensus does change, so yeah, I'm in favor of this META having been made.

And, for the record, please add my vote to ditching the phrasing "outrage-filter". I think we're at the point where, in many cases, a little more justification would be very helpful to posters (and those who are following said posts) ... kind of like how the original Boston-Library post would have been improved with more context in the form of extra links.
posted by philip-random at 10:34 AM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


I don't think the post should have been deleted - it nearly immediately started to become a thoughtful discussion, and people could have contributed their own experiences and so many relevant links. As a community, we can start with something like this and add a lot to it based on our experiences and the various relevant sources that we are familiar with, as well as the developing news related to the specific news linked in the post. There is a deeper context and a broader experience that is obvious to a lot of people who could have read that link - there was more than just outrage, and it did feel alientating to delete it as 'outragefilter.'

While I do agree with Lyn Never's point above about thin, rushed posts, especially when the post lacks context to help support a productive discussion, it also doesn't seem like there necessarily is a consistent policy about deleting single-link 'negative' news-story posts that lack context. For example, I thought this recent post was an example of potential 'outragefilter' (i.e. one link, recent terrible news, no context) that did manage to become a discussion, with context added in the comments, especially after the outrage subsided: New visa rules on social media.

I personally don't like the term 'outragefilter,' and I think the usual standards for posts should be applied without the use of the 'outragefilter' shorthand. The term feels like it invites a kind of implicit bias, because one person's outrage can be another person's empowering call for action and solidarity. When I was a college instructor, I used as neutral a rubric as possible to help deflect concern that my personal opinion or bias could influence a grade, and I like to think it helped promote creativity, because students didn't have to worry about how I might personally feel about their ideas. If we can reduce concerns about what mods may consider to be 'outrage' by not using 'outragefilter' as a deletion reason, that may similarly be helpful for promoting a more inclusive community here.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:44 AM on June 4, 2019 [24 favorites]


It hurts and concerns me that Metafilter is continuing to lose a lot of members of colour, trans members, and other people of marginalized identities, including some people recently whose voices I always valued hearing and was sad to lose.

Making this a place where marginalized folks can feel reasonably safe and comfortable discussing their experiences is, to me, more important, than whether a post is "a little thin".

Like wellred, I'm another white person who thinks that "deleting that post made this community worse".
posted by ITheCosmos at 10:44 AM on June 4, 2019 [85 favorites]


To answer the initial questions:

Typically I think of outrage filter as (paraphrased from above) horribe person/organization does horrible thing. And yeah, white people do a lot of horrible things, the group is usually a specific group - like the Westboro Baptist Church, or if a person, perhaps so well known TERF is re-stating that they think a bathroom bill is necessary. So I don't think the specific delete post was a great example of outrage filter. However, there's not a lot of additional context, and with the additional links, the post pretty much only points people to be able to say, "This absolutely sucks." Which is to say that I think the deletion was reasonable, even if the word outragefilter might be better used elsewhere.

If "outragefilter" is removed, it will just change the wording around. As for the specific class of posts, of single/few links , where it's something shitty that happened to a person/people and unfortunately this is happening all the time, then yeah I'm mostly in favour of them being deleted. On preview, other posters make a good point that if the mod note specifically mentions the thinness of the post it might help the OP to reformulate a better post, instead of them tossing their hands in the air about the subject, or worse, buttoning. So yeah, I'm OK if we retire outragefilter as a deletion reason.

As per above yes. Specifically because I think there could be a much better benefit by fleshing out the posts. More examples of how it's not a single incident. Links to groups looking to fight/change this. Links to groups looking to support people affected by this. Links to affected people writing to potential allies. Links to articles discussing how such situations might have more recently evolved (E.G. We used to see X - now life tries to present as more civil but is ultimately more pernicious as we see Y happen).

I'll note that I'm generally against all single link posts on mefi.

It's not that I think certain subjects should be silenced, it's that I think mefi posts need more work put into them. And the posts generally that have more work put into them get a better discussion and lead towards better user education even if less ends up discussed.

Yes, technically the mods don't "know" how a post is going to go, but having seen so many posts, they've got a pretty good idea. Case point, they nix'ed an anonymous ask that my wife and I tried to ask noting how they thought it would be taken, and upon reading the mod's prediction of how it would flame out we immediately saw no good way it could have gone and wondered how we deluded ourselves.

This is written from the perspective of a white cis het man.
posted by nobeagle at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


I forget who originally framed it this way, but our longstanding set of rules have largely existed to filter out "I think other people need to read this" posts.

I think a large percentage of "outragefilter" posts fall into that bucket.

I also think a large percentage of "outragefilter" posts meet the classical definition of flamebait, including the one that we're discussing. The combination of thin context, and referencing an issue on which many people feel very strongly about pretty much guarantees a nasty argument in the comments, even when we're all more-or-less in agreement.

Maybe we should retire "Outragefilter" in favor of something a little more descriptive.

I've seen an increasing number of online communities falling victim to users (and moderators!) who get enjoyment out of starting and watching these flamewars (I've noticed that left-leaning Facebook communities are egregiously bad about this at the moment).

I do not want MetaFilter to become one of those communities.

The current incarnation of MetaFilter is so, so, so, so far from being "Sunshine and puppies only" that I don't really have any objection to the occasional doom-and-gloom, bad-thing-is-bad, or overt-racebaiting posts being deleted from the FPP.
posted by schmod at 10:55 AM on June 4, 2019 [29 favorites]


I personally don't like the term 'outragefilter,' and I think the usual standards for posts should be applied without the use of the 'outragefilter' shorthand. The term feels like it invites a kind of implicit bias, because one person's outrage can be another person's empowering call for action and solidarity.

I was going to say something like this, but not as eloquent. ;)

The rule about 'add context' should not change, (I also agree with the deletion), but the approach does need to be more neutral at this point.
posted by mordax at 11:00 AM on June 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


I think we're* all more concerned that my last two comments have been deleted, when other people's inane bullshit spreads like dandelions.

More seriously - and this could be the confirmation bias talking - in the last year or whatever, the bar for posts & comments (Not just mine!) seems to be all over the place and in general things feel very unbalanced. It's interesting, because MeFi is probably the least toxic it's ever been, but the atmosphere feels very unhealthy, for lack of a better term. (And no, I'm not peddling any Good Old Days nonsense.)

*Right, guys? Guys?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:03 AM on June 4, 2019 [16 favorites]


I think it's important to emphasize that this isn't just a wonky conversation about deletions. This particular example speaks to racial divisions on this site. I don't want to over-project, but I'm imagining the person who made that post and then buttoned was coming from a place of "This website doesn't care about racism" and less from a place of "My great post was deleted unfairly." That's the real issue here.
posted by zeusianfog at 11:08 AM on June 4, 2019 [66 favorites]


I wish the mods would trust the community a bit more with the possible outragefilter posts. Maybe a firmer hand for the first few comments to set the proper tone instead of simply giving up and deleting the post.
posted by Memo at 11:21 AM on June 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


"that stuff needs to be talked about, big time" is a definite sign that a particular post is not a good idea.

"Outragefilter" works for me as a site neologism for low-info/high-outrage posts. And for now at least, there is and should be a higher bar here for high-outrage posts. If you want more single link outrage blasts, there are other social networks very well-designed for your purposes.
posted by theatro at 11:25 AM on June 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


Also, I very much appreciate the mods deleting outragefilter. A post can always be reworked into something better.
posted by theatro at 11:26 AM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


I wish the mods would trust the community a bit more with the possible outragefilter posts.

I know we're not voting here but I'm really on the other side of this and felt I should speak up. I agree with other people who feel like 'outragefilter' may be a little in-group and could be better contextualized for clearer and less stinging deletion reasons. But I absolutely feel that "here is a terrible thing that happened" low-context posts are, to my mind, not what I enjoy seeing on MetaFilter and I wish that there would be fewer of them.

This is a thing on which reasonable people can and do disagree so I don't want to deny anyone else's truth about their own perfect MetaFilter. At the same time, I think there are large groups of people who feel many different ways about this. The world has changed a lot since MeFi started and people want to get different things out of their websites maybe than they did before.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2019 [54 favorites]


theatro, it makes zero sense to me that we wouldn't want to have important discussions.
posted by wellred at 11:34 AM on June 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


For everybody saying it was thin, yes, and that's because the OP was told that the thinness would be okay. OP was exhausted and feeling unwelcome and unsupported. So people said to please contribute, to go ahead and make a post and not worry if it was a single link.

The post was not race-baiting. It was not outrage. It was enlightening. Who knew this about this museum and possibly (probably) other museums, which one would've thought were relatively safe spaces for children? And if you hadn't thought about it before and if you're a member of or frequent visitor to your own hometown museum, say, mightn't you then be on your guard and ready to respond and help the museum do the right thing should something like that happen?

If this is going to start to be a new, putrid thing among many new putrid things we're dealing with, should we not find out about it while it's still at the muttering stage so that we can nip it in the bud, before it becomes a Charlottesville situation?

There has been frightening shift in the mood in the US since the last presidential election. We need to know about unsavory behavior so that we can be on our guard against it. This was not a particularly meaty post, but it was a useful one nevertheless. The deletion was understandable, but in context it was not a good deletion.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:00 PM on June 4, 2019 [130 favorites]


I don't want to deny anyone else's truth about their own perfect MetaFilter.

I don't think anyone is asking for their own perfect MetaFilter, but there has been an ongoing discussion (including in the recent FeelGoodFilter MeTa) about what this community can do to be more welcoming and inclusive, and this MeTa is a part of that.
posted by Little Dawn at 12:19 PM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


My general feeling is that OutrageFilter gets used on thin posts that result in pretty shitty conversations, but if marginalized members of the MeFi community are feeling like the actual problem is that privileged people are having shitty conversations in threads that they would otherwise find value in, then maybe what's needed is more concerted mod effort to keep those conversations from becoming shitty.

In much the same way that low bar "I don't like this" comments are often deleted from "here's a cool thing" threads because they make the conversation crappy, low bar "Jesus Christ, would you look at them assholes being assholes" comments could be deleted from this type of thread.

It's awkward, because the "Jesus Christ, would look at them assholes being assholes" comments aren't individually negative or shitty. It's just that a thread that's nothing but people one-upping each other on how best to say that ends up being shitty, and does tend to limit the likelihood that people will have the more emotional, meaningful conversations.

I have definitely made some of those comments myself, so even if nothing else changes, I'll try to be more mindful that I don't need to make a low bar comment in that type of thread, I can leave space for more impactful comments from other MeFites with more at stake.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:53 PM on June 4, 2019 [21 favorites]


We need to find way to include marginalized voices without contributing to their existing trauma by having the front page become a list of bad things that have happened to oppressed people in the past X days.
posted by soelo at 12:54 PM on June 4, 2019 [22 favorites]


I wish that post had stayed, though it definitely could have been a better post with additional context, because most posts are. But it’s an issue I would have appreciated reading about and discussing with the community. (Though I would probably not have posted it myself as a white person, in the same way I have reframed from posting some things about gender as a cis person, because this site isn’t here to drag marginalized people into enlightening me personally at the cost of a possibly painful discussion.)

In the areas where I personally am marginalized, I mostly am glad to see posts that I suspect some people see as negative or outrage-y. It makes me feel less alone and more as if other people see these things that are are affecting me and my loved ones, and care about them, and want to understand and discuss them.

I wouldn’t mind a general guideline about “single link news posts are prone to deletion if early conversation goes badly” but I would hate to see that applied specifically to negative news, or to have some sort of “only post difficult topics if you are also posting a way to help” rule.

I would really, really like to see more diversity of identities and life experiences among the mods. I recognize that’s likely not possible at this time given budgetary constraints but I think it’s worth continuing to press for that as a goal to aim for.
posted by Stacey at 12:57 PM on June 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


go ahead and make a post and not worry if it was a single link.

I was the one who said that, and while I probably should have expanded on it with the Gotta/Should/Must Rule, I'm increasingly of the belief that the GSM Rule has outlived its usefulness. The megathreads are entirely Must. The Whelk's Daily Socialism Post is 90 percent Must. There are users who do great posts on climate change, indigenous people's rights, the evils of capitalism... Why is there more OutrageFilter? Because there's a whole lot of Outrage out there, but it's increasingly evident what makes it through the Filter is a very white, very genteel prioritization of the discussion of dead indigenous women over the fact of the dead indigenous women.

I don't have a simple way to solve that. I've expressed similar concerns over similar issues in the past and been actively ignored. But it needs to get better.
posted by Etrigan at 12:59 PM on June 4, 2019 [57 favorites]


I rarely post to the blue, one because my voice isn't one that needs to be heard, and two because I personally don't feel like I have much worth sharing. By and large I think that is the sentiment of Metafilter; all the way back to the beginning Metafilter has been about "The Best of the Web" and heaven help you if what you present isn't the best.

The problem with that is it favors people who have the time and energy to craft well-presented posts, and it's people with privilege who are most likely to have that time and energy. A critically important part of allowing underprivileged people a voice is to sit down and listen when they talk, even if (especially if) what they say doesn't seem very important or well-formed to you.

I think it reflects extremely poorly on Metafilter when someone with less privilege, who cares about issues that don't often come up on Metafilter, posts something they find important and are immediately told "This isn't good enough." I get it, it's something outrageous that happened and "this outrageous thing happened" often doesn't produce constructive dialog in the comments. Outrageous shit happens, though, it happens all the time all across the world and the primary way humans deal with it is ignoring it because it's not happening to them or people they care about. Ignoring it isn't the answer. Demanding that people work harder to present it in a more palatable form isn't the answer. Demanding only feel-good posts about marginalized voices isn't the answer.

Maybe it's easier for the mods to delete posts that are likely to become a moderation headache, but I think mods should be strongly encouraged to think about whose voices are getting silenced when their posts are removed for that reason.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:01 PM on June 4, 2019 [85 favorites]


We need to find way to include marginalized voices without contributing to their existing trauma by having the front page become a list of bad things that have happened to oppressed people in the past X days.

Do we have any evidence that we're contributing to trauma by allowing people of color to post things about the experiences of other people of color on Metafilter? Who's "we" in this? Does "we" include people of color? Can we allow people of color some say in how their voices will be included?
posted by Don Pepino at 1:09 PM on June 4, 2019 [28 favorites]


Should the post have been deleted? who am I to judge? I don't work here anyhow

Was the reason given for the deletion reasonable? I'm leaning towards "no". While it was an outrageous thing described in the article, the article itself was actually kind of minimizing on the outrage side of things, imo.

If the single link was given the OK to post, I don't think calling it outragefilter and shitcanning the post after 5 quite calm comments was a good look.
posted by some loser at 1:11 PM on June 4, 2019 [9 favorites]


We could very easily spend all day posting stories of horrible things that happened to queer or Latinx people in the United States, in the same vein as this, and it would very quickly make me not want to see the front page. If it was once in awhile it'd be fine, but I don't know where you'd draw the line about whose posts were okay if they started to get out of hand. I don't feel like this needed a ton more context to rise above that level, but I think the general standard should be a little more than this. Not "this can't be upsetting", but a little context, a couple related links, any of a variety of things that could be discussed and not just subject to either venting or inappropriate devil's advocacy.

On the other hand, POC and other marginalized people should absolutely have the expectation that if they participate on the site in good faith, any posts they get deleted will come with sensitivity and help to be better participants going forward. Being short and quippy works for spammers or doubles. If anything is going to be a judgment call, surely, it makes sense to read the standards most broadly in the case of people like this from minority perspectives who are not already regular posters on the Blue. I don't think how this was handled represents the best of how Metafilter can be, even if I don't broadly want horribleness to be a bigger thing for the front page than it currently is.
posted by Sequence at 1:13 PM on June 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


The US politics megathreads are all outrage all the time, to the point that now there's two rolling metatalk threads to deal with all the turbulent emotions caused by them (the venting thread and the no-politics metatalktail thread).

That other "negative" posts get deleted feels pretty unfair and makes the asphyxiating influence of the megathreads in the way this site gets moderated even more noticeable.
posted by Memo at 1:13 PM on June 4, 2019 [35 favorites]


I requested a higher bar for sexual assault posts a while back because it felt like the constant thudding dread of THIS TERRIBLE SEXUAL ASSAULT THING HAPPENED posts were draining my ability to participate in conversations on metafilter and in real life. I certainly can't speak for mefites of color, and I don't think metafilter right now runs the risk of overexposure on issues affecting communities of color, but I do think there are good reasons to make sure that posts are substantive and more than just BAD THING.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:14 PM on June 4, 2019 [39 favorites]


I'm not American but I thought the US politics megathreads are a practical response to the fact that there is something that would end any other administration happening almost every day and giving each of these otherwise newsworthy events their own post would suck even more air out of the site than the megathreads already do.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:18 PM on June 4, 2019 [14 favorites]


For everybody saying it was thin, yes, and that's because the OP was told that the thinness would be okay. OP was exhausted and feeling unwelcome and unsupported. So people said to please contribute, to go ahead and make a post and not worry if it was a single link.

This FPP was, incidentally, the opposite of the OP's first one, a terrific, multi-link post on "Farming While Black". By comparison, a thin, single-link FPP about an event in the news was always going to run the risk of deletion.

The megathreads are entirely Must.

Debatably, but more important, the megathreads are crafted as the antithesis of single-link newsfilter. They exist in part because some MeFites vitally needed the discussion space about USPolitics in the first place. Imagine what the front page would look like if the various topics that come up in its comments were spread out into single-link FPPs and "Round-up" multi-link ones. (And yes, some MeFites absolutely hate the megathreads and keep suggesting this as an alternative, and no, other people emphatically don't want this—this isn't another MeTa about that.)

For the mods: Did the OP's FPP receive a lot of flags?
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:19 PM on June 4, 2019 [8 favorites]


Did the OP's FPP receive a lot of flags?

Multiple flags, yeah. These days we tend to delete things more quickly than we did when I started in 2012, if they're pretty clear cut deletes, so often things don't get a chance to accumulate a ton of flags like they might have years ago.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:26 PM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Thank you for the info, LobsterMitten. Since the community can't see the number of flags a post or comment may accrue, sometimes considering that as a factor in a deletion is missing in these MeTa discussions.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:29 PM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


the specific issues jj's.mama's said she was having with this site are not exactly being ameliorated by all of us spitballing about What MetaFilter Means To Me and having a nice thoughtful weigh-in on whether her post was worthy to stand
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:29 PM on June 4, 2019 [42 favorites]


the specific issues jj's.mama's said she was having with this site are not exactly being ameliorated by all of us spitballing about What MetaFilter Means To Me

I would encourage people to read jj's.mama's comments in the MetaTalk referenced here; this isn't about wanting to make single-link outragefilter posts, it's about MetaFilter being an exclusionary space.
posted by lalex at 1:41 PM on June 4, 2019 [35 favorites]


It seems like it's about deleting single link outragefilter posts being seen as a manifestation of Metafilter being an exclusionary space.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:44 PM on June 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


It seems like it's about deleting single link outragefilter posts being seen as a manifestation of Metafilter being an exclusionary space.

Well, not all of them. This one felt like it, though. So in some ways, this MeTa is about how it can feel to have a post deleted as 'outragefilter,' and this discussion includes many examples of the differences in perspectives, what is taken for granted, what is unknown and unlived, but ultimately, hopefully, this discussion can help us figure out how we can do better as a vibrant community. Perfection is not an option, but we can do better than this.
posted by Little Dawn at 2:00 PM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


There's a space between "I don't wanna read it" and "I don't want anyone else to read it" which seems to be somewhat narrower than it ought to be.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:03 PM on June 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


> I mean, yes, but sooooooooo many of the links that get added as the thread goes on very much fit the definition of outragefilter and those don't seem (imo) to bother people

Right, but can we agree that links posted in comments on a long thread that folks generally choose to opt into (and can even opt out of with a special site feature) don't have the same footprint as a link posted as an FPP?
posted by tonycpsu at 2:22 PM on June 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


One of the specific main reasons the megathreads were created was to contain all the political discussion/grar (where "outragefilter" is accepted) so it's not constantly on the front page (where "outragefilter" is not as accepted).
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:41 PM on June 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


" . . . a member buttoned after having a post deleted . . . "

What does "buttoned" mean?

posted by meemzi at 3:16 PM on June 4, 2019


What does "buttoned" mean?

Disabling their account (hitting the button on the profile page)
posted by dismas at 3:19 PM on June 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


button: verb, slang. To close one's account. A reference to the button on the bottom of each member's "edit profile" page that says "Close Your Account"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:19 PM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


In addition to the above, 'buttoned' also has a connotation of self-silencing, or perhaps feeling compelled to silence. As in the phrase 'button(ed) up'.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:29 PM on June 4, 2019 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure the optics of creating a separate area where we can segregate these kinds of "other outrage" topics/news items are very good tho.
posted by some loser at 4:00 PM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's like people forgot how it's always been here? Between the fact people have always been kinda shitty and mean and jerky and complainy - remember the Bush years? Certainly a few people were super heavily modded (both ones I agreed with and ones I didn't)... But there was no shortage of rage. It seems these mod approaches stem precisely from that history.

Honestly I can't judge the best approach. I know when I had stuff deleted, in particular something that COULD be thought provoking if given more context/less outragey - the mod mailed me and told me that they liked the idea, but would appreciate a post/larger context (at least that's what I remember happening, it's been ages since I posted to the blue - so maybe it wasn't quite like that)).

And of course every deletion can't have a giant explainy thing (rules arguing tends to feed of stuff like that, and lord knows the mods get enough of that). I don't envy them. Maybe they're being too heavy handed, maybe not? IDK. But I honestly don't feel like it's worse than it was. Especially when some people in this thread are saying the Fuckity MeTalks are too much - letting that spill into the blue even more?

I'm glad I can go and have a space to vent/be nihilist in public without being just my 10 same friends on dreamwidth.

IDK. maybe there can be tweaking, but that's up to y'all. Work kills enough of my brain for me to worry about how this site is managed. That's why I pay my dues - so someone CAN manage.
posted by symbioid at 4:02 PM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Some while back I had a question about a post I was going to make that I ran by a mod prior to hitting submit. I had concerns that the issue I wanted to post about, that the main link was a bit light, kind of news-filter-y and I wanted to know if it was acceptable to post about this subject if I made it a part of a larger conversation.

I rounded up a few different sources and some other examples that were also related to my main post because I wanted people to see that this was an issue that was larger and more common than the latest instance of said issue. That it was something that wasn't just shared because it happened to be in the current news cycle, but because it was a part of the fabric of our society.

People can and should post what they want. And I'm not saying that more equals better. I just think that when it comes to these types of current events and news-filter-y type of posts, framing matters.

Also, people can and should reach out to the mods. I do so all the time, they're happy to answer questions or concerns. Share your concerns and worries when it comes to what you're wanting to post or comment on. They don't bite.
posted by Fizz at 4:07 PM on June 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


All I can say is, every post I've glanced at after it was deleted as "outragefilter" has struck me as one I would have immediately skipped anyway. I have yet to personally disagree with such a deletion.

Cosigned. We already have the USPol megathread and the Fucking Fuck threads for all of our "here's a thing to be mad about" needs.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:15 PM on June 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


At the same time, the USPol megathread regularly features mods saying, "let's keep this focused on Trump and/or broader US political stuff." That thread at least is explicitly not about random bad shit happening.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:30 PM on June 4, 2019 [15 favorites]


Someone pointed out above that there seems to be a issue between ‘I don’t want to read this’ and ‘Other people shouldn’t read this.’ The reality is we lost another PoC voice, and as a cishet White Guy here I honestly come to metafilter to read and hear things I wouldn’t otherwise. I’m starting to question if this is the right place for that, based on how I’ve seen people treated here.
posted by Drumhellz at 4:34 PM on June 4, 2019 [51 favorites]


It really was an incredibly thin post, even by thin post standards. Single link to 600 word article about a really shitty thing that happened just...isn't a good post for MetaFilter.

There is a lot of complexity regarding poster motivation, encouragement from the MeTa thread, a perception of the term outragefilter as being dismissive, the often fraught history of discussing racism on the Blue, what counts as an acceptable level of bad shit on the front page, the background radiation of awfulness that is happening all the time, that MetaFilter is different things to different people...and all of that stuff matters.

But at the end of the day, that's also a weak post for MetaFilter and the flags and deletion were the right call.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:38 PM on June 4, 2019 [13 favorites]


I know this is not what you all mean (hopefully) but the comments defending the outragefilter in the US Politics megathreads read a lot like "only negative posts about things I care about are allowed."
posted by Memo at 4:40 PM on June 4, 2019 [25 favorites]


"Outragefilter" is neither descriptive nor useful in describing the type of post in question - it's just flippant and dismissive. We can talk about intention all day, but intention doesn't really matter if the use of the term "outragefilter" has an impact that is counteractive to the purpose of this community, which is to foster discussion rather than silence it. The term's usage has already had an adverse impact on Metafilter because we've lost another member of the community.

I don't know about the rest of you, but Metafilter is not my sole source of news, information, data or community discussion. Is it one of the places I most frequent? Yes. But it fulfills a different need for me than, say, The Washington Post or a Twitter thread. Even some of the decent subreddits. I think putting Metafilter into perspective, as a place that can fulfill a specific type of information/discussion need but not ALL information/discussion needs, is helpful.

I don't think it's the fact that the post was deleted that makes Metafilter a "worse off" community; it's the way it was deleted. Instead of "this is classic outragefilter, sorry;" perhaps we need a boilerplate copy-and-paste moderator reply for this situation along the lines of, "Hi, I don't disagree that this is an important story, but it's a single news link. If you'd like to rework it and provide additional links and context that will help to flesh out the story's greater significance and impact, or that covers a pattern/history of events like this one, that would be fine."

I think that while it may seem obvious to some of us, there isn't as much transparency as we may think about what substantiates a "good" or "worthy" FPP about a current event. In my mind, it's the difference between a news article - which is in theory supposed to be just the facts without commentary or analysis - and a feature-length, longform investigative article that a journalist wrote after interviewing many sources and getting into a lot of analytical detail.

Concerning the racism at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, I think that article from The Root would still have been great as one among many links in an FPP describing the greater context of instances of POC being boxed out of the world of fine arts - both as patrons and as artists. There is a plethora of information and articles out there about the structural inequality and discrimination that POC face in the white-run art world. That is what makes a strong FPP that provokes thought and fosters discussion.
posted by nightrecordings at 4:40 PM on June 4, 2019 [48 favorites]


if metafilter wasn't alienating its poc users in ways that its white users still seem to be struggling to wrap their heads around, this deletion likely wouldn't have been anyone's tipping point toward quitting the site.

but here we are rules lawyering "outragefilter"
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:44 PM on June 4, 2019 [71 favorites]


Maybe a new category: Listening room.

I'm a Black woman and I grew up close to Boston, and it is outrageous that a museum worker told a bunch of twelve-year-old kids, "No food, no drink, and no watermelon." No one reading this comment that I'm typing would have gone into jj's.mama's thread and cheered for the museum worker. So we (I mean people of color and allies) could have had an actual conversation about racism in that post, on Metafilter. Because this isn't a safe space but $5 keeps out the trolls and the nazis, and people here try to be kind. The form literally says, "Everyone needs a hug."

I mean I've been lurking here since indefensibly racist comments about Black women were allowed to stand. I like the new, inclusive Metafilter. I like seeing posts by and about marginalized people here. I don't think the Fucking Fuck threads are enough when there is a specific outrage. Maybe especially if it's non-actionable.

I don't know where or how that idea would fit on this site, but I came to the museum post through this Metatalk and I hate that jj's.mama buttoned, and that the thread was dismissed as not worth talking about. Not worth it to who?
posted by Nyrha at 4:46 PM on June 4, 2019 [122 favorites]


Can we take a step back and return to Little Dawn's point about the visa post? That was one link to a four paragraph Slate article. But I did find the discussion insightful nevertheless, especially as someone who studiously avoids the megathreads. Hearing an in-depth discussion of this particular facet was rewarding. Yet the post is clearly "outragefilter" as we describe it. I would appreciate hearing from the mods about why that thread stayed, but not this one?

I think the museum thread could have been really interesting and we missed an opportunity. Yes, the post could be meatier. We also need to ask ourselves if we're okay with the visa thread staying because the bad guy is the Trump administration, not white museum employees in a liberal northeastern city.
posted by zeusianfog at 5:20 PM on June 4, 2019 [29 favorites]


I don’t know what the right thing to do was, but watching jj’s.mama express how down she felt, get encouraged to post something, post the FPP, and then have it get shitcanned with a very short/abrupt deletion reason felt like getting punched in the gut to me, so I can’t even imagine how it felt to her. It made me want to go kick something.
posted by sallybrown at 5:30 PM on June 4, 2019 [104 favorites]


We already have the USPol megathread and the Fucking Fuck threads for all of our "here's a thing to be mad about" needs.

I believe this is part of the issue. If one doesn't read those threads, this site feels...weird. It does feel exclusionary because maybe we don't participate in those threads yet they still seem to impact what the rest of us can and can't talk about.
posted by girlmightlive at 5:47 PM on June 4, 2019 [15 favorites]


The post about institutional racism at NYU has a similar dynamic. I thought it was an interesting discussion, but even in that thread people were saying that it was unsubstantial ("simple condemnations of someone's behavior that don't include any effort to branch out into discussing what and why and how" to quote the most popular such comment).
posted by yaymukund at 5:50 PM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think I've found the comment you're referring to, and I'm not 100% certain it's not actually talking about how the greater discussion is going, both on and outside of Metafilter. Of course, that could well be charity I'm granting from my side.
posted by sagc at 5:53 PM on June 4, 2019


I did not mean to imply that that quote was only about the metafilter community. That does not change how I feel upon reading it.
posted by yaymukund at 5:59 PM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: X SUCKS AMIRITE
posted by killdevil at 6:20 PM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yet the post is clearly "outragefilter" as we describe it. I would appreciate hearing from the mods about why that thread stayed, but not this one?

A big difficulty with "why this one but not that one" questions is it's a probabilistic thing, which I feel like is never a satisfying answer but it's always been the case with MeFi: stuff that's totally unproblematic definitely doesn't get deleted, stuff that's totally awful post content definitely does, and then there's a broad gradient of grey areas in between where stuff is more of a maybe on deletion and leans less or more depending on a whole accumulation of little factors. There's never gonna be a clean, clear side-by-side resolution for it.

I think the visa post falls into the same borderline territory of being both important as a qualitative thing about the world, and kinda thin as a post per se. It actually started as a less-well-framed post and got reworked a bit when the poster reached out after an initial deletion to try and nudge it into better shape. Still a short single link, still not really what I think of as particularly good MeFi post content even though the subject itself is far-reaching and zeitgeisty, but like the museum post it resides in that fuzzy "maybe?" territory of thin, bummery stuff that people still want to post sometimes and we end up letting some of it stand.

I feel like there was a sort of clusterfucky string of bad luck with how things went up to and through jj's.mama post getting made that made the deletion feel like something more consequential than it otherwise would have, and I don't think there's any fixing that after the fact: the situation's both one of a pretty textbook bit of post moderation and by circumstances something that bummed the poster and other folks out and tied into some other site dynamic stuff besides, and it's hard to cleanly separate the two. I'm sorry it ended up being a messy situation, it sucks.

For what it's worth I think the subject could be made into a slightly meatier post, and would be fine with the idea of helping a user figure that out; I can't just unfrustrate jj's.mama and am not gonna presume she specifically wants to come back in general or wants to revisit that post in specific is she does, but she's welcome back and welcome to revisit if she wants to.

I think the idea that "outragefilter" doesn't read clearly or well at this point is worth seriously chewing on, in any case. In my mind it's been intended as a characterization (e.g. "this is a form of post that we tend to delete"), not a dismissal (e.g. "this is a post about something that doesn't matter") but I think it's clear that's not how people are receiving it so that being what's in my headspace doesn't really matter. It's definitely in part an issue of old, long-established site jargon persisting while the site and userbase and the internet in general changes around it, and like other bits of moderation and policy language its something we can reconsider as far as whether and when to use.

I don't think we can get around the need to characterize in some way the notion of post material that, whatever we call it, has as its locus and organizing energy a kind of "this is awful, share in an experience of this being awful" vibe. Such stuff isn't valueless, and in fact a big part of the value it has is in potential community sharing and solidarity, and I think it's good when that goes well. But there is a very real psychological and emotional cost to the front page consisting of greater proportions of that kind of thing even when it goes well and manifests that value, and finding a balance where we can make room for some proportion of (ideally well-constructed) posts that are sometimes unavoidably in that vein while also avoiding having MeFi be a place folks visit specifically with the expectation of feeling bad all the time is gonna continue to be a very real challenge.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:41 PM on June 4, 2019 [30 favorites]


The encouragement followed by the deletion was pretty fucked up.

I think the population of Metafilter seems increasingly fatalistic in recent years and prone to generalize individual pieces of bad news into "and everything is bad, and getting worse, and it will continue getting worse and worse, and therefore we are all completely fucked." I think moderators here should consciously decide whether they want to accommodate that or fight against it, and if they fight against it, they will be fighting a lot until the general zeitgeist of the audience changes.
posted by value of information at 7:11 PM on June 4, 2019 [14 favorites]


I think the post could have used context, but was fine. I think an interesting discussion was forming. I think "outragefilter" is a term that needs to die in a fire. Outrageously.

I have been deleted so often recently, that I've pretty much stopped contributing for the most part, unless I'm sure what I'm going to say is so whitebread or funny or innocuous that it'll slide past the mods. I now consider everything I write here with the filter "Is the mod going to let me talk today?".

I believe, that if the goal is to keep metafilter a community of people who feel heard, then moderation needs to be a much lighter hand. I believe using snippy zingers when deleting a post is in bad form, especially if the post was obviously in good faith, such as jj's mama's post.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:16 PM on June 4, 2019 [41 favorites]


Just adding another data point...

Do you think that this specific deleted post was an example of outragefilter? Why or why not?

I'm gonna put "outragefilter" in scare quotes because I don't agree with its negative connotations. But yes, I do think this post was an example of "outragefilter" as I understand the term.

Do you think that having outragefilter as a potential deletion reason benefits Metafilter? Why or why not?

I do not think deleting "outragefilter" benefits MetaFilter, because over the years I've learned quite a lot about other people's experiences from these posts and discussions and I greatly appreciate that.

Do you think that a policy of deleting single-link-negative-news-story posts benefits Metafilter? Why or why not?

I do not, for the same reason as question #2, and also because I don't think "single link" is a good deletion criterion either. People share additional links in comments. When reading a post, I really don't care whether the interesting links are in the post itself or in its comments, functionally there's no difference.

If the main page was just totally swamped with "outragefilter" then maybe I'd agree it should be trimmed back a little, but for me at least, we're nowhere near that point.
posted by equalpants at 8:39 PM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Among other things, I think it’s a good time to stop and realize that terms like Outragefilter were coined a long damn time ago, at a very different time in the site’s lifespan. As demonstrated in this conversation where someone asked what buttoning means, in jokes have their own way of ending as exclusionary/gatekeeping jargon that newer members don’t get, and might not understand as things that are well intentioned or good humored.

Something I would like to see, personally, is for the mods to show the restraint and eloquence they use to respond in these threads when they post notes why something was deleted. The quips, the zingers, maybe there was a time when they didn’t inspire grar (hey, another bit of jargon), but the site has grown, or at least there’s been enough turnover in membership that what did work then doesn’t, or shouldn’t work now. I think, maybe, there’s something to think about, the difference between making a joke about deleting a post by someone you’ve been interacting with on the site for over a decade vs deleting the first post by a relatively new member.

That the poster was explicitly encouraged by other members to take the jump, and to make a simple single link post, only to have that deleted, I imagine I would have left the site, too, if that had happened to me. It’s a damn shame, and one of the reasons I am still here is that I know the mods feel at least some of that.

As far as any sort of reasonable thing, honestly, all I can think of is maybe, just maybe, have some sort of mark notifying people that a post is a member’s first post, maybe as a “welcome to the blue” sort of note. Maybe a little leeway, maybe a little more understanding on the part of the commenters? I don’t know how that would work, but maybe a little more understanding might go a long way.

Is that something that’s a part of the backend? Do the mods see a note on posts letting them know it’s the first post by that member? If not, would that help, and is it even feasible for the mods to maybe work with those posters on their first post? Or maybe something along the lines of a MeTa-like queue, where first posts get the okay, or get workshopped?

I don’t know if any of this is possible, or desirable. I don’t know the member that quit, but what she wrote rang true to me, and it feels like we lost a voice worth having here.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:15 PM on June 4, 2019 [29 favorites]


Single-link "here's a horrible thing" deserves deletion, I think. Even a little bit more work to add context or frame the issue, like this post, goes a long way. Rather than buttoning, if you feel strongly about a post, then you can work on it (with mod input, even) and repost. I don't think any hypothetical moderation team can get it right every time, so this is one of those things where the emphasis should be on everyone acting in good faith and being willing to accept that things don't always go their way. Whether it's called outragefilter or not, this was an eminently defensible deletion.
posted by axiom at 9:20 PM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think using the term "outragefilter," in this instance, was racist, in impact if not intent. I think sorting microaggressions (though what happened at the museum was bigger than a microaggression), or appearing to sort atrocities, in ways that implies there are "worthy" microaggressions to talk about and the rest are just "outrage," in this instance, is racist in impact, if not intent.

I would like it for the moderators to consider their impact, not just their intent.
posted by lazuli at 9:20 PM on June 4, 2019 [82 favorites]


I believe using snippy zingers when deleting a post is in bad form, especially if the post was obviously in good faith

This is exactly how I feel. It’s a personal history thing that I can’t help noticing whenever I see it, I deleted my old account in a lot of sadness based on what felt like a super shitty dismissive zinger from restless_nomad years back and so it has caught my eye when deletions and moderation comments have a similarly dismissive tone. When it happens it feels like you all don’t take it seriously that having something deleted you posted in good faith can be confusing and hurtful and feel bullying coming from a mod who has context we don’t have* and it’s your job to provide that context.

Can you all please be aware that a) being part of this community is meaningful and when a user occasionally fucks up and is essentially feeling like you’re rolling your eyes or sneering about it it can feel really shitty and b) you do hold a lot of power to silence someone, and while I am appreciative of how kind and gracious the mods are in general, when you’re sarcastic and dismissive it does damage.

That being said I vehemently disagree that the mods should somehow be in the fucking-fuck threads talking people down from ledges. Moderators are people too and honestly I think it’s asking way too much to put that responsibility on them.

*On a similar note, can we just not do the whole “it seems like you don’t remember how this site used to be“ to scold people about not doing Metafilter right or not knowing a policy? Though I do in fact remember how it used to be because I’ve been a part of this site for a long time, whether lurking or as a previous account, that means fuck all. New members are welcome here and don’t need to know the extended history of the site to be a vital part of this conversation.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:41 PM on June 4, 2019 [54 favorites]


I don't feel very strongly about whether the post should or should not have been deleted, but the fact that they were encouraged to make the post and then it got deleted is shitty. I don't really think it is anyone's fault, just a bad coincidence that happens sometimes.

At the same time, I do think that maybe changing the site language to avoid the term "outrage filter" would be in everyone's best interest. I have been here long enough to know the on-site connotation that it brings, but we can't expect new users to have that understanding and without it, the term seems really shitty.
posted by Literaryhero at 10:43 PM on June 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


the thorn bushes have roses: "Can you all please be aware that a) being part of this community is meaningful and when a user occasionally fucks up and is essentially feeling like you’re rolling your eyes or sneering about it it can feel really shitty and b) you do hold a lot of power to silence someone, and while I am appreciative of how kind and gracious the mods are in general, when you’re sarcastic and dismissive it does damage. "

I completely agree, and I'm sorry you felt hurt. At the same time, we should remember that the mods are also humans and make mistakes.

This is not to say we shouldn't hold them to account and call out problematic behavior, and it seems pretty clear that snark in deletion notes (except maybe against spammers) is not okay. But I don't think we can fairly expect Platonic ideal mod actions, either.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:52 PM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Not wanting to talk about a racist incident because it's "outrageous" or would make you angry is a pretty classic racist thing to do.

For people of color, racism that makes us angry and sad is present, so working through it is a fact of life and a constant process.

For white people, it seems like, race is best discussed only when it doesn't have any strong emotions attached to it, or when it won't garner strong reactions by people.

The idea that "let's talk about race, but not in a way that will just be about outrage" is dangerously close to a kind of "let's talk about race, but only the SAFE kind of race conversations" censoring that white spaces can do. It's a kind of tone policing, of a sort.

the mods are not a diverse group

Are the mods essentially all white?
posted by suedehead at 11:02 PM on June 4, 2019 [82 favorites]


Do the mods see a note on posts letting them know it’s the first post by that member?

It wasn't their first post though.

I think outragefilter the concept as a deletion rule should stay, the word should go.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:50 AM on June 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Retire outragefilter. Write more considerate deletion reasons. Apologize and plainly ask for jj's.mama to come back if she's willing. MetaFilter is what it does.

For people of color, racism that makes us angry and sad is present, so working through it is a fact of life and a constant process.

I think, as an angry Filatino, that MeFi's culture isn't really good for dealing with this reality for POC. Particularly because the context and nature of the processing varies widely across different communities. Maybe it can with a bit of work?
posted by Mister Cheese at 1:08 AM on June 5, 2019 [17 favorites]


Yeah, I don't know about whether that should have stayed or not, it was a single event story about something shitty. But there seems to be a lot of those, and I'm having trouble figuring why some are OK and some aren't, certain similar thin stories about shitty things are all over the front page and deemed appropriate. There seems to a real problem with not the depth of stories, but whether they fit some arbitrary metric of "interesting to us" when I'm not even sure who "us" is.

But I also think it's ridiculous that people seem to feel it's better if you fill it out, and is in fact your responsibility and some sort of test you must pass. I'm not a writer, most of us aren't, and as a result there are tons of post full of filler links and rambling, with no actual added depth, like a high school report that has to meet a word count. This just makes me skip most posts. When I can tell there is only one story there and half a dozen links I just think "OK, which link is the real one and why are you wasting my time?"

There needs to be some reflecting on who "us" is and what is OK and what is not, because I seem to see a ton of stories that are slight variations on a theme that pass muster. Either recognize and address the bias or state it and quit making everyone guess.
posted by bongo_x at 1:32 AM on June 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


For white people, it seems like, race is best discussed only when it doesn't have any strong emotions attached to it, or when it won't garner strong reactions by people.

White people get more angry about being reminded that racism exists in all aspects of human society than they do about the actual racism.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:35 AM on June 5, 2019 [48 favorites]


Honestly though I just don't think this is a good place, for me at least, to have serious discussions about serious subjects. I can't figure out where the lines are and get tired of guessing, and "discuss complex and horrible problems in the world but don't make it uncomfortable" is kind of weird.

I like the stories about dogs and art and fonts though.
posted by bongo_x at 1:38 AM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I (and I think someone else as well) had a comment deleted a few hours ago in a different thread. I don't even remember what exactly it was I wrote, but cortex's note, I seriously had trouble understanding it. The deletion reason is written in a very oblique way, and as a non-white person I have difficulty parsing the ironies and turns of phrases. The deletion comments that I've seen in the past have nearly always been easy to understand, even if I don't agree with them. This one, though, didn't make sense to me mainly because of the language and subtle hint about something being "unsavory".

The best I could figure out was, either something about the way I wrote my comment, or the basic ideas in the comment itself (e.g., mentioning why not lawyers), was problematic because it could/would be construed as victim-blaming. (If so, could the mods please directly say that in a deletion reason, because that is much more forthright and preferable.)

It's kind of weird for me, because in that thread, I wrote my comment as a gay person who has had to deal with corporate bad behavior. I don't know if that added context would have helped a reader make sense of my comment. But I don't want to always be identifying and announcing my context all the time.

In this YouTube harassment thread, the post has a lot of characteristics of, here is a terrible news thing that has happened and is still an ongoing story. It's not a "thin" post per se, but it's very much verge.com reporting on what Vox has to say about the conflict. Over tweets. Like, I'm glad I wrote my comment the deletion of which ultimately gave me this chance to empathize more deeply Maza's situation (e.g. and his choices as documented in the articles), but on the other hand this is sort of the subject matter on social media that tends to manipulate my attention and would prefer a more controllable volume of in general.
posted by polymodus at 1:47 AM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Do you think that a policy of deleting single-link-negative-news-story posts benefits Metafilter? Why or why not?

It can do, IMO. Personally I think a good rule of thumb for a post is "Here's something you'll find interesting", not "here's something you ought to be angry about".

Part of the ongoing tension centres around the question of what Metafilter is (or ought to be) for.

From reading MetaTalk threads, there's clearly a group of very active users who think MF ought to be a place for discussing (mostly American) political issues and finding ways to organise around them: "it's not outragefilter if there's a call to action", to paraphrase a few comments upthread. Other very active users evidently think it ought to be a tight-knit community where they can come to chat, vent, and get emotional support. Still others think it ought to be a curated stream of cool/interesting things from around the web, and come here for a break from all the negativity and anger elsewhere online.

I suspect the latter will tend to be under-represented in this sort of discussion because, almost by definition, they'll be less likely to be reading and posting in MetaTalk than those who come here for close community or organising.
posted by metaBugs at 2:17 AM on June 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


polymodus: The deletion reason is written in a very oblique way, and as a non-white person I have difficulty parsing the ironies and turns of phrases.

*nods* As a non-US American person and someone who learned English as a second language, I can say that this sounds familiar.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:24 AM on June 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


Regardless of intent, the impact of the "outrage" framing is (and I've felt this way for years here) othering because it presumes a specific audience that is implied to be recreationally consuming troublesome events, rather than connecting with them on a personal level as part of their life experience.
posted by dusty potato at 3:34 AM on June 5, 2019 [36 favorites]


I am very upset for jjmama. It feels that PoC are frequently marginalised on this site.

I don’t know what the right thing to do was, but watching jj’s.mama express how down she felt, get encouraged to post something, post the FPP, and then have it get shitcanned with a very short/abrupt deletion reason felt like getting punched in the gut to me, so I can’t even imagine how it felt to her. It made me want to go kick something.

I too found this very enraging.
posted by daybeforetheday at 4:13 AM on June 5, 2019 [27 favorites]


Having been on Metafilter for about 15 years now, I have noticed that the things that tend to be deleted or dismissed more quickly as "outragefilter" are when marginalised people are posting about something that affects them negatively and it happens to be a single link. If the post is coming from someone not directly affected, they have a higher likelihood of staying.

Deleting because "those discussions don't go down well here" is an indictment of the commenters and is in no way the OPs' fault. "Wow look at us admitting how immature we can that we can't be trusted to not be bigoted!"

I'm side-eyeing all the white people who are commenting with "I don't want to read more about racism in the world because that makes my experience of Metafilter awful". I've seen that play out in other spaces, where White people expect POC to put a Content Warning on postings to do with racism because *they* as White people get affected by the reminder that racism exists, and it just adds to the feeling of "it's worse to be called racist than to be racist". But Metafilter's never really been good with race, so.
posted by divabat at 5:10 AM on June 5, 2019 [63 favorites]


I wanted to give this careful thought so I have been reading but not commenting. After appreciating all the thoughtful comments above, I am standing with those critical of this decision. I believe this particular deletion, and in fact the framing of the concept of "OutrageFilter," do indeed reflect implicit bias.

Was the post itself minimal (as opposed to "thin")? I'll give you that. But within 10 comments it would not have been. By the time The Root's piece was posted here, the incident at the MFA had been a subject in broad discussion in both cultural institution and POC spaces. As a museum pro engaged in these issues I guarantee I would have participated, with links, resources and historical context, and there are others here with personal experiences and knowledge of this field and its legacies who would have, too. In fact, missing from the evaluation seems to be the fact that MeFi has a long history of discussions of cultural issues in cultural institutions, and they are just about always quite rich and widely informed; this is a topic area we're good at. It would definitely have been a substantive conversation, not what some are dismissively calling "here's a thing to be mad about" or "this is awful, share in an experience of this being awful."

But here is where the issue of bias is in play. The ex ante decision that this conversation could not possibly be substantive is a presumptive judgment about the nature and direction of the conversation. And I'll submit that mods may not always have the context, information or awareness to make that judgment correctly, especially when topics concern marginalized people, histories, and concerns. It seems to me based on comments in this thread and elsewhere that mods employing notions of "OutrageFilter" aim to be content-neutral. But what defines "neutral" (as the Museums are Not Neutral movement has been calling out) is culturally determined.

The fact that a mod is unaware of the depth or extent of a field- or subject-specific discussion outside of Metafilter, and thus unable to accurately predict how that conversation might unfold and what discourses might be included, is in part a function of their own identities and interests. When the subject matter doesn't intersect with their individual identities and interests, they may be making an unintentionally uninformed decision about how much potential substantive content there will in the conversation to come. This seems particularly true with topics regarding people of color and issues of pluralism. The low to middling levels of mod literacy on and engagement with these issues is something I have noticed before. It is one of the best reasons to expand cultural diversity on the staff. But in a cutting conundrum, it's also one of the reasons POC sometimes find this not to feel like a welcoming space, limiting their involvement, which further depletes the available perspectives to learn from.

Yes, of course this incident and its related discussions would make a good richer post. But let's think about where - and for whom - the bar for expecting that level of crafting should be placed. This "OutrageFilter" frame may unintentionally create an unfair standard that is surface equality without equity. Maybe for topics with a wider and substantive discourse, the same bar doesn't have to be cleared. Saying to someone, especially a POC, who wants to present discussion of an expression of racism online "this is great, but you need to go back and do more homework until this meets our standard for a "well crafted" post ("so that it's clear why it should interest people like me") feels like adding an extra hurdle, and one that may be hard for some to see because it seems "fair."

There are good reasons for wanting content posted to be substantive and to contain the best possible array of resources around a topic. But that's Ideal MetaFilter. Any number of single-link posts appear on the site, and not all of them are to a unique web offering. There have, in fact, been explicit encouragements for single-link posts in places such as Best Post Contests. Yes, the posting of single news stories without additional context has been constrained. But not consistently. So perhaps an interim solution could be to treat SLPs that at first appear to be what's been called "OutrageFilter" not by applying this current general principle of content neutrality, but to look at them with some curiosity about what potential universes of discussion it might generate and what the limits of the mod's knowledge on the topic might be, and if there are questions, put the post on hold and engage with the poster a bit, to learn more - or ask for a second opinion.

I believe using snippy zingers when deleting a post is in bad form

yes, this should absolutely end. The tone is absolutely not a fit with our times or with the goal of treating all users with respect. I have had a similar experience and the dismissiveness is cold and alienating, especially when there is a chance the mod is missing something due to a certain lack of knowledge of the relevant issues or scope of discourse.

This was an important MeTa and an interaction worth critically examining, setting aside the defenses that naturally kick in to do so. The relevant questions are: how have our site traditions and presumptions about shaping content been influenced by identity? How are those traditions and presumptions influenced by notions with origins in white supremacy that impact whether white people believen a topic is rising to a level of "substance" or "worthiness" or not? And, what practices would encourage and include more sharing of content here that is both directly relevant to unfolding ideas and projects of our time and inclusive of people of all backgrounds and identities?

Some resources I might as well add here since there is no original post to add them to:
MASS Action is a network and project to transform museums from legacy institutions of white supremacy to inclusive and welcoming institutions. Their toolkit goes into the racist basis of museum structures and policies.
Museums & Race: Transformation and Justice
LaTanya Autry edits the Social Justice & Museums Resource List is continually updated via crowdsourcing
The Tronvig Group on museums and racism
Seema Rao: Some Solutions to White Supremacy in Museums
And it's worth mentioning that it certainly would have come up that this is not the MFA Boston's first clash with ideas of inclusion, and not the first time they've fumbled it.
posted by Miko at 6:11 AM on June 5, 2019 [123 favorites]


I love MeFi, mostly because of the breadth of things that get posted. Many of them are really interesting to me, many are not. I skip the ones that don't interest me, though sometimes I peek in to try to learn something.

I don't understand a lot of social nuances like, all the shades of sexuality/gender identity, varying disabilities like autism or asperger's, and many issues involving race or marginalized population.

When I say I don't understand them, it doesn't mean I don't care about them, nor does it mean I think they are unimportant. I'm largely afraid to ask questions about the issues because it normally gets immediately interpreted as judgmental or antagonistic. In reality, I ask because I'm anxious to understand a different perspective, not because I'm nosy or want to use whatever answers I get to diminish the issue.

When I read a post, I'm not thinking about whether the poster is black, white, green, yellow, old, young, male, female, X or whatever. I'm reading the post.

I do sometimes think that all the individual issues spawned from being different still result in all of us wanting one thing: to be respected and allowed to have dignity as a human being. To me, if that is given, the rest of the detail becomes secondary. NOT irrelevant: secondary.

Re-reading this it barely makes any sense. * sigh *
posted by yoga at 6:18 AM on June 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


The idea that Metafilter (or at least The Blue) is solely for "The best of the web" has long died. This isn't just "post something cool/interesting/nifty" and it hasn't been for a while now. This gets brought up often in response to when marginalised people want to talk about things that concern them, e.g. this MeTa.

But look at the political megaposts. Look at the discussion around the Notre Dame fire and how so many people wanted a post on Mefi because they felt strongly about it and wanted to discuss their feelings with people whose opinions they value. People are regarding Mefi as a kind of community, and communities have things they feel strongly about, and dismissing it as "outragefilter" seems to be silencing a large part of why people have been coming to this site for a while.

Or perhaps strong feelings are only OK if they're coming from a particular under-threatened demographic.
posted by divabat at 6:29 AM on June 5, 2019 [40 favorites]


There is an interesting parallel between the story about the museum and the issue jj’s.mama raised in the frustration thread. I found the museum story particularly notable because it’s something I’ve seen play out in real life - the fact that many people who would otherwise deplore racism and identify themselves as allies, or at least as sophisticated, literate, evolved thinkers (the type who run and populate museums) are obviously uncomfortable being around people of color. They feel tension about, and maybe even overtly dislike, having people of color in “their” spaces. Similarly, jj’s.mama’s post was characterized as “outragefilter” because the behavior described in the article was viewed as so self-evidently racist and bad that we put it in the category of “things people will just grar about and it won’t lead to substantive discussion because we’re all so obviously against behavior like that.” And yet in this community we’ve had users of color speak up about feeling unwelcome here. So there’s some difference in our espoused attitudes versus how we actually treat each other. That’s one of the reasons why I think the museum post could have lead to a great dialogue. (In a way it reminds me of the boyzone discussions on Olde Metafilter, where a lot of talk about how no one is sexist smacked up against the women of Metafilter pressing the issue and pointing out unconscious/unintentional sexism on the site.)
posted by sallybrown at 7:17 AM on June 5, 2019 [73 favorites]


A small thing that might have a large impact is if mods asked themselves before deleting a thread, "how likely is this deletion to contribute to a hostile environment for marginalized people?" The crux of the idea not being that the question would live in spirit in the back of mods' heads, but that they would literally ask and answer it for themselves for every deletion. There may even be reasons that a thread still need be deleted even if it is likely to foster hostility, but going into that with a full reckoning is a whole different thing.
posted by dusty potato at 7:24 AM on June 5, 2019 [31 favorites]


A single instance of wretched behavior doesn't make a great post. A bad racist thing happened in a museum in a northern city that has had a lot of racial conflict is a limited post. It also turned up on my fb feed and news feed a bunch of times. Is there a trend of racism in museums? Are museums doing enough/ much/ anything to be inclusive? Do museums get their funding from rich old white people who need someplace to hang out and feel superior? Find those links and you have a better post.

Outragefilter as a deletion reason is not encouraging to a relatively new member and 1st time front page poster. The site needs members, posts, and comments. I think it helps to be kind and encouraging. A link to why single link posts need to be pretty great or important. It's a pretty good article, not a thin story and the comments looked fine, with the potential for meaningful discussion.

I find MeFi to a community that doesn't want to be racist. White (men, straight, abled, young, not-poor, WASP, etc.) people need to look inward and work on eliminating their own unconscious bias. And need to consciously include others.
posted by theora55 at 7:46 AM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


A small thing that might have a large impact is if mods asked themselves before deleting a thread, "how likely is this deletion to contribute to a hostile environment for marginalized people?" The crux of the idea not being that the question would live in spirit in the back of mods' heads, but that they would literally ask and answer it for themselves for every deletion.

I strongly agree with this idea.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:51 AM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


The “Metafilter doesn’t do __ well” deletion policy is the most misguided policy at this site. It penalizes users who are capable of having a civil conversation while catering to those who aren’t. Posts should not be deleted because a moderator thinks it might potentially not go well. That isn’t moderation, it’s curation, which mods should not be doing. Not only does it make for a site where content is subject to the whims and biases of the administrators, but when you have, say, a site that is moderated exclusively by white people, that absolutely affects what kinds of discussions we see here — namely, discussions that don’t make white people uncomfortable.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 7:51 AM on June 5, 2019 [43 favorites]


a site that is moderated exclusively by white people
a site that is moderated exclusively by white people
a site that is moderated exclusively by white people


Is it right to say that this has been the case for 20 years? I really think this needs to change.
posted by lalex at 7:55 AM on June 5, 2019 [27 favorites]


I really think this needs to change.

What's the plan, though? We know that Metafilter can't afford to hire anyone else, and that it's not a good idea to ask people to donate labor. It seems like this would explicitly require firing a current moderator. That seems maybe not great.

I agree that an all-white mod team - even one that happened for historically contingent reasons, and not out of any ill will - is not great and needs to change. But I am unclear on a path forward.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:21 AM on June 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


A single instance of wretched behavior doesn't make a great post. A bad racist thing happened in a museum in a northern city that has had a lot of racial conflict is a limited post. It also turned up on my fb feed and news feed a bunch of times. Is there a trend of racism in museums? Are museums doing enough/ much/ anything to be inclusive? Do museums get their funding from rich old white people who need someplace to hang out and feel superior? Find those links and you have a better post.

Yes, no, and yes, respectively. And this would have come out in the discussion had the post been allowed to stand. I'm suggesting that (1) people closer to this debate by dint of identity or personal experience would have recognized the wider significance of the post and provided some of the discussion you seek, and (2) the fact that so many people on MeFi don't recognize that this is part of a wider and ongoing discussion immediately, even through a single link, is exactly the issue.

There single link issue pieces on the front page right now. So why did this one not make the cut? Really why?
posted by Miko at 8:31 AM on June 5, 2019 [30 favorites]


The deletion reason is written in a very oblique way, and as a non-white person I have difficulty parsing the ironies and turns of phrases. The deletion comments that I've seen in the past have nearly always been easy to understand, even if I don't agree with them. This one, though, didn't make sense to me mainly because of the language and subtle hint about something being "unsavory".

I'm sorry about the confusion. I was trying to gently push back on what ended up reading as kinda victim-blaming (and was flagged as such) in that and another person's comment in the thread. I didn't think that was the intent in either case, and so was trying not to accidentally land like a ton of bricks on you or the other commenter by seeming to flat-out accuse you of doing so. Sounds like I might have erred too far on the side of cushioning there instead.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Re the thin-ness of the source article... I mean, I've seen fairly frequent single-link FPPs with Bored Panda articles. It's not hard to see the message that could be perceived by the fact that the Root is less valued as a source than literal content farms are.
posted by dusty potato at 8:46 AM on June 5, 2019 [41 favorites]


watching jj’s.mama express how down she felt, get encouraged to post something, post the FPP, and then have it get shitcanned with a very short/abrupt deletion reason felt like getting punched in the gut to me,

So, I would like to apologize to the community here, I'm one of the people who encouraged jj's.mama to post a post, even if it was only a single link, and I didn't think about external factors. Like: I had a lot of implicit assumptions about how it would go that I didn't state in the text: like, I was thinking that there might be only one /link/ but there would be a paragraph of /context/, that kind of framed the discussion, and so I genuinely didn't think it would be deleted. But I didn't say that, what myself and some other commenters said was more on the lines of "It's okay if it's just a single link!"

And I probably erred more on the side of encouragement because it was a Fucking Fuck thread, and we're all tired and sad, and it seemed like a nice idea to give someone joy and happiness and community.

But also - someone upthread asked 'what is the harm to POC', and I think it's really important for people to remember that POC aren't monolithic any more than white people are, and we have different ideas about things. My position is never The Voice Of The POC, it's just one among many. Some people do, in fact, get disheartened and discouraged by literally every place talking about the worst things that happen to them. I myself would probably feel pretty depressed if Metafilter began to be dominated by all the terrible things happening - I feel like the Megathread is for that and I can opt out of it when I'm feeling particularly stressed. But also, I exist mostly in a community of people that are all, left or right, pretty outraged at the increase of white nationalism and racism in this country. So it's okay for this space not to be about that anger, because I get the validation that people care at home. For someone who is surrounded by people who don't care, it might be really empowering to talk about this on Metafilter and have a bunch of people say 'fuck yeah that's wrong'. I don't really have a good or easy answer for this.

I guess in the short term I would like to see a little more consideration of whether it's someone's first or second post, but also I know the mods are super overworked, so I don't know if that's an ask they can accommodate or not.
posted by corb at 8:49 AM on June 5, 2019 [25 favorites]


>A single instance of wretched behavior doesn't make a great post. A bad racist thing happened in a museum in a northern city that has had a lot of racial conflict is a limited post. It also turned up on my fb feed and news feed a bunch of times. Is there a trend of racism in museums?
posted by theora55 at 10:46 AM on June 5


(Not intending to call Theora out, but their comment made me think of this, so quoting it. I am not a POC, so please take my thoughts with a grain of salt inasmuch as I try to guess what people are thinking.) I think maybe this may be where POVs (worldviews?) diverge, which leads to this sort of "this makes POC feel unwelcome" result. Because like, one group comes at this from the perspective of "this is a single, outrageous incident. Where's the meat?", but the other side, already aware that institutions like museums tend to be prone to racism and always have been, don't see this as a single incident. They see it as an incident that highlights something that we know is happening culturally. From the former POV, you need to give more information to make this anything other than "a bad thing happened once". But from the latter POV...why would you need to add links to make a case that racism is a thing that happens in order for a racism post to stand? Which is to say, when you live being forced to experience something like racism, you're much more aware that a single incident isn't ever really a single incident, and an incident like this one is a discussion-starting example, whereas if you come from privilege, you may assume it must be a single incident until evidence is shown otherwise.
posted by Hold your seahorses at 8:51 AM on June 5, 2019 [50 favorites]


A link to why single link posts need to be pretty great or important.

This doesn't really address the issue though. Important to whom? The topic of the post in question seemed pretty damn important to jj's.mama and some of the other people in that thread and this one.
posted by Dysk at 9:01 AM on June 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


speaking of so-called Outrage Filter (and not intending to undermine any of the validity of what's being discussed here), this is a recent post that I feel goes a long way toward illustrating how to go deep in presenting something that personally, makes me very f***ing angry:

"[I]f they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site."

(aka: Steven Crowder - Christ what an asshole! And f*** you Youtube for enabling him)
posted by philip-random at 9:08 AM on June 5, 2019

When I read a post, I'm not thinking about whether the poster is black, white, green, yellow,
Hi yoga, in the spirit of learning and growing, I want to let you know that many people find this kind of phrasing dismissive and hurtful. Here's an article explaining why better than I could.
posted by Gordafarin at 9:11 AM on June 5, 2019 [67 favorites]


this is a recent post that I feel goes a long way toward illustrating how to go deep in presenting something that personally, makes me very f***ing angry:

which doesn't mean that it hasn't required moderation. It clearly has.
posted by philip-random at 9:13 AM on June 5, 2019


To a certain degree, creating a post on a topic creates a space for discussing that topic. It's an intentional, positive action. Within that space there is a certain amount of "safety" in discussing that topic; there's an expectation (and enforcement) that words will be generally civil and focused to the topic at hand.

There's also the ability to destroy that "safe" space -- to deplatform the discussion -- by deleting the post. Of course only a mod can actually make that happen.

Other site sers have input into this deplatforming by influencing the mods through flags and messages and (unfortunately) shitposting. These are critics.

It feels kind of okay, this power disparity between platform creator, platform destroyer, and platform critic, when the topic isn't something that reflects power disparity in the real world. Like, there's no big deal about deleting a post about some dumb ad campaign that's turning in to a crapshow.

But deplatforming a conversation that has a real-world power imbalance has to face higher test standards. When an underprivileged person says, in effect, "I want to create a space to talk about problem X" which is relevant to their circumstance and situation, and other users who are not subject to that problem come along and say "no, you can't talk about that" and the mods agree and remove the platform, that's problematic, and a similar problem to any number of situations where entitled people feel some discomfort about something and decide they just don't want to hear it and shut it down (rather than leave).

Maybe this comparison is a stretch, but maybe it isn't. Maybe MeFi isn't intended to provide a flexible platform for a variety of people with different interests to talk about them in a civil and focused way, without excessive moderation or untoward deplatforming. Sometimes it seems like it really is trying to be that. And sometimes it misses the mark, badly.

I do believe that deplatforming (a.k.a deleting an FPP) needs to be held to a rigorous standard, especially when the topic under discussion is real-world fraught with privilege and entitlement.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:17 AM on June 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


if you come from privilege, you may assume it must be a single incident until evidence is shown otherwise.

I don't think that's valid. Its not that people think "oh one weird incident", it's that people think "oh this is one of an infinite and ongoing series of incidents reflecting/caused by the racism that exists everywhere."
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:19 AM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Personally, I'd rather err on the side of leaving too many questionable posts rather than deleting too many. I don't think there's too much of this sort of thing, and even if there is, I skip a lot on the Blue already. Like, I don't think I've ever read one of Fizz's video game posts. I just don't care about video games, and I can't imagine I would get anything of value out of reading them. But I very much do not want Fizz to stop posting about video games. Clearly, other people *do* find value.

I think most of the value of the Blue is in the comments rather than the posts themselves. With that in mind, I might be assigning my own motives to other people, but I assume that most posters are posting because they hope to see some value in the comments of their posts - to start a discussion. This is easy for me to say, but I'd prefer for mods to delete fewer posts but keep an eye on comments.

To me, this feels kind of like the Notre Dame MeTa. Obviously, both topics were things that people wanted to start discussions about, and I don't really care for the "this is something Metafilter doesn't do well" logic. I guess I'm coming down on the side of "if someone wants to start a discussion about something, let's allow it, and just keep it on track".
posted by kevinbelt at 9:29 AM on June 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


Its not that people think "oh one weird incident", it's that people think "oh this is one of an infinite and ongoing series of incidents reflecting/caused by the racism that exists everywhere."

Strange that so many people in this thread want more of this context provided to make the post valid, if they're already aware of the context.
posted by Dysk at 9:36 AM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


I think my very awareness of the specific context of this incident made me want other people to know it - Boston's racist past and present, and the weird rarefied atmosphere of the fine art world. Because as much as yes, this is an incident in a long series of racist incidents, it's also very specific and insidious in its own way.
posted by wellred at 9:38 AM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


(In a way it reminds me of the boyzone discussions on Olde Metafilter, where a lot of talk about how no one is sexist smacked up against the women of Metafilter pressing the issue and pointing out unconscious/unintentional sexism on the site.)

Excellent way to put it. Quite apart from the parallels between the content of the post and how its deletion went down, this was particularly striking.

The situation comes off as one where the defence that 'well, these are just the rules' (regardless of how consistently or bluntly or precisely they are enforced) seems to be used as a casual defence of an outcome that contributes to women or POC feeling marginalised and excluded. Even in this thread there are a number of comments that appear to be blind to the context that despite a strong professed culture of anti-racism, yeah, metafilter is pretty hostile place to POC or anyone who sits outside of a pretty narrow demographic.

I also agree with Miko's point -

There have, in fact, been explicit encouragements for single-link posts in places such as Best Post Contests. Yes, the posting of single news stories without additional context has been constrained. But not consistently.


- and would note that the perception that every post has to be a colossal structured multi-link extravanagza has also been discussed as a serious issue with actually getting people to contribute to (or join) metafilter.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 9:40 AM on June 5, 2019 [17 favorites]


I think my very awareness of the specific context of this incident made me want other people to know it - Boston's racist past and present, and the weird rarefied atmosphere of the fine art world. Because as much as yes, this is an incident in a long series of racist incidents, it's also very specific and insidious in its own way.

This sounds like it would have been a fantastic basis to comment in the deleted thread. I'm less convinced by it as a reason to delete it, and preclude the possibility of that conversation. (Not to suggest that this is what you're doing! But it has been a recurring suggestion in this thread.)
posted by Dysk at 9:44 AM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


"that stuff needs to be talked about, big time" is a definite sign that a particular post is not a good idea.

I used to remind people of zanni's rule of thumb a lot (This is cool; other people will want to see it == Good post, This is important; I want other people to see it == Bad post).

It's not appropriate any more. The site has moved on.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:52 AM on June 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


Enemy of Joy said: That isn’t moderation, it’s curation, which mods should not be doing.

I wanted to highlight this because it's everything I was trying to say, but concise. Curation...that's what it's become. Not moderation, curation. That is a very big problem I see with the current iteration of Mefi.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:05 AM on June 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


I want to let you know that many people find this kind of phrasing dismissive and hurtful

thank you, i self-deleted on preview about a dozen comments trying and failing to say this diplomatically
posted by poffin boffin at 10:06 AM on June 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


Outragefilter (the term) feels in tone like the way the few trumpites I still follow on fb use "identity politics." I.e., " you may be upset, but your petty individual concerns aren't important ..." I'm agnostic about the practice but the term seems icky to me.
posted by Cocodrillo at 10:14 AM on June 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


the perception that every post has to be a colossal structured multi-link extravanagza has also been discussed as a serious issue with actually getting people to contribute to (or join) metafilter

Yeah, I really want to emphasize the point that I don't believe *adding more* necessarily makes a bad post better. If a single link is not good enough for a post, then adding a Wikipedia article and the results of some cursory websearching don't make it worthy. Adding context can certainly make a post better, but that's not the post that jj's.mama wanted to make.

I think the parallel to the "boyzone" is an illustrative one in that there is a fine line between making users feel unwelcome by deleting posts on a given subject and making users feel unwelcome by allowing discussions on a given subject that might well turn out to be unpleasant.

I think one area where this could be improved is by loosening moderation on comments that push back on comments that are potentially hurtful or offensive. The standard MeFi behavior of "flag it and move on" is not helpful when it comes to making marginalized users feel welcome, as it is silent and doesn't allow users to give each other feedback.

There is an excellent example in this very thread.

> Gordafarin: Hi yoga, in the spirit of learning and growing, I want to let you know that many people find this kind of phrasing dismissive and hurtful. Here's an article explaining why better than I could.

I think this kind of comment is very helpful and supportive, but I suspect it might be flagged and deleted as a derail in a thread on the Blue. Perhaps if there was more explicit moderation language about these sorts of comments it might encourage users to make more of them, and thereby support users who might otherwise feel that there is no one supporting them.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:18 AM on June 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


metafilter is pretty hostile place to POC or anyone who sits outside of a pretty narrow demographic.

Looking at that demographic list - I think actually key to what's going on here is the "has been on the internet for 15-20 years" piece more than anything else.

The internet 15-20 years ago was a much different place, that really rewarded in many ways long writeups and comments over short intermittency. BBSes, forums, Livejournal - text based vs pictoral or short. That - regardless of our race or background - is where a lot of us 'grew up', as it were, and it's one reason many folks love Metafilter - as a place somewhat out of time, that largely preserves that quality. Sure, there are a couple one- or two- liners, but most of the comments, most of the posts, really have that quality. (And I'm not making any comments on whether or not Metafilter has always had that, or the history of Metafilter itself, because I haven't been here for twenty years: it's entirely possible that it has become what it is because of that feeling of loss/nostalgia).

That is...not how a lot of internet use works these days. In part, because the difference between older/newer generation is the amount they spend using the internet on a computer, vs on a smartphone. It's really hard to write lengthy, thoughtful responses that you edit and craft before you send on the mobile site. It's one reason for the current success of Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook - a quick picture or a link is often enough, often you can just share or retweet without adding any original content - and so the bar to entry and commenting is far lower. There's also almost no moderation - no filter for your words or posts - which has benefits, in terms of the freedom to speak as you are feeling/wish, and also drawbacks, in terms of it being a much harsher space.

And I think - by design, this thing that we want, a text-based place for thoughtful discussion where ideas get heard and responded to, is not really of the era, and that is going to be a huge bar to entry for a lot of people who communicate a lot of the time primarily on smartphone by way of memes or fast responses. And - because of the democratization of the internet, that's going to mean people who didn't really have internet access pre-smartphone ubiquity, are going to feel unwelcome.

And again, I don't have a good answer there either, because on the one hand, a lot of those people who didn't have access pre-smartphone are those economically disadvantaged, so if you're enforcing earlier norms, you're blocking them out. At the same time, if this place became just a glorified version of one of the other places out there where you can just quickly share something without really thinking about it, I wouldn't want to be here anymore. I value a community where you are rooted and have to consider your words. I really dislike New Internet.
posted by corb at 10:19 AM on June 5, 2019 [26 favorites]


Metafilter still doesn't do race well and it would have been much better if the mods had helped the poster to make that post more comprehensive. It was an ongoing story at the time with interesting developments - the museum reached out to the school and at the same time banned two members of the public for racist behaviour towards the young people. In my opinion mods should have done better ESPECIALLY as it takes both time and trial and error on the part of posters to conform with site norms on how to present posts. As it is a new member has buttoned, finding the site unsupportive and in fact, oblivious and undermining on issues to do with race.
posted by glasseyes at 10:26 AM on June 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


I’m really disheartened by how many people seem to be worrying more about ‘what kind of posts’ are are appropriate, and how jj’smama could have ‘made a better post’ to paraphrase. Is it possible to focus on not marginalizing voices or do we need even more explanations of why single links are awful and no one should read them.
posted by Drumhellz at 10:48 AM on June 5, 2019 [22 favorites]


I think this kind of comment is very helpful and supportive, but I suspect it might be flagged and deleted as a derail in a thread on the Blue.

I want to note that we've been actively accommodating that sort of thing a lot more over time specifically to try and allow folks a little wiggle room to give in-line guidance on stuff in threads that otherwise would have fallen into older derail-ish or "no metacommentary"-ish realms, and/or to support that kind of sentiment with a mod note in the same vein if the heat of the thing they're responding to is high enough that it's gonna be a mess to keep around even with a thoughtful rebuttal. Like, I think Gordafarin's comment there was totally fine and it's not something I'd expect to delete from a conversation on the blue in general; it would strike me as an unremarkable and normal part of a conversation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:50 AM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


I checked just now, that was her very first post. How many of us have had a first post go through without at least some mod suggestions to reframe? Bad deletion.
posted by glasseyes at 10:51 AM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


Thank you for the article, Gordafarin. I read through it several times.

I did not mean to marginalize or hurt anyone by my comment. My point was that I don't see someone's skin color as something that makes me personally jump to conclusions about them. And since what I see on this screen is letters that make sentences & have meaning, I'm looking at the content, not wondering whether the person who typed it is m/f o/y b/w or some variation or combo of all of those.

To me, they are people, who equally deserve to be respected as such until their actions prove otherwise. I recognize that not all of us are treated that way. I personally have experienced not being treated that way. I'm sure I've been disrespectful to others at some point in my life.

I wish fear wasn't such a disabler of deferring judgment. Because that's what I think people need to get better at doing.

What is it exactly that people want as a response to them saying they are black or gay or trans? (that is a serious question, as simply as I know how to ask it, and I do not mean to hurt anyone's feelings by asking.)
posted by yoga at 11:01 AM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


The standard MeFi behavior of "flag it and move on" is not helpful when it comes to making marginalized users feel welcome, as it is silent and doesn't allow users to give each other feedback.

I'd like to signal boost and second this sentiment.

I have seen this discussed at length in other places, chief among them Black Twitter. The idea that we should all maintain civility - a type of civility that asks people to just ignore and passively flag aggressions and microaggressions - is a direct product of white value systems and coded in white conceptualizations of acceptable behavior. It is rooted in silencing POC. Let me be clear that I am not characterizing POC and other marginalized peoples as uncivil. To the contrary. What I am stating is that white people have gone out of their way, throughout history, to define what they consider to be "appropriate" and "acceptable" forms of pushback, counter-arguments, self-defense, and protest. It is highly problematic for white people to define how marginalized peoples should or should not respond to bigotry. This includes white liberals, who are often the footsoldiers of the whole "let's be civil and use our indoor voices" movement.

I recognize that this may appear to contradict what I said above, in my last comment, about requesting mods be more careful and kind in their deletions/replies to posts and comments involving communities of which they may not be a member. That may be a fair assessment. I would argue, however, that I see this instead as a request to acknowledge the power imbalances created by whiteness and other constructed concepts of what's "normative."

It would be really helpful to develop a process for independent oversight, of Metafilter rules & moderation, by a diverse panel of users who want to be part of such a panel. At the same time, the burden for us to do better should not fall on the shoulders of marginalized peoples; in this specific case involving race, the burden should always be on those of us who are white. No, moderation will never be perfect (for many of the reasons cortex has already described) but a panel would be one additional way/a start in getting us somewhere closer to better.
posted by nightrecordings at 11:06 AM on June 5, 2019 [31 favorites]


glasseyes, it was mentioned above that this was actually their second post (since it was deleted, their profile shows only 1 post). I agree with your point though! I only have 1 post myself and honestly find making another intimidating even after being a long-time member.

Is it really that much more work to have a simple script for post deletions so at the very least they give some guidance and are not just using in-group and dismissive language like "This is classic outragefilter, sorry" — if you read that, then you read the FAQ on what makes a good post: "most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page, and it might warrant discussion from others." Posts shouldn't be terribly long, and they don't have to contain multiple links or end with a discussion-sparking question" it's so fucking unhelpful. The post met those criteria from the FAQ, clearly, and yet the mod doing the deletion couldn't be bothered to write even another sentence helping someone understand what "outragefilter" means and whether the post could be reworked? You can't blame someone from leaving the site after experiencing that.

We know the mods are working hard but I honestly don't understand why there isn't a script that takes like a minute to use for most deletions: "Thank you for taking the time to post about this topic. We deleted this post because [reasons that don't rely on in-group jargon]. We'd be happy to talk through using the contact form so you can try posting again using those guidelines, or, if you feel comfortable, go ahead and re-post after [actionable suggestion - I imagine there would be a set list of these for this script]. We know this can be an intimidating process and we're here to help, so don't be discouraged." Wouldn't that add some consistency to deletions and add some encouragement to people posting that we want diverse voices here and that getting a post deleted isn't the end of the discussion?
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:10 AM on June 5, 2019 [25 favorites]


My only contribution to this thread is to ask that deletion reasons are clear and concise and one doesn't need to use some sort of MeFi-to-English dictionary to understand them. I have been here 20 years and I still find some of the terms used in the deletion reasons confusing. Unless there is a hard limit on the length of the deletion reason they should be thorough, informative, thoughtful, and helpful to people who haven't been here for a long time so they learn from their mistakes.
posted by terrapin at 11:15 AM on June 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


And that is why I don't ask questions.
posted by yoga at 11:15 AM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


The site has moved on.

I don't entirely agree; and to the extent it has moved on, it often is to the community's detriment, and at its worst leads to regurgitation of single-link outrage bait that's already heavily circulating on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Metafilter has something else to offer, when it's not being treated exactly like one of those.
posted by theatro at 11:18 AM on June 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


I checked just now, that was her very first post.

It was not. jj'smama's first post was the excellent Farming While Black back in November of last year, and it was everything one could want from MeFi's "Best of the Web" mission statement. It was substantive and informative, and I found new perspectives in it that I hadn't properly considered before. I hope that she'll come back some time and make more such FPPs.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:24 AM on June 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


What is it exactly that people want as a response to them saying they are black or gay or trans?

yoga, I'm sure your intentions are good, but this is a bad direction. A lot of these social categories do matter to the people who are on the oppressed side of the hierarchy, for very concrete reasons that are forced upon them whether they like it or not. For someone who's in a dominant group to say "oh it doesn't matter" or "don't make it about race" etc ends up dismissing some very real concerns. This discussion is about people feeling that minority concerns are being dismissed. To get those concerns recognized, people say "hey I'm in the room, my concerns/perceptions are not the same as the concerns/perceptions of [dominant group member]".

Let's not derail this thread into this question - it's a question better handled elsewhere.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:25 AM on June 5, 2019 [31 favorites]


For those on mobile devices and looking to jump to jj's.mama's comments in the Fucking Fuck MeTa, here's her first comment in that discussion of "feeling less and less like metafilter is a community where I belong."


glasseyes: I checked just now, that was her very first post. How many of us have had a first post go through without at least some mod suggestions to reframe? Bad deletion.

This is a good point. For a newer user to a site that's heading to its 20th year online (MeTa thread), I think that the use of site-specific jargon and short-hand can be excluding, particularly when used in a deletion.

As for this particular term, my personal definition is something that is shared only to gather 'round and shout about how awful something is, like the worst of tabloid media sensationalism. The deleted post by jj's.mama was not that. But I think it was thin, and could have been expanded with either another link, or a sentence or two on what the link was about. I think a problem is that a post can't be inherently a jumping-off point for discussion, assuming that people will add more context and content, because they can also send it off the rails. I think that content and context provides a frame for discussion, for those not familiar with the topic at hand.

Which is what makes the terse deletion comment all the worse, particularly for a newer user, and one who recently commented on feeling like this isn't the place for her.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:26 AM on June 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


bongo_x: Honestly though I just don't think this is a good place, for me at least, to have serious discussions about serious subjects. I can't figure out where the lines are and get tired of guessing, and "discuss complex and horrible problems in the world but don't make it uncomfortable" is kind of weird.

This is an interesting comment, because it touches on a few key points: individual and community expectations and standards, and how they change over time.

Looking at old MetaFilter threads can be shocking. "Boyzone" used to be more of an issue (MeTa search), where dudes dismiss and/or attack women for speaking from their experiences (mansplaining and worse). This is not not an issue, but not to the point where I think "boyzone" has been used in a MeTa post for over 3 years (baby steps).

Because it's gotten better, it may have also become more inclusive and welcoming, which means some users (not singling out bongo_x here, just using their comment as a reference) find it harder to gauge what can cause discomfort for others.

Which has lead to some discussions on this matter, like Trans* 101 and Emotional Labor. Bringing this comment full circle, my suggestion is, when you're not sure on how to discuss a topic, stop and listen to others. Sometimes, posts aren't really about or for you, and that's fine. I've deleted a handful of comments I was making in posts once I realized I wasn't really adding anything to the discussion, or I would be making the signal to noise ratio worse, because I didn't really understand the topic enough to discuss it.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:44 AM on June 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


23skidoo: *no slight meant to "thank you" comments, they're great comments that I love seeing, but they don't do anything to help create a discussion

Some times posts are either so exhaustive, or so niche, that folks don't really have anything to add, but still want to show appreciation. I think that's fine. More positivity is not a bad thing in my book, even when there's no larger "value added" from it.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:46 AM on June 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


I signed up just to say that Miko's post above is SO refreshing and welcoming in these times and in this place.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 11:47 AM on June 5, 2019 [21 favorites]


and at its worst leads to regurgitation of single-link outrage bait that's already heavily circulating on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

And frequently Daily Kos.

That said, this is a community weblog and it is up to the community to arrive at conventions for what is posted. If I’ve lost my investment in the site I’m sure someone new has picked it up.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:55 AM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's possible to read old posts from as recently ago as 2008/9 and be shocked at the casual and endemic sexism and misogyny; as a rule that's no longer the case, or not very often anyhow, so Metafilter can indeed change its sensibility. Grounds for optimism. On the other hand my 8 or so years of reading here has been startlingly instructive as to the deeply embedded and pervasive nature of racism in white American popular culture, and the defensiveness that protects from acknowledging this. Please understand I'm not saying 'Metafilter, what a racist place!' I'm saying that in an arena where (some) people are consciously trying to overcome racist conditioning, difficulties in doing so indicate some really deep seated and unconscious attitudes.

Metafilter is still a deeply uncomfortable place for POC to engage in dialogue about race and I normally would not do so. (Like, thank you mods all those years ago for vetoing a discussion of Rachel Dolezal.) But responding to the questions asked by 23skidoo, maybe mods should, I dunno, think twice before classifying news about racists and their behaviour as outrage filter? It really should not be a knee jerk reaction. I also think that when jj'smama posted her Metatalk there were opportunities for productive dialogue and a chance to repost that were not taken. As Miko said above the subject is absolutely current and debated in professional Museum circles - it's a vital part of inclusion strategies. Had the post remained it would have likely engendered valuable discussion, even if it had needed mod attention to keep it on track. Instead, there's a great gaping hole down which the incident, the potential discussion and the poster herself have disappeared from Metafilter. Whereas we all might have learned something otherwise.

I'd noticed the post and meant to come back to it, particularly as more info about what happened was getting published. I was damn surprised to find it in deleted posts. And you know, I read deleted posts and sometimes enjoy the snappy deletion notes and breezy dismissals out of pure shadenfreude. But there are also mod notes, 'Please get in touch so we can discuss how this might work better' etc. So that could have been easily done and it's a pity it wasn't.
posted by glasseyes at 12:01 PM on June 5, 2019 [28 favorites]


It's possible to read old posts from as recently ago as 2008/9 and be shocked at the casual and endemic sexism and misogyny

I'm routinely shocked by it now; people figured out that as long as you attach some plausible excuse for why you need to self-righteously slag on a woman, you can usually get away with it.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:14 PM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I should preview - just saw your 'boyzone' post, flt. Great minds, etc.
(thankyou!!)
posted by glasseyes at 12:24 PM on June 5, 2019


The idea that we should all maintain civility - a type of civility that asks people to just ignore and passively flag aggressions and microaggressions - is a direct product of white value systems and coded in white conceptualizations of acceptable behavior. It is rooted in silencing POC.

I think that I largely agree with you in many ways, but also think that 'civility' in terms of 'avoiding interpersonal attacks' is enormously helpful to people processing trauma and especially complex trauma and PTSD - which tends to affect POC more than white people - because of the nature of complex trauma, the existence of early trauma, and difficulties accessing medical care in the United States meaning PTSD is more likely to be untreated in minority populations. So, while it can be true that many white people are looking for civility as a matter of comfort, for at least some POC and WOC with trauma-related issues, civility is necessary as a matter of being able to participate in a space without it severely affecting them for hours.
posted by corb at 12:43 PM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


I think one area where this could be improved is by loosening moderation on comments that push back on comments that are potentially hurtful or offensive.

I dunno. What I usually see is a “one round and out” approach from the mods, where a shitty (clueless or calculating) comment gets dropped and responded to, then the commenter responds, elaborating the shiftiness, and the mods prune the second comment and any related responses. I guess that robs people of a chance to fire back, but it also saves people from the trauma of being attacked. It’s a policy that seems to have worked pretty well in trans threads, which, 4-5 years ago seemed to always become referenda on whether trans people existed, which... no?

As for the deleted FPP, it was single-link and would have been better with a bit more context (the MFA has a... history of bad behavior on race), but the linked article was more substantial than I expected from the deletion note. So I think it probably should have stayed or been “sent back for revision,” especially since it was jj’s.mama’s second post, and within her first year. I get that’s extra work for the mods, but....

On the other hand, I also want to say that I hope anyone in a Fucking Fuck thread be very careful about exporting material and conversations. I realize that users find them useful, but they are full of material that is not great for me, so I’m glad they are somewhat contained. I think the link in question was fine, but, as a general rule.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:32 PM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Every day I see single-link, barely commented-on posts from savvy longtime users who definitely seem to have a particular interest or content well that they regularly draw from. All well and good. Godspeed to them and their posts.

But for me the prevalence of these posts really hollows out the assertion that jj's.mama just needed some handholding, a little workshopping, a few extra links or whatever to make her post substantive enough. Like the problem she was talking about before she posted about the museum is something we can condescend our way out of.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:43 PM on June 5, 2019 [35 favorites]


I think one area where this could be improved is by loosening moderation on comments that push back on comments that are potentially hurtful or offensive.

It was a little jarring to see an example of this just a few comments up! A few people were gently taking yoga to task, yoga left a snitty mic drop, and then a mod stepped in to stop the "derail" that had already self-resolved but could possibly still lead to some useful and constructive conversation. (And all this in MeTa.) My point is not that yoga had an important perspective to add (they didn't) / silenced all my life!!, but that it often feels like the moderation is focused on maintaining whatever it is they've decided the central narrative of any thread is, at the exclusion of much else. When you layer that on top of the diversity problem... it's a problem.
posted by dusty potato at 2:19 PM on June 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


Okay, but I could also see mod failure to get involved there called out as allowing harmful stuff to continue.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:39 PM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


This is maybe a weird suggestion, but maybe we could use the model used for Projects and call it MetaOutrage or what have you.

In Projects, people post stuff they're working on and people can upvote it. Upvotes indicate demand, based on demand people turn that stuff into posts.

Maybe we could have a section where people could post all of the single link bad news they like. Then, if people truly felt it should pass through Outragefilter guidelines and make the front page anyway, it could. It would also be an extra layer of opportunity for people to contextualize stuff that outrages us so that it might create a conversation with a bit more dimension that single link outrage stuff would on its own.

I literally thought of this ninety seconds ago, so I won't take it personally if this turns out to be a terrible idea.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:55 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Because it's gotten better, it may have also become more inclusive and welcoming, which means some users (not singling out bongo_x here, just using their comment as a reference) find it harder to gauge what can cause discomfort for others.

I wanted to start this sentence with "to be clear" but I'm pretty sure I can't be. I'm not feeling pressured about not insulting people in marginalized groups. That part isn't that hard. If I say something dumb I learn something, apologize.

I've made comments here before about white people in Portland or Vermont chastising people in the South on how to do race, and that feeling expanded to other groups is what I'm trying to get at. The issue of "causing discomfort for others" is that often here it seems who we're trying to avoid causing discomfort for is people who like to speak for other groups.
posted by bongo_x at 2:57 PM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry about the confusion. I was trying to gently push back on what ended up reading as kinda victim-blaming (and was flagged as such) in that and another person's comment in the thread. I didn't think that was the intent in either case, and so was trying not to accidentally land like a ton of bricks on you or the other commenter by seeming to flat-out accuse you of doing so. Sounds like I might have erred too far on the side of cushioning there instead.

Appreciate the response and I can see how these decisions are complex while there not being much time to judge each individual moderation situation, so sometimes deletions and deletion reasons kind of have to limit how much detail to consider.

The question that was on my mind in my comment was, Why did the subject take this approach (calling out, activism, public pressure) and not another? I'm looking at the Washington Post article and the journalist there evidently asks and solicits the piece of information that Maza had indeed contacted YouTube a year ago, to no avail. So, that more in-depth information directly and factually answers my question. In fact the verge.com article also kind of has an indirect answer to my question (buried at the end of one of the pieces, Maza's remarks can be interpreted as his position being that a structural problem needs to be dealt with structurally). But the gap in The Verge pieces is that they do not directly address this, even when they have pretty much direct access to the subject. The problem with this from a media literacy point of view is that The Verge and Vox are the same company. Making a post as if something is independently journalistic, is really problematic and contributes to the phenomenon while appearing as a substantial amount of news or analysis content. Finding this out today, both the non-independent sourcing and the context to Maza's choices, I think knowing these bits now explains what kind of bothered me about the sourcing of that post, enough to ask my question at the time.

So the issue is, I think there is a legitimate question given such this difference in The Verge's coverage. I would like to hope that asking that question doesn't automatically make it victim blaming. Part of being a safer space is when different groups intersect, people in a conversation do what we can to recognize one another's concerns and further recognize that communication in this medium is noisy and fuzzy. Otherwise you just have one marginal group vetoing another in conversation, and that's a easy dynamic if another user decides to flag a comment rather than genuinely asking for clarification what a question seemed to be about. The subcommunity participates in these kinds of political topics are already pretty mindful and considerate of issues, and I'm surprised that such a flagger did not ask themselves maybe that's not what was meant at all and gave us a chance to evolve a conversation rather than have me ask a question perfectly.
posted by polymodus at 3:06 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Maybe we could have a section where people could post all of the single link bad news they like.

grar.metafilter.com

Welcome to the Red!
posted by hanov3r at 3:07 PM on June 5, 2019 [13 favorites]


I think it's not a great look to be flip when we have a lot of people saying they feel unwelcome here.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:12 PM on June 5, 2019 [24 favorites]


Maybe we could have a section where people could post all of the single link bad news they like.

grar.metafilter.com


Yes, this is a terrible idea. It implicitly separates out "normal stuff" vs "outrage stuff", thus defining a 'normal'. Only those who have the privilege to be distant from racism, transphobia, etc consider it "outrage".

Your glib laughter is an expression of your privilege.
posted by suedehead at 4:11 PM on June 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


I just want to add my voice requesting that the term "outragefilter" be abandoned as a reason for deletion. It's vague and hard to interpret as I think it's intended. If there's a good reason for deletion it can be better explained another way, like "This post needs a bit more context to work well as an FPP, but please resubmit it if you can flesh it out a bit more. Contact a mod if you'd like ideas, suggestions, or feedback on a draft and we'd be happy to help." If this or another similar statement doesn't actually describe the reason for deletion better than "outragefilter" then maybe there isn't actually a good reason for deletion.

I would also in general ask that the mods approach good-faith posts that need to be deleted graciously. Spammers and trolls are great targets for acerbic wit but not the community. I second the suggestion above that the mods have some prepared boilerplate text they can use when deleting so it's just as easy to say something clear but encouraging as it is to say "Yeah, no."
posted by biogeo at 4:25 PM on June 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


I got tagged a bunch. Let me reiterate: A single instance of wretched behavior doesn't make a great post. I went on to say It's a pretty good article, not a thin story. I can see why it was deleted. I'm not convinced it was a good deletion. If we can't define why outragefilter (a single link to an outrageous event) is not good, or what constitutes outragefilter, it's hard to ask members to know.

I would definitely say that X is not a thing metafilter does well is unhelpful. Controversy and emerging news are things the Internet often doesn't do well and sometimes does spectacularly. Doing those things well means avoiding hot takes, using real, documented facts, aiming for the truth more than scoring points, being respectful of others, assuming good intentions, at least to start.
posted by theora55 at 4:28 PM on June 5, 2019


makes it harder for minimal negative posts to make it to the front page unless they've been approved because they look a very certain way sure addresses Problem #1, but it's almost certain to make Problem #2 even worse.

Yeah, you are almost certainly right on that. I was more interested in a mechanism for allowing posts that tripped the outragefilter wire to still push their way to the front page as needed than in forcing them elsewhere... more like a veto override mechanism than a way of segmenting out. Still, it should have occurred to me the obvious shortcomings. So I am sorry about that.

There's a really challenging conversation still ongoing about how to help people be heard here who might end up marginalized but should be heard, even if what they have to post about could be categorized as "outragefilter." It's tricky balancing that against how the world is kinda awful in 2019 and we may not want to open the floodgates to all of the bad news.

Count me as one person who is worried we're not including everyone, even if I don't have any better ideas on how to do both. I'm hanging out here and listening and I appreciate hearing from everyone.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:38 PM on June 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Only those who have the privilege to be distant from racism, transphobia, etc consider it "outrage".

As I've said, I don't like the "outragefilter" thing, but I think part of the distinction that's come up over time is that the outrage part is a thing of its own. The horrible things in the world are not themselves the outrage; the outrage are the things that are posted on the internet largely to garner as many clicks from angry people as possible. "Here's a few details about a horrible thing, share it with all your friends, ideally with no additional details or research because we're only about 10% sure it actually happened." That sort of thing not only doesn't belong on Metafilter as it is--it doesn't belong on any subsite of Metafilter, either.

This is definitely not a thing that describes what was posted by jj's.mama, I cannot emphasize that firmly enough here, but I think Metafilter's history suggests that some level of screening for terribleness-to-content ratio is not a bad thing. But this thread has definitely me realize... probably a lot more could be done by making sure that the subsequent discussion isn't mostly White/cis/het/etc people venting disgust and catastrophizing about things that aren't happening to them. Then, if they get overwhelming in quantity, deal with that at the time that happens, not preemptively.
posted by Sequence at 4:42 PM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


If we think about this as two separate issues: (a) how to decide when a thin or single-link post meets Metafilter’s ideas of a worthy FPP, and (b) how to treat a poster whose post does not pass the test, I think we could solve (b) in a way that might not further alienate users who are already feeling bad using the boilerplate suggestion.

I know boilerplate feels kind of un-Metafilter (vaguely corporate) but if there was a thoughtful message the mods could send to lay out the reason why we delete “outragefilter,” maybe even linking to examples of posts involving outrageous behavior/situations that successfully met the Metafilter criteria, it would lessen the sting a little. Maybe it could also include encouragement to talk the mods for suggestions and even an explanation of what MetaTalk is and how the poster could make a MeTa if she felt there was something worth calling out?

Solving (a) is a lot tougher but I do think there should be more self-examination about the lens through which mods and users who flag posts see posts about race. It seems really wrong to me that a single-link post about Boston kids experiencing obscene racism in a fancy museum might have stood if it was a clever Onion article or a more distant “intellectual” take on the phenomenon of racism in elite spaces, but a straightforward article about the event was not good enough.
posted by sallybrown at 4:58 PM on June 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


I can definitely see a distinction between a post framed as "This is a terrible injustice that must not be minimized and is emblematic of serious ongoing wrongs and/or a harbinger of worse to come" and one "Even more awful shit happened. Can you beieve this bullshit? Click favorite and get some grar out, y'all."

I'm not comfortable drawing a line on where that is, let alone setting the mods up for a fall by asking them legislate it on a Justice Stewart basis ("I know it when I see it"). However, there's definitely something to the observation that the useful examples of the former can often be differentiated from the unhelpful examples of the latter by their ties to social issues affecting the marginalized, though.

My hope is that some person far more thoughtful and clever than I am can work that into a principle that can serve as a kind of demarcating line.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:59 PM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


If we think about this as two separate issues: (a) how to decide when a thin or single-link post meets Metafilter’s ideas of a worthy FPP, and (b) how to treat a poster whose post does not pass the test, I think we could solve (b) in a way that might not further alienate users who are already feeling bad using the boilerplate suggestion.

I think it's actually three separate issues, though, right? Like - aside from the issue of thin-posts/no-thin-posts more-negative/less-negative, there's also the issue of how do we make people feel welcome and included on Metafilter? Historically, we've done that in a bunch of ways, including having 'months' where people are encouraged to post things. Would that be a good start, or are there other things that could help?
posted by corb at 5:03 PM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think it’s one issue, that this site needs new and different moderators, and a mission that needs to reflect 2019, not 2004.

This site seems to curate its content based on what is and isn’t a personal hassle for the moderators. I’m definitely not suggesting that everything should be considered FPP-worthy, but when I look at the front page and then read this discussion, the common thread I see is that actual NEWS gets shut down and frivolous content gets pushed up.

You know what, this is a conflict-driven time. Is Metafilter intended to reflect the reality of that, or not? Figure out the direction this site is intended to go, and then come up with an actual management scheme of some kind. Amateur hour needs to end.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:20 PM on June 5, 2019 [20 favorites]


but when I look at the front page and then read this discussion, the common thread I see is that actual NEWS gets shut down and frivolous content gets pushed up.

I see it as Metafilter NOT being primarily a news site. I do agree that there's a pile of frivolous stuff on any given front page and, for instance, almost never go near a cat thread. But that's more feature than bug as far as I'm concerned. There's always something else that does interest me.

Maybe I'm being too old school here. Maybe Metafilter does want to become more of a news site. But that's certainly not how I've experienced it over the past decade or so. And, as you say in the rest of your comment, to go that way we'd certainly be in need of more moderators. Which very quickly becomes a financial issue.
posted by philip-random at 5:33 PM on June 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


Maybe it’s time to stop looking at the site through the lens of how it used to be a decade ago.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:59 PM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


first up -- it's not what it used to be a decade ago. There's been a steady evolution in all manner of directions, all manner of ways, most of them positive in my experience. It feels like what you're proposing is something more akin to a revolution, which, if this was a democracy, I wouldn't vote for. For all manner of reasons.

From your previous comment:

Figure out the direction this site is intended to go, and then come up with an actual management scheme of some kind. Amateur hour needs to end.

I guess I'm mostly comfortable with current management scheme (which is a weird of putting it anyway -- Mefi is not some highly organized corporate structure). They (the folks getting paid to help things function smoothly here) make mistakes, sometimes big ones, but overall, I'm not sensing anything catastrophic. Lines of communication remain open. We can have discussions such as this one that may not lead to immediate substantive change, but they do begin to lay the groundwork for such. If this is amateur, I guess I'm comfortable with that.
posted by philip-random at 6:10 PM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


As someone who is a. a person of color, b. a woman, and c. ironically also a mom of a kid named jj, let me just say that this is why after reading this site religiously every day since 2002 (and signed up in 2004), I only have 3 FPPs to my name, ironically all of them single links to lighthearted fare. I have learned (after seeing how the voices of people of color are (inadvertently) silenced),to not post links that address controversial topics and stick to kid related or Ghana related topics. I have learned to self censor, and in a way, it saddens me because my participation on this site is very limited.
jjs mama, if you're reading this, I've got your back.
posted by ramix at 6:15 PM on June 5, 2019 [98 favorites]


I'm not up to date on Mefi's finances, but since people are talking about getting PoC mods: I've been a mod elsewhere, I need a job, I could do it. Only holdup being that I'm in Australia so timezones may be an issue but otherwise I'm down. Happy to help PoC members flesh out their posts too if they want, though I do feel some kind of way about expecting us to put in more labour to make our posts more educational so that they stay on the front page.

Hard agree that we need to move on from what Mefi was like a decade ago. That expectation is getting us hamstrung and it's holding us back.
posted by divabat at 6:18 PM on June 5, 2019 [28 favorites]


Re: Everyone who has suggested changes that would cost significant amounts of capital: I do think we need to consider financial feasibility. I've been here for 20 years. I've kicked in maybe a thousand dollars over that whole period. Which...I mean, let's face it, not that much money in the vast gulf of time. There's virtually no ads, there's a limited amount of merch, Mefi wasn't ever designed to be a dotcom money maker. Suggestions that the place be run like it has angel capital just aren't doable, unless one of us is a Koch in disguise.

It was, is, and hopefully will ever be, a community website. What we are arguing over is who defines that community. We've had these discussions before, and come out a better group of people and a better community. As mentioned above, we've come so far on sexism and genderism, and inclusionary language, and while there's still a long way to go on our journey towards not being hurtful to one another, when members of our community say "Hey, this thing you are doing, I would like it if you didn't do that", then perhaps we should not be doing that thing.

I'm going to cycle back to the curation/moderation point a couple of us made upstream. I don't think we need *more* mods, I think we need *less* moderation.

I don't think comments or posts should be deleted unless they are dangerous, illegal, or inflammatory. I think deletion is fair when a post/comment reaches X number of flags from the community, but not until then. (And I think that X-count should be high, so as to avoid interpersonal feuds.) If the community isn't complaining, then it's just mod bias.

The thing is, from my perspective, overpruning the content removes the very flavor and essence of this place, and instead leaves a very whitewashed, disneyesque, teething biscuit.

Mods have said they've deleted things to "head off fights", but unless your name is Mrs. Cake, and your precognition is turned on, you don't don't have the power to see the future. I put it to you that "precog deletions" should stop.

I think deletions aimed at "steering the conversation" should stop. That's not how conversation works, that's how curation works.

There is absolutely no reason why mods should be expected to read every comment in every thread, that's what the flags are for, for goodness sake.

I think deletions based on "too thin, too outrageous, too newsy" should stop. If the community doesn't want to discuss those things, then they won't, and the posts will scroll down and be lost in the mists of page two forever.

Artisan, hand crafted modding of every thread and every comment was a workable thing when Mefi was a couple hundred people posting cats in scanners. It hasn't been a workable thing for a while, and has become especially unworkable in these, our Darkest Days. Save mod spoons for flagged items, and clearly egregious behavior, and keeping the mefi car on the internet highway, and let the passengers talk amongst themselves. If it all goes to hell, well then, I'll admit I was wrong, I'll drop a handful of Harriet Tubmans in the collection plate to help pay for cleaning up the mess, and willingly accept that our community can't be trusted to police itself.

But I believe in us, I believe in our community, and I believe that we can be trusted to communicate without curation.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:25 PM on June 5, 2019 [15 favorites]


It's an idea so crazy, it just might work!

You do raise an interesting question tho: how much stuff is getting flagged and deleted, and how much is just getting deleted? Because that seems like an important figure to know, since your plan is predicated on the assumption that it is (i am paraphrasing) proactive moderation that is responsible for the majority of post/comment deletions. is that correct?
posted by some loser at 6:36 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I know a couple forums which have about that level of moderation, including the high barrier to considering flags.

They are not particularly like Metafilter, and not because of their diversity of voices.
posted by sagc at 6:39 PM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


It may also bear considering whether a post deserves deletion just because it receives a lot of flags, based on implicit bias and our society’s developing understanding of how that shows up. Like, just because a post makes a lot of people uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean it should be deleted.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:39 PM on June 5, 2019 [27 favorites]


If anyone doesn't know, you can go look at the list of all deleted posts here:

https://mefideleted.blogspot.com/
posted by value of information at 6:41 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


and the deletion reasons, which range from kind/helpful to flat out rude
posted by lalex at 6:44 PM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think deletions based on "too thin, too outrageous, too newsy" should stop. If the community doesn't want to discuss those things, then they won't, and the posts will scroll down and be lost in the mists of page two forever.

I'm pretty confused by this point that multiple users have made now, that the possible bad outcome of leaving up "thin outrageous news links" is that nobody will comment. My understanding is that the possible bad outcome is 378 comments that start off all agreeing that this was a bad thing and then rathole on to whether this is enough evidence that the existence of museums as curators of culture is a bad thing and museums should all be burned down or is that going too far or does objecting to that make YOU a racist, huh? Cue comments deleted and someone buttons.

Or, as zarq put it in this very similar previous discussion on MeTa, "Outragefilter" is shorthand for what happens when something is posted that results in angry mob mentalities, shouting arguments and a MeFi flamewar that spills over into Metatalk.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:36 PM on June 5, 2019 [11 favorites]


It's anecdotal, but from what I've seen over the years here we get more people buttoning because a thread blew up than because a thread that would have blown up was deleted.

Mods have said they've deleted things to "head off fights", but unless your name is Mrs. Cake, and your precognition is turned on, you don't don't have the power to see the future. I put it to you that "precog deletions" should stop.

There's a thing called experience, which you get from seeing the same thing happen over and over again. Drawing conclusions from repeated experiences over the course of decades is not precognition and no one has suggested it is. It's still a legitimate guide for action.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:52 PM on June 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


As opposed to now, where it gets deleted with a flippant and dismissive comment, and someone buttons, and then it spills into MetaTalk because people of color can’t post about things that affect them without getting shut down for “possible outrage”?
posted by Autumnheart at 8:55 PM on June 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


I don't think we can get around the need to characterize in some way the notion of post material that, whatever we call it, has as its locus and organizing energy a kind of "this is awful, share in an experience of this being awful" vibe. Such stuff isn't valueless, and in fact a big part of the value it has is in potential community sharing and solidarity, and I think it's good when that goes well. But there is a very real psychological and emotional cost to the front page consisting of greater proportions of that kind of thing even when it goes well and manifests that value, and finding a balance where we can make room for some proportion of (ideally well-constructed) posts that are sometimes unavoidably in that vein while also avoiding having MeFi be a place folks visit specifically with the expectation of feeling bad all the time is gonna continue to be a very real challenge. -cortex, eons ago in this thread

I recently made a MeTa post trying to encourage people to make posts that aren't designed to inspire outrage reactions (whether it's "christ what an asshole" or "yes, here's my example of this bad thing, too"), and was taken to the carpet for even suggesting that the balance of the front page is too negative and we need to dilute it with better, more interesting, less grar posts. Many people stated they come here to read negative things, it gives them some kind of consolation.

To sum up: MetaFilter is a land of contrasts.
posted by hippybear at 9:01 PM on June 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


To add on to 23skidoo's point: more and more I feel like "Metafilter does not do XYZ topic well and that's why it's an automatic outragefilter delete" is an excuse that enables Mefites' poor behaviour while putting the blame on the OPs for "well what else were you expecting". And yeah, it's pathetic AF, and it does happen a lot, and that excuse is just sweeping things under the rug now to try and maintain a facade of "Metafilter has the best comments community in the world".
posted by divabat at 9:07 PM on June 5, 2019 [38 favorites]


To be fair, I once wanted to make a Taylor Swift post, and the mods contacted me and told me this was going to turn into a shitshow, and I even worked with them a bit on the framing of the post, and then I posted it and it turned into an entire shitshow.

That was a post about Taylor Swift. MetaFilter simply does NOT do some topics well.
posted by hippybear at 9:08 PM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


It wasn't surprising. I've been here a while, I know the score.

And I can't describe them in a neutral way. But the post wasn't about that, it was about something else, and people latched onto that. Because this is MetaFilter.

And this is why framing here is difficult, and this is why we are having this discussion here about the exact thing I was wanting to dilute with posts of another sort.
posted by hippybear at 9:25 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I've never had a post deleted as outrage filter, but I've had posts I've made on important issues denigrated by certain members of this community as outrage filter leading to huge derails that had to be deleted. So while I'm all for pressure on the mods to retire "outrage filter" as a deletion issue, I'd also like it if other users retired "outrage filter" as an excuse to threadshit on posts that are insufficiently "happy" to their tastes.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:25 PM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


And I can't describe them in a neutral way.

Then none of these discussions are liable to benefit from your contributions.
posted by mordax at 9:35 PM on June 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'll be happy to run any future posts I wish to make by you, 23skidoo, for your brilliant editing skills.

Or maybe I meant for those words to be there. You think I don't mean to stir the shit a bit?

Also, there were moments in that discussion which yielded actual thought, and which I found to be enlightened, surprising, and delightful in the introspection they reflected. I don't know who might have read those comments and what effect the comments might have had on readers, but I found the entire thread to be worthwhile from just those few.
posted by hippybear at 9:39 PM on June 5, 2019


Amateur hour needs to end.

I think this kind of casual nastiness is much closer to the root of what ails Metafilter than the mods' bad call here is.
posted by biogeo at 9:40 PM on June 5, 2019 [52 favorites]


You think I don't mean to stir the shit a bit?

hippybear, it sounds like you're saying the wording of your suggestion to make posts not sparking outrage was intended to spark outrage?
posted by biogeo at 9:42 PM on June 5, 2019 [38 favorites]


Or maybe I meant for those words to be there. You think I don't mean to stir the shit a bit?

Ah, that explains a lot: you believe people post 'to stir up grar' because that's exactly what you do.

Gotcha.
posted by mordax at 9:44 PM on June 5, 2019 [24 favorites]


It was intended to spark discussion, which it did, of varying sorts.

OutrageFilter is, in my mind, mostly a proposition that like-minded people are shown a thing that they will all have a predictably outraged response to, which all boils down to "this is a thing that happened that shouldn't have happened for #reasons and I agree it was terrible because #morereasons".

My Taylor Swift post wasn't outragefilter. It was a shitshow, but it wasn't outragefilter. I mean, MetaFilter IS a land of contrasts. Threads go well or poorly based on very small matters of framing or of link selection or even the order of links in a post.

Also, there is a big difference between posting on the Blue and posting on the Grey. Perhaps a lot of you don't remember the old Grey, without the queue, where callouts were common and a lot of arguing and deliberately pointed threads were started and well argued over and ended, and all without many if any comment deletions.

Posting with a stir is okay on the Grey. It's less encouraged on the Blue. I don't think anyone disagrees with that. If they do, let's start a new Grey thread about that, because that's a discussion that would be interesting to have.
posted by hippybear at 9:48 PM on June 5, 2019


And another interesting and potentially important thread is sacrificed to the desire to stir up shit...
I hope the folks who were having a, for me at least, genuinely eye-opening conversation feel ok to resume once the coast is clear.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:53 PM on June 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


[hippybear, I don't know what you're aiming to accomplish in here but it's not going anywhere good and I'm gonna ask you to just step right back out of the thread at this point.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:55 PM on June 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'm so glad that stirring shit up was a worthwhile endeavor for you personally. Seriously? Good faith is so important here, at this point in time, in this space. Cut it out.

To the topic at hand, I have been thinking a lot about moderation and governance. I think it's generally healthy when there is turnover in administrations. People rarely leave the moderation team. It almost has a kind of academic tenure vibe, but without any administrative oversight/changeover in roles/etc. There are pros and cons to this, obviously, but I think that one con is that fresh perspectives and new eyes are often incredibly valuable in helping to solve what seem like longtime, intractable, institutional problems like the ones we're discussing in this thread.

Another thought - there are researchers that study online community governance, and it would not surprise me if one or more of them were on Metafilter and was interested in collaborating with you on working this problem. Perhaps the mods could consider entertaining a Metatalk about that prospect: see if it attracts researchers, see what the community thinks, etc. Metafilter may also consider hiring an academic as a consultant to help talk through this issue, although I think that would be a bit less involved and therefore not as valuable.
posted by sockermom at 9:57 PM on June 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


Not implying that that's appropriate for Metafilter

*raises hand*

I actually am willing to advocate for that, here or in a separate thread. Bad faith is the end of civil discourse.
posted by mordax at 10:08 PM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


christ, what an asshole
posted by Ahmad Khani at 10:09 PM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


I don't know hippybear that well, but I do appreciate his contributions here (800 FPPs and counting). I choose to charitably read his "stir the shit a bit" as more along the lines of "provoke discussion" than "endeavoring to cause chaos" ... or as he put it in his last comment:

"spark discussion".
posted by philip-random at 10:13 PM on June 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


as more along the lines of "provoke discussion" than "endeavoring to cause chaos"

Having had threads where he "provoked discussion" with a threadshit that led to multiple comment deletions I don't see the functional difference.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:14 PM on June 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


I don't know hippybear that well

Lucky you. I was there to flag at least one of those derails Homo neanderthalensis just referenced, and the intention was not to 'spark discussion,' it was very much to kill it.
posted by mordax at 10:18 PM on June 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


Lucky you.

That is really harsh.
posted by delight at 10:24 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Y'all let's move on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:32 PM on June 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


Not sure turning the thread into a referendum on hippybear after he's already been asked to leave is really doing anyone any favors here either. But I don't think nasty quips are any better than stirring the pot is for the overall health of the site. Or the mods' mental health.

As a general point, though, Metafilter is its active members, and I think it's good that there's a relatively high threshold for banning. I don't think a public reprimand is coddling or glossing over anything. We're all human with human flaws, and if this really is a community we need to find a way to forgive each other, without necessarily excusing the bad behavior. Generally speaking I think the mods' current approach to this (asking/telling people to voluntarily take a time out when they cross a line, and only escalating if needed) is a good one.
posted by biogeo at 10:33 PM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


I think the mods' current approach to this (asking/telling people to voluntarily take a time out when they cross a line, and only escalating if needed) is a good one.

The problem is sometimes it seems as if some members keep crossing lines and being asked kindly to take a breather but the matter is never escalated to a banning no matter how many nerves they're preying on.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:36 PM on June 5, 2019 [13 favorites]


That is really harsh.

While I assure you my feelings are heartfelt and entirely fair, I apologize for expressing them so bluntly. I'm going to step away because cortex's request to rerail is a good one, (entirely apart from the whole mod/banhammer thing), and I'm not part of the solution there, not tonight.

Really, sorry to make you feel bad.
posted by mordax at 10:39 PM on June 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


In an attempt to "rerail" there is, and not just for Poc or other communities, a fair amount of jargon and incrowd phrasing and terminology. The museum thread was not going to go well but especially for a first time poster it warranted a less coded explanation, like, "Sorry but on a review of the trend of comments this thread will likely diverge into acrimonious shouting that will neither be good for the topic and could harm some of the involved, thus terminating now. Please contact us for help in crafting a more effective post for this community".

Basically spelling out the meaning of outragefilter.

Does the mod interface have an indicator of first time (or newish) posters? It could help with 'moderating' the mods. I am not in any oppressed community (other than my internal oppression) and recall vividly how nervous my first couple posts felt.

No suggesting coddling but care and feeding of new folks is important.

But jj's.mama discussed her growing dissatisfaction with the community rather than being offended by the deletion and changing this place's basic nature does not seem practical or the right thing, unless it occurs organically. That will happen if there are more communities included, and outright coddling of newbies should be a policy. So yes, pony request (note the jargon:) coddle new posters.
posted by sammyo at 10:52 PM on June 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


> https://mefideleted.blogspot.com/

and the deletion reasons, which range from kind/helpful to flat out rude


In the spirit of understanding better what specific things are bothering folks, I'm okay talking about specifics there if there's e.g. examples from the last several dozen post deletions that folks feel like qualify as flat out rude. I've been a little surprised at the characterization of contemporary deletion reasons as being in that territory (aside from those for e.g. literal spammers because fuck 'em, but maybe also I'm overestimating the degree to which people agree with "fuck spammers" as a consensus sentiment) because it's something that we've tried to move away from over the years. Deletion reasons were pretty regularly explicitly zingery in tone a decade back (and I was very much a part of that) but we've tried to basically cut that out in the interim but maybe my meter on that is different from other people's.

I do think we end up on the terse side sometimes and the I can see the one on the museum post reading that way especially with the frustrating context of "go for it!" followed by delete, etc., and I think that's something worth trying to rework a bit as mod practice in favor of a little more detail. And I guess I want to get some feedback on the specific deletion reasons in practice rather than just on the general sentiment about what deletion reasons are conceived to be like to better understand where and how much of an issue that is for people.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:54 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Or how about just having a lexicon (required reading) of Mifi code words?
posted by sammyo at 10:56 PM on June 5, 2019


Does the mod interface have an indicator of first time (or newish) posters?

We get an email alert whenever someone makes their first post (so e.g. we got one when jj's.mama made her first post last November), and we use that both to try and keep a little bit of an eye out for folks stumbling in their initial go (and as a reminder to check on on potentially sketchy new users who might be suspected spammers, not a relevant issue in this case). We don't continue alerts like that beyond the first post, and I don't know for sure that we'd get a lot of utility out of second, third, nth alerts per se, but I do get where folks are coming from on the idea of trying to provide more guidance for newer users and I think it's worth us thinking about strategies and practices for that mod-side.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:58 PM on June 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


(Also n.b. I'm headed to bed; I'm happy to follow up on the above but it'll be in the morning.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:06 PM on June 5, 2019


I think this is an example of a good post deletion comment:

Post 180419
"For an FPP, it would be better to work up something with a bit more context and info than a pretty bare "News of the Weird and/or Gruesome" type link. Please contact us if you have questions."
1. Gives specific reason for what is wrong
2. Gives actionable suggestion(s)
3. Shows poster there's a way to start dialogue with mods to rework/discuss
posted by sacchan at 11:12 PM on June 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


Of the most recent I think many of the deletions are just vague and unhelpful, the zingers usually seem to be in-thread when coming from mods as opposed to recent deletions. I truly can’t tell what’s wrong with many of these posts other than the obvious spam. “This isn’t going to go over well” or “this isn’t going to work” seem to be the most used wording and that’s just really not helpful and also in terms of being directed towards marginalized people on topics touching obvious nerves it seems, like has been pointed out above, to be saying that the post is fine but the community isn’t held to a high enough standard to handle the discussion and that’s rough.

I know people can reach out to ask follow ups, but I have always been confused by why “oh just hit us up using the contact form” isn’t recognized as being intimidating to many of us, especially newer members. It also makes the process oblique to the rest of us. How often do you reach out to people proactively about their posts? How often do people reach out to talk about their deletions and you reach an understanding? I feel like that process would be helpful for the community as a whole to better understand.

Outside of all that “*slaps roof of car* this bad boy can fit so many bannings in it -- cortex“ is hilarious and a good and helpful deletion note :D Zingers for spammers gets my full support.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:13 PM on June 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


In the spirit of understanding better what specific things are bothering folks, I'm okay talking about specifics there if there's e.g. examples from the last several dozen post deletions that folks feel like qualify as flat out rude.

I think this is a productive approach.

In general I think being on the terse side can come across as rude even if it's not intended as such. For some people making an FPP, even a relatively small one, is an emotional act of putting themselves out there, and as such a deletion feels personal. When the deletion reason is terse, there's nothing to challenge that feeling. Of course I don't think we can or should expect a mod to write a paragraphs-long personalized note for every deletion, which is why I think the suggestion upthread to have some stock phrasing for certain kinds of deletions is a good idea. For posters with dozens or hundreds of posts under their username, this maybe isn't necessary, but for others it could mean the difference between reworking and trying again or getting discouraged and leaving the site.

My personal opinion on a few specifics, offered as a data point for how some of these may be read by someone with a fairly low post count:

Hey, this is a bad time to post this - let's revisit when it's not a huge spoiler
Contrary to my above general opinion about terseness, I think this is great. In a few words it gives both a clear reason for deletion ("bad time to post this") while opening the door for a future attempt ("let's revisit when") which makes it clear that the poster's efforts are welcome.

Hey, this is way over the editorializing line, sorry.
For an established poster I think this is probably fine. For a new poster, some boilerplate or a link to guidelines on editorializing would be good.

Eh, I kind of feel like unless/until there's more meat to this than "rich guy writes blog post so bad that he deletes it afterward" it's probably not something we need a post about.
I think the "Eh" pushes this into feeling more critical/sarcastic than was probably intended. Without an accompanying tone of voice it's easy for me to read this very negatively.

This is not going to go over well
This doesn't seem like a good idea
Why not? (Not for the specific posts in question, just in general.) There's not enough here for the poster to actually know why their post was deleted. Maybe there's a general category that a post fits into for which some stock phrasing applies. E.g., "The framing of this post seems specifically prone to triggering people with anxiety and depression and is unlikely to foster good discussion. Can it be reworked to provide more nuance, for example by discussing positive actions people can take to address the problem?"

Feeling the need to preemptively shout at the mods in your own post about how you should be allowed to make said post is a pretty good sign that you should skip making that post.
I think this is fair enough. When the poster clearly knows better, being a little rude in response is understandable.

*slaps roof of car* this bad boy can fit so many bannings in it
Yup, fuck spammers. And deliberate trolls deserve the same.
posted by biogeo at 12:00 AM on June 6, 2019 [8 favorites]


Yeah, no
Yeah, eh
Similarly falls under "too vague to be useful" - this also seems like an opportunity for stock phrasing

This seems to be poorly vetted and isn't going to lead to a civil thread.
Could there be some resources for vetting resources, like a page on the Mefi Wiki, that can be linked to?

This is both thin and nastily framed for no constructive reason.
I'm not sure how this post is nastify framed, it seems to just be stating the facts? I can see a point about it being thin, I'm just confused about the other comment.

Yeah, no worries but I feel like this is landing just on the shy side of the delightfulness-vs-thinness fulcrum.
This could be a bit more in plain English.
posted by divabat at 12:41 AM on June 6, 2019 [11 favorites]


when members of our community say "Hey, this thing you are doing, I would like it if you didn't do that", then perhaps we should not be doing that thing.

The problem is that it's two groups in the community saying "don't do that" to each other about the same thing, and PoC helg caught in the middle. "Stop making negative posts" and "stop deleting important posts about negative things" can't be reconciled with a simple truism.
posted by Dysk at 2:43 AM on June 6, 2019 [15 favorites]


ramix said, "As someone who is a. a person of color, b. a woman, and c. ironically also a mom of a kid named jj, let me just say that this is why after reading this site religiously every day since 2002 (and signed up in 2004), I only have 3 FPPs to my name, ironically all of them single links to lighthearted fare. I have learned (after seeing how the voices of people of color are (inadvertently) silenced),to not post links that address controversial topics and stick to kid related or Ghana related topics. I have learned to self censor, and in a way, it saddens me because my participation on this site is very limited."

I want to echo this. I'm also poc, had an account since 2006, and made 3 FPPs mostly on light stuff, mostly single links.

Over the last few years, I have fallen into a cycle of commenting on lighthearted topics, inevitably posting in a difficult thread, and then getting frustrated and disabling my account for a few months. While I previously felt that metafilter was my home on the internet, I now think of it like Vegas: fun in small doses but ultimately not good for my health.

I think metafilter works best when you are writing for a respectable, white audience. I'm not interested in giving feedback about how to rephrase a deletion reason. Not right now, not absent more fundamental changes. I will continue to have strong feelings.

If you're white, I'd rather you didn't favorite this.
posted by yaymukund at 2:58 AM on June 6, 2019 [13 favorites]


A lot of good comments have been made here about the idea of outragefilter, but I just want to say something about thinness as a criticism.

Megathread has altered and solidified my concept of this place as a "community weblog." I used to think of the FPP as one thing and the comments as a separate thing, unofficial and less important. Megathread is not like that. The FPP part is always beefy and excellent, but then everybody pitches in and adds value to it by contributing their own links. I know people have varying opinions about the value of Megathread, I wanted to bring it up because I feel that this structure is so beneficial. The whole thing is more dense with information, and commenters can feel that they're helping by adding news they've found.

This happens less often away from Megathread, but it doesn't have to be that way. (homunculus does it all the time, and it's awesome. Sometimes you look at a slightly-stale thread, and there are fresh links at the bottom, like Santa visited while you were sleeping.) Anybody can add links in comments to shore up the FPP. We don't have to come up with a lawyerly definition of what is and isn't "thin" that will please everyone and alienate no one, and be easy to understand. I think we can just throw that whole "thin" rule out and embrace the idea of comments adding integral information and context.
posted by heatvision at 4:21 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how this post is nastify framed, it seems to just be stating the facts?

Despite having my share of real shit I've gone through, bad things happening to animals are something my brain attempts to seize on with distressing vehemence with anything in the way of details like that. In my case, this goes like 10x for anything related to harm to cats, though it can happen sometimes with other creatures. This is not a particularly uncommon trigger; I'd be happy to keep details like that below the fold.

But this seems like a great case in point... if it isn't the kind of thing where that sentence instantly turns your stomach, that deletion reason isn't really going to inform you of why it was a problem and it seems likely that a lot of people would struggle to guess what the problem was. Even I'm just guessing that this is the issue, based on that phrasing. If people are posting in good faith, I think it warrants more detail than this about what's wrong and how to do better.
posted by Sequence at 4:35 AM on June 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


As the white parent of a black child, I would really have appreciated seeing the post linked to at the top of this thread. Maybe I wouldn't have commented, but I would have read it intently. To delete it because it might only produce outrage makes little sense to me and indeed feels like censorship. Let me have my outrage; let me decide what I want to do with it.
posted by Morpeth at 4:55 AM on June 6, 2019 [13 favorites]


As far as language for deletion reasons: I do think there's reason for a good conversation and some new standrads of practice. First, the deletion reasons are quite uneven mod to mod. Some are polite and give constructive suggestions. Others are terse. And terseness does read badly, there's no doubt of that. But slanginess or attempts to convey a certain conversational tone often do, too. THings like "yeah, no" and "eh" are very easily to read in a dismissive and sarcastic tone. Let alone just "yeah, eh" as the entire reason.

Also, compare this:

An obit post should be more than just the announcement of the fact; maybe there are other links to obit stories or to things he did?

and

An obit should really have better content than a link to a Wikipedia subheading.

Is the latter factual? Yes. Is it possible to read as if it's dripping with sneer? Yes indeed. And this is flat out sarcastic:
Hey, by "more context" I definitely didn't mean "exactly the same tone but with one more line added". Sorry if that was unclear.

There are not many other possible intents available there. Similarly, Seriously?

Or

Man, I know this is kinda Your Thing but it still needs to be an actual Metafilter post and not a personal blog post.

A general assumption that everyone knows the playbook also seems at issue. Example: This is against the rules - Which rules? Where are the rules?

Some deletion reasons use terms of art as shorthand identifications for problems like "editorializing," "framing," "not gonna go well" - these really assume someone has been marinating in the language of the site or the guidelines, and that's just not the case for everyone.

I agree with others above that making a post is an act of emotional investment, and for people who by all appearances are well-intended in their effort, a dismissive reason can feel like a slap on the hand even if, for the mod, it seemed like moderate language. Based on paging back 3-4 pages in the deleted posts log, LobsterMitten and Taz give consistently helpful feedback - polite, clear, reference to the standards and a suggestion for how to improve. It would be great if their approach to language use became site standard in general. What plays less well are the attempts at humor, the "Hey...." language that I'm sure is an attempt to soften but (to me anyway) sounds a lot like Cool Teacher Talks to Bad Kid - adding "hey" or "yeah" doesn't make a brusque phrase suddenly appropriate. And definitely the likes of "yeah no" or references to a standard with no explanation are unhelpful.

It's one of those places to remember there's more than one audience. Sure, the mods might know that X user has been told the rules before and doesn't "deserve" a full explanation, or that the post was by a spammer, or whatever. But anyone looking through these doesn't know what the mods know. As evidence of how the site is moderated, it's confusing, not that helpful, and distinctly uneven person to person.

On the whole it's interesting to see how rare FPP deletion is. We all know the mods are busy, but they aren't happening at such a volume that it would be a serious cost to productivity to say enough in the deletion reason to give information about which standard was violated, and when appropriate, suggestions and resources for improvement. A boilerplate line about each of the general standards wouldn't be a bad idea - eg, "MetaFilter's standard is that posts should focus on interesting content. Editorializing (adding commentary about the poster's opinion) tends to make the poster's view of the content more important than the content itself, and for that reason this post violates the standard" or something like that.

Finally, I think it's time to retire "This isn't gonna go well" or "MeFi doesn't do this well." I don't know what the right language is, but it basically could easily read like "because this community isn't ready to consider your point of view worthwhile, you and your post ideas don't belong here." Combine that possible reading with content that is already about exclusion from white spaces (as it says in the post title), and you can easily see how unfriendly that is.
posted by Miko at 4:56 AM on June 6, 2019 [32 favorites]


A general assumption that everyone knows the playbook also seems at issue. Example: This is against the rules - Which rules? Where are the rules?

This is a strange one - was the link edited by a mod, or was it always a link to example.com? Isn't that something that isn't generally done, certainly not without a note to that effect? If it hasn't been edited, it seems more like a mistake than "this is against the rules".
posted by Dysk at 5:02 AM on June 6, 2019


I really don't like the wording of that deletion reason. The use of "classic" to me suggests the problem was as big a barn door and the poster was being willfully dense. Given a lot of the posts that are allowed to remain, no, not that obvious. This is in addition to agreeing with everyone who's said that deletion feels very exclusionary. Or rather the wording is the cherry on top.
posted by BibiRose at 5:06 AM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


This is against the rules - Which rules? Where are the rules
The user's name is similar to that of the husband of the author of the linked site and one of their previous 2 comments was a link to that site. Not strictly self-linking (per new policy), and relatively open, but a bit too close for comfort I guess.
posted by elgilito at 5:39 AM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


Wasn’t there recently a discussion on whether it should continue to be against the rules to promote content that the user wrote/produced? Not to encourage people who want to post links to their personal blog that gets 12 visitors, but for users whose content is being widely distributed, and which would be on-topic if it were posted by someone else.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:52 AM on June 6, 2019


Autumnheart: the discussion was about relaxing rules on posting things made by people you know, but your own stuff should still go to Projects first.
posted by divabat at 6:12 AM on June 6, 2019 [4 favorites]


This is a strange one - was the link edited by a mod, or was it always a link to example.com?

The example.com thing is what's usually done for spammers so that even the deleted post no longer benefits them. And honestly, at the time the original post went up, they had only posted a single comment that said "This is hilarious." and they have only returned since to post a single comment with the same blog link--I am comfortable with saying that isn't good faith site participation and that this is mainly surprising in that the person's account still seems to be active. I don't think any relaxing of the rules was ever intended to encompass that kind of behavior.
posted by Sequence at 6:30 AM on June 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


If you see example.com, it means the post was either spam or a self-link. I admit I don't expend much mental energy on the deletion reasons for either.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:35 AM on June 6, 2019 [8 favorites]


Do you think that this specific deleted post was an example of outragefilter? Why or why not?

Possibly. Based on my years reading MeFi, the post could have been fine or descended into people arguing and a wave of negativity. So I understand the mod rationale of deleting it.

Do you think that having outragefilter as a potential deletion reason benefits Metafilter? Why or why not?
I think explaining what outragefilter is every single time it's used as a deletion reason would help alleviate situations. It's fine to have a site culture, if people are taking the time to explain the culture to new comers

Do you think that a policy of deleting single-link-negative-news-story posts benefits Metafilter? Why or why not?

Absolutely helps. Mefi is for interesting links, not a news. While it's possible that a single link negative news story could be interesting, my experience on reading Mefi is that they overwhelming tend to breed negative feelings and nonconstructive arguments. These require more of limited resource (mods), so yeah, delete the fuckers.

Posts that tend to get members arguing with each other, whatever the subject, tend to get deleted. So yeah, a single link post about a movie trailer tends to be people geeking out over that particular piece of media. Even if people dislike it and argue about it, it'll have a have much less of a "kill or be killed" tone in arguments.

A single link post about an incident in Israel? That's might not even last a minute, due to past experiences of people turning the post into a shitstorm that might not even be related to the original post content.

Summing up, this deletion was ok, the reason for deletion definitely should have been more encouraging about reposting it with a bit more context or other angles.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:36 AM on June 6, 2019 [10 favorites]


The slide of this thread toward "Let's dispassionately discuss deletion reason wording" and away from how POC are treated on this site seems to be white fragility rearing up, with white people sticking our fingers in our ears and ignoring their concerns about bigger issues than whether the moderators are nice enough to spammers.
posted by lazuli at 6:38 AM on June 6, 2019 [37 favorites]


lazuli: to be fair, I'm a PoC that's been pretty vocal about how this site hasn't been good to PoCs and I'm contributing to the deletion note discussion because I think that's a major contributor to the problem.

Milo makes a good point about how there's a stark difference in the ways individual mods respond to deletions. There should really be a style guide thing that all the mods follow to provide consistent messaging, which would also go a long way towards clarifying site norms and rules.

"Interesting" is subjective. Plenty of news stuff is interesting, that's kinda why they're news. It seems that "interesting" according to Metafilter is "palatable towards white people without challenging them too much" (I'm not going to add caveats for further demographics because white women and white LGBTQ folk are still perpetuating this to a serious degree).
posted by divabat at 7:04 AM on June 6, 2019 [22 favorites]


The topic of this thread is explicitly about deletion reason wording. The context is how the wording of a specific deletion comes across as unwelcoming to POC, with the discussion highlighting how this specific instance is part of a larger pattern. Discussing the wording of deletion reasons is discussing ways to break that pattern. I don't think it's helpful to paint these things as in opposition to each other.
posted by biogeo at 7:10 AM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


I've done a 180 on my feelings about this.

I still don't want MetaFilter to become a 24/7 gripe-fest, but I don't think we've yet identified a good way of doing that without silencing already-oppressed voices, especially when we're uncritically allowing tons of other similar content (like the Megathreads + Socialism posts, which are completely at odds with all of our rules, despite driving most of the current engagement on this site).

Until we have a more diverse moderation staff, I don't trust that we're going to be able to filter out deliberately-inflammatory posts from ones that come from the perspective of an oppressed community.
posted by schmod at 7:32 AM on June 6, 2019 [12 favorites]


but your own stuff should still go to Projects first.

and you can link to your stuff from within the comments assuming, of course, that it's relevant to the conversation ... and I think you're supposed to make it clear that it is some kind of self-link.
posted by philip-random at 7:42 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


The slide of this thread toward "Let's dispassionately discuss deletion reason wording" and away from how POC are treated on this site seems to be white fragility rearing up

I almost wrote something this morning about some of the white fragility that feels really present here. That said, we white MeFites are not the only ones talking, and it's pretty unfortunate timing that this comment ended up in the thread literally right after a MeFite of color giving a nuanced take on the deletion and its wording.
posted by solotoro at 7:49 AM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


Pace Barbara Kruger, who gets to be outraged?

It seems reasonable to limit the total outrage, but if what outrage does get through is unbalanced, that tells us something.

That said, demanding the mod team be more diverse always smacks of tokenism, especially given the small size of it. I am much more concerned about editorial choices than exact composition, even as more diversity in hiring is desirable and should be striven for.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:54 AM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


"Stop making negative posts" and "stop deleting important posts about negative things" can't be reconciled with a simple truism.

but we can define what constitutes a "good" post or perhaps "solid" post and work from there. And the thing is, I think we already know that -- we being those with experience here (the mods in particular). And here, I don't mean what worked ten years ago because the site has evolved, the site continues to evolve -- I mean, what tends to be working and not working of late.

And speaking of that evolution. Back in the day, I tended to argue against increased vigilance with regard to moderating potentially provocative posts, as I thoroughly enjoyed a good argument (as much to spectate as to participate in). But at some point, I accepted the point that such was proving very hurtful to others who perhaps didn't share my particular cultural background and touch points. I think that it's possible MeFi lost something in choosing to be more "sensitive", but on the other hand, here it is, still functioning, still sometimes very relevant. I think I was wrong back then.

That we're now getting push from what seems to be a whole other perspective to lighten the "heavy hand" of moderation with regard to potentially provocative stuff strikes me as interesting to say the least and definitely worth exploring, even as I've mostly found myself arguing here in favor of mod decisions that would prioritize avoiding potentially chaotic situations.

Perhaps I'm wrong again.
posted by philip-random at 8:07 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


In the spirit of understanding better what specific things are bothering folks, I'm okay talking about specifics there if there's e.g. examples from the last several dozen post deletions that folks feel like qualify as flat out rude.

I'm actually sorry I even brought this up because while I appreciate that you're okay talking about these specifics, I feel like there are additional broad, complex issues that have been discussed by members here - the exclusionary feel of MetaFilter, the homogeneity of the mod staff - that would benefit from being addressed by staff.

I fear that this will be another MeTa where only one practical aspect of a problem will be addressed by mods - we will improve deletion reasons! - and the larger issues of which deletion reasons are a symptom will continue to seethe below the surface.
posted by lalex at 8:28 AM on June 6, 2019 [14 favorites]


able to filter out deliberately-inflammatory posts from ones that come from the perspective of an oppressed community.

**FOR THE purpose of reducing out of control threads that are legit harmful, is there a difference? Go look at the thread in question, it was going to rapidly turn into shouting and at a minimum hurt feelings. Important topic, can it be edited to create a thread that is thoughtful and improves the world? Can we include different communities that can interact in kind and understanding ways?
posted by sammyo at 8:38 AM on June 6, 2019


my view is that the attitude that conflict is inherently bad is part of the problem here and in many other areas of the site.
posted by lalex at 8:44 AM on June 6, 2019 [17 favorites]


> it was going to rapidly turn into shouting and at a minimum hurt feelings

Wait, what? There really isn't any indication of that based on the comments on the thread at the time it was deleted. And frankly avoiding white people getting their feelings hurt or feeling shouted at (we all speak at the same volume here) isn't a good reason to shut down a thread. I also don't think we need to make sure a post is phrased so that the resulting conversion is going to improve the world, especially when it's being written by a member of a marginalized group who isn't responsible for making the conversation about their marginalization solve any problems or make people feel understood.

Above prize bull octorok said But for me the prevalence of these posts really hollows out the assertion that jj's.mama just needed some handholding, a little workshopping, a few extra links or whatever to make her post substantive enough. Like the problem she was talking about before she posted about the museum is something we can condescend our way out of. and your comment really feels like part of what was being talked about there.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 8:48 AM on June 6, 2019 [14 favorites]


That we're now getting push from what seems to be a whole other perspective to lighten the "heavy hand" of moderation with regard to potentially provocative stuff...

Conflating PoC talking about racism with the "provocative stuff" that went away with becoming more "sensitive" is neither a good look, nor particularly illuminating.
posted by Dysk at 9:00 AM on June 6, 2019 [17 favorites]


I think the mods need to pick a couple examples and take a vacation/go on strike. folks have forgotten how very bad threads can go, perhaps a couple examples would make their choices understandable. Very smart folk here with a range of social skills when in attack mode are really quite effective at getting through verbal and perceptual barriers.

Read again more carefully I WAS NOT conflating PoC with "provocative stuff". Totally different except for a couple details. They both use words. That's a statement of fact, both use words. That's a dumb point but it's a meta point to emphasize my original point that the words ALSO in certain instances may trigger in an unproductive direction. One good, one bad, sometimes does not work. Different issue. I certainly was unclear and apologize (my other thought was a setting that say 'please edit my weak language' but that's a digression).

I did not understand at first, I mean it's just words on a web site, but it does get intense and over time multiple folks have had to leave this community (pray that that is the worst)

Actually do think there should be a volunteer editorial team, not to choose direction but more copy edit to tune problematic topics to work better (and help clean up my lameass prose too ;-)
posted by sammyo at 9:23 AM on June 6, 2019


> and then I left enough breadcrumbs

> civility is necessary as a matter of being able to participate in a space without it severely affecting them for hours.

I think it's more than hours when we're talking about lived experience. I was also vague in my earlier comments, but jj.mama's post immediately read to me as, 'this thing, that happens every day, every minute, all the time, and now in this one particular place, to children, **but it's actually getting picked up by the news,**' and if it hadn't been deleted, I could have actively participated in the discussion. I didn't process it so much as an outrage (even though it is), but more as a breakthrough in our culture, as in we get to talk about institutionalized racism, because the news is *almost* talking about it, and I expected that Metafilter was going to do the issue justice based only on jj.mama's prompt. Maybe it's my own lived experience informing that view, and maybe it's because I avidly read and write US Politics megathreads, and I have my own feelings about how we actually roll over there.

And then the deletion was being discussed in the Fucking Fuck thread, that I made, and especially because I made the thread (because we needed the link for the US Politics megathread), I was checking in on it, and then trying to nudge the deletion discussion out of it, and in hindsight, I should have contacted the mods, and I really appreciate 23skidoo making this MeTa.

But I would have repeatedly checked in on jj.mama's post, including because it is that important of a discussion to protect. I am serious about trying to be a positive (however that may be defined) part of this community, and I think we can, to the extent that we're able, make commitments to flag comments that only seek to stir up shit and cause harm, and then contact the mods if the flags don't seem to be enough, and make MeTas if that doesn't seem to be working.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:27 AM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


my view is that the attitude that conflict is inherently bad is part of the problem here and in many other areas of the site.

Conflict is also explicitly exclusionary to people sometimes as well, hard stop. I tried to be really gentle about this upthread, talking about "some people feel", but I'm going to be more explicit. I - a WOC with PTSD from interpersonal violence - am incredibly negatively affected by the kind of interpersonal conflict that some are arguing in favor of, even if it's not directed at me. Even if the people doing it are well intentioned or the subject is good or important.

When conflict gets to the extreme level that the mods try to avoid: it is physically upsetting to me. It causes my heart to race and for me to physically feel unable to leave the room. Someone is being attacked is a shortcircuit to my body going haywire. When it gets really bad, I have severe intestinal distress such that I can't function or drive and have to pull over or confine myself to my house. It increases the amount of nightmares I have, which are already bad enough I need to take medication for it. When the amount is increased, my medication doesn't work.

I have started focusing on my own mental health over the years, in part as my friends around me have started suiciding and I am determined not to be in their number. If this site goes back to the freewheeling grudgematches that it used to, I will leave. I will be sad to leave - I love this community and the people who are a part of it - but I find that kind of activity actively detrimental to my mental and physical health.
posted by corb at 9:30 AM on June 6, 2019 [31 favorites]


If this site goes back to the freewheeling grudgematches that it used to, I will leave.

There has to be a middle ground between freewheeling grudgematches and enforced false sterile positivity though right?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:32 AM on June 6, 2019 [12 favorites]


No one wants grudge matches or fighting. That isn't what we're talking about, respectfully.

I would have let that thread stand. I think we don't need to cut off threads, especially about marginalized groups, because they "won't go well." Let it breathe, and see how it goes.
posted by agregoli at 9:40 AM on June 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'd like for all of us to be a little lighter on the flags based on "What is someone else going to think about this story?" Have a tad more faith in your fellow MeFites (yes, even if you feel it's unwarranted -- that's what faith is).
posted by Etrigan at 9:41 AM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


I think that as long the US Politics megathreads exist there's no oxygen available for other threads that could require too much mod attention to be productive. Which sends a pretty clear signal that US Politics > any other issue for MeFi.
posted by Memo at 9:48 AM on June 6, 2019 [10 favorites]


Read again more carefully I WAS NOT conflating PoC with "provocative stuff".

posted by sammyo


Umm, unless you're philip-random in disguise, then no you didn't, but the comment (by philip-random) I quoted did.
posted by Dysk at 9:57 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think the mods need to pick a couple examples and take a vacation/go on strike. folks have forgotten how very bad threads can go, perhaps a couple examples would make their choices understandable.

Nobody is calling for these threads to be free-for-alls as you seem to be implying? If people get fighty in them, maybe that could be subject to moderation, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
posted by Dysk at 9:59 AM on June 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


there is a reason that thread was likely to go badly, butI can't express it very politely. The reason is that metafilter is a very white place, a very American place, and a very middle-aged place, and white middle-aged Americans (as a group) don't practice self-control when discussing things like racism, they don't see the need to self-censor, they don't think they should have to opt -out of anything, and they don't see the need to code-switch ever to speaking styles that aren't their preferred way of speaking.

yeah, and that's another reason these threads aren't just "outrage," they're education. Privileged people don't get many opportunities to learn how to codeswitch so as to speak politely to relatively unprivileged people, but they might really want to learn. I find these rare opportunities to learn how not to talk like a boorish ass all the time really useful to me in my life as a human among humans.

I don't know about other white Americans on the site and their codeswitching practices, but I, for one, am predictably still very terrible at talking to people who're down a rung or several from me on the privilege ladder. This is precisely because of deliberate elimination of opportunities to learn. So we get stuff like yoga's "Just Asking Questions about purple and green people" above. It's not like yoga is deliberately trying to incite discord: yoga said that they didn't want to hurt anyone, and lamented at the end of their comment that it didn't make sense. Yoga doesn't know how to communicate about this, yet, because yoga hasn't had a lot of chances, yet, to learn how to talk to people whose life experiences are different from theirs. Because yoga is living in apartheid along with all the rest of us.

By contrast, we--yoga and I and pretty much everybody--are great at changing tone to talk to people higher up on the privilege ladder. That's because everybody gets to practice how to talk with people above them because those people talk all the time, and nobody tells them to be quiet.

For an example, regard me dancing around up there, and switching to a speaking style that's appropriate for speaking to someone more privileged than I am: "The deletion was understandable, but in context it was not a good deletion."

When problemetizing the deletion, I without having to think about it at all saw the need to be extremely gentle and respectful. Were I in the mod's position, a thing I can, from my place of relative privilege, having been in similar privileged positions and having committed similarly unfortunate blunders while in those positions, easily imagine, I can easily see that if I were called on a blunder my immediate reaction would be defensive. I would want, if possible, to not have to hear the criticism.

So if I want personwhoisprobablyreactinglikeIwouldintheirshoes to hear me when I speak, I need to be very careful to debarb everything I'm saying so as not to seem like I'm attacking.

This is a really terrible state of affairs: we've learned how to take the barbs out of everything we say to privileged people, but we don't even recognize as barbs the barbs in the things we say to underprivileged people. That is so lamentably backwards and stupid.

Please don't delete posts like jj's.mama's. They may not have gone well in the past, but that doesn't mean that they never will. The community can learn to make them go well.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:13 AM on June 6, 2019 [46 favorites]


Okay, I'd like to amend my comment- there is a reason that thread was likely to go badly, but I can't express it very politely. The reason is that metafilter is a very white place, a very American place, and a very middle-aged place, and white middle-aged Americans (as a group) don't practice self-control when discussing things like racism, they don't see the need to self-censor, they don't think they should have to opt -out of anything, and they don't see the need to code-switch ever to speaking styles that aren't their preferred way of speaking

This is radically at odds with your earlier comment, which suggested such an outcome was one you hadn't even imagined. Has your opinion on metafilter and middle aged people actually changed so much overnight?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:25 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


(My guess is that it hasn't, and the thread has made you realize that you were pretending you had a higher opinion of mefi than you did, whether consciously or not - but I can't tell, and I'd love to know more either way).
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:26 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


1. Deleting jjs.mama's second post was wrong and reactionary.
2. If her post was "too thin", the mod response was even thinner.
3. We need to make space for POC to post about topics that are outrageous/important to THEM because their lived experiences are just as important as the massive US politics threads.
4. I am really, really disappointed in how dismissive parts of this thread are to the greater issues surrounding the inclusion, safety, and well-being of POC on this site.
5. I agree that having a more diverse set of mods would make a positive difference when it comes to evaluating deletions before they happen.
6. We can and should do better.
7. "Outragefilter" is a pejorative and we need to stop using it.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:27 AM on June 6, 2019 [66 favorites]


No, I meant this comment.

Respectfully, if that's even a remote possible bad outcome, this site is in worse shape than I thought and we should all stop pretending that Metafilter is anything to brag about. What you described sounds pathetic AF, it's how I would expect ill-mannered children to discuss Racism in a Boston Museum, not (mostly) middle-aged adults.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:46 AM on June 6, 2019


"My guess is that... the thread has made you realize that you were pretending you had a higher opinion of mefi than you did."
You might want to google "codeswitching" to understand your recent experience of cognitive dissonance while reading text on Metafilter.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:46 AM on June 6, 2019 [8 favorites]


Funny story, I spent a day googling the phrase earlier this week for a discussion on the difference between the academic use of the term today and the layman usage, which is based on the academic usage of several decades ago. Let me know if you want to learn more about it.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:49 AM on June 6, 2019


A reminder: the POC who are yet again expending considerable effort to educate people in this thread are not abstractions. They are real people and their efforts here have a real cost to them in terms of emotional wellbeing. Respect that, and think carefully about your words before you post them.

POC members of MetaFilter are repeatedly telling the wider community they feel unwelcome here. That is an enormous problem and it needs to be fixed.

Speaking for myself, I'd like to see a whole lot more listening and a whole lot less talking from white people in this thread.
posted by scrump at 10:51 AM on June 6, 2019 [52 favorites]


Comparisons are odious, apples/oranges, and no hierarchy of oppression. Recognizing those important principles, I offer a small potential case study for consideration about which posts are allowed to stand alone and which are not. There is an FPP on the front page right now that is a single link to an opinion piece in the Atlantic about the Catholic Church. Setting aside the different nature of the content and the fact that there is wide context within the piece itself - could we actually imagine a MeFi that would have sent this post back as "Outragefilter?" Or would have said "Please provide more substance to give the post context?"

The assumption is that the userbase already knows about the Catholic Church's ugly histories, and is actively interested in yet another critical piece about everything that's wrong with the Church. Everything about this post was A-OK to a largely-white audience with a fair amount of overlap to Catholic Church issues. No one popped in to say that the poster should provide additional links to explain what the Catholic Church is, what a priest is, what the wider issues represented here are, or why anyone should care. No one challenged the lack of background. Assumptions were made by poster, users, and mods that users know about the background for this post, and care, and it doesn't need additional justification. That was a safe assumption...for an audience familiar with issues and cultural events that affect mostly white people.

It seems evident that the truth is that the post under discussion , the MFA post, had to pass an invisible, higher bar than that Catholic Church opinion piece did. And it does not surprise me to learn from the comments here that users who are POC are aware of that, and that they have opted out of posting anything topical, because they know the bar is different for that content. And that means because of blindness to the implicit biases of whiteness, we are all missing out on really interesting discussions we could be having.

And that tacit lower standard for white-friendly topical content is not an especially defensible standard. The piece itself is mildly interesting but does not contain truly new content and did not generate a particularly amazing discussion. It wasn't a lengthy conversation, and a couple flip/noise comments were allowed to pass. In short, it's totally mediocre -as a piece, as a MeFi post, and as a discussion - and yet no (visible to users) eyebrow was raised about it.

That's definitely a double standard in action.
posted by Miko at 10:56 AM on June 6, 2019 [74 favorites]


If people get fighty in them, maybe that could be subject to moderation, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

This, but also, I would really appreciate it very much if such things were also subject to some attention re: white people wailing and rending garments over how bad white people are, above and beyond just whether people are actively fighting with each other. Even this thread, honestly, is kind of emblematic to me of how the performance of how disgusted white people are with racism creates a lot of noise and drowns out people talking about their actual experiences with it and feelings about how to make this a better place. Not talking about the comment I quoted, here, just the general weight of the total responses in the thread.
posted by Sequence at 10:58 AM on June 6, 2019 [13 favorites]


"Funny story, I spent a day googling the phrase earlier this week for a discussion on the difference between the academic use of the term today and the layman usage, which is based on the academic usage of several decades ago."

Sweet, okay, then you can apply your academic knowledge to your real world experience! What happened there was not that 23skidoo suddenly realized they were pretending all along. Instead, 23skidoo deliberately stopped being polite for a minute: stopped, if you will permit the lay usage of the term, "code switching" for you and spoke plainly to you. They even included a content warning on that part so that you could skip it if you didn't want to be offended. You read it anyway and got offended and then revealed that fact here, which I think is an example of something called by lay persons talking about soccer an own goal.

(FWIW, I'm similarly enraged that middle-aged people got lumped in with white Americans. Generation X is middle aged, and gen Xers are a great group of people.)
posted by Don Pepino at 11:01 AM on June 6, 2019 [14 favorites]


It seems like there is a tendency (for white users especially) to feel tension in a thread raising an issue of inequality on the site, and attempt to exorcise that tension by talking through smaller-scale conflicts or picking (arcane or meaningless) fights among the comments.* This has the unfortunate effect of centering the white users in the discussion and crowding out the users of color who are willing to participate and explain problems they see for the nth time. Litigating comments while avoiding/ignoring the topic of this post just creates noise. And I’m sorry if I’m contributing to that with this comment but it’s very noticeable in this thread. Like people often say on AskMe, it’s ok to sit and listen to someone talk about a problem they’re having and refrain from jumping in with “but have you tried” “tell me what to do” etc.

*(This seems mostly unconscious to me, as compared to the Taylor Swift derail in the middle of this thread, which was profoundly shitty and intentional, IMO.)
posted by sallybrown at 11:08 AM on June 6, 2019 [26 favorites]


There are a lot of MeFites. I know there are a certain number of high-profile commenters, but do the mods really know every member well enough to know who is a person of color, who is a USAian, who is trans, etc? Is this something we want the mods keeping track of?

I'm all for treating people who's voices have been marginalized with care, but I think the internet has proven that there are plenty of white dudes who will claim to be things they're not just to score argument points. Really we should be treating everyone with care.

MetaFilter reacted and changed for the better when folks rose up with complaints that it was a boyzone. We do a better job with trans issues than we did back in the day. But racial stuff is really hard for a lot of reasons. It's not the same worldwide; different minority groups face different problems; the semi-anonymity of MetaFilter makes it hard to identify who is speaking from what experiences.

We have to tackle this. Have the mods taken any training in dealing with systemic racism? Organizing together through a shared analysis of the problem is the only way of changing systems infused with white supremacy (and as a US-originating resource, MF counts). I highly recommend REI as a great first-step workshop.
posted by rikschell at 11:11 AM on June 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


Don Pepino, most of the assumptions you're making about my thoughts are wrong, thanks.

23skidoo - your disbelief being about the scale of going badly makes sense, thanks.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:13 AM on June 6, 2019


Last night I was talking with my partner (a longtime MeFi lurker) about why this MeTa was really infuriating to me and that I was going to comment in the morning, if only to register my disappointment. I see so many others have spoken up that the focus on deletion wording is important and constructive, but also obscures the real issue at hand of POC here feeling welcome and respected.

23skiddoo, was spot on with this: Okay, I'd like to amend my comment- there is a reason that thread was likely to go badly, but I can't express it very politely. The reason is that metafilter is a very white place, a very American place, and a very middle-aged place, and white middle-aged Americans (as a group) don't practice self-control when discussing things like racism, they don't see the need to self-censor, they don't think they should have to opt -out of anything, and they don't see the need to code-switch ever to speaking styles that aren't their preferred way of speaking.

I'm a white (almost) middle-aged American and I realized through this thread that one reason I'm finding it harder to keep engaged here is that this community sucks at race issues (as described above) because they have to be centered just-so in a palatable way for white middle-aged Americans. We suck at reading/listening and sitting with discomfort without doing a "yeah, but..." There's so much education around this topic for many members, but it can't seem to happen here because we as a community can't handle these topics. All the attempts to liken our issues with talking about race (in this case northern USA racism) with other topics is a great example of white fragility. It's all over this discussion as one would expect, but what's the path forward?

I think Hermione Grainger's summary above is good because it highlights all the major outstanding issues. I want to know how cortex actually plans to address these long held concerns by many members of the community about the lack of representation in the moderators and how that leads to this site not being welcoming to POC due to implicit bias. Being more deliberate and less flip in deletion comments is an easy band-aid on a much deeper issue.
posted by kendrak at 11:14 AM on June 6, 2019 [20 favorites]


Agent of KAOS I’m not sure what your goal here is by trying to turn this into a semantics fest, but it’s not a good look. Not everything needs everyone’s opinion, and I’d like to listen to the people who aren’t fighting other members and have something valuable to contribute beyond mansplaining words that no one needed explaining, thanks. As far as this white guy is concerned, I’m going to go back to shutting up and listening.
posted by Drumhellz at 11:17 AM on June 6, 2019 [12 favorites]


There is an FPP on the front page right now that is a single link to an opinion piece in the Atlantic about the Catholic Church.

I’ve flagged it as a too-thin single-link post that’s more suited to Twitter than Metafilter—it doesn’t even mention that it’s an 8,000-word think piece by National Book Award–winner James Carroll—and now I’m moving on.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:17 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


There is an FPP on the front page right now that is a single link to an opinion piece in the Atlantic about the Catholic Church.

Just as a point of order, we tend not to delete things that are a couple days old unless they're pretty profoundly problematic. It didn't get any flags in the first couple days.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:24 AM on June 6, 2019


I'm on board with the whites of MeFi learning a bit of how the discuss race on MeFi ..learning codeswitching or consideration of the views of POC, or whatever is effective and being more inclusive. But it'll definitely take time if you weren't raised with it, and you can get rusty with practice...

I mentioned above that I'm Filatino...though that's really shorthand for "Texan of Filipino/Mexican heritage." Being mixed brings its own perspectives, but in general I often find myself commenting less on race related threads in MetaFilter. Part of this is just because ... well... parts of this thread so far. But another big part of that is that I can't count myself familiar with the struggles of different communities. I'm also very aware that I'm culturally very American, so my own perspective on things can easily lead to being insensitive. So what do you do? Well, if an article or a link doesn't seem to provide enough context about a race related issue, it's always good to find other articles to get more. Then you've got to consider if you have anything to contribute at all.

Maybe that can be as simple as commenting something as simple as "this sucks, but I appreciate learning about the situation described?" Some way of acknowledging terrible situations without turning it fighty. I do think MetaFilter is good at that for some topics, so maybe there can be an effort to improve that for race related issues.
posted by Mister Cheese at 11:29 AM on June 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


It didn't get any flags in the first couple days.

I didn't flag it initially because I'm not in the habit of flagging weak posts. Clearly that's an error of judgement that gives the wrong impression of what's "The Best of the Web". Metafilter thrives on informative posts, not Twitter-length single-links.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:32 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Metafilter thrives on informative posts, not Twitter-length single-links.

Just for the record, I think that MetaFilter thrives on discussion, which can flow as easily from Twitter-length single-links as it can from megaposts.
posted by Etrigan at 11:42 AM on June 6, 2019 [25 favorites]


We've opened a new thread specifically to give our members of color a place to discuss site issues - any site issues, not just this one deletion - without having to argue/discuss/claim space from white folks. The discussion can keep going here if people want - the other is specifically for PoC and we're going to keep it as user-directed as we can.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:43 AM on June 6, 2019 [13 favorites]


For what it's worth, I think the criticism of that Catholic church post's framing is totally reasonable; I agree that it's pretty thinly presented and would in general "what helps a thread like this get off to a good start" terms benefit from a little more context or material in the framing. It's the sort of post that a flag or two coming in early on in its life during my shift would have me looking at nixing for the same general reasoning as jj's.mama's post was—not that matter isn't serious or potentially worth talking about but because it didn't look like a great way to kick that off as a MeFi post per se.

I recognize in turn that the question of "well, but it wasn't flagged, and why is that?" is totally legit and at the heart of some of what we're talking about in here. I am not saying that I might well have deleted it to dismiss the larger issue, I just want to reassure folks that looking at that and thinking "this is a weak post" is indeed an okay justification for flagging it for a mod to look at and consider deleting. I know there are totally valid reasons people end up in a Why Bother sort of place on stuff like flagging but I want to underscore that it does matter and is useful for us.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:44 AM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


Metafilter thrives on informative posts, not Twitter-length single-links.

A light-hearted contrary example is the recent GONNA TAKE MY HORSE post, which was posted one minute before my double post that I immediately flagged. The first post was to a Twitter link, and I just added the Youtube video and Guardian article that I had in the comments, which made it a more informative and accessible discussion. I think we can easily do that when there is greater context available, and other sources of information and perspective.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:49 AM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


I recognize in turn that the question of "well, but it wasn't flagged, and why is that?" is totally legit and at the heart of some of what we're talking about in here.

Related question - do users tend to flag posts about race or racism even when they’re on the more substantial side (not single-link FPPs)?
posted by sallybrown at 12:03 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Hmm, not that I'd say right offhand? Might be a case where we should really figure out how to run some data analysis though.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:04 PM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


Related question - do users tend to flag posts about race or racism even when they’re on the more substantial side (not single-link FPPs)?

Not to my general impression no, at least not out of proportion with flags about stuff on other topics. It'd be a big data-sifting project to really analyze it quantitatively, but my general perception of what drives flagging on hard-topic posts is the overall framing (so thinly presented or editorialized posts in particular tend more likely to pick up flags sooner) and recency of similar discussions (so e.g. a post about Hard Topic X is more likely to get flags if there's been two others in the last week than if it's the first in a while).
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:09 PM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


I’m not sure throwing out the idea of “OutrageFilter” (as opposed to the name) is all that great an idea. In the last 10 years, I’ve seen a fair number of think FPPs that’s seemed pretty much just “look at this asshole,” which, in a best case scenario makes everyone angry and competing for denunciation, which is not pleasant or healthy to read, and, in a worst case scenario, gives noxious voices bandwidth. I don’t think jj’s.mama’s FPP fit into that category; the article was substantial and serious. I’m not sure the bad deletion invalidates the idea.

Similarly, while I think more context would have been good (the MFA has been in the news for racism in the past; this wasn’t just “bad apples” or “one shitty day”), there are something like a half dozen single-link FPPs up since this morning, so thinness isn’t much of a barrier when it’s, say, Leonard Cohen or Santana. Maybe that’s the deletion criteria that should be dropped or, at least, held to a much higher standard.

I’m not sure the idea of giving PoCs more latitude makes sense, since there isn’t a good way for mods to know who those users are. Maybe more of a back-and-forth on edge cases would establish that, but it’s extra work for mods and extra emotional work for PoCs. Maybe there’s a list of topics that should be taken more seriously/given more latitude? A year or so back, someone floated the idea of an “advisory board,” but that means once again saddling people with other things to do with the job of being “sub-mods,” which, as I recall, that thread dismissed as unworkable.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that there are a lot of dissatisfied members who are being shut out and buttoning or disengaging because of it, and that’s not a remotely acceptable state of affairs.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:35 PM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


the agents of KAOS, I'm sorry: I think I did make unfounded assumptions. I got thrown completely off by "pretending." It seemed profoundly condescending to speculate that someone might have "realized you were pretending." Because "pretending" is something one does consciously. And "pretending" is duplicitous. So if the person "realizes" they were pretending, it implies the person addressed is not only not fully conscious of their own state of mind and their own actions but also that they're not trustworthy--it seemed quite uncharitable. But again, I think I have misunderstood you.

Cortex: I want to underscore that [flagging] does matter and is useful for us.
In the case of jj'smama's post, it would have been better not to have used flagging to judge whether the post should be deleted, or at least not flagging alone. You can see how relying on flagging caused a major problem in that instance. In cases when some of the flags tossed may have been motivated by a shut-it-down-before-it-can-start impulse to avoid discomfort about a painful but important topic, flags shouldn't be the sole reason for deletion.

Also, you guys, this stuff seems really ominous: "we should really figure out how to run some data analysis" and "It'd be a big data-sifting project to really analyze it quantitatively." I think it's too soon to be taking this approach. If people of color are leaving the site and you want to stop that, embarking on a large and time consuming research project to see if what they say is happening is really happening...? I'm not saying analyzing flagging behavior doesn't sound like a worthwhile project--it sounds like it would make it possible to see what's been happening and like it would make it easier to respond appropriately to flagging case-by-case. I'm saying it doesn't sound like the right first response, whereas the new thread you started seems like exactly what this situation calls for.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:38 PM on June 6, 2019 [14 favorites]


I feel like there was a sort of clusterfucky string of bad luck with how things went up to and through jj's.mama post getting made that made the deletion feel like something more consequential than it otherwise would have, and I don't think there's any fixing that after the fact: the situation's both one of a pretty textbook bit of post moderation and by circumstances something that bummed the poster and other folks out and tied into some other site dynamic stuff besides, and it's hard to cleanly separate the two. I'm sorry it ended up being a messy situation, it sucks.

I think when an organization has reached this point, where policies that are intended to be neutral are actually touching on a deep vein of racism and hurt, it is past the point of tweaking the policies somehow. I don't think that Metatalk threads of mostly white people trying to revise mod messages for days is going to solve this problem (and in fact, I think letting the entire community, of mostly white people, noodle on about this stuff endlessly is part of the problem). The site needs experts.

I would defer to other, better suggestions from POC, but I think it is time for the site to hire someone (consultant, trainer, whatever) to work with the mods on overall site climate and policies. A lot of what ended the worst of the "boyzone" era was jessamyn doing the endless heavy lifting. It seems like there isn't anyone on staff right now with a similar perspective on race, and asking POC members to do it is putting a lot on them that they frankly shouldn't have to carry. There are POC who are willing to do that, but as a business, and I think the site should find one and hire them for a while.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:40 PM on June 6, 2019 [50 favorites]


If people get fighty in them, maybe that could be subject to moderation, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

So what it is seeming like has been going to me, is people saying:

1) These threads often have a lot of conflict in them
2) It's a lot of work for mods to manage the conflict in them and we don't have the resources for that
3) Thus we should still have threads with conflict and just not worry about them being poorly moderated.

I would like to instead have the conversations with more moderation - but I'm curious how much that would take financially. Like - what would it actually take, dollars and cents, to have a POC part-time mod? How many people would have to donate how much a month in order to do it?
posted by corb at 12:43 PM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


Also, I do want a more diverse mod team, but I don't want the site to hire a POC as a moderator in the hopes of Fixing Racism on Metafilter. Especially given the drubbing new moderators traditionally get here. Moderating the site is its own job and there are professionals who can consult on the other stuff. I would like us to hire POC as moderators and hire POC whose explicit training and focus is improving the racial culture of organizations.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:48 PM on June 6, 2019 [11 favorites]


corb, I’d add that a PoC mod should a “regular mod,” not just “the mod who gets stuck cleaning up the racism threads,” because that sounds awful to me; I mean, I guess someone might want to volunteer, but it sounds like a thankless job with a short burnout fuse. The mods as a whole need to get better at seeing this kind of thing (they seem to have gotten better in the last decade, but there’s obviously a huge distance to go).
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:51 PM on June 6, 2019 [4 favorites]


I think it is time for the site to hire someone (consultant, trainer, whatever) to work with the mods on overall site climate and policies.
Yes, and when I suggested that Metafilter work with a researcher upthread, I specifically was thinking of the moderators working with a qualitative social scientist who has a background in online community governance and online racism. There are many people who do work in this domain. Crunching the quantitative data that you have on flags etc. will get you farther away from solving the problem, not closer to it.

A qualitative social scientist trained in something like science and technology studies or information science would a good expert to hire as a consultant; some people who might be able to point you in the right direction include: Jessie Daniels (expert on online racism), Anna Laura Hoffmann (expert in social justice and systems design), J. Nathan Matias (digital governance, community moderation, and online behavior change expert), Merry Mou (expert in community governance), Catherine Knight Steele (expert in digital black feminism), Miriam Sweeney (expert in gender, race, and information technologies).... This by no means exhaustive list could perhaps be a good jumping off point for finding someone to hire who could "work with the mods on overall site climate and policies," which I really do think is sorely needed.

I will also note that I think one of the reasons that Jessamyn's work on boyzone was so successful is in no small part because she is an information scientist/librarian by training. I think we need another similar expert involved in helping us work this problem; I really do.
posted by sockermom at 1:15 PM on June 6, 2019 [31 favorites]


Also, conflict is not always a bad thing. If we’re talking about race, a productive conversation often involves some conflict. Knowing the difference between community conflict, and community abuse or community self-harm is really important.

In my experience most white people are incredibly conflict-averse towards race, and will do anything to prove that they are not racist and minimize race based conflict. Usually this manifests as making jokes about the situation, being defensive, or trying to “smooth things over” for everyone, or saying things like “oh I’ve been there too”, etc..

=

Also, I’ll say this while holding a lot of gratitude towards the mods - it’s not easy, holding space for a community:

I’d also like to ask the mods to reflect on how they think that all-white nature of the mod team, as well as how the fact that they each are white, contributes to the way they moderate, and thus to what kind of discussion space is created.
posted by suedehead at 1:19 PM on June 6, 2019 [15 favorites]


Making that new Meta post was a good decision.

I'd like to call some attention to Churra Churra's comment earlier:

"I requested a higher bar for sexual assault posts a while back because it felt like the constant thudding dread of THIS TERRIBLE SEXUAL ASSAULT THING HAPPENED posts were draining my ability to participate in conversations on metafilter and in real life."

If it's the thread I'm thinking of, speaking as a man I found the consensus in that thread counterintuitive. I think at the time I noted in the discussion that only certain types of discussion of sexual violence are permissible and ubiquitous in our culture, and it's basically narratives that frighten women. Survivors speaking themselves about their own experiences, not so much. Especially if it actually empowers survivors of sexual assault and all women. That being the case, it seemed to me at the time that the former should be curtailed, but not the latter.

However, I'm a man with enormous privilege in that context where my judgment is worth very little and, in the end, I learned some important things from that thread.

All of which is to say what PoC already know while those of us who are white mostly don't: it can be too much and soul-draining but it can also be soul-draining to keep watching PoC's voices silenced because a white person or a bunch of white people think we are qualified to make that judgment. We aren't. Instead, we must listen to what the people who really know have to say about this. They are the proper judges to determine what is too much or too little.

Also:

With regard to the issue of "outragefilter" itself, I'm of the opinion that there's a point where there will be too much current news and too much horrible shit on the front page to the detriment to the vitality of the site. I don't objectively know where that line is, but we should acknowledge it's there, somewhere. Even so, with regard to the areas that MeFi still has blindspots -- and I think they're the same ones we've had for years, definitely including racism -- it makes sense to, first, listen to what members of the affected group think and then, second, err on the side of inclusion to partly ameliorate the problem we already know exists.

MetaFilter very badly needs more diversity among its mod team. You are all great, truly, but it's time for someone to move along and make way for some new blood. I think a PoC would be best, but it's not as if that's the only way to diversify. I recognize the EEOC laws...but the pool of people who aren't within MeFi's pretty narrow demographic is so much larger than the pool of those who are. It shouldn't be that hard.

I believe this community is far more inclusive and welcoming than it was in the past, even as recently as five years ago. And yet the only thing we've really made (IMO) any significant improvement on recently is trans* related stuff...and those directly affected themselves are still telling us there are problems. Based upon what I'm genuinely qualified to judge, and otherwise based upon what people keep saying in MeTa, I've seen little or no improvement since I've returned here in 2011 in anything else. Very notably race, but not only race.

There are a few of these things that get recurring MeTas and it's sadly remarkable we've not much improved on them. We should see that as the red flag that it is.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:50 PM on June 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


I agree with Snarl Furillo's idea; contracting with a consultant to help improve site policies and procedures with regard to content that isn't centered around wealthy white Americans of a certain age would be a strong business move for Metafilter and a positive development for our community.
posted by Kwine at 2:00 PM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


What was the flagging situation on the Boston museum post? Like how many, how quickly, how negative?

This question hasn't been answered yet and it needs to be.
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:21 PM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


From quite a bit upthread:

Doktor Zed: Did the OP's FPP receive a lot of flags?

LobseterMitten: Multiple flags, yeah.
posted by cooker girl at 2:26 PM on June 6, 2019


Yeah, they came in within the first few minutes the post was up. Breaks guidelines and an other-with-note.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:47 PM on June 6, 2019


Addressing concerns that hiring one or more mods of color is tokenizing:

kalessin, I absolutely agree. However, one of the things I’ve had to do in the diversity committee I’m on is keep pushing back against administrators whose answer to racism is to make a committee of PoC faculty or invite them to speak, and I always have to remind them that that is great if the people in question want to take on that burden, but we hired them and are promoting them as, say, Chemistry faculty, not as, say, Black faculty, and requiring them to do all that heavy lifting in addition to their other duties is unfair.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:49 PM on June 6, 2019 [8 favorites]


And were mods not aware of the prior discussion members had had with the OP?
Yeah, we do not regularly read the venting threads (or the politics joke/art threads) because they're there specifically to take some of the reading load off of us. If you need the mods to weigh in on a site issue, please do go ahead and use any of the regular channels for it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:14 PM on May 27
I could be wrong, but from everything I could tell of it as it unfolded, the discussion wasn't going on in spaces the mods were watching.
posted by CrystalDave at 2:58 PM on June 6, 2019


Two, a breaks guidelines and an other-with-note. A fair amount of stuff ends up getting a solitary flag, with varying levels of actual issue vs. more of an idiosyncratic "I just don't like this" vibe. More than one flag on something, we start to look closer sooner, especially multiple flags within a short time period (vs. straggling in over the course of hours or days).

And were mods not aware of the prior discussion members had had with the OP?

We weren't, no. If we had known there was that extra context it'd have absolutely nudged the post deletion handling toward something more communicative (setting aside discussion in here about the notion of just doing so more as a pro forma thing); like I said up thread, there was an unlucky string of things that lined up to make the situation more frustrating than any individual element of it would have been in isolation, and it sucks that it played out that way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:59 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


corb, I’d add that a PoC mod should a “regular mod,” not just “the mod who gets stuck cleaning up the racism threads,"

Yes, to be clear I was thinking more that the extra viewpoints will add to private mod-discussions about site policy, etc, not in any way suggesting that a POC mod should be tasked with dealing with race-related threads.
posted by corb at 3:01 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Doktor Zed: Did the OP's FPP receive a lot of flags?
LobseterMitten: Multiple flags, yeah.
23skidoo: I'll be blunter: could a mod state the exact number of flags jj's mama's deleted post got? "Multiple" just means "more than 1".
Cortex: Two, a breaks guidelines and an other-with-note.


Is 2 flags "a lot of flags"?

The response of "multiple flags, yeah," appears rather disingenuous.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 3:04 PM on June 6, 2019 [16 favorites]


So, one or two flags as the basis for a deletion is really not unusual, and barring something left up for a *while* to pick up extra flags because of unlucky timing/circumstances, it's also pretty unusual for something to get more than a couple flags before we make a decision on it. If folks are thinking the threshold for mod attention is in the half-dozens or the double digits, that's absolutely not the case.

And I totally get that a lot of folks are unhappy about this particular deletion and would like us to have either handled it differently, and I understand wanting to work in an analysis of flags and response to them into that, but so much of the work we do with deletions on posts and comments comes down to assessing and acting quickly on one or two flags that the idea of changing that in general doesn't make practical sense. I don't have a problem with the idea that this deletion was a bad call or that it was communicated poorly, but the fact that we acted based on a couple of flags itself is basic moderation practice that if we stopped doing we'd essentially stop doing any normal daily moderation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:16 PM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


And for the sake of clarity on the last comment: the other thing we do a lot of is assessing one or two flags and deciding that the thing being flagged is maybe okay after all and letting it be and just keeping an eye out. Flags aren't autodeletes and for folks saying that this post could have been given some room to breathe despite the flags, I want to be clear that that's a plausible outcome and I hear y'all that considering the context of the post and the potential impact of a deletion is something you'd like to have had more influence in this case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:22 PM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty surprised to find out two flags means a post will be considered for deletion, honestly.
posted by agregoli at 3:33 PM on June 6, 2019 [9 favorites]


Could the new thread requesting input from the non-white members of MeFi please replace the "new merch" alert as a banner across the pages and be put on the sidebar as well for maximum visibility?
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:38 PM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yeah suddenly I'm feeling like I have all the power in the world and I've just been letting it sit there. Two flags? I can afford another five bucks if it means I get to moderate shit.
posted by some loser at 3:38 PM on June 6, 2019 [10 favorites]


If folks are thinking the threshold for mod attention is in the half-dozens or the double digits, that's absolutely not the case.

That's a really clear and straightforward statement, which makes me wonder why all the ambiguity about how many flags there were on this post before now in this protracted-over-two-days Q&A session. It might have been better to be clear and straightforward from the start.

Here's the original exchange:

Doktor Zed: Did the OP's FPP receive a lot of flags?

LobsterMitten: Multiple flags, yeah. These days we tend to delete things more quickly than we did when I started in 2012, if they're pretty clear cut deletes, so often things don't get a chance to accumulate a ton of flags like they might have years ago.

Doktor Zed: Thank you for the info, LobsterMitten. Since the community can't see the number of flags a post or comment may accrue, sometimes considering that as a factor in a deletion is missing in these MeTa discussions.

Hermione Granger: What was the flagging situation on the Boston museum post? Like how many, how quickly, how negative?

This question hasn't been answered yet and it needs to be.

Cortex: Yeah, they came in within the first few minutes the post was up. Breaks guidelines and an other-with-note.

23skiddoo: I'll be blunter: could a mod state the exact number of flags jj's mama's deleted post got? "Multiple" just means "more than 1".

Cortex: Two, a breaks guidelines and an other-with-note.


Now let's try the same interchange, but this time without the ambiguity!

Doktor Zed: Did the OP's FPP receive a lot of flags?

LobsterMitten: Two.


If folks are thinking the threshold for mod attention is in the half-dozens or the double digits, that could be because mod replies to queries about that threshold were ambiguous and sustained the implication that the threshold is higher than it is.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:42 PM on June 6, 2019 [25 favorites]


I guess I'm not intimately familiar with the guidelines, but isn't "breaks the guidelines" sort of a facially inaccurate flag for that post? So really it kind of got 1 potentially legitimate flag?
posted by dusty potato at 3:46 PM on June 6, 2019 [4 favorites]


A flag just means we go look at something. Multiple flags means... we go look at something. A flag isn't a vote or anything, it's a method of drawing our attention.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:49 PM on June 6, 2019 [4 favorites]


Can you explain this a bit more, because I just don't get it. If the bar for considering deletion was at, say, 6 flags, how would that affect how mods currently mod?

It would mean that stuff that only gets one or a couple/few flags wouldn't get considered for deletion. That includes most of the stuff that does currently get deleted. Some of that stuff might pick up enough additional flags over time to then get considered for deletion at whatever notional 6+ threshold we're talking about, but at that point the down-thread damage done by something toxic or fight-starting or derailing would be a whole lot greater and in some cases cleaning it up would be functionally impossible.

We try to be very prompt about assessing and acting on incoming flags because it helps avoid precisely the kind of sprawling ugly messes that figure a lot more prominently in old-school MetaFilter's history. Being responsive to flags like this, and quickly shutting down stuff even if it hasn't picked up a whole pile of flags (and inevitably responses, and responses to responses, etc) has been instrumental to improving a lot of the not-great shit of the past on the site.

Which, again: I hear the sentiment that in this case maybe just letting those first couple flags sit and see what happens with the post, or try to makes some space for it, is an outcome folks would have preferred. I think that's a reasonable preference. But that's not about flags per se, that's about the post or the context of the post and the decision we made in this case. The practical result of raising the threshold on flagging -> action would be an entirely unrelated systemic mess.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:51 PM on June 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


And I'm fine answering more questions about flagging mechanics and practices if folks want me to, but the impression I have here is not that people would just feel totally fine about the underlying concerns about MeFi culture or jj's.mama's post getting deleted if it had gotten more flags. It makes a lot more sense to me to talk about general strategies for making more space for stuff situationally, like working with newish posters and communicating more proactively about things like post framing issues or taking a slower watch-and-see approach to some topics where we're able to, than to try and tie this into under-the-hood mechanics flagging mechanics.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:57 PM on June 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


but at that point the down-thread damage done by something toxic or fight-starting or derailing would be a whole lot greater

This is an assumption that I would like to see change. How do you know there will be an automatic fight or something toxic? This *particular* post doesn't seem to warrant that assumption, just because it involves racism.
posted by agregoli at 4:00 PM on June 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


cortex, still not trying to be a dick, but you're being very responsive, and I appreciate that: Was the threshold for deletion always at 1 to 2 flags? If not, how long has the threshold been at that level?

I'd say that's the norm for the last several years. Mod practice with flags evolved a lot over the course of maybe 2008 to 2011 or so, in tandem with the moderation team growing beyond just Matt and Jess to having me on board and then RN and LM and taz and gnfti over the course of a few years when money was good enough to make a full-time team possible. The flag system and our practices with it changed a lot when the need to make it work for half a dozen people in shifts came into the picture, pretty much entirely for the better compared to the reaaaaaally ad hoc "get it it when we can" nature of the early days.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:01 PM on June 6, 2019


Nah, it's fine, I'll let it drop too. I don't mind answering question, just don't want to end up sucking the air out of the rest of the discussion. But yeah, you're welcome to email for further if you want.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:02 PM on June 6, 2019


people would [not] just feel totally fine about the underlying concerns about MeFi culture or jj's.mama's post getting deleted if it had gotten more flags.

That is exactly true. I am really glad to find out that it didn't get lots of flags and there were not lots of people trying to get it deleted, because that idea was making me very sad.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:04 PM on June 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


> but at that point the down-thread damage done by something toxic or fight-starting or derailing would be a whole lot greater

This is an assumption that I would like to see change. How do you know there will be an automatic fight or something toxic? This *particular* post doesn't seem to warrant that assumption, just because it involves racism.


I'm not declaring that post to inevitably be a trainwreck, for what it's worth. I hear folks clearly that they'd have liked to see it have a chance to stay up and decidedly not be one, and I think that's a totally reasonable want and with a time machine I'd just give that a go and ride herd on it as and if necessary to that end. As is I'm fine with someone giving the subject another go as a post on the front page, which I know doesn't undo the frustration and mess of the original deletion but I think would be at least be a couple inches to the positive side as part of the outcome here if folks want it.

But where we can talk about the handling of this particular post, and about trying to take a different and more accommodating lens generally to posts tied to issues impacting minority or marginalized groups, that's kind of orthogonal to whether we need to as moderators keep an eye out for rocky setups or developing crappy fights or derails or so on. The fact of crappy comments being left in place tending to spawn awful downthread interactions and rendering a thread toxic and unsalvageable isn't debatable—it has happened over and over again over the years—and that's what I was talking about in the comment you quoted: we get to stuff without waiting for a big pile of flags first because there's so much easy-to-reference MeFi history of stuff going awfully back in the day when we didn't do that kind of prompt and sometimes necessarily predictive intervention (to say nothing of the large swathes of the rest of the internet where folks mostly still don't bother to).

I'm absolutely okay with acknowledging uncertainty where there is uncertainty, and I agree that the case with jj's.mama's post is reasonable to put in that category. And I'm okay with revisiting decisions when it feels like they went the wrong way, as with this discussion. But as a general thing we have the moderation we do in large part because we've built it over the years in response to explicit requests that we not just sit back and say "who knew it was gonna go so badly" when we see familiar patterns brewing, and that's always gonna be a necessary part of the work we do here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:26 PM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


Would it be possible to have and articulate and enforce actually different rules for different kinds of content/posters? I realize this flies in the face of equality, but it may help make restitution for an already broken and biased system.

I don't know everything that goes into the mod delete decision tree, but I could see something like this being appropriate:

Was this flagged? Yes. OK, go take a look.
Is this a single link to a news item about something bad that happened? Yes. OK, next question.
Did this happen to a marginalized group? If no, do the usual maths. If yes, give extra weight to "don't delete." Next question.
Does the marginalized group have representation on the moderation team? If yes, try to make sure that representation is considered during the decision process. If no, don't delete at this time.

It's just a thought. But it seems to me that where representation is missing, it might make sense to lean into listening mode as a default stance.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:30 PM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


But as a general thing we have the moderation we do in large part because we've built it over the years in response to explicit requests that we not just sit back and say "who knew it was gonna go so badly" when we see familiar patterns brewing, and that's always gonna be a necessary part of the work we do here.

I hear you, I do. But what "familiar pattern" was brewing in the thread when it was shut down? I don't think there was one. At least not at the time it was closed. That's my only point.
posted by agregoli at 4:35 PM on June 6, 2019 [12 favorites]


As said time and again on this thread, this "familiar pattern" is holding us back and infantilises us. If people are going to leave crappy comments, delete the damn crappy comments, ban the users. Don't CONCEDE to the crappy comments by deleting threads preemptively.
posted by divabat at 4:41 PM on June 6, 2019 [47 favorites]


Thanks for being transparent, cortex. Two-flags-and-delete feels like a moderation technique that was useful ten years ago and isn't useful now. I'd rather have a close mod eye on a thread that could turn horrible than a deleted thread that could have gone well.
posted by Nyrha at 4:47 PM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


That's a fair point, but y'know I'd rather risk that if it means us PoC with some insight into the situation can take over the thread and talk amongst ourselves. Drown out the thread-shitters.
posted by divabat at 4:57 PM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


I realized I'm assuming that white allies would do a lot of the heavy lifting in the theoretical thread in terms of flagging shitty comments and rerouting derails. Making a listening space. Maybe that's a bad assumption, and it doesn't sound like it fits your lived experiences. A lot of posts about people get multiple favorites and almost no comments, so I think that's where my assumption comes from.
posted by Nyrha at 5:54 PM on June 6, 2019 [3 favorites]


If people are going to leave crappy comments, delete the damn crappy comments,

I think this is kind of one thing the megathreads - and really the current hell - aren’t really helping with. The mods are on shifts - one mod is always on shift at a time. But the megathread requires near-constant monitoring and comments happen every few minutes. It means it’s hard to be modding another few threads that might break out into flame war, which the mods used to be able to do much more easily.
posted by corb at 6:05 PM on June 6, 2019 [6 favorites]


Missed the edit window... that should have read "A lot of posts about people of color..."
posted by Nyrha at 6:05 PM on June 6, 2019


kalessin: that's true. I remember a recent thread where there was a discussion that was getting biphobic and also vaguely race-unaware. The mods deleted those comments, but in the process also deleted comments from those of us who had put in the emotional labour of pushing back against such comments while adding a lot of other nuance and context. I get that those new comments probably sound out of context without the original instigating comment, but at the same time it felt like a lot of value was lost in the "cleanup". (Hell I had to ask a mod about it because I couldn't tell if they decided that people pushing back against bigotry was worse than, well, bigotry).

This is reminding me of a policy I see on many Facebook groups about not "dirty deleting': if you post something and people respond with educational pushback, don't delete your post or comment because that's a lot of labour lost. I'm not sure how that'd work in Metafilter which seems to be more pro-deletion, but maybe something to think about?
posted by divabat at 7:07 PM on June 6, 2019 [12 favorites]


Speaking of emotional labour and Facebook groups, since I'm seeing a lot of calls for hiring a PoC for their input, let me propose something that might be a bit radical but also may be food for thought, something that I've seen done on other social media platforms:

Donate some money, even a tip on PayPal, to any PoC whose commenting labour you're benefiting from.

Not every PoC Mefite is going to be comfortable with this and that's fine, and I'm not trying to set up an expectation that people be paid for commenting. But I see that there's an instinct by many white folk to compensate PoC, they're just lacking an avenue. And it's something I've seen used to great effect on Facebook or Twitter threads. If PoC are already having to do some level of pseudo-moderating (through comments or flags), it may be worth their while to get even a small tip for it.

(And this should be extended to other marginalised groups that are also facing issues with Mefi, like trans people or disabled people, I'm just bringing up PoC here coz that's the thrust of this thread.)
posted by divabat at 7:28 PM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


Might be worth it to put up a banner about the new POC MetaTalk.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:28 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


That’s the second call for changing the banner.
posted by Miko at 7:46 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yep, I'm fine changing the banner and will get to it shortly; I've got it sidebarred already. It's unfortunately been a really busy last few hours and I'm spinning a lot of plates.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:49 PM on June 6, 2019


I'm not understanding the number of flags concern as it applies to deletions. 0 flags posts can be deleted and I'm sure they are. Curiosity about how many members objected is another matter.
posted by bongo_x at 8:23 PM on June 6, 2019


I'm kind of late to this thread, but I want to thank Miko for their posts, in particular. Chiming in with my two cents:
-I do not feel at all that it was "obvious" that the museum discussion would go poorly--I thought the early responses were good and that there was, instead, great potential for other users to bring in some of the larger context about the museum world (and links to related issues, like the Whitney/Emmett Till thing from a few years back).
-I am extremely uncomfortable with a lot of the patronizing, "Well here's what jj's mama totally should have done to make this a WORTHY FPP and here's all the info I needed" comments that arose, particularly early in the thread. It seemed like adding insult to injury and certainly many users could have framed things more objectively (eg, "I prefer at least a couple of links, but...")
-I am uncomfortable with the pressure to make the world's best-researched FPP and feel that the bar, given that there's also encouragement for the single-link "Animal does cute thing!" posts, is all over the place.
-I guess I'm part of New(er) Metafilter in that I'm here for informed discussion of a random variety of things that catch my eye, not just Feel Good Filter. And I'm definitely far more inclined to read thoughtful responses to Today's Incident of Racism rather than arguments over Your Favorite Show Sucks.
posted by TwoStride at 8:30 PM on June 6, 2019 [20 favorites]


The banner has been changed, fyi.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:34 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


like I said up thread, there was an unlucky string of things that lined up to make the situation more frustrating than any individual element of it would have been in isolation, and it sucks that it played out that way.

i've been staying out of this thread because i think i think my voice as a white man isn't relevant to this discussion, but your use of the term bad luck/unlucky really bugged me the first time and ESPECIALLY bugged me a second time. this wasn't bad luck. this was a failure of site policy. it was a public and notable failure of site policy because of jj.'s mama's posts in the venting thread, but this is almost certainly a pattern of events that has happened multiple times silently before this. plenty of users have suggested how to avoid these failures in the future, but i think an explicit acknowledgement of that policy failure and a specific commitment of how to move forward will be necessary here. a lot of metatalks end with a vague promise that something will change and that the mods will try different things in the future without any specifics detailed, and i think that in this case that just won't be enough.
posted by JimBennett at 10:21 PM on June 6, 2019 [28 favorites]


I'll go back to listening, but I would like to see "whitezone" taken as seriously as "boyzone".
posted by maxwelton at 1:47 AM on June 7, 2019 [21 favorites]


White people should be reading the POC MetaTalk thread if you're not already (linking because can't be linked enough). It is one of the most important MeTas that has been posted on this site.
posted by schroedinger at 3:16 AM on June 7, 2019 [11 favorites]


A side comment on the whole PoC mod thing: I’m happy to be corrected, but isn’t it flat out illegal for any US company to explicitly appoint to a job on the basis of race?
posted by pharm at 4:27 AM on June 7, 2019


I learned a lot from reading the POC thread this morning and will change some things I do here going forward. I am sorry I spoke so early on this thread, though I am glad I was part of the discussion. I would contribute to a fund supporting the hiring of a POC who can help develop updated community standards and 100% support the next mod hire being a POC.
posted by wellred at 5:59 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


I’m happy to be corrected, but isn’t it flat out illegal for any US company to explicitly appoint to a job on the basis of race?

It is illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of a protected status (such as race) - slightly different language from considering race or other identity in hire. Employers are prohibited from using race against an applicant but not in noting race as one consideration among many.

It is not illegal to make diversity a hiring priority and to consider the diversity any one person contributes to the company as one of the factors in the hiring process - as long as it is not the sole deciding factor. Which no one here is suggesting it would be. If the sole criteria for "new mod' were "person of color," that would definitely be a discriminatory posting and the result might be that the person offered the job had no relevant experience or capability. But of course the criteria for "new mod" include things like schedule availability, technical abilities, interest, and familiarity with the community. That a person hired can also offer another perspective, informed by identity, into that process in the long-term interest of increasing the total cultural literacy of the site management would not make the hire discriminatory.

Employers in the US routinely walk this line; it's not difficult. There is a strong business case for diversity (as well as a fundamental need for fairness) and so you will rarely find a large nonprofit or for-profit company without a long-range diversity initiative that includes removing as much bias as possible from the hiring process and increasing company diversity over time. None of those plans would be achievable if hiring were totally race- (or ability, or gender identity or expression, or religion, etc.)blind.

On preview:Or what kalessin linked to in the other thread. Just backtracked and read that. Check that comment out too.
posted by Miko at 6:26 AM on June 7, 2019 [17 favorites]


Thanks for the legal colour Miko.
posted by pharm at 7:20 AM on June 7, 2019


White folks who want to start doing some of the required reading (and answer many of your questions without making demands on POC), here are two places to start:

Ijeoma Oluo - So You Want To Talk About Race

Robin DiAngelo - White Fragility: Why It's So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism

These are jumping off points and not intended to be presented here as end-all, be-all primers on racism and how white people should be engaging with race.

If you can't afford to buy them or your local library doesn't have them/aren't able to get them through Interlibrary Loan, please feel free to Memail me.
posted by nightrecordings at 7:34 AM on June 7, 2019 [16 favorites]


Can I ask a quick question - I'm a WASC who is reading the thread for PoC on Metafilter, and I am NOT gonna comment at all - I wanted to check, though, whether it was okay if I favorite one or two things?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 AM on June 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


I am also reading the other thread and I'm refraining from favoriting. I think having folks who were asked to stay out of the discussion effectively murmuring "hear, hear" for certain comments (which, like it or not, is essentially what favoriting does) is probably not great.
posted by biogeo at 9:28 AM on June 7, 2019 [10 favorites]


As is said in the thread, we aren’t all monolithic, but I think I would prefer rather than favorite in the other thread, non-POC people could talk here about what they’ve learned from that thread if that doesn’t sound too much like “self-crit, now!”.
posted by corb at 9:39 AM on June 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


Having favorited some comments of my own on that discussion — so that I can come back to them, I use favorites as bookmarks and not as "hear, hear" but I know they'll still come across as the latter — my sense is that there's not going to be one right answer. One person might feel patronized by having someone favorite their comment, another might be happy to get some support. It's been said numerous times that white folks need to not assume that what one PoC says is The One Right Answer For Every Person of Color. I think regardless of what choice you make there's a good chance it won't sit right with every person participating in that Meta.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 9:40 AM on June 7, 2019 [7 favorites]


Dammit, I didn't preview. I'm sorry, corb, that was shitty of me.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 9:41 AM on June 7, 2019


Full disclosure that I did favorite a thing or two without thinking, then realized "uh-oh" and came in here to check. I'm still reading and learning, and will sit on my hands altogether.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:43 AM on June 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm going to pay much more attention to the voices of people of color being shut down in threads and I will do my best to shut down those shutdowns, by flagging comments or doing some community policing. I won't just assume that someone else is going to take care of it.
posted by cooker girl at 9:44 AM on June 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


Yeah, and actually I should clarify that my real concern is a lot of white mefites will favorite in the threads and feel like “yay, I did something” and I will get excited, like “wow a lot of people are hearing this, that’s awesome” then no one will actually take the concerns seriously, which really has nothing to do with the actual favorites at all and more to do with my general feelings about how people react to things in AD 2019.
posted by corb at 9:51 AM on June 7, 2019 [5 favorites]


I favorited a few comments in that post which was meant as "non-PoC here staying on the sidelines but I hear you and your point is important and I wanted to show appreciation and maybe amplify it a little since favorites often beget favorites here" but can step back in light of this discussion.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:57 AM on June 7, 2019 [5 favorites]


I favorited some comments simply because I want to read them again.
posted by agregoli at 10:17 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


The circumstances that led to this post are disappointing, to be sure. But this was a good deletion. I don't say that because it's a PoC issue and so I don't think it deserves my attention. I say that because over the course of the many MeTas in the past and the many many bytes dedicated to discussing this issue, the argument I always found convincing was:

A link to a news story about something that has just happened is not a good Metafilter post

I specifically remember many people making a counterargument of the form: I find the discussion threads at MeFi to be enlightening, and valuable to me in many ways. Why shouldn't we be allowed to have a discussion about anything we like?

The current MeTa is a rehashing of that argument with the added baggage that the post in question was a link to a news article about a disadvantaged group being treated poorly, and the intersection of that dynamic with disadvantaged groups feeling marginalized here on MeFi. That makes it a tough conversation, and it means many people are feeling hurt, but I don't think it changes the basis for the maxim above.

Several people in this thread have said: Other similar posts have been allowed to stand! They're right, and that's wrong. Other similar posts should also be deleted. The character of the site, and the tenor of its discussions, has changed and is changing. Others say: Get over it, the site will change and we will change with it. I don't think that's the right answer; I agree with the argument that Metafilter is different, and special, and that should be protected.

But by all means, mods, please be kind and generous when you're deleting posts. This whole situation could have been easily avoided.
posted by dbx at 10:23 AM on June 7, 2019


Oh, shit. I've been favoriting in that other thread as a way of "actively listening", as Flannery Culp mentions. I'm sorry if it came across any other way, and I'll stop now.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:33 AM on June 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


Others say: Get over it, the site will change and we will change with it. I don't think that's the right answer;

I'm not sure what the right answer is to this one. I know that my impulse is to agree with you, but I've also learned to be suspicious of my impulses, including in situations where I feel comparatively comfortable. People talk of privilege a lot these days here-there-everywhere, so much so that I feel myself impulsively trying to ignore it, blank it out, it's become a cliche.

But a question worth asking (myself anyway) is, what's it feel like to be in situation of privilege? And one of the first thing that comes to mind is comfortable. Comfort is a privilege. And I'm all in favor of it. People should feel comfortable, why the hell not? But I think they should also be careful. I should be anyway. Because some of the worst, dumbest, most thoughtless things I've ever done and said have been when I'm comfortable.

So yeah, though I may not be that comfortable with some of the changes folks have been calling for in this thread, I'm not closed to them. Trying not to be anyway.
posted by philip-random at 10:36 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Oh, shit. I've been favoriting in that other thread as a way of "actively listening", as Flannery Culp mentions. I'm sorry if it came across any other way, and I'll stop now.

Me too, and me too. Apologies, and will also stop.
posted by Dysk at 10:39 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


if there's to be an official stance on whether favoriting in that thread is OK then please put a note in that thread itself to that effect, rather than leaving it in a side discussion here in a separate thread that many people who come to the poc thread from the banner will never see, creating a weird situation where you have to be extremely metatalky and invested in deep-hole discussions here to know there's preferred favoriting practices for that thread.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:42 AM on June 7, 2019 [12 favorites]


I agree with the argument that Metafilter is different, and special, and that should be protected.

«Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga com'è bisogna che tutto cambi.»

The world is changing. The userbase is changing. And of the people who were here in the past, and are here now, we have changed, and are changing, too.
What it means for MetaFilter to be different, and special, and protected, must adapt. Not merely by changing our spots, but also in ourselves.

If we want everything to stay as it is, everything will have to change.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:52 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah, also right now I am literally the only person currently posting in that thread who has expressed even a mild preference definitively one way or the other, so I am super uncomfortable with everyone ramping up to my statement. I commented here because I thought others might and then we could come to some kind of consensus. I’m not comfortable either being the unelected Voice Of POC On Metafilter just by happening to show up, as pbo says, at the end of a deep dive thread, or having to go into the thread explicitly not for white mefites to post in and say “hey everyone, the white mefites watching are having great difficulty figuring out the correct thing to do while they are watching this thread, should we derail our heartfelt conversation in order to consider our white observers and figure out the thing that will make people most helpful and least uncomfortable”

And I say that with genuine love and appreciation for those of you who really care about this! You folks are trying to do the right thing and not sure how and trying to figure it out! But like...this stuff is messy and there’s not usually going to be One Right Approved Way to do things.
posted by corb at 10:57 AM on June 7, 2019 [16 favorites]


Apologies if I made you feel that way, corb; if it helps to hear, I'm not all "oh egads I did something wrong", it's more like "eh, that was a good point I hadn't considered, I'll just lay off to play it safe." As the late Dr. John would say, "everything's oaks and herbs."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:29 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm learning a lot, but recognize it's not appropriate to pull too much of the discussion from "Hearing from our members of color" into this thread. I imagine it feels intrusive and frustrating to be participating in that thread and having white mefites discuss specifics here in real time.

Broadly, I am definitely rethinking the "flag it and move on" attitude I've absorbed. Do I really need to police something and decide what belongs on Metafilter just because it's not how it's always been done — as with the mods, privilege informs the flagging I'm doing and it's time to examine that. Furthermore I think myself and my fellow white people need to stop repeating "flag it and move on" as a flip Metafilter ethos, especially the "move on" part.

On the flip side, as cooker girl and anem0ne said, I appreciated the examples being given where absolutely blatant whitesplaining statements were allowed to overwhelm a thread — those things need to be flagged and made a huge fucking stink about via the comment form (I hesitate to say it needs to be fought out in thread by white people at the expense of it becoming a chorus of good white people scoring points with each other for "wokeness," I am guilty of that in this very thread and will be working on that going forward).
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:30 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Looking back to the Rage Yoga post, MoonOrb says near the end of the thread,
I'd have been interested in reading a thread on this topic where the only commenters were people of color (even this thread was pretty fascinating in that there was some very sharp disagreement among PoC, so it's not as if removing all the white voices from the conversation would have eliminated disagreement from the conversation, though).
I read that, and was reminded of two of the comments in the "Hearing from our members of color" thread:
Enemy of Joy: "reading this thread knowing (as much as is possible, anyway) that only people of color are being asked to participate, feels really good. Like, something in my mind sort of unclenches and makes me realize that I feel this low level anxiety when I read discussions of race online, which it turns out is entirely a sort of dread of white people coming in and dominating the conversation."

and primalux: "I feel like I can comment and not feel tense and anxious about it. I feel like I have room to breathe."
and had the thought: what if PoC had the option to make posts and flag them as threads for PoC-commenters only? I mean, we (MeFites of all races) say we want to facilitate good discussions, and the PoC members are saying that having white commenters in the threads frequently prevents that from happening, so . . . .

I mean, I can foresee pushback along the lines of "but that's not fair I have important contributions to make even though I'm white," and there would obviously be some white folks accidentally posting because they didn't see the flag, and other white folks pushing the boundary because it's so obviously unjust, and I don't know how any of this would be enforced so it would probably be more work for the mods for a while, and no doubt there are twenty other problems with the idea that haven't even occurred to me. It might be a big mess. But . . . if the specific execution of the idea could be worked out somehow, might it be helpful to take PoC at their word that white commenters frequently fuck up conversations that would otherwise be worth having, and give them the power to avoid that? Do the PoC reading in this thread think this would be worth trying?

(Also I am sorry for bringing stuff from the other thread in here, per the thorn bushes have roses' comment; it seemed important to show that this is stuff that PoC have said in the semi-recent past and are still saying now.)

(Also I'm very afraid that this is overstepping in some fashion or another even though I can't quite put a finger on how, so, I don't know, if you think it's a great idea, don't give me cookies, and if you think it's the worst idea or badly expressed or whatever, um, at least try not to make your objections personal? I am actually trying to help, even if I'm doing it badly.)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 11:49 AM on June 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


Yeah, as a white MeFite, I think this is definitely time to read that thread and be silent. I favorited a few comments from my usual “I see you” approach, but decided that was too much and stopped. I put it in my activity to make it easier to follow, and I will read it and think over what’s being discussed, but, while it’s about this site I’m invested in, it’s not about me*, and I want to respect that. So I think discussing the contents of that thread here is... not productive?

Maybe we could launch a third MeTa in a few days to reconsider and discuss the issues again in an easier to follow thread?

* And, while I am learning things, or at least clarifying things, it is most definitely not about teaching me.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:55 AM on June 7, 2019 [5 favorites]


what if PoC had the option to make posts and flag them as threads for PoC-commenters only?

No, segregation is not the answer.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:10 PM on June 7, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'd like to know how team mod would feel about retiring most of the older terms, and there alot. Outragefilter, mefiddtw, etc.

Case in point, jjmamas post did not deserve the label. I reluctantly agree with initial deletion but it should have had a better, more encouraging note to repost with more source.
posted by clavdivs at 12:29 PM on June 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


Perhaps a flag for "this is not for you" to make it easier to flag commenters who insert themselves into discussions where they're spouting uninformed nonsense, or worse, are "explaining" things that don't need to be explained (mansplaining, whitesplaning, etc.) and shutting down conversations?

I know we have the "flag with note" option, but default drop-down options are part of what set standards and norms. The "offensive/racism/sexism," "it breaks the guidelines" and "noise/derail/other" could work, but I like the idea of offering more specific push-back against comments that just don't belong, but may not raise to the level of racism or sexism.

Or maybe I'm overthinking this, and we should just be more assertive with flags and use one of those categories.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:29 PM on June 7, 2019 [8 favorites]


Perhaps a flag for "this is not for you" to make it easier to flag commenters who insert themselves into discussions where they're spouting uninformed nonsense, or worse, are "explaining" things that don't need to be explained (mansplaining, whitesplaning, etc.) and shutting down conversations?

I think a community realization that those things are offensive, sexist, racist, or otherwise enabling of white supremacy may be the adjustment that's needed. White people centering every interaction and discussion around themselves -- their needs, their level of understanding, their desire to give an opinion, their framing of an issue -- prevents non-white people from being heard or from doing much of anything other than managing microaggressions. The userbase should know to flag such comments, and the mods should have the knowledge that those flags are valid.
posted by lazuli at 12:40 PM on June 7, 2019 [25 favorites]


Good point.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:42 PM on June 7, 2019


Oh, shit. I've been favoriting in that other thread as a way of "actively listening"

I'm favoriting because I've been invited to participate in the MeTa, but I don't have the words yet. If I do comment, I think I'd rather have the usual site metric of favorites used to show the point is being heard, but that's just me. As prolific a commenter and poster as I can be here, I am having a really hard time putting together a comment, because the metaphorical gut punch I took on this issue still hurts, and reliving it for everyone's public consumption makes me feel sick, but I'm trying to get over it because it feels really important to speak up.
posted by Little Dawn at 12:44 PM on June 7, 2019 [12 favorites]


I'd like to know how team mod would feel about retiring most of the older terms, and there alot. Outragefilter, mefiddtw, etc.

Upthread I talked about feeling like retiring "outragefilter" from mod vocab is a good direction, yeah. It's definitely an intent vs. impact problem even setting all the other stuff discussed above aside, and that'd be a good enough reason alone to reconsider it. We've chatted a little as a team about doing so and it's something we're gonna put into practice. I'm gonna give the FAQ a look as well to see if we have any references there that need rewording/updating to a more modern and descriptive explanation.

I don't know what mefiddtw is.

As far as etc. goes, I'm down for talking about other specific bits of site jargon, for sure. We've made some effort over the years to dejargonize some of our mod communications and retire older terms, but it's definitely a work in progress and probably always will be as local language fads on the site continue to treadmill along, so I think reexamining this stuff regularly is gonna be a natural and useful thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:41 PM on June 7, 2019


mefitddtw = MetaFilter doesn't do this well, presumably.
Or it's a town in Wales.
posted by uosuaq at 1:48 PM on June 7, 2019 [6 favorites]


Pretty sure mefiddtw is intended as an abbreviation for "MetaFilter doesn't do this well."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:49 PM on June 7, 2019


Jinx.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:49 PM on June 7, 2019


On the flagging front, the form flag text process has been by and large really positive and helpful in practice and I want say I really appreciate folks using that to add brief context or guidance to a flag; there have been a whole lot of occasions where instead of trying to sort out an unfamiliar issue from first principles I've been able to start somewhere concrete and get quickly up to speed on the issue with a post or comment in a way that's helped me moderate better, quicker.

In my ideal universe folks would always have the spare time and energy to drop a note at the contact form when something needed explaining, but we don't live in that universe and the flag notes as a compromise for quick "hey, here's what's up" on stuff has really usefully supplemented our ability to be responsive to stuff, so thanks everybody who has been making use of that. And if you're in the "how would i even flag this" camp, please know that just doing "flag with note..." and tossing us even a few words explaining what's up is welcome and really useful.

mefitddtw = MetaFilter doesn't do this well, presumably.

Ahhhhh, okay, that makes sense. Literally never seen it as an initialism that I can recall and my brain locked up. My gut feeling is we've wandered away from that a fair bit already as mod usage in the last few years, though looking more carefully at when and how we have used it more recently is a worthwhile idea. I associate it more with general metatalkian discussion than with mod speech at this point, I guess? I do think there's more benefit in talking specifically about the whether and why and how of something being hard to talk about than just bucketing it as "mefi doesn't do this well" in most cases, yeah.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:52 PM on June 7, 2019 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I don't object to anyone favoriting in the other thread. Favorites have multiple meanings for everyone (sometimes mine are for agreement, often they're bookmarks) and I'd rather have some proof, frankly, that white people are actually reading the other thread. It would make me feel like we could call from some accountability further down the road, rather than the feeling that all the white MeFites gave the angry brown people wide berth and pretended like nothing happened....
posted by TwoStride at 1:56 PM on June 7, 2019 [14 favorites]


don't know what mefiddtw is.
I guess case in point.
"MetaFilter doesn't do this well"
going on memory, I would posit that overall, over the years, delete notes have become more formal. For ex., Jess could be quite tough in the beginning of moderation. But that was then. A few feathers were ruffled but notes like. "Hey, great topic but needs more source." really made a difference and alot of posters would re-work and it would be a post. Mods do work well at that. Getting a post deleted most be awful, probably one of the only members who have not experienced that.
What has been proactive, is seeing how semantics is the tip of an iceberg in this case and the case had been made.
posted by clavdivs at 2:52 PM on June 7, 2019


I like the favorites, it makes me feel like I'm heard. And I actually like the idea of reflecting back what's being said in here - I'm worried that we're just yelling into a void, but I wasn't sure what was a good way for the mods to reflect on what we've said in the other thread.
posted by divabat at 4:07 PM on June 7, 2019 [9 favorites]


So, fellow white Americans and observers of the American Experiment, like, remember learning about the American civil rights era in school and being told that one of the reasons it grew and strengthened and was effective was that finally what had been happening to blacks in the southern states for decades was all over the TV and placid, complacent white people found out about it and got outraged? And the TV kept promoting that outrage? They'd show Bull Connor spitting poison, cops running rampant and spraying kids with firehoses, white kids in Arkansas screaming and throwing shit at black kids trying to go to school? Etc.? According to my teacher in middle school, a big reason anything changed was that the outragefilter ran on TV nightly. White people were sitting on a sofa in Decatur Illinois or wherever thinking, "This is terrible! Look how terrible this is! I don't like this! Those poor kids!" Lots of white people no doubt called up the TV and said, "Take it off, we want to look at Bonanza!" but the TV did not take it off because lots more people wanted to understand what was happening in the country. And then we had the freedom riders and so on and etc.: people all along the continuum of white wokeness could look at what was going on and either resolve to just not be Bull Connor themselves or get on a bus and ride down there.

Assuming--huge assumption--that the flags were from "don'twannahearit" white people and not exhausted PoCs, the flags should have been interrogated. There were two of them. Not lots. Not multiple, as multiple is commonly understood. Not "Breaks guidelines and an other-with-note" but "a breaks guidelines and an other-with-note [Emphasis added to that tiny but revealing indefinite article]." By contrast, as we have seen in these threads, multiple people, lots and lots of people, wanted to read that post and learn about what happened to those kids. Why did the children's teacher report the outrage? Just to get likes? No, because she knew that many people would want to know what happened to her students so that we could protect them and keep this from happening to more children! Outrage is not bad. Outrage is step one on the long path toward stopping this kind of intolerable shit. This notion that kept getting expressed early in this meta, "these threads are always bad because it's just, 'look at terrible thing! Agree that terrible thing is terrible!' and everybody yells and it just makes people feel bad for no reason because we can't do anything." What the hell even is that? Why can't we do something? It's not a huge intimidating edifice. It's not climate change or the economy or the Pacific garbage gyre, it's the Boston Museum of Art.

If one or both of the two flags were from exhausted, dispirited PoCs, then the post deletion is a lot more understandable, but even then and no matter who flagged and no matter what was in the other-with-note note, those two days of dodging and prevaricating to imply that it got lots of flags were a lowpoint. jj's.mama would naturally think her post got chivvied off the site by many people. That is not what happened.
posted by Don Pepino at 5:04 PM on June 7, 2019 [25 favorites]


Count me as someone who doesn’t think that much about favorites.

I do think white Mefites should have a thread of their own, and have expressed my reasoning in this comment.

This is not a call for segregation - it is my direct request for white people to also undertake the emotional labor of thinking and explaining and discussing whiteness with each other. It’s a call for white people to consider what it means to be on metafilter as a white person.
posted by suedehead at 5:14 PM on June 7, 2019 [9 favorites]


I avoided favoriting in the other thread, but I do want to say that I have been reading carefully and with gratitude for the honesty. Your words have given me a lot to think about, and I will take those words to heart, here and elsewhere. I know they weren't written for me, but they touched me all the same, so thank you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:16 PM on June 7, 2019 [9 favorites]


"... since it would highlight whiteness as a Thing rather than accept it as a default."

That's a very good point and something Robin DeAngelo talks about. My first instinct was that it was a terrible idea to give white people a protected space because, of course, that's already effectively the case most everywhere. It smacks of a false equivalence.

Insofar as it pushes white people to be forced to think of ourselves as a marked group and how that experience interrogates how we otherwise think about these discussions, that would be very helpful. But I think that would need to somehow be made explicit, because otherwise I don't doubt that most people would misinterpret it as an equivalency that it certainly is not and, wow, do I hate that trope. We don't need a white people's day because that's fucking every day, sadly.

"As said time and again on this thread, this 'familiar pattern' is holding us back and infantilises us. If people are going to leave crappy comments, delete the damn crappy comments, ban the users. Don't CONCEDE to the crappy comments by deleting threads preemptively."

I strongly agree with this in principle (see below) and I think at one point I strenuously argued in favor of the same position...but, sadly, I've come to be fully convinced that a) it's not doable financially in terms of mod resources; but, more importantly, it's b) not at all true in practice because the deleted comments cannot be instantly deleted and the shit that was going to happen still happens, in part, anyway.

Specifically, the affected folk participating in the thread will likely see those comments before they are deleted and that alone would contribute greatly to the sense that this is a hostile place.

As unpalatable as it is, the current practice is, I strongly believe, the least worst "solution".

"... if there's to be an official stance on whether favoriting in that thread is OK then please put a note in that thread itself to that effect, rather than leaving it in a side discussion here in a separate thread that many people who come to the poc thread from the banner will never see... "

While you're likely correct that the discussion here will be unseen by many of those who would want to know, I very strongly believe that it's not worth the cost of introducing white people's concerns/problems/confusion into that thread in any way...because that's an example of the essential problem. Discussions of racism in groups including white people invariably are co-opted by white people centering it on all the feelings they have about trying to not be racist. That's DeAngelo again -- it's one example of how white fragility manifests. We saw it happen in this thread. And the people who do this are well-meaning, usually (I can say that about myself when I've been guilty of this) but so what? I'm long past caring about how well-intentioned someone is in this sort of situation. At some point, all of us who are privileged and want to be allies have to actually do the work to learn for ourselves not to do harmful but well-intentioned damage.

I mean, I'm clearly far from perfect -- which only makes me have less patience with people who've expended less effort and learned less than I have. Much of which, by the way, has happened when I've listened here on MetaFilter.

Which, if I may be so bold, is why I'm very disappointed and a little angry that we collectively haven't improved with regard to race and some other things (like ableism, which affects me personally). A lot of the patterns are the same, a lot of the kinds of things an ally has to learn to do are the same, a lot of the effort to be more aware is the same...and yet, most people (in my opinion) aren't transferring what they learned in one area into others (or, alternatively, are well aware of all this from the non-privileged perspective yet fail to apply that knowledge in the contexts where they do have the privilege).

I'm tired of being generous and making excuses for others or myself. I think that if we do others and ourselves the honor of having higher expectations, maybe we'll all be surprised when we rise to meet that challenge. Instead of making excuses. That goes for the mods, too. No offense...it's true for all of us in various contexts.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:45 PM on June 7, 2019 [3 favorites]


it is my direct request for white people to also undertake the emotional labor of thinking and explaining and discussing whiteness with each other.

I want to apologize in advance if this comment is uselessly insubstantial, it's because I just have a general fear of fucking up what I'm trying to say and being misread (previously). But I wanted to honor your request because I appreciate what everyone has written in the other thread. And not just that thread, but innumerable other threads over the years.

For starters--when I dug up that link just now I was surprised to remember that the example of hostility-to-new-users which I described there was (I believe) an example of a clueless white person being hostile to a PoC in a horrifyingly ironic way. (Or at least that's what I took it to be when it happened, I never actually knew the commenters' races for sure.) And I had completely forgotten that example--and didn't even remember it when I saw this thread a couple days ago. So clearly I need to work on remembering.

In the PoC thread, the biggest thing I learned is that aggressive atheism (Dawkins fans etc.) is felt to have a racial tinge to it. Having had this pointed out, it now seems pretty clear, I see the connection to smug white racist guys like Seth MacFarlane or the South Park folks who also pride themselves on supposed rationality.

A couple of times earlier in this thread I considered speaking out (more than just objecting to the deletion) and didn't. I'm always nervous about such things. suedehead--I take your point that this just puts the emotional labor onto PoC. So although it's a little late now, let me call out something that I don't think anyone else has mentioned yet. cortex: I found your use of the word "bummery" above to be pretty dismissive. Bummery is something like Grumpy Cat dying. The museum incident was outrageous.

And finally, trying to figure out what to say in this comment has brought to mind several recent "real life" incidents where I didn't push back (or not back hard enough) against something racist that another white person said, and later regretted it. It happens too often and I will try to be more forceful.

Re-reading/editing this comment before posting--I know I said "I'll have to remember/be more mindful" basically a dozen times in various forms, which sounds so hollow. It's hard to post this and feel so pathetic about it. But I understand that I owe this much (and more), so here goes.
posted by equalpants at 2:48 AM on June 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


P.S. I forgot to mention--2 flags is really all it took to get jj's.mama's post deleted? That seems pretty quick on the draw, I hope that one lesson taken here is to be slower about deletions.
posted by equalpants at 3:06 AM on June 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


Rereading some of the many many times this stuff has been hashed out before (thanks to divabat for the comprehensive list) and all the hard work done by POC MeFites over the years and seeing rtha's great comments pop up over and over and missing her. I'm glad that we have a new generation leading the way.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:14 AM on June 8, 2019 [12 favorites]


There are a class of topics that MeFi doesn't do well. It led to jj's post being deleted. It led to the other MeTa thread. That thread is best of the web, in my opinion.

It would seem the non-participants in that thread are why things don't go well. Perhaps the mods should reconsider who is being deleted.

I will now return to lurking and waiting for cyber security fpps.
posted by bfranklin at 6:42 AM on June 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


I've been re-reading those old grey threads as well. They tend to have this really gross pattern: someone says "can we not do [racist thing] here?" and immediately a pile on of racist apologia, diminishment, and joking around commences. The moderators are involved in the diminishment and joking around, early and often, every time. It's changed my opinion of this site, and not for the better. I really hope that at least the mods go through that list and read every single comment in every single thread linked there, and really think hard about what is happening and has been happening here. I think it would behoove the user base to do so as well.

In a few of these threads, the more recent ones, someone suggests that the mods do something, anything, even just take a half day class on the topic. They haven't done even that. I'm sorry, but why the fuck is this ok? Get your shit together, please. Get someone to help you with this problem. People are being hurt, they are being pushed out of this so-called community, because the moderators have decided that this issue isn't important enough to actually take seriously or to do anything concrete about. They may say it's important, but the things that the mods say in those threads tell a much different story.

I know the mods are strapped for time. I know that resources are tight. This is important. Doing the work takes time and resources. And the work critically needs to be done. When I say work, I mean you need outside help to do this. The moderators clearly are not capable of tackling this alone anymore. Your intentions might be good, but your practice sucks, and you can't fix it alone. You need experts in digital racism and community management in order to help you solve this problem. You needed to hire them yesterday. The work needed to be started yesterday. The work needed to be started every time someone posted a thread that appears on that list. Those discussions are egregious and disgusting, and nearly all of them follow the pattern of dismissal of the concern, followed by joking. And when you put these threads all together, well, I don't know how you can come up with any conclusion other than that white fragility and white supremacy are central facets of the ethos of this place.

There have been a lot of great suggestions on how to move on this, and how to push back on it, but they haven't been taken in the last 20 years. I don't know why they would be taken now. I have little hope that the site will hire a POC mod (at which point retention becomes an issue), or get any kind of training, or hire a consultant, or do anything concrete to actually give this problem the attention it deserves. It feels like the best we can hope for is slightly kinder deletion reasons. With the way the Internet looks today, I guess I can't say that I'm surprised that the "best of the web" is just like the rest of the web. This is just profoundly heartbreaking, disheartening, and demoralizing.

Thank you to divabat for the labor of putting that list together.
posted by sockermom at 7:53 AM on June 8, 2019 [53 favorites]


We don't need a white people's day because that's fucking every day, sadly.


But you see, I think this too falls into the trap of seeing whiteness as default.

This.. isn’t an accident. White dominated spaces isn’t just a happenstance. Whiteness was created and constructed. Not to be us-centric, but the US is a country literally founded on invasion and slavery. You have a place that is colonized by invaders, who killed many of the people already living there and forced the rest to move to live in designated areas. People were stolen from their lands, separated from their family, and turned into slaves. These invaders started calling themselves “White” to stop class conflicts from arising by he poor peasantry by mobilizing racism. Generations of racist financial policy, immigration policy, and social policy reinforces segregation.

White people invented whiteness. It’s not a casual demographic coincidence that white spaces exist; white people made it that way, deliberately and actively, but also unconsciously and automatically.

So if every day is white people’s day, then it was created and designed to be so. Metafilter, a place on the Internet where (in theory) anyone can join with $5, is too a white space. These aren’t coincidences but byproducts of a social system, where white people reproduce the system that they know.

For example. Imagine a bunch of men, actively reinforcing male dominated spaces, and then later saying something like “well, every day is effectively a men’s day, so why should men talk to each other about the patriarchy or sexism? We should listen to the women tell us what we’re doing wrong!”



This is the reason why Whiteness studies is a Thing. To me it’s not about decentering a convo away from people of color. It’s about adding another center of whiteness and getting white people to see that talking to each other about it is their responsibility.

I feel like I see whiteness so clearly, but white people often don’t. Is this because white people don’t want to? Or think that it’s bad to be white, so they pretend not to have a race? Or maybe they just haven’t been on the other side of whiteness?

And I definitely don’t and don’t want to speak for poc on this site. Other poc Mefites disagree with me and that makes sense. People of color, as a term, is even something that people disagree on.

My personal note to the white people reading here that you reinforce whiteness, and you have to talk about it. You’re white; please don’t pretend not to be. To me it’s not a bad thing to be born white, any more than it is a bad thing to be born a man, but it is a bad thing to deny your race, to pretend to be default, and thus to participate in the creation of a whiteness.

How often do you talk to your other white friends about whiteness? Do you have white friends who don’t want to talk about whiteness? Why do you think that is? How has your whiteness influenced the way you post here and discuss here?
posted by suedehead at 9:27 AM on June 8, 2019 [15 favorites]


suedehead: I feel like I see whiteness so clearly, but white people often don’t. Is this because white people don’t want to? Or think that it’s bad to be white, so they pretend not to have a race? Or maybe they just haven’t been on the other side of whiteness?

In my experience: none of these. We don't see it because we don't realise it's there. We see it as just being people. That's why it doesn't need to be mentioned or talked about: because it's the de facto default in a lot of societies. We aren't reminded of it, so we don't need to think about it. We don't pretend to be the default, we really think we are. By not thinking about it at all.

Which is, of course, bullshit. But here we are.

I'm very willing to talk about being white. But I don't know where to start. Maybe with your questions?
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:52 AM on June 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (2018).
posted by sockermom at 10:06 AM on June 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


suedehead, that idea makes sense to me. In the emotional labor thread or a spinoff of it I remember asking why men weren't talking about how the imbalance effects them. People rightly pointed out that men commenting tended to be commenting to critique or even drown out what women were saying, so inviting them to come in and spread themselves was going to cause problems.

But the emotional labor imbalance effects men, too, and no men were talking about that, and it started to seem profoundly weird. Somebody told a story about how her husband when they married essentially handed off the duty to love and know his grandmother to her. So for the last years of the grandmother's life, the wife, who had known her for just a few years and not the actual grandson, who had known her all his life, was the one going to visit the grandmother every week. The guy had had a close and loving relationship with his grandmother, and then he had no relationship with her, and then she died and the wife did the grieving, too. It was just like, "Welp! Gotta wife, now, so no more grandma!" Horrifying for the man, but the man didn't seem to notice? Or something? We don't know? Because we didn't hear from him or any other men? (not true, of course: there were a few, but a tiny, tiny few.)

Woman after woman after woman came into those threads and mourned all the life-ruination they were suffering thanks to the imbalance and barely any men talked about how it hurt them--but it does hurt them, it wrecks their relationships! It was so, so weird.

I would absolutely appreciate a "whiteness: what is it?" thread, though I agree with everybody saying it needs to come later. And I don't know what I would say in it--which right there proves we need it! Because I have to figure my whiteness keeps me from knowing how my whiteness is wrecking my life, just like maleness keeps males from knowing how maleness wrecks males' lives.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:25 AM on June 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (2018).

Ijeoma Oluo's book is excellent, yeah. Nthing the recommendation. She does a really good job of unpacking by personal example a bunch of different aspects of how living under systemic racism can affect basically every aspect of a person of color's experiences and interactions with a white dominant society, and the intersectional issues that can come into that, and marries that up with a lot of specific concrete "here's how you, the white person wanting to do better on this stuff, can actually do so" bullet points tied to each of those subjects.

A lot of the specific issues she brings up were already at least somewhat familiar to me, thanks mostly to what I've learned from the MetaFilter community over the years, so depending on what threads and conversations you have followed or participated in on the site some of it may already be in your vocabulary, but I found it a really useful read to refresh and expand my awareness of even the stuff I had encountered before. She's a really great writer, and is kinder about some of it than she's really obliged to be while still being pretty no-bullshit about the bottom line of where the injustice is in this stuff and where the responsibility for fixing it ought to be.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:42 AM on June 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


"But you see, I think this too falls into the trap of seeing whiteness as default.

That part of my comment was specifically with regard to the sort of thing where white people say "why don't white people get a special day?" and the like. It was in response to the false equivalence of a poc-only thread and a white-only thread. They are not equivalent.

My main point and mention of Robin DeAngelo was exactly what you are arguing: it is actually very helpful to recognize whiteness as thing. That was what I meant about white people experiencing being a marked class. DeAngelo does this as an exercise and it really makes white people uncomfortable.

I'm strongly in favor of pointedly making whiteness marked and I do think a white-only Meta thread would have that effect. The first thing you'd see, I bet, would be lots of white people complaining that thread makes them uncomfortable because it includes them specifically because their whiteness.

The problem, though, is I think that's too advanced for a general audience, many of whom haven't even gotten past the notion that this would be "fair" because they think it's an equivalent thread to the other. That reinforces the widespread, majority notion that racism isn't about white supremacy, but rather discriminating on the basis of race as a general, abstract principle. Most people misunderstand racism in this way and that's why white racists complaining that they can't have their own exclusionary spaces is a persuasive argument to far too many people.

This also applies to the other major, systematic institutionalized injustices, of course. Men need to think about why they feel the need to #notallmen, why they expect to be primarily treated as individuals and not as members of a class, and how that contrasts to women's experiences. And so a male-only space might encourage that. But only if the participants (and onlookers) are already past the Sexism 101 stage of understanding that the power imbalance means that these two segregated spaces are not remotely the same.

"In the emotional labor thread or a spinoff of it I remember asking why men weren't talking about how the imbalance effects them."

A few were -- and in almost all cases it went badly. That was instructive to me and it played a big role in convincing me that I should not comment in it, but simply read.

I think I made this point in another comment a while back... Ah, it might even have been in one of the white fragility threads. Of course it's the case that white people have a lot to think about and discuss and process when they are called on a fragility response -- that's an invitation to interrogate. But a discussion about and including the oppressed group that elicits a fragility response from the privileged, as it almost always does, is the exactly wrong place to have that discussion. Even when it's well-intended, it invariably shifts the center of the conversation to the perspectives and experience of the privileged group, thus demonstrating and reinforcing the power-imbalance that is the heart of the problem. More cynically, even when well-intended I don't think it's an unfortunate coincidence -- I think it's how the privileged are taught to unconsciously reinforce (protect) their privilege.

So, no, I strongly disagree that more men should have participated in the EL thread. And, as it happens, some of the most insightful and memorable commentary I've ever read on how the EL status quo harms men were written by women in that thread. Most of what we men could benefit from that thread could be gained simply by reading it. If more male participation could have added some additional value, it wouldn't be that much and, more to the point, the damage to the general discussion and the cost to the women involved would have been far greater.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:31 PM on June 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


Too-Ticky:

We aren't reminded of it, so we don't need to think about it. We don't pretend to be the default, we really think we are. By not thinking about it at all.

Which is, of course, bullshit. But here we are.

I'm very willing to talk about being white. But I don't know where to start.


In my experience I think quite often we are reminded of whiteness on a sub-surface level but just don't verbalize it/confront it. I'd like to share a recent incident, I bet if you think back you'll recall similar events in your life.

Recently someone repeated the infamous "ladasha" urban legend to me. I told them it was an urban legend and was surprised when they responded that yes, they knew it was a well-known legend, but it's a "legend that actually happens to be true" and their co-worker really did have a student by that name. I said I didn't believe their co-worker and that if they asked again, I bet the co-worker would no longer claim to have had this student personally, and would say, "oh, it was actually a friend of mine" etc.

What I failed to do was say the word "racist" at any point. But it was there, unspoken. When I challenged the story, the subtext of the response was "are you calling my co-worker and/or myself racist?". It wasn't stated outright. If I had escalated to the term "racist" then it would have been perceived as an accusation. By leaving it unsaid I was implicitly saying "no, I'm not calling your co-worker/yourself a racist, just gullible".

But of course being gullible in the face of this legend is racist, in impact if not intent (to borrow lazuli's phrase from above). I should have said "I know you're not intending to be racist, but passing along this story does further racism". It would have been uncomfortable, but it should have been said.

I think this happens all the time, white people really are aware of whiteness in many situations but enjoy the luxury of not being forced to confront it. And you know what, if a black person had been there for this conversation, I would have said "racist". But I got away with shameful laziness because there wasn't. (Please note I'm saying "black" not as a stand-in for "not white" but because the legend targets black people specifically. And in fact one of the people repeating the story was a PoC, but not black.)

If I asked you to think of some times in your life where you would've said something different if a PoC was present, I bet you could do it.
posted by equalpants at 12:58 PM on June 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


equalpants: Recently someone repeated the infamous "ladasha" urban legend to me.
Sorry, you've lost me, I'm not familiar. I'll look it up.

equalpants: If I asked you to think of some times in your life where you would've said something different if a PoC was present, I bet you could do it.
One... possibly. Can't recall what was said, but yes. I remember changing the way I worded something because I did not want to make a woman who was close enough to hear the conversation uncomfortable.
Some... no.

Anyway, let's not make this about me, that is not at all the point.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:18 PM on June 8, 2019


Yes, sorry, I don't want to make the thread about you, I just wanted to respond to "I don't know where to start", just trying to be helpful.
posted by equalpants at 1:22 PM on June 8, 2019


I don't like the whole concept of extracts from comments from the PoC thread being dragged in here for your feels all over them. That thread is NOT a performance for your feels.
posted by infini at 1:29 PM on June 8, 2019 [22 favorites]


A few were -- and in almost all cases it went badly. That was instructive to me and it played a big role in convincing me that I should not comment in it, but simply read.

Oh, no no no, I don't mean to say that men weren't commenting their heads off in the emotional labor thread and spinoffs, they indeed were, the same way many white people comment in every thread on racism to say "chin up!" and "not all" and "grow a thicker skin" and to make light-hearted jokes and to mope and then to Just Ask Questions, like they ask if X or Y thing they did was an example of what we're talking about and please explain what was so bad because maybe it wasn't really, and to request to be gentled out of feeling bad--all that time-consuming exhausting shit that privileged people confronted with their own wrongdoing tend to do, absolutely. I meant that only a very few men commented and did not do that stuff but engaged effectively and not defensively or mealy-mouthedly and said straightforwardly that we were right, that it was bad, that the disparity was painful to them, too, and admitted that their being immersed in the disparity caused them to behave badly--you know, copped to the problem being a problem and devoted some of their energy to thinking about ways to solve the problem.

I agree that that would have been better done in their own thread. But it wasn't done at all, unless it happened later and I missed it.

And that it wasn't done means what? Well, it means that most men considered it a women's problem. Whereas, no, it is a men's problem, and racism is a white people's problem. Whether or not you consciously value the marginalized people in your life, marginalized people are of value in your life, and your lack of connection to them, your casual know-nothing harming of them, harms you, too, and you need to look at how it harms you. You have skin in the game, whether you currently see it or not. Dedicating a thread for white people to look at that would maybe be good--if the white people in the thread engaged honestly and didn't just use it as a free space to JAQ each other off.

(Sorry. Ew.)
posted by Don Pepino at 1:41 PM on June 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


The fact of crappy comments being left in place tending to spawn awful downthread interactions and rendering a thread toxic and unsalvageable isn't debatable—it has happened over and over again over the years—and that's what I was talking about in the comment you quoted: we get to stuff without waiting for a big pile of flags first because there's so much easy-to-reference MeFi history of stuff going awfully back in the day when we didn't do that kind of prompt and sometimes necessarily predictive intervention (to say nothing of the large swathes of the rest of the internet where folks mostly still don't bother to).

You do see the systemic bias that's inbuilt into a system that relies on past performance to predict future actions?
posted by infini at 1:41 PM on June 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


Honestly, I think white people are afraid to talk to each other about whiteness.

Do the white people here fear that a white people thread will go bad? Do you think white people will make offensive statements? Do you think white people will respond badly? Do white people here worry that you'll have to make sure to moderate the thread? Do you think it won't go well?

Welcome to how people of color feel about threads about race on Metafilter!
posted by suedehead at 2:44 PM on June 8, 2019 [8 favorites]


I don't like the whole concept of extracts from comments from the PoC thread being dragged in here for your feels all over them. That thread is NOT a performance for your feels.

Yes. Please do not do this. It’s gross and disrespectful.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:09 PM on June 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think the comment being quoted mainly is mine, with the listing to all the previous discussion threads about race & non-US threads?

If so, yeah feel free to discuss them on here. I was thinking of reposting that list here too but didn't want to add clutter. But otherwise the above request stands.

While making that list I came across an old MeTa I started in reference to a post in 2014 about misogyny, which IMMEDIATELY devolved into chaos because I used the word "mansplaining". There was a whole derail from one particular Mefite who made such a big deal about not reading the rest of my post after the word "mansplaining". Another derail when someone begged me to explain to him, personally, how misogyny worked and would not actually listen to a damn thing I said. A bunch were all "but I'm such a good ally how dare you"; I think that's when I got a weird PM from one of them saying they'll block me over it.

That thread could really have used a women/non-binary only discussion thread. Like the PoC one happening now.

(Another complication is that some of the worst offenders were people celebrated by Mefites; trying to push back against them meant pushing back against who's popular. One of them had died since and the obit thread was full of how great they are and I'm not sure how to feel about that.)
posted by divabat at 7:34 PM on June 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


No, I think infini and GenjiandProust are referring to mine.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:41 PM on June 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Spathe Cadet: Ah, I see. Yeah, dodgy territory there.

I mentioned this in the other thread because I thought it would be too radical for here, but after sockermum and kalessin's recent comments, I think I'll throw this suggestion here and see how that goes:

Mods, one or more of you step down and give the spot to a PoC.
cortex, think of a succession plan where the space is now run by, at the very least, not a straight white able-bodied man.

(Seeing how often some of the egregious backlash to PoC asking for awareness on racism came from freakin' mathowie himself convinces me that this is baked into Metafilter from the get go.)
posted by divabat at 8:01 PM on June 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


I feel like having a white person group where people talk about whiteness needs to have a bare minimum standards of some people at least being trained in how to facilitate those groups, otherwise it goes way bad in a hot minute.
posted by corb at 8:29 PM on June 8, 2019 [9 favorites]


Maybe Metafilter needs to work on something like FB's White Nonsense Roundup, which are white allies who can be tagged to come explain racial issues to other white people who need it?
posted by TwoStride at 8:37 PM on June 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


FWIW, I am a Whitey McWhiterson, and racism-related outragefilter posts on MF are how I eventually got woke to the fact that the US is not the perfect meritocracy that my libertarian ideology had led me to believe.

I don't think that PoCs should feel obligated to perform that emotional labor for clueless dipshits like me, but I also don't think that they should be forbidden from doing so here.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:53 PM on June 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


One of the hardest things to accept as a white person is that the damage we can do to perpetuate racism--even while trying our best to be good--is substantial, even as the good we can do to mitigate against racism is meager and incremental.

I think we just have to wear this.

We just have to listen and know that some of what is being spoken about here is us and what we do and get wrong.

I don't think this is our moment to sort out our feels. And I think if we go into this hoping that we can get that exact right guidance that would help us to start getting it consistently right... That's not going to happen. It's no one's job but ours to learn better and do better and history indicates we just aren't the fastest learners. If we're hoping that we can sort all of that out in an all-white thread...

No. We just listen now. And we accept that we need to try as hard as we can and we are still going to keep fucking up. And we will have to wear that, too. We can only listen and learn and try to be better.

The horrible truth about going into every day trying to be a better person than you were the day before is that it means accepting two things: one, that any serious examination of your past will find someone who, as you go back, gets worse and worse; and two, that even right now, even today, after all we have learned, there will be things we are getting wrong, that later down the line we could do better.

And we just have to wear that.

It's really not about us today. I hate even making this comment. I don't want a cookie. I just want to get the fuck out of the way and try to do better.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:59 PM on June 8, 2019 [11 favorites]


If we're hoping that we can sort all of that out in an all-white thread...

I think the hope would be that a thread examining our own cultural context would be a step toward the ongoing process of sorting it out.
posted by lazuli at 9:08 PM on June 8, 2019


I was mid-comment on jjm's post when it was deleted. I think "outragefilter" is an incredibly dismissive way to address a post like that, even if it could have benefited from additional links. Racism in powerful arts institutions--and amongst their patrons--is an important topic and not one, it seems to me, that has been discussed to death around here. I was disappointed in Mefi for taking that approach. It seems that sometimes the mods are willing to trust that commenters will bring in more context and "open up" a single-link FPP...and sometimes they are not.
posted by praemunire at 10:02 PM on June 8, 2019 [9 favorites]


...I also think it's worth noting the broader chilling effect of that kind of deletion. Last week, I made a post on the court challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act--something that might possibly be regarded as "outragefilter"--linking primarily to a NYT article on the case. I added in more links because (a) I'm a compulsive annotator; (b) I wanted to bring in more Native American voices on the topic and (c) I felt that many Mefites might not know about the history of Native American "adoptions" in this country and that any discussion would be lacking without that context. But it would not have occurred to me to fear its being deleted if I hadn't--not because of my (nonexistent) Mefi standing, but because as a white person I'm largely assured having my voice heard everywhere. Anyone already feeling uncertain about their welcome at a place like this will be that much more discouraged from contributing when they see a post like jjm's curtly dismissed as "outragefilter."
posted by praemunire at 10:36 PM on June 8, 2019 [8 favorites]


I understand the intent of a future white people talking about whiteness thread (or however it is properly dubbed) and I understand why there is a subset of folks who feel it is a good plan. I don't mean to be dismissive of the idea or the thought behind it. The idea did seem to be feeding a certain amount of drift that was making me wary and that was the reason for my comment.

I'm trying to be very mindful of what I took to be a more dominant theme of the ongoing discussion of race on MeFi: that this time, it is not white people's turn to talk. With that in mind, I am shutting up now.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:23 PM on June 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Question, cause I might have missed it, but has anyone attempted to redo the original post?

I did read that the mods said it was fine to do so, just not sure if it was done.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 AM on June 9, 2019


I favorited a bunch of comments in the other thread in an attempt at actively listening and "yeah, I hear you" but then soon came back around to "I'm not supposed to be talking here and faves are speech." So, I went back and deleted all the faves.

If using faves as a bookmark for later, there are worse things to do than re-read to rediscover what we wanted and maybe find what else is there that we missed. I think and hope it is a thread that will bear repeated consideration.
posted by Gotanda at 8:34 AM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


“FWIW, I am a Whitey McWhiterson ...”

It’s worth noting that several people in this thread have specifically called out this sort of fetishizing of one’s own whiteness as a microaggression.
posted by thoroughburro at 8:59 AM on June 9, 2019 [20 favorites]


I said this in the POC thread as well: I am really really not in favor of segregated posts here. And I have a hard time seeing any thread that says "people of color: speak here!" or "white people: reflect on your whiteness here!" as anything other than segregated. Even with the best of intentions, separate is never, ever equal.

(The concept of a POC venting thread, in particular, has gross overlay of being simultaneously a way to encourage people to complain amongst each other without risking a disruption of the larger MF culture, and also weird race-porn for any non-POC reading along. Not the intention, I know, but it plays into a nasty history of dominant culture getting to define and confine what acceptable protest looks like.)

To stave off any further accusations that I'm not arguing in good faith: I do see the importance of recognizing whiteness as constructed and marked, but until we get to a society where whiteness is not the default,* I just don't think that can happen. That's true not just for race but also for, say, sexual orientation or gender identity. I don't think a "cishet reflection" thread would get more than five comments before flaming out.

* Speaking of which, I would love to hear perspectives from white people living in a predominantly non-white culture. I feel like a lot of those narratives go "I went to teach English in Japan for a summer and I learned soooo much about myself!!!!" but surely there is more nuance to be explored?

Look, expanding your awareness of people who don't look, talk, love like you is hard work. I credit MF's openness and lack of segregation, in that regard, in helping me recognize and work through some of my own privilege and implicit biases, on my own time. But dictating who is allowed to comment or favorite is a very slippery slope to breaking a community whose strength lies in its diversity -- even if it doesn't always respect that diversity.
posted by basalganglia at 10:05 AM on June 9, 2019 [12 favorites]


and also weird race-porn for any non-POC reading along. Not the intention, I know, but it plays into a nasty history of dominant culture getting to define and confine what acceptable protest looks like.)

yeah, this is kind of how I felt after reading along for the first fifty comments or so, so I stopped. But that said, it's not as if I can't see something positive for Metafilter coming from it as I don't think any of this is cut and dried.

But dictating who is allowed to comment or favorite is a very slippery slope to breaking a community whose strength lies in its diversity -- even if it doesn't always respect that diversity.

I suppose there's something to be said for recognizing that the slope is a slippery one. Be careful out there, folks.
posted by philip-random at 10:29 AM on June 9, 2019


* Speaking of which, I would love to hear perspectives from white people living in a predominantly non-white culture.

weirdly, this was me for my last ten years or so in Vancouver (I had to leave for family reasons about three years ago). Based on who was visible walking around my East Van neighborhood, I'd say folks with predominantly European blood were at best a quarter of the local population (and a skewed percentage of them were serious down-and-outers). My neighborhood before this one was similar, and in both cases, my landlord was not what you'd call white (and they were both great landlords).

But were these neighborhoods "non-white" cultures? Because though the demographics may have tilted that way, what about the actual values driving them, given that a large percentage of the non-Europeans were fairly recent immigrants and thus rethinking (whether they wanted to or not) what their culture even was.

Forty plus years ago, when I was still in high school (an almost entirely white monoculture) I first heard the notion floated that, within fifty years, Vancouver would no longer be a "white" city. At the time, it seemed almost too ridiculous to be shocking, and yet it has happened, perhaps even quicker than anticipated. And not just in East Van. The whole city's ethnic demographics have definitely shifted big time. And yet, in my experience, none of it's been what I'd call shocking. Or as one of my old neighbors used to put it, "the restaurants just keep getting better".

Or on a more serious note. What this (not particularly fast but definitely inevitable) shift has engendered in me is a sense of familiarity. I wasn't suddenly the only pale skinned person on the bus -- that happened over decades. Likewise the sidewalk, the grocery store, the doctor's office, the school yards. Which I suppose is the only real wisdom I may have to offer. In my experience, familiarity is probably racism's greatest single enemy. It's not laws, it's not regulations, it's not advertising campaigns -- it's just people coming to feel comfortable with each other, coming to notice their similarities over their differences.
posted by philip-random at 10:57 AM on June 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


Or on a more serious note. What this (not particularly fast but definitely inevitable) shift has engendered in me is a sense of familiarity. I wasn't suddenly the only pale skinned person on the bus -- that happened over decades. Likewise the sidewalk, the grocery store, the doctor's office, the school yards. Which I suppose is the only real wisdom I may have to offer. In my experience, familiarity is probably racism's greatest single enemy. It's not laws, it's not regulations, it's not advertising campaigns -- it's just people coming to feel comfortable with each other, coming to notice their similarities over their differences.


This is powerful and insightful. This is what happened with me in helsinki, finland, both at home and at work over a period of 10 years, and this just helped me recognize it. I went from being the only non white person at work and the first to boot, to one of a very large multicultural crowd (Chile! Mexico! Norway! Morocco! Iran! Bulgaria! etc) where instead of standing out, I am almost anonymous!

And familiarity does indeed breed comfort. My neighbourhood boasts its own International Classes at the local High School for kids who might have studied in English elsewhere but are too old to join in and learn enough Finnish to take the examinations, and someone called the photograph of this year's graduating class, a United Nations.

This, plus respect embedded in the administrative and bureaucratic system, goes a long way to feeling a sense of belonging.
posted by infini at 11:24 AM on June 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


(basalganglia, please know while I am responding to your comments, this is not directly meant 'at' you, but at other people / white people)

I said this in the POC thread as well: I am really really not in favor of segregated posts here.

It doesn't have to be segregated. It could be: anyone can comment, but let's have a MeTa thread about whiteness.

I do see the importance of recognizing whiteness as constructed and marked, but until we get to a society where whiteness is not the default,* I just don't think that can happen.

The problem, though, is I think that's too advanced for a general audience


Maybe this is my privilege, as I live in a major city (NYC) and have deliberately tried to exist in non-white-default spaces, and try to surround myself with people who are trying to think about race. I get that poc in other contexts may feel different, and I want to support that.

I think we've (PoC) been letting white people off the hook, and I am pushing against my own internalized racism that says "it won't go well / they won't understand / let's cut our losses, etc". And yes, it's not on the labor of POC to solve whiteness, so I am not faulting poc, just saying that there's stuff to do more'.

Lately, I have been letting my anger blossom. Honestly, I feel fiery about whiteness these days, and a good kind of fire. Like a kind of "hey, solve your shit" kind of fire. I have been trying to tend to the fire and make it a healthy bonfire so that it warms me and others, without burning myself.

But whiteness will have us quench the fire with a bucket of water. Whiteness will be reticent about feeding the fire, will say "wait, hold on, not yet". Whiteness will be like "oh, let's wait until XYZ". To me, white people feel scared of feeding the fire, of talking about whiteness, about dealing with it.

And also, you know: lots of white people are already talking about whiteness in the worst way possible, becoming literal white supremacists. This happens in the absence of conversation. This blossoms because white people aren't talking good, healthy conversations about whiteness with other people. I feel like white people have already done the "let's not talk about whiteness and slide it under the rug" strategy for eons now. Look where we are with this strategy! How has it worked for you all, white people? Isn't it time to change?

White people, so fragile about talking about whiteness. Don't you understand that it's hurting everyone? I'll say it: every white person who isn't talking about whiteness to other white people is actively perpetuating whiteness.

The thing with the fire is: if we do it right, nobody gets burned. We can bring snacks and sit around the fire at night and talk to each other about whiteness. It doesn't have to be hurtful. It can be honest, and scary, and open. I get it; I'm a POC that has whiteness embedded in me, myself, and looking at it and trying to pull it out has been a weird, painful, wild process. But it's a good one, and it feels good, you know, it feels like hot fire running through my chest, it feels like breathing fresh air after going for a run.

James Baldwin: "You always told me it takes time.. how much time do you want for your progress?"
posted by suedehead at 3:39 PM on June 9, 2019 [20 favorites]


Hm. I don't want to bring comments from the other thread here, but I find it disturbing that staff are replying to members in that thread privately, and apparently defensively. I don't think moderator involvement in that thread would be a good idea, for sure. If the memail is a direct apology, straight up and without waffles, sure, that's none of our business (I guess?). But a private-channel justification for something which happened just seems...gross? I'll grant it does speak directly to how much of a problem we have--not in a good way.

(To be clear, this is my personal reaction to that information.)

As a site member, what I want is another thread, in several days/weeks/soonish, where it's the mods (and us white folks) talking about what we've learned and what changes there will be to fix the "whitezone" aspect(s) of MF. If there are reasons past decisions were made in a certain way/topics "not done well", etc, it would be valuable to hear what those reasons were, and how the mods/all of us will do better in the future. This problem needs sunlight and mea culpas--from all of us whites--not back-channel maneuvering, vague platitudes and then...nothing.

Having said I want it, I also dread the white thread, unless it is moderated with fire. It needs to be a "no excuses, no justifications" thread--a thread to examine assumptions, take a good hard look at ourselves, and generate concrete, actionable things to do...not just for staff, but for all the white members here. Said thread will be a fucking disaster if every other comment is "but I'm a good ally!", "I don't see color!", shrugs, "we don't have a problem" or, god forbid, ideas about technical solutions to this very social problem.

Metafilter is one corner of this hell-world we can easily improve, even while the rest of it seems to careen out of control. Every post in the PoC thread is a gift from users who have been wronged (however much or little they may each feel about being wronged)--they owed us nothing. Let's show how much we appreciate the gift by doing something great with it.
posted by maxwelton at 4:34 PM on June 9, 2019 [19 favorites]


Speaking of which, I would love to hear perspectives from white people living in a predominantly non-white culture.

I was thinking about this last night and this morning, from a particular point of view. I think the protests in Hong Kong last night deserve their own FPP. I wrote one out, but didn't post it in the end because I've only been living here for 6 years and because I don't have as much skin in the game as a Hong Kong person has. I woke up hoping to see a FPP and it isn't there (yet) and I'm really torn about whether I should post one or not. 1,000,000 people (1 out of 7!) were in the streets last night and nothing on the blue and nothing about the proposed extradition law which sparked the protests.

I'm still thinking about it.
posted by frumiousb at 4:48 PM on June 9, 2019 [9 favorites]


I want to just note quickly that I can understand that in this context even getting mail from a mod regarding that thread could feel weird. It's counter-intuitive for us to be non-responsive to requests or site questions but it sounds like it may make folks more comfortable for us to just err absolutely on the side of non-communication, or at least from initiating it, for anything in that particular thread.

So I've asked the team now to just abide by that as a rule going forward for anything in there. If folks want to ask us site-related questions following up on something they or someone else said in there, they can reach out at the contact form and we'll follow up that way instead. Does that sound like a workable solution?
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:59 PM on June 9, 2019


cortex: was the idea to privately message people discussed by the mod team, or was it the decision of individual mods done without consultation from anyone else?

Also I'm not sure whether your "workable solution" is that safe, given that that opens the door to White people privately complaining about PoC to you. I mean, nothing's really stopping them anyway. But if you decide to engage with them when they do so, that's going to be a problem.
posted by divabat at 5:21 PM on June 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm curious, why would it be a problem for the owner of the site to engage with complaints from users? Doesn't mean he's going to encourage them or even agree with them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:44 PM on June 9, 2019


Just an independent decision by a mod to follow up on a feature request. We hadn't explicitly discussed emailing folks or not beforehand though we had already discussed and agreed to not responding inline in that thread to even stuff that would otherwise be normal/necessary mod follow up on questions or requests. I made the request that the team avoid initiating contact at all after it came up that it had made a user uncomfortable to hear from us at all.

Also I'm not sure whether your "workable solution" is that safe, given that that opens the door to White people privately complaining about PoC to you.

Like you say, nothing could specifically stop someone from doing that, but nobody has been and I don't expect anybody to do so. I'm certainly not gonna cheerfully engage with them about it if they were to try.

But I think we have to aim even in a stressful discussion like this for a certain amount of basic benefit of the doubt on the idea of people having non-shitty communication with the mods at all and vice versa. It's a basic part of how the site functions. I'm making an effort to stay out of that other thread entirely and to keep my responses in this one pretty minimal, and encouraging the team to do likewise, and I hope that is working out okay and am open to hearing what would further help folks' boundaries and comfort levels with this. We have an obligation as mods to be at least present and available even if we're aiming to be more backgrounded than usual, so I want to find an approach here that allows that as a basic expectation even as we try to accommodate a different than usual level of casual engagement right now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:44 PM on June 9, 2019


An Antiracist Reading List - Ibram X. Kendi in the NYT Book Review
posted by Chrysostom at 6:17 PM on June 9, 2019 [13 favorites]


suedehead, I appreciate your perspective. As someone who is almost always the only person of color in the room, and who works in a traditionally white-male-dominated field, I haven't had the privilege of finding mostly-non-white spaces -- honestly, the presumed demographic breakdown of Metafilter (mostly white, mostly male, mostly US) matches my real life interactions and it's STILL a more diverse space than I see on a daily basis IRL. I mean, my department's Diversity and Inclusion officer is a white man. (I actually like him and think he is trying to do a good job, and I suppose I should be grateful that they didn't fob this off on one of the 5 people of color in our department, but still.)

So as someone who has seen similar "white people talk about whiteness" dynamics play out in my professional and friend/Facebook communities, I do have serious misgivings about a similar thread here. At a minimum it would have to be heavily moderated, either formally by mods (who carry their own inherent biases, which is what prompted this conversation in the first place) or crowd-sourced by PoC Mefites (recognizing that's recreating the problematic "wise PoC helper" issue), at which point it would be better as a back-and-forth where everyone feels able to contribute, rather than a stand-off of PoC in one corner and white people in another.
posted by basalganglia at 7:40 PM on June 9, 2019 [8 favorites]


On reflection and after some MeMail back and forth, I posted the FPP. I tried to be clear about my point of view and I hope other Hong Kong people who are MeFi members will chime in. I'm also happy to hear how I could potentially have framed this better. I really appreciate MetaFilter, but I've been out of the US for more than 20 years and I'm constantly surprised how much very important world news simply doesn't get read.
posted by frumiousb at 7:56 PM on June 9, 2019 [11 favorites]


The audience for it is a lot smaller than that NYT article of suggested readings, but white Americans influenced by a specific antiracist discourse coming out of cultural anthropology might also consider the recent book From Boas to Black Power: Racism, Liberalism, and American Anthropology, which takes this perspective:
Avowed white supremacists vilify Boas and his successors for a reason ... Their project was anti-racist. It also deferred a full confrontation with white supremacy and the color line, disavowed the possibility that racism was a constitutive feature of the U.S. social order, and reproduced a foundational presupposition of the republic that equated 'America' with whiteness.
The author--who is white--points out in the prologue that James Baldwin said basically the same thing to Margaret Mead fifty years ago, around the same time African-American anthropologist William Willis was developing an internal critique of the discipline, so he seems aware this isn't news.

Believing critics the first time around would have been ideal, but if American anthropology has a ~100 year tradition of active 'antiracism' and yet remains subject to this kind of sharp re-examination, maybe some white readers holding on to a vague liberal perspective can look at it as model for accepting better positions too.
posted by Wobbuffet at 8:22 PM on June 9, 2019 [5 favorites]


So as someone who has seen similar "white people talk about whiteness" dynamics play out in my professional and friend/Facebook communities, I do have serious misgivings about a similar thread here.

If we're voting, even informally, I'm very much against this idea too. At the very least, it needs to be a space where POC can talk too if we want. I also believe any such thread will lead to buttonings, no matter how hard everybody tries.

I've discussed the theoretical reasons for this in the POC thread here, and don't want to repeat myself.

I'd also like to add: this isn't theoretical. In addition to being POC, I'm a cis het man. I gotta say that anything that I've learned about male privilege came from listening to someone else talk about how they suffered without it. That's the point of privilege: the suffering of others becomes invisible to you. It's something you don't even see unless you go out of your way to look for and listen to those affected.

That does not come from privileged people talking to each other. The privileged getting together is how white supremacy, male supremacy and so on get entrenched: by way of the commiseration of people who will assure each other that everybody else is overreacting because they don't intend any harm.

As before, I'm gonna let this drop now because I'm not looking to fight. I believe in the good intentions behind these sorts of requests. I just want to express why I am not in a way that hopefully will persuade folks.

I appreciate all the good faith contributions to this thread. It's good we're talking about this stuff.
posted by mordax at 9:57 PM on June 9, 2019 [14 favorites]


It’s good to talk about stuff, but people really need to remember than no demographic classification is a monolith, and we really shouldn’t talk like they are.
posted by Drumhellz at 10:03 PM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


What specific to mordax’s comment is the second part of your statement about, Drumhellz? It reads as a reply to that comment as it echoes the ending but I am having trouble understanding why mordax’s comment would elicit it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:33 PM on June 9, 2019


I wasn’t replying to anyone in particular, or I’d have specified that, apologies that it looks like I was.
posted by Drumhellz at 12:19 AM on June 10, 2019


basalganglia and mordax, just wanted to say that I really really appreciated your thoughtful comments. Listening to your personal experiences and contexts are giving me more thoughts / second thoughts, and I’m ruminating seriously some more about it. Thanks.
posted by suedehead at 12:48 AM on June 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


The last time anyone did an actual survey of MeFi members, responders were 51% male IIRC. There’s a breakdown in iamkimiam’s MeFi pronunciation thesis. ({Checks} OK: Page 150: in her 2012 survey to which ~1500 Mefites responded the responses to the free form gender question were split 51% male, 43% female, 4% QUILTBAG, 2% declined to state.)

Although thinking about it, that split appears to mix up gender and sexual orientation? Presumably some of the QUILTBAG group identify non-binary, but the rest might split half/half male/female? The original question was asking about gender identity I believe.

The survey did ask about ethnicity, but no details are available in her thesis, I think because the question was asked in different ways in the two surveys (2010 & 2012).

Regardless, that data was collected in 2012 & Metafilter has of course changed in the intervening seven years.
posted by pharm at 1:26 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


That's the point of privilege: the suffering of others becomes invisible to you. It's something you don't even see unless you go out of your way to look for and listen to those affected.

Poverty, and the informal economy. Farmers. Rural women with home based businesses like a small shop or selling prepared foodstuffs. I grew up in a privileged bubble, but once my work led me into the world of hearing all their stories, I never looked back. My entire perspective of what 'poverty' means, both absolutely, and relatively, and the assumptions around it and race, culture, geography, have undergone a sea change. Some of the people I most respect, and remember clearly even after 10 years, are traditionally invisible (unemployed older man in a township in south africa; widowed grandmother looking after her migrant children's children in the Phillippines; women in wholesale and retail trade of old and new clothing in Kenya and Uganda, etc) and I would have never learnt to see each and every one of them as a person in their own right rather than the lumpen masses known as the "Bottom of the Pyramid" or the BoP (no different from the lumpen PoC). But they're not lumpen masses - one was a 'spear' for Mandela, another a domestic worker in Hong Kong, a third runs a thriving business through her smartphone. They're aspirational ambitious individuals with dreams and hopes and wishes for a better future.

Filter bubbles = bubbles of privilege and comfort, laden with implicit and tacit assumptions rarely validated.
posted by infini at 3:03 AM on June 10, 2019 [9 favorites]


Thanks for the background kalessin.
posted by pharm at 6:47 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


cortex, thanks for clearing up how you and the mods are responding and reacting to this and the "hearing" thread.

Do you have an idea of what you will do with the feedback, critiques and ideas shared in these threads? Just off the top of my head, I think it could be good if you recapped what you heard, and sketch a plan forward, in a new MeTa. I realize that could lead to conflicts, but I think something like that would make it clear as to what was learned by the Mod Team from these threads, and could serve as next steps to make the site more open and inclusive. It could also outline something like participation guidance for the site, making it more explicit that MetaFilter is a diverse space, and because of that, some times the best thing you can do as a member of the site is to simply read and learn from others, particularly when you're not familiar with the cultures and norms being discussed.

And if its in a new thread, everything could be open for discussion, to avoid the appearance of any new mandates.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:40 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


Do you have an idea of what you will do with the feedback, critiques and ideas shared in these threads? Just off the top of my head, I think it could be good if you recapped what you heard, and sketch a plan forward, in a new MeTa.

That's specifically the plan, yeah. I've been talking with the team a bunch this weekend and drawing together concrete short- and long-term things to work on based on the concerns and suggestions folks have been putting out over the course of these conversations, and I've got the bulk of a MetaTalk draft written outlining that stuff which I'll plan to share today or tomorrow.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:52 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


I don't want to take up too much space in a thread where I'm learning a lot by reading, but I've had the immense privilege to get to work a lot internationally (Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Peru, Indonesia) in settings where I'm usually the only white person, always the only American, often the only woman. It has really viscerally illustrated just how much capital and privilege I have as I move through the world as an American and a white person. A few specific things come to mind about what I've learned about whiteness and Americanness and metafilter.

1. The US exports our culture, our politics, our food, our baggage, our history, our guns, our waste, our trash, our religion, our language, our donations, our problems. A lot of the rest of the world has no choice but to absorb/choke down/experience/accept/suffer through/understand/pay attention to the US and what happens here. Our influence is outsized and very rarely thoughtful. What I know about the history, culture, politics, religion, language of other places is limited, and I specifically seek it out about the places I work. I experience no negative consequences in my day to day life to not understanding the intricacies of Indonesia's recent general election. When I eat Ethiopian food or listen to Nigerian music or post about Kenyan politics, I am being cosmopolitan and interesting. The bar for me (and other white Americans) is so low and it would be really easy and a good use of time to work on exceeding that bar. White people behave so poorly in so many parts of the world that my general friendliness, interest in people and places, and enthusiastic but elementary language skills open doors to me in truly amazing ways. I know these doors are closed to immigrants who come to the US and the rest of the Anglosphere with similar language skills and personalities.

2. Being a woman who is white and American insulates me from a lot of challenges experienced by women who are not white and/or not American. But women all over the world get catcalled, experience domestic violence, get raped, get angry at restrictive politicians. It took a long time for me to start making friends with some of the women in the village where I spend most of my time in Cote d'Ivoire, I think in part because I move through spaces so easily and take that ease for granted. Why did I eat with the men? Why didn't I help prepare food and eat afterwards with the women? Why do I get to spend three weeks a month living and working in close quarters with their husbands? But also, moving through parts of the world as a really visible woman who doesn't understand all the cultural nuances and doesn't necessarily speak the language has gotten me hurt and put me in some dangerous situations where the personal consequences have been pretty severe.

3. There is value, for white people who are used to being the majority (or at least seeming like the majority), in seeking out places where you will be visibly different and in seeking out places where you will not be comfortable. This isn't a call to travel for enlightenment, or try to ingratiate yourself into spaces that are explicitly not for you, or to use other people as props in your education ... but there are all sorts of ways to find yourself surrounded by folks who aren't just like you. A book I read recently that was really helpful at articulating the ways Americans - even good progressive liberal Americans - are educated into subconscious American Exceptionalism, and the work of undoing that indoctrination, is Notes on a Foreign Country. I've just given it to my boyfriend, who is Indian, and he's said it helps explain the origins of some of the stupid and hurtful things well-meaning white people (such as myself) do and say in their interactions with non-white and non-American folks.

4. Relatively speaking, I post a lot about international things and "diverse topics." After a TRULY FUCKED UP and infuriating response to a post about international terrorism (re-reading it to find the link still makes me SO ANGRY), I stopped feeling like it was a good use of my time, emotional energy, and mental effort to post about bad things happening to people in places I know and love and in some cases, even the good things happening to people in places I know and love. And yes, these are places I know and love, but they're not my places. Posting about a thing or a place you are from, or feel deeply about, or are, makes you incredibly vulnerable. It's not something people do casually, and I think in order to be a place where people feel safe posting about racism, we need to be a place where people don't feel safe about their racism.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:31 AM on June 10, 2019 [39 favorites]


I've spoken to her on skype, she's for real. 5 stars
posted by infini at 9:00 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


basalganglia and mordax, just wanted to say that I really really appreciated your thoughtful comments. Listening to your personal experiences and contexts are giving me more thoughts / second thoughts, and I’m ruminating seriously some more about it. Thanks.

Regardless of which way this goes, I appreciate being mulled over. I also appreciate how much thought and effort you are putting into trying to improve this place, and have been reading your comments with interest too.

One good thing that's come out of this for me is seeing so many people come out of the woodwork to share what they think about things right now, in both this and the POC thread.
posted by mordax at 9:54 AM on June 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


Many thanks for the thoughtful contributions in this thread and in the PoC thread. They are much appreciated. I particularly appreciate the idea that white MeFites sit with any discomfort that we happen to be feeling for awhile and not rush to comment on specific things, express any defensiveness we may be feeling, or to suggest premature fixes. That seems wise.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2019 [13 favorites]


> I've been talking with the team a bunch this weekend and drawing together concrete short- and long-term things to work on based on the concerns and suggestions folks have been putting out over the course of these conversations, and I've got the bulk of a MetaTalk draft written outlining that stuff which I'll plan to share today or tomorrow.

What happened to waiting 30 days? Or maybe at least giving the posts some time for reflection, to allow it to sink in. There are concerns I've sent to mods (and never got a reply to) that took me weeks before it really clicked as to what I was actually trying to say, and these threads have been a helpful part of that. So maybe don't rush the process by feeling like the ideas and concepts that are only starting to be developed need to be addressed so quickly. Maybe let us keep talking for awhile longer before there is an intervention into the discussion?

Basically, how about listening to Bella Donna's wisdom, and sit with any discomfort that you may be feeling for awhile and not rush to comment on specific things, and risk expressing defensiveness that you may be feeling, and suggesting potentially premature fixes. I think it is both okay and important to give this discussion some time, and I worry about what may happen if there is a rush to retake control of the discussion so soon.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:28 AM on June 10, 2019 [18 favorites]


What happened to waiting 30 days? Or maybe at least giving the posts some time for reflection, to allow it to sink in.

I'm absolutely not going to propose that we have solved things, and I agree that continuing to sit and listen and let folks talk is going to be important here. And some of the stuff that feels like a good first step or that folks have been pushing for may need revisiting or revising down the line, and I appreciate that and don't think matters will have been settled with one followup metatalk.

There are however some concrete things we can start working on, or put into place immediately, and folks have repeatedly expressed a desire to see that we're taking action, or frustration that in the past there hasn't been clear and prompt followup with specific plans after discussions like this, and I think it's important that we establish that we are hearing folks and are doing just that.

I know the userbase isn't monolithic in their feelings about any of this, but a conspicuous and protracted silence from the mod team in the face of request that we follow up would be a problem in its own right. I'm going to instead just try to focus the followup we do provide on concrete steps we're taking rather than explanations or rationales for why things were done differently in the past etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:47 AM on June 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


So, I've been sitting on this question for a bit but I think I want to make sure this gets added into the mix: are we, as a community, also going to be working harder on something else MeFi hasn't historically done well - the intersection, such as it is, of anti-semitism, anti-Zionism, and the difference between "Israel" and "Judaism"? Or is that best left as the object of Yet Another MeTa Thread?
posted by hanov3r at 11:54 AM on June 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


> a conspicuous and protracted silence from the mod team in the face of request that we follow up would be a problem in its own right.

Respectfully, I don't think four days is a conspicuous and protracted silence from the mod team. I've been waiting to hear back for a little more than two months about the concerns I sent to you and a mod, and while it's been not as long that I haven't heard back since my more recent follow up, two months seems more like a conspicuous and protracted silence, and it's what I've been referencing in my earlier comments when I was talking about still hurting, because for some reason, I'm the one who feels shame over being treated like I was, and especially the lack of any direct reply.

And now there is a massive discussion that already includes pushback against a recent mod response, so a mod response so soon after that seems rushed. I just don't see what the urgency is, especially when there has been so much discussion about the many benefits of quiet reflection.

My own reflection about my experience trying to report concerns to you and a mod has helped me burn off the initial anger and shame, and I have a lot more compassion and a clearer reflection on what the issues are now that we've been able to develop some solidarity in the other MeTa. But it feels like that sense of solidarity will be undermined by so quickly redirecting the conversation back to how the mods feel and what the mods want to do, without giving a conspicuous and protracted opportunity to allow for thoughtful consideration of the ideas that are slowly taking shape in the current MeTa.
posted by Little Dawn at 12:57 PM on June 10, 2019 [18 favorites]


Or is that best left as the object of Yet Another MeTa Thread?

Speaking only for myself, I think that may be a different sort of issue. Judaism is actually decently represented in the current mod team, but there are still a bunch of issues that come up regarding these types of threads. So I think it's important, but may be in a category of "things MeFi doesn't do well" for a slightly different reason. Or perhaps not, but I think the outlines of that concern are somewhat the same and somewhat not the same as what's currently under discussion.

I've been waiting to hear back for a little more than two months

My experience with the mod team is that they get back to most people within the hour and sometimes just within a day or two (if it's something requiring mod discussion). If you're expecting some sort of response and are waiting more than a few days, it might be worth nudging
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:18 PM on June 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


But it feels like that sense of solidarity will be undermined by so quickly redirecting the conversation back to how the mods feel and what the mods want to do, without giving a conspicuous and protracted opportunity to allow for thoughtful consideration of the ideas that are slowly taking shape in the current MeTa.

I completely, absolutely agree.
posted by suedehead at 1:19 PM on June 10, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'd like Metafilter to be better with antisemitism, but I feel that (a) the present discussion is sufficiently fraught without opening yet another can of worms; and (b) expanding the focus of discussion would risk making progress on racism contingent on progress on antisemitism. Progress on racism is a good thing in itself, even if it's a limited victory; and a good outcome here would actually make it easer to discuss similarly touchy issues.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:21 PM on June 10, 2019 [13 favorites]


Alright, I hear y'all. It goes very hard against my instincts to be intentionally non-communicative about steps we're taking in response to feedback, especially where it involves specific requests and/or folks expressing dismay at the lack of response, but if the general feeling is that following up with a new MetaTalk in the next few days is going to feel more counterproductive than holding off, I am okay with holding off instead.

Respectfully, I don't think four days is a conspicuous and protracted silence from the mod team. I've been waiting to hear back for a little more than two months about the concerns I sent to you and a mod, and while it's been not as long that I haven't heard back since my more recent follow up, two months seems more like a conspicuous and protracted silence, and it's what I've been referencing in my earlier comments when I was talking about still hurting, because for some reason, I'm the one who feels shame over being treated like I was, and especially the lack of any direct reply.

This is my fault. I didn't recognize what you were talking about or really grasp that you meant a literal non-response from me, but getting now that that's what you mean I searched my MeFiMail archives and there are in fact a couple of messages from you that I failed to catch and respond to. That's entirely on me, and it's not the normal mode of mod communication. I'm upset at myself that I didn't understand that that was what happened and that I didn't get to those. I can totally understand your anger and discomfort at seeming stonewalling, and I apologize for fucking that up and putting you in such a frustrating position.

Like Jess says, the usual turnaround time on stuff is 15-60 minutes if someone is around, maybe a few days if it's a mefimail instead of a contact form message and the mod in question isn't on duty at the time or in the interim. Beyond a couple days it's definitely something going wrong in the pipeline, and it's always 100% okay to ping the contact form to follow up on something.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:35 PM on June 10, 2019 [6 favorites]


expanding the focus of discussion would risk making progress on racism contingent on progress on antisemitism

... which is exactly why I sat on the question for so long, because the last thing I want to do is derail progress on racism in any way.

So I think it's important, but may be in a category of "things MeFi doesn't do well" for a slightly different reason. Or perhaps not, but I think the outlines of that concern are somewhat the same and somewhat not the same as what's currently under discussion.

I think they both (all?) broadly fall under the rubric of "the perceived majority not really wanting to understand the complexities of situations outside their norm", whether that perceived majority is 'white people' or 'men' or 'Christians of any sect', but there are absolutely nuances unique to each.
posted by hanov3r at 1:41 PM on June 10, 2019


Although I'm still catching up on the thread, I'd like to strongly second 23skidoo's suggestion of an announcement post followed by a full response at a predetermined date. I feel that part of the reason we keep getting caught up in repetitive cycles of MeTas about site racism is that either:

1. In their understandable determination to take immediate action, the mods propose new policies so quickly that the discussion prematurely shifts to the specifics of those proposed policies without giving PoC members time to fully articulate their concerns -- important issues get swept under the rug because their necessity can't be conveyed in the time allotted by white people's schedules. So they don't get resolved until the next MetaTalk. Or:

2. The mods understandably decide to hold off on making concrete policy changes, but then the urgency of the issue takes a back seat to other priorities, and eventually enough PoC posters get annoyed at the lack of progress and then there's another MetaTalk.

A date in the future, whether in two weeks or four, gives the community time to talk things over and for proposals to percolate, holds the mod team responsible to take at least one specific action by a deadline, and removes the burden of, "Shit, am I going to have to be the one to post the next racism Meta" from PoC posters.
posted by bettafish at 1:46 PM on June 10, 2019 [13 favorites]


I understand the impulse to respond soon, cortex. I can imagine how hard it is to stop yourself from proceeding as usual, which is normally encouraged and rewarded. I just had the great pleasure of deleting a long comment basically begging you to reconsider your position. Thank you so much for making that comment unnecessary and for hearing the members of our community who have made it clear they need more time! I appreciate your change in plans. I also appreciate the important role that you play and the work that you do on behalf of the online community that I call home.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:49 PM on June 10, 2019 [8 favorites]


Very familiar to most women, caught in an emotional muddle, needing to be heard, is their male partner's desire to rush in with solutions and action, instead of pausing to hear them out and let the feelings settle down for a bit before taking a look at what might be left of the mess.
posted by infini at 1:55 PM on June 10, 2019 [24 favorites]


Alright, I hear y'all. It goes very hard against my instincts to be intentionally non-communicative about steps we're taking in response to feedback...

With great respect, part of the problem of responding soon is that feedback is still being collected. The steps you are planning to take now in response to feedback you already have may not seem as appropriate by the time the PoC thread closes. So thanks again for waiting (ideally, until some time after that thread closes) to formulate your response.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:01 PM on June 10, 2019 [7 favorites]


"Or perhaps not, but I think the outlines of that concern are somewhat the same and somewhat not the same as what's currently under discussion.

That's true about everything we might think of as similar. There are aspects of my experience as a disabled person that have very strongly echoed the experiences of other groups that I've been hearing and working to understand secondhand my entire adult life.

For example, one thing that I really, truly understood only when I experienced it myself was just how exhausting and dismaying it is to even just have to decide whether to speak-out or not...it's even worse when actually doing so. Since 2004, I've watched individual people of different groups have the courage and energy to speak-up here but eventually go silent. I understood why, but I only now understand why.

It was always important to me to take people's concerns seriously, but I'm now kind of radicalized on that point. If someone is not privileged on the axis of their complaints, the problem they are describing is real and substantial. That's...not really how I perceive the majority of this community responds to such complaints. Almost always, it's skepticism and defensiveness. People have been complaining about rampant white privilege on Metafilter all this time -- one reason the dedicated thread is so important is that my observation is that the community only really "hears" people when they speak up loudly and in large numbers. Which is finally happening here, but it's usually sisyphean and almost never happens.

Insofar as there is a larger context here at MetaFilter to consider, it's that I wish we were much, much better at this than we are. I want that to improve.

Otherwise, it's always, I think, a mistake to start talking about problems on another axis of privilege while finally one group has the stage and are being heard. It's always a mistake to carelessly conflate disparate groups' experiences. This isn’t the right time and place to discuss other concerns -- not even the metaproblem I describe above (much as I'd like to see change). But we can keep some of this in the back of our minds.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:14 PM on June 10, 2019 [7 favorites]


I just realized, rereading my last comment, that I did not explicitly say that, yes, I completely agree that discussing this other thing that MeFi does not do well is a distraction at this time

And, while I had no intention of conflating the experiences of various groups, I take the point that asking this question now is perceivable as doing exactly that and I apologize for doing so. Thank you for pointing that out, Ivan Fyodorovich.
posted by hanov3r at 2:45 PM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]


This is my fault. I didn't recognize what you were talking about or really grasp that you meant a literal non-response from me, but getting now that that's what you mean I searched my MeFiMail archives and there are in fact a couple of messages from you that I failed to catch and respond to. That's entirely on me, and it's not the normal mode of mod communication. I'm upset at myself that I didn't understand that that was what happened and that I didn't get to those. I can totally understand your anger and discomfort at seeming stonewalling, and I apologize for fucking that up and putting you in such a frustrating position.

Thank you for saying so, and I regret turning the attention onto my individual concern, because I think the discussion here is better served when it relates to larger site issues. I encourage you to not be upset at yourself, and we can talk about it more by MeMail when you have time.

Alright, I hear y'all. It goes very hard against my instincts to be intentionally non-communicative about steps we're taking in response to feedback, especially where it involves specific requests and/or folks expressing dismay at the lack of response, but if the general feeling is that following up with a new MetaTalk in the next few days is going to feel more counterproductive than holding off, I am okay with holding off instead.

Thank you for reconsidering - not that I know much about cooking, but letting this simmer for awhile seems like the right metaphor under these circumstances.
posted by Little Dawn at 4:02 PM on June 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


I agree that there are other axes of oppression that Metafilter "doesn't do well" and could use a dedicated discussion on - as I said before, I wish we'd done the community-specific discussion threads for other issues. I also agree that they should happen over time, both to allow for breathing space and also to provide an opportunity for everyone to learn from the current discussion and apply that forward.

I would suspect that any action that comes as a result of this discussion would also benefit other minority groups. Hopefully, if/when we get to the point of talking about other groups, Metafilter has become strong enough and has made enough headway that the discussions don't have to start all the way from the beginning.
posted by divabat at 5:49 PM on June 10, 2019 [10 favorites]


expanding the focus of discussion would risk making progress on racism contingent on progress on antisemitism

I've talked about antisemitism in the PoC MeTa for several reasons, including because 1) divabat included MeTas about antisemitism in the list of Threads In Which We've Had Pretty Much This Discussion Before, In Chronological Order (A Non-Comprehensive List), 2) legally, while Judaism is not a race, Jewish people can be targeted for racism, 3) I'm not sure what to call it but racism if someone tells me that I 'look Jewish,' and if I start getting treated in a mocking, discriminatory, intimidating, or worse manner, and 4) the ADL has an explainer about antisemitism that talks about the 'racial science' used by Nazis to justify the Holocaust, which is another part of why talking about antisemitism can be talking about racism, because a lot of people do still seem to think of Jews as a separate race, even if they now have the best intentions. Also, hate crimes against Jews are rising, and it feels simplistic to talk about the attacks only in terms of religious hatred, particularly given the history of the 20th century, and especially when the attacks echo nazism. The racism is from the perception of a race.

So I don't think it's a distraction to talk about antisemitism and its interrelationship with racism, but perhaps it is distracting to talk about anti-Zionism, and the difference between "Israel" and "Judaism," including because those seem like maybe more politically-charged topics, and there hasn't been anyone talking about experiencing those issues as racism in the PoC MeTa yet. However, I think it would be good for people in this thread to be careful about defining what should be included in the PoC MeTa. If anything, we can talk about it over there, but I'd rather err on the side of inclusivity, and let people define their own experiences as PoC, instead of being classified over here as distractions.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:50 PM on June 10, 2019 [13 favorites]


I appreciate how Jewish members here (and allies) are being particularly careful. But I don't think that much care is required.

No, a great deal of care is required; it's a very sensitive issue at present. I think it came to popular Jewish attention last year with Nylah Burton's OpEd White Jews: Stop Calling Yourselves “White-Passing”. There have been many heated editorials, Tweets, blog posts &c. since then on both sides.

The MeFi discussion about PoC seems to be mostly drawn in terms of the way racial identity is typically constructed in the US. Even today, even in the USA, to have a Jewish identity is to be racialised to some extent. I mean, there are still anecdotes about "Jewish hair" and stereotypes about nose jobs, and generational insecurity about people's family background. None the less, even amongst Jews there are different qualities of experience, and subsuming Jews within the category of Persons of Colour erases the distinct experiences of Jews of Colour.

This is a difficult subject, but it's not one we need to resolve here. Antisemitism isn't just racial; it's also conspiratorial and para-religious. And the most racialised aspects of antisemitism are precisely the ones which would be most controversial here, and most likely to drown out the voices of PoCs. I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't think anything I could bring to a MeTa discussion eliciting PoC experiences would be helpful. We don't need to do everything at once; there will still be issues to deal with after this one; I'd be very happy to see a good outcome here showing a way forward for other subordinated groups.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:35 PM on June 10, 2019 [28 favorites]


I'd like to bring up an example of a current thread that I think is structurally very similar to jj's.mama's post.

Inside Patriots coach Bill Belichick's coaching mastering

It's a single link post (to a 2008 article) that is bound to inspire some hot takes and back-and-forth amongst the commenters. Given the poster's username, I'm almost inclined to think it is trolling, but I suppose there are some folks out there who are fans of both the Yankees and Patriots.

Obviously, sports don't hold a candle to racial injustice when it comes to actual impact on people's lives, but for better or worse, sports are certainly a hot button issue. The thread has already seen some sort of mod involvement, but it's not clear exactly what happened based on the note in the thread. Maybe it was specifically directed at the poster?

I know it's not always fair to make specific comparisons between posts and litigate why one was deleted and why the other stands, but I hope as the mods look at the larger response to this incident, they can take a look at these two posts and think about how implicit bias may have informed their deletion decisions.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:57 AM on June 11, 2019 [7 favorites]


I hear your concern which is reasonable given the information you have; I can't address it except to say sometimes mods have information that members don't.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:16 AM on June 11, 2019


I can't address it except to say sometimes mods have information that members don't.

That is not a really helpful response here, given that it doesn't address the "what hot takes get to stand" question posed. And its vagueness implies a critique of jj's.mama (it could be about the Yankee poster, I can't tell) which if so seem to be really out of bounds given how things have gone down.
posted by TwoStride at 7:25 AM on June 11, 2019 [7 favorites]


It's not about jj'smama.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:26 AM on June 11, 2019


I appreciate your response, LM, but I am struggling to make sense of it as well. Setting aside the thought that the Belichick post might be trollish, are those not similar threads in the sense of single link news posts that are more about the conversation than about the links?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:30 AM on June 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


The link to the Burton piece in the Forward above is actually kind of topical to this thread in a way, because there's a whole lot of context missing that specifically deals with the minimizing and outright erasure of PoC.

To sum up: Burton is a Jewish WoC, who has written extensively on not just being a PoC in the Jewish world and the gatekeeping of Jewish identity, but also white supremacy and fascist tendencies within the Jewish community at large. And actually, she no longer writes for the Forward, because their opinion editor made it clear that those perspectives were either not valuable enough or too confrontational to be included. What followed was less "many heated editorials, Tweets, blog posts &c. since then on both sides" and more of a one-sided campaign of harassment from the Jewish community and clueless gentiles, including mainstream Jewish publications. Over the last several weeks--and this is still ongoing, BTW--Burton, other JoC, and their allies who dared speak up on the same issues have found themselves ignored and possibly blacklisted by those same publications (even left-of-center ones like Forward), accused of being a "fake Jew" and wearing "Jewface," being anti-Semites and probably actual Nazis, allying with Louis Farrakhan and/or the Nation of Islam, and just straight-up accusations of infiltrating Jewish spaces as (gasp!) secret Muslims.

All that is to say that while there is definitely a place for an anti-Semitism thread, there's also a discussion to be had about how privilege and/or ignorance informs discussions about Judaism where oppressive voices (both Jewish and gentile) are valued over marginalized Jewish ones. It's a discussion that's going on within the Jewish community, but I think it's reflective of a problem bigger than that, and that Jewish Mefites like myself are obligated to address it if the more general racial politics of the site are also being discussed.

Also, on a not-unrelated note, if we're going to have a serious discussion about a commingled religious and cultural form of bigotry like anti-Semitism, I'd like to know how Muslim Mefites feel about discussing Islamophobia here as well? I ask because as far as I can tell it hasn't been brought up even once in this thread, which seems like another glaring blind spot in the community. It's certainly been a topic on MeTa more than once over the years, although sometimes I feel it gets subsumed into larger discussions about either religion or race. I'd be interested to hear from them, especially if they feel that it's exclusionary to say one is worthy of a dedicated thread while the other is not.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:51 AM on June 11, 2019 [14 favorites]


I'm fascinated by how an eleven year old link from a new member who already has a commenting history that runs against the grain of the site was allowed to stand.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:06 AM on June 11, 2019 [20 favorites]


I agree with arabidopsis, being a person who had to totally rethink how she spoke of her own Judaism and Judaism in general after being schooled about how very Eastern European her idea of what was "Jewish" was a few years back. I was deeply indoctrinated by my upbringing (similar to, I imagine, hundreds of thousands of other Jews raised in the US) and it broke my brain to realize how effed up and racist my thinking was.
posted by wellred at 8:15 AM on June 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but the post I'm referring to was actually deleted then undeleted.
That's exceedingly rare.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:16 AM on June 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


"we have secret information about this weird situation" is like making hand-shaking gestures over the koi pond and walking away. why do that??
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:37 AM on June 11, 2019 [6 favorites]


The posts are both single link but otherwise very different. jj's.mama's was on a much more important topic, and the problems we anticipated in the thread were different than the ones I'd anticipate in this football thread, and the impact of deleting her post with such a terse deletion reason that felt dismissive of the whole subject was much worse, both in its effect on her and its effect on other members. It's clearly something we screwed up very, very badly.

I agree this current post is borderline and in some circumstances it'd be deleted. In fact I deleted it last night but then we got a protest against its deletion and I thought maybe it could go okay and I emailed the poster instead. They're a new poster, and I've emailed with them about posting style and so on, trying to work with them a bit.

With jj's.mama, one of the mistakes we made was, we clearly should have communicated better about what that deletion meant from our point of view -- how we expected the thread would likely go, and how small changes could make a big difference to that, and so on. (I understand people don't necessarily agree on the issue about changes, but the point is we should have communicated our thinking to her more clearly and more respectfully at the time.) So here, in light of that incident and this discussion, we're communicating more, trying to do better here to work with a newish poster. I don't want this person to end up under a spotlight just because we're trying to work with them a bit, and I don't want this thread to derail onto focusing on this other post.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:38 AM on June 11, 2019 [8 favorites]


Damn. I assumed mods were reading the complaints about the jj's.mama deletion in the fucking fuck thread because I had internalized the idea that mods always read MeTas. I wish I had used to contact form to say hey, a whole bunch of us literally just encouraged her to make a post like this in the immediate aftermath.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:00 AM on June 11, 2019 [15 favorites]


I haven't read the whole thread, so apologies if I am retreading ground that's already been covered. But...

I have my own outragefilter post that got to stay up and generated an interesting discussion. It's technically more than one link, but only because I added the barest of cover. I didn't add any real context or other sources. What I wanted from posting it was to be able to read other women's stories of frustration and maybe learn some things, but the venting and outrage was the point and I got the catharsis I needed from it. Maybe years ago that discussion wouldn't have seemed productive, maybe if there had been an all-male mod team that didn't have a ton of exposure to those kinds of problems (or thought that there was too much exposure and that discussion wasn't interesting enough to the "general audience"). But I was also here starting post-Boyzone, and the discussion could have been very different if there weren't so many women who jumped in to give thoughtful comments out of the gate. Having past threads like the emotional labor thread made me feel safe enough to post something like that and know it would go well.

I'm sad that jj's.mama's post was deleted, and I think the conversation could have been really interesting and productive. As a white woman I value getting to read first-hand accounts of how people of color are treated differently, and use that to try to do better myself. I want Metafilter to be a site where PoC can feel heard and listened to, and have the conversations they need, the same way I got to. We need to get past the Whitezone.

It'll be a chicken-and-egg problem until things drastically change. Single link about race gets posted --> Metafilter doesn't do well with those types of discussions, so a mod will delete --> More people of color leave --> Metafilter does even worse with those types of discussions in the future because white commenters jump in with their white feelings being hurt before discussion can get off the ground. The discussions need to be carefully guided to ensure they stay on track, and I don't think an all-white moderation team is capable of doing that properly.
posted by j.r at 9:51 AM on June 11, 2019 [7 favorites]


OK, thanks for clarifying that, LobsterMitten. I honestly wasn't asking for (or expecting) a direct response to the example I mentioned, and I think 23skidoo is absolutely right that while some examples might help illustrate the understandably fuzzy borders around deletion decisions, I don't think litigating individual decisions is going to be very productive. I apologize if it seemed like I was trying to do that, and I didn't mean to call you or YankeeKing6700 out specifically.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:54 AM on June 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


It feels like in practice the moderation team is basically impervious to the idea, widely expressed in this thread, that its whiteness makes the general heavy-handed moderation/"curation" style particularly untenable when race comes up. There are literally two threads at the top of the front page right now (Bill Belichick and Lost Kingdoms of Africa) where a mod has decided that a line of conversation related to race is not what they want to see, and corraled the discussion.
posted by dusty potato at 10:46 AM on June 11, 2019 [19 favorites]


The posts are both single link but otherwise very different. jj's.mama's was on a much more important topic, and the problems we anticipated in the thread were different than the ones I'd anticipate in this football thread, and the impact of deleting her post with such a terse deletion reason that felt dismissive of the whole subject was much worse, both in its effect on her and its effect on other members.

The practice of deleting posts and lines of discussion about events/topics that are "too important" to discuss is incredibly frustrating. At least in my view, the job is to moderate those discussions, not to preemptively nuke them.

And how do you decide what's "too important"? I hear you when you say that it's based on mod experience, but I agree with people up-thread saying it frequently seems based on mod sensibilities instead, and those sensibilities are based on cultural norms and assumptions that significant parts of the user base don't share and shouldn't be expected to share.

What I feel like the mods are maybe not getting is that when the site gets moderated and curated according to their sensibilities like that, they're imposing their cultural norms/assumptions on everyone here. Which in this case is not just grating, but implicitly white supremacist. And also straight up confusing for vast swaths of users and potential users to deal with, because it's not like everyone knows (or wants to know) mainstream white US culture inside and out.

Count me in as another vote for hiring an expert in racial and cultural inclusiveness in online communities to come and consult. I know money is tight, but it's an investment.
posted by rue72 at 11:05 AM on June 11, 2019 [19 favorites]


It feels like in practice the moderation team is basically impervious to the idea, widely expressed in this thread, that its whiteness makes the general heavy-handed moderation/"curation" style particularly untenable when race comes up. There are literally two threads at the top of the front page right now (Bill Belichick and Lost Kingdoms of Africa) where a mod has decided that a line of conversation related to race is not what they want to see, and corraled the discussion.

Links to those threads, for posterity/ ease of browsing: Inside Patriots coach Bill Belichick's coaching mastering and Africa’s Lost Kingdoms.

My read of the mod comments were different, and perhaps more informed from the moderation in the U.S. Politics MegaThreads, in that I see this as the mods trying to focus the discussion on the original post content and not the framing (the latter thread) or team names (the former).

Which I think instead leads to a bigger discussion of "what's the scope of a given thread, and how should mods focus discussions?" For me, this goes back to my idea of developing participation guidance for the site. If those ground-rules are (re)set as a community, there should be fewer surprises with the moderation.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:12 AM on June 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


It might be useful for the moderators to also consider what made the emotional labor thread work here. It is absolutely "single-link outrage filter" as defined, but it was also a watershed thread for Metafilter (for better or for worse). It's clear that we do white feminism well here. Why is that? (This is a rhetorical question, but one that bears consideration, I think.)

Moreover, what work was done to get to that point? What factors were at play that made that thread possible? What of the knowledge gleaned from that context is transferrable to this current context (it certainly won't be all or even most of it, but some aspects will certainly be instructive)?
posted by sockermom at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2019 [9 favorites]


Yeah. What filthy light thief said, and because I doubt an algorithm will pick the fact that one of those is mine, and flt had memailed me re: the turn the thread had taken. So yeah, looks like a mod only decision rather than an in thread commenter or OP decision.
posted by infini at 11:22 AM on June 11, 2019


Otoh I don't want the mod team, who do a lot of hard work, particularly with the mega threads, to feel ganged up on etc. But on this topic, one of the reasons I came out of retirement was to say things I want to say and own my words with the history of this handle. So, no, this might not be fun.
posted by infini at 11:24 AM on June 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


There are literally two threads at the top of the front page right now (Bill Belichick and Lost Kingdoms of Africa) where a mod has decided that a line of conversation related to race is not what they want to see, and corraled the discussion.

You know, I get the sense that the all-white mod team, in addition to some white posters, think of this outragefilter & the poc metathreads as an "issue".

As in, "this is an issue we have to solve". 'How will Metafilter work through this issue?"

Honestly, I feel pretty good about the fact that we're having this discussion. This isn't an "issue" for me. I feel: "oh huh, maybe we're ready for this discussion, maybe the white people are ready to listen?"

To me it's not an issue, but something that's been latent and worthwhile talking about, something that is already talked about in other poc spaces, but that white spaces aren't used to talking about.

For example. Imagine living in a house in the middle of a beautiful, grassy field, but all the windows and doors are boarded up, so no sunlight gets in. Instead, a state-of-the-art LED lighting system maintains a nice, even light, smooth for the eyes. An industrial-grade HVAC system filters the air and makes it at an optimum temperature, all year long. You never have to leave!

To me, this is what white spaces feel like in regards to conversation about race; they're hermetically closed, blinded, withdrawn from the world and from history. I think of these threads and the discussion as opening up the windows and doors. To me, these conversations aren't issues to "solve", they're windows to pry open.

But some white people inside of these houses want to close the windows back up; or worse, just stay inside and leave one window cracked open, since that's just enough fresh air. It's time to get some fresh air in -- and sure, that fresh air might be too cold, or too hot. The sunlight might be blinding, or it might be too dark at night to read. It will never be as smoothly comfortable as a hermetic house, sorry not sorry.

The rest of us are living in our own houses, wandering outside, exploring, finding what makes sense. The spaces that white people think are "outside" and "other" are actually just another landscape, in which people build houses in, live in, play in, take walks in, hold a communal cookout, etc.

(And lest you think it's a total made up analogy, this is how some white people literally live -- living in informally or formally white gated communities, creating compounds in 'foreign' countries.)
posted by suedehead at 12:12 PM on June 11, 2019 [24 favorites]


this is how some white people literally live -- living in informally or formally white gated communities, creating compounds in 'foreign' countries

Yup. "They form ghettos and don't assimilate" is about as clear a case of projection as any I've seen.
posted by flabdablet at 12:36 PM on June 11, 2019 [11 favorites]


Is there a single document where key principles (e.g. this is what we're aiming for...) or checklists (e.g. Is the comment or post like this, this or this. If yes, then delete) or case examples (e.g. if a user posts X delete; if a user posts y, warn, etc.) or assumptions (e.g. moderation by its nature happens quickly and therefore mods will always inevitably have to rely on their own sound judgment, etc... ) are listed so all the mods are starting from the same base, to ensure as much fairness as is reasonably possible?

In a similar vein, would it help if such a thing were also publicly posted for the users?

Is there any way a mod or a user group could function as an advocate for those who feel they are not being heard?
posted by Violet Blue at 12:39 PM on June 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


(As a Jew who reads as white, I personally don't feel like my voice belongs in the other meta. But we contain multitudes and nuances and it seems like any Jew who does feel like their voice belongs in the other meta would be welcome)
posted by ChuraChura at 12:57 PM on June 11, 2019 [8 favorites]


Is there a single document where key principles ... are listed so all the mods are starting from the same base, to ensure as much fairness as is reasonably possible?

I made one for training purposes, a long time ago. I would assume they have one for current mods. And, I realize this runs counter to what many people would feel is the point of this thread, but I don't feel like having all the mod processes made public necessarily helps. There are a lot of situations where the things the mods may need to do (I'm thinking dealing with people who are imminently suicidal, having a terrible day for various reasons, or harassing other people, etc) need to be dealt with using a certain amount of discretion that really does come down to "Do what you feel is necessary at the time, and do it somewhat quickly") which isn't something that, in my opinion only, should be workshopped by a hundred people who all feel very strongly about things.

Now this is maybe not the case in situations where the mods don't have the right training or experience and so feedback from members of affected communities to help inform or give feedback on those decisions is a good idea. Letting the mods know if they seem to be doing a good job: absolutely essential, including specifics etc.. Overseeing every aspect of how they do that job: probably, to my mind, a bit too much. Open to discussion, obviously, but that's how I see it.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:46 PM on June 11, 2019 [10 favorites]


As a Jew who reads as white, I personally don't feel like my voice belongs in the other meta.

This is absolutely my feeling. I made a conscious decision to not be in that thread and it's the right one for me.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:47 PM on June 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


But we contain multitudes and nuances and it seems like any Jew who does feel like their voice belongs in the other meta would be welcome

Hmm, I dunno. As a white ashkenazi Jew myself, I've observed that a lot of people with the same heritage as myself have not fully processed and owned their whiteness, and in that way their self-perception is not reliable. On the other hand, I think Jews of color are well aware that they are people of color. In my opinion it's important not to let the pursuit of nuance be another way for white people to center themselves. I'm appreciative of some of the things fellow white Jews have said in this thread to own their whiteness, though.
posted by dusty potato at 1:51 PM on June 11, 2019 [6 favorites]


I feel compelled to point out that MetaFilter moderation has been, by design, largely intuition-based and not rule-based. I've always agreed with this -- but then, as a white person, I would (in this context) because the mods are like me. That's one of the big problems with this moderation style; it doesn't work if the mods aren't representative.

On the other hand, I've hardly ever seen rules-based moderation fail to become all about rules-lawyering and eventually an end unto itself.

When we finally grappled with the boyzone problem, the primary obstacle to change were community sensibilities and only secondarily the admin sensibilities -- because a substantial portion of the mod team were both of the affected group and agitating for change.

In this case there's both strong community and institutional obstacles to changing these sensibilities.

The administrative obstacle is that no one on the mod team "gets it", no one can help the others learn by both modeling inclusive moderation and communicating their perspectives.

The community obstacle is that MetaFilter will never feel inclusive to people of color until the community as a whole internalizes some awareness of the ways in which white supremacy is reified in a majority white community like this one. This parallels the history of the MetaFilter boyzone in that nothing really matters until what's considered acceptable behavior within the community shifts to be more inclusive.

And in both cases, in the past with sexism and in the future with racism, nothing changes without first there being official institutional activism. What should that be?

Perhaps I'm overly pessimistic, but it's difficult for me to imagine that an all-white mod team, even with some expert consultation, when working from a rules-based system, wouldn't inadvertently end up actively making MetaFilter even more hostile to people of color as the all-white mod team gets roped into constant public rules-lawyering with white mefites about enforcement.

The intuitive model works best when it's formed around community values -- which certainly includes admin leadership being active in changing those values to be more inclusive.

So this is why I believe official institutional involvement of people of color along with a continuation of the intuitive style of moderation is the better way forward: I fear that an emphasis on explicit rules won't shift institutional sensibilities and therefore nor will it shift community sensibilities, but rather be a diversion into a cul-de-sac. The goal should be that the community feels inclusive because it is inclusive, and that it is inclusive because, by necessity, it is institutionally inclusive. That is to say, the mods and the community have the same inclusive values because both are, in fact, inclusive. I don't think there is a substitute for more diversity among the mod team with regard to race.

Speaking for myself, I certainly don't want the problem "solved" so that I won't have to think about it or that I don't have to see the reality of my white identity. I know this because this closely parallels the sexism history here and my involvement in opposing it -- that MetaFilter isn't as much a boyzone certainly hasn't resulted in less discussion of misogyny and the patriarchy -- quite the opposite. It probably was the case that for a long while, the boyzone was, to the male mefites who cared, a problem that should be solved so that the whole mess would disappear. But that's not at all what happened. Instead, we were able to have the far-reaching watershed moment of the emotional labor thread because now MetaFilter both institutionally and as community could see such things. Since I've returned to MetaFilter after things substantiallly changed in this particular respect, I've had more opportunities to learn more and, in fact, have learned a great deal more about something I'd already spent most of my adult life to understand from my perspective of privilege. As much as I may wish otherwise, I have a bad feeling that the early-2000s version of me would have #notallmen'd all over the place. I recognize my male fragility now; I'm thankful for every opportunity here for me to become more aware of it.

MetaFilter being more inclusive of people of color will mean much greater awareness and discussion of white supremacy and white identity. We are not, should not, make this "go away" -- we as a community should change. I'd like to be a part of that. But I can never have the life experience of a person of color and there is no substitute for actual poc involvement in this change, beginning with representation within MetaFilter, LLC.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:01 PM on June 11, 2019 [22 favorites]


RE: the original question posed by the thread

I mean, yes, but sooooooooo many of the links that get added as the thread goes on very much fit the definition of outragefilter and those don't seem (imo) to bother people, which can make it seem to people (like jj's mama) that Certain Negative-News-Story Posts/Comments are fine, but Other Negative-News-Story Posts/Comments are not, which is kind of the connection between the "outragefilter: yes or no" discussion and how that can make members feel excluded by being told that outragefilter isn't allowed, when (imo) it seems like there's tons of outragefilter all over the Blue

Those threads, and the reason for their creation, are together a great example of why the concepts of "outragefilter" and "newsfilter" exist, and of the issues they present. Containing them to their own venue was one hundred percent the right thing to do.

But I don't think jj's.mama's post was like that. It was about an outrageous event, but an event that is representative of a larger issue that offers plenty that people could learn about and discuss. And it was not an event that was already being discussed "everywhere else."

So I guess I:

- still think the general idea behind those deletion guidelines is valid
- definitely do not think that MeFi should be thought of foremost as a "news site," while we're at it
- think that the mods should be more careful about deleting posts that present an opportunity to discuss a minority concern or perspective, even if they are otherwise a little thin
- think that the mods should definitely try not to be too inside-baseball about deletions, or too unforgiving of newer users
- really hope jj's.mama will receive an apology email, if she has not already
posted by atoxyl at 6:56 PM on June 11, 2019 [6 favorites]


really hope jj's.mama will receive an apology email, if she has not already

Yeah, I feel you there. I wrote her an email a few days ago, apologizing about the crappy experience and letting her know that she was wholly welcome to come back if she decided to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:44 PM on June 11, 2019 [7 favorites]




*Kate Heddleston. I didn’t spot my phone’s failure to help me spell.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:49 PM on June 11, 2019


I think I've read all of this, but maybe I missed something. Anyhow, I looked at the FAQ and under Why was my MetaFilter post deleted? it doesn't even include OutrageFilter. Has the FAQ already been updated to reflect a decision to get rid of it. Or, was it never there in the first place?

(And, while we are on the topic, that is one long, impenetrable wall of FAQ. If there is a ever a team of users to help bang out a clear and simple short FAQ, I volunteer. Hint, hint: I think this might be a good idea. Get together a small group of diverse users--diverse in many ways--and communicate better about what this site is and how we want it to work. These guidelines and the About page could probably use a pretty serious overhaul as well. State clearly what we expect and how people should treat each other around here.)
posted by Gotanda at 1:28 AM on June 12, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'd be happy to help Gotanda out.
posted by infini at 1:35 AM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


Here is “classic single link outragefilter”, conveniently labeled as such in its subject, posted by the user most recently vocal against outragefilter.

It is outrage by a popular white male celebrity, though.
posted by thoroughburro at 4:51 AM on June 12, 2019 [21 favorites]


infini: I'd be happy to help Gotanda out.

I'd be happy to help you out. Or, others. The main point is to, as infini stated elsewhere, start with respect. Respect everyone who contributes to this site. Respect the work of the mods and the burdens they work under. Respect the readers, too. Respect the people that we want to welcome here in the future to what I (and probably anyone reading this far must) think is a pretty special place.

kalesssin: So would I. But my reservation is that the FAQ needs to closely follow actual policy and mod direction.

Right. That seems correct to me. How do we make that happen? I think there are several ways. Anyone, please tell us more. (One: User and mod team--heavy on the users but mods to make it reflect day to day practicality and workload and to make reality reflect the FAQ. Two: ping pong it back and forth. Users write, mods edit, users edit, mods add, converge and converse. Three: More ways possible...) But then MeFi--mods and users--should commit to follow and to be communicative and honest about when that becomes difficult. Because it will become difficult.

Also, this is not a one and done project. It needs to be updated and revised pretty often. The staleness of the About, FAQ, new user message, etc. indicates a lack of attention or resources. But, I believe where we put our attention should represent our values and our appreciation for each other here.
posted by Gotanda at 5:21 AM on June 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think I've read all of this, but maybe I missed something. Anyhow, I looked at the FAQ and under Why was my MetaFilter post deleted? it doesn't even include OutrageFilter. Has the FAQ already been updated to reflect a decision to get rid of it. Or, was it never there in the first place?

Not recently removed, no; I went and looked over the FAQ some after this discussion started to make sure to pull out any instance if there was one, but didn't find any. We don't do formal versioning of the FAQ so I can't know for sure off-hand that a years-back version of an entry didn't contain "outrage" or "outragefilter" though I don't remember it if so. I started in on a neatening pass a couple months ago on the existing FAQ entries to try and update some other bits of info and modernize the language in it, and didn't see it then though I did reword a couple other bits of jargon to make entries read more clearly to newer users.

(And, while we are on the topic, that is one long, impenetrable wall of FAQ. If there is a ever a team of users to help bang out a clear and simple short FAQ, I volunteer. Hint, hint: I think this might be a good idea. Get together a small group of diverse users--diverse in many ways--and communicate better about what this site is and how we want it to work. These guidelines and the About page could probably use a pretty serious overhaul as well. State clearly what we expect and how people should treat each other around here.)

Yeah, the long and winding nature of the FAQ is something we've been talking about reworking for a while. Main plan has been similar to what you're suggesting: supplementing the existing detailed FAQ with a much shorter, much more "focus on the frequently in 'FAQ'" 2.0 version of the FAQ as the first thing people encounter, to let people get quickly and clearly to the biggest stuff instead of having to find it in the big wall. The existing FAQ can be useful for the smaller details and we want to keep it around in any case to not break a ton of internal links, but getting something up that much more quickly answers the most common questions feels like it'd do some good.

Likewise it's one of our existing goals to rework the guidelines page, the About page, and the new user signup text in particular; there's a lot of space and time between when much of that was written and where the site and the community and the internet is now, and I'm more interested in providing a coherent and contemporary welcome to folks on or new to the site than keep that text in place for historical reference. It's something we can archive for posterity.

I don't feel like the initial work on those projects should be, or should have to be, user-driven; as y'all are noting, its important that these documents accurately capture the goals and intents and practices-in-practice of the site staff, so it's something we need to be the ones doing the work to originate. It's one of a lot of "when there's time" things that has ended up slipping again and again because it wasn't The Thing That's On Fire, and it's slipped too long, so I'm setting aside some time formally to work on it.

But I totally agree that what follows that should be community involvement in reviewing and improving those to make sure that they capture not only mod view of the site but the community's experience and expectations. And paragraph above notwithstanding, I'm going to prioritize making sure we do get progress made on this instead of having it lapse into Some Day territory again, so if I find that I or the team aren't able to get as far with new drafts as we were hoping, it'd make sense to me to take what we have so far, even if it doesn't feel like a complete draft, and bring that out to the community to help out with instead of having it idle behind the scenes indefinitely some more.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:56 AM on June 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


If the FAQ is functioning as your de facto official guidelines, you might consider calling it something else, and giving it a distinctive easy-to-see link so folks remember to look at it when they have questions about posting, deletions and the like. I know I read the FAQ years ago, and it never would have occurred to me to look at it again.
cortex — "Yeah, the long and winding nature of the FAQ is something we've been talking about reworking for a while. Main plan has been similar to what you're suggesting...."
Short is not always better, as it sometimes say so little as to say nothing; and long doesn't always have to read long. The trick is to organize the items in the FAQ by category of question/issue type.
jessamyn — "I made one [single-document guidelines] for training purposes, a long time ago. I would assume they have one for current mods. And, I realize this runs counter to what many people would feel is the point of this thread, but I don't feel like having all the mod processes made public necessarily helps. There are a lot of situations where the things the mods may need to do (I'm thinking dealing with people who are imminently suicidal, having a terrible day for various reasons, or harassing other people, etc) need to be dealt with using a certain amount of discretion that really does come down to "Do what you feel is necessary at the time, and do it somewhat quickly") which isn't something that, in my opinion only, should be workshopped by a hundred people who all feel very strongly about things."
The entire mod process need not be public. In cases involving user safety, threats or harassment Metafilter moderators reserve the right to ... [fill in the blank here].

Note that people seem to have a lot of preconceived ideas about guidelines, based on a past experience. It's important to emphasize that overly rigid guidelines or guidelines that favor rigid policing over real people in a living community are simply badly conceived. So are guidelines — as noted above — that favor brevity over content. In reality, guidelines can be as well or poorly conceived as your own ideas about them.

The key to all this is to hitting the sweet spot between transparency and discretion, idealism and realism. Then, you know, whether you label the end result FAQs, or Community Principles, or the Mefite Constitution, just put it somewhere we will remember to use it. Just date it so we can assess how recent it is, and be reminded that it's only as good as we could summon at a particular moment in time. Just format it to be read, and then link it to spots where everyone can find it....
posted by Violet Blue at 10:45 AM on June 12, 2019 [6 favorites]




Cortex: Likewise it's one of our existing goals to rework ...

In my experience things like this remain goals unless there is a concrete plan or at least the beginnings of one. Based on these two threads, I think the community values the discussions but many want to see them acted on or else they are meaningless. It is OK to leave some openings, but how about these for starters:

* By what date(s) will drafts of the new FAQ, About, Guidelines, and New User Message be ready to post? (I know that may be hard right now and there needs to be time to listen and let both threads continue. So, even by what date will the deadlines be decided and announced?)
* Who from the mod team will write these? (I'm fine with the mods starting the work as long as it gets done.)
* How will a diverse panel of users be put together to review the drafts in progress and give some direction when needed?
* What is the maximum period between review and update once these are published?

Violet Blue: Note that people seem to have a lot of preconceived ideas about guidelines, based on a past experience. It's important to emphasize that overly rigid guidelines or guidelines that favor rigid policing over real people in a living community are simply badly conceived. So are guidelines — as noted above — that favor brevity over content. In reality, guidelines can be as well or poorly conceived as your own ideas about them.

Right. I didn't mean brief only. Too short can be as bad or worse than too long. We probably need different things for different purposes: short form and long form, "Intro/101 MeFi" and "Grad Seminar MeFi"? And, we definitely don't want to introduce grounds for rules lawyering etc. There has to be space for humans to be trusted and for them to make their best judgments.

What we have now is not working for anybody.
posted by Gotanda at 5:39 PM on June 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


Maybe this is a whole separate discussion. But between this and the PoC thread there's been a lot of discussion about how the suggestion for the community to fundraise for a PoC mod was turned down, but it was just responded to with "that's not possible" without any details.

Could we have an idea of what specifically the hold-up is? Is there some kind of logistical barrier (I understand the role includes benefits)? Are there legal or tax repercussions of a role funded by separate fundraised money? Would it need to be a pretty large sum for the fundraising to be worth it, especially if we want this role to be ongoing?

I'm pretty familiar with how so many community-based jobs are dependent on grant funding, and once the grant funding stops the future of the role is up in the air. I also understand that keeping things legal can be a lot trickier than people think it is. I'm not looking for specific numbers here necessarily, discretion is important, but some idea of the process would be helpful.
posted by divabat at 7:56 PM on June 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


By their nature, rules get longer over time. Case in point: the rules for the Rocky Horror shows put on by a group here in Chicago. There has got to be a story behind every strange rule there, such as no teenage sex, no weapons in the theater, no involuntary disrobing, and "every person should have had a shower within 24 hours of performing".

With several thousand members, I don't think you can have an E-Z minimal ruleset... or if you do, a lot of stuff will be up to individual discretion, and inevitable arguments.

On the other hand, rules are not the way to introduce new members... some sort of mentorship would work better there.
posted by zompist at 8:26 PM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'll have to go back and look over that conversation; I mostly remember worrying that the amount of additional fundraising needed on top of covering basic operating expenses would have been prohibitive to the point that it wasn't something we could commit to, but I should go look over what exactly we were saying at the time.

Ballpark, paying an additional person to do moderation or some equivalent role would mean a few thousand dollars a month in additional revenue. I don't have any legal or tax concerns about using community contributions to fund an extra position, no.

We'll do a financial update soon; any specific new-spending ideas are gonna have to be taken in the context of that so I think it'd make the most sense to plan to talk money stuff at that point. But I don't have any objection in principle to the idea of bringing an additional person on if it turns out to be financially possible.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:27 PM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


I don't have any legal or tax concerns about using community contributions to fund an extra position, no.

Can you expand on this? How is it that we can ignore hiring discrimination laws in the US and make sure to hire a mod who is a PoC? How can you be sure that any white applicant wouldn’t use these threads as proof that they never had the chance at the position, and sue Metefilter? I agree with those who are saying that we need a more diverse mod team, entirely. I want to see that happen. Is there an exemption to hiring law that we would fall into?
posted by greermahoney at 9:31 PM on June 12, 2019


cortex, if it is not immediately financially possible to hire an additional mod, what will you do? If Metafilter still holds that it does not have the financial means to hire an additional mod after a round of fundraising, what will you then do? In that situation, would any current mods be willing to step down to make way for at least one PoC mod? (We could then fundraise to reinstate the mod that steps down.)

Metafilter has had many years to rectify this, and nothing has changed in terms of the staff's racial diversity. (20 years of whiteness.) Do the Metafilter staff see this as an issue that must be taken seriously and urgently?


"new spending ideas"
This is not a new spending idea. This has been a "spending idea" that has been raised over and over again for years (at least 4 years since I started participating in those discussions too), with constant placations from the mods/admin that this is a priority, that they are taking this seriously and will get a PoC member on the staff as soon as they are financially able, etc etc. How is this suddenly a "new spending idea"? It's supposed to have been a spending priority since 2015, at least.
posted by aielen at 9:35 PM on June 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


Thank you, anem0ne. That was enlightening. I’ve worked in HR-related roles a long time, and the “You can’t hire based on protected categories” part gets hammered into your head. I knew that we can advertise diversely, but putting experience working with diverse communities into the actual job description had eluded me. Thank you!
posted by greermahoney at 9:50 PM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


I feel like we're asking cortex for specifics when earlier in the thread he was asked to back off and not provide any kind of draft plan until this thead (and the PoC thread) ran their course, to be sure people were heard.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:00 PM on June 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


That’s true. I apologize for my part in that.
posted by greermahoney at 10:04 PM on June 12, 2019


How is this suddenly a "new spending idea"? It's supposed to have been a spending priority since 2015, at least.

I agree this is something that's been a point of discussion for several years, and was actively trying to avoid suggesting otherwise; I wrote "new-spending ideas" to signal that that spending would be a new thing, not that the idea was new. I apologize for the confusion.

I can address some other stuff in the morning, but I need to call it a night now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:12 PM on June 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


de ja vu all over again:
It is legally impossible to use race as a factor in recruitment, but there likely are ways to look for training and demonstrated experience that could serve the needs of the site. IAAL, but I'm not giving anyone legal advice, and this could be explored with an employment law attorney in Metafilter's jurisdiction.

Similarly, with the same caveat, it is possible to use instances of discriminatory conduct as a basis for progressive discipline and potential firing, which could free up resources for a new mod. It may help to develop an anti-discrimination policy or code of conduct, similar to many organizations, as a way to hold mods accountable. I'm spitballing here, and still thinking on the implications, but I've been thinking about my own interactions with a mod and how it might have played out if it happened at an organization with a formal complaint process, and a publicly expressed intent similar to EEOC notices posted in many US workplaces.

Basically, maybe it would help to give us a formal way to file complaints about mods if we feel like they are acting in a discriminatory manner, in accordance with a site policy or code of conduct. Then there could be data available to help guide employer decisions about who may need training or coaching, on what kinds of issues, and after ongoing and unremediated issues, who may not be a good fit for the site.

Right now, processes to address these types of concerns seem haphazard at best, and standards seem vaguely, if at all, defined, but there is a lot of discussion happening about how this lack of transparency maintains imbalances of power and fosters the type of alienation that drives people from the site. Maybe a more formal process and transparent standards could help rebalance some of the power and demonstrate Metafilter's commitment to making real changes.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:24 PM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


On the topic of mod demographics, I wanted to push back somewhat on the idea that the team is woefully lacking in diversity. When I joined in '07, the site leadership was:
  • an American white male founder (US)
  • an American white female mod (US)
  • an American white male tech (US)
  • an American white male mod (US)
Pretty samey. In the intervening ~12 years, the top three departed, and we've seen (to the best of my recollection aided by a look at the FAQ):
  • a Latino immigrant overnight mod (Mexico --> UK)
  • a queer American white female mod (US)
  • a Greek female overnight mod (Greece)
  • an American white female mod (US)
  • a Dutch white male part-time mod (Netherlands)
  • an American white female part-time mod (US)
  • a nonbinary white Austrian tech (Austria)
That's quite a lot of gender, nationality, and LGBTQ+ diversity for such a small group. Possibly as diverse in those respects, if not more so, than the community they run. Certainly adding PoC staff would strengthen that diversity further, but the fact that the team is currently half female, half outside the US, and with multiple LGBTQ+ represented is still something we can be proud about.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:02 AM on June 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


And it wasn't until the epic emotional labor threads that some formerly a lot worse masculine members were got through to and sexism threads still have difficulty going forward without being encumbered by sexist attitudes and comments.

Well, I suspect the banning of some very high-profile bad actors was also a major factor.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:20 AM on June 13, 2019 [10 favorites]


I take your point, kalessin, but I'm not sure more more finely-honed representation goals designed for Fortune 500 companies like age, disability, etc. are realistic for a staff that's not even large enough to field a baseball team.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:30 AM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


more finely-honed representation goals

"Have at least one non-white employee literally ever" isn't exactly some sort of hyper-specific boutique plan
posted by dusty potato at 6:38 AM on June 13, 2019 [18 favorites]


We’re not asking for this very specific improvement in diversity to check boxes, we’re asking because it is badly, demonstrably needed. This thread and the other are chock full of the evidence.
posted by thoroughburro at 6:39 AM on June 13, 2019 [13 favorites]


Yeah, while the small number of mods makes the diversity that’s there a sign of notable change over the last decade, the lack of a currently active mod who isn’t white is still a problem, especially since the current situation was prefigured by problems just before the last mod hiring, which should probably have resulted in a PoC mod at that time (or, at the very least, intensive and visible training for the mods around race), which didn’t happen, and here we are.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:52 AM on June 13, 2019


dusty potato and 23skidoo, I was referring specifically to kalessin's mentions/links about hiring for diversity in additional areas like age and ability as not being realistic. As I said, having more PoC staff would be a reasonable expectation even with a team of this size.

And I realize that hiring alone won't address people's concerns, but a lot of the early comments were IMHO overstating the lack of diversity in the hiring already done so far, so I wanted to point out the diversity that does exist so people who aren't as familiar with the team's history don't have a false impression about it.

On preview, what GenjiandProust said.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:55 AM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


I guess my point is, I'd have a much more dim view of MeFi's internal hiring process and capacity for improvement if the current staff were more like 2007 -- all straight white American dudes with maybe a straight white American woman (or ex-pat). But the divergence from that insular category in the years since implies they are open to people from more diverse backgrounds, even if this has not yet resulted in a PoC mod specifically (and it should).
posted by Rhaomi at 7:11 AM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Quick thing while catching up from overnight: while I appreciate the spirit of looking holistically at the makeup of the mod team as more complex in demography and life experience than a flat "bunch of white people" label might otherwise suggest, I also know that has not been at all the focus of this discussion and I would like to keep our attention more on the issues of racial diversity and experiences of people of color on the site that is the core point of concern here. How we can work long term to improve that situation in particular is what we've been talking about and should keep talking about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:18 AM on June 13, 2019 [10 favorites]


Openness to firing mods who are unable to foster an environment that feels safe for POC could be a start. In many work environments, the kinds of interactions described in this thread and the POC MeTa might justify formal reprimands at minimum and if repeated, could lead to termination.

Having a discliplinary structure like that could create an incentive for mods to pay more attention to these issues at the outset. Hiring the equivalent of a Title X coordinator to help field complaints might also help, but an actual willingness to let us organize complaints and potentially fire mods who have been ongoing contributors to a hostile environment also seems like a potential starting point. Lots of organizations are legally required to do this, and perhaps it is a more realistic option to create a similar structure here given the limited resources available.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:34 AM on June 13, 2019 [11 favorites]


I keep coming around to the basic nature of the site as a for-profit enterprise, e.g. specifically not a non-profit or a charity. There are customers (some combination of users and advertisers), there's a service provided, there's expenses, and there's staff. If the customers aren't satisfied, income drops and cuts to service/staffing must be made. Corollary, if income rises, there can be more services and more staff to provide them. There's really nowhere lower in the stack to go than this. Without changing the fundamental structure of the organization, at the end of the day it's about making enough money to keep the lights on.

Certainly cortex hasn't generally acted like a predatory rent-seeker, but on the other hand, every executive decision has to be factored through the lens of what will it cost, and what will it provide.

The site is only keeping itself at the current level of service by asking for users to fill in where advertising has fallen short. And while a fully advertising-funded site can be less concerned with keeping individual users happy as long as overall engagement keeps increasing (e.g. the toxic tailings pond that is YouTube), a site that asks for money from individuals has to ensure those individuals become happy enough to click the PAY buttons. It's a lot harder to get a person to subscribe and stay subscribed, and once you piss someone off, you're going to lose their eyeballs and their revenue.

Ultimately: setting one's long-term, highly engaged user base's good faith on fire is not a recipe for a long-term successful subscription-based service. It may take months or years to get that recurring subscription; it can be driven away in a matter of seconds.

This all has to be kept in mind -- the business model of this site has changed dramatically over the past couple of years. When someone buttons, that's not "aww, too bad, someone else will be along though" it's "OMG DISASTER" especially when you're looking at, what was it, ~2000 unique logged in users per month? And maybe a dozen or two sign-ups a month, was that the number I saw? And if a bad decision makes 20 people button or drives a hundred people to just engage less thus making less content for others to engage with, that's a lot of sustainability just set on fire.

I don't have a whole lot of answers on how to broaden the userbase by making it more welcoming or even more importantly to keep it from diminishing through what seems like repeated foot-shooting, but I am certain that it needs to happen, and it's not going to happen unless there's a giant reframe and reconsideration of how paying users are courted and retained.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:26 AM on June 13, 2019 [11 favorites]


(((((((((((((hugs to the thread))))))))))))))))

i'm not reading anymore
posted by infini at 10:28 AM on June 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


But the divergence from that insular category in the years since implies they are open to people from more diverse backgrounds, even if this has not yet resulted in a PoC mod specifically (and it should).

That's great and all, but I'm not really seeing the point of this point. We should shut up and wait another 20 years for Metafilter to hire a nonwhite mod? Be grateful that the whites who run this site are "open" to diversity? I mean, yes, absolutely, thunderous applause and Costco bulk sacks of cookies for the progress the site has made to this point. But this is also the kind of response that epitomizes the #MeFiSoWhite problem with this site. How does someone come into this thread at this late date and write out a list of diversity checkboxes the site has ticked off over the years and, I guess, demand rah-rahs from people who have spent YEARS trying to engage with this site while growing increasingly frustrated, unheard, and alienated. Unbelievable.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 10:52 AM on June 13, 2019 [18 favorites]


How does someone come into this thread at this late date and write out a list of diversity checkboxes the site has ticked off over the years and, I guess, demand rah-rahs from people who have spent YEARS trying to engage with this site while growing increasingly frustrated, unheard, and alienated. Unbelievable.

Oh it's believable and entirely disheartening, but also the status quo which is why we have these periodic long MeTas that release some pressure but don't really change anything.

I hope this thread does actually lead to changes. At the very least there needs to be some work and trainings with the existing mods to learn how to recognize racial (micro) aggressions and how to respond in a way that supports people of color and pushes back on white supremacy. That seems fairly straight forward without a prolonged financial commitment (like hiring new staff), has been discussed for years, and should have happened yesterday.

I recognize that cortex is taking time to reflect and listen, and I look forward to the update he hinted at last night.

And I think the point that committing to diversity and inclusion is good for the financial health of the site is worth discussing. I hate that we have to frame it in those terms, but as seanmpuckett noted above, this is a for-profit site that needs revenue to survive. Increased membership engagement, because they feel supported by the community, will help this place be financially stable more than tote bags or member "donations".
posted by kendrak at 11:16 AM on June 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


coincidentally, today is Moderators' Day.

Happy White Mod Day.

(or should that be Happy Whitely-Diverse Moderators' Day, since some seem to be in the mood for appreciating all the progress in diversity made over 20 years by the mod/admin staff. honestly if it has taken 20 years to progress at this rate, I have a feeling most of us will... not be living, by the time there is ever a PoC mod?)
posted by aielen at 11:21 AM on June 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Also, not trying to single anyone out here, but that kind of lack-of-doing-one's-homework (or at the very least searching the thread or even Googling basic things) is part and parcel of classic white fragility patterns.

I find it interesting that people can figure out that wandering into a thread on, say Star Trek and going “who’s this Spock guy, and why should I care?” They manage to enter threads on math and physics with a certain amount of self-aware humility, and the site has mostly gotten to the point where posting UGH, NOT FOR ME! early in a music thread is stopped. However, if it’s a thread on race, gender, or a host of other issues a basic level of knowledge and good faith is too much to ask.

Also, reading every comment, even in really long threads should be the price of participation.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:38 AM on June 13, 2019 [15 favorites]


Also, reading every comment, even in really long threads should be the price of participation.

I guess that's one way of nuking the politics megathreads.
posted by inire at 11:47 AM on June 13, 2019 [9 favorites]


So getting back to questions about spending/hiring/staffing stuff.

The idea of putting resources toward bringing on new mod staff to improve the diversity of perspective and life experience on the team and so better serve the MetaFilter community is indeed something we've talked about as a community for a few years now, and it's something I agree needs to be a priority in any future hiring we do. We took some lessons from the part-time mod hiring process back in 2015 about both what people's expectations were and how we can do a better, slower, more thorough job of seeking candidates in the future. That's stuff I'm going to hugely prioritize next time we're able to hire for a new position. Burnout/duress issues at the time notwithstanding, I wish it was something we'd made a greater priority of then as well.

I also agree that we aren't going to resolve broader issues with moderation perspective and training just by bringing a new mod on, and don't see it as fair or workable to put the job of addressing these issues on one person like that. The goal in my eyes would be to improve the breadth of knowledge and experience in the mod team as part of a long-term process of improving the overall ability for the staff to provide moderation and guidance for the whole of the MeFi community better.

So I think that seeking out training and consultation for the existing team is important as well. And that's something that we can realistically try and work on more immediately, and which I'm doing some initial work on now because I'm more certain that I can find the resources one way or another to make some form of that a "definitely happening, definitely in progress" thing rather than a "when and if it's possible eventually" thing.

I know this is something that we talked several times over the last few years. I know it's frustrating that we haven't done any new hiring in that time despite those discussions. I get that sense of frustrating stasis on that front.

But in the last few years we've also had nothing but financial setbacks bracketed by occasional stretches of a fragile stability. The ad market has been a steady downward slide and we've only managed to continue in razor's-edge survival mode without layoffs by cutting the budget where possible and through community fundraising to stave off the bleeding. We have been cutting and scraping by for years straight now, there's been no discretionary spending or room to do more than get out of panic mode when things level off.

In tandem with which it's been an unprecedentedly difficult few years for the community and the mods, even aside from the financial pressure, because of the mounting external horrors of the world. And this is one of many things that we have ended up seeing stall out and be an endless "some day" thing because there wasn't the energy or the money. It sucks for the community, it sucks for the mod staff, and it's the context in which all of this has been mired.

I want to be in a position where that's not the case and we have the financial stability to bring new folks on to help answer this unmet need. And I recognize and am hopeful about the idea that managing to get there would lead to a positive feedback loop that'd make it easier for everybody involved, community members and mod staff, to find the renewed energy to help make stuff better here. I just don't want to set expectations in terms of that being something we have had any kind of availability of financial resources to do in the time we've been talking about this; even the narrow window of time in late 2015 where it felt like we had room to bring on a part timer to stop all of us working 50-60 hour weeks on the regular was comparatively flush and comfortable financially compared to where we've been in more recent years.

But I'm not ruling out the possibility that we'll be able to get there. I would really like to and am going to continue to work to. We can talk about new fundraising and targeted fundraising as a way to look at that in a different way, and other such stuff. I am hopeful about the possibilities on that level, all else aside. But probably that's best to talk about more once we've rolled out a financial update so we can put all these numbers in concrete context.

But all of that aside, and without rushing to declare details on it without more thought and research, my current plan is to commit to spending some money on a program of consulting/training for the team on the anti-racism and social justice and unconscious bias axes we've been talking about, and I'm doing initial work to sort out possibilities there now. I appreciate the general guidance and specific resources folks have pointed to in this and previous threads; it's been very useful in making a start. And we'll do this whether that's money that even exists in the MeFi coffers or not. It's a level of spending that I can if nothing else just try to find a way to absorb personally if we don't have the company budget for it let alone the money for new ongoing staff positions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:50 PM on June 13, 2019 [11 favorites]


Enemy of Joy: "That's great and all, but I'm not really seeing the point of this point. We should shut up and wait another 20 years for Metafilter to hire a nonwhite mod? Be grateful that the whites who run this site are "open" to diversity? I mean, yes, absolutely, thunderous applause and Costco bulk sacks of cookies for the progress the site has made to this point. But this is also the kind of response that epitomizes the #MeFiSoWhite problem with this site. How does someone come into this thread at this late date and write out a list of diversity checkboxes the site has ticked off over the years and, I guess, demand rah-rahs from people who have spent YEARS trying to engage with this site while growing increasingly frustrated, unheard, and alienated. Unbelievable."

Not to derail cortex's update, but I just wanted to say that this is a grossly unfair mischaracterization of what I actually said, which was merely that I thought it was good to recognize and be somewhat heartened by the ways the staff has diversified already, and to keep the associated progress on issues like #boyzone in mind as an example of how such diversity has already helped improve the site, in response to comments that were (incidentally) erasing that diversity. Also that I was explicitly agreeing with the premise of the thread, just offering mild, qualified disagreement with one theme of it (that the mods are not diverse at all) in service of the same broad goal of encouraging recognition of the importance of diversity of representation in site leadership. I probably should have made the connection I was implying between existing diversity and existing progress more explicit, but I did not demand anything from members of color or deny the importance of (or make excuses for) the lack of PoC representation.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:15 PM on June 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Rhaomi quit digging.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 1:21 PM on June 13, 2019 [12 favorites]


I'm good to let it drop, I just didn't want to leave inflammatory words put in my mouth like that. Sorry for the sidebar.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:25 PM on June 13, 2019


I just wanted to say that this is a grossly unfair mischaracterization of what I actually said, which was merely that I thought it was good to recognize and be somewhat heartened by the ways the staff has diversified already

It doesn't sound like I mischaracterized anything you said. You want recognition of the progress towards diversity the site has already made. I'm responding that this is an incredibly tone deaf comment to make at this point in the discussion. If I come across as angry or confrontational it's out of frustration from seeing this kind of comment every time this issue comes up. It's exhausting.

Again, what purpose does this recognition serve? What is it you want PoC to say about this? Are we not expressing enough gratitude? We're supposed to feel better about having been excluded for 20 years because other groups haven't? I'm genuinely at a loss as to what you're trying to accomplish here.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 2:03 PM on June 13, 2019 [19 favorites]


if the contribution you want to bring to a thread addressing systemic oppression is "it's not that bad" then you should probably think very carefully about posting it
posted by schroedinger at 2:08 PM on June 13, 2019 [20 favorites]


Related additional point:

And I think the point that committing to diversity and inclusion is good for the financial health of the site is worth discussing.

Totally; as I said, the positive feedback loop as a possible outcome of this stuff is something I would be very happy to see, and if that includes an emergent positive financial situation for the site along with just a better sense of place for everybody that's great. To the extent that we are as a site increasingly dependent on a community-funding model, giving folks ongoing new reasons to feel good about funding is definitely a win-win kind of thing.

That said, I want to be clear that I don't think the potential financial upside of any improvements here can be the organizing principle behind making those improvements. This is stuff I want the site, the team, the community to keep getting better at because it's stuff we should get better at. It's stuff that will make this a better place, and I want this place to be as good as it can be. That's independent of the notion of whether it's specifically profitable; if it's the right thing to do and we can manage to do it, good, let's do it.

MetaFilter as a revenue-generating business and MetaFilter as a community have always had a strange and sometimes kind of paradoxical relationship. The most bullish years for the site were in its first decade when moderation culture was still varyingly inchoate and threads that we look back on today with anything from discomfort to horror are pretty easy to find. The site and community has gotten steadily significantly better on a whole slate of things over the last ten years even as the traditional ad revenue it was built up on has been steadily shrinking and making it more and more difficult to operate the site with a baseline number of mods to cover a 24/7 site the way we want to.

MeFi's monetary existence these days is a weird messy stressful thing, and it's not something that as an employer and a caretaker of this community I can just not worry about, for sure. But while there's some stuff we can't do without x amount of money to pay for it, there's a lot of stuff we should try to do as a community without staking it on the idea that it's going to generate extra cash. If MetaFilter manages to be a more welcoming space to people of color and marginalized folks in general who may not otherwise have a good place to be on the internet, that's a win, full stop, even if it doesn't bring in a dime of new revenue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:28 PM on June 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


... but I did not demand anything from members of color...

Except, you did. You expect members of color to "be proud of" (your words, "we can be proud of") the diversity that already exists, in which THEY ARE STILL NOT REPRESENTED.

Unless your intended meaning was "we white people can be proud of" that 'diverse' group of white people, which is still a pretty tone-deaf thing to bring to a conversation of people who are unrepresented.
posted by hanov3r at 2:32 PM on June 13, 2019 [14 favorites]


The mod team is somewhat diverse, along axes of diversity that have nothing to do with the diversity that is the topic of this thread, in relation to which the mod team is not at all diverse, as covered at length above. You’re not exactly wrong, Rhaomi, but you are talking past the conversation in this thread to a sufficient degree that some people will (understandably) be too tired and pissed off to take a charitable view.
posted by inire at 2:34 PM on June 13, 2019 [17 favorites]


I mean, this current tail end of the thread kind of demonstrates why I haven't been giving more money to Metafilter. Like, I can read microagressions and clueless commentary on other parts of the web for free. (Or go to places like VSB and The Root to generally enjoy myself much more). Saying that the $5 and ongoing contributions makes this Not As Shitty As Reddit is too low a bar these days. So I guess that's my sense of the catch-22: I'm currently reluctant to invest in Metafilter because I do not feel that Metafilter has demonstrated that it really will improve.
posted by TwoStride at 2:34 PM on June 13, 2019 [11 favorites]


I get that these long threads can be a chore to wade through, but often times when you have a topic like this it's a common pattern to have someone skip to the end, drop their two jeon in, regardless of whether it's been covered/discussed at length before, in-thread.


I apologize. I actually thought I had read every comment in this thread. In retrospect, there must have been some I missed. I did not intend to make anyone in the community do unpaid labor for me.
posted by greermahoney at 2:36 PM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Rhaomi, your first comment was kinda ill-considered but following up was doubly and trebly so. I get that you were operating from a perspective of looking at some other intersecting issues but this isn't the thread for it and this is as folks have noted a kind of on-point example of a type of well-meaning and then in turn defensive interjection people have talked about finding so predictably frustrating in discussions of stuff affecting people of color. We need folks to read the room better than this, as one of the many things involved in trying to do better as a community.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:40 PM on June 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


I thought it was good to recognize and be somewhat heartened by the ways the staff has diversified already.

This is a good example of feeling tense because of a candid discussion about racism and instead of embracing the warranted tension and emotion and pain of the issue, seeking to relieve the tension and fix it by “looking on the bright side” or finding something helpful or positive to say. Instead it says to the users expressing their emotion and pain that those don’t matter or don’t matter as much as they think they do.

I have made this mistake many times in the past. Realize it was a mistake and you won’t make it next time. But in the meantime, there are multiple series of conversations that fit this pattern above in the thread. And seeding the thread with these back and forths driven by white fragility or a desire to escape the feeling of tension dilutes the substance of the thread and fills it with white users demanding attention.
posted by sallybrown at 2:42 PM on June 13, 2019 [33 favorites]


Thanks, cortex. I was going to reply to a question posed but will take it to MeMail if it'll be considered a derail. Sorry again for the disruption.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:55 PM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Saying that the $5 and ongoing contributions makes this Not As Shitty As Reddit is too low a bar these days.

Frankly, there are a lot of subreddits I've lurked in that come off far more welcoming to people of color and other marginalized folks than MeFi is as a whole. For one thing, the much-derided threading system makes it harder for just one or two people to completely derail the conversation for an entire post, which happens all the time here. And I'm not proposing that we switch to threaded comments, but I've also noticed a lot of redditors, without ever using the phrase, are far more respectful of their fellows' emotional labor than are many MeFites. There are more 101-level questions being asked, but when someone answers them the response is usually something like, "Thanks, I get it now/thanks, but I have a follow-up question/I still disagree but thanks for taking the time to share your perspective," not, "I'm going to willfully ignore the time and energy it must have taken you to write that long and personal comment so that I can talk over you, that is if I'm not twisting your words into the most ungenerous possible reading so that I can imply that you are the problem here."

There are still huge issues with the site as a whole, but the atmosphere over there has changed so much in the past few years that in another few it might very well be MeFi that looks retrograde by comparison.
posted by bettafish at 3:19 PM on June 13, 2019 [26 favorites]


Not wanting to prolong the derail about the current mod team's diversity cred, but I think the list as presented by Rhaomi is a slightly … let's say "rosy" … interpretation of it. And sallybrown's comment is a good intro to why it wasn't a great idea to bring it up in the first place, even though it was meant with the best of intentions.

It has highlighted, though, that I can encounter more diversity of background and culture and lived experience simply by walking down my suburban Australian street than is on display there. And that's in a city once described to me by a well-travelled American as "like the white parts of Charlotte or Raleigh, NC, grew up in Texas then moved to Florida", and considered by many of my compatriots as the redneck capital of the country…

What's nice to see throughout this thread and the other is the growing realisation that MeFi is, and has been for a long time, exclusionary in a multitude of ways ranging from the tiny to the elephantine, and to multiple groups of people. It's certainly been both an eye-opener to me as to the extents of the problem, and a vindication of some of my own minor concerns. What's even better to see is that that's not just being acknowledged - it always has been, to very little effect - but that there's considerable and growing pressure to actually start fixing the problem.
posted by Pinback at 4:16 PM on June 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


seconding bettafish. much of the internet (including Reddit) has actually progressed beyond wherever Metafilter is at in terms of general community/user awareness, openness and fair(er) treatment of marginalized people. (Much less "101" conversations and explanations, and if there are - they tend to be phrased more politely and respectfully (with more awareness of the emotional labor involved) than those that take place here.)

Metafilter has developed over 20 years, yes - but I'd say its rate of progress wrt these matters can't compare to a lot of other internet communities now.

(And like 23skidoo pointed out, some things that Rhaomi has said would have got him an insta-ban in other online communities. Or the mods of those communities explicitly requiring him to write and post a detailed public apology to those affected, and a prompt ban if he refused.)

More and more of the internet world is maturing, educating itself, and becoming more aware. Metafilter has fallen behind and become increasingly stagnant, and it seems like most of its white middle-aged community doesn't realize just how much this place has fallen behind.


What's nice to see throughout this thread and the other is the growing realisation that MeFi is, and has been for a long time, exclusionary in a multitude of ways ranging from the tiny to the elephantine, and to multiple groups of people. It's certainly been both an eye-opener to me as to the extents of the problem, and a vindication of some of my own minor concerns. What's even better to see is that that's not just being acknowledged - it always has been, to very little effect - but that there's considerable and growing pressure to actually start fixing the problem.

uh... hate to burst your bubble, Pinback, but this thread and the other thread sound the same as many, many other threads that have come before, in previous years. The "growing realization" seems to happen, the "considerable and growing pressure to actually start fixing the problem" seems to be there - then the mods placate us with really nice-sounding words, everyone gets to vent and feel better temporarily, for a while there may be a small spike in PoC-related posts, and then afterwards it just goes back to the Metafilter default. To the way it was and has basically been for years.
posted by aielen at 4:30 PM on June 13, 2019 [17 favorites]


Absolutely not in favour of instabans here for anything other than deliberately awful behaviour.
posted by inire at 5:09 PM on June 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


The requirement of "deliberately awful behavior", combined with the MeFi cultural expectation of "don't drag people's previous comments into current discussions" (which is basically "let's pretend each discussion is starting from scratch on a clean page with no history") is part of why we keep having these interminable, repeated, fruitless discussions.
posted by Lexica at 5:18 PM on June 13, 2019 [27 favorites]


Yeah, I know, and I’m not averse to the idea of bans for persistent Failure to Get It Despite Being Repeatedly Told, but MeFi’s ban culture (as opposed to e.g. Something Awful’s) is one in which instabans specifically - on the basis of a standalone post - are for the worst of the worst and mean (as far as I’m aware) permanent exclusion.

There are other tools to deal with fuckups (which, to be clear, should be used) - using instabans would be a quick way to kill the site.
posted by inire at 5:40 PM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Just to add, I don’t mean to minimise anything by using the term ‘fuckups’ (which I can see could be read that way) - I mean anything other than people deliberately being huge assholes, which is a high bar below which there is a lot of room for harmful behaviour.

On preview, agreed, kalessin.
posted by inire at 5:45 PM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


An expectation of instabans for people stumbling is reaching far outside of MetaFilter territory. It's something that can work in other places, different places are different, but it's not something that makes sense here.

People getting shown the door for flagrantly awful behavior, or for established unrepentant patterns of low-level shitty behavior, that's more compatible with site philosophy and practice and it's something we've been trying to do a lot more pointedly in the last several years and you'll notice if you go looking (possibly like a headache that is suddenly not there) that a lot of people who match that description and were basically career assholes allowed to coast by too long on earlier more permissive theories are well and truly shitcanned now.

But the distinction between that and people making an effort but failing sometimes is a really important one and I think it's a necessary part of MetaFilter functioning as a community with the flexibility to allow people to improve, to learn over time, to have dumb moments and bad days and come back from that.

It doesn't mean not objecting to the failures. It doesn't mean not expecting the mods to intervene on a pattern of behavior or put it to someone to either improve or disengage on something. That's all useful and necessary, and we can and should support that to put it to people to own their participation and be responsible for it.

I think part of this situation is us needing to better and more consistently recognize patterns in there that we otherwise haven't; I'd much rather the expectation on the mod team and the community be that if you are here in good faith but are messing up it's something you need (and will have the opportunity) to do better on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:50 PM on June 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Deliberately awful behavior isn't enough to get you sanctioned, let alone instabanned. (Content warning for anti-Latinx bigotry and concern trolling in its vilest form.)

(That thread is a great example of the kind of talk that would not fly in the mainstream parts of Reddit, fwiw.)

using instabanned would be a quick way to kill the site

Or maybe removing the bad actors would mean good actors would have more motivation to stick around. Or would know about the site in the first place -- I care about this place because I've seen the best it can be, but I've also seen the worst and I'm not about to subject my friends to that kind of emotional harm.
posted by bettafish at 5:57 PM on June 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


As has infini (perhaps temporarily, I don’t know).
posted by inire at 5:58 PM on June 13, 2019


It would be interesting to see the degree to which site culture improved if there were at least a night off given for this kind of bullshit though.

I kinda get what you mean, but the state of practice is that we do give folks 24 hour temp bans, we tell people flatly to get out of threads and enforce that with deletions. These are tools in use, and for immediate stuff they work well; for patterns of behavior that's when we move on to telling people to just flat out stay out of a topic they're not able to manage themselves on, or closing their account if it's a broader range of behavior problem.

So again my feeling from a lot of this discussion is less that there's some missing mechanism for intervention, and more that there's a failure in mod observation and in community feedback to sufficiently or consistently or promptly recognize some of the kinds of incident or pattern of behavior that merit those interventions. And that we'd benefit as a team from having a better handle on that and from finding ways to help the community more consistently recognize, report, and avoid such stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:00 PM on June 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


greermahoney left a note saying they were just taking an internet break, not anything specific. I expect they'll come back when that's done.

infini hasn't been active under that account for a while; she talked to us about wanting to open it for a few days to discuss stuff here under that handle before closing it again is all.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:02 PM on June 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Or maybe removing the bad actors would mean good actors would have more motivation to stick around.

The question re instabans specifically is what kind of post makes you a bad enough actor to merit skipping all the other stages of discipline that should be applied and going straight for the banhammer. Nothing still in this thread should qualify, for me. That other thread, though... ew.
posted by inire at 6:08 PM on June 13, 2019


I don't feel like the initial work on those projects should be, or should have to be, user-driven; as y'all are noting, its important that these documents accurately capture the goals and intents and practices-in-practice of the site staff

I think a lot of the problems here are linked to the power control & hierarchy that the mods have. Power itself isn't bad, but I think there's a whole lot more that's necessary to open up decision-making, make things more visible, and work with the community. (And BTW, often the terms "community input" or "community feedback" are red flags that power isn't being shared or thought of consciously. Who gets to decide and work with that feedback and input? That's the real question right there.)

I work with and organize cooperatives and collectives, so I'm speaking from personal experience: when power is wielded without an examination of that power, then it's usually women or people of color whose voices are less visible and heard.

For example: Right now, at least three Mefites have explicitly expressed that they would be interested in being part of a team to draft a version of the FAQ. Cortex has effectively shut that down by saying "don't worry, we'll get to it."

I do a lot of cooperative and collective decision making facilitation. In my circles we would say things like:

“That sounds interesting. What would that mean to you all & how do you think a FAQ drafting session would work? I’m also concerned that this might be asking Mefites of color to be doing unpaid work. What do you all think about that?”

Instead I feel that power is being hoarded here, or that the mod team is saying “no thanks, we’ll fix our own mistakes” (which is actually in of itself an expression of power). And while the site definitely shouldn't run on the backs of PoCs's unpaid labor, if community involvement is desired, there can be a way to make that happen.

Sure, from a taxes and law perspective, Metafilter is a private company. But effectively? This is a community site. This is already a site where 100% of the content comes from the community. Should the community leave, Metafilter would cease to exist.

From my perspective, then, it's so strange to have the mods effectively work like judges & police, rather than like community organizers / facilitators. The judges & police create rules, then enforce them. Community organizers and facilitators help a community create rules for and by itself.
posted by suedehead at 6:22 PM on June 13, 2019 [17 favorites]


I’m going to respect 23skidoo’s request to move the thread away from the instaban discussion, but cortex, I have to express my frustration in the strongest possible terms that you’re ruminating on the fine philosophical difference between failure points in this part versus that part of the modly action flow chart, when what so many of us have been trying to tell you for years is that the entire thing is broken. As long as a member knows how to use the correct fake-civil words (and not even that fake-civil, cf the thread I just linked to), it’s easier to get banned for accidentally self-linking (or it was until, like, a few weeks ago) than for deliberately being racist.
posted by bettafish at 6:39 PM on June 13, 2019 [8 favorites]


For example: Right now, at least three Mefites have explicitly expressed that they would be interested in being part of a team to draft a version of the FAQ. Cortex has effectively shut that down by saying "don't worry, we'll get to it."

I do a lot of cooperative and collective decision making facilitation. In my circles we would say things like:

“That sounds interesting. What would that mean to you all? I’m also concerned that this might be asking Mefites of color to be doing unpaid work. What do you all think about that?”


I see what you mean. I'm trying to balance a few things with my thinking on that, but I haven't outlined that thinking explicitly or really invited comment on it, and I can go ahead and try to do that and see if that gets closer to communicating my intent and boundaries on this:

1. Reworking the FAQ has been an internal goal for a while and one I and the rest of the team feel some obligation to follow through on and have been discussing recently team-side.
2. I don't want to volunteer people in the community to do work for us.
3. I don't want folks to feel like their choice is between volunteering or it just not happening at all.
4. I agree with the principle folks have brought up that an FAQ and other docs need to accurately reflect mod intent and practices, which makes it feel more straightforward for it to start as mod communication and then become a community collaboration after.

From that, recommitting to the mod team getting a draft together as planned and then bringing it to the community after to develop further felt like the most appropriate way to go under the current circumstances. But that's, yeah, just what's going on in my head, and I recognize that most of that has just gone on inside my head as I've tried to keep the volume of my thoughts in this thread fairly low.

So: I don't have an objection to the idea of folks in the MeFi community being involved earlier in the process. If that's something Gotanda or anyone else actively wants to do (rather than just feeling an obligation to get out and push because they fear it's not gonna get moving otherwise, which I can understand but don't want to exploit), I'm actually down to talk about that and collaborate on a plan to give it a go.

I consider the current FAQ a living community document as is; we've made a ton of additions and changes to it over the years based on direct feedback from members, and I see that as a necessary part of the process. I'm happy to have the order and manner of that process be different from my personal instincts if that works best for folks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:40 PM on June 13, 2019 [7 favorites]


I appreciated the breakdown of the current mod structure as it gave me more context on what we're working with (and I'm surprised the Latino immigrant mod isn't counting as PoC in some ways, though I do know white Latino people exist, it's complicated).

And, well, I don't know how helpful it is to go "well other sites do XYZ moderation so MetaFilter needs to catch up!!" because that's such a mixed bag and often contextual - what works with one site dynamic is worse than useless elsewhere. I'd personally be more into very specific suggestions, which there are plenty of in this thread (and elsewhere on MeTa), but a blanket "other sites do it betterrrrrrrr" I'm not sure about.
posted by divabat at 7:09 PM on June 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


I can go ahead and try to do that and see if that gets closer to communicating my intent and boundaries on this

Personally, cortex, I think your comment is very helpful in sharing your intent, not making any conclusions, and a start to opening up possibilities for mefites to share some agency. So thanks.

--

(this comment is not 'to' cortex but to the thread)

I want to clarify I want to be cautious about POC spending emotional labor.

Many poc members including aielen and kalessin have made really really good points about unpaid emotional labor by POCs. It's a pattern, seen here and elsewhere, that the unpaid emotional labor of POC members can effectively subsidize a community. ('subsidize' is my word choice). I think it's true here at Metafilter; an all-white mod team means that many POC have historically worked hard to try to stem white fragility and get past beyond whiteness & racism 101.

So I'm definitely I'm not volunteering up anyone else's labor, and I don't want to set a precedent where, yes "folks to feel like their choice is between volunteering or it just not happening at all". And not having at least one POC mod is absolutely unacceptable.

AND

1) I also think there's a good way that this CAN happen, if people want to. Emotional labor can be recognized through gratitude, care, and recognition of that emotional labor. And I personally think it's important for this site to work more forms of facilitation and power-sharing into its processes.

2) And even if it doesn't happen, it's good to know that the possibility is there, and we can talk through it.

So I'm mostly curious what other members, especially POC members think and feel.

--

In my ideals, and in the organizations that I work in & with, the really radical & just thing is to actually share power (money, control). You can have a form of cooperative governance where group decisions are cooperatively made, mods are cooperatively nominated & voted, things are done by (modified) consensus. You can do this while it being efficient, timely, and fun too! And often times, the positive side affects of people feeling like a part of it actually means more participation, and more funding.

I'd be happy to share a list of facilitation & organizing resources if it'd be helpful.


posted by suedehead at 7:12 PM on June 13, 2019 [10 favorites]


(and I'm surprised the Latino immigrant mod isn't counting as PoC in some ways, though I do know white Latino people exist, it's complicated)

I think it's because the mod (vacapinta) is "semi-retired". Also, based on their posting history, taz is white and lives in Greece.

So all fully active mods are white.

digging into someone's posting history to determine their race is creepy... but I bet we're all doing it, and it beats assuming that someone is white by default
posted by suedehead at 7:18 PM on June 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


And, well, I don't know how helpful it is to go "well other sites do XYZ moderation so MetaFilter needs to catch up!!" because that's such a mixed bag and often contextual - what works with one site dynamic is worse than useless elsewhere. I'd personally be more into very specific suggestions, which there are plenty of in this thread (and elsewhere on MeTa), but a blanket "other sites do it betterrrrrrrr" I'm not sure about.

What I and others were getting at wasn’t a blanket “other sites do it betterrrrrrrr,” but “MeFites perceive themselves as collectively doing it betterrrrrrrr than the entire rest of the internet (and especially Reddit/Twitter), but that isn’t true any more.” I didn’t bring it up to be petty, but because I think MeFi’s baked in snobbery towards other parts of the web is actively hampering its growth (in both the literal sense and the community development sense). I also identified particular language choices redditors use to indicate respect for other commenters’ emotional labor even when they disagree or don’t understand, which is something many commenters in this thread have said they want MeFi culture to be better at, so I’m...honestly not sure what more kind of specifics you’re asking for?
posted by bettafish at 8:17 PM on June 13, 2019 [14 favorites]


just spitballing here a bit but re: the reddit derail, i think part of the reason it can feel more evolved there (which i think really depends on the communities you participate in FWIW and that in general the culture over there is more retrograde, just in different ways) is because the community skews much younger. i joined this site almost a decade ago at the age of 18, today at 27 it still feels like i am one of the youngest people here. people here are seriously stuck in their ways and are mostly unashamed of it (see: any attempted discussion about rap music, which almost always ends with a lethal combination of "kids these days" and dog whistling). there is a long list of things that need to be done to fix this site's culture, but trying to figure out a way to attract some younger blood here might belong somewhere on it (and would probably be good for the site's ongoing financial viability).
posted by JimBennett at 8:36 PM on June 13, 2019 [16 favorites]


Thanks cortex. And, thanks for all your recent comments and offers of resources, suedehead.

I think it was chrysostom upthread who pointed out we want the mods to listen and and that then maybe I and/or others seemed to also be pushing for action; especially when I suggested we need some deadlines on some stuff to make sure it gets done.

So, I'm happy to let these recent threads in MetaTalk play out longer and listen more. If there is a community process for FAQ etc., I am happy to participate. Even though I am yet another middle aged, middle class, male, white American. But the flipside is I feel like we have to take some responsibility and do some of the work or else then it does become labor--emotional and otherwise for PoC.

So, I'll sit back and keep reading. Anyone can Memail me when it is time or if there is a way I can help. Or not if that is better for the site community. I like this place. And, I want to keep on liking it as we make some changes to make it better.
posted by Gotanda at 8:49 PM on June 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'd be happy to share a list of facilitation & organizing resources if it'd be helpful.

Yep, that'd be totally welcome, thank you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:31 PM on June 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


I appreciated the breakdown of the current mod structure as it gave me more context on what we're working with (and I'm surprised the Latino immigrant mod isn't counting as PoC in some ways, though I do know white Latino people exist, it's complicated).

I'm not sure where the "white" came from. This is a clear photo of me. I have been confusedly identified as being from India.

Mexicans are mainly a mix of white Europeans and Native Mexicans. That is true for me too. My maternal grandfather is pretty white. My paternal great-grandfather was a dark man whose wife (my great-grandma) spoke almost no Spanish, preferring her native Purepecha tongue. My family came to the US as agricultural workers. My mom did too for a while then moved to cleaning houses. I know that the alienation my dad suffered is bad enough that even after living in the US for 50 years, he still refuses to speak English (though of course he understands it) and treats white people with suspicion.

I do help out at Mefi sometimes but I am not really part of the mod team in the editorial sense. Having some access to the back corridors of mefi though - I can see the admin screen, mod notes, etc. - I do have great respect for the work they do.

I, a child of three colonies, have spent a long time hungry for identity. And perhaps I’m still hungry for it. But to a certain extent I’ve found my own peace - I’m old enough and grizzled enough now to weather the storms of existential self doubt. I’m just me - an inimitable, an original. There’s no one way to be Indian. There’s no one way to be Australian, or South American. There’s no one way to be a person, and fuck anyone who tells you otherwise, or tries to tell you who you are. You’re the only person who decides that, and if the answer is ‘I don’t know’, well, that’s OK.

I'd rather not participate in this thread but I did want to remark that this comment by His thoughts were red thoughts is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes as well.
posted by vacapinta at 3:16 AM on June 14, 2019 [34 favorites]


A brand new day never hurt anyone and the beauty of a place uniquely like metafilter is that you can go back to who you were if you want, after a while, or try on the new bnd for a while, or just hang it up in the closet for a while. fwiw.


Note: Everyone needs a hug. here's my bucket full of 'em
posted by hugbucket at 6:48 AM on June 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


A brand new day never hurt anyone and the beauty of a place uniquely like metafilter is that you can go back to who you were if you want, after a while, or try on the new bnd for a while, or just hang it up in the closet for a while. fwiw.

If this suggestion is towards kalessin, a member with 16 years of engagement and relationships here, it strikes me as stunningly cruel. Can you clarify?
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 7:03 AM on June 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


(see: any attempted discussion about rap music, which almost always ends with a lethal combination of "kids these days" and dog whistling)

Kids these days.
posted by flabdablet at 7:34 AM on June 14, 2019


Moderation, in global context: Guardians of the Galaxy: the unacknowledged legislators of the online world -- Content moderators do a vital job—often for a pittance (Economist, June 15, 2019) [semi-paywalled -- if you can stop the page from loading completely, you can load the content, but not the login request]

It's an interesting and depressing article, which notes that much of content moderation for so many Silicon Valley based companies is done overseas, but "Whether in San Francisco or Manila, their task is fundamentally the same. These are the rubbish-pickers of the internet; to most of the world, they are all but invisible."

The article also refers to Adrian Chen of Wired, who wrote The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed in 2014, at which time "the work is increasingly done in the Philippines."
posted by filthy light thief at 7:40 AM on June 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


though I do know white Latino people exist, it's complicated

Here is a friendly suggestion.

If you aren't Latinx, please leave any speculation on racial identity of someone who is to actual Latinx people. The fact that vacapinta felt they had to defend their existence as a person of color based on this kind of speculation is honestly appalling to me.
posted by corb at 8:09 AM on June 14, 2019 [22 favorites]


I know I have an overly simplistic view of how the world works, so I am pretty sure there’s a big obvious flaw I’m missing here but.... Cortex spoke of mod training and fears of unpaid emotional labor, but why can’t white MeFites pony up so the MeFites of color who are willing to do so get paid for that training? I would rather see MeFites get paid for that training than an outside consultant and I would donate to that cause right now. It’s not as good as diversifying the mod team, but it seems, idk, better than this?
posted by Ruki at 9:03 AM on June 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Deliberately awful behavior isn't enough to get you sanctioned, let alone instabanned. (Content warning for anti-Latinx bigotry and concern trolling in its vilest form.)... posted by bettafish

I'm not sure which posts you are talking about here, but I do know one of the people who posted a fair bit and who didn't agree with the majority in the thread. They are Latinx, and were sincere (since they have personal experience with being disconnected from biological family).

"Deliberately awful behaviour" is a judgement call that should be made carefully.
posted by jb at 10:05 AM on June 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


People above mentioned some other sites and subreddits etc doing a better job with this stuff. If folks have specific places they think do a good job, either with moderation practices or with expectation-setting, guidelines, faq language etc, I'd be grateful to hear where. Not asking for a writeup or comprehensive lists or link-pulling, but just if you've got a place/s in mind off the top of your head. Either here or in Memail or contact form, whichever is better for you; thank you.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:55 AM on June 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


I’ve always liked the feature on some sites where a comment is auto-hidden (with the option to unhide) once it receives a certain number of flags or downvotes or what have you. Mods could perhaps then decide to delete or un-hide them at their discretion. While this could be abused, I don’t see that being likely at Metafilter.

Another idea that occurs to me - what if post authors had some limited moderator abilities, like being able to quarantine comments (for subsequent mod review)? That would take some work off of mods’ hands, while empowering OPs to oversee discussions of their posts and head off derails and threadshitting. I’m thinking of Kinja, which I hate but IIRC lets users hide crappy replies to their posts/comments.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 11:19 AM on June 14, 2019


I've been spending some time at RPG.net lately - they have threads about lots of non-roleplaying stuff, including politics, etc. - and it's an interesting contrast. Mods are much more visible there and much more comfortable about calling users out directly. These differences I'm not sure I'm a fan of.

One thing I definitely do like is there is a clear escalation process of: day off, 48 hours off, week off, two weeks off, month off, permaban. I feel like we don't use the "time off" options enough here, except on occasion when someone just won't drop something in a thread.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:24 AM on June 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


I.e., I think it might be good to see more of: [UserX, that kind of shit is out of line, take a day off..]
posted by Chrysostom at 11:26 AM on June 14, 2019 [8 favorites]


I do like the code of conduct idea. In general, although I still think the "specific regulations lead to rules-lawyering" ethos is workable, I think it's past time to put some bright line rules about speech that flat out is not acceptable.

Just my two cents.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:39 AM on June 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the Code of Conduct or new FAQ could include a "Racism 101" link to a MeFi wiki page that collects good resources? Even if someone doesn't immediately read them on joining the site, it could be linked to later when 101 issues come up and might save labor and frustration.
posted by schroedinger at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


Another idea that occurs to me - what if post authors had some limited moderator abilities, like being able to quarantine comments (for subsequent mod review)? That would take some work off of mods’ hands, while empowering OPs to oversee discussions of their posts and head off derails and threadshitting.

I don't like this, as it goes completely against what I've always seen as MetaFilter's policy (written? I'm not actually sure) of "post the FPP and then let it breathe; it's not yours anymore."
posted by cooker girl at 1:25 PM on June 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


Vacapinta, thank you for your comment and for sharing and, whether or not you're semi-retired or not, I'm sorry for minimizing / not acknowledging your role and presence as a mod.

I wonder if the Code of Conduct or new FAQ could include a "Racism 101" link to a MeFi wiki page that collects good resources?

I made a MeTa about this in 2014. Notice how it's pretty clear to see the 'blah, not sure how it would work, whatever' shitpost jokey tone in the whole thread. This is only five years ago.

I hope like the discussion will go better this time.

( I also feel angry/exasperated that the discussion will go better this time, because it will be because white/cis/etc posters will have "progressed", not because trans/poc people changed. )

A good place to start about racism 101 would be to augment or incorporate Conspire's comprehensive post: We need to have a discussion about racism.
posted by suedehead at 2:05 PM on June 14, 2019 [11 favorites]


I apologize for my comment. I was more thinking about outside discussions where people have resisted the idea that all Latinx people are PoC by default, and I thought the reason no one had brought up vacapinta before was because they identified as White at some point. But that has turned out to be wrong, wrong enough that I feel like the other thread is going to have to take a different turn.
posted by divabat at 2:57 PM on June 14, 2019


Oh also yes to a Code of Conduct - we're long overdue for one!
posted by divabat at 2:59 PM on June 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Mebbe vacapinta should get a (semi)retired tag next to his name? Might help with remembering his modhood.
posted by Mister Cheese at 11:53 PM on June 14, 2019 [3 favorites]



"Deliberately awful behaviour" is a judgement call that should be made carefully.


I am sure the person who said this made that judgment call carefully even though you feel defensive about it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:18 AM on June 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


And, well, I don't know how helpful it is to go "well other sites do XYZ moderation so MetaFilter needs to catch up!!" because that's such a mixed bag and often contextual - what works with one site dynamic is worse than useless elsewhere. I'd personally be more into very specific suggestions, which there are plenty of in this thread (and elsewhere on MeTa), but a blanket "other sites do it betterrrrrrrr" I'm not sure about.

So disrespectful, seriously.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:20 AM on June 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


I mean, LobsterMitten said basically the same thing I said, I'm not sure why my hesitation is being framed as disrespectful? Especially when I did say that there have been plenty of specific suggestions on this thread and in other MetaTalk threads?

Maybe it's time for me to bow out of this thread too, when my attempts to express hesitation are clearly going completely awry even from people I thought would see where I'm coming from.
posted by divabat at 6:28 AM on June 15, 2019


I didn't realize it was you who said it!!!! I AM SORRY I DO NOT KNOW HOW THIS WEBSITE WORKS APPARENTLY
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:38 AM on June 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think one thing I do want to say - and this is not meant to erase divabat's experience, but just to add another layer to it - is that even strongly radical spaces struggle with this stuff, particularly if they are part of a broadly diverse and constant-entry mass-movement membership, and it's actually been a real challenge to figure out how to deal with this, so it's not like there is a recognized Single Way Of Doing Things that always works. There are a few thoughts that I think are relevant and possibly helpful for here, though.

So - essentially, you want people to come who are all roughly good-intentioned and agree with the basic 'vision' or 'essential statement' of your group. This is challenging for spaces like Metafilter, which I think does have a rough vision, but it's not exactly really codified and posted in a clear place for new people considering joining. Instead it operates where you pays your 5$ and you takes your chances, which means most people will browse for a bit before deciding to pay their money to contribute, and thus kind of acquire a rough idea of the vision by watching site norms. But it also means that the norms they will absorb will be implicit norms and rules rather than explicit norms and rules. And - in many ways, the implicit norms and rules are what make Metafilter great, because they allow for nuance - (I, as someone who has had my own growth process over my time of being here at Metafilter, especially appreciate giving people time to try to adjust and caring about intention)- but they also mean you don't really have something clear to point to in order to help guide folk about how to interact here - it all depends on which mod is on duty, and how they express the correction, and how fast moving the thread is, on what the feedback looks like.

I think that Metafilter would benefit from some explicit intentionality. Like: "We understand that everyone carries implicit bias with them, sometimes someone with good intentions will make bad statements, and this work is always a long process, but the goal we strive for is a racism-free space. If you are exhibiting racism in your behavior, we will correct you. If you are doing it deliberately to hurt others, we will ask you to leave."
posted by corb at 9:11 AM on June 15, 2019 [17 favorites]


Mods, is there a way to sticky this thread and the other thread to the top of the main Metatalk page? It looks like this post is about to bump to page 2.
posted by Mouse Army at 10:32 AM on June 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Mods, is there a way to sticky this thread

Just FYI, I'm filling in today because of some overlapping vacations. Someone from the actual mod will show up to address this later. I have some powers but not "put something in the banner" powers, and there's no way to "sticky" posts in MeTa.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:36 AM on June 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the information, jessamyn!
posted by Mouse Army at 11:54 AM on June 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


This was briefly mentioned earlier, but I wanted to expand a bit. We have had quite a few posts regarding feminism (including the latest housework thread) that are just as much outragefilter as jjsmama's post on racism. I find these posts incredibly valuable even though the conversation is predictable, and even when energy must be expended to hush the immediate notallmen/notallwhitepeople responses (though ideally that BS would stop) -- I can't even begin to describe how much it means to experience that deep solidarity and to know you are not alone in facing these problems.

People of color and other marginalized groups deserve that opportunity too. Many have commented that they find this sense of community in other venues, but I think it has a place on Metafilter as well.
posted by ktkt at 5:29 PM on June 15, 2019 [22 favorites]


I was one of the prime offenders on the Rage Yoga post, ignorantly holding forth on a topic I didn't know much about. At the time, I thought that the ten-to-one favourites ratio against me put me clearly on the "hate" side of "things Metafilter loves vs. things Metafilter hates." It felt like I was being rejected by the community. I realize now that the people who were getting all the favourites also felt like they were being rejected by the community, and my comments were part of why they felt that way in that thread.
posted by clawsoon at 7:43 PM on June 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Just want to go back to this:
>it seems like any Jew who does feel like their voice belongs in the other meta would be welcome

And the answer is, actually, NOPE, white Jewish people should not decide they get to abdicate whiteness so they can participate in that thread. We don't get explicitly dedicated IBPOC spaces very often in these internets. Please don't participate if you are not IBPOC.
For fuck's sake. Can we have SOMETHING??
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:48 PM on June 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


Are we white people of metafilter going to fix our white fragility? Or are we content with our gated community? Because of my own privilege, I hadn't realized just how unwelcoming this place was. (I'm sure I'm part of that atmosphere, just like nearly all the rest of us whites here...but I'd like to do better.)

We absolutely need to make "Metafilter doesn't do _____ well" a thing of the past...on all topics. Of course we're never going to do ____ well if every single thread gets stalled at toddler level.

As mentioned up-thread, many times this comes down to a small number of users--sometimes even just one persistant arse--shitting up threads on a particular topic. Other times it's a chorus of "not all _____" which is just weak-ass fragility on display 100% of the time. (If you cannot take a bit of heat because a demographic you belong too is being examined and found wanting, adult-up, take your lumps, and try to learn something.)

Another thing which needs to be thrown out of threads are moronic comments (and "golly, have you thought of...?" questions) which are 101 or sub-101 level stuff. Honestly, a lot of that seems like trolling to me, as there are few better methods of derailing discussion than dropping a moron-bomb in a thread. Or repeated moron bombs. Why this is tolerated is beyond me.

I do not advocate technical solutions to social problems, but maybe there could be a way to automatically append a "[topic] 101" info box in the sidebar for topics which seem to generate a ton of noise? Those links could maybe be decided with help from the community, or from consultants, or...

I think site culture would be improved immensely if the MF mission statement--and enforcement of that mission statement by the mods and community--said something to the effect that "participation is contingent on being up to speed on the topic at hand before typing in the comment box".
posted by maxwelton at 1:42 AM on June 16, 2019 [13 favorites]


Here’s a thread from like last month where I pointed out the poster had used a racial slur. The poster chose to pretend I hadn’t spoken and the slur lives on. The more I think about this site the madder I get.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:13 AM on June 16, 2019 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I’m not sure if I would either - I am part indigenous but I don’t identify that way but rather as Latina.
posted by corb at 7:22 AM on June 16, 2019


I've usually seen IBPOC to mean Indigenous Black And/Or Other People of Colour, not just only Indigenous and Black people.
posted by divabat at 7:25 AM on June 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


This site needs a written code of conduct with understandable rules, clear boundaries, a graduated set of penalties, an anonymized reporting system, people who enforce it, and a system of transparency where enforcement is recorded and reviewable. This is no more difficult to achieve than what has been implemented in many other spaces, both online and IRL.

(I'm okay with a volunteer team to handle front line action. People volunteer mone to support this site, they can volunteer time. But paid staff should be the ones to dish out permanent enforcements such as deletions, time-outs and bans.)

This seems like the minimum offering of what any civilized space should offer to a community. And if MeFi isn't interested in providing it, then that's something we should all know so we can make our choices about how to engage, or whether to engage at all.

I know it's hard, but you know what is also hard? Being not white, being not male, being not cis, being not straight, being not American, being not rich, being not ....

I'm looking forward to hearing some clarity on this.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:35 AM on June 16, 2019 [12 favorites]


Sure, from a taxes and law perspective, Metafilter is a private company. But effectively? This is a community site. This is already a site where 100% of the content comes from the community. Should the community leave, Metafilter would cease to exist.

This part of the discussion that touches on MeFi's growth/shrinking, finances and participation has brought me back to reading some old threads from the earlier years of the transition to the current ownership and incorporating a certain reliance on donations even though it is in concept a for-profit business. There is an inherent tension between the sense on the part of most users that MetaFilter is "a community" of some sort, and the firm commitment that was made to the for-profit leadership model. I was an early and often advocate of transitioning MeFi to a nonprofit governance system based on membership/subscription with earned revenue via ads and merch, because I believed it would be the right move to sustain and grow a community with clear and open structures for participation and decision-making, but it has been stated many times in no uncertain terms that the ownership does not intend to go in that direction, reasons including changed legal status, board of directors, required transparency levels and fundraising structures that would come with that. Choosing an incorporation structure for an enterprise is the prerogative of an owner, so a private business is what we have.

But of course the tension is felt very strongly, and cultural literacy/pluralism/diversity is one of the issues that highlights it. Being a not-for-profit vs. a private corp is not just a difference in tax law, but one of structure, philosophy, and accountability to both public and those served. In my professional world, not-for-profit governance with planning processes, transparency, and leadership accountability to donors, members, users, and the public is the norm. That's important because it's those complex relationships that keep our organizations growing and, hopefully, in responsible touch with cultural change, liberating processes and access to power structures. That mutual accountability produces constant growth. It is the force that drives ongoing training, awareness of access and identity issues, management/community leadership skill development, We just don't have that process here, and what's more, we don't have that mindset - so even when choices made are responsive and judicious, they are still individual choices. This is a not a site the community owns and not a site the community has governance or planning power in. Understanding that at a deep level has changed my sense of commitment to the place - I still value it but approach it with much different expectations than I once did.

Could MetaFilter potentially become less of a white space and become more intentionally and purposefully inclusive? Yes, it could. If the leadership wants to and understands how to. Will it? I hope so, but the site's community doesn't make the decisions. It all depends on the inclinations of the staff and CEO.
posted by Miko at 7:36 AM on June 16, 2019 [21 favorites]


There are interesting parallels here with the management of npm (the node package manager), Inc. -- a business that can only thrive based on the participation of a community. And due to governance choices, the community is having second thoughts about its support. In npm's case, one of the key tech leads who exited the org last year (and who is tbh an old friend of mine) has created a federated (non-owned) alternative that many in the community are excited about, and will likely eventually turn the maintenance of into a non-profit foundation. Just saying ... it's one of the ways these things can go if management doubles down on a toxic status quo.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:57 AM on June 16, 2019


I want MetaFiler to be more inclusive, more global, more welcoming to all the people who are not white, not male, not straight, not cis, not able-bodied, and, especially, not racist. I understand that white members need to step up to make MF that more welcoming community. I am guilty of one of the more infamous acts of hostility (I posted the original Rage Yoga post), which I mention not because I am proud of it but rather because I would like to make amends for that in some way.

Folks have mentioned the possibility of having a Racism 101 resource (or perhaps Antiracism 101). Either way, I do understand that kalessin and other members are sick of stepping up to educate white people and they should not have to do that work and/or wisely have decided to stop doing that work.

That work will still be needed. Clueless people will wander in from time to time. Periodically someone will make a comment about a post or a clueless person that says, essentially, "OMG everyone knows X," often about non-controversial topics that this person knows all about and thought everyone knew all about. But we don't all get the memo at the same time. If only!

Please note, I am not suggesting that any PoC have done this. What I am trying to say is that I was fucking clueless in the way that it is possible to be as a white person when I posted the Rage Yoga item; as the entirely understandable (to me now) shit storm developed, I sat down, shut up, and tried to learn something, including how to avoid being that stupid and hurtful in the future.

There is always going to be someone who wanders into the Star Trek thread wanting to know why anyone cares about Spock (or whatever the earlier example was). That happened with the Emotional Labor thread, those folks got shooed away, and now similar but new folks simply get directed to that thread and then growled at by a mod if they don't shut up. That's a good model, I think.

Of course we should have made our community an antiracist community much earlier. That doesn't make it too late. I want to help. The best way I can think of is on the 101 level because I am trying hard to educate myself to be able to spot the things so obvious to others and help educate those folks who used to be as oblivious as I was. Happy to help in other ways or in different ways. I am just sick of important members of our community being hurt, neglected, ignored, mistreated, etc. It needs to stop.

I am not looking for cookies; please do not favorite this comment. I am just looking to help change this place in important, positive ways.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:00 AM on June 16, 2019


IBPOC (or BIPOC) means Indigenous, Black, AND People of Colour, in my experience, and that's how I meant it in my usage.

The acronym specifically names Indigenous and Black people along with other PoC, because anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism are so specific and so virulent, and because often in casual conversations about racism, Black and Indigenous identities are erased by people saying PoC as a general term when the actual people they're speaking about are specifically Black or Indigenous.

It's meant to be a more respectful umbrella term, rather than a more exclusive umbrella term. It still includes other PoC identities.

Speaking only for myself, I see BIPOC or IBPOC as a more advanced and thoughtful way of framing racialized identities, as compared to the term POC, because IBPOC/BIPOC refers to a coalition of racialized identities who pay special respect to Indigenous and Black people who often experience particularly nasty and genocidal racism.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:19 AM on June 16, 2019 [12 favorites]


It occurs to me that the “MetaFilter does not do this well” idea developed in environment where there was a lot less vigorous moderation. We’re still struggling today, but it seems to me that, topics which would have gone terribly five or 10 years ago might do better with more vigorous pruning. Maybe it’s time to relax some of those limits and see if a more engaged member and mod approach might make them go better?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:36 PM on June 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


> I was an early and often advocate of transitioning MeFi to a nonprofit governance system

So this is basically what I've been gearing up to suggest, because a mission statement, core values, strategic planning, the potential for grant funding, and most urgently, the accountability, it makes so much sense. I have a lot more to say about this, including about how it can positively impact day-to-day decisionmaking, but I won't have time for the next bunch of days.

But as a quick note, I've been trying to figure out how to graft non-profit structures onto a for-profit corporation, because while I've kind of seen it done, it seems like when the mission is ultimately profit, the decision-making process gets fundamentally skewed, and no amount of wishing will make it otherwise.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:58 PM on June 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


I didn't forget about that trans thread, the one where EM decided that because a terf was an illinoisian woman of a similar age, they should speak with midwestern passive aggression rather than (by implication) a different tone they might use with people who aren't midwestern women. I had emailed the mods specifically pointing out the terf's posting history that suggested transmisogyny only to have my feelings swept aside without much regard.

I still don't feel like they have been accountable for any of that and rereading it makes me wonder why I'm here.
posted by yaymukund at 3:05 AM on June 17, 2019 [13 favorites]


when the mission is ultimately profit, the decision-making process gets fundamentally skewed, and no amount of wishing will make it otherwise

Yeah, about 8-10 years ago everyone was high on this notion of "social enterprise," and businesses models about not being evil - it's still popular, I guess, as products try to develop an altruistic sheen by doing something good ("buy 1 of my widgets, we'll give 2 widgets to a developing nation free"...as if this somehow makes up for all the other externalized costs of manufacturing and disposal that the world will bear and as if what developing nations need is widgets). But even in a socially oriented business model, it's not just the decision-making that tends to get skewed - the difficulty is that ultimately these are different arrangements of power and responsibility.

Add to that the fact that the nonprofit structure on its own doesn't solve everything (to be truly effective they need all the recommended practices you outline) and it becomes a lot of culture change and a fundamentally different approach to managing a community and that would take some real expertise and deep collaboration to implement. It feels like the moment passed and I've stopped harping on it except where the weaknesses of the current model show. And the strains of "owning" the phenomenon that is MetaFilter like it was just an overgrown Kottke or or media aggregator other old-time single-owner "I built a thing" web product are showing everywhere.
posted by Miko at 4:27 AM on June 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but like I said it's not the legal structure specifically so much as the intent - the sharing of advisory capacity, decision-making, responsibility, accountability. A nonprofit demands that, but even a for-profit can have it if it wants, to a degree (the community should just be clear about what degree that is).
posted by Miko at 7:59 AM on June 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I posted this on the Slack channel, and upon request will copy what I said there:

Metafilter in particular is very vocal about organizing its social structure around the people who have been around the longest, and there's an awful lot of talk about How The Site Used To Be, complete with outing new users as new and telling them that they need to prove themselves before they can be accepted.

In all the years that I've moved from one internet community to another, I don't think I've ever really seen one that placed such a high value on NOT evolving, the way Metafilter does. Even including, in my consideration, a long-time community that I've been part of that originally started as a telnet BBS in the mid-90s, and moved to Slack due to the evolution of technology.

On Metafilter, the people who've been around the longest have the most credibility with the mods, who have also been around since forever. And it definitely contributes to visibly uneven moderation, where certain types of comments and FPPs are tolerated from long-time users, while being explicitly discouraged from new ones [and certain longer-term members, I will add here] with the reasoning, "You haven't been around long enough to have a handle on how we do things here."

In the business world, "culture fit" is increasingly acknowledged as a problematic way of suppressing diversity in both innovation and hiring. In my view, this exact problem is negatively impacting Metafilter in the same way.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:34 AM on June 17, 2019 [21 favorites]


I had emailed the mods specifically pointing out the terf's posting history that suggested transmisogyny only to have my feelings swept aside without much regard.

I still don't feel like they have been accountable for any of that


I remember that. The combination of "we need to see a pattern of behavior in order to justify banning a user" combined with the 1) deliberate deletion of evidence of a pattern of behavior and 2) blindness to what a 'pattern of behavior' would actually look like was startling. It is a combination of actions and policies well-suited to provide the appearance of a firm stance against bigotry, without actually having to do anything.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:11 PM on June 17, 2019 [15 favorites]


It does seem like a lot of the conventions that contribute to problems dealing with race and other issues are (to give a generous interpretation) sort of naive holdovers from a different time: we don’t do X well, not fair to invoke someone’s posting history, deletions that hide patterns of behavior, reluctance to ban, not defining policies because that could lead to rules lawyering: they all have some plausible reason for existing, but they also clearly also facilitate and protect bad behavior.
posted by snofoam at 12:59 PM on June 17, 2019 [12 favorites]


They also silence good behavior and positive contributions from people whose contributions are deleted pre-emptively, under the guise of "not contributing to the culture".

After the revelations from both this thread and the one for Mefites of color, it's become increasingly clear how dogwhistle-y this metric and its enforcement really is. That's not a very comfortable revelation, to say the least. But, knowing this, there are resources to address it at an organizational level, which many people have brought up. The fish rots from the head and all that, but good culture starts with good leadership too. The status quo cannot continue, however.
posted by Autumnheart at 2:24 PM on June 17, 2019 [9 favorites]


This is a bit of a grab bag, trying to touch on a few things catching up, since I've opted pretty much entirely into reading and making notes the last few days to try and take more stuff onboard while catching my breath some.

- Non-profit status: I'm still where I was the last couple years on that, which is I like many of the aspirational ideas behind refocusing the site as a non-profit entity but haven't worked out a path to formal 501c(3) non-profit structure that doesn't present immediate significant headaches for us above and beyond the extra work and administration that'd be involved by default in setting it up and keeping it running. It's never been off the table for me and it may be a good time to give it another, more focused look as a possibility, but I can't casually declare it's doable.

So I agree with the general idea that if the aim is to have some more of the advisory and transparency aspects in play that are associated with non-profit structures, it'll be easier for us to talk about those ideas as things we could try to work out for their own sake. Doing that stuff just because it's worth doing feels like the more important goal.
Likewise, while MeFi could register as a B corp and I'm not antipathetic to the idea, I don't feel like that would meaningfully address the underlying question of us just being clear about our goals and intents as a relatively tiny business, so it doesn't feel like a priority. I'd rather focus the limited energy and resources we have on the goals and processes themselves than on the legal classification.

- Code of Conduct/guidelines/value statements: this stuff in particular I think is something we can put a lot of focus on developing and catching up on in the near future. It's been part of a lot of mod team discussion the last week and a half and one of the things I've had a little bit of conversation with outside folks about as well and will continue to. It's something I aim to make sure the community at large has direct feedback and the opportunity to collaborate on. Ties back in with some of the discussion up thread about the FAQ and similar documentation: I feel like there's a clear sense that this is stuff we (a) have let sit in relative stasis for too long and (b) should put some serious energy into working on now so we can better and more explicitly communicate both what kind of place we hope for MetaFilter to be and what we expect of the community to help make that happen.

- Revisiting older practices/assumptions: more generally but in the same vein as the specific deletion reason process discussions farther up thread, I hear and largely agree with the sentiment that there are phrases and philosophies and community expectations about what MeFi can and should and can't and shouldn't do or do well that need to be looked at more in terms of "how is this serving the community now" than of "how have we always done it". That's the spirit in which I'm trying to think through a lot of what folks have been talking about in here, even stuff that, yeah, has a strong historical pull of "but this is how it works" to it.

One of the things I've done over the last short while is look at some of the phrases or nuggets of received wisdom folks have expressed concern about—"outrage" and "outragefilter" for one, but also the "doesn't do x well" phrasings and a couple other things—and see how and where the mods are using them in the course of our work or in public-facing documentation like the FAQ. And it's been slightly heartening to find that many of them are phrases the mod staff has used either hardly or never in the last three or so years, and a lot of it dating back more circa 2010 in recurring mod speech. We've been making efforts over the years to think about some of this stuff that has come up before and how we can change it in our moderation practice, and I think that ends up being reflected overall in the mod language we've been using more recently at least.

On the other hand, mod language influences community language and just because we use a phrase much less today doesn't mean we didn't end up baking it into more general community vocabulary and expectations with past use. So trying to make a change on whether and when and how to characterize something as "outrage" is going to be more of an effort than just us deciding as a team to not do it; it's going to have to be more of a long term, collaborative process in the community of unlearning that habit person by person. But that's the sort of thing both the mod team and fellow users can help give feedback on when it comes up, and word and habit can spread that way just like it did the first time.

- Is anything really gonna change, though: I get this feeling, I understand this reaction. We wouldn't be having this particular conversation now if folks felt like the outcomes of previous conversations in the last few years had been as solid as they should have been. I can't undo that and I won't blame anybody for having their doubts or feeling out of patience.

What I can say is: I recognize this is a problem too, and has been an ongoing one, and I want to fix it. And where I am right now is trying to (a) pull together suggestions from these discussions and the conversations I've started having with some of the folks we've been pointed to make specific new plans, and (b) identify and stake out the roadblocks that have gotten in the way of that work previously so we don't get stalled out in the same way again.

I know that we can't fix everything immediately, especially since much of this is a matter of community-wide progress and that kind of progress takes time to filter in and accrete and become a new normal. And regardless I recognize that even if we could snap our fingers and make everything go right every time starting this second, that wouldn't undo the accumulated frustration and disappointment and feeling of having been burnt before that folks have variously expressed. But it being slow or late doesn't make it any less important. I think it's important and overdue work and it's work I want to get done so that folks are able to look back, a few years from now, and see a sense of clear progress and improvement that folks looking back a few years from this moment aren't seeing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:59 PM on June 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


The other issue I see is that the warning against "sharing private emails" has a chilling effect on collective sharing and potential action about mods, mod direction, mod sanctions, and mod behavior.

I think any comprehensive evaluation, which I recognize might take time, would probably include an assessment of private mod/user communications because I believe there is a lot of room for improvement there.

I also think it's time to get rid of the MetaTalk queue; there shouldn't be a mod barrier (actual or implied) to discussing issues with the community.
posted by lalex at 3:44 PM on June 17, 2019 [14 favorites]


So for instance when Eyebrows asked me to back off of the Men as Emotional Golddiggers thread because I was making the men feel bad,

This sentence threw me off, so I went back and read the post for context. That was a strange mod note, telling a non-binary trans person to sit back and let the cis men speak (especially when one of the cis men took pains to point out that women need to be held responsible for men having the vulnerability beat out of them). I thought kalessin had made it pretty clear that they felt so strongly about the topic because of their specific identity, so I definitely think that could have been handled better.
posted by Ruki at 5:28 PM on June 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


Cortex: can we have a specific accountable plan for when any of this is going to happen? I'm still smarting from the YEAR it took from my friend-linking meta to a post about it, when you kept saying "soon, soon".
posted by divabat at 5:34 PM on June 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Cortex: Can you address the all-white nature of the current active mod team, and what your thoughts on having poc mods are?
posted by suedehead at 6:07 PM on June 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


divabat, yup, we'll pull together some more organized target dates and milestones on some of this stuff as we get it better organized, and we can share progress on that as we go. I'm trying to take the request to slow down and listen and let stuff digest and get discussed seriously, and not just blast out a set of ambitious plans with a schedule out of a hat or anything, but I think over the next couple weeks we should be able to share a more firmed up set of starting points and talk about work/steps in progress, and go from there.

I really apologize for the frustration with the friend-link proposal; like I said at the time, it'd been a back-burner thing for us already for a while and felt like it needed to be a mod-initiated thing when we did move on it, but I had no idea it would get so sidetracked when we were talking about it last summer. If I'd had any idea it would get caught up by other stuff for so long I wouldn't have set any kind of quick-turnaround expectation like that. I'm sorry about that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:17 PM on June 17, 2019


haven't worked out a path to formal 501c(3) non-profit structure that doesn't present immediate significant headaches for us above and beyond the extra work and administration that'd be involved by default in setting it up and keeping it running.

This is a little puzzling/maybe amusing, because it sort of demonstrates its own problem: the idea of a nonprofit structure creating headaches for "us" and "extra work" to "set it up and keep it running" - all this is still predicated on the notion that it's the same individual of handful of staff ("us") that have to take on all this "extra" work. When in fact what you'd be talking about is a fundamentally different structure with a different and far more widely shared division of labor, with a certain amount of volunteer support in the form of a board and perhaps other volunteer roles as designed, and contributed or solicited expertise in the tasks and structures needing done so that no one who doesn't know how to do something would have to do it . It would be a different, expanded organization with different roles than there are now, not just the same MeFi with a bunch of new statements and documents and reports and filings that someone has to put together. Different, and much more distributed.

I get that's not trivial and it would take wisdom and experience from both current staff and the initial board and possibly some consulting (much of which is likely gettable pro bono), but can also readily see the sequence of how it would work, and that transition wouldn't necessarily create more work for any one individual, unless it were done poorly, which would be a risk of proceeding without a thoughtful and full exploratory process. But it can be done - many orgs have made the transition - the key is wanting to do it. If the current team doesn't want to do it, then yeah, it will seem like an exhausting prospect because all they know and are comfortable with is the structure they've got and when they hear about everything that's involved it seems impossible to do it with just a few people - because it is, but you wouldn't be doing it that way. It seems scary, because it's just really different, in a way that seems kind of foreign to the leadership both past and present.
posted by Miko at 6:18 PM on June 17, 2019 [8 favorites]


It's definitely time to get rid of the MetaTalk queue.
posted by floam at 10:48 PM on June 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


I get that's not trivial and it would take wisdom and experience from both current staff and the initial board and possibly some consulting (much of which is likely gettable pro bono), but can also readily see the sequence of how it would work, and that transition wouldn't necessarily create more work for any one individual, unless it were done poorly, which would be a risk of proceeding without a thoughtful and full exploratory process. But it can be done - many orgs have made the transition - the key is wanting to do it. If the current team doesn't want to do it, then yeah, it will seem like an exhausting prospect because all they know and are comfortable with is the structure they've got and when they hear about everything that's involved it seems impossible to do it with just a few people - because it is, but you wouldn't be doing it that way. It seems scary, because it's just really different, in a way that seems kind of foreign to the leadership both past and present.

Further to Miko's excellent insights, I'd just like to remind cortex - who may be the only one from teh current active mod team who is aware of this - of how we moved from mlkshk to mltshp. I suspect, cortex, that the community, who have come around passing the hat to support y'all when the ad revenue troubles first began, would also rally around the communal need to provide the necessary inputs for the evolution of the organization and the community and the weblog.

Y'all are not all alone running this tiny ship in a turbulent digital world. You have ~6000 supporters as listed, and there are experts in every aspect of what y'all will need to do to transition from the current systems, procedures, and models, to whatever novel form it may need to take in order to strengthen and revitalize its foundations, and continue providing us all with what we have been coming here for past coupla decades.

Turning 20 might be a good time to recognize that your teenage years have passed, and you need a different wardrobe.
posted by hugbucket at 2:45 AM on June 18, 2019 [13 favorites]


he closer you get to doing social good, the more charitable sources of funding open up for you

While this is true, with MeFi specifically I would be conservative about imagining significant charitable giving sources. I have launched/assisted a lot of nonprofits and it is tempting to imagine the gifts a 501(c)3 status could qualify an org for, but there are not a lot of pots of money out there people are waiting to throw to community organizations with purposes like this one. The funding landscape is complicated and though there are some organizations that might possibly be convinced there is broad and measurable social impact going on here, and it would probably be possible to secure some modest and specific gifts, that doesn't mean their funding streams fit the needs of the org in any sustaining way. A MeFi NPO org would need a smart development strategy, but that would look much closer to a member-supported model (as with public radio stations and certain other web communities) with a lot of emphasis on annual individual giving, including some at high donor levels, plus the earned revenue it already takes in.
posted by Miko at 5:17 AM on June 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


And while I think this is a potential solution I am also somewhat sorry for derailing the race/inclusion conversation. These are definitely linked issues, as exclusion is a symptom nd outgrowth (inadvertent) of a small and closed leadership group, but shift in structure won't solve the issue without intent and lots of work, so in the meantime I hope we can still talk about immediate solutions.
posted by Miko at 5:20 AM on June 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Cortex: Can you address the all-white nature of the current active mod team, and what your thoughts on having poc mods are?

I can try, sure. I'll add some thoughts here, but am happy to elaborate or answer more specific questions if you have them. What specific chunks of that would be most helpful to hear from me on the first bit in particular?

I don't want to just yammer on an oral history of the site's hires for its own sake but I can sketch some of that out if it's useful; hire-by-hire details on that aside, I think the very brief take on how we ended up where we are is, as folks have pointed out above and previously, the tendency of network effects and the demography of our hiring pool (i.e. the MeFi community as it existed) to make it easy to end up tipping the scales regardless of good intentions. I think the critical response to that—that passive good intentions aren't the same thing as actively trying as hard as possible to accomplish diversity-minded hiring—is totally fair, and looking at the history of hiring on the site through that lens justifies a lot of frustration that that's how stuff played out. It's something we are going to have to be much more focused and dutiful and active about prioritizing in any future hiring.

On the PoC mod question, I'll reiterate/elaborate on some thoughts from a few days up thread:

I think it's a good goal and it will be central to any hiring we can do going forward. Increasing the diversity of direct experiences and perspectives on the mod team would be a good thing; increasing the sense of representation within the community likewise. Where there are "well, but this is how we've always done it" aspects to how we've failed to manage this before in hiring, we need to move past those roadblocks and just do it differently in the future.

I also think it's important not to treat hiring a PoC mod or mods as a panacea; we can't make it the responsibility of one person or subset of people to solve systemic issues on the site or to educate or train the rest of the mod team in the course of also just doing their job. Being able to discuss and assess stuff as a team with a wider breadth of awareness and experience would be a definite plus, but there's obvious limits to how much a new staff member could reasonably manage to, or ethically be expected to, directly affect the totality of work that happens minute by minute, 24/7. And increasing the diversity and representation within the mod team is something that'd be a matter of progress, not hitting any obvious destination where everyone will be able to see themselves directly reflected in the mod team; as much as the MeFi userbase has a heavy weighting toward white and American, it's a racially and culturally and geographically heterogeneous group and MeFi is never likely to have more than a tiny staff.

But for all those caveats, to have that tiny staff be more diverse in its overall makeup is an absolutely positive thing we need to work toward. It's a good goal and a good thing to do in its own right; it would make the MeFi team and the site better.

Which ties back in a couple different ways to us also working out consulting/training work for the current team and doing on-going self-education; the stuff that can't be solved just by bringing a new staff member on is stuff we need to work to solve by improving the level of awareness and education on all these issues within the staff as a whole, and find ways to help translate that out to the entire community.

I think the ideal situation would be the combination of those two approaches. In the long term that's what I'd like to accomplish. In the short term it may only be practical to fund the consulting/training piece, since MeFi's financial situation hasn't been getting any less challenging over time, but we'll do a financial update soon and we can talk about stuff more usefully in concrete budget terms then. I would love to be able to move on both fronts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on June 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think it's a good goal and it will be central to any hiring we can do going forward.
In the short term it may only be practical to fund the consulting/training piece, since MeFi's financial situation hasn't been getting any less challenging over time

I'm going to suggest that you consider the risk of decreasing donation funding streams without a measurable timeline for a future hire as part of your financial update. Businesses aren't built on thoughts and prayers. They're built on executing plans and maintaining trust with the people handing over cash.
posted by bfranklin at 8:59 AM on June 18, 2019 [13 favorites]


Why not have the least-senior white mod step down and hire a mod who's a person of color? That'd put one's money where one's stated commitment is.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:14 AM on June 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Earlier in the thread, cortex said:

But all of that aside, and without rushing to declare details on it without more thought and research, my current plan is to commit to spending some money on a program of consulting/training for the team on the anti-racism and social justice and unconscious bias axes we've been talking about, and I'm doing initial work to sort out possibilities there now. I appreciate the general guidance and specific resources folks have pointed to in this and previous threads; it's been very useful in making a start. And we'll do this whether that's money that even exists in the MeFi coffers or not. It's a level of spending that I can if nothing else just try to find a way to absorb personally if we don't have the company budget for it let alone the money for new ongoing staff positions.

And I just want to piggyback on bfranklin's comment above to say that, while I understand the financial situation is precarious, the language being used here demonstrates no sense of urgency. I suggested fundraising for the mod training so something more than just talking get done and was completely ignored.

Then someone brings up MeFi's problems with antisemitism, and is told to wait. I understand why in this case, but we've been waiting for years.

I'm sorry, but there is a rush.
posted by Ruki at 9:28 AM on June 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


Good lord, how do you even address someone insisting that a mod leave so another one can come in based only on their skin tone? Are you going to vet them to make sure they've experienced enough as a person of color so they can properly mod? Horrible idea, and I'm glad I can just shit on it and not have to give some kind of measured response.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:32 AM on June 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


Why not have the least-senior white mod step down and hire a mod who's a person of color?

Because workers rights and racial inclusion should never be pitted against each other. This isn’t like asking someone in a volunteer position to step back. This is people’s livelihoods, the way they feed their family. I want a POC mod and have called for it in the other thread, but I won’t give up solidarity for it.
posted by corb at 9:44 AM on June 18, 2019 [26 favorites]


I wouldn't tell someone on the team not to step down if they felt that was what they wanted to do. And MetaFilter moderation is a weird, slow-burn job that I don't expect anyone to want to do forever. I'd fully support them making whatever transition away from the job they needed to, and, yes, at that point it'd be a really good opportunity to hire a new staff member with increasing the team's diversity as the priority.

But there's a pretty striking difference between someone deciding to step down or move on, and forcing someone out. As much as I understand the logic and the energy behind this kind of proposal, it is inescapably saying to one or more of the people on the moderation team that they shouldn't be allowed to have their job anymore. That it's quit or get booted. That you no longer deserve to have the job you've put so much into. It isn't abstract.

This is a hard, weird job that folks on the team have stuck with despite pay cuts, long hours, and basically none of the opportunities for internal advancement or accumulating benefits that would exist at a more traditional workplace. It's a job that requires a tremendous amount of sustained emotional labor, performed very publicly, all in a financial scenario that has been pretty consistently precarious for pushing a decade and a recent few years of escalating stress and difficulty because of the state of the world and the strain that has put on the MeFi community and in turn the mods as the folks on the receiving end of that firehose of ambient stress and worry and anger. The last few years especially this has not been a job I would ever ask most people to consider doing; it has been stressful and shitty in new ways that folks didn't sign up for when they first came on. They have stuck it out despite all that. I'm not going to contemplate, or make my team contemplate, the idea that after all that they will be booted out of a job as if they were a disposable unit of some fungible labor resource.

I understand the goal. I understand the desire to get there. I understand the frustration with the idea that we haven't gotten there yet, the desire to find some way, any way, to do so. But that specific proposal is not one I can feel at all okay about pursuing.

I suggested fundraising for the mod training so something more than just talking get done and was completely ignored.

I know I didn't quote and reply, but I'm not ignoring you or the idea. Like I've said a couple times upthread, I'm taking folks' general advice and some of the specific pointers to resources to consider and folks to reach out to, and doing initial work to sort out a plan for training/consulting for the team. I'm earmarking some spending for that one way or the other; if it's not in the budget, I'll find a way to manage what I can with my personal savings.

I think fundraising for that specifically would be an okay angle to talk further about, but I'm trying to take folks' guidance to not just jump the gun and say "okay, we're doing x/y/z now!" instead of letting folks talk this stuff out more. If you have more you want to talk about on that idea, I'm totally happy to listen.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:03 AM on June 18, 2019 [14 favorites]




Yep, that's entirely welcome.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:12 AM on June 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Because workers rights and racial inclusion should never be pitted against each other. This isn’t like asking someone in a volunteer position to step back. This is people’s livelihoods, the way they feed their family. I want a POC mod and have called for it in the other thread, but I won’t give up solidarity for it.

This is not a worker's rights issue in any serious way and "solidarity" has nothing to do with it. It may or may not be the right move (I don't know or care) but this is buzzword leftwashing.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


I also think it's important not to treat hiring a PoC mod or mods as a panacea...

I think we're overlooking that hiring a PoC mod would carry a huge symbolic weight as well. So, yes, it wouldn't be a panacea... but it sure would go a hell of a long way to instilling hope and confidence that the ship of Mefi is turning in the right direction.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:25 AM on June 18, 2019 [10 favorites]


This is not a worker's rights issue in any serious way and "solidarity" has nothing to do with it.

I dunno, firing a worker for a decision made by management is surely a workers’ rights issue. It would also send a message to the remaining mods (including the new hire) that they couldn’t count on site management to retain them. Who wants to work under conditions of constant uncertainty?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:14 AM on June 18, 2019 [14 favorites]


On another angle, has European (and/or African) engagement increased since taz came on as a “European mod?” Does having a mod in or near a time zone increase activity in that zone? If so, maybe we should be looking to add a moderator in Asia/the Pacific, since more than half the time zones have no mod at all. This is much less important than getting a PoC mod, but it might be an important second goal, introducing more non-US involvement....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:25 AM on June 18, 2019


firing a worker for a decision made by management is surely a workers’ rights issue.

Yeah, whatever the legal ramifications, such moves are really lousy for the entire cause of workforce diversity.
posted by Miko at 12:11 PM on June 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


If so, maybe we should be looking to add a moderator in Asia/the Pacific, since more than half the time zones have no mod at all.

The whole point of this thread and the other thread is to explicitly and specifically talk about how Metafilter can be a hostile and racist space for people of color, and how that can manifest in selective mod deletions (or lack thereof) under the idea of “Outragefilter” or “they didn’t know better”.

This thread is not about time zones. Nobody is saying “oh, my mod message wasn’t responded to when I was awake and this is a problem.”
posted by suedehead at 12:12 PM on June 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


Yeah, briefly, the most important thing about having mods working—from whatever timezone—during the US night-time hours is to be sure we have the ability to provide 24/7 moderation presence and support and not treat US night hours as an afterthought. In the 2000s the situation mod-side was: go to bed, sleep poorly, wake up worrying about trashfires because stuff that was obviously shitty had stuck around for hours anyway. The situation member-side was those trashfires being the norm, and no night-time reinforcement of community standards and expectations.

It's been really important to me that we've been able to keep up round-the-clock moderation over the years despite the logistical difficulties, but it's more a matter of providing a baseline level of attention to the site and letting folks in non-US hours have a decent moderated space than anything. It doesn't feel like a core aspect of what folks are talking about in here, even if having even broader geographic distribution of the mod team would be a positive enough thing itself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:27 PM on June 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Firing an existing mod in order to hire a PoC mod would generate a huge backlash. Which I would be part of.

A thing I'd guess you are well aware of, arabidopsis, given that your account dates from June 11 and has activity consisting only of comments in MetaTalk.
posted by jamjam at 1:31 PM on June 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


activity consisting only of comments in MetaTalk

Inaccurate - 3 comments in AskMefi, 7 in MetaTalk - and irrelevant.

I'm not surprised that some POC members might feel more confident using a sockpuppet to express opinions that are likely to be contentious, nor does doing so devalue those opinions (albeit I do not wish to see a mod fired or pushed out).
posted by inire at 1:39 PM on June 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


Firing an existing mod in order to hire a PoC mod would generate a huge backlash.

Would we be having the same discussion if the mods were all men and we wanted at least ONE woman or nonbinary mod?
posted by suedehead at 1:45 PM on June 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think whether arabidosis is a sockpuppet or a BND or whatever shouldn’t be a point of discussion in this thread unless there is other evidence of bad faith. There’s a lot of other things going on here.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:49 PM on June 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


A thing I'd guess you are well aware of, arabidopsis, given that your account dates from June 11 and has activity consisting only of comments in MetaTalk.

I don't know what you were thinking with this, but don't do this sort of thing. You have an actual concern about someone's account, drop the contact form a line. Otherwise just skip it entirely.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:57 PM on June 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


Huh, I didn't see that much backlash to the idea of a white mod stepping down for a PoC mod (or hell, a firing) when I suggested it ages ago, even when I insinuated that cortex should think of a succession plan. I still stand by it, though I understand it's very radical.

Also, we've already got the original person who brought up BIPOC say that it's inclusive of all PoC, can we drop the whole "well I see it as being black and indigenous only" thing especially if we're neither, thanks.
posted by divabat at 3:02 PM on June 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


Would we be having the same discussion if the mods were all men and we wanted at least ONE woman or nonbinary mod?

That’s kind of a “what if” scenario given the site’s history, but, yes, I would oppose it. I think firing a mod to hire a PoC mod would poison that experience. The new mod would have to deal with even more bad behavior than new mods usually get (in top of any race-related issues). I’d much rather see a fund raising drive. If it costs $3000/month for a mod, would 300 (preferably white) members pledge $10/month to support it? I would, or more.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:21 PM on June 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


For what it's worth, I'm Pakistani, a woman and non-American, and I am genuinely appalled by the idea of expecting or wanting mods to step down in order to hire a non-white person in their place. I would far rather we put our collective minds or efforts to fundraising for new posts and suggesting tools by which moderation can be improved instead of asking for people to lose or give up their jobs.

Instead I prefer the idea of advisory groups, with identified and contactable members who receive small honoraria or donations to charity for their participation. These groups would have clearly defined terms of reference, eg to be available to be consulted about moderation, have involvement in Metafilter decision-making, join key team meetings, with some form of reporting and accountability to them for mod decisions. Ideally each group would release annual State of Metafilter updates and reflections in MeTa.

I will add that I tend to be sceptical of diversity/equity training as I find it tends to be extremely US-oriented so we non-Americans and our constructions of difference either get left out, overwhelmed or weirdly exoticised. Nonetheless I think it would be valuable, given how unhappy non-white Americans appear to be with the status quo.
posted by tavegyl at 6:44 PM on June 18, 2019 [13 favorites]


If it costs $3000/month for a mod, would 300 (preferably white) members pledge $10/month to support it?

I would. In fact, I will add $15/month on top of my current monthly payment if cortex will specifically put it toward this use.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:05 PM on June 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


Same.

Also, isn't there a middle ground between, "we need to wait until we have an opening" and "fire somebody"? Could there be a buyout package offered, for example, to any mod who voluntarily leaves?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:17 PM on June 18, 2019


I realize there exist organizations where that's a sort of thing that might make sense but (a) we don't have the kind of financial flexibility to just golden parachute someone out to begin with, and even if we did (b) nobody on the team has been hanging around angling for a payout. I don't think you meant it as any sort of insult, I recognize it's just brainstorming. But the notion requires a pretty big misapprehension of why the mod staff have stayed at this job to begin with through all the various blarg of the last several years.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:58 PM on June 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think Divabat would make a good moderator, if there's any opportunity to hire one. IIUC they have relevant experience and would add ethnic and cultural diversity to the team. Also, a moderator in Melbourne's time zone would be well located to take over from the US and hand over to Europe without forcing anyone to stay up all night.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:23 PM on June 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


If it costs $3000/month for a mod, would 300 (preferably white) members pledge $10/month to support it?

I would, provided that hiring a new mod is part of a wider package of measures to ensure they're not expected to be a silver bullet.
posted by inire at 3:04 AM on June 19, 2019 [8 favorites]


Just get rid of the damned queue, stop being so defensive of mod decisions, stop being so delete-happy, and let the community sort it out. It doesn't need to take a new person on staff to avoid unfair deletions of POC.
posted by floam at 4:41 AM on June 19, 2019 [5 favorites]


floam: let the community sort it out.

Because that worked so well for other issues, such as the 'boyzone' problem?
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:43 AM on June 19, 2019 [23 favorites]


I agree with floam. If community can't sort this out, who can?
posted by clavdivs at 10:09 AM on June 19, 2019


Umm... better moderation? Site leadership? Taking some training and community feedback on board, but not just letting people do whatever? Just letting people fight it out will always lead to the worst outcomes. Otherwise 4chan would be a model of leftist perfection.
posted by Dysk at 10:12 AM on June 19, 2019 [23 favorites]


It doesn't need to take a new person on staff to avoid unfair deletions of POC.

So, we've been having these discussions for years. If all it took were trying harder, that would imply deliberate malice on the part of both the mod staff and the white userbase here, because a bunch of people could simply wave a wand and fix it, and have chosen not to despite the attrition of affected members and any number of impassioned pleas to correct this issue.

I choose not to believe I'm surrounded by a bunch of intentionally racist dirtbags. At this moment, I choose to believe you are motivated by ignorance rather than actual malice.

The thing is, the fix for ignorance is better training and more support, not pretending the problem will go away on its own.
posted by mordax at 10:22 AM on June 19, 2019 [29 favorites]


So would you like suggestions of consultants/organizations that could help you?
posted by Miko at 19:08 on June 18


I read the linked article and think it has some good advice to split the difference around the financial resource crunch for the time being. I think I hear cortex saying there may not be enough money (yet) for a new mod, but there is more likely enough for some training for the current mods. That is a step in the right direction but only a step. It doesn't satisfy the clearly demonstrated need to diversify the moderation team. Here's another half step.

FTA: "Is your work all white? – Heidi has reached the point where she tells groups if they are serious they need to diversify who is in their training. Having only white people in trainings to talk about race doesn’t lend itself well to change. If you have an all or majority white staff and you want to do some racial equity work be willing to pay community partners to join your trainings and be thought partners with you."

Part of the training budget should include paying a half dozen POC MeFites (and maybe add one or two POC members of similar community organizations to get some external perspective?) to participate in the consulting and training process. Pay them mod rates plus a slight premium because they are freelancing and not getting benefits. This would also have the effect of making sure there is a pool of POC members with mod-adjacent experience next time an opening does arise.
posted by Gotanda at 4:09 PM on June 19, 2019 [20 favorites]


This would also have the effect of making sure there is a pool of POC members with mod-adjacent experience next time an opening does arise.

The business of a pipeline is a great call-out. Interviews for a pool of candidates could happen now. Vacation coverage for the full time mods could happen in short order.

This shows a solid plan. This hedges against omg we unexpectedly need a mod that's ready now. This requires less of a monetary outlay than going straight to a full time hire. Jessamyn mentioned upthread she was filling in for mods on vacation. Presuming it's not volunteer, cortex doesn't need a mod to step down. He can stop leaning on the one that already did.
posted by bfranklin at 4:21 AM on June 20, 2019 [16 favorites]


And given how this thread has gone, I'm going to explicitly stated that a) I don't think the above comment is a checkbox fix, and b) it's one small step I'm suggesting could be part of the larger approach. I think addressing the pipeline should start now, nothing more.
posted by bfranklin at 4:25 AM on June 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Huh, I didn't see that much backlash to the idea of a white mod stepping down for a PoC mod (or hell, a firing) when I suggested it ages ago, even when I insinuated that cortex should think of a succession plan.

I saw it, thought it was appalling and instantly ignored it as being too impractical and impossible. Didn't see many comments on it and figured others did the same.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 AM on June 20, 2019 [10 favorites]


if I was around more and able to push for change, I'd be following from Jessamyn's playbook in terms of pointing out the boyzone stuff.

Something like the Cooter Clock for race issues. For those who don't know, Jessamyn promised " I will change my name to Cooter when there are 30 days of "I'd hit it" free MeFi, in both non-irony and irony flavors."

There's other stuff she did that I can't remember because I haven't had coffee yet, but y'all get the idea.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:40 AM on June 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


From the OP: Do you think that this specific deleted post was an example of outragefilter? Why or why not?
Do you think that having outragefilter as a potential deletion reason benefits Metafilter? Why or why not?
Do you think that a policy of deleting single-link-negative-news-story posts benefits Metafilter? Why or why not?


1. Yes. Only assholes could fail to be outraged at that egregious example of racism. The fact that racism in the US is baked-in to the culture doesn't make it okay and MF may need to overcorrect (whatever that may mean), IMHO, until it gets it right to make amends for being hostile to BIPOC to date.

2. Having outrage filter as a potential deletion reason does not benefit MetaFilter in my opinion, especially when there are so many reasons in the US (and elsewhere, but this is a US-based community) to be outraged, especially for people without white privilege.

3. I think deleting a single-link-negative-news-story post is a tricky thing. The question makes me glad I am not a moderator. Clearly deleting the particular post in question was a bad idea for reasons that have been already discussed. If it is a single-link-negative-news-story from a known smartass, I might not object to a deletion. Twice I have asked moderators about posting downer items and when I heard back, "I am not going to say no, but historically FPPs on rape (or whatever) tend to trigger folks," I decided not to post because it felt like a community service not to post in those cases. The link to the story about the racist Boston museum occurrence was completely different.

Yesterday was Juneteenth. I am ashamed to say that I did not know the significance of Juneteenth until this week. That is shameful but my shame does not make MetaFilter nor the larger world any better. Intentions do not make my life, MetaFilter, nor the world any better. You know what else is no help? Flippant, dismissive, drive-by commentary.

If it were easy to kill racism and bigotry in all its forms, everything would be unicorns, rainbows and gay space communism already. It's not easy to overcome the tenacious roots of white supremacy and other forms of bigotry. But we need to do our best. Toward that end, just before I posted this comment I doubled my donation to MetaFilter to 10 bucks a month. Now, that's a tiny amount. But I am a working poor person so that amount is real money to me.

In my ideal world, white members of MetaFilter would step up and donate additional monies to MF now. If appropriate progress/action does not materialize in, say, six or so months, they can (and should) take their money elsewhere. I believe that we can work together in good faith to make what has become my online home a better place for non-assholes of all kinds. We must stop catering, however inadvertently, to white people like me and in the process drive away and/or repel amazing individuals who are nonwhite, non-American, and/or a different kind of other.

I asked a question a while back about how to develop a sense of meaning in life. One poster recommended the book Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Against incredible odds, Frankl, a doctor and psychotherapist, survived Auschwitz. When he arrived there everything he owned was taken from him including a book manuscript he was writing and all of his clothes. He writes,

"When I ... inherited the worn-out rags of an inmate who had already been sent to the gas chamber immediately after his arrival ... I found in a pocket of the newly acquired coat one single page torn out of a Hebrew prayer book, containing the most important Jewish prayer, Shema Yisrael. How should I have interpreted such a 'coincidence' other than as a challenge to live my thoughts instead of merely putting them on paper?"

That is what I want for MetaFilter. I want us to live our thoughts, which is to say our purported values, rather than merely writing them as comments. That will be uncomfortable for many of us, and that is okay. That is part of the process. If it is necessary that some members be uncomfortable, and by some members I primarily mean white members, that is okay. BIPOC have found this place inhospitable for years. It is way overdue for members, the mods, and cortex (with whatever resources are needed) to do the challenging and probably painful work to change the cuture so that MetaFilter becomes a warm, welcoming, and wonderful place for all non-assholes, not just white non-Jews, white non-Muslims, etc.

Yesterday, on Juneteenth, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee made the case for reparations for descendants of slaves. "During the hearing, Jackson Lee said it’s time for the government to fully address the impact of slavery on America. 'I just simply ask: Why not and why not now?' she said."

I have similar questions about MetaFilter to all members of the community. Why not change and why not now? How can white members, in particular, help change MetaFilter to best support BIPOC and others? How can we measure our success? How soon can we start?

When it comes to this kind of work, I am the opposite of an expert. I do not know exactly what to do or how or when. Others have weighed in on those issues, and I appreciate very much the emotional labor, time, attention, and thought that so many BIPOC members have contributed in their comments here, as well as the important expertise that many have offered.

I know it was not easy for cortex to hear what was being said early on and stop himself from acting earlier in the process by announcing new policies or other changes. That is not a cortex thing, that is a human thing, and I salute his efforts to hear everyone out and to give the community time, in two different threads, to wrestle with the painful issue of white supremacy, which has tainted and infected everything.

Thank you cortex. Thank you, 23skidoo, for this post. Being thoughtful is exhausting work. Thank you to all the good-faith folks who are pushing hard on this issue. I appreciate those efforts.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:55 AM on June 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

> "uh... hate to burst your bubble, Pinback, but this thread and the other thread sound the same as many, many other threads that have come before, in previous years. The "growing realization" seems to happen, the "considerable and growing pressure to actually start fixing the problem" seems to be there - then the mods placate us with really nice-sounding words, everyone gets to vent and feel better temporarily, for a while there may be a small spike in PoC-related posts, and then afterwards it just goes back to the Metafilter default. To the way it was and has basically been for years."
To me, when I commented earlier, it looked like the wider part of the engaged community and mods were starting to … well, not quite 'get it', but at least starting to see the edges of a few particular aspects of a couple of the many big issues caused &/or reinforced by MeFi's usual default of centring around everything it can convince itself maps onto its default-assumed white, middle-class, I'm-so-woke-I-get-up-2-hours-before-I-go-to-bed, US-centric core.

Looking at it again, down here as the thread's petering out towards its end & looking back over some of the more recent (& favourited) comments here & out on the Blue, I've changed my mind. You were right aielen, I was wrong & naïve, and I agree with you.
posted by Pinback at 9:26 PM on June 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


In my ideal world, white members of MetaFilter would step up and donate additional monies to MF now.

I will not donate to a private business with no commitments to planning, accountability, or transparency, no matter what. And what's happening right now is exactly why I maintain that personal policy. The transparency and accountability issues are too great for me. I have no confidence that additional donating right now is going to make the site more equitable (especially since there remains no plan) and there is no avenue to community redress if it does not become more equitable. Non-starter for me.

It concerns me that well-meaning people, including those for whom extra disposable income is scarce, are taking on this burden with the thought it will somehow make the site more equitable. Why would it do that? There is no plan. More money, same problems. When you consider this squandering of goodwill, it's shameful. More money on its own will not make the site more equitable. A site that aims to be more equitable - through processes of transparency, accountability, and planning - will make it more equitable. And in that scenario money might be applied to some of the very practical solutions (training, pipeline building, fill-in mods, paid advisory groups). Maybe then in that bright day, donation systems could be structured in such a way that contributions could be more evenly, regularly, and equitably spread instead of generating sacrifice, guilt and responsibility in people who did not create the problem, and are not empowered to solve it.
posted by Miko at 5:20 AM on June 21, 2019 [33 favorites]


Wasn’t cortex asked to wait on a formal plan until these threads closed?
posted by thoroughburro at 5:25 AM on June 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


I’m speaking in a larger sense. There never has been a plan, despite requests and multiple extended discussions about the need for such approaches in this sort of complex community-driven enterprise. I repeat what many have said: this issue is not new.

Perhaps a plan will emerge, but after all those years I lack trust and have little optimism in that regard. At a minimum, I believe there should be no calls to donation in the absence of some real shifts in direction and practice. Some evidence of good faith and effort should be the first step- the community should not be asked to fund benign intentions or a vague promise.
posted by Miko at 6:25 AM on June 21, 2019 [12 favorites]


Thanks for the clarification, and agreed.
posted by thoroughburro at 6:33 AM on June 21, 2019


I will not donate to a private business with no commitments to planning, accountability, or transparency, no matter what. And what's happening right now is exactly why I maintain that personal policy.

Same. I'm not sure how you would quantify it, but there are costs (ie, less money donated, less engagement) to the current structure, over and above the ways in which the current structure and staffing prevents fully engaging with the issues that have been discussed in this and the other thread (and all the previouslies too, of course).
posted by Dip Flash at 7:18 AM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


I want to be very clear, as someone who's been involved with nonprofits before, that the nonprofit structure is not a solution in and of itself, and having a membership-driven nonprofit structure is perhaps the hardest of them all.

You have things like:

1) Who sits on the board? What decisions can they make? How are they selected? What if they're selected by familiarity and run the org into the ground because despite being amazing people, they don't understand the nitty-gritties of the legal compliance and taxes?

2) Grants are not nearly as easy to get as people think they are. There are a lot of grants out there, but also a lot of competing organizations. As someone who has written grants and seen rejections/approvals, I don't think Metafilter is going to be a place a lot of foundation money is going to be placed. Also, grants often last only a year and then the intentions c Any plan that is based on 'and then we'll get grants' is a bad plan.

I think rather than saying 'this needs to be a nonprofit', it makes more sense to look at which specific pieces of nonprofits are good, and taking those. An advisory board, for example, makes sense.
posted by corb at 9:54 AM on June 21, 2019 [12 favorites]


Yesterday there was a discussion on the Slack channel that specifically addressed the matter of A Plan, and how to begin that work. We agreed that the scope is very large, but divided into smaller pieces with specific action items to start with, the work can begin and progress can be made. We are going to discuss further what will actually go into this document, and the idea is to submit it for further discussion by the community.

My observation is that there are enough people on Metafilter who have worked in environments that underwent a transformation, and/or who have been in paid roles to execute transformation, to be able to give good advice on where to begin and how progress is tracked. But the bottom line is that there are real "Step 1, Step 2" actions that will get the ball rolling, and they're not as onerous as one might fear. And in any case, the next couple years are going to go by no matter what, so why not take a whack at it.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:41 AM on June 21, 2019


Just be mindful of the interaction of equity with expectations for voluntarism. Like, I do know how to transition organizations, but not for free.
posted by Miko at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]




Who is the "we" involved in this plan? Are there moderators involved? Is this an official thing? I feel like I'm missing something
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:06 PM on June 21, 2019 [8 favorites]


And how might one contact an administrator to get an invite?

join link ... uh maybe? dunno if that one works, I pinged the admin, will see if have good link. Good link?

Who is the "we" involved in this plan?
Mefites. Like .... two.
Are there moderators involved?
Nope.
Is this an official thing?
Nope.
I feel like I'm missing something
Some people feel like they wanted a plan so they started making one.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:13 PM on June 21, 2019


Oh okay I was just surprised because I didn’t see anything in the POC thread but I see that is not actually incompatible with this particular project. Thanks
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:15 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think rather than saying 'this needs to be a nonprofit', it makes more sense to look at which specific pieces of nonprofits are good, and taking those.

I don't disagree with what you are saying, but I think this was brought up because Metafilter is a for profit company that is already emulating a nonprofit funding strategy by getting significant funding from donations. Over the last few years, with the decline of ad revenue, the site has actually changed its business model significantly without necessarily changing its structure (as far as I know, I am not an expert on this). Becoming a nonprofit seems like a natural extension of how the site has already been changing, although certainly not the only or easiest option.
posted by snofoam at 1:47 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Sorry to be that guy, but I kinda feel like any "planning" for MeFi's future, however informal / in the early stages it may be, should be occurring under the auspices of MetaFilter itself -- like in a separate MeTa -- than in a Slack workspace that requires people to know about it, sign up, be approved, etc. Collaborating on the next potus45 FPP off-site is one thing, collaborating on a plan to restructure MetaFilter itself is quite another.

Cabals aren't what they used to be, amirite?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:51 PM on June 21, 2019 [29 favorites]


Some people feel like they wanted a plan so they started making one.

Hey c'mon this "Slack channel" was just introduced with zero context as though it's some kind of official forum for making "a plan", and people in this thread wanted to know what they were missing.

Don't be snippy. Be respectful to fellow members.
posted by grobstein at 2:00 PM on June 21, 2019 [10 favorites]


And how might one contact an administrator to get an invite?

You don't need an invitation (unless something's changed since I joined a couple months ago).
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:13 PM on June 21, 2019


I'll post here the same thing I wrote on the PoliticsFilter Slack to make it accessible:

"yeah I’d just put out here that I don’t think this Slack channel is really not a good venue for any broader planning about the site, which should really take place somewhere accessible and inclusive"

A handful of people shared some of their thoughts off-site, which is a swell thing to do, but as someone who ended up as the caretaker of the Slack, I'd personally ask that it not turn into a cabal of people planning stuff out there. You're all absolutely totally welcome there—please feel free to drop by!—, but the Slack was intended to be a place to take pressure off the megathreads, not to subsume parts of MeFi or make decisions, and it doesn't have the community, the moderation, or the resources to be that place.
posted by zachlipton at 2:21 PM on June 21, 2019 [15 favorites]


Quick note, since I don't know anything about the process or intent or texture of whatever that offsite discussion is:

It's fine with me if folks want to do their own brainstorming in whatever context or space they want to. I think coming up with different versions or visions of how some of the stuff we've been talking about here can happen is fine and basically a good thing. I don't mind if individual folks or small groups want to put their heads together wherever in that capacity, for the sake of generating ideas.

But I also agree that the best space for an open MeFi community discussion about this stuff is going to be in public, on this site, where it's unambiguously a community-wide discussion and the only point of entry is being a member in the first place. I think any version of a group of users saying "we have made a plan" that comes from a place where most folks on the site didn't have ready access to that "we" is likely to get off to a poorer start than a discussion that happens in MetaTalk itself with full visibility.

If there's something it'd be helpful for the mods or the community to collaborate or support or discuss outside of that context for some reason, I'm okay talking that out, but I would very much like to keep MeFi community-centric discussion happening within the MeFi community as a whole.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:38 PM on June 21, 2019 [11 favorites]


Hi!

I'm one of the principal voices in the Slack chat (not the chat entirely, just the chatter around making a plan to help MeFi be the best it can be) & to the best of my ability, I'll threadsit to answer any & all questions about what we're doing & why.

To be clear, I'm not an authority on the effort. There is no authority.

I am an interested party who talks a lot & since my words make up a hefty portion of the conversation, I sorta backed myself into a leadership-y position by default.

Nor am I Julius Caesaring my way into emperor status with a claim that this crown has been thrust upon me.

I heartily endorse anyone with actual leadership strength to take the wheel & to coordinate this effort. Further, I 100% agree with @zachlipton's statement above that this effort be undertaken here on MetaFilter.

Why isn't it on MetaFilter already?

Well, that's part of what we've been discussing. If you'll bear with me, I'll keep this introductory comment short & get to it quickly.

First, some history:

The Slack was created a while ago around the same time the MegaThread spawned the Fucking Fuck & Hyucking Hyuck threads to serve as yet another outlet for commentary & riffing & conversation around MegaThread-y stuff that doesn't necessarily belong in the MegaThread.

It was, is, & shall be open to any & all folks who think they might enjoy such a space.

It has the benefit of faster interaction (like MeFi chat) but also searchable chat history, channels, threads, etc.

On this Slack, any member can create a channel for any specific topic they'd like to discuss. We've got a #2020 channel for primary chatter, a #political-filmclub channel, a #scotus channel, #news, #climate-change, #boundless-void, you get the idea.

At some point, we created a #metafilter-related for commentary around our experiences in the MegaThread & on MeFi in general.

Within *that* channel, as one might imagine, there's been a lot of communication about the recent growing pains (or rather the ongoing going pains which have recently been coming to a head) here on the blue.

For the most part, we have been commiserating that MeFi is in trouble, something needs to be done, but what?

We value the recent effort the mods have taken to address these concerns & we also sympathize with the many voices who are frustrated that it's only now being taken seriously.

For my part, I know that I have voiced concerns on the blue & perhaps on the gray (though the blue is where I focus my attention, statistically). Other members of the Slack have also shared their points of view at varying length across MeFi.

As our conversation matured a couple of days ago, a couple of us started spitballing ideas about what MeFi could do to take tangible action, now, that maybe hadn't been discussed before.

Naturally, it became evident that pretty much every feasible idea had been raised at one point in time or another & that what the site probably doesn't need is another session of people airing grievances & suggestions in a haphazard fashion with the hopes that leadership would do the heavy lifting of analyzing/synthesizing an action plan to go forward.

So my brilliant idea (sarcasm fully intended) was to try & put together a more comprehensive rollup of those ideas & share *that*.

Essentially, I wanted to read through some of the latest venting/suggestion threads, supplement them with the chatter we had in Slack, & create a structured outline of "the state of the general notion of what MeFi might could do to maybe help make things better."

This manifesto (of sorts) could then be presented publicly as a MeFi project or MeTa or wherever it *ought* to go to get further feedback from the community at large, but with the specific aim of improving the document.

Then, and *only* then, with the undersigned agreement of whoever wants to join us in this endeavor, would we offer it to MeFi leadership as our best effort to provide a "plan for a plan" if you will.

The notion is that this would summarize/roll-up the best hopes we have for the site in a concrete, actionable list of goals or milestones that MeFi mods can use as they see fit.

To be clear: we are only attempting to take on some of the burden of synthesizing a vision that corresponds with the feedback we have & that we read others having. We are not implying or insisting that whatever we present must be undertaken by MetaFilter. MetaFilter is free to "yeah, nope" the document upon receipt if it'd like.

I can't speak for why anyone else would join in this effort but for me, I treasure this site too much not to do everything in my power to help the moderators take our input & utilize it as best they can.

If this site were to fail because I failed to make this effort, I would feel partly responsible. Therefore, I'm making this effort.

Ok- I really am trying to make this as short as possible, so I'm stopping here. But please ask clarifying questions & I'll answer as I can. And as @zachlipton said above: we *do* not believe the effort should be conducted in Slack. The conversation began here on the MetaFilter, some of us continued it on the Slack, & we realized that if it's going to go further, we need to roll up our thoughts & bring it back to MetaFilter. That has been the plan from the get-go. The only reason it's not on MeFi yet is because I haven't had time to write up my initial RFC post, yet.

[Cortex, I *just* saw your post come in & I'll read/address it immediately, but I don't want to delay this comment]
posted by narwhal at 2:42 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


Heh, timing. I appreciate the details, narwhal.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:46 PM on June 21, 2019


Thank you, Cortex- I agree with you 100% & you've anticipated our own goal with this "project." We agree that the effort would only have a chance of success if it's undertaken here with the full participation of the community at large- again, it's only "not here yet" because I don't want to kick this off half-baked.

Still, maybe you have thoughts on how to get the ball rolling without a first draft.

If, after reading the above, you have any specific guidance for how we can achieve the above & bring this back to MetaFilter sooner than later (or how you'd like to implement it once the first draft is complete), I'd appreciate your direction.

Thanks!!
posted by narwhal at 2:48 PM on June 21, 2019


That sounds like an okay general idea and set of intentions to me. I think my main suggestion would be to prioritize site-wide discussion sooner rather than later, yeah; the idea of synthesizing a lot of the stuff that's been under discussion is a good one but it may help to not try to synthesize it too completely or have things too baked before bringing it over to MetaTalk.

Maybe focus more on identifying some discrete core challenges and discrete proposals/solutions/approaches to those challenges and make that the starting point for general discussion, vs. trying to e.g. wrap that up into a single plan. That way it'll be less fragile in the face of community concerns or objections or inaccurate premises/assumptions; there may be pieces that are sound and pieces that are less so, but if it's more a collection of ideas than a single standing structure the damage from pulling out or altering one or another of those pieces will be a lot less.

I appreciate you talking it out a bit. If you have any questions for me or the mod team, feel free to hit us up here or over the contact form. Happy to coordinate about a notional MetaTalk post if that's helpful, though not necessary.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:06 PM on June 21, 2019


I'm going to field a couple of questions asked earlier:

----

@tonycpsu: Sorry to be that guy, but I kinda feel like any "planning" for MeFi's future, however informal / in the early stages it may be, should be occurring under the auspices of MetaFilter itself -- like in a separate MeTa -- than in a Slack workspace that requires people to know about it, sign up, be approved, etc. Collaborating on the next potus45 FPP off-site is one thing, collaborating on a plan to restructure MetaFilter itself is quite another.

100% agreed. Your analogy is a good one, by the way. We're trying to collaborate on a structured FPP (as it were) that rolls up the ideas that we've gleaned reading others' comments & applying those comments toward an actionable strategy.

That is, rather than a list of all the grievances or suggestions in no particular order, we would create an outline of potential mission statements, organizational principles, transparency initiatives, milestones, etc. that would speak to those grievances & suggestions.

----

@kalessin: These people, are they white? What happened to waiting thirty days while listening?

I'm white & I think that the folks most recently involved in the chat are white as well (though I honestly don't know).

Recognizing that any document I create is *necessarily* incomplete & missing the perspective of other ethnicities, genders, sexualities, religions, localities, cultures, etc., is *precisely* why the *first* order of business once the draft summary document has been created is to post it to MetaFilter & start filling in those blind spots (and correcting the latent -isms that will be present on account of my own shortcomings).

It's *also* a reason that I will gladly relinquish the job of creating the summary doc to anyone who would rather craft it. I would be honored for a minority member (in any respect- essentially, a not white affluent straight guy in the US) to take the reins. That said, I *also* don't want to put a burden on another person who, likely, has already endured more than her/his fair share. Because I wouldn't ask anyone to do anything I wouldn't do myself, I've volunteered myself for this task. It doesn't have to be me (and I would prefer that it weren't), but I can't "volunteer" anyone else.

I have been reading the PoC thread with great interest & it is my own shame that this site has engendered the kind of passive hostility that thread is surfacing that puts the onus on me to be a part of the solution. I respect the 30 day waiting period insofar as 1) I don't expect that this document would reach a final, revised state before that deadline has passed & 2) I want to make sure that I strike while the iron is hot & my passion ignited to do what I can to help, now.

That said, maybe this effort should be delayed as well. I don't know how this feels to folks who have finally been given some breathing space and who feel like they can speak out. If this effort should likewise be delayed until the PoC thread is closed, I will gladly defer to the people who know best.

I know I don't know. All I *do* know is that I care about this site & it's hard for me to sit idly by as my fellow MeFites raise very real concerns without trying to do my best to make meaningful amends.

----

@cortex: That sounds like an okay general idea and set of intentions to me. I think my main suggestion would be to prioritize site-wide discussion sooner rather than later, yeah; the idea of synthesizing a lot of the stuff that's been under discussion is a good one but it may help to not try to synthesize it too completely or have things too baked before bringing it over to MetaTalk.

I agree. The only reason I didn't want to submit a half-baked summary is that I want to make sure that *some* degree of structure exists (a skeleton) so that commentary has sufficient direction. Beyond that, I concur that it should be as "incomplete" (re: soft tissue) as possible so that the bulk of the final product is product of community discussion & agreement.

With that in mind, maybe I could draw up a somewhat less comprehensive outline of sorts that we then use as the seed for a MeTa (with the specific aim of working toward a comprehensive document rather than a brainstorming session). Then the document itself could be written up by a community member (or members) drawing from that MeTa? Does that make sense?
posted by narwhal at 3:22 PM on June 21, 2019


Honestly, I am coming off of an academic conference so I am very tired and my brain is entirely fried, but I really don't like the direction that this thread just took. I think that there are some problematic and interesting things baked into the fact that this discussion occurred on the politics slack, and I really think that this shouldn't unfold back here in the way that it seems to be unfolding. I'm sorry that I can't articulate this better right now, and perhaps that means I shouldn't say something at all, but I would like to register that I don't find this turn super great.
posted by sockermom at 3:34 PM on June 21, 2019 [31 favorites]


Yeah the fact that no PoC is involved in actually crafting this plan is suspicious. And I agree with the white-saviour comment.

Wait till the threads are done, THEN start planning.
posted by divabat at 3:37 PM on June 21, 2019 [29 favorites]


This isn't planning. This is creating a list of things that should be in the plan.
posted by Autumnheart at 3:43 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


@kalessin & @divabat: Thank you for speaking up.

I 100% agree that if this is in any way infringing on the good work that the mods have undertaken to give PoC a space to breathe then I will happily button this entire endeavor until the non-white community endorses our re-engagement.

As you mention, @kelessin, I've felt that while it's been healthy & good for PoC to have a thread to have a venue for discussion without our involvement, it also doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

I wondered if being "solution oriented" (as much as I hate that term) rather than diagnostic might be helpful.

What certainly *isn't* helpful is if this feels like it in any way interferes with the good I see in the PoC thread (including my own shame & hurt reading it- these are necessary & good things for me to grow).

That is *not* the point of this effort & I am *more* than ok sitting with my discomfort if that is what's best for our minority membership.

Again, I don't want to lead this thing & I don't want to be the face of it & I don't want to be the loudest voice or the one even doing the talking. I would *love* to be able to do data analysis & spitball ideas under leadership that is currently underrepresented on MeFi. I offer my services if they would be of any use.

Likewise, I'll stop if this isn't helpful.

I only wanted to try & shift the conversation (if possible) from what's wrong to how we might make it right.

If this effort is ill-timed or ill-conceived, I defer to people who know better than me. I just sensed a need & want to do whatever I can to help.
posted by narwhal at 3:51 PM on June 21, 2019


I would just suggest again that my fellow white Mefites learn to sit with the discomfort of the tensions raised here and in related threads rather than feeling like they need to “fix it.” We are still listening to what “it” is. Maybe I am too used to moving at a turtle-like pace.

Naturally, it became evident that pretty much every feasible idea had been raised at one point in time or another & that what the site probably doesn't need is another session of people airing grievances & suggestions in a haphazard fashion with the hopes that leadership would do the heavy lifting of analyzing/synthesizing an action plan to go forward.

to me this is exactly the opposite of what this thread and the thread for sharing by users of color are supposed to be?
posted by sallybrown at 3:51 PM on June 21, 2019 [33 favorites]


part of the issue may be that lots of white mefites aren't really feeling any discomfort at all, and problem-solving is fun.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:53 PM on June 21, 2019 [44 favorites]


it's hard for me to sit idly by as my fellow MeFites raise very real concerns
Ok, good. it should be hard, and you should experience discomfort. And you should have to sit inside of that discomfort and ask yourself questions about how it makes you feel that your community is in peril because of racism. And these are things that we as white people need to sit with and think about and feel genuine difficulty and discomfort and unhappiness about.

We also need to listen to what PoC are saying they need and want in this time and place. There has been a lengthy, in-depth, and nuanced discussion specifically about action around this problem here. White people need to listen. Sitting and listening does not necessarily mean one is idle. You can use your brain when you are sitting.
posted by sockermom at 3:53 PM on June 21, 2019 [41 favorites]


It's just an engaged discussion on Slack. There is literally nothing actually being "done", except a conversation. If you want to join it, do so.
posted by Autumnheart at 3:57 PM on June 21, 2019


Narwhal--I understood kalessin's saying the POC thread was "Not going anywhere" to mean that it's not going to disappear, so hold your horses, it will be around, etc. I don't think at all that they meant "not making progress" because the entire point i heard from reading the POC thread is to wait wait wait wait.
posted by Stewriffic at 3:58 PM on June 21, 2019 [17 favorites]


I am not accusing anyone of ill intent—I think this was meant as a helpful thing and a way to show that we’re not expecting users of color to have the burden of doing the work here—but it’s been repeatedly stressed in these threads that now is the time to listen and that it feels hurtful and dismissive for white users to jump in and try to diagnose and fix problems when other users are still trying to discuss the contours of the problems, like white users aren’t really listening. So I get that right now it’s an open discussion on the Slack that anyone can join - but so far it’s white users focusing on fixing the problems while they’re still being unspooled, which is part of the problem in the first place. Maybe we can put a pin in it at least until the 30 days is up? It might feel like the mantle of leadership is being thrust upon you because no one seems to be doing anything but talking, but we’re purposely trying not to be doing anything but listening right now.
posted by sallybrown at 4:05 PM on June 21, 2019 [25 favorites]


No one has ever suggested that solutions will never be discussed. It is not white people's decision about whether or not it's time to talk about solving the problem. It's not time. It feels to me like perhaps some white people have not read the threads in depth if they think that it is time to start trying to solve the problem at this point, and also if they think it is white people's role to be organizing that discussion and "planning the plan," as it were.
posted by sockermom at 4:05 PM on June 21, 2019 [18 favorites]


Thank you, @kalessin, @Stewriffic, @sockermom, @prize bull octorok, & @sallybrown.

I see exactly what you're saying & I agree.

I'll confess that I didn't understand that this conversation is so tightly intertwined with the issues being discussed in the PoC thread.

I don't want to excuse my thinking, but if you'll permit, I'll explain.

For me, MeFi has been suffering from a lack of funding & a userbase with daily interaction that overwhelms a small mod staff.

I mistakenly read the PoC thread as a symptom of those deeper issues & thought that while tangential, the aim of this effort was sufficiently separate.

Thanks to your insight & willingness to engage me here (because I clearly didn't get it in the abstract, reading the PoC thread), I see that there is no "fixing" MeFi that doesn't also specifically address the white fragility & hostility towards minority viewpoints latent within the community.

With earnest gratitude, thank you for making it clear to me.

I still *want* to help & I'm still reading the PoC thread & I anxiously await the right time to re-engage.

I realize that now, however, is not the time.

Thank you for your patience with me & your willingness to try & see understand my earnest intent.

In the meantime, this entire idea goes away. Aside from further introspection on my part as the other discussions unfold, this is not going anywhere, here, or in the Slack.

I humbly apologize for my mistake & again, I'm so grateful that you felt safe enough to let me know that I was wrong & to help me see *how*.

Thank you
posted by narwhal at 4:12 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Okay. For the record, in the future reconsider framing/labeling things that POC are doing w/o white people as somehow lacking in leadership, passive, disorganized, uncoordinated, etc.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:27 PM on June 21, 2019 [45 favorites]


Mark me down as another member who thought that we, as a site, were at a minimum, giving our POC members space and time to discuss things in a slightly-buffered space for at least a month before taking any kind of action, and ignoring that commitment is disrespectful to our fellow members and damaging to any efforts to begin addressing what has been a long-festering problem on the site.

Good intentions don’t make up for bad impact. Please put this project on hold.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:47 PM on June 21, 2019 [14 favorites]


FFS. I am generally a strong defender of the mods and believe in their general goodwill and willingness to improve this site to be more inclusive, moreover I found a lot to disagree with in the POC thread but, cortex, I am surprised today to see that your immediate and immediately expressed response appears to have been to find this Slack business an acceptable initiative rather than one that undercuts the entire purpose of these two threads.

Moreover, surely it should have been obvious even to the most unaware participants in that slack that one established for the megathread and with dedicated channels for scotus etc is not going to have much input from the rest of the world.
posted by tavegyl at 4:51 PM on June 21, 2019 [21 favorites]


The only white people that need to be involved in the actual implementation team regarding solutions here are the ones drawing Metafilter paychecks.

White people do not need to run diagnostics, advise, organize, lead, work the problem, step up*, steer, suggest, panel, workshop, figure out, share a gdoc, or otherwise elbow their way into directing this conversation. Unless you happen to be a white person working for some kind of org that does expert work in this space and can facilitate an introduction to appropriate resources (in which case you can use the Contact Form and say nothing else about it), you don't have any material to offer here.

*Obviously we DO need to step up, but that should be limited to improving the way we participate and listen and engage with others. We don't get to be The Guy, we don't get to run this show. The urrrrrrge to do all this should be directed into private non-performative reflection, such is in a notebook or an unshared word processing document, plus self-education, and not thinking this makes your voice imperative to be heard.

If white users of this site want to go off and 101 themselves somewhere out of the way, that can be a productive thing, but it needs to be a private thing with no delusions of grandeur that expertise is being achieved and members should come back here trying to be consultants. I'd actually advise against doing it with other Mefites, as it is too tempting to turn it into a...project. Cancel your projects.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:51 PM on June 21, 2019 [35 favorites]


cortex, I am surprised today to see that your immediate and immediately expressed response appears to have been to find this Slack business an acceptable initiative rather than one that undercuts the entire purpose of these two threads.

I think people brainstorming is an okay thing, is the main thing; I was relieved that it wasn't specifically a "heads up folks, here comes The Plan" situation because it wasn't initially at all clear to me what was going on when someone paged me to come take a look at the thread. I'm less concerned with people knocking around ideas than I would be with people declaring a solution, but like I said I think even if it's knocking around ideas that should mostly take the form of an inclusive community discussion when it is eventually appropriate for that happen, rather than as something that appears fully formed without buy-in from the folks who have been participating in these on-site discussions and sharing their concerns in the first place.

I agree with the core idea that trying to rush in with a fix or a plan is not what people want to see in this case, and I don't think whatever the brainstorming folks might be doing in that slack or in this thread or anywhere else should leapfrog past that. I'm trying pretty hard, even though it's at severe odds with my whole normal way of doing MetaTalk-driven work on community concerns, to stick with that myself, to keep myself and the mod team to reading and listening and gathering resources and making notes and sketches for future discussion instead of just plopping down proposed solutions. I think the feeling that this slack discussion stuff should be handled in that same mode, of just waiting and of putting that energy into a whole-community discussion when the time comes, makes sense.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:06 PM on June 21, 2019


For fuck's sake, fellow white people, we are going to screw up sometimes in the process of addressing some deep seated issues, but a good and extremely basic first step would be to learn to say "I'm sorry, I'm listening, I won't repeat that mistake" when that's pointed out. If we're spending comment after comment explaining our thought processes and why the thing we did was well intentioned, we're not listening enough or processing what we've heard.

I get it. I like to run with organizing ideas and offering solutions, too, and it can be hard to sit back when that's not an appropriate role for me. But sometimes it's just not, and *usually* as an ally it's not. Ally is a support role.
posted by Stacey at 6:05 PM on June 21, 2019 [24 favorites]


Recognizing that any document I [a white man] create is *necessarily* incomplete & missing the perspective of other ethnicities, genders, sexualities, religions, localities, cultures, etc., is *precisely* why the *first* order of business once the draft summary document has been created is to post it to MetaFilter & start filling in those blind spots (and correcting the latent -isms that will be present on account of my own shortcomings).

THIS IS NOT HOW IT FUCKING WORKS. You don't get to design a world to suit your own agenda and then call in some helpful brown servants and task them to tell you where you missed things. The sheer fucking arrogance.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:15 PM on June 21, 2019 [43 favorites]


This is pretty clearly a discussion that didn't need white people defining the Overton Window for acceptable change. Please don't do that.
posted by ethand at 6:21 PM on June 21, 2019 [8 favorites]


This Slack business has to stop. Now. It will fuck everything up even more than it already is.
posted by Gotanda at 6:29 PM on June 21, 2019 [11 favorites]


I think there are ways for white people to engage on issues of racial justice without expressing yourself. There are books to read, videos to watch, self-awareness to cultivate, patreons and non profits to give financial support.

But maybe just sit with the feelings that the thread engenders in you? Sitting and reading and feeling may even be harder than doing something; being able to feel like you are doing something to ameliorate your discomfort is a privilege too.
posted by gryftir at 7:08 PM on June 21, 2019 [16 favorites]


It's just an engaged discussion on Slack. There is literally nothing actually being "done", except a conversation. If you want to join it, do so.

That doesn't seem to be case, after reading it for about 20 minutes. Clearly y'all are talking about a plan or ideas to present to post on MeTaTalk or present to the mods or something.

Which is fine,I guess, people are always chatting about this or that on any subject. But I can totally understand people getting alarmed about it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:03 PM on June 21, 2019 [12 favorites]


Narwhal: white person to white person - STOP POSTING IN THIS THREAD.

I 100% agree that if this is in any way infringing on the good work that the mods have undertaken to give PoC a space to breathe then I will happily button this entire endeavor until the non-white community endorses our re-engagement.

You're complimenting the mods for "giv[ing] PoC a space to breathe" when the space was a response to long standing white supremacy culture on the site. The mods did nothing but make a thread. It is the people of color on Metafilter doing the work.

As you mention, @kelessin, I've felt that while it's been healthy & good for PoC to have a thread to have a venue for discussion without our involvement, it also doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

This is pretty much straight up racist. You're othering PoC members, you're being utterly condescending, and you have the fucking NERVE to criticize the content of the thread and judge it? Also, check the spellings of people's names because making mistakes in them is disrespectful.

I wondered if being "solution oriented" (as much as I hate that term) rather than diagnostic might be helpful.

Again, white person to white person, we do NOT get to decide what is helpful to members of Metafilter that are people of color. Discussion of solutions are not happening now, and at a minimum not until the thread is done, something you WOULD HAVE KNOWN if you had been reading the thread. The part of white non-mods in that solution will be to change our behavior and actively stop participating in and continuing white supremacy culture on Metafilter.

What certainly *isn't* helpful is if this feels like it in any way interferes with the good I see in the PoC thread (including my own shame & hurt reading it- these are necessary & good things for me to grow).

That thread is not a performative piece of work for our entertainment, nor should you be centering your feelings and emotions about that thread.

That is *not* the point of this effort & I am *more* than ok sitting with my discomfort if that is what's best for our minority membership.

That's blatantly not true based on your behavior and this post.

Again, I don't want to lead this thing & I don't want to be the face of it & I don't want to be the loudest voice or the one even doing the talking. I would *love* to be able to do data analysis & spitball ideas under leadership that is currently underrepresented on MeFi. I offer my services if they would be of any use.

How fucking noble of you. This was never yours to lead or be the voice of or be the loudest voice. Data analysis? Numbers are not the answer to what is happening.

Likewise, I'll stop if this isn't helpful.

Way too late. As you typed this, that should have been the clue to delete this post.

I only wanted to try & shift the conversation (if possible) from what's wrong to how we might make it right.

NOT YOUR PLACE, NOT YOUR RIGHT, NOT YOUR LANE.

If this effort is ill-timed or ill-conceived, I defer to people who know better than me. I just sensed a need & want to do whatever I can to help.

AGAIN, your OWN WORDS should have been a clue.
posted by booksherpa at 8:37 PM on June 21, 2019 [30 favorites]


Just wanted to elaborate about the whole 'back off, white people' thing, which I have said before around here but bears repeating:

An actual mechanism of privilege is that we don't have to worry about problems other people face. It's not a positive gift so much as... certain difficulties are not present in your life.

That means that in places where we have privilege, we are less competent or educated than people who live with those problems.

I am an amateur about male privilege because I am a man. I have read, I have listened, I try. But I am an amateur because for a woman, the topic is life-and-death, and for me, it's theoretical. That means that in some spaces, it's my job to sit in the back and help out in the ways women want even if I disagree with their conclusions because I'm an amateur talking to experts and I'm probably missing something that would be painfully obvious if it were my lived experience.

Race is the same way: race relations are a life-or-death topic for a lot of us here, myself included. I am a fucking expert because one missed call at the wrong time could mean I am literally shot by a cop. For a white person, that's just an academic exercise. A dalliance.

That means that watching us talk can be frustrating because we're skipping a lot of steps because we already know where they lead. We've tried them. We've tried them here. We've tried them elsewhere. We already know.

That's why privilege means taking a back seat in discussions where you have it: you're an amateur. You don't have a whole lifetime of field experience sorting this shit out. Discussions by experts, using a lot of jargon and time-tested assumptions might look crazy to you because you don't know all the context.

It's nothing to be ashamed of. It happens to us all. It should happen to us all because we should seek out and listen to people who are different than us. It's no reason to leave, either - many white people here have been supportive, and I appreciate all of that very much. Many of the white responses to the Slack thing actually give me hope this kind of problem can ever be sorted out. This is just why you can't lead this kind of discussion, and can't decide the timetable on 'when do we fix this already?'

And that's why the whole Slack thing was a bad call. It's also why it might not look like we're looking at... whatever the people involved thought we should be. A lot of seemingly obvious solutions have equally obvious holes when you've tried them in the field is all.
posted by mordax at 8:45 PM on June 21, 2019 [66 favorites]


BIPOC/POC involvement in solutions cannot be an after-market add-on. In any solutions, really, but certainly for solutions for decreasing racism on the site. As others have said, if you are not BIPOC/POC, it's our job to listen right now. The assumption that YOU are the one who can step up and fix this is white supremacy in action. The idea that there are fairly easy solutions that BIPOC/POC just haven't thought of yet is white supremacy in action. The dismissal of BIPOC/POC discussion as complaining rather than organizing is white supremacy in action. The idea that there are "deeper issues" than "just" racism is white supremacy in action.

Listen. Learn. Trust. Believe. Follow.
posted by lazuli at 9:24 PM on June 21, 2019 [34 favorites]


I don't want to excuse my thinking, but if you'll permit, I'll explain.

Don't just do something, sit there.
posted by flabdablet at 11:39 PM on June 21, 2019 [9 favorites]


narwhal: > I respect the 30 day waiting period insofar as 1) I don't expect that this document would reach a final, revised state before that deadline has passed & 2) I want to make sure that I strike while the iron is hot & my passion ignited to do what I can to help, now.

So, not really, then.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:46 AM on June 22, 2019 [16 favorites]


but I really don't like the direction that this thread just took. I think that there are some problematic and interesting things baked into the fact that this discussion occurred on the politics slack, and I really think that this shouldn't unfold back here in the way that it seems to be unfolding.

This.

And the walls of text by narwhal have all my red flags up and waving in the wind. but when have white men ever listened to a menopausal old brown biddy with no teeth?
posted by hugbucket at 4:01 AM on June 22, 2019 [12 favorites]


This is a hijack.
posted by hugbucket at 4:01 AM on June 22, 2019 [14 favorites]


Sounds a lot like Libra coin's white paper imo
posted by hugbucket at 4:04 AM on June 22, 2019


least qualified person in room is white, decides to "reluctantly" assume mantle of leadership

actual leadership is also white, deeply sympathizes and commends good intentions

Y'all, this is incredibly embarrassing. Please realize the request to shut up and listen is not a formality or simple gesture of respect. It's an attempt to save you and ourselves from your damaging ignorance.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:59 AM on June 22, 2019 [38 favorites]


Also, we're actually doing real work in there. There are different styles of acting and organization and different ways of building networks, earning trust, and setting up foundations for ongoing work. There has been a lot of leadership, skill, effort, and intelligence on display in that thread and it is worth respecting the fact that some things take time and patience. JMO
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:29 AM on June 22, 2019 [29 favorites]


I'm really, really sad that some people completely ignored the "we'll all sit with all of this for 30 days before we take any action" and went and started taking action. Even just planning and talking about planning is action, people! How do you not see that??

FFS. we are at risk of losing community members because they haven't felt listened to AT ALL, and we're just going to not listen to them again? When they specifically asked us to JUST LISTEN?

The Slack shit needs to stop and it needs to stop, like, yesterday. It feels super gross that there are people talking about making site changes OFF SITE. Even if it's just "we're only *talking*, maaaaannnn." That's what MetaTalk is FOR. NOT SLACK.

Just stop.
posted by cooker girl at 9:17 AM on June 22, 2019 [15 favorites]


"Now you just sit there and think about what you've done." That's where we are at.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:38 AM on June 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


seanmpuckett, that's not what I'm saying at all, and it's not what others are saying, if I'm reading them correctly. There's a whole damned world of difference between discussing problems with the site on the platform itself, where it belongs, and discussing those problems off-site with the express intent of then bringing them back to the site.

The former is the mechanism by which this site operates. The latter, to me, is a whole lot like excluding a shit ton of participants who will be affected by the discussion.
posted by cooker girl at 10:25 AM on June 22, 2019 [7 favorites]


Actually, I will say it: I think that narwhal and Autumnheart absolutely need to sit there and think about what they've done. That is precisely where they are at. They clearly did not think before they came in here with their solutions and talk of lists of goals for the site and lengthy, lengthy comments with absolutely nothing regarding race on Metafilter underpinning them, and cortex going along and saying things like "focus more on identifying some discrete core challenges and discrete proposals/solutions/approaches to those challenges and make that the starting point for general discussion." Punishments (I take the phrasing "sit there and think about what you've done" to be punitive) should fit the crime: asking someone to take a time-out and to think deeply about what they have done is completely appropriate in this situation. I think this situation is a very serious one, and once again speaks to the very real problem we have here on the site when moderators are not trained to understand power dynamics in groups. We did not need another demonstration of it, but here it is.

The slack discussion also had absolutely nothing to do with race on Metafilter, I will add. This whole thing is really fucked up, and I'm really angry about it. I'm angry that cortex was like "yeah, happy to coordinate about a notional MetaTalk post if that's helpful" to two white dudes (one of whom had not even participated in this thread until he came in with his long comments about solutions) trying to take the reins here. I am angry that there was talk about a plan. And then I am really angry about the gaslighting "oh it wasn't a plan it was a plan for a plan, anyone can join the slack, what's the big deal." And what I am angriest about is that, as fucking usual, a bunch of white men with a bone to pick about how "the mods don't run Metafilter enough like a business" or whatever goddamn reason they have for not liking Metafilter busting in and droning on at serious, unbridled length about how people of color are doing it wrong when they clearly haven't even read the relevant threads. This is fucking rich.

Honestly, I would like to see the mods give a good time out to both narwhal and Autumnheart for derailing our discussion about race to serve their own hobbyhorse purposes. That should be an offense that warrants an official moderator time-out and certainly not a "let me know if you want help drafting a Metatalk about your plan for a plan" response from a moderator. If we are going to change the culture of white supremacy on this site we need to take a hard line against white people who actively derail serious discussions about race in this manner. It's bullshit and shouldn't be tolerated.

This was a hijack. I can only favorite that comment once, so I'll just repeat it here. This was a hijack.
posted by sockermom at 10:42 AM on June 22, 2019 [68 favorites]


Can I also just underscore that all of the defensiveness about "it was just a pre-plan plan for a plan!" and "It was just on Slack, anyone should leave the site to talk about the site if they want!" and "let me explain at length and insult the other thread I haven't read" while others (mods) are all, "oh, they're just trying to help" is more white fagility being performed and protected.
posted by TwoStride at 10:56 AM on June 22, 2019 [25 favorites]


"Now you just sit there and think about what you've done." That's where we are at.

So this is an extremely childish and petulant framing of the issue, and that sort of behavior is often associated with fragility of various types.

At least one factor in this sort of bad behavior comes from a simple misunderstanding:

"If I do not intend harm, I cannot be doing anything wrong."

That is incorrect. Many things people do that harm those around them are without specific malicious intent. I have talked about this on the site previously and at length, but lack time to go digging - gotta go in five. But the tl;dr is that the greatest body of harm that comes from bigotry is through carelessness: letting something be someone else's problem instead of listening.

Basically, not listening causes more aggregate harm in the daily lives of marginalized groups than any specific act of malice, in my opinion.

That's why listening is so crucial here. And so yeah, if this feels bad? Maybe do sit there and think about it awhile before piping up. And yeah, I know it feels bad. I've been there about things other than racism.
posted by mordax at 11:06 AM on June 22, 2019 [30 favorites]


Also, to clarify, at least from my perspective: I think it's fine and normal to chat about Metafilter in other places, whether online or offline. I definitely have friends that I chat about Metafilter with, sometimes in groups, sometimes even in groups on Slack. Most of my best friends are mefites and not talking about the site would kind of be weird. We have had some really useful, enlightening, and deep discussions about race on Metafilter recently, my friends and I, and I'm glad we had those discussions.

The difference is that we didn't then turn around and say to the community anything remotely like: "Yesterday there was a discussion on the Slack channel that specifically addressed the matter of A Plan, and how to begin that work." The fucking hubris! And then the lengthy descriptions studded with microaggressions, and then the defensiveness, and the apologia... yeah, this is all white fragility in action.
posted by sockermom at 11:09 AM on June 22, 2019 [27 favorites]


sockermom, yes, that's exactly what I was trying to say but failing.
posted by cooker girl at 11:31 AM on June 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also, the other difference was that my friends and I actually talked about race on Metafilter in these discussions; they were not discussions where we complained about how what the site really needs are "web professionals" who can help Metafilter create a business plan.

The only time race came up in the discussion about "A Plan"on the Politics slack before it was brought here was when one person said that it was essentially bad optics that there is a "nice juicy fresh thread about 'How the site has been discriminating against POC all this time' and a lot of detailed information about the cavalier approach to running the site on the part of the owners and staff" because that would hurt chances for venture capital funding. I'm serious.

cooker girl, you made perfect sense to me and we agree! I was clarifying my own previous comment. :)
posted by sockermom at 11:31 AM on June 22, 2019 [12 favorites]


Is the invitation link to join the Slack channel now disabled?
posted by lazuli at 12:04 PM on June 22, 2019


Never mind, just one of the provided links was bad.
posted by lazuli at 12:07 PM on June 22, 2019


I'm going to bring the focus back to what I think is a huge point:

1) We currently have no mods that are POC; all the mods are white.

2) Historically, attempts to discuss race on Metafilter and Metatalk have been met by white people with toxic whiteness / white fragility / disrespect / flippant dismissal / ignorance. Many members in both this thread, and the POC thread, have pointed out that in the past, several mods themselves have participated in encouraging or amplifying this. And this is perpetuated and exemplified by the fact that there are no poc mods.

It's exhausting because all of this is being done! Look at people working in racial justice! Look at people doing movement organizing! Pass the mic, create forms of financial and organizational transparency, make implicit norms explicit, have poc (and lgbtq+ folks and women) in positions of power, have a clear code of conduct / safer spaces policy, facilitate and create spaces to hold discussions, be aware of power, make sure that men and white people aren't hoarding airtime, trust people's lived experiences, be mindful of unpaid & donated labor, etc.

Ultimately it's about power. This site won't change without power changing, and shifting the power is going to make those who used to hold power uncomfortable. This site won't really change without a bunch of white mefites becoming a bit uncomfortable - uncomfortable about just 'saying whatever they want' in a thread about race, uncomfortable about jumping in at the end of a thread without reading anything, uncomfortable making "a joke to relieve the tension".

I know this might seem strange -- why should people be uncomfortable? But safe spaces / brave spaces aren't necessarily "comfortable" spaces, free of conflict or "outrage". The best and honest discussions about race I've encountered have never been "comfortable". Seeking "comfortable" spaces privileges people who are already comfortable.

A corollary would be: if white mefites don't become little bit more uncomfortable when talking about race, then nothing will have actually changed.

==

I'm starting to think that this is not a place for my POC self. This is definitely a place for my "angry at white people who aren't good at knowing what race or whiteness is (but think they are)" self, so that's good. But it's not a good place to talk about race.

And lately I have been thinking -- why would I talk about race here? I've been on Metafilter from 2005, for 14 years. I've changed a lot since then, but maybe Mefi hasn't, or will never really change, like a well-meaning racist white liberal. I'd rather be part of communities that are mostly POC, or that have been thinking about race from the start, or that prioritize inclusion and anti-racism and anti-blackness as important issue.

So yeah. I am not buttoning, but I am currently resigning most of my hopes that this is a POC-friendly space. I am happy to be angry at white people here and tell them about it because, clearly, most of the white people here don't know what race is or how whiteness operates.

The only sign I'll actually recognize that things are changing would be at the level of mod power or structural change. Codes of conduct, POC mods, advisory groups, organizational structure. Maybe some cultural change will convince me also, when something like the cooter clock exists for race issues, and mefites collectively maintain it.

==

Here's a bet. We will be at this exact place in a year, on June 22nd, 2020, emptily talking about "how we need to talk about race" and "let's listen to our POC mefites" and "maybe we should have a non-white mod??" without any real change happening from white mods or white members. I dearly hope I am wrong. Let this comment stand in time to prove me wrong in the future.
posted by suedehead at 2:18 PM on June 22, 2019 [43 favorites]


It was deleted just before handoff, and Eyebrows didn't bring it up. Because we routinely delete comments that reference deleted ones, I imagine it may have been force of habit. But I'm speculating and I can't speak for her. At any rate I've restored it -- my apologies, stoneweaver.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 12:39 AM on June 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


...I am not going to bet against suedehead.

I think I have to put my money where my mouth is and say that if, in fact, on June 22, 2020, we white members/mods are still in "gosh we need to do better" mode without any actual progress, I won't be able to continue financially supporting MF. I can't remember if my current monthly is $5 or $10...not a lot in the big scheme of things, I suppose.

But how can I continue to pitch in even that modest amount if we don't want to fix ourselves?

On the flip side, I commit to pitch in more (to the extent that I am able, fuck this economy) to directly support initiatives (mod training, new mod, community board, whatever) to eradicate the MF whitezone--but only if such activities are with the direct guidance/involvement/whatever from our non-white members.
posted by maxwelton at 1:49 AM on June 23, 2019 [8 favorites]


There have been so many dodgy comments in this thread and a PoC's comment is the one that gets deleted? Without even a mod comment in thread or to the other mods?

What's going on?
posted by divabat at 3:22 AM on June 23, 2019 [18 favorites]


This thread has certainly done a lot to demonstrate the things that PoC folks have shared unhappiness about.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:46 AM on June 23, 2019 [26 favorites]


What the heck? “Force of habit” is in NO way a sufficient reason for deleting someone’s comment.
posted by sallybrown at 5:01 AM on June 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


Seriously, the fact that users of color on this site have spent nearly a month explaining in painstaking detail (rather than just giving up and walking away, which they could have) how the site and mods and other users treat them problematically, including this exact behavior of deleting a substantive comment, and then it happens again right in this very thread, even though stoneweaver’s comment explicitly asks not to be deleted along with the problematic comment? That is judgment so poor it makes me question what the mods have even been doing with this month of reflection. Mod silence is not going to be enough this time. Trust is eroding quickly.
posted by sallybrown at 5:15 AM on June 23, 2019 [22 favorites]


"Routine forces of habit" are literally the problem. I really wish that the moderators were taking a lot more care, at least in this thread. Instead, we have evidence of at least two moderators just downright doubling down on the bullshit. It's demoralizing, it's fucked up, and it's damaging. Both of the really fucked up things that moderators did in this thread (that I am aware of) are things that we talked at length about being problems in the thread. It is smart and healthy that there isn't formal movement on this right away, but that does not predicate the moderators being slightly more mindful about their actions, especially in these very discussions.

At least in this thread, can y'all please (1) Leave a mod note when you delete comments (although really think carefully about what you delete - only delete actually problematic comments and let other discussion stand); and (2) Think about who you are choosing to respond to and encouraging, and who you are ignoring or deleting, and what downstream effects that has both on the discussion here and on the individuals reading or commenting in the thread? I can't believe I even have to make this request.
posted by sockermom at 5:27 AM on June 23, 2019 [31 favorites]


There is a strong "thin blue line" mentality among the mods. They actively and obviously avoid ever implying another mod may have acted wrongly. Retired mods, usually jessamyn, come out of the woodwork to defend and defuse. A mod is never wrong. When they occasionally admit to misjudgment, it is always buried in paragraphs of apologia.

You need the same advice as cops: apologizing for and admitting your mistakes, and the mistakes of your team, does not weaken your authority. It strengthens your authority.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:32 AM on June 23, 2019 [21 favorites]


Now can you see why I made the suggestion about stepping down?

We've just had a whole bunch of discussions in our local arts industry (including an entire bloody industry conference) about people with privilege in positions of power stepping down or building succession plans to resolve structural inequality in arts leadership. In other community-based groups I'm in, this is grounds for calls to step down and work on accountability.

Find it distasteful if you want. I still stand by it. Clearly this isn't sticking, and it seems the mods are more interested in apologetic status quo than anything else.
posted by divabat at 5:58 AM on June 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


Mods, can we please have a summary of what has been deleted from this thread, and why? I'm completely losing the plot and would really like to understand what's going on. Otherwise, how can I reflect on it and learn, which is what I'm trying to do?

As far as I know, moderation on the grey has always been very light. If something is deleted from the grey, it has to be bad, right? Can we at least know what kind of bad, so we can form our own opinions?

Mod notes for any and all deletions would really have been a good idea here. Force of habit, my ass; you just can't coast along in this thread, it's way too sensitive and important an issue. That much is clear by now, even to me (and there's plenty that I don't understand, if only because I'm not in or from the US).
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:17 AM on June 23, 2019 [15 favorites]


Ban all white men from posting or commenting anywhere on the site for at least 30 days
posted by a strong female character at 6:27 AM on June 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


a strong female character: not gonna be nearly enough, some of the most egregious un-self-aware white nonsense have come from White women (who think their gender absolves them of scrutiny)
posted by divabat at 6:38 AM on June 23, 2019 [28 favorites]


I thought, in the 14 years I've been here, that comments were NEVER deleted from grey threads, particularly those threads that discussed issues like favourites, race, gender, post titles, etc that led to changes in the site and its handling of things.

This thread is about deleting the post of jj’s mama. About not using mod notes to support the voices of POC members. And you turned around and deleted my criticism of how mods deal with POC complaints about comments. Because it mentioned the existence of a comment you deleted. Holy Shit.

I will add my voice to those questioning the integrity of the moderation team of metafilter, and wondering exactly what is happening out there - is it the same as what is happening in America? Divisiveness across race, gender, religion, and politics?
posted by hugbucket at 6:54 AM on June 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


The site just lost my donations.
posted by bfranklin at 6:58 AM on June 23, 2019


I'm a $5 noob. Metatalk used to be pretty rough place and Matt let it roll as such. Then we got mods and slowly the site, blue and grey started to change. Ask was always very much answer the question or go away.The Blue became more civilized and the excessive bad behaviour in Meta was squashed.
So far all so good. Then deletions started in the grey. There was pushback but it was explained away.
Then there was a queue or "preapproval" introduced. The explanation being that Mods like their weekends too. Fair enough, but the queue needs to go.
The consensus seems to be that the community didn't really want the flameouts and spitting out of dummies. However this is real life so these things will happen.
Metafilter is all a bit coddled to my thinking with decisions being taken by people who maybe do not understand the issues, and sometimes in a hurry.
There are some pretty glaring mod errors being made which don't stand up to scrutiny because there isn't any, and there are valid complaints which are not being addressed.
Maybe this is all because metafilter is oh so very American (USA) as noted time and time again and as has been recently pointed out yet again there is an unlying racism that needs to be resolved.
Metafilter has pretty much resolved Boyzone and LGBT issues but has studiously avoided race.
Leadership needs to come from the top and I think it might be a good idea if all the Mods stepped in and stated that the POC meta is to be strictly left alone and that no attempts at planning how to be moving forward is discussed until the POC thread is over. There isn´t much confidence in the moderators at this moment and a statement is needed from them both individually and collectively. Suggestions about moving forward should first come from the POC point of view when they are ready and not before.
I'm not going to search for the names for fear of ommission but there are people here who are doing a lot of excellent and patient heavy lifting. Listen to them please before this site goes further down the plughole.
posted by adamvasco at 7:11 AM on June 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


Mods, can we please have a summary of what has been deleted from this thread, and why?

Sure, let me lay it out.

- One comment in response to hippybear after this comment by cortex asking that we drop that derail

- A comment linking to the PoC thread after people had been asked not to.

- A piece of completely unnecessary hostility

- A comment with a broken link that was immediately reposted correctly

- Another piece of unconstructive snark

- a comment that was self-deleted via the edit window

- Four comments in a chain with the quote from the PoC thread that folks are discussing now, including the original commenter's request to delete. Stoneweaver's comment was originally deleted in that chain and then undeleted.

I thought, in the 14 years I've been here, that comments were NEVER deleted from grey threads, particularly those threads that discussed issues like favourites, race, gender, post titles, etc that led to changes in the site and its handling of things.

This hasn't been true in many years. It became very clear that allowing unfettered intra-user hostility was way, way worse for the community than not having a true no-holds-barred section of the site.

I just got on shift, so there may be more that needs a mod response, but I wanted to get that up quickly.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:16 AM on June 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


"so there may be more that needs a mod response"

Yes. There needs to be an apology for the failures of moderation which destroyed the tentative trust that had been established in this thread.

Particularly for the poor handling of narwhal's hijacking of process from PoC and for opaquely deleting stoneweaver's thoughtful and useful comment.
posted by thoroughburro at 7:29 AM on June 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'm sorry about the deletion thing with stoneweaver's comment. I understand how frustrating folks found that in the context of this thread. I agree that either making an exception to usual site practice and leaving it up in the first place despite the friction of its reply-to-deleted-comment nature, or leaving a mod note reiterating the basic issue, would have been a better outcome.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:30 AM on June 23, 2019


One framing that I’ve been thinking about this morning - this site and its mods and users have put a lot of work into the project of keeping the politics thread an ongoing thing. There have been lots of discussions and re-prioritizing of resources that could have been spent elsewhere because the community decided the politics thread was worth it. The work entails both mods and users being careful and scrupulous in these efforts.

The goal of making sure that users of color are treated as equals and as valued community members of this site is ten thousand times more important than the goal of keeping one type of thread going. That’s true whether you’re looking at it from an ethical perspective or even a purely utilitarian one (because this site losing its members of color would be a disaster for its value).

And yet users and mods in this thread are acting without the level of care they show to keep the politics thread going. Users who are not showing care can be corrected or worked around by mods. But nobody mods the mods - so what is the consequence for mods who refuse to use that level of care?
posted by sallybrown at 7:33 AM on June 23, 2019 [24 favorites]


I agree that either making an exception to usual site practice and leaving it up in the first place despite the friction of its reply-to-deleted-comment nature,

Framing it this way makes it seem like the choice to delete stoneweaver’s comment was the reasonable and expected thing, and the choice to leave it up would have been bucking the system or doing something exceptional. Regardless of mod policy, anyone who has carefully read this thread (which should be all of the mods) could have seen with crystal clarity that deleting stoneweaver’s comment was aggressive, unfounded, and a choice that many users of color find alienating. It wasn’t just some unthinking “following the rules” thing.
posted by sallybrown at 7:38 AM on June 23, 2019 [16 favorites]


That thin blue line, though. Wow.
posted by thoroughburro at 7:42 AM on June 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Framing it this way makes it seem like the choice to delete stoneweaver’s comment was the reasonable and expected thing

Deleting a comment responding to another comment is a reasonable and expected thing on MetaFilter, is the thing; leaving it up would be doing something exceptional. I agree with you that bucking that normal practice would have been the good choice in this case regardless of that. And I recognize that the idea of revisiting the balance of delete or don't for comments referencing bound-for-deletion stuff is something folks have talked about in this thread. So I get it being doubly frustrating in this case, and, again, I'm sorry that it happened like that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:47 AM on June 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I do not find that deletion to be a reasonable choice within tne context of this ongoing discussion.
posted by sallybrown at 7:49 AM on June 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


Deleting a comment responding to another comment is a reasonable and expected thing on MetaFilter

I think you should consider stopping or reigning in this practice, across the site, now. People here have expended a lot of energy explaining why this can be a problematic mod practice.
posted by lalex at 8:08 AM on June 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


I do not find that deletion to be a reasonable choice within tne context of this ongoing discussion.

I hear you, and again I agree it was the wrong call in this context.

More broadly, there's a tension in this thread in the contradiction of needs that's emerged from different parts of the conversation and I don't have a good solution for it. I recognize people want to see better outcomes on the site in general in the long term, and to see different specific outcome on a mod action by mod action basis. At the same time, I recognize people wanting much of the normal MetaTalk process of discussing incremental changes and process tweaking to not happen in here, to have that deferred to some future point instead and/or to happen in some different way.

And I get where both of those wants are coming from, and that they're both serving specific legitimate desires folks have for something to change. But it does create a situation in here where some of the things MetaTalk discussions usually do to try and address the one thing are at hard odds with the other, and that's a tension I don't know how to resolve in here.

Like we could talk out at greater length the ups and downs deleting chains of comments, and the ups and downs of trying to change the established practice on that, and about what'd be involved in altering community-wide expectations about that, and what kind of change in expectations about how people frame those not-expected-to-be-deleted-after-all replies would help it go better, and so on. That feels to me like typical and useful MetaTalk discussion about one of the specific issues at stake. It'd let us prise apart the different bits of commenting and moderation that intersect at that bit of site practice and figure out how to start reworking the balance of those to find something that folks collectively feel a little bit better about.

But at the same time it feels enormously clear that in this thread that's something a lot of folks would find unwelcome, would consider to be a violation of the spirit of the expectation that has emerged of just holding off on incremental proposals and deferring the "okay, let's dig in on a solution for this point" stuff for some future discussion. And I am trying hard to have the mod team hew to that spirit and not come back in frequent and long-form with the level of discussion of practice and context and meat-and-potatoes "here's how we currently do it, here's why, let's talk about how changes to that could work" stuff that would be normal for a MetaTalk thread where people are bringing bits of practice stuff up in the discussion.

And my default plan is to keep aiming for that in this thread, to just continue to try and step back and not dig in on process stuff even where it feels like the most MeFi-like tool available for working on some of these details. But I don't know what to productively do about that resulting tension in valid but opposing wants. It feels like it is creating a situation where the ways in which a MetaTalk discussion or broader site practice would normally improve or self-repair are unavailable, and it feels like that itself is leading to a more heightened and protracted sense of frustration than normal. I don't like the possibility that that's making this worse for everybody despite being the product of legitimate frustrations and a desire to see things change and improve. I don't know how we thread that needle.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:22 AM on June 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Are you sure that needle needs threading right now?
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:28 AM on June 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


These two impulses are not opposed.

You're standing next to a big dial labeled MODERATION, turning it and looking for just the right amount of crowd reaction. But it's not working. Abandon the dial. Get more tools and processes. Build them if they dont exist.

We can see this initially, where the mod integration of comments was understood as "let more thin posts through, particularly if people object"
But this is not the right thing to learn - you could have learned other things from this.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:32 AM on June 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


I think I have to put my money where my mouth is and say that if, in fact, on June 22, 2020, we white members/mods are still in "gosh we need to do better" mode without any actual progress,

Part of being white people sitting with the discomfort is that we shouldn't immediately see a bunch of "HERE NOW IT IS ALL FIXED RACISM IS OVER LET'S WRAP THIS UP" posts for the mods. It was explicitly requested that this be the case to allow the discussion to fully unfold.

If you are feeling antsy for things to change--well, I wonder if that is how it feels to be a non-white person all of the goddamn time when considering issues of race (if not hopelessness or resignation). Resist the impulse to find the bandaid. This isn't something gushing blood that'll be fine if sewed over, it's more like an abscess that needs to be allowed to breathe.

I hope I accurately set up my gross medical metaphors
posted by schroedinger at 8:35 AM on June 23, 2019 [8 favorites]


I don't know what to productively do about that resulting tension in valid but opposing wants.

I generally find that when I don't know what to do, the best thing is to wait until I do know what to do, or circumstances change, or both.

It seems to me that "something must be done, this is something, therefore we must do this" is the line of reasoning behind a hell of a lot of what keeps going wrong in the world.
posted by flabdablet at 8:37 AM on June 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


Are you sure that needle needs threading right now?

I think the difficulty of this structural tension in the thread needs explicit acknowledgment, yes. It's a tension that has been running through the thread for literal weeks now, that I have held off on commenting on because even talking in a meta-process way about it feeds back into that tension in a no-win way. I'm not planning to dig in on it here beyond trying to communicate it at all in the above comment, but it's there and it is a significant extra weight on an already understandably challenging discussion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:39 AM on June 23, 2019


It feels like it is creating a situation where the ways in which a MetaTalk discussion or broader site practice would normally improve or self-repair are unavailable,

This may have been more about you getting people to stop talking than about actual repair of the site. You may not have realized that but there is a lot of evidence that it might be the case and it’s worth considering whether silence equals assent or...giving up and moving on.

it feels like that itself is leading to a more heightened and protracted sense of frustration than normal.

For you.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:15 AM on June 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


I've been thinking a bit about that exact tension as well this morning: we are asking you to hold off, to not make any big plans or get too into process right now while simultaneously also saying "please don't just [delete comments] in a business-as-usual manner." One thing that I think is held within that tension is time. Both of those desires can be met if the moderators embed actively thinking about time into their process, right now. That doesn't need to be codified or discussed or made into a formal process: it can just be one of the things you, as moderators, think about, particularly when you interact with this very thread. I honestly don't even think that this is a tension, after all -- I think that both of the desires you articulate can be realized if the moderators are just a little more careful, mindful, and incorporate time into the way they think about moderating especially this thread.

In my view, both of the egregious moderator missteps in this thread were due to a desire to do something right away; a desire to act. What would it have looked like if, for example, the moderators had done nothing in either case? Or what would it have looked like if the moderators had used more mod notes (a thing they do all the time, as was pointed out above)? What would have happened if cortex had reminded everyone in a mod note that we weren't in planning mode yet, instead of engaging with the discussion of A Plan as if it was in any way a legitimate discussion? What would have happened if the pasted comment from the PoC thread was removed with a note from Eyebrows reminding everyone that we aren't copying/pasting those comments into this thread, and everything else from the discussion remained? Both of these solutions simply build some careful thought and time spent making choices into them.

You are still moderating, so you're still thinking and making decisions; this idea that doing anything differently in your practice now is not possible until you have a Formal Plan In Place is false thinking. You are still moderators, and you are people. People change in response to stimuli. Ideally, even though it is not yet codified into a formal practice, the moderators are approaching things with a bit more care right now. But that doesn't seem to be happening, if this thread is any indication.

I have a really high-pressure, stressful job that pushes me to think about my own ethics, values, and morals on a daily basis as I weigh decisions and make judgments about what to do in any given situation. It is hard, and you bet I fuck up. I make the wrong call sometimes. I've found that just going on a five minute walk before I act can help me figure out what I need to do so that my values are being realized in my actions. Sometimes on the Internet I think it feels like everything moves so quickly that there never is time to take time, but I don't think that's really true in practice. Actions are messages about what matters. Does taking time actually matter to y'all? I worry that, given what cortex has said, that he does not really understand why people are asking for things to slow down right now, why people are asking for time for the conversation to continue to unfold.

I also think that some of this is computing culture related: computing is all about doing things as efficiently and as quickly as possible. Content moderators at places like Facebook are largely evaluated on how quickly they work. The Internet as a medium (if you can call it that) is all about collapsing our experience of time. Thinking about time in any way beyond "how can we make things as fast and efficient as possible" is not built in to the systems and structures that physically underpin this virtual space. The moderators therefore have to resist a lot of different structural and systemic impulses in order to build time into the way that they moderate.

I will add to kalessin's wonderful comment above that when I think about what I call the "big words" like equity, justice, and fairness--all things that moderators are responsible for on this site--I don't just think about what happens now or in the future. Restorative justice is incredibly important. Apologies are like, step zero for making amends--necessary building blocks, but not sufficient. I'm trying to figure out a way to say this that isn't super-snarky, but... googling site:ask.metafilter.com "how to apologize" brings up a ton of really useful information about apologies, and doing the same for "restorative justice" is also a goldmine.
posted by sockermom at 9:22 AM on June 23, 2019 [36 favorites]


I think the difficulty of this structural tension in the thread needs explicit acknowledgment, yes. It's a tension that has been running through the thread for literal weeks now,

Cortex. To be honest, the tension has been running through this site for years, or even decades. It's.. nothing new. It's mostly that white Mefites haven't noticed it, or haven't been willing to notice it.

Yes, it is clear that there is a lot of tension being represented in this thread and in the PoC thread. I think this is great! It's healthy. It's bringing to the surface things that haven't been represented to white people, because white people have been bad at listening.

it feels like that itself is leading to a more heightened and protracted sense of frustration than normal.

Again, this is a classic pattern when really talking about race. Race gets discussed. For those who are dealing with it, people of color, it's a sharing or representing of a truth that's already here. For those (white people) who are "new" to it, they react suddenly and violently, because it appears to be a NEW "problem" that arises that MUST BE FIXED because it's NOT 'NORMAL'.

Or in other words, read this twitter thread post-2016 election: I'm talking to you now surprised white people. I wanna bring you in for an empathy moment.

==

So, there might be more tension to be shared and revealed here. Is that scary to some of you? Because I feel like that's a good thing.

Sure, yes. It is possible for discussions about race to get out of hand. BUT you know, it doesn't happen when people are listening to each other, and are actually holding space for each other. It doesn't happen when poc are listening to each other. (Notice how the POC thread is pretty good at listening to people, holding space, and acknowledging conflict and tension?)

It usually happens when a 'well-meaning' white person steps in and tries to moderate and control the discussion, saying things like "okay okay, let's not get too heated here", "please don't raise your voice", or idiotic things like that are completely miss the mark as to what the fuck has been going on with race, and are actually manifestations of discomfort by the white person turned into forms of power and control.

==

Lastly, this is also a world / US problem, not just a Metafilter problem, and the whiteness of the mod team and the discussion culture is a structural problem that goes deeper than "Metafilter mod policy". Do you how I know? Because 1) the mod team is all white, and 2) in the past, there was scarcely any discussion or importance placed by the mods about having poc mods. This means that, structurally, we're working with some assumptions or ignorances about the internet that have been baked into Metafilter for a while, definitely even during mathowie's time.

I don't mean "it's not Metafilter's problem", I mean, "the problem is everywhere and baked into Metafilter as well". cortex, and restless_nomad, taz, LobsterMitten, goodnewsfortheinsane, Eyebrows McGee. If you're not looking at whiteness yourself, nothing will change.
posted by suedehead at 9:26 AM on June 23, 2019 [22 favorites]


Also look not speaking for anyone else at all but it comes across as aggressive to read stoneweavers comment enough to delete the comment it mentions and then disregard what stoneweaver explicitly asks. Without bothering to leave a mod note saying anything. It’s very “You don’t tell me what to do.” There’s no set policy on deletions in here. And it’s not our fault that it happened because we want time and space.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:32 AM on June 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


And suddenly the conversation is all about how hard it is to do what people are asking. And how it’s not letting the site repair and how it’s going to possibly even make things worse. Why all the blame on us like we’ve been in charge for the last however many years?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:36 AM on June 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


I don't imagine it's possible that cortex has missed the repeated calls to apologize for overlooking or even encouraging the hijack of process represented by narwhal's attempt to lead a planning process. I hesitate to conclude that he doesn't feel it was a mistake or one worth apologizing for, but honestly can't think how else to interpret the conspicuous lack.

Please read or reread the damage it caused here and especially in the hearing PoC thread and reconsider. The lost trust cannot be repaired without acknowledgment.
posted by thoroughburro at 9:44 AM on June 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


The proper form of an apology is threefold.

1) Acknowledge specifically what went wrong, owning your involvement, and explaining how your actions have hurt others. We need to see that you understand what was bad and why.

2) Express regret and remorse without centring your own difficulty or discomfort. We need to see that you understand that it was bad, and that you are feeling shame.

3) Outline specific actions you'll take now (or later) to repair damage done (if possible), and how you will ensure that the error will not take place in the future. We need to see that you understand what actions to take to ensure the mistake is not repeated.

Apologies are meaningless if they don't contain all three parts. Apologies are worse than meaningless if the same mistake happens again under the same circumstances.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:58 AM on June 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


I'm sorry I didn't firmly and clearly say "this is not the time or the way" in response to that. I came into the thread while distracted by some other important stuff and didn't give it the attention it deserved, and let my relief that the situation wasn't the worst-case scenario I'd imagined distract me from the fact that it still sucked and needed to be clearly and unambiguously shot down. I should have broken off the other work I was doing to just take the time to more fully digest and respond appropriately to the situation.

Fixed that link, suedehead.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:01 AM on June 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Try it now?
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:16 AM on June 23, 2019


schroedinger, thank you for the reminder about the importance of taking our time. Just to be clear, I'm not expecting things to be fixed in a year; I doubt they'll be fixed in my lifetime. But a year is enough time to have started the actual drive down a road we have not yet even identified, even if it's just making sure everyone is in the car and we have a map.
posted by maxwelton at 11:02 AM on June 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm dragging my own ass in here and repeating what I said elsewhere: the politicalmegathread is toxic to metafilter

as someone noted, its very very hard on the mods to manage that thread and all the toxins it spews - they are the frontline in containing those toxins within that thread so that it doesn't spill out into the rest of the site - so far, they've done the job that megabucks zuckerfuck couldn't do, and there's been no genocide or faked elections fomented on this website yet. If so, its been due to that.

However, and I mean that as an HOWEVER,

it saps all the emotional energy, thus the emotional intelligence out of the mod team and its not just one thread that will fall off the front page because its kept hanging there on the sidebar like orangefacedknucklehead deserves allt he promo he can eat etc etc look at my own rage when I just think of what is going on around the world and just look at the number of regular threads that toxic megathread has spawned - the yuckety yuck and the fuckety fuck and all of that is managed by the same mod team.

SO

I put in my vote for closing down political filter on the blue, for starters, if we want to begin restoration and justice and repair of what metafilter used to be before it got hijacked by the GoP.

If indeed we're going to talk about what the blue is - O a wonderful place to come for cool links and conversations - then recall that we never had this toxic sludge of a megathread + offshoots hanging out day in and day out for 3 years nonstop for any other president of your fine and brave country.

Is that the future of metafilter? a political junkie's website with multiple emotional support threads and only 5 people to manage everyone on the brink?

Lastly, this is also a world / US problem, not just a Metafilter problem.... Do you how I know?
posted by hugbucket at 2:23 PM on June 23, 2019 [38 favorites]


One of my other internet spaces, Ravelry, announced today that they will no longer allow support of white supremacy (and by extension support of 45) on their site. Maybe our version of that is at least pausing the megathreads, which as others have said move very quickly and require a different kind of moderation.
posted by sockermom at 2:51 PM on June 23, 2019 [17 favorites]


And, as a consequence, we have additional threads on concentration camps, the daily socialist worker review, and the primaries are coming oh noes and instead of sending everyone to chat or slack or wherever, metafilter has become the source of all that traffic to all that media since the rules require us to add links just more links, more outrage

in fact, to bring us back to the original OP of THIS thread - OUTRAGE FILTER = Politics

that is the real decision metafilter needs to take, and then maybe, there'll be space for the rest of us in this nazi fueled nightmare spewing sanctions and tariffs across the world whilst sending bannonites out to trigger genocide even as miller stays home to manage the camps

BAH HUMBUG

this content has sucked the oxygen out of the website and I don't feel like creating posts anymore beyond a single link

I used to come here to get AWAY from the rest of the internet
posted by hugbucket at 2:53 PM on June 23, 2019 [15 favorites]


And maybe its not a mod decision is it but a community one since the creation of the political filter was a community one...

and while I'm on a ranty roll here have the mods had the energy to note how many people are saying they're pulling back their funding of the website and/or leaving in just these two threads alone?

that's a good enough bottomline reason to close down the traffic we send to media sites for their profits and for orangeface's increased visibility
posted by hugbucket at 3:00 PM on June 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


I certainly can't take another 4 years of this. Nor fund the site only for it to focus on trump and his minions incarcerating People of Colour, caging brown babies, threatening muslims around the world, sanctioning the Other, and owning the intewebz

there's your people of colour problem. wypipo proudly bare their chests thanks to great strongman leader showing the way -

there are lurkers here
posted by hugbucket at 3:03 PM on June 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


thank you, hugbucket -- I resemble your rant
posted by philip-random at 3:04 PM on June 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


*sniffle* I miss y'all

I miss pancakes

and recipes


and taters

I miss the grey
posted by hugbucket at 3:07 PM on June 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


i miss being unable to identify a portabello mushroom
posted by snofoam at 3:16 PM on June 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm buttoning out.
posted by hugbucket at 4:26 PM on June 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I don't think the megathreads necessarily help things, but I agree that this problem predates the megathreads.
posted by TwoStride at 5:11 PM on June 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


I don't want to be one of those people with an action plan that needs to be implemented right now, but I do want to make a very simple and direct suggestion for the mod team, which seems to still be struggling with how to take action: don't delete comments by members who identify as people of colour, especially those who have been generous enough with their time and energy to post on the other thread, and double especially if they post on this thread.

(Okay, maybe I can see an exception made for a deletion if a member does something egregious likes actually threatens to do bodily harm to somebody or makes some other ridiculous and extreme comment, but that's about it.)

I realize this goes against the nature of the modding job, and I'm sure there will be some people complaining about special treatment but seriously, if there is a time and a place to ease off the delete button this is it. Now is the time for listening to those members, and that includes giving them leeway outside of the "regular practice" (or whatever we're calling it) because "regular practice" is a lot of the reason why this website is in its current situation.
posted by sardonyx at 5:12 PM on June 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


Is there like a school or something where people study moderation theory and such things? I guess I'm wondering if there's any sort of formal body of knowledge or like competing theories or like ACTUAL research or something or is everyone in the moderating business just making it up as they go?
posted by some loser at 5:33 PM on June 23, 2019


some loser: I don't know about moderation specifically, but I feel like a lot of principles about community development and facilitation would apply.
posted by divabat at 5:49 PM on June 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


I feel like I am commenting in this thread a lot, so I will keep this to a minimum, but yes, there are multiple disciplines where this topic is well-explored. I have made several comments recently (I believe in this thread) pointing to specific researchers whose work could potentially be useful to explore (or who the mods could potentially reach out to for a chat). There is lots of "ACTUAL research" devoted to the topic of online communities and moderation. Computer-supported cooperative work, information science, human-computer interaction, and social informatics are all disciplinary homes for this kind of work (not an exhaustive list).
posted by sockermom at 5:52 PM on June 23, 2019 [15 favorites]


So, hypothetically speaking,