Decommissioning the US politics megathreads July 23, 2019 2:46 PM   Subscribe

During the 2016 US election cycle, we experimented with moving US politics discussion to a catch-all megathread model: focusing almost all discussion of the topic to large omnibus threads posted every week or two. The resulting megathreads have been a valued thing for many people, and a lot of work and care has gone into them from posters and commenters to try and help them be a functional part of the MeFi posting mix. But the threads have always posed significant challenges, and the time has come when we need to make a fundamental change.

What’s the problem?

The catch-all US politics megathreads as they exist are overtaxing our limited moderation resources and creating ongoing strains in the community. Keeping on top of them is burning out the mods and distracting us from getting work done on other aspects of the site and community that need attention.

We’ve experimented with imposing stricter moderation standards on the threads to keep them more manageable, but that separate-rules method has led to its own set of problems: confusion among members about what standards apply where, intra-community conflict over differing expectations, and irritation with mod decisions that feel inconsistent or unexpected.

Trying to accommodate the evolving and unusual needs of these threads has meant users and mods establishing or accommodating thread-specific rules and expectations, and mods being torn between trying to keep recurring megathread issues in check and trying to keep moderation in those threads close to baseline site standards, while not being able to really achieve either.

We need to move on to something else.

So we need to call a halt to the current megathread process. That means ceasing the practice of putting up a new thread every week or two and using that as a daily staging ground for everything happening in US politics until it gets big enough to need a new one. We need to find a different approach to providing as much of what’s been valuable as we reasonably can but in new ways that eat up fewer site resources and better align with the rest of how MetaFilter functions.


What happens next?

1. Topic specific posts instead of catch-all megathreads.

We’re going to stop having new catch-all US politics posts.

Some of the substantial major stories or developments in US politics will make sense as standalone posts. We want folks to rework their expectations back in that direction, toward making topic-specific posts with focused discussions, as was the standard practice up until 2016. Sometimes that may be a couple paragraphs of roundup of links on a complex topic; sometimes that might just be one really good link worth discussing in its own right. More “here is a specific thing worth talking about”, less “here’s the state of everything, go”.

Much of the smaller stuff, the constant churn of nonetheless scorn-worthy crap the current US admin et al get up to and the daily twists and turns of political messaging, isn’t going to be good post material and may not have any natural home in what topic-specific threads do exist.

Finding the right balance of what’s big enough for a post and how many is too many will be a process. Part of the goal here is to adjust downward the overall weight of US politics discussion on the site, and the moderation attention needed to manage it. It’ll likely involve deleting some posts, and we’ll try to be communicative about where and why we’re drawing a line when that happens. Folks considering a post but not feeling sure about it are welcome to check with the mod team at the contact form for a second opinion ahead of time.


2. Finding ways to redirect or rehome megathread activity.

We appreciate all the effort people have put into trying to make these threads work, and the worth a lot of people have gotten out of the threads as part of the site the last three years. This would be simpler, and would have happened sooner, if there weren’t that clear value mixed into these complicated things. We’re making this change because we absolutely need to, not because we don’t recognize that value.

So one of the things we want to do is find ways to let some of that valuable stuff live on, either elsewhere on the site or by supporting efforts by commenters and readers to create their own self-directed alternatives.

In part that means moving discussion of specific aspects of US politics to dedicated threads, so folks who value discussing these events can continue to do so there. Hopefully that’ll allow a little more focus and deep dive on those discussions as well, without having twenty things happening at once in parallel.

In part that could mean finding a way to aggregate US political news/developments in some off-site thread or blog, so folks who value having a detailed blotter/timeline of developments in one place can still get that. We’d be happy to help talk out ideas for that, and to find a way to link/highlight it on the site as an ongoing resource for MeFites and general readers.

In part that could mean redirecting some of the general social function of those threads to other parts of the site. One of our concerns with the megathreads is that they’ve come a de facto hangout space, but a pretty stressful and angry-making one just by dint of the content; we recognize that for some folks it may be *the* space they prefer to hang out in, but given that we need to make this change regardless we’d like to encourage and support folks in trying to move that back to other parts of the site. That could also mean talking about new ideas for how we can support some of that social energy.


3. Revisiting expectations about appropriate commenting habits in politics discussions.

We have challenges with politics discussion on MetaFilter that exist independent of the megathread context, and we need to talk about that as well.

There are some big recurring issues in how politics discussions get circular or go sideways that we need folks to really be self-aware about and not initiate or perpetuate while discussing stuff on the site. We need folks to be mindful of stuff like:

- No treading the same ground again and again, within or across threads.
- No attacking or being broadly dismissive of other MeFites for disagreeing with your position.
- No telling other people what they think or feel; no mind-reading.
- This isn’t a campaign, we’re not holding a vote: don’t treat discussions like you have to argue your preference (or against someone else's) until everybody agrees.

Everything is weird and hard now, and it gets people’s blood up, but we need folks to manage that. MetaFilter needs to not be political thunderdome, and it can’t require constant moderation intervention to stop that from happening. Especially as we move further into the primaries and the 2020 election season. I talked about primaries stuff back at the start of the year, in this MetaTalk thread, and basically everything in there still pertains.

So: talking about your experiences, your preferences, your goals, the stuff you're reading, the work you’re doing, is fine. Talking about and disagreeing about policy and political history and so on in constructive and respectful ways is fine.

Crapping on other people in the conversation, or on other people’s feelings or preferences or stances, is not. Getting in vituperative scraps about whose candidate is worse is not. Bringing an argument back to the thing you’re still unhappy about in the *last* argument is not.

We need folks to operate in these discussions like they respect and want to share space with each other and are trying to contribute to a conversation. It can be serious and critical, and it’s inevitably going to involve disagreements, but it needs to not just be another fight about politics every day.

And we’re going to need to have folks self-regulate on this stuff. If someone repeatedly can’t we’re going to have to tell them to just skip discussing politics on the site for the foreseeable future, and enforce that with account closures if they can’t manage that. For this stuff not to swallow oversized amounts of moderation time with constant thread monitoring and steering, we’re going to have to use quicker, blunter tools. I’d rather just not have to use those tools at all, but the history of election seasons on MeFi has made it clear that we can’t just ask nicely and hope for the best.


4. Other details

World politics: all of the above is just about US politics discussions specifically. International politics and discussions of stuff in other countries has never had an oppressively large footprint on the front page and we’re not concerned about trying to reduce the level of any of that. Political posts about non-US countries are fine and welcome; as always, US members should be mindful not to jump in and make those about the US.

US Politics sidebar widget: we’ll be keeping this in place. If you’re posting something about US politics, you should tag your posts with “uspolitics”; if as a reader you want to block posts with that tag from showing up on the front page, you can hide them from there. We’ll continue to put major story posts on the sidebar widget to make them quicker to find.

Hyucking Hyuck threads: it may make sense to discontinue these at this point. They were intended specifically as megathread spillover. A little bit of riffing is fine in typical MeFi threads, and in threads that aren't 2000 comments long the need to manage comment count isn't so pressing. So aiming to return to that as a normal part of the mix feels appropriate.

Fucking Fuck threads: these were also originally intended as a megathread spillover, but how and what they’re used for has shifted over time. So we need to revisit these and figure out what folks want and expect from them. The recent Hugging Hugs thread has been an experiment in aiming more for a not-politics-centric variation of a venting and support thread and might be the most useful model for such a thing at this point. But we can talk about this some more.

PoliticsFilter: folks have proposed many times starting a formal subsite/subsection. Given our resources and other site work that needs doing, this isn’t something we can even really consider right now, so I’ll ask folks to not restart that conversation again in here. For now we need to just try and move back to older MeFi practices on US politics discussion, and see how we’re doing and go from there.


This will all be a work in progress, and we might need to make more changes and adjustments as we go. We appreciate everyone bearing with us and understand people are doing their best.

If you personally dislike the megathreads, that’s fine, but please keep it kind in here; many people really value them and this change will be a disappointment for a lot of folks, and an adjustment for everybody.

I’d also like to ask that we keep this discussion pretty close to the topic of moving forward from retiring the megathreads and toward specific “what’s next” stuff. I recognize there’s a lot of tangents we could get off onto about other site stuff that loosely or indirectly relates to the megathreads and the last three years, but I need folks to help us keep this thread focused so it doesn’t itself eat up more mod and site resources than we have to spare right now. I appreciate your help on this.
posted by cortex to MetaFilter-Related at 2:46 PM (654 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

This is at least two years overdue IMO, but I'm glad it's happening now. I really think this will be a big improvement to the site.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:50 PM on July 23 [49 favorites]


I stand by what I said earlier. A couple of threads when Trump was elected seemed like having a drink with friends to commiserate. Now, doing it every day, seems like alcoholism.
posted by Segundus at 2:57 PM on July 23 [314 favorites]


Well put, Segundus.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:01 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


*breathes into paper bag*
posted by corb at 3:02 PM on July 23 [67 favorites]


yeah i'm pretty sure back when the megathreads started that we'd be free of them on november 10th, 2016. i, like, applaud this move or whatever.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:02 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


I've participated in the megathreads a lot, and I feel that this move is a good one. I know they have value for many people, but I think the costs are just too great at this point.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:07 PM on July 23 [39 favorites]


Good decision.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:10 PM on July 23


Very happy to see movement on this - those megathreads are too much of a drain. I hope these efforts succeed in rebalancing the amount of site resources going into US politics threads vs. the rest of the site.
posted by DingoMutt at 3:10 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I blame exactly one person for doing this to Metafilter, and he's not going to stop doing it. I was hoping things would return to normal once you vote him out.
posted by adept256 at 3:16 PM on July 23 [16 favorites]


.
posted by SpaceBass at 3:16 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Let me be the first to disagree...
posted by Windopaene at 3:16 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


I realize the megathreads are no good for me and most likely the site. I can see I'm better off without them when I'm away from my computer (I don't usually read MeFi on my phone), but I always come back to them when I've got the chance. So what Segundus said.
posted by mollweide at 3:16 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


This is going to save me SO much time, you have no idea.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:17 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


adept256: "I blame exactly one person for doing this to Metafilter, and he's not going to stop doing it. I was hoping things would return to normal once you vote him out."

No, mathowie is gone already.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:19 PM on July 23 [24 favorites]


This is going to save me SO much time, you have no idea.

My work productivity is about to skyrocket.
posted by bassooner at 3:20 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


It might be viable to dump them into a Slack or offload them into someplace people who want that constant stream of updates/discussion could participate, minus the overhead of running the servers and moderating them. I know the quality would go down due to a lack of moderation to snip the back and forths and derails in the bud, but it might be something to consider.
posted by msbutah at 3:21 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


What happens when a specific topic-focused thread like the Mueller testimony thread pulls 30 comments in three hours and continues to roll?
What happens when a specific topic focused thread like the Democratic presidential debate thread pulls 700 comments in a month?
What happens when a specific topic focused thread that has a history of contentious argument and strongly-held position like Bernie Sander's campaign announcement pulls 600+ comments in a week?

How will we prevent the rolling catchall threads from growing again?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:23 PM on July 23 [17 favorites]


Since mid-2016, I've loved having one place to get a rundown of everything going on. But as time goes on, I also think it's been bad for me to be able to get it all so conveniently.

So I am sad and relieved to hear this.
posted by phatkitten at 3:24 PM on July 23 [30 favorites]


I think they have value but I don't see what else to do given the resource strain. I hope this really does achieve its goals, rather than serving as a shutoff of the containment grid.
posted by XMLicious at 3:24 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Disagree with this and I think it'll simply spread the moderating issues back across several threads and to the rest of the site, wasn't part of the megathread approach because people didn't like every other topic becoming politicsfilter?

But if it has to happen, keeping the sidebar topics for US related threads seems like a decent compromise.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:24 PM on July 23 [35 favorites]


Ah, bummer. The megathreads, thanks in great measure to the contributions of a handful of members, are/were a convenient one stop shop to catch up on Trumpnews.

Oh well.
posted by notyou at 3:25 PM on July 23 [35 favorites]


I would suggest not a separate subforum for US politics, but a "half" of that idea.

For front page posts, a separate moderation process. "Roy Moore re-election" and "Bill de Blasio candidacy" are things I would not nominate for ongoing sidebar threads; "border concentration camps", "Trump regulatory deconstruction", and "Puerto Rico protests" are threads I might want to revisit in a month, and are places where I would find value in an ongoing discussion over a few months.

I would also suggest, say, slightly heightened moderation of threads that get sidebarred, meaning posting updates and a little riffing, but no heated exchanges, as well as moderation in other threads that says, "take that discussion to XX sidebar thread".

I don't know if this idea is helpful, but if I were four people trying to run a website this size, I'd probably do something like that.
posted by saysthis at 3:27 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


How will we prevent the rolling catchall threads from growing again?

This also seems like it could become an issue with debates and as the actual election approaches.

Also I understand the trade off between quality vs quantity is what makes the community, but at times this site feels like the only place on the internet where more participation is actively discouraged.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:27 PM on July 23 [24 favorites]


T.D. Strange: "Disagree with this and I think it'll simply spread the moderating issues back across several threads and to the rest of the site, wasn't part of the megathread approach because people didn't like every other topic becoming politicsfilter?"

I think the megathreads generated heat out of proportion, more than the sum of their parts. If I don't care about a particular subthread, I can opt out, whereas I can't when everything is in one post.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:34 PM on July 23 [20 favorites]


Thanks to the Megathreads, I have become more actively politically engaged. I've protested. I've sent regular messages to my congresspeople. I've been able to respond in an informed manner to people who are ignorant or uninformed about what is going on in the country. I'm not sure of where else I can go for such thorough and in depth discussion of issues. I'm devastated to hear they're going, though I do understand the rationale. I'd be very grateful to hear about other options for this level of information.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:35 PM on July 23 [114 favorites]


I've moved away from getting my updates here recently because I've been listening to the Mueller She Wrote podcast. They've just started a daily spin-off called The Daily Beans. They do have a closed facebook group for patreon supporters but I haven't used it despite donating. Because it's fucking facebook, right?

That's my alternative for a progressive news wrap. It lacks the participation side, but perhaps that's best for me.
posted by adept256 at 3:35 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


What happens when a specific topic-focused thread like the Mueller testimony thread pulls 30 comments in three hours and continues to roll?
What happens when a specific topic focused thread like the Democratic presidential debate thread pulls 700 comments in a month?
What happens when a specific topic focused thread that has a history of contentious argument and strongly-held position like Bernie Sander's campaign announcement pulls 600+ comments in a week?


I expect us to have some big topic-focused threads still. Big things will happen, big stories will break, big checkpoints in the electoral schedule will come along. That's the way it was before 2016 too.

But, notably, I expect them to be a thing that happens sometimes, not a thing that happens all the time, every day. We can manage a busy thread when it comes along, we always have. But managing an unceasing cycle of them not so much.

How will we prevent the rolling catchall threads from growing again?

Keeping the threads we do have on topic; keeping to an expectation that folks won't just turn any available thread into a de facto catch-all. There will probably be the same sorts of occasional "hey, maybe this should be its own thread" discussions about creeping tangents that we've always had, and slightly messy/busy moments.

So it's gonna be a matter of resetting expectations (see this post) and then collectively trying to keep to that. The mod team will steer that where we can see it's needed; this post can be a touchstone to remind folks about the change.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:36 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Thanks to the Megathreafs, I have become more actively politically engaged. I've protested. I've sent regular messages to my congresspeople. I've been able to respond in an informed manner to people who are ignorant or uninformed about what is going on in the country. I'm not sure of where else I can go for such thorough and in depth discussion of issues. I'm devastated to hear they're going, though I do understand the rationale. I'd be very grateful to hear about other options for this level of information.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:35 AM on July 24 [+] [!]


This. I will say one final thing, that I will donate to anything mefi-related, especially a new mod, but these threads keep me engaged at a level I otherwise wouldn't be.

Now I'm going away, because the rest of my opinions are emotional. Hate to see 'em go.
posted by saysthis at 3:38 PM on July 23 [52 favorites]


If the megathreads are keeping us from making this site (and its culture) more welcoming to marginalized and minority folks of any and all stripes, they need to go, full stop. This is true whether it's the content of the threads or the inordinately large footprint they have from a staff-time-consumption aspect. We've been told they are (I believe it!) so, ergo, they must go.

I've gotten a lot of value from them, but I'd get a lot more future value if this place works its way to being a more diverse, welcoming community.

That said: cortex et al, can you give us an idea of your back-of-envelope ruminations as to how freeing dropping megathreads will be? For example, is it enough relief for cortex to drop out of moderating and concentrate solely on business projects? Or...?
posted by maxwelton at 3:38 PM on July 23 [36 favorites]


I'm glad that they're going to be gone. I read every single one of them because I'm worried about my country, there are lots of interesting links, and you all are smart people and say thought-provoking things. But after a while Metafilter started to become "the place I came for depressing (but important!) politics news" instead of "the place where I came to see and chat about neat stuff on the internet".

I feel like, for the sake of my personal relationship with Metafilter, this had to be done. I bet it will also have a positive impact on my mood in general as well.
posted by Gray Duck at 3:39 PM on July 23 [21 favorites]


I completely understand why this is necessary, but I find it more concerning than relieving. The reason those threads exist is the same reason they're contentious and difficult. We live in a difficult and contentious time. I don't think any amount of pretending things have gone back to normal will make them normal. Closing those threads feel like saying the problem is just too big for Metafilter to meet, which is understandable, but I don't think doing away with the thread will meet the needs of the community with regard to the current unfolding garbage fire, and the content and sentiments expressed in the megathreads will simply spill over into over threads, until said garbage fire is extinguished.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:42 PM on July 23 [91 favorites]


I will miss the megathreads but can understand the necessity of this change practically and in terms of site culture.

I would suggest a new revolving metatalk thread for aggregating the subject specific threads and for metacommentary across those posts, but I guess it would probably just become a de facto megathread even with ground rules against newsfilter.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:43 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I think the megathreads generated heat out of proportion, more than the sum of their parts. If I don't care about a particular subthread, I can opt out, whereas I can't when everything is in one post.

Yep, this is a big part of the issue. The upsides of siloing stuff have lost out against all the complicating factors of trying to have, and interlace, and moderate, those discussions in one place. With topic-specific threads people will still disagree and there will still no doubt be heat sometimes, but folks will at least not also be fighting for room to hear and be heard on sub-thread x in among every other sub-thread also playing out.

can you give us an idea of your back-of-envelope ruminations as to how freeing dropping megathreads will be?

Looking at where time goes in terms of sheer interactions, the megathreads have been eating up something like half of our raw moderation actions—things like incoming flags to process, comment deletions, notes. That's an imperfect metric so I don't want to attach over much meaning to it as a number, but it's a really outsized scope of mod attention. It's ever-presence as a load also means we don't get breaks from it.

We'll have to see how things sort out in practice in terms of moderation load in the next couple months as this transition sets in; I don't think this change is going to, like, fundamentally change MeFi's moderation needs, but I expect we'll have a more breathing room on a more regular basis.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:45 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


How will we prevent the rolling catchall threads from growing again?

I think that in topical threads it's easier to define what constitutes "off topic" -- for both moderators and well-meaning participants -- which I do think is an issue in the megathreads.

At the same time, the best thing about the megathreads is all the legitimately interesting "off topic" stuff is in there. It is literally exhaustive; it covers 100% of the informational space, there are no nooks or crannies for tidbits of information to fall through.

Which is amazing, but yeah, I wouldn't want to clean up after it either.
posted by bjrubble at 3:45 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Topic specific posts instead of catch-all megathreads.

We've had some success with topic-specific FPPs for US Politics taking the strain off the megathreads. The great advantage of the megathreads, however, was that we could see, practically in real time, which were the most pressing issues that the community wanted to delve more deeply into or discuss at greater length. Transitioning to topic-specific FPPs only will need some kind of space for that conversation to play out.

There are some big recurring issues in how politics discussions get circular or go sideways that we need folks to really be self-aware about and not initiate or perpetuate while discussing stuff on the site. We need folks to be mindful of stuff like:

- No treading the same ground again and again, within or across threads.
- No attacking or being broadly dismissive of other MeFites for disagreeing with your position.
- No telling other people what they think or feel; no mind-reading.
- This isn’t a campaign, we’re not holding a vote: don’t treat discussions like you have to argue your preference (or against someone else's) until everybody agrees.


Will the same guidelines from the megathreads apply in USPolitics FPPs?
—No catastrophizing
—No non-US Politics derails
—No relitigating the past (e.g. 2016 primaries/2016 election/2018 midterms/etc.)
—No reactive outbursts/hot takes ("Surely this", "I can't believe it", "WTF", "My gut tells me", etc.)
—No prescriptive declarations/manifestos ("This is the correct way to think/feel" about an issue/political figure).

Can we establish ahead of time what are the no-go areas, the US Politics equivalents of I/P and circumcision? (This most recent thread went off track several times with circular arguments about impeachment, the DCCC, "feckless Dems in disarray", pro-Pelosi vs con-Pelosi, for instance.)

If mod resources will be freed up by the absence of megathreads, will attention to flagging these kinds of problems be as prompt before the discussion goes off the rails?

In part that could mean finding a way to aggregate US political news/developments in some off-site thread or blog, so folks who value having a detailed blotter/timeline of developments in one place can still get that.

This sounds like you're asking megathread regulars to leave the site for Facebook, Discord, Blogger, or wherever. At a time of shrinking membership this seems like the opposite message to deliver. Besides, there are already any number of news aggregate sites out there, but none of them have the aspect of community participation that MeFi does.

I would instead ask the mod team to consider creating a separate channel for US Politics on MetaChat. (It's extremely awkward for normal chat users to have to deal with the influx of people interested in US Politics whenever a major event goes down.) Although the Mefi Wiki has proven to be a good place to workshop drafts of megathreads and US Politics FPPs, the MediaWiki code isn't suited for extended conversations.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:47 PM on July 23 [16 favorites]


Oh man. I get it, I really do, but I’m having a hard time with this. These threads have been my resource and solace in an increasingly hard time. I quit Facebook (and I quit drinking) so my outlets and social contacts have narrowed in the past few years. The megathreads were pretty much the only time I felt that I was among people who are smart and caring and invested. Thank you all so, so much for the camaraderie and commiseration. It’s been a sanity saver.
posted by thebrokedown at 3:47 PM on July 23 [114 favorites]


notyou: a convenient one stop shop to catch up on Trumpnews

See: What The Fuck Just Happened Today dot com, and I thought there were MeFites compiling other news you may have missed, for non-Trump news (or Trump-related things that generally flew below the radar).

As for other MetaFilter adjacent spaces to discuss U.S. politics in general, most of the recent threads have linked to MeFi Chat for live-blogging breaking news & events and the Unofficial PoliticsFilter Slack.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:49 PM on July 23 [16 favorites]


I'm in camp "I keep participating in megathreads even though they're bad for me". I won't regret being denied my fix.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:49 PM on July 23 [26 favorites]


Time for them to go.
When they were totally factual about all the shit going on in the background they were invaluable.
When they started to be just more usa circular political arguments and what ifs and rehashes for the 99th time they ceased to be useful as signal was drowned by noise. Meanwhile plenty of shit is still going down in the background but people would rather pontificate about their own little democrat bugbear.
posted by adamvasco at 3:52 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


The megathreads have been a convenient and valuable way for me to stay informed. I don't have the energy or paid accounts to seek out current news as it breaks, nor do I otherwise have a community whose assessments I generally trust. They've convinced me to call my representatives on issues and given me trustworthy organizations to which to donate. And I don't maintain a lot of social contacts, so they've helped me feel less alone in my attempt to grapple with the extent of the omnishambles.

That said, yes, I can absolutely see why they need to go.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:52 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


Additional thoughts:

First -- I also appreciated the ability to skim those threads for general round-ups of events, including announcements and information from Twitter accounts, particularly because I'm not really on Twitter.

Second -- at the same time, I skimmed those threads because the same topics were debated over and over, and I didn't want to wade into those waters. Also, I am another person who will likely be more productive from the loss of these threads. Even though they were becoming less active in past weeks and months, they were like my Facebook feed for political updates (and I don't like Facebook, because it's too easy to get sucked into the bottomless page of content).
posted by filthy light thief at 3:53 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Thank you for continuing with the option to hide US politics posts. While I use other sources to stay informed, it's been very good for my mental health to be able to rely on MetaFilter as being something of a refuge from that daily dose of grar.
posted by Aleyn at 3:53 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I second Ray Walston, Luck Dragon. Unfortunately the only way to really end the shit is to get rid of You Know Who, which nobody will do. Or just ban politics entirely from the entire site. I suspect anything else tried is just going to still be a giant mess, because everything is no matter what now.

But, whatever. Not my decision to make or manage. Up to you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:54 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


I am extremely grateful for this decision. I used to keep up with the megathreads and about five threads ago, I stopped, because I realized keeping up with them meant I wasn't engaging with Metafilter as a whole anymore. Since I stopped reading them I have been able to read so many meaningful posts and discussions. If I hadn't stopped reading the megathreads, I personally wouldn't have been able to examine the white fragility and racism that I'd been both perpetuating and unaware of here, and I certainly wouldn't have read the state of the site thread. It kept me from engaging in a way here that felt more meaningful than unhealthy.

It hurts me to see people who say that those thread are the places they found community. The rest of Metafilter is full of great conversations and current events. For anyone considering leaving over this decision, I am begging you, please consider jumping into more conversations on the site, whether it's to answer questions on AskMefi or to ask your own, or in other threads on the Blue, or to host an IRL event. Please don't give up, because the same people you enjoyed interacting with in those threads are elsewhere on the site.

I don't think doing away with the thread will meet the needs of the community with regard to the current unfolding garbage fire, and the content and sentiments expressed in the megathreads will simply spill over into over threads, until said garbage fire is extinguished.

You know, I want Metafilter to be all things to all people, and welcoming to as many people [who are here in good faith] as possible, but I also think that folks unfairly expect that our discussions here to "meet the needs of the community" in ways that it just can't. But like I said above, there's a lot of worthwhile and great spaces here that will continue to keep you connected with the greater world but also provide you some refuge from it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:54 PM on July 23 [23 favorites]


On the one hand, I'll be less informed. On the other hand, some of the ideology whicj has been normalized in the megathreads makes me grr, and I could use less grr in my life.

I think I'll just follow events as best I can from the 3 newspaper subscriptions I've bought since 2016 and The Weekly Sift and What the Fuck Just Happened Today and Amy Siskind's list.

But honestly I don't think even all of those resources together will totally replace the value of the megathread for me.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:55 PM on July 23 [21 favorites]


I’m going to miss the megathreads a lot — for me they’ve been a place for solace, info, and sharing. That said, I greatly appreciate all the time, energy, and thought the mods, the post writers, and all my fellow mefites have put into them. I also applaud the detailed explanation for the change, and thoughts on what may come next.

For me, Metafilter in general is a great example of just how wonderful a user-centered Web-space can be, and this kind of post — which explains a change in site policy in the context of history and resources and shared experience — similarly gives me all kinds of good feelings.
posted by young_simba at 3:56 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


> I blame exactly one person for doing this to Metafilter, and he's not going to stop doing it. I was hoping things would return to normal once you vote him out.

i'm pretty sure i'm not a frequent enough contributor for this one person to be me, but if this one person is me i apologize and please if possible i would like to right my wrongs.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:57 PM on July 23 [26 favorites]


I really needed the megathreads right after the 2016 election. I didn’t know what to think or how to make sense of it all. But things are different for me now. The threads feel less vital, although they remain informative. This change is a good idea. Thanks.
posted by kerf at 3:58 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


As someone who would like to see them stay around, but understanding that they can't, I want to strongly disagree with moving anything to Slack. That platform just isn't suitable for the kind of long discussions that the threads result in, because people don't usually buy slack licensing and therefore messages expire and it's just kind of a disaster trying to shoe-horn different use cases into a business-focused tool.
posted by odinsdream at 4:00 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


also, count me on team "i keep coming back to the megathreads even though i find them legit psychologically damaging." thank you for shutting them down; i have an addictive personality and they're one of the things i'm addicted to.

honestly, the megathreads are maybe 30% of the reason why i've taken up the habit of going camping out of cellphone range as often as i possibly can. the bulk of the other 70% is mark zuckerberg's fault.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:00 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


it's really great that the people who hate the megathreads are so worried about the mental health of those of us who find value in it. your self-righteous victory dancing is really appreciated.

this is horse shit, but also if this is what the community wants, and the mods want, what can i do? i'm sure when these threads go away, the country will stop being on fire, right?
posted by rotten at 4:02 PM on July 23 [29 favorites]


Will the same guidelines from the megathreads apply in USPolitics FPPs?

Those things are all still substantial concerns, yeah. I think part of what the long-term process of this is going to involve is looking, a month or two from now, at how megathreadless politics discussion on the site is going and identifying the bits that are still recurring issues, and reinforce the stuff folks need to work to avoid looping into.

That said, part of the pressure to be more prescriptive in, and to delete more stuff from, the megathreads was the sheer running size and everything-to-everyone nature of them; with individual threads varying in size and heat and seriousness, I think we'll be more able to wrangle the bumpy bits case-by-case vs. trying to set up a monolithic block of special rules for them. We've had some megathread-specific expectations develop, and shift over time, about what is strictly impermissible, that differs from baseline expectations for discussion threads on the blue, and I want us to move away from that and back more toward a sense that all threads more or less work the same way.

I know that may take some easing into because of all the heavy lifting that's become common for trying to keep the megathreads in check. It's gonna be a process of adapting.

If mod resources will be freed up by the absence of megathreads, will attention to flagging these kinds of problems be as prompt before the discussion goes off the rails?

That's part of the hoped-for outcome, yes. I know I'm much more able to tackle a specific problem when it comes up if I'm not already half-way occupied at all times by the low (or not so low) burble of activity in some other thread. We've had three years of there always being some other thread, at all times, and it's made it hard to moderate either the megathreads or anything else as attentively as we'd like.

This sounds like you're asking megathread regulars to leave the site for Facebook, Discord, Blogger, or wherever. At a time of shrinking membership this seems like the opposite message to deliver. Besides, there are already any number of news aggregate sites out there, but none of them have the aspect of community participation that MeFi does.

I feel you on this, and I don't suggest organizing this stuff off-site lightly; I just don't have an on-site place that I can offer for that exact kind of thing. I don't want to send folks to Facebook, at all; I do think that folks wanting to do the aggregation work on this stuff putting it in a place they independently control could be a good compromise and that's something that if it does happen I'd absolutely want to highlight directly on the site.

But we just can't not make this change in order to keep folks around; I need MeFi to continue to be around and functional too. It's a hard decision but after three years of this not working, we have to do not-this and try to figure out how to make the best of that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:03 PM on July 23 [22 favorites]


(Part of why the megathreads are an ongoing thing is that our society is now WELCOME TO ATROCITYVILLE, Population Everyone. Just one of the dozen things that happen every day in our current shitshow would have generated its own thread before 2016.

But: That one scandal would have been the news cycle for months (witness BUTTER EMAILS), and could be covered by a single thread. Now, you could literally start five or ten well-supported, topical political outrage posts every day (please don't do this), and probably not even scratch the surface. It's draining and exhausting and WILL IT PLEASE STOP.

It's little wonder no one knows what to do with the effluent we are all now swimming in. It all feels urgent, and the megathreads do feel like a way to at least be a tiny bit aware of the scope of it all. I think that's an illusion, but an illusion is at least something, and I am sad to have that wool lifted from my eyes. At least it was comforting.

In conculsion, ugh.)
posted by maxwelton at 4:03 PM on July 23 [39 favorites]


> As someone who would like to see them stay around, but understanding that they can't, I want to strongly disagree with moving anything to Slack. That platform just isn't suitable for the kind of long discussions that the threads result in, because people don't usually buy slack licensing and therefore messages expire and it's just kind of a disaster trying to shoe-horn different use cases into a business-focused tool.

are there any decent modern tools for community fora that allow for the sorting of comments using strict reverse chronological order with no threading and no preference given to upvoted comments? to my eye that's one of the design decisions that's crucial for maintaining the style and quality of community discourse we find here.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:06 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I can only speak for myself, but as part of my project to try and redirect my screen time in a healthier direction by cutting cable (and thus cable news) and deleting Twitter and Facebook and stopping perusing the megathreads for the most part, I feel I am still adequately informed of the goings-on, and I have significantly more time to direct my energy outward. I miss all the little weird details that can make following politics fascinating, but I don’t miss the bullet-point events of the day.

I fully support this choice even while understanding what people are going to miss. I also think the past megathreads are an amazing historical record—even though I have never been able to go back and read the Election Night one (sob).

I blame exactly one person for doing this to Metafilter, and he's not going to stop doing it. I was hoping things would return to normal once you vote him out.

I sat here for an embarrassingly long time thinking “wow, who’s been stirring all the drama in the megathreads?!?!” Oh...That Guy.
posted by sallybrown at 4:06 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


My version of this solution was that topics mentioned in the megathread could be cut out and spun off into new FPPs, complete with whatever comments were related prior to the separation, but that wouldn't work without comment threading.

Another option was to add a moderation flag for "this should be its own post."

But, those are ponies in the wind. All in all I'm a fan of more-specific posts, such as the new Mueller one, so this whole change doesn't bug me. It will indeed save me a lot of time, too.
posted by rhizome at 4:08 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I would instead ask the mod team to consider creating a separate channel for US Politics on MetaChat.

Oh, also: yes, I'm okay with this idea. I don't really love Chat as a solution to site discussion stuff because it's its own odd ephemeral thing and not a moderated space in the same ways MeFi proper is, but we've kicked open a politics channel on there at times over the years and I don't have a problem with kicking one open full-time as the non-primary channel. I'll check in with frimble about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:10 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


I've been in them less, but I really appreciate the political threads (whether in megathread form or not). I can get news anywhere, but this is literally the only place on the Internet I feel I can go to for reactions (and sometimes I don't just want to talk to myself). Every more politics-oriented place is pretty toxic. And I'm certainly not going near Slack or anything like that.

Of course, this is because of moderation and I totally get the "we can't sustain it" thing.

(Side note: I really hate when people do the whole "you know, THAT GUY who is the problem" thing. Either don't mention it at all [better option] or just say it [probably should pick the first one]. I have no idea who people are talking about, as I can think of several people who _might_ be the person in question, and it just comes off as very high school drama).
posted by thefoxgod at 4:12 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Should the debates go on FanFare or MeFi proper?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:13 PM on July 23


rotten: "i'm sure when these threads go away, the country will stop being on fire, right?"

I would suggest that the state of the US is not related to whether or not Metafilter has USpolitics megathreads.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:13 PM on July 23 [34 favorites]


The megathreads became an all consuming thing for me. I've followed almost all of them. It's a lot to take in. I found myself skipping over the entirety of the post itself, going straight to the comments, and I never really started questioning why. Due to some illness, I had to take an involuntary break for a couple of weeks, and I found that I was MUCH happier, despite feeling physically horrible. I haven't spent as much time in them since then - I still check them out, but I don't feel a need to read literally every single comment.

Part of my need to not read them is because for many comments, I got to the point where I could tell almost immediately who was posting them only a few words into it, and generally could predict the rest of the comment at that point. I am certainly guilty of some of this repetition myself.... Additional rules only helped some. There definitely was a feeling of the rules not being applied equally to all members, as well, and I think that the attempt to put some of the rules in place without them being objectively enforced has really made things more frustrating for some. If I'm being completely honest, my participation became more of "attempting to thoughtfully compose thoughts at the void in a way that complies with the rules" as opposed to "screaming into the void."

Despite all of this, there has been great value in the threads. There is a lot of perspective I wouldn't have today if it wasn't for these threads, a lot of strong voices, a lot of hope... islands of hope in Omnishambles Ocean. I have become more personally politically aware and engaged as a direct result. It has also helped me sort out the really awful reporting from the good reporting - I cannot deny how valuable that has been for me.

The ongoing onslaught of the administration is a denial of service upon us all, and these threads are symptomatic of that. I agree that they cannot continue forever in this format, but no matter how the rules may change, we are all the same people with the same feelings coming to the same site - and living under the same abnormal circumstances. As others have said, things are not normal now.

Anyways, having all of the comments concentrated on specific events is probably a better thing overall, but it's going to take some really heavy handed moderation to do much more than that. If more moderation or making special accommodations for this sort of activity not an option, I don't see what else you do.
posted by MysticMCJ at 4:16 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


The "that guy" thing is about Trump. I think that landed poorly because, shit, people are on edge and it's not like subtweety bullshit doesn't happen, but: I'm pretty certain that was the joke. Trump fucked everything up for us. Trump is That Guy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:16 PM on July 23 [59 favorites]


(Side note: I really hate when people do the whole "you know, THAT GUY who is the problem" thing. Either don't mention it at all [better option] or just say it [probably should pick the first one]. I have no idea who people are talking about, as I can think of several people who _might_ be the person in question, and it just comes off as very high school drama).

The reference is to That Man In The White House.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:16 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon: "are there any decent modern tools for community fora that allow for the sorting of comments using strict reverse chronological order with no threading and no preference given to upvoted comments?"

What about some of these?
posted by Chrysostom at 4:18 PM on July 23


Should the debates go on FanFare or MeFi proper?

MeFi proper.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:18 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


oh loard. apparently my nervous narcissism is so bad that it can make me briefly forget about our narcissist-in-chief.

which i mean i guess it should be a relief to forget about that guy for a second, but...
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:19 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


I disliked the megathreads even before the election, and I have to say that I am glad to see them go. I hope this yields more participation over the whole of the site and frankly better and more interesting discussion of US politics as well.
posted by crazy with stars at 4:19 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


over 65 comments in the first hour and a half... dare I say that this could turn into a megathread itself?

And are there some elements of what fell into "megathreads" that would fall into the category of "things Metafilter doesn't do well" for future moderation?
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:20 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


This is a good change and I think the community can carry forward some of what we've learned from the megapost experiment to constructively interact with the new setup.

Personally I'll probably use the Mute USPOL option on my front page, and separately bookmark the tag page. That way I have a very rough approximation of a separate politicsfilter that I can engage with differently and sparingly. YMMV
posted by churl at 4:21 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


those are ponies in the wind
Beautiful...
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:21 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


MetaFailure
posted by M-x shell at 4:22 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Political Megathreads on MetaFilter: A Retrospective

This is a chronological listing of all posts tagged with "election2016" or "potus45" with 500+ comments, from Clinton declaring her run in April 2015 to the most recent round-up post. All data courtesy of the awesome MeFi Infodumpster.
DATE		POSTS	TITLE
2015-04-12	764	Hillary declares for 2016
2015-07-20	506	Why I'm Glad Bernie Got Interrupted
2015-08-06	1011	Let the games begin! Er, continue! 17 GOP candidates enter ...
2015-08-24	525	Donald Trump, possibly upsetting Fox News' role in Republican politics
2015-09-16	872	GOP 2016 Presidential Debates: one down, 16 to go
2015-10-13	1420	Democratic Debate 2015
2015-11-23	814	The Hatemonger
2016-02-09	3622	Live free or die.
2016-02-18	1865	Nevada and South Carolina
2016-02-23	1602	"How a demagogic opportunist can exploit a divided country"
2016-02-27	690	"Batshit Crazy"
2016-03-01	2780	Super Tuesday: it's going to be huge
2016-03-02	962	He Loves To Eat Hair
2016-03-05	2576	Six candidates, eight days, eleven states: Election 2016 continues
2016-03-15	4500	Election 2016: Rubio and Kasich's last stand
2016-04-03	1661	After this it's the midterms: April's US election primaries
2016-04-11	1264	It's still only April: the US election drags ever onwards
2016-04-19	1080	Twirling towards freedom: the US election - New York primaries
2016-04-26	1378	Crossing the Delaware: five primaries in the US election
2016-05-03	2509	Trump will be the Republican standard-bearer
2016-05-09	2657	What variety of cheese would Donald be? The 2016 US election continues.
2016-05-19	3198	Nothing is certain, except death and taxes and a US election campaign.
2016-06-01	1681	159 days to go. Stay strong
2016-06-07	3010	We are on the brink of a historic moment...
2016-06-13	3302	The last primary
2016-06-29	2287	The campaign lurches into the summer
2016-07-12	1809	US Presidential Election Roundup: But If You Had to Choose
2016-07-18	1975	The RNC.
2016-07-19	1451	Jefferson has beliefs. Burr has none. (RNC, Day 2)
2016-07-20	1715	RNC Part III: Return Of The Nominee (probably)
2016-07-21	3760	Summon all the courage you require, then count. (Day 1, 2, 3, FOUR) RNC
2016-07-23	1663	Election Update: John Adams Doesn't Have A Real Job Anyway
2016-07-25	3245	Chase the Clouds Away
2016-07-26	2719	It's hot as hell in Philadelphia
2016-07-27	3254	4:30PM, On a Wednesday, Philadelphia PA - The Gang Rigs the DNC Primary
2016-07-28	3629	Best of women. (DNC Day 4)
2016-07-29	3465	100 days
2016-08-03	3129	Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand / A mighty woman
2016-08-08	3666	I want to be in the room where it happens
2016-08-12	2724	...a moment in history where it is almost hard to catch your breath.
2016-08-17	2489	"Buckle up."
2016-08-22	3377	Peace and Quiet and Open Air / Wait for Us / Somewhere
2016-08-29	3565	There’s only one way for us to win this / Provoke outrage, outright
2016-09-05	3426	You're openly campaigning? Sure!
2016-09-12	3299	Honestly, it's kind of draining
2016-09-16	4835	At least we know she knows where France is.
2016-09-26	3896	Ask him a question: it glances off, he obfuscates, he dances.
2016-09-29	3645	[Election 2016] If you stand for nothing, what’ll you fall for?
2016-10-04	4052	Send in your seconds, see if they can set the record straight
2016-10-08	2669	[ELECTION 2016] ♪♫ He’s never gon' be President now... ♪♫
2016-10-09	4331	♪♫ Don’t modulate the key then not debate with me!
2016-10-11	3556	My saying is: We win and lose together
2016-10-14	4758	The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect
2016-10-19	3973	♪♫ Oh my God. Tear this dude apart.
2016-10-21	3891	Alexander Hamilton's beany guacamole dip: 18 days to go
2016-10-28	3718	Casting our vote is the ultimate way we go high when they go low
2016-11-02	3429	♪♫ Ev'ry day you fight, like you’re running out of time
2016-11-06	2751	♪♫ The world turned upside down. Finally, it's US election week.
2016-11-08	2634	Of the people, by the people, and for the people: US election day
2016-11-08	3288	Election Night II: Load Balancing Boogaloo
2016-11-10	2697	After the 2016 US election
2016-11-13	3345	The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself: after the US election
2016-11-18	2822	I still wake up and remember who is the President-elect
2016-11-25	2631	Our first Magic 8-Ball president.
2016-12-02	2467	"He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president"
2016-12-09	2821	You can’t count votes that never got a chance to be cast
2016-12-10	884	From Russia, with love.
2016-12-16	2897	Delegate decision day: does Dudley Dudley derail Donald's dystopia?
2016-12-23	3707	2,864,974
2017-01-07	4046	No new information for those who have been paying attention.
2017-01-14	3332	The Penultimate Week
2017-01-20	3344	The inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America
2017-01-22	689	That's just how you negotiate with a Nazi. Ask your grandfather.
2017-01-23	3139	Building a Cabinet
2017-01-27	3279	An interesting week of politics has occurred in a former British colony
2017-01-30	3484	Team of Revileds
2017-02-02	2203	Tyrants v. the endurance of those whom they oppress.
2017-02-05	3065	The Trump roundup
2017-02-09	2982	Demoralizing and disheartening times.
2017-02-14	2922	"Kellyanne, that makes no sense."
2017-02-16	2447	We Are Only One Menstrual Cycle in and There Is Blood in the Water
2017-02-19	1772	The Russian Thread Reset
2017-02-22	2620	It's Constituent Work Week!
2017-02-24	588	Democrats: Now what?
2017-02-28	2752	State of a divided union
2017-03-03	2712	We're Going to Build a Wall (No Guarantee It Will Hold)
2017-03-08	2361	Did you see the politics? It made me angry.
2017-03-13	2751	The Trump administration dons a tinfoil hat
2017-03-19	2570	Rebellion has its roots in government's indifference and incompetence.
2017-03-24	3412	He's been up all night listening to Mohammed's radio...
2017-03-30	2978	Feed the Tamagotchi or democracy dies
2017-04-06	3019	The Widening Gyre
2017-04-17	3065	We gave you power, we can take it away. Watch us.
2017-04-27	3456	Full of sound and fury/ Signifying, umm, what?
2017-05-08	3139	"It's fake news until it's old news"
2017-05-12	3262	Obstruction of Justice, Witness Intimidation, Oh My!
2017-05-17	3551	It has been _0_ days since the last Trump disaster
2017-05-22	3244	I Have A Very Good Brain And I've Said A Lot Of Things
2017-05-30	3213	this kid is insane, man
2017-06-06	3252	a problem occurred with this country so it was reloaded
2017-06-13	3307	The Sessions Sessions: The Confederate General Babbles Before Congress
2017-06-20	3152	Georgia on My Mind: All Bets are Ossoff
2017-06-30	3027	It's day 162 with POTUS45, marking another helluva week in US news
2017-07-11	3751	"There's a good chance I may have committed some light...treason."
2017-07-20	2881	88 Lines About The 45th President
2017-07-25	3016	"Are my methods unsound?" "I don't see any method at all, sir."
2017-07-29	3174	So long, and thanks for all the fish!
2017-08-04	2825	The Grandest Stage of Them All
2017-08-11	2954	The frogurt is also cursed.
2017-08-18	3195	Reacting swiftly, Mayor Quimby has declared Mob Rule.
2017-08-27	2330	Twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!
2017-09-04	2657	And I'll go into people's houses at night and wreck up the place!
2017-09-15	2387	You raised my hopes and dashed them quite expertly, sir. Bravo!
2017-09-25	2445	there once was a man from New York
2017-10-03	3318	"My family and I can't live in good intentions, Marge!"
2017-10-16	2389	"He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation"
2017-10-24	1923	"Mr. President, I rise today to say: Enough."
2017-10-29	2841	"...and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!"
2017-11-02	2806	the first cut won't hurt at all
2017-11-10	2683	It's a great day for America, everybody!
2017-11-19	2903	Thanks for nothing
2017-12-01	2511	Collusion Course
2017-12-13	2324	No jokes, just a new politics thread
2017-12-25	1484	Do You Hear What I Hear?
2018-01-05	2486	It's been almost a year of this crap.
2018-01-16	2436	If anybody needs me, I’ll be in the Angrydome.
2018-01-25	2281	When you're going through hell, keep going.
2018-02-05	2131	Well, for once, the rich white man is in control!
2018-02-15	2607	Fresh politics thread.
2018-02-28	2098	Behind every little fish is a great white lie
2018-03-08	2220	Reminder: Nunberg was less than a Scaramucci ago
2018-03-15	2562	Fear and Trembling and the Sickness Unto Death
2018-03-23	2405	Lawyer Up, Delete Facebook, Hit Kim Jong-Un
2018-04-05	2577	We Have Always Been at Trade War with China
2018-04-15	2580	Comey Is Not Trump's Homey
2018-04-27	2515	... the great wolf Fenris rose from the deep
2018-05-09	2312	How did you assemble this list? Carefully.
2018-05-21	2552	Abusing public office for private enrichment
2018-06-04	2739	The Constitutional Crisis is here. It's been here.
2018-06-15	2829	the chickens are coming home to roost... any day now.
2018-06-24	2844	there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions
2018-07-05	2852	His direct object is the establishment of an absolute Tyranny
2018-07-17	2770	None Dare Call It Treason
2018-07-30	1228	"Colluding about Russians--I'm not sure that's even a crime."
2018-08-05	1757	"Collusion is not a legal term."
2018-08-13	1256	"Is the president aware of what’s going on?"
2018-08-20	1952	"Truth Isn't Truth"
2018-08-27	1559	"Do not despair of our present difficulties"—Sen. John McCain
2018-09-04	2348	"This is treason"
2018-09-14	2375	Paulie Manafort Flips, Bada Bing Bada Boom
2018-09-24	2465	Is it pitchfork time yet?
2018-09-28	2653	"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter"—Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
2018-10-09	1567	"pRoVen INnoCeNt"
2018-10-18	2276	"Game on, Tiny"
2018-10-30	2188	"You Know What I Am? I'm a [] Nationalist."
2018-11-05	2324	ANGER IS AN ENERGY
2018-11-09	960	Save me from tomorrow / I don't want to sail with this ship of fools
2018-11-09	2280	No One Is Above the Law
2018-11-25	2134	"I would give myself an A+, is that enough? Can I go higher than that?"
2018-12-07	2531	"Very legal & very cool"—Individual 1
2018-12-20	2674	"We need wall"
2019-01-07	2518	"I may declare a national emergency dependent on what's gonna happen…"
2019-01-18	2738	‘Our country is in a hellhole right now’—Cardi B
2019-02-05	2157	"When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose"
2019-02-19	928	"Complete the Revolution"
2019-02-25	2231	"His deceit, which is a fundamental component of the crimes
2019-03-15	2135	“If the people don’t have the facts, democracy can’t work.”
2019-04-03	1329	“There will be plenty of unfavorable things about the president
2019-04-17	2243	The █████████ Mueller Report
2019-05-06	2220	"To be or not to be, ay, there's the point"
2019-05-29	2040	Surely some revelation is at hand;
2019-06-19	2013	“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle”
2019-07-09	1214	"For nothing can seem foul to those that win"
And special thanks to our tireless megathread crafters, including (from the above list):

Wordshore (25 threads) - Doktor Zed (14 threads) - roomthreeseventeen (14 threads) - lalex (10 threads) - darkstar and zachlipton (9 threads) - filthy light thief (8 threads) - ChurchHatesTucker and Little Dawn (7 threads) - Merus (5 threads) - box, Excommunicated Cardinal, and murphy slaw (4 threads each) - Emmy Rae and Talez (3 threads each) - Chrysostom, Rainbo Vagrant, Sleeper, ThePinkSuperhero, tivalasvegas, and triggerfinger (2 threads each) - AlexiaSky, Artw, bile and syntax, carsonb, cjelli, cortex, Coventry, fedward, From Bklyn, Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish, Jacob Knitig, jferg, Johnny Wallflower, latkes, lunasol, martin q blank, MartinWisse, misskaz, mmoncur, msalt, nangar, OnceUponATime, peeedro, rabbitrabbit, sallybrown, saturday_morning, Secret Life of Gravy, snuffleupagus, T.D. Strange, The Whelk, Two unicycles and some duct tape, yoga, and zarq (1 thread each)

Not to mention everyone who ever helped pitch in on the MeFi wiki collaborative drafts.

4+ grueling years. 445,000+ comments. Copious in-jokes. Requiescat in power, megathreads... the work has only just begun.

(And god help Tehhund, however far back in the archives he may be.)
posted by Rhaomi at 4:24 PM on July 23 [196 favorites]


> What about some of these

Speaking as someone who has been tasked with running many of those in the past - running the majority of those is a nightmare at any scale whatsoever.

If I was going to run a forum, I'd happily pay for discourse. That has been the only other modern forum software I've found pleasant to use.
posted by MysticMCJ at 4:24 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Ugh.

Does this mean the front page is going to get filled up with U.S. politics again?

ugh
posted by clawsoon at 4:27 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I think the links/info aggregated in the megathreads was an insanely valuable resource, by all definition of the words. I am truly sorry to see them go.

I am just as sorry for the human toll they've inflicted on the mods.

In love ever forward.
posted by riverlife at 4:29 PM on July 23 [24 favorites]


I do think that folks wanting to do the aggregation work on this stuff putting it in a place they independently control could be a good compromise and that's something that if it does happen I'd absolutely want to highlight directly on the site.

The aggregation work is the easy part and can be replicated on any number of platforms (where, as people in this thread have brought up several times, they've already been established). What can't be started from zero is the Mefi community, without which there's no conversation that comes close to in quality.

> I would instead ask the mod team to consider creating a separate channel for US Politics on MetaChat.

Oh, also: yes, I'm okay with this idea. I don't really love Chat as a solution to site discussion stuff because it's its own odd ephemeral thing and not a moderated space in the same ways MeFi proper is, but we've kicked open a politics channel on there at times over the years and I don't have a problem with kicking one open full-time as the non-primary channel. I'll check in with frimble about it.


Many thanks—that's terrific. A specialized MeFi Chat channel can also help offload real-time discussions to ongoing news. For instance, when Mueller testifies tomorrow, we'll definitely have people hanging out in chat to talk about it. Maybe USPolChat will evolve into its own thing or point the way to another discussion format.

That's part of the hoped-for outcome, yes. I know I'm much more able to tackle a specific problem when it comes up if I'm not already half-way occupied at all times by the low (or not so low) burble of activity in some other thread. We've had three years of there always being some other thread, at all times, and it's made it hard to moderate either the megathreads or anything else as attentively as we'd like.

I know that the mod team has been working under an extraordinary psychological burden of dealing with the worst comments the megathreads attract. Nobody outside of the mod team has had to read every angry or despairing comment that gets deleted, and this invisible cognitive load is under appreciated. The current overheated megathread—five mod notes in its first 24 hours, two one-day time outs—is an object lesson in how unsustainable moderating them is if people can't/won't participate in them with their unique set of guidelines.

My own perspective on the megathreads is that they work best when they are a balance of links to important and ongoing news stories and of comments from the MeFi community (especially firsthand accounts of political participation and activism, which lift my morale more than anything I ever read in the headlines). The former is available in various forms on the web between newsfilter sites like WTF Happened Today, but only Metafilter can deliver the latter. Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit simply can't sustain a true online community since they refuse to accept the basic responsibility of moderating their sites.

The fact is, however, the megathreads have taken their toll on my participation on the site. I've considered many times closing my account and walking away. Of course, I rely on the megathreads, and Metafilter, too much for that.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:29 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


This is the stake through Metafilter's heart.

The catch-all US politics megathreads as they exist are overtaxing our limited moderation resources

You could, you know, just ease up on the boot.
posted by banshee at 4:31 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


Wow Rhaomi, thank you for that.

For a while it was nice to think of Tehhund living in a pre-election night 2016 universe. I wanted to warn them “turn back, turn back while you can...”
posted by sallybrown at 4:32 PM on July 23 [17 favorites]


This is the stake through Metafilter's heart.

The catch-all US politics megathreads as they exist are overtaxing our limited moderation resources

You could, you know, just ease up on the boot.


Or perhaps they could give this relentlessly rude and thoughtless comment the boot. Do you really think you've been silenced all your life and that now that the megathreads are closed we can't discuss politics anymore? WTF is this comment even about?
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 4:36 PM on July 23 [56 favorites]


There are plenty of other communities to get up-to-the-minute political news and discussion. I, personally, recommend the Mefi Politics slack, which I could probably direct you to if you PM me. Metafilter is great for thoughtful, focused discussions. It's awful for general unfocused chatter. The politics threads were a nice idea, but a bad fit for Metafilter as a platform.

You could, you know, just ease up on the boot.

And what, have threads that balloon out to thousands of comments within a couple days, filled with low-effort noise? No thanks. Take that sort of thing to Slack or Twitter or what have you. In simple terms, it's not the Best of the Web.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:38 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


This news probably deserves top-banner treatment, not just an oh-by-the-way at the bottom of a megathread, since it is going to change the character of the site so much. People who aren't active in the megathreads and don't visit MetaTalk very often need to have their voice heard in this, too.
posted by clawsoon at 4:41 PM on July 23 [32 favorites]


I've lived in the megathreads since they started, although I've tried to quit a couple of times, and I've skimmed during the craziest times when there were 300+ messages a day. It's the only thing that makes me feel like I'm not all alone against the abyss, and I'll have to find alternatives.

But I wouldn't want to moderate the things. Reading the normal megathreads takes such a toll, I can only imagine having to read all the things that get flagged and deleted.

Thanks mods for all your tireless work over the years. It's helped to keep me and countless others sane, and I'll never forget it.
posted by mmoncur at 4:44 PM on July 23 [17 favorites]


This news probably deserves top-banner treatment

Banner suggestion:

"We're flushing the site down the toilet, come discuss: 'Clockwise or Counter-Clockwise?'"
posted by banshee at 4:46 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


I'll miss them but, yeah, the foreverthreads have become an overall drag on my headspace, so I'm on board with this.

Big thanks to the moderators and the many members for all they did to keep the threads useful and making community while live-blogging a dumpster fire.
posted by peeedro at 4:47 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


(This comment was composed well in advance of this MeTa; I just didn't have a chance to post it until the MeTa was already underway. I thought the MeTa was going to be more of a "what do we do about megathreads" rather than "here's what we're doing about megathreads" so the emphasis might seem a little strange in the context of the rest of the conversation.)

I didn't know how to access the infodumpster so I made a crawler to pull down every post tagged potus45 as of July 7th, parse them, and crunch some numbers. There are two flavors of potus45 threads: megathreads (with more than 1000 comments) and topic threads (generally with less than 500 comments). What follows focuses on megathreads. The potus45 tag starts being used in October 2016; I didn't look at politics megathreads from before that.

Topline results that probably confirm what you already thought:

0. About 3000 people have commented at least once in these threads! That's a huge fraction of the active userbase.

1. Participation in these threads is highly skewed. Megathreads have hundreds of users commenting (minimum 239, median 410, maximum 732). But, for each thread, 50% of all the words written are accounted for by a much smaller group, which I will refer to as "prolifics" from now on (the other users we can call "laconics"). There are far fewer prolific users per thread (minimum 11(!), median 27, maximum 90).

1.A. Now, actual word counts per user smoothly vary; the discrete grouping of users into "prolifics" and "laconics" is artificial. So aside from looking at the number of prolifics over time, we can use the Gini coefficient (which is kind of like looking at the relative proportion of prolifics, except you're averaging over all possible thresholds, not just using 50%). I'm not one of those smart people that can interpret a Gini coefficient in isolation, but in case you are, I calculated the Gini coefficient of the distribution of comments across commenters in each thread... (minimum 0.29, median 0.35, max 0.4).

2. The overall trend over time is that the number of commenters and the number of prolifics is decreasing. The skew in participation is slooowly increasing over time, and since this trend has had some time to work, things are pretty skewed now. This is true either looking at the ratio of prolific commenters versus total commenters or by looking at the Gini coefficient.
2.A. Word counts are decreasing but more slowly than users are- individual users' word counts are increasing.
2.B. The total number of links per thread is increasing! The number of comments with links per thread is not changing despite the other decreases in activity.

3. Big News interrupts these trends. Big news events like the Comey firing, indictments, the midterms (like, the night of the midterms, not the midterm election season), and to a lesser extent the release of the Mueller report increase the word count, the number of commenters, and the number of prolifics. The Gini coefficient goes down, telling us that the conversation is more evenly distributed among people.

3.A. There's weird/interesting aftereffects of Big News that might not be relevant to the meta discussion. The influx of commenters and the increase in prolifics happen together, but increases in commenters slightly lead increases in prolifics. In the posts that come immediately *after* a post with Big News, people use more varied words (?!?).

3.B. But then things decay back to the trend of decreasing commenters, decreasing prolifics, and increasing skew.

4. Are the same people prolific from one megathread to the next? Mostly yes but also a little no. Users move in and out of the Prolific and Laconic categories from one thread to the next. 345 people have, for at least one thread, been prolific. If you look at each user that has ever been prolific and look at how often they've been prolific, you get a highly skewed distribution. Most people that have ever been prolific have only been prolific once (148 users, or 43%), twice (40 users, 11%), or thrice (21 users, 6%). But there is a core of 13 users that has been prolific in more than half of the megathreads, and two users in particular have been prolific in more than 90% of megathreads.

4.B. Let's look at prolifics over time one more way. Let's divide threads into three eras: pre-Comey firing (early), post-Comey but pre-midterm (mid), and post-midterm (late). If you look (for each era) at the number of users who were prolific at least once, you'll see the pool of prolifics steadily dwindling (early: 275; mid: 175; late: 52).

Just to give you an idea of where we are now, the last three megathreads I analyzed (so not including the one that just started a week-ish ago) have about 290 commenters each where 50% of the words are coming from 13 people.

-----------------------------------------

What about topic-focused potus45-tagged posts? These are non-megathreads (fewer than 1000 comments). I've spent less time on these because there's not as much dirt to dig. There's less inequality among commenters, and the trends over time identified for the megathreads just don't seem to apply to them. Probably the most significant thing to note is that there were 142 non-mega potus45 posts (they outnumber the megathreads), but no one user was prolific in more than 12 of them..

Dividing the topic posts by era as in 4.B. shows no decline in prolific count from one era to the next, though there is churn from one era to the next as some users stop being prolific and new users start being prolific.
posted by Jpfed at 4:48 PM on July 23 [59 favorites]


banshee, I can understand if you disagree with the decision and if you're upset about it. This hasn't been an easy call to make and we've held off much longer than we would have if it felt like a simple decision. But please try and extend a basic level of mutual good will here and recognize that this isn't something being done lightly or without an understanding of the impact it may have on folks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:48 PM on July 23 [37 favorites]


(One of my favorite artifacts from the megathreads were/are East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion's repeated sharing of their calls to their elected representatives. Almost worth keeping the whole thing going for.)
posted by maxwelton at 4:50 PM on July 23 [33 favorites]


If the NYT decided to just stop covering the shit going on, how would Metafilter react?

Whooo, boy...

But all the "I understand why this has to happen"...

Bah
posted by Windopaene at 4:56 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Are you seriously comparing Metafilter's responsibility with the NYT's, Windopaene?

Also, again: did you and banshee miss the part where you can still make politics threads and discuss politics here?
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 4:58 PM on July 23 [23 favorites]


> "We're flushing the site down the toilet, come discuss: 'Clockwise or Counter-Clockwise?'"

banshee, I get that the megathreads have been important and significant for the people who have chosen to engage with them, and that they have fostered additional community ties during a time of perpetual hurt.

However, I've been lurking on and off Metafilter for over half a dozen years prior to the creation of the megathreads, and have not participated in any of the megathreads after I became a member, so I wouldn't think of their absence as flushing the site down the toilet. From my perspective, they are a "new" part of the site with an increasing number of cons weighing against the pros.

Considering that the megathreads have repeatedly been identified as a massive drain in terms of mod energy and member goodwill, it might help to think of this as a useful flush, one that can aid in preventing a more toxic backup than the site can handle...
posted by rather be jorting at 4:59 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Good for you for not starting this as an open-ended request for discussion and making us hash it out over 1000+ angry comments, but just recognizing (with your team!) that they had become a toxic shitshow and shutting them down. That's the kind of decisive leadership that MetaFilter and/or America needs!

CORTEX 2020: He already has more supporters [1] than Jim Delaney!
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:00 PM on July 23 [39 favorites]


2.A. Word counts are decreasing but more slowly than users are- individual users' word counts are increasing.
2.B. The total number of links per thread is increasing! The number of comments with links per thread is not changing despite the other decreases in activity.


This suggests to me that the approach of quarantining politics talk largely to the megathread and reducing it to more of link aggregation than debate was largely working. While...

But there is a core of 13 users that has been prolific in more than half of the megathreads, and two users in particular have been prolific in more than 90% of megathreads.

This suggests that the bulk of the "work" of these threads was confined to a much smaller amount of people than I imagined, which is pretty disillusioning thinking about the actual reach of any of this. So maybe it's time to stop after all. Bring back cat scanners and stop caring so much. Everyone will be happier.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:01 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


> If the NYT decided to just stop covering the shit going on, how would Metafilter react?

I'd continue refreshing The Guardian, but Your Newsrag Of Choice May Vary.
posted by rather be jorting at 5:01 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


As a passive observer of the megathreads (due to carefully calculating the risks to my mental health by diving into them) I am a fan of this announcement, but I absolutely hope the social space created by the megathreads can be kept somewhere on the site, and not just offloaded elsewhere. I know you just said the debates should be on the blue, but I love the idea of Fanfare as a use for this and similar election events. A big part of that is because of the more casual, social nature of Fanfare - the discussion there is more wide ranging when it wants to be, and I think this could be a great fit for a lot of the politics soup that splashes around in the megathreads with a few tweaks for commenter expectations. Additionally, getting more eyeballs on Fanfare can only be a good thing, I think.
posted by Mizu at 5:03 PM on July 23 [8 favorites]


briefly forget about our narcissist-in-chief.

There is so much relief that people can stop worrying, they can stop refreshing to see what new hell awaits, this will be so good for their productivity and mental health, it will make their lives so much better not to have to think about Trump so much. Yeah, I get it.

I wish I could stop thinking about him, too.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:03 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


I feel the Megathreads are an important part of my life, keeping me informed and outraged and engaged.

And now those are gone?

I should feel good about that?
posted by Windopaene at 5:03 PM on July 23 [25 favorites]


If the question is whether there's enough interest an/or need for this for a spin-off to work, there's one way to find out....

I'm pretty shit at web coding. But I'd show up and participate.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:04 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


For those disappointed, it's worth considering that there's been a noticeable decline in sitewide activity that's pretty well correlated with the mid-2016 rise of the megathread phenomenon. How much of that is the megathreads themselves vs. moderation vs. general malaise vs. exogenous factors isn't clear, but the moderation toll is definitely real. As much as I value them, I hope this leads to a healthy rebalancing of participation for both mods and users (of course, it could also lead to cutting out the most active center of discussion here, but I'm trying to be optimistic. It's not like we never discussed politics pre-2016; I recall some pretty raucous longboat threads even in the 2008 days.)
posted by Rhaomi at 5:04 PM on July 23 [27 favorites]


When this is all over -- if it ever is -- I'm going to write a dissertation on that index Rhaomi just posted.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:05 PM on July 23 [19 favorites]


MysticMCJ: "Part of my need to not read them is because for many comments, I got to the point where I could tell almost immediately who was posting them only a few words into it, and generally could predict the rest of the comment at that point. "

Yes, one thing difficult to pull out in data dives is the prevalence of people saying The Same Damned Thing Over And Over Again (not that I'm innocent of this - did you know that state-level elections are very important?). This was not a good thing, imho.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:05 PM on July 23 [21 favorites]


Is the concern with using FanFare for the debates that we’re not supposed to be live-blogging in there?
posted by sallybrown at 5:05 PM on July 23


Maybe because that's where we are as a community in the midst of this?

Is kind of more important than how they got those cats into the scanner...
posted by Windopaene at 5:06 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


For the second time, Windopaene, did you miss the part where you can still make politics threads and discuss politics here?

No one is asking you to feel good about this decision if the megathreads were personally very valuable to you. But you can figure out where to go from here without equating this decision to the NYT deciding not to cover the news, insisting that we can only talk about cats in a scanner instead of talking about myriad topics like we always have and can continue to do, and engaging with what cortex has actually said and the reasons why without honestly coming across like you're just whining.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:09 PM on July 23 [22 favorites]


Considering that the megathreads have repeatedly been identified as a massive drain in terms of mod energy and member goodwill, it might help to think of this as a useful flush, one that can aid in preventing a more toxic backup than the site can handle...

I consider it more of a toxic spill.

Now people are just going to say the same damn thing in dozens of threads instead of just one. This feels like an attempt to find a reorganization fix for a problem that's not caused by incorrect organization.
posted by clawsoon at 5:09 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I know you just said the debates should be on the blue, but I love the idea of Fanfare as a use for this and similar election events. A big part of that is because of the more casual, social nature of Fanfare - the discussion there is more wide ranging when it wants to be, and I think this could be a great fit for a lot of the politics soup that splashes around in the megathreads with a few tweaks for commenter expectations.

I do get that line of thinking, for what it's worth! My counter is that I don't think it's natural to assume that it's FanFare's vibe that would be imported into debate threads, rather than megathread/politics discussion vibe that'd get imported into FanFare. And the latter is really, really not something I want to have happen. Just because electoral politicking is happening as a televised event in this case doesn't mean it's not fundamentally electoral politicking with all the specific energy that brings with it.

Maybe this would feel different in a more normal timeline, maybe not. But I really don't want to breach that barrier into FanFare.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:11 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Yes, one thing difficult to pull out in data dives is the prevalence of people saying The Same Damned Thing Over And Over Again

The elephant in the room is that we don't know the number of deleted comments the megathreads attracted—the infighting, the venting, the catastrophizing, the duplicate links, the bad jokes, et al.

I would suggest that the state of the US is not related to whether or not Metafilter has USpolitics megathreads.

Just in the time since this MeTa went live, several important news stories have broken, and the current megathread has ground to a halt. The world keeps turning/burning.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:12 PM on July 23 [13 favorites]


But we do. Because we seed the mod comments. We get it.

But there's no better source.
posted by Windopaene at 5:15 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


clawsoon: "Now people are just going to say the same damn thing in dozens of threads instead of just one. This feels like an attempt to find a reorganization fix for a problem that's not caused by incorrect organization."

I think there's an underlying issue - US politics are a dumpster fire - that is exacerbated by a Metafilter organizational issue. We can't address the former, we can address the latter.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:15 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Just in the time since this MeTa went live, several important news stories have broken, and the current megathread has ground to a halt. The world keeps turning/burning.

I think it's hard for a lot of us that we won't be able to rely on the megathreads as a place to gather to watch and/or cope with that turning and burning in laregly thoughtful and sympathetic company, despite differences and dust-ups.

I do wonder (more like despair, really) how I can hope to be half as well informed as I have been once the megathreads are gone, and that has been pretty valuable in these times, as has the fellowship.

But if they aren't sustainable in a basic sense for the site, then that's sort of all there is to it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:18 PM on July 23 [24 favorites]


Mizu: "I know you just said the debates should be on the blue, but I love the idea of Fanfare as a use for this and similar election events. A big part of that is because of the more casual, social nature of Fanfare - the discussion there is more wide ranging when it wants to be, and I think this could be a great fit for a lot of the politics soup that splashes around in the megathreads with a few tweaks for commenter expectations. Additionally, getting more eyeballs on Fanfare can only be a good thing, I think."

I really hope cortex reconsiders the idea of opening up FanFare for broader, rolling, topic-based discussion groups like this. It has the potential for a lot of good focused discussion without taking over the rest of the site, and the infrastructure for it already exists in the form of FanFare clubs. It's just a matter of allowing clubs for "Trump administration" and "Brexit" and "Democratic primaries" instead of media-only book/film club topics like "James Bond movies" or "Harry Potter novels". Imagine a US Politics club run by the prolific users identified in Jpfed's comment, for instance, without the sturm und drang of being exposed to a front page audience by default. It could be something really special, and worth experimenting with now that the official megathreads are officially kaput.

(On preview: IMHO, since FanFare club threads are only really visible to people who join/visit the club, I think it has less chance of messing with the chill subsite vibe there than if they were on the FanFare homepage with all the other media posts.)
posted by Rhaomi at 5:20 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


If there was a way to single-sign-on with your Mefi username on some *external* place that included the exact same megathread, I'd be absolutely satisfied with that solution.
posted by odinsdream at 5:23 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


If mod workload is reduced by having multiple front page U.S. politics posts instead of just occasional megathreads that you have to do a bit of digging for, I will be surprised. I guess we'll find out.
posted by clawsoon at 5:25 PM on July 23 [15 favorites]


.
posted by Little Dawn at 5:27 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


a) loved the megathreads, will miss them
b) keeping the uspolitics widget is a reasonable compromise to aggregate info.
c) my observation is that, yes, the megathreads have sucked some of the life out of the rest of the site (anecdata: seems like SL FPPs are more frequent and less weighty. IMHO)
d) Metafilter: Best of the Web or Metafilter: Worst of the News? We decide.

I'm not goin' anywhere. You guys are awesome.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:28 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


a way to single-sign-on with your Mefi username on some *external* place

I mean, I'm ready for the "Sign in with MeFi" web ecology. But I don't think that's going in the right direction, resource-wise.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:28 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Cool, thanks for letting me know.
posted by odinsdream at 5:30 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


This is extremely disappointing to me as the Megathreads changed the course of my life. I'm actually feeling pretty emotional about this so I don't really have the energy to go over it all again, but I've told most of the story through infrequent "thank you"s dropped in the threads themselves if you're interested.

Since it seems this has already been Decided I don't think I have it in me to present an in depth defense, suffice it to say the Megathreads work for me and my highly idiosyncratic media diet very specifically, they're conversational and not reporter-ese, they're not social media-y, the comments tend toward synthesis and strategy in ways that more issue- or news-item- focused comment sections don't, &c, &c. Hell I even appreciate that sometimes people retread old ground because I'm not here all day every day or even every week or month, sometimes last month's argument is still news to me and I wouldn't see it otherwise. I hope that this plan to break them up serves the site well because I strongly suspect that the extra effort to follow half a dozen different discussion threads all developing concurrently is beyond me.

I'll see how this all shakes out, but being honest this signals the end of my recurring contribution to MetaFilter.
posted by books for weapons at 5:32 PM on July 23 [56 favorites]


I'll see how this all shakes out, but being honest this signals the end of my recurring contribution to MetaFilter.

Same.
posted by odinsdream at 5:33 PM on July 23 [15 favorites]


Cool, thanks for letting me know.

Cool, thanks for dropping some empty snark to let me know you didn't appreciate my comment, and in doing so making a valuable point about the desirability of an offsite MeFi without MeFi's mods in a charged context.

Cortex is saying there is a resource problem. How is becoming a single sign in provider without new revenue to support it supposed to alleviate that?
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:34 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


Because some kinds of observations and analysis are Not Ok here, and more recently because vocally disagreeing with the popular narrative, however counter-factual and manufactured and especially if you are not a master of Mefi conversational style, is a good way to get insulted and derided and then get modded for not doing it right, I have mostly been a passive participant in the election and political threads.

As a few others have also stated, I dislike and disagree with this decision. But there is nothing I can do about it. I don't have any ideas on how to make it any "better" though, nor about ways to change or move it. I do hope that if zachlipton, Doctor Zed, filthy light thief, Chrysostom, Little Dawn, or any of the excellent news finders who I haven't named here because I have a terrible memory but whom I do appreciate, make a blog or a Twitter account or even a damn Facebook group (yes I would probably follow you to that Hellscape) to do what they do here, I hope that I find out about it. Slack is really confusing, but I'd probably try.

I have spent the past couple of weeks casually looking for an existing aggregation space that rivals the megathread, and I haven't found it. Please don't tell me about the sites that have already been mentioned upthread. I can read, thank you.

Hopefully putting almost an hour into writing and editing this comment into acceptable blandness means that people won't insult my intellegence or presentation for disagreeing in the way other community members who are expressing their feelings and opinions are being insulted and derided. Being an inelegant writer, whether in a moment or a lifetime, does not make a person bad or wrong and it does not invalidate their feelings.

And also, on preview, what books for weapons said.
posted by monopas at 5:36 PM on July 23 [46 favorites]


This is deeply disturbing.

Metafilter was instrumental in converting me to the idea that good conversation on the internet requires good moderation. The site was exemplary in championing a civilized form of discussion, one which was essential to thousands of peoples' understanding of a very complex and demanding time period.

Metafilter's moderation team is second to none. The site is robust, the community is mature, there is simply no better set of condtions out there to foster this type of discussion. And the discussion is necessary, judging by the number of people upset by its upcoming end.

So if Metafilter can't successfully foster a civilized long-term free-ranging discussion of politics on the internet... who can? Is it even possible? Is the internet inherently a medium in which the trolls will always win?

This feels like a defeat.
posted by MrVisible at 5:37 PM on July 23 [80 favorites]


I totally get the need for this but at the same time, I don't know if this genie can be put back in the bottle. We constantly have crazy smaller stories, or smaller stories by today's standards at least, but it has been a while since we've had one of those days with handfuls of simultaneous major stories. Maybe this trend will continue but considering that we have another election cycle ramping up, I just don't see it. Maybe I'm missing some nuance here but it just looks like a trade of explicit megathreads for every large thread becoming a potential semi-sanctioned emergent megathread, which looks a lot like being back where we started.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:37 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Single sign-in is a tech question that, yeah, we're not in a position to answer right now all else aside. I don't know if there was every any groundwork laid for it back in the Matt/pb days, though I know the idea had come up a couple times. As some future notional way to support spinoff stuff more directly, it's something we could reexamine, but that's definitely hazy handwavy future stuff at best.

Right now supporting off-site stuff would mean more like explicit links/highlighting, e.g. in the politics widget or on a "related resources" sort of page.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:38 PM on July 23


Cortex is saying there is a resource problem. How is becoming a single sign in provider without new revenue to support it supposed to alleviate that?

I'm trying to offer a solution along the lines of what was already mentioned as an avenue cortex would like to support. You chimed in to let me know you didn't think that was a good idea. Which seemed pretty rude.
posted by odinsdream at 5:39 PM on July 23


What I have liked about the Megathreads is everything US politics is in one place. What I have not liked is the difficulty commenting on any one story could feel out of context. I feel good about this decision. It has been a LOT of work for mods, so thank you mods for that work.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:39 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


I mean, fuck, single-sign-on is not magic. It's just running an additional provider.
posted by odinsdream at 5:39 PM on July 23


You chimed in to let me know you didn't think that was a good idea

I actually said I liked the idea, but didn't see how it would work as a short term solution, because it involved building and supporting a new service that I presume is usually supported by ads or data mining or software licensing (Google, Facebook, MS SSO ) but whatever. Everyone's tense right now.

Given what Cortex said, maybe it's something that could happen and I think that would be fantastic, both for stuff like this and more generally. I think it also poses other challenges, I'd imagine MeFites would want some standards imposed on who can be part of the MeFi SSO ecology. But it seems like a force for good, and it's a pony I'd donate to if it ever gets closer to reality.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:43 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I will miss the megathreads but I get why this is feels like a necessary change to try out. I hope it has the desired result, and wanted to drop in my thanks for the people who have contributed so much information to the threads over these years.
posted by Stacey at 5:44 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Nthing everyone who dislikes Slack. I had a belly-full of stupid Slack during the 2016 campaign cycle. I hate it worse than I hate Facebook. Facebook has redeeming features. Slack to me does not.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:44 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


Metafilter's moderation team is second to none.

And they're burning out, which suggests that this quality of moderation might only be sustainably achievable for more money than we're willing to pay for it, especially considering everything that came out of the PoC Metatalk threads.
posted by clawsoon at 5:45 PM on July 23 [41 favorites]


I figured this was coming and I will miss the threads a lot. My preliminary plan is to start actually reading Talking Points Memo regularly instead of just reading excerpts from it in the megathread.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:46 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


Oh my god I'm a sysadmin and I intentionally didn't include a bunch of details in it but Yes, the way it works is:

You install some software on a shitty VPS that has access to your user database table
You teach it your user tables
You authorize *external* places to be valid login-capable places. Like, say, "mefipolitics.com" or whatever the group that rises up from the ashes of the megathread author group wants to call itself. You bless them as being able to sign in with Mefi IDs. Not just... .anybody.

This gets the connection between the community here and the *whatever the fuck it is* place in terms of authorship, and puts the mod burden on the *other group* of people who've decided to run the thing, while *that other group* doesn't have to deal with the influx of the internet at large and rebuilding an entire damn community from scratch.
posted by odinsdream at 5:47 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


i'm really emotionally struggling with all of this right now and i need to not engage with this further, sorry
posted by odinsdream at 5:48 PM on July 23 [18 favorites]


It's upsetting news and I'm sorry if I upset you further — I appreciate your perspective on the technical aspects.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:52 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


As a cognitively disabled MeFite, megathreads have always been terribly inaccessible to me, and I have never interacted with them for that reason. Metafilter is the place I trust most for news and politics, but the megathreads are way too much and not a good way for me to get that information. I definitely understand this isn't everyone's experience, and people get something valuable out of the current system, but I am really looking forward to at least attempting focused, smaller threads. I would love to be able to engage with other MeFites on these issues without having an executive functioning breakdown.
posted by brook horse at 5:52 PM on July 23 [29 favorites]


The megathreads drove me away from MeFi in the post Trump days. By the time I came back the megathreads were just this huge pile of anger that, given I already get my dose from Twitter and Facebook and all the leftists in my life, I just couldn't handle. I'm angry, but I'd like to be OK with not being rageful for five minutes without feeling like I was Letting Down The Cause. And the few times I waded in there I felt like that despite the little I can do it was never enough and I Am Bad And Should Feel Bad.

I know for many it's community, and that's what's going away in their closure. But I'd ask what MeFi did better with the megathreads that the panoply of other sites did with theirs. Maybe that's what needs to be captured in the return to normal FPPs. The other stuff, though, the stuff that made the megathreads caustic to so many, that needs to go.
posted by dw at 5:52 PM on July 23 [26 favorites]


I do understand people's disappointment at this change, I felt a frisson of it, and then I was like, wth, these bastards in power have been having at it for as long as I've been traveling around this Earth 365 days for 55+ years, and there is always somewhere to look, to discuss, to read, to learn, to commiserate. I've lived through Kent State, Archie Bunker, Nixon, the Beatles breaking up, Reagan (ugh), and a bunch of other stuff, I'll live through this, and it will be fine. I think we're mostly all on the same page that we want the world to be a better place, morally, and do right by our fellow humans. This change is the least of my worries.

I'm just a passenger on Ship MetaFilter, and while I do keep tabs on the Megathreads, and maybe a few others, like the current Epstein thread, which issue has concerned me deeply for a long time, I spent a nice time on the throne this morning (thanks, Metformin!) reading some of the other threads on the main page, especially the state food thread, and I guess I'll go wherever Ship Meta takes me. If I don't like a thread, I'll get off at the next stop and take the next boat.

Carry on Cap'n!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:53 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


This makes me sad.
posted by diogenes at 5:53 PM on July 23 [16 favorites]


It is a bit of a derail, but in case anyone is super motivated to do their own thing and feels like SSO is a brick wall in their way, you can take other approaches that don't involve full blown SSO but get you most of the benefits. Just make your site with normal logins and add the feature to prove a user has a metafilter account, which can then unlock a full blown verified mefi user UX. I can think of a couple of ways to implement it that require nothing from metafilter beyond existing site features and I am sure most developers could also.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:54 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


This is not my own blog, and I pay very little for the privilege of smart, informed political commentary and news collation by the MeFi audience.

That said - I’m sorry to see this change, and I’m disappointed. I understand that many people felt that the megathread was a constant, giant, raging garbage fire. But I don’t understand how the proposed fix, splintering that into a hundred smaller garbage fires, is an improvement. The only way it works is if people who were really invested in the megathreads just leave.

I think it will lead to much lower participation on my part, and I suspect that it will lead to less participation overall.

I hope it’s a worthwhile experiment, though - I love the site and I would hate to have it wither while we are dealing with our ongoing nightmare.

.
posted by RedOrGreen at 5:55 PM on July 23 [21 favorites]


the megathread posters were doing God's work, putting that stuff together. I hope the decathreads get as much love. Keep it up, y'all. Please.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:05 PM on July 23 [33 favorites]


I'm Canadian so what is happening in the US affects me but not anywhere near to the extent that it does for US Mefites. I'll be glad to see the megathreads go.

I pretty consistently followed the megathreads up to about 6 months/a year ago and then stopped, maybe because we got our own bargain-basement version of Trump elected here. A couple of times after some big event I would jump back in to see the reaction but I've even stopped doing that.

I agree with the sentiment that the megathreads have sucked some of the life from the site but I also think that of late things have started picking up which may be matching the diminishing participation in the megathreads. I also really appreciate the almost daily themed posts by The Whelk, Fizz, poffin boffin and hippybear as they've helped provide consistent alternatives to the megathreads. I can blame them for still spending too much time here even after I'm no longer reading as much about US politics.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:05 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


megathread has been an invaluable aggregation of vetted news, contrasting information, insightful interpretations and links to primary sources; it is irreplaceable for keeping tabs on the end of the republic. my political awareness and engagement will be the poorer for its passing. it has been the pinnacle of metafilter -- both meta and filter -- in principle and execution, notwithstanding its enumerated faults, which i do not dispute.

i do not understand what is unique about megathread that imposes a disproportional burden on mods, though.

also, isn't electionfilter almost at hand?
didn't megathread metastasize out of electionfilter last time?
what is to stop that happening again?

anyway, i'll still be here, reading with interest. thank you, mods & participants.

on preview: i would not follow the excellent newsfinders of megathread, named and unnamed, to facebook.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:07 PM on July 23 [30 favorites]


*sigh*

This is disappointing news. The constant aggregation of every little detail of the current dumpster fire is not the valuable part of the megathreads, for me. The commentary and community that has been built around those details has been. Wherever it moves to, please don't move it to a chat platform. I don't have 24/7 to keep up with all y'all. But, I need you people and your valuable insights into the goings-ons of the world until such time as Trump and his Klan have been all pushed face first into the sea. This is a problem that is not going away soon, and trying to smother the community around it seems like capitulation to the damned Nazis.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:08 PM on July 23 [28 favorites]


But I don’t understand how the proposed fix, splintering that into a hundred smaller garbage fires, is an improvement. The only way it works is if people who were really invested in the megathreads just leave.

I mean, maybe members need to examine exactly what types of behaviors and comments contribute to the notion that the megathread is a garbage fire, and then actively work as members to reduce those kinds of behaviors and comments in future single-topic US-politics posts that will replace the megathread
posted by 23skidoo at 6:11 PM on July 23 [39 favorites]


Mark me down as 'Unhappy.'
posted by ob1quixote at 6:13 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


I think the threads are only a distracting, rage inducing garbage fire if you have the option of not paying attention to them. Then they just make your experience worse. But if you don't have that privilege, they're just...what life is now.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:15 PM on July 23 [39 favorites]


Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick: "This is a problem that is not going away soon, and trying to smother the community around it seems like capitulation to the damned Nazis."

Wait, how is "instead of having one big thread, we'll have multiple medium-sized threads" equivalent to "capitulation to the damned Nazis"?
posted by Bugbread at 6:16 PM on July 23 [14 favorites]


> I think the threads are only a distracting, rage inducing garbage fire if you have the option of not paying attention to them.

From my point of view - this, exactly, a hundred times this.
posted by RedOrGreen at 6:16 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


It hurts me to see people who say that those thread are the places they found community. The rest of Metafilter is full of great conversations and current events. For anyone considering leaving over this decision, I am begging you, please consider jumping into more conversations on the site, whether it's to answer questions on AskMefi or to ask your own, or in other threads on the Blue, or to host an IRL event. Please don't give up, because the same people you enjoyed interacting with in those threads are elsewhere on the site.

See, the problem is that I think the US is descending into a fascist autocracy beholden to a hostile foreign state. I need a community to help me follow and understand that specifically. The MegaThreads were that community. I don't think I'll be able to find another one like it. The fact that I can still interact with a tiny subset of those people in threads about interesting internet links is small consolation.
posted by diogenes at 6:17 PM on July 23 [80 favorites]


I hope this works, although it seems like the most likely way it helps reduce mod burden is if part of the politics discussion moves off site. I spent time in the megathreads for a while, but then drifted away. Interested to see if there will be political discussion on a more manageable scale now.
posted by snofoam at 6:19 PM on July 23


> "instead of having one big thread, we'll have multiple medium-sized threads"

As you say, this doesn't make much sense. It only makes sense if the expectation is that those medium sized threads will fizzle out from lack of participation.

> I need a community to help me follow and understand that specifically. The MegaThreads were that community. I don't think I'll be able to find another one like it.

Also seconded, wholeheartedly.

(And I'll stop there for now, sorry for the multiple comments. Just catching up after dinner and this news feels like a shock.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 6:20 PM on July 23 [13 favorites]


4+ grueling years. 445,000+ comments. Given past mod comments on one of these threads as having about a 1/5 deletion rate, and extrapolating from there for lack of more precise information...

This suggests something on the order of 100k comments of narrative doom-spinning/ideation, derails, trolling, etc. which had to be pruned. And that's with repeated initiatives from the megathread denizens to try and corral things.

I found the threads useful at times, but I feel this really needs to be underscored that "this is a critical resource (which people keep mucking up) and it's not remotely paying for itself" seems to be about the long and short of it. (I know, there's the contingent of "but if you just stopped moderating things it'd go smoother!", but given how many people are highlighting the environment of the threads as something special; I can only take from that that there's something of value there that having a free-for-all space wouldn't replace)
posted by CrystalDave at 6:21 PM on July 23 [31 favorites]


Wait, how is...

Because the intent here seems to be to scale back politics discussion in several ways:

1) only thread up a new topic if it is large enough to qualify. This removes all valuable commentary around a topic that might only be four or five comments and then the thread moves ever onward.

2) distribute the processing load of "following all the topics" to the megathread participants, who once had one-stop-shopping, but now are going to have to keep 5... 10.. how many? open active threads alive and being monitored.

It's all about suppressing the overall Politics Discusssion load on MeFi. This is what I'm considering to be capitulation. The site can't take the strain, and thus, the fucking Nazi's have won again. They've taken one more space away through their actions. I'm not blaming the moderators or MeFi in general for any of that, but it still feels like territory lost.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:22 PM on July 23 [19 favorites]


I think this is a big mistake which will lead to lower active user numbers, more financial problems, fewer comments per post, and a general decline in site culture.

But Metafilter will be easier to moderate while it lasts.
posted by jamjam at 6:23 PM on July 23 [14 favorites]


because vocally disagreeing with the popular narrative, however counter-factual and manufactured and especially if you are not a master of Mefi conversational style, is a good way to get insulted and derided and then get modded for not doing it right,

As far as I know, this has been true since before the megathreads were born and it will probably continue to be true as long as the site exists. Humans gonna human.
posted by windykites at 6:24 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


All the shit going on doesn't just go away, for sure. We're not decommissioning the megathreads because we think the state of things has settled down, or that the stuff that gets talked about in them doesn't matter. That's part of why I'm explicitly saying that more topic-specific posts is part of the move here; I fully expect folks to keep discussing US politics stuff on the site. We're living through an exceptionally shitty and weird period. There's a lot to talk about.

But the megathreads aren't working. They're burning out the mod team, they're fracturing site expectations. I talked a lot about the details in the post, and we've discussed this stuff in the past: the value that is there is coming at an unsustainable cost, and we have to do something else now. It's not a won't thing, it's a can't thing.

More focused posts and finding another way to support some of that social and community energy is the best first step down that path I have available. The question for me now is what other ways can we help support that social energy on the site, that don't mean burning the candle at both ends.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:26 PM on July 23 [41 favorites]


This stresses me out. I feel like this is giving up. There are so many people here I respect and appreciate for informing us...

These threads have made my life worse because life is worse. And I'm worried this will soften the blow. I'm really distressed.
posted by armacy at 6:28 PM on July 23 [13 favorites]


Thank you for doing this.

Also, I don't appreciate being told that my inability to handle the megathreads is a sign of my privilege. It's arguably the opposite.
posted by hoyland at 6:28 PM on July 23 [55 favorites]


Also, I don't appreciate being told that my inability to handle the megathreads is a sign of my privilege. It's arguably the opposite.

And, to be clear, you are not me. You can have the opposite experience. Just please don't presume to know mine.
posted by hoyland at 6:30 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


this decision has not come out of nowhere. there has been a LOT of discussion in the contentious metatalk threads of the last few months about how the megathreads are a drain on the site. i understand that the megathreads are important to some of you, and i understand why that is, but the data shows that a pretty small percentage of users are really contributing there, and proportionally they take up more resources per active participant than any other facet of the site. as they take up more and more time and energy from the moderators, the rest of the site suffers. this is not about "easier moderation," it's about using limited resources more effectively to serve the majority of the community better. metafilter is currently dealing with several different crises - the site is not making enough money, and PoC members feel unwelcome and are leaving in droves. any discussion of this change without acknowledging those two facts is an admission that you value your participation here more than you value the health of the larger site and community. i think that's a natural impulse, but the anger in this thread is really disappointing and frankly is just as much an indicator that the megathreads are unhealthy for the site as anything else is.
posted by JimBennett at 6:33 PM on July 23 [55 favorites]


Okay, honest question here for anyone who can remember: I have a feeling that a lot of these same arguments were made about the creation of MegaThreads: that corralling this discussion was a way of shunting it to the side and giving up; that it was capitulation and defeat. However, it was a while ago, and memories are fickle. Am I just imagining this? Was it a minority opinion that I am remembering as being more widespread than it was?
posted by Bugbread at 6:35 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


Since this really does feel like The End of A Thing no matter what the spin is, I took the time to make this twitter list on a new account based on the list I have on my private account. Twitter is the other way I follow ::gestures wildly:: all this :: and this list is a result of years of careful pruning. I won't claim it's the best list ever, but if you need another way to follow the daily oppressive despair, there's worse places to start.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:36 PM on July 23 [36 favorites]


I think the threads are only a distracting, rage inducing garbage fire if you have the option of not paying attention to them. Then they just make your experience worse. But if you don't have that privilege, they're just...what life is now.

But, okay. Everyone except for the mods have the opportunity has the option of not paying attention to the megathreads. It's entirely possible to pay attention to US politics without paying attention to the megathreads, and my experience was that if you were concerned about knowing enough and being able to take action on a specific topic, it's a pretty horrible way trying to find that information.

I'm resentful of the implication that those who aren't participating in the megathreads all have blinders on, or something. We're all concerned about fascism.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:37 PM on July 23 [69 favorites]


I imagined this drain on resources would resolve with volunteer moderators helming the megathread at least part of the time, users possibly drawn from the "prolifics" mentioned above.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:38 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


I took the time to make this twitter list on a new account based on the list I have on my private account.

Thanks for doing that. I'll make use of it. But, man, Twitter is way worse for my mental health than the MegaThreads. It's all the horror with none of the community.
posted by diogenes at 6:40 PM on July 23 [28 favorites]


As a participant in these threads since the primary season, I agree with this decision. There was heroic work done to strip out the fights and repetition and tangents etc etc, but in the end there was so much to deal with, and they became magnets for any number of hobbyhorse arguments that wouldn't die. And this is anecdotal as hell, but I've seen them mentioned more than a few times by former Mefites as what drove them away from the site.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:41 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


diogenes, you and I agree on that.

So it is obviously a weird day.
posted by monopas at 6:41 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I am sympathetic to the mod dilemma, but for the very reason that they cannot keep up with the mega-threads -- there are few of them -- I think that they may be limited in their ability to foresee and design a modified system for handling ongoing political disagreement. That is, I think there may be technical solutions out there -- possible ways to run a "mega-thread" with feasible moderation -- that the moderators simply have not thought of because such a design task is hard. I worry that starting this conversation with something of a fait accompli may prematurely foreclose on possible alternative structures that may be workable. This isn't to say that the mods haven't thought long and hard about it, nor that it's an easily solvable problem -- on the contrary, I watched dailykos.com during its heyday (a decade ago) struggle through much of this as it attempted to grapple with many of the same problems, only to partially succeed at best (to put it charitably). But there exist structures that we know work better than the one currently in place, including threading and community self-moderation in various flavors, and while I appreciate the format and culture of Metafilter are opposed to many of those innovations, it might be worth as a community spending some time collectively exploring alternative structures that could more sustainably allow moderated political speech. I don't lightly suggest monkeying with fundamental Metafilter structures, but as others have said, these are extraordinary times, and I don't think the real political impact of metafilter should be discounted. It may be worth some serious functional tinkering to preserve that community and its effects, even if the shape of such adjustments are not immediately obvious. The mods are, as they repeatedly say, limited; it might be worth opening discussion up a bit to more substantial structural changes that might succeed in ways the mods haven't yet been able to envision.
posted by chortly at 6:42 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Goodbye.

I'm not entirely certain to what, or whom, I'm saying goodbye. To the megathreads, obviously. To MetaFilter, probably not, unless the human and financial costs of the site become so great that it ends. To my own current metaphysical state (i.e., alive), also probably not, at least not any time soon. To the American republic, very likely. But one way or another, this is a departure, or an ending, so I feel like I must say goodbye.

Goodbye.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:43 PM on July 23 [27 favorites]


diogenes, you and I agree on that.

So it is obviously a weird day.


I honestly didn't know we had a running disagreement...
posted by diogenes at 6:43 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I want to underscore something here: these threads, their history, and people's relationships with them and perceptions of how the threads have or haven't fit into the site, is all a big complicated thing. People have lots of feelings about this stuff, and lots of different reasons for feeling those feelings.

And that just needs to be okay. We need to make the effort to be kind to each other in all this. In this discussion, but also in all of THIS, and those aren't the same things but the idea's the same.

So as much as I know folks have strong feelings in lots of different directions about whether the threads ought to stay or ought to go, and talking about those feelings is fine, I'd like everybody to make the effort to skip the bit where you explain what you think are other people's bad motives for those differing opinions. That kind of thing, itself, is one of the biggest challenges we have to deal with as a community: ending up abandoning that basic sense of good faith that even the folks here who we disagree with are just...fellow community members we disagree with.

I know this is a stressful moment in a stressful seeming-eternity. It's alright to be upset. But please let's try not to turn that toward one another. That's happened too much, too often, in MetaTalk, up to fairly recent history and it more than anything is the kind of thing I don't want MetaFilter to be about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:44 PM on July 23 [65 favorites]


Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick said: The site can't take the strain, and thus, the fucking Nazi's have won again. They've taken one more space away through their actions.

Like, angry racists have been around, organizing and doing nasty stuff since long before the megathread started. Before the megathread existed, were the Nazis winning at Metafilter (for some definition of "nazi" and "winning")? If that sounds like nonsense, then why are Nazis winning now that we're returning to the lack of a megathread (but returning to discussing political topics as dedicated posts), something that's been the norm for like 90% of the time Metafilter's been a website?
posted by 23skidoo at 6:44 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


Megathreads gave me Nazi ammunition, kept me aware of the horrors, crowdsources links to point others to...
posted by armacy at 6:49 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


I just want to say I love this site and I appreciate the work everyone does. Everything is really complicated right now and we're all (really, you're all) doing (y)our best.
posted by mmmbacon at 6:49 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


I feel that 4 years and half a million comments is enough of a try, and it seems reasonable to try something different.
posted by snofoam at 6:50 PM on July 23 [20 favorites]


I honestly didn't know we had a running disagreement...

I think that much of it was edited out, and since I don't talk much in the threads, the rest is in my head. I would like to say that I have enjoyed disagreeing with you in my head, and you have made me think about my own opinions and beliefs and communication style. Thank you. I appreciate you.
posted by monopas at 6:50 PM on July 23 [21 favorites]



See, the problem is that I think the US is descending into a fascist autocracy beholden to a hostile foreign state. I need a community to help me follow and understand that specifically. The MegaThreads were that community. I don't think I'll be able to find another one like it. The fact that I can still interact with a tiny subset of those people in threads about interesting internet links is small consolation.


Same here. I don't really have extra time every day to check out the latest links about men who feed stray cats or alternate versions of "All Star" but I did set aside some time to commiserate and learn the latest about the ongoing dumpster fire.

I'll miss that community. I've been a member here for 18 years and I'm not about to abandon the site, but I'll go back to being a lurker who pops in every week or two.

I know there will be separate politics topic threads, but I rarely want to dig into a specific topic. I just want to know the latest things that this community thinks are important. This is something I couldn't get anywhere else. I live in Utah so I literally can't speak about politics outside the walls of my own house.

I do understand the need to do this and I'm not arguing. But it is a sad occasion.

See y'all in the funny papers.
posted by mmoncur at 6:52 PM on July 23 [54 favorites]


"megathread has been an invaluable aggregation of vetted news, contrasting information, insightful interpretations and links to primary sources; it is irreplaceable for keeping tabs on the end of the republic. my political awareness and engagement will be the poorer for its passing."

Well, I was going to write a reaction but then this appeared, and it's basically what I would have said. The megathreads have helped so much in keeping informed about what is going on and finding ways to deal with it.

I understand why they are unsustainable but losing them is a major loss for many of us. I didn't post in there that much, but I've been reading all of them for the last few years. They have been a requirement, IMHO. I will miss them greatly. Following individual threads will only partially replace the benefit of the megathreads.
posted by litlnemo at 6:53 PM on July 23 [22 favorites]


I'm resentful of the implication that those who aren't participating in the megathreads all have blinders on, or something. We're all concerned about fascism.

Dealing with fascism in day-to-day life is one of the reasons I haven't had the remaining energy to use on the megathreads.
posted by brook horse at 6:54 PM on July 23 [34 favorites]


As a separate note from the one I made above, I should say that for me, this is probably going to finally drive me to Twitter, to I'm sure my infinite detriment.

There is a real asymmetry in the praises and complaints regarding these megathreads, and there always has been. While I appreciate the arguments of those who are "addicted" to the megathread and dislike it, or who feel like collective attention is over-consumed by these threads, or who think they generate more heat than light, or otherwise dislike them, there is a real structural difference between those complaints and the pleas of those who depend upon the threads. For the former, as the mods have said and supported, the easiest solution is simply to hide the offending material; but for the latter, there is no real solution apart from the howling wilderness of Twitter and the like. The downsides of leaving the thread up are that those who dislike them continue to be offended by their presence, but this seems far smaller than the downside effect of taking them down on the hundreds of members who depend on them for information, community, emotional support, and activism. Again, this has nothing to do with the mod burn-out, which is a sufficient condition for removal. But inasmuch as we are specifically catering to the needs of the community, the needs of those who love and depend on these threads are very differently affected by their removal than are the needs of those who hate them by leaving them in place.
posted by chortly at 6:56 PM on July 23 [36 favorites]


Since this really does feel like The End of A Thing no matter what the spin is, I took the time to make this twitter list on a new account based on the list I have on my private account...

To put my money where my mouth is, I checked out that Twitter list, which seemed to have many names I respect in it, and seemed like a potentially decent place to start dipping a newbie toe into political Twitter, which I do understand is where much real politics actually happens these days.

Oh my god, it's so horrible.

I'm going to miss these threads...
posted by chortly at 7:06 PM on July 23 [8 favorites]


Shit. I'll just say it. No sense beating around the bush now. The megathreads have been one of very few things keeping me alive for the past three years. That's why I made a point of making at least one comment in every single one. But now they're gone. Serves me right for relying on things, I suppose. I'm going to bed now, but if anyone else needs it, here's the list of suicide hotlines on the ThereIsHelp wiki page.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:08 PM on July 23 [47 favorites]


Faint of Butt, I'm sorry this is hard news. MeFi's not going anywhere, though, and I'm glad you're here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:17 PM on July 23 [16 favorites]


To the contributors in the megathreads, whether you regularly made the new posts, or you shared news links every day, or you just commented once: thank you. Your work has helped keep me not just aware of what's going on, but educated about it. I hope you continue to be active in the more-focused posts. I believe there are a lot of us that aren't directly active in these posts that find your efforts unquantifiably valuable.

To the mods pulling shifts in these posts: thank you. I am a big proponent of strong-moderation in online communities, and I know what a toll that can take. I know the posts would not have been as valuable to me without your work. Everything is very hard now and it will still be work even in the more-focused posts; take breaks when you need to and stay healthy, and if that means sometimes we have a moratorium on politics posts, that's okay too.
posted by curious nu at 7:17 PM on July 23 [24 favorites]


?
!
?!?!?!?!?
I don't know quite what I think about this, but I think I don't like it.
posted by Corvid at 7:22 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


Trump really does suck the air out of a room.

I think MeFi has suffered horribly under the politics. But it isn't really about the blue; there are so many things that are harder to focus on, and give light to, good things, interesting things, artful things, the best of the web even, that are getting smothered everyday everywhere under the weight of Trump. It's awful. I have no idea how to get out of it. I love the megathread, but I think it is hurting the blue, and the blue's members. I hope the new way can keep us informed and engaged but still allow a little breath for many of the kinds of things that made the blue great.

Bring back the law school hate and Shakespeare puns.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:27 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


there is a real structural difference between those complaints and the pleas of those who depend upon the threads

I've typed up a bunch of ways to try to say this, and it's hard. So, I'm going to try to keep it straightforward:

I think this only seems like a structural difference if you assume that people who aren't depending on the megathreads also can't be depending on the rest of MeFi. "Just don't look at it" won't change the fact that the resource load of the megathreads is threatening the entire site's existence, and while it's easy for many to snark about the value of cat videos and takes on All Star as if they're not important, MeFi existing as a place that can contain great political commentary but also many other things is in fact important to many people, people who depend on that as much as people who depend on the megathreads, many of whom have depended on it as such for years prior to the megathreads even existing.

I'm not saying people have to be happy about this -- I have followed literally every megathread, to my knowledge, and participated in many. They have been important to me. I think it's reasonable to feel loss at this. However, I also think it is unkind to other mefites to talk about this as if people who feel they need the rest of MeFi have somehow lesser needs than those who feel they need the megathreads.
posted by tocts at 7:27 PM on July 23 [58 favorites]


I've been a fairly regular participant the US politics threads. I understand why you're doing this. I hope it works, and I hope the community as whole benefits.
posted by nangar at 7:31 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


My wife will be happy.

I am... less happy, but understand that it’s a problem with really no good solutions. I’ll definitely have more free time and focus for other things, but will greatly miss the contributions from all of you and the sense of community in fighting this evil.

The megathreads also got me more active on the site after more than a decade of just being the very occasional commenter. I even went to a meetup. So even if they were harmful to MeFi as a whole, I’ll always appreciate them beyond the political battle and camaraderie as a belated reintroduction to this great site and its people. I hope these changes, even if I may not 100% agree, do end up helping the health and longevity of MeFi.
posted by chris24 at 7:36 PM on July 23 [31 favorites]


the moderation toll is definitely real.

The few times I came back here to do moderation for any length of time, I was always surprised at both how much work the megathreads took to stay on top of and also how much of a big chunk of mod work they were becoming. I know this is not an easy decision and I know you've been thinking about it a lot. I think one of the hardest things about moderation is sometimes having to say "This is not what this site is for" when a large chunk of the community would very much like it to be that thing. Best wishes with this.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:40 PM on July 23 [77 favorites]


Cortex, I accept that this is the decision, and I'm not happy about it but it is what it is, but I do have a question:

- Do you have any data at all on how many unique viewers any given Megathread might have (on average) (logged in and not), vs. say, the front page, or other pages on the site?

I have had a feeling for a long time that the Megathread has lots of readers who are not necessarily participants. I know I read a lot (often through the wonderful "last 10 comments" feature on recent) and rarely comment. I have to wonder if this is going to decrease site usage overall, because there is a big (maybe hard to count) group out there who is reading but not commenting.

Also, honestly, while I knew this day was coming, this feels a little bit like normalization to me, and I think I hate it because of that.
posted by anastasiav at 7:41 PM on July 23 [37 favorites]


So is this where we re-litigate the 2016 primaries? /s

I'll miss the megathreads, I empathise with a lot of the love/hate for them; while I rarely have anything informative to add (and try to only post my best crafted quips on the rare occasion I am unable to hold it in), I have found a lot of good insight, especially as an Aussie without lived experience of a USian.

They have been an informative resource, and a fighty argument, often simultaneously; and seeing some comments that later got deleted, I can understand how draining it must be for the mods to herd those cats.

I do feel that while a lot of the heat is a valid response to *waves hand at everything going on*, there has been some that could be avoided by not having a single, fast moving discussion where topics overlap often. I hope we can settle on a compromise going forward, with new posts about new things, and a few slightly sticky ones (kilothreads?) on ongoing topics (border camps, ongoing actions, et al.).

I hope I'm not overstepping, since my stakes in the situation are lower, largely existential dread.
posted by Marticus at 7:55 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


I want to take this opportunity to thank, from the very bottom of my heart, Metafilter, the mods, every single one of you who created the megathreads, and every single person who commented on them. You have all enriched my life immeasurably and I will miss the megathread experience horribly, though I understand why the decision was made. Thank you all so much!
posted by Silverstone at 7:55 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


The thread is all about about the parts that don't work and No this and No that. I challenge the members who want to have meaningful political discussion to contribute what works. What are the traits of successful comments and threads?

For me it's well-formed links like CNN: US-born citizen who was in immigration detention for three weeks has been released instead of an unlinked comment like Hey that guy in TX got out.
Use the tools, the script that helps format replies is useful.
Type away, but before you hit post, take 30 seconds. It is accurate, competently written, worth saying, not a rehash? Is it really worth posting? Is it a hot-take? Sometimes it's better to delete stuff.
posted by theora55 at 7:58 PM on July 23 [33 favorites]


Cortex, this was a timely and right decision to make. The quality of moderation that makes the metafilter political UX unique has become unsustainable, if I'm reading the OP right, and moderator burnout is not worth the cost to the future sustainability of Metafilter itself, which is your longer term goal than this one election cycle or that.

thankyou for putting the needs of the people who keep this community running smoothly first.

I look forward to getting my cats jammed in your scanners again.
posted by Mrs Potato at 8:05 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


Ray Walston, Luck Dragon: "I think the threads are only a distracting, rage inducing garbage fire if you have the option of not paying attention to them. Then they just make your experience worse. But if you don't have that privilege, they're just...what life is now."

holyland: "Also, I don't appreciate being told that my inability to handle the megathreads is a sign of my privilege. It's arguably the opposite."

As holyland said. This world shit impacts directly on me and mine, and everybody else who I never knew I cared about before modern conversations. But I am cognitively unable to get into any megathread on any level. World events are already a Gish Gallop directly onto my brain, and for me the megathreads were just a distilled jetstream of crap that I simply cannot grok, regardless of how much I care and how much it matters to me. I am glad they worked for so many people, but please understand, for a bunch of us, it's just noise, cranked up to 11. It is pushing us out.
posted by Evilspork at 8:09 PM on July 23 [24 favorites]


What are the traits of successful comments and threads?

Links to news reports, essays, or twitter commentary outside the mainstream things I always see shared in other places.
posted by sallybrown at 8:10 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


I challenge the members who want to have meaningful political discussion to contribute what works. What are the traits of successful comments and threads?

As someone with no trouble scrolling and skimming quickly, I find almost every comment that doesn't consist of explicit vitriol directed at other MF members to be successful and very often meaningful. The quality of the community means that even the quips, petty arguments and redundancies are, at worst, not very costly to me, and certainly are a far smaller percentage of the good stuff than any other politics forum I have ever encountered (if anyone has any other MF-quality recommendations, though, please share). I am one of those who think that the mods could get away with far less moderation without the self-destruction of the site, focusing mainly just on peer-directed attacks defined fairly narrowly. But as I said, I'm a good skimmer, and run the site on a laptop that has never had trouble handling multi-thousand-comment threads, so I may be an outlier.
posted by chortly at 8:18 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


I am definitely in the "disagree strongly with the decision, but am also cognizant that there are reasons supporting it" camp.

In these days of global political insanity and America's own special blend of it splashing in all directions, there are many, many other topics worthy of discussion on the site, but there is no one topic more important. The megathreads have been a very useful aggregation of news and insight where, to put it bluntly, bullshit and inaccuracies tended not to survive; if the mods didn't get them, the commenters would. I am honestly unsure of where I will find their equal.

But if they are untenable, they are untenable. Alas.
posted by delfin at 8:20 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


I generally don't like to comment in these kinds of threads, but I want to second what Evilspork just said, and by extension what hoyland said.

I'm a Mexican-American woman and not all of my family is here legally. My biggest fear when Trump got elected has basically played out. I've lost some of my closest friends because they told me two years ago that all of the immigration stuff was "just a distraction." I've tried to read the megathreads and I couldn't follow half of the comments - so much of it seemed to be just continuations of conversations that had been going on in these threads for months or yeah, "a distilled jetstream of crap." I really resent even the implication that I can't feel that way because I have some kind of privilege, when I have a direct, personal stake in the shit that is going down now, not just because I'm Mexican, but because I'm a woman, because I'm LGBTQ, because I, perhaps mistakenly, give a fuck about a country that has seemed to always show disdain for people of my cultural and ethnic background because nonetheless my family chose to come here to try for something more than what they felt they could have in their home country.

I'm glad that people found community in them, but to cast that kind of judgement on people who didn't, or who felt alienated by them, is bullshit.
posted by primalux at 8:24 PM on July 23 [131 favorites]


This feels like... not defeat, but certainly a retreat. This feels like triage.

I can’t fault the mods for the decision. There’s a very strong chance I’d make the same choice. But I’m still sad to see the Megathreads go, because it feels like we’re adding ongoing political discussion to the list of “things MeFi doesn’t do well”.
posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 8:35 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


Fuck.

Gonna have to think about this a lot.

Right now, it feels like a decision along the Community vs Business axis in favor of Business. I think that might be an incorrect judgement. Either way, this is big and difficult. Gonna sit with this a bit.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:39 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


.
Also disagree, disappointed, un-subscribe, adieu.
posted by Dashy at 8:51 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Right now, it feels like a decision along the Community vs Business axis in favor of Business

To view it this way amounts to saying that people who weren't participating in the megathreads aren't part of the community, which is a thing a bunch of people have already expressed frustration with right here in this thread.
posted by tocts at 8:56 PM on July 23 [46 favorites]


I have to say that I will probably be happier as a person that they're gone.

That being said I absolutely enjoyed being able to mine them for the gems seeded by the efforts of others. I made a small hobby of writing tools to extract manageable pieces from the mega threads so that I just wouldn't have to read all of the dreck myself nor actively participate regularly. Missing that opportunity is a little selfish but there it is.

I am hopeful that those who did contribute regularly may at some point find (or make) other outlets and think to show them off over at Projects.
posted by mce at 8:56 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


I wish I could favorite your comment a thousand times over, primalux.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 8:58 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


I'm OK with it, all things considered.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:01 PM on July 23


I guess I was a laconic, in jpfed's terms. I hope this change gives the mods what they need and proves healthy for site culture. I don't envy leadership in having to make this call and I admire that they had the fortitude to make it. Best wishes to you all.
posted by eirias at 9:06 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


The best platform for people to move to is probably reddit. Require everyone to use their mefi name and then verify them when they send you a MefiMail on site.

There are tools that take away downvoting and you can default sort to “new.” I feel like there are probably ways to avoid threading but...you probably want threading, honestly.

In addition to general posts, which should probably require links w/mefi rules applying, you can have sticky community discussion posts. You can start a new one each week to keep them short.

JMO.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:09 PM on July 23 [25 favorites]


To view it this way amounts to saying that people who weren't participating in the megathreads aren't part of the community, which is a thing a bunch of people have already expressed frustration with right here in this thread.

That's super not true, and not fair. Saying that I feel like this decision as expressed is weighing the needs of the business (reducing mod overload) over the desires of the community (the reason that the threads exist at all) is not AT ALL saying that those that choose to not participate are therefore not a part of the community. That syllogism doesn't follow in the slightest. Kindly request you reexamine and take that back, because that is an inaccurate and incredibly unkind reading of my feelings on the matter.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:10 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


During the combo 20th anniversary hoopla/dire financial news/listening to POC insights about how they experience the site period, a lot of folks increased their contributions while wishing they could be directed to something specific, like strategic planning or diversifying the mod staff. I said nothing at the time, but I doubled up the donations because I love the megathreads and wanted to help offset their costs.

As the US drifts into fascism, most of my friends have become exhausted. They're not paying close attention to the shitstorm any more, some from privilege but most from a sense of futility and overwhelm. Part of what I got from the mega threads was comradery with their people who stay engaged and enraged: the resistance. This decision feels like another victory for Trump's campaign to wear us down.

And fewer but more focused threads are not a substitute.
posted by carmicha at 9:12 PM on July 23 [51 favorites]


2. The overall trend over time is that the number of commenters and the number of prolifics is decreasing. The skew in participation is slooowly increasing over time, and since this trend has had some time to work, things are pretty skewed now. This is true either looking at the ratio of prolific commenters versus total commenters or by looking at the Gini coefficient.
2.A. Word counts are decreasing but more slowly than users are- individual users' word counts are increasing.
2.B. The total number of links per thread is increasing! The number of comments with links per thread is not changing despite the other decreases in activity.
...
4. Are the same people prolific from one megathread to the next? Mostly yes but also a little no. Users move in and out of the Prolific and Laconic categories from one thread to the next. 345 people have, for at least one thread, been prolific. If you look at each user that has ever been prolific and look at how often they've been prolific, you get a highly skewed distribution. Most people that have ever been prolific have only been prolific once (148 users, or 43%), twice (40 users, 11%), or thrice (21 users, 6%). But there is a core of 13 users that has been prolific in more than half of the megathreads, and two users in particular have been prolific in more than 90% of megathreads.


You know, the more I think about it, the more these numbers sit with me. Maybe some of us that contributed heavily to the whole megathread phenomenon deluded ourselves into thinking that participation here had a similar effect as participation in the real world, when it didn't and never could. And all our time would've been better spent with one day of registering voters in our own neighborhoods. Which I've also done, but the daily engagement of posting to the megathread maybe felt more tangible and permanent, or maybe just self-therapeutic.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that along with zachlipton, I may be the other of the 2 of 13 prolific posters, which is also making me question the continued value proposition of putting that much effort into a site that it's no longer really welcome or productive.

I'm sure I'll still drop in here and there, but the more I think about it this is probably the end of my daily participation around here. It's becoming clear it's never really been worth it for all parties.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:14 PM on July 23 [28 favorites]


As a very contentious and politically-aware Mefite, I've hardly looked at a megathread in a year or more (I think? I'm not going to try to find data on this). I don't think they're that helpful, in any particular sense, certainly not in any semi-unique way, and how they would place disproportionate strain on the mod team is fairly obvious. So...if the mod team feels the game isn't worth the candle, I understand and respect that. Focused discussions of particular topics seem much more likely to both leverage Mefi's particular strengths and not exhaust mod resources.
posted by praemunire at 9:18 PM on July 23 [19 favorites]


I've kind of pulled back on my megathread participation in general as of late, and some of that is just being busy, a lot of that was figuring that this metatalk post was an inevitability sooner or later so why bother, but it's also increasingly felt less like home. Things inherently got a lot less funny after the election, and continue to do so every day, and then the "resetting expectations" thread, in the service of trying to make the threads more manageable and less of a burden, killed off the last of the humor and camaraderie that made them a community instead of just a parade of horrors. Since then, participation has dropped off for all sorts of reasons not getting into, and, well, here we are.

In the recent State of the Site thread, before it all went horribly off the rails in even worse ways, there was a long line of people ready to explain how the megathreads were destroying MeFi and ready to describe in vulgar detail their contempt for those who participated in them. And reading about how you're killing MeFi is, frankly, pretty depressing. All of which is to say that I was pretty prepared for this announcement. But it's heartening to read here how many people did appreciate these threads and derived benefit from psychologically damaging ourselves in them. As others have experienced, the megathreads made me a much more active MeFite (entirely, entirely too active, yes) and brought me closer to this community, and I can't say enough about everyone and how much I appreciate you all.

I have to think more about what this means. Given the array of US politics topics that easily could be their own threads, I'm not sure this doesn't mean an explosion of it all over the place exceeding what we have today, but I'm curious to see what happens. I'm hoping to put some of my megathread energy into increasing my offline political efforts, and I hope others will join me. I also never really pushed forward with the megathread coin idea, and I don't know if anyone cares anymore, but maybe it would make a nice parting memento, so I'll give that some thought.

.
posted by zachlipton at 9:21 PM on July 23 [68 favorites]


I've hardly looked at a megathread in a year or more .... don't think they're that helpful, in any particular sense....

Cool, thanks for this hot take. They have kept a lot of people sane in a time of intense danger to themselves and loved ones, and gotten lots of people involved in taking action to resist fascism. Glad to know you think, based on your lack of involvement, that they are not helpful.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:22 PM on July 23 [22 favorites]


Having gotten the data out of the way, I'll editorialize a bit. I apologize in advance for the length here.

I've read almost every word in every megathread. I've commented in most of them. I've been a prolific commenter in one megathread. They represent most of my time on Metafilter. But I'm not sad to see them go.

Getting rid of megathreads doesn't mean getting rid of politics discussion; it just means that topic-focused threads will be the new home for politics discussion. I believe the topic threads are "healthier" in a few ways. Just to quote my other comment for a moment,

Probably the most significant thing to note is that there were 142 non-mega potus45 posts (they outnumber the megathreads), but no one user was prolific in more than 12 of them.

The topic threads have a much more equal distribution of comments per commenter. There are still prolific users, but the set of prolific users in topic threads is constantly churning, meaning that there are no hyper-prolific users that are prolific in most topic threads.

Yes, one thing difficult to pull out in data dives is the prevalence of people saying The Same Damned Thing Over And Over Again (not that I'm innocent of this - did you know that state-level elections are very important?).

I spent at least as much time on trying to figure out semantic information as I did about just the distribution of comments over commenters, but I couldn't figure out how to get anything worth mentioning out of the data.

To go beyond the data a little bit, I think that topic threads are less likely to contain the n-millionth-rehash of perennial arguments for two reasons. First, as the set of prolific commenters changes from one topic thread to the next, so does the set of hobby horses the commenters like to ride, so no hobby horses dominate discussion for many successive threads. Second, there are some overarching themes or narratives that are tangential to many stories; these themes have space to resonate in the megathreads, but would be considered derails in almost any given topic thread not specifically dedicated to them.

Also, while I do frequently comment in megathreads, I find them pretty uncomfortable. There are topics on which I wouldn't say there is a "consensus" as it is normally understood, but that certain sides have essentially "won" by consistently being the loudest in the room. And there really isn't an acceptable way (either in terms of community norms or my own personal energy level) to push back against those (ostensibly) consensus positions. And I just don't feel that same discomfort in the topic threads.
posted by Jpfed at 9:27 PM on July 23 [34 favorites]


Saying that I feel like this decision as expressed is weighing the needs of the business (reducing mod overload) over the desires of the community (the reason that the threads exist at all) is not AT ALL saying that those that choose to not participate are therefore not a part of the community.

Except that its not "the desires of the community" -- it's the desires of a subset of the community, and continuing to privilege the desires of that subset threatens to end the site for the entire community. To talk about the decision like it's a cynical choice of business over what the community wants erases the members of this community that care about the site and community continuing to exist with or without the megathreads.
posted by tocts at 9:29 PM on July 23 [33 favorites]



I wish I could favorite your comment a thousand times over, primalux.


Yeah. Relatedly, they tended to conform to views and attitudes about American racism and democracy that I don’t recognize as true. Maybe it’s just an emphasis thing, IDK. But I found the effect of their design was to give the false impression of open discussion while, in practice, they ended up enforcing a substantial level of conformity that came to be taken as undeniable truth. To some extent the lessening of those conformity pressures might improve the usefulness and accuracy of the political/informational project here, such as it is.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:34 PM on July 23 [27 favorites]


cortex: "I know this is a stressful moment in a stressful seeming-eternity. It's alright to be upset. But please let's try not to turn that toward one another. That's happened too much, too often, in MetaTalk, up to fairly recent history and it more than anything is the kind of thing I don't want MetaFilter to be about."

PSA: If you are thinking about typing a snippy comment about other MeFites, I would request you re-read the above.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:34 PM on July 23 [20 favorites]


It is possible for something to have great meaning to people, build community, etc. and yet be too time and resource intensive to be worth continuing.

If this is really 50% of mod resources for 345 "prolific" users (and 13 truly prolific ones), then we have to ask what opportunity cost we're paying by having the mods not working on the larger community. If it really is that the mods are dealing with people treating each other shittily in a continually rolling conversation where old grievances are revisited again and again... well, that's a huge waste.

Again, the question is, if MeFi Can't Do Politics, and this may well have been the best we've ever done... then how can we get better than this? Because clearly this wasn't The Best Of Politics for a lot of folk here.
posted by dw at 9:38 PM on July 23 [8 favorites]


This is just my personal feeling (and your personal feelings may be different) but I think most people are okay with the megathread being replaced with topic-specific US-politics posts. I think this decision is what the community desires.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:42 PM on July 23 [16 favorites]


The opinions of users who used to participate in the megathreads and haven’t in some time are just as informed about some eras of the project as those who’ve participated until the end. I was a fairly active participant during the campaign, and then more sporadically afterward (lots of participation in some periods and not at all in others). I found that the time necessary to devote to reading the threads comprehensively, which I felt was the good-faith way to participate rather than skip around and post stuff that was old news, skewed my perception of how significant the megathreads were and what they were actually accomplishing. There is a whole universe in those threads, but it’s confined to the threads themselves. I think this is driving some of the stark disparity I see in the reactions to this post.
posted by sallybrown at 9:44 PM on July 23 [15 favorites]


I also generally don't like to comment in these kinds of threads (and of course this is happening after I decided a few hours ago that I would limit my participation in this thread) - but, like primalux, I want to address the notion that MeFites who aren't engaging with the megathreads are somehow privileged for opting out. Just speaking for myself, anyway:

I'm a Chinese American woman of multiple intersecting identities and one of my closest friends committed suicide shortly after the 2016 election because he couldn't bear to live in this administration. It's been weird, to say the least, to continue living in this administration without him, especially when every day's news in some form reminds me of his absence from this world. Some of my colleagues are immigration attorneys and I fear they are likely to be targeted for just doing their job, if they aren't already on some sort of list, on top of my everyday concerns for their mental health (one has already left the field altogether). I read multiple news sources, commentaries, editorials, personal accounts, as well as updates from various activism organizations everyday, and have various circles of people I am comfortable discussing current events and other issues with on the regular.

In a sense, I am relatively privileged in terms of already having existing offline and online politically aware-and-active communities for the purposes that others rely on the megathreads to provide. But I'm also very irked by the assumption that I must be privileged to the point of living in blissful ignorance of the events those megathreads address. As primalux mentioned, I also really resent even the implication that I have some kind of privilege because I'm not voluntarily immersing myself in the megathreads, when I have a direct, personal stake in the shit that is going down now, not because of my ethnicity or my various other intersecting identities, but because I do give a fuck about the country that historically has not done the same for me and mine.

So, for the above reasons and others, I have opted out of venturing into the U.S. politics megathreads. I do enjoy quite a bit about MetaFilter outside of those threads. And while I can appreciate the fact that plenty of MeFites do find solace, support, and a sense of community in such threads, I don't think those positives outweigh the negatives that plenty of other MeFites, including the mods, have repeatedly mentioned.
posted by rather be jorting at 9:49 PM on July 23 [61 favorites]


The megathreads grew of themselves, they can not die, they will happen again.
posted by vrakatar at 9:52 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


This is an excellent decision, thank you.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:54 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Cool, thanks for this hot take. They have kept a lot of people sane in a time of intense danger to themselves and loved ones, and gotten lots of people involved in taking action to resist fascism. Glad to know you think, based on your lack of involvement, that they are not helpful.

Care to define hot take? I used to read/sometimes participate in them. I stopped for a reason. I also get up every day and go to work for an organization that has (in my opinion) done more to thwart the current administration's agenda than all but a handful of others, so, if we could dial down the freshman-year rhetoric, that would be great. Given the obvious strain the megathreads put on limited mod resources, thinking that, as I and others have said, more topic-specific political threads might be better for the site and a more effective leveraging of Mefi's strengths doesn't make one a collaborator or whatever.
posted by praemunire at 9:57 PM on July 23 [27 favorites]


Wow. This is really disappointing. Mod burnout, that's bad obviously. I've only been reading since the Republican Convention but I 've come to depend on the posts, the variety of sources and then the background comments, the analysis, the different points of view of the members, the updates. I'm not on Facebook or Twitter. There are other forums I've sampled but they were either too bro/snarky/juvenile (and that's with moderation) or too clunky an interface.

I wonder what the breakdown is, for members accessing this site...phone? tablet? laptop? and how that affects your experience. Me, my tablet defaults to the mobile site so I don't even see the sidebars. I keep the current megathread open 24/7 because even if I timestamp it, I will lose my place if I close it. Even if there are only a couple hundred comments, that is seriously annoying. At the moment I have 6 tabs open...I can't even read the headers, there may be more...but they are all current political events I am following: Epstein, Brexit, Boris Johnson, Mueller, this... Devolving the megathread into spinoff topics and more tabs, aduh. Other than favoriting the last comment read, is there any reliable way to bookmark one's place in the thread? And Metatalk for running commentary? tried it (on my laptop) for the 2016 debates and it was wonky in a way that I don't remember, is it better now?

In summation, I like the fast moving, cross-talking, topic-shifting aspect of the megathread. It exposes me to some esoteric subjects (constitutional law, senate rules, obscure corners of government) that I would've never known about if they were posted another thread. I am in awe of zachlipton's contributions. And I skim other comments that I feel are rehashing points already made.

I don't like the new Fanfare layout either
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:10 PM on July 23 [20 favorites]


I don't think opting out of the megathreads means a person is privileged. It could be either way, an unprivileged person can't devote time/emolabor to megathreads. Or it could be a privileged person doesn't need to care about megathreads. So opting out tells you nothing about which is which.

However, dismissing people who found megathreads their personal anchor, that's privileged behavior. I would try to be mindful and empathic of that.

I don't read the megathreads, but last week I did Ctrl-F it to look up recent news on AOC, specifically because I felt that the NYTimes was framing/casting the freshmen incident in a particular way, and I wanted a better perspective than that. Megathread people, you did better than the NYTimes.
posted by polymodus at 10:15 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


Thanks megathread participants for getting me to write my reps, set up donations to RAICES, and attend my first protest. Taking this change as motivation to get more involved locally. Lately I've let the megathread turn into a security-blanket instead of a point of inspiration. I'll miss it, though. I'd appreciate hearing which members may tweet or blog about US politics cause I'd like to follow ya'll if possible.
posted by Mister Cheese at 10:22 PM on July 23 [22 favorites]


First, my condolences on those who are losing something they feel value in. I used to read the megathreads, waay back when, and they were something unique. I can imagine the benefit in some ways if I had a community where I could learn about all the stupid shit being done by the bigoted, climate-denier crook of an elected official who threatens my livelihood.

The megathreads posted in the first half of this year got about 140 comments per day. The recent trend graph from Tell me No Lies suggests the total comment volume is in the 700 to 800 comment per day range. So the megathreads are in the 17-20% range of total comments. (I think this is all just on the Blue).

Cortex said upthread that megathreads occupy about half of the mod attention. If this is the case, then the megathreads were consuming about four times the mod attention per comment than the rest of the community. These resources are sadly limited, and I appreciate that the rest of this community will be getting a little bit more in the future.

Thanks for making a decision and being clear about it and the ramifications.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:22 PM on July 23 [17 favorites]


I'll be sad to see them go, but I understand the decision. There is enough of an interest to keep them going though that we really should look at offsiting the thread. Simple website. No other threads. Same basic layout but no moderation. We'd all have to rely on the consideration and culture of the metafilter community to keep things OK (which I know is a stretch but worth trying). You sign up to that site directly using your username (password can be different). That triggers a pm to the username on metafilter matching that name with a code. Enter the code on the new site. You're allowed to proceed and post on the new site after confirming you have a metafilter account. We could crowd fund servers and slap ads all over it (which we'll not block and will try to click because we want to fund the site). There's gotta be a way to organize this.
posted by downtohisturtles at 10:25 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


I have been such a rare poster in megathreads that my own opinion feels a little irrelevant - but I think that more topic-specific threads will be good for my own participation; I have a lot to say about specific topics and events and very little to say about others and that feeling of "I can't participate in the megathread unless I am up to date and informed about EVERYTHING" has kept me from participating recently. That said - here's me pouring one out for the megathreads; lately I've become more and more aware of how bad politics Twitter is for my mental health, whether it's left-liberal infighting or outright cruelty and bigotry, and I'm increasingly want to have a place to talk and listen about politics that's not that.

(Although the left-liberal infighting we will always have with us, I suspect.)
posted by Jeanne at 10:25 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Also in case anyone does want to try using reddit (no server costs! volunteer moderation would be totally doable!) and doesn't have enough karma to start a community, just say the word. I'm not a power user over there but I've been there long enough to start a subreddit which I would then happily hand over to whomever.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:29 PM on July 23 [16 favorites]


Seems like a closer clone would be just a wordpress blog with flat, non-threaded comments.
posted by crazy with stars at 10:37 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


As one who mainly valued the megathreads for curated news aggregation, but also the commentary on same, I do think Reddit provides a framework to recreate that experience off-site. An automod could mute users who haven't been linked to their mefi profile or authorized in some one-time way. Upvotes/downvotes and threading will inevitably cause some changes in which content gets the most eyeballs, but who's to say if that is a bad thing?

Unless a real human person is saying they are ready to dedicate the resources that it takes to set up and administer a whole 'nother site like metafilter (not moderating, but just the nuts and bolts -- which resources could reasonably go to helping metafilter!) then moving megathreads to an existing large community forum seems like the realistic path forward.

I'll miss the megathreads but agree with the decision. Hope topic threads will be more sustainable.
posted by Chris4d at 10:42 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


The subtext of a lot of these recent metatalk posts is "The mods/staff are overburdened and don't have a clear idea on how to fix it because of a lack of resources, but have to try something before they break down". From the stats above and this discussion it seems like the megathreads have created somewhat of a sub-community inside MeFi of highly engaged people who find the threads very important and helpful, much more than they find the rest of the site. This move feels like an attempt to try and unify them back into the larger MeFi community, as well as improve the mod's mental health and ability to efficiently help more people.

People are skeptical that separate focused politics threads would reduce moderation burden, but the theory is that by having one set of rules and explicit topics it will become easier to moderate on a post-by-post level. One of the hardest things in moderation is making very contextual judgement calls because they take more mental energy and can be extremely emotionally draining. But, I'm pretty skeptical that you can actually have one set of moderation rules that covers "stories about cats" and "stories about contentious political/social issues", and the last few months of MeTa threads make it clear this isn't really working well on the main site either.

If I was a member of the megathread sub-community (I'm honestly a pretty casual MeFi user who just spent 4 hours reading MeTa threads) I would be extremely pissed off right now, as that community is explicitly being denied resources they had before. So I agree that it's important for the rest of us to keep that in mind, they are losing something substantial and real. But, we also need to remember that the mods and the non-megathread users have real emotional stakes in the decision as well, as this thread makes clear.

I have no idea if this is the right change for the community/site overall, things have changed a lot here over the last few years, mostly for the better, and this feels like another step towards whatever future-metafilter is. MeFi is at a weird point in community evolution where it could find a new identity, fracture into disconnected shards, or kind of drift into obsolescence. Honestly all 3 of those options scare me, as the vast majority of online communities are awful and harmful. I'm not really sure I have a point, other to express the hope that we can all respect each other's feelings while we all muddle through the shitstorm we're in.
posted by JZig at 10:48 PM on July 23 [24 favorites]


This is sad news. I really relied on reading the megathreads for my sanity, even if I was an infrequent contributor to them. At the same time, I respect that they were taxing for the mods and can understand why they felt the megathreads couldn't be sustained any longer. I don't have a good solution, but count me down as someone who would be interested in a "megathreads but on a different platform" option.
posted by Tsuga at 11:01 PM on July 23 [8 favorites]


Commenting is not the only way to participate or gain value from any Metafilter post: reading counts. All the mathy assertions about mod time relative to megathread comments, number of participants, etc. discounts members, some of whom weighed in above, who read it without joining in. Someone above asked about megathread traffic volume. Does that data exist?
posted by carmicha at 11:21 PM on July 23 [29 favorites]


In the same boat here as many others - I love MeFi for a lot of reasons but top of the list was definitely the megathreads - they were really an invaluable resource and I'm not sure how else to stay on top of what's going on in a remotely manageable or centralized way (let alone read others' insightful opinions, ask questions, etc.). These politics threads were top of mind for me when responding to the site's finance issues.

This may be a naive question but a lot of this ultimately boils down to finances, right? Is it the sort of thing where having some additional number of moderators (and funds to pay them) would make the megathreads more viable, or are the problems more fundamental/insurmountable than that (or is that itself an insurmountable problem, in that the resources required would be so far out of reach as to be impossible)?

Using Jpfed's crunched numbers, for example, there are a median of 410 commenters on each thread. Theoretically a banner at the top & bottom of each megathread could explain that extra funding is needed to continue the #potus45 stuff, with a link to a variant of the funding page, and if you're a donor on that variant then the banner disappears for you. What sort of additional numbers would be required to make these megathreads sustainable?

When you donate to a school, they frequently allow you to restrict your donation to specific causes that are important to you. Would that be a no-go here, even if it's just "general site maintenance" vs. "megathread maintenance" since it's such a resource drain?
posted by cybertaur1 at 11:24 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


This seems like a great case of "get your own blog," in the most sincere, non-snarky sense. The most prolific megathread posters could join as primary bloggers, making new posts as necessary with their characteristically thorough news roundups, with the bulk of the action happening in the comment sections. PZ Myers, blogging at Pharyngula, used to run a regular comment thread feature in this style, reasonably successfully -- not sure if he still does.

I have just registered the domain megathread.org. I am willing to transfer this to any Mefite(s) willing to take responsibility for basic admin of a blog. I am not sure that I can commit to helping set up a blog or any of the other admin work that is associated, but among those who love the megathreads, surely there is enough effort available to see this through.
posted by biogeo at 11:29 PM on July 23 [42 favorites]


I've been thinking about this for a while now; I have to admit that while I felt informed reading the megathreads (thanks everyone!) it ultimately is terrible for my mental health, especially on top of my current "real life" conflicts, which may have been started colouring by.

I'm worried that without the megathreads, I may not be as disappointed in humanity as I should.

And I'm not even American (although I'm adjacent to you guys and spent 4 years down there in college).
posted by porpoise at 11:48 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


there was a long line of people ready to explain how the megathreads were destroying MeFi and ready to describe in vulgar detail their contempt for those who participated in them

As someone who has been an open critic of these threads from the start, I want to at least say that it was never coming from a place of contempt. I’ve heard this reaction a number of times over the years, and it’s mistaken. I mean, obviously I thought those threads were a huge problem, but that’s not the same as hating the people involved. I’m only saying this much because I don’t want that to be what people get from what I’ve been saying. The seriousness of what people are losing is not lost on me.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:55 PM on July 23 [25 favorites]


I feel like this is absolutely the right call for MetaFilter in general.

I like this idea of a subreddit or a new site for the megathread community to migrate to. The megathread community is a people not a place. If the same people participate in similar discussions on a megathread.org or a /r/megathread, you retain the same mutual support and encouragement to action that makes the megathreads so valuable.

You can even improve things, because you won't be beholden to a twenty year old codebase that struggles under the weight of a multi-thousand comment thread. You can make the norms and rules that have built up in the megathreads over the past few years explicit, without the confusion of expecting the rules that apply on the rest of Metafilter to apply here.
posted by JDHarper at 12:07 AM on July 24 [15 favorites]


Yeah, okay. Good call. I used to read the megathreads all the time. Lately not so much. I feel bad for the people who have come to rely on them. On the other hand, alcoholism.
posted by dmh at 12:10 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


I find the MeFi private subreddit idea intriguing and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:14 AM on July 24 [24 favorites]


.
posted by poshlust at 12:19 AM on July 24


I'm going to prepare a separate MetaTalk to go up within a day or two to propose some strategies for creating a child-blog that could help fill the role that the megathread has served. If anyone else feels strongly motivated to take point on this instead of me, please feel free to Memail me to say so, and I'd be very happy to step aside and let someone more currently invested in the megathreads handle it. Alternatively if anyone wants to discuss this but would rather I continue with my plan to make a post, you can Memail me with your thoughts.

I know lots of folks are feeling angry, depressed, or discouraged at this announcement, but this doesn't have to be the end of things. I think this is a necessary decision for Metafilter more broadly, but if the end result is that a new community is able to coalesce around what were the megathreads, moving into a new space, I don't think that's a failure, I think that's a resounding success for Metafilter and its community.

(Hat tip to taz for advice here.)
posted by biogeo at 12:19 AM on July 24 [30 favorites]


Cortex, I think you're doing exactly the right thing, and as someone who has come close to buttoning from MeFi in the last couple of years because the tenor has soured, this is going to help keep me on site. Decreasing moderator overload & burnout is not just good for "Business" but will improve the rest of the "Community." I hope it might even bring back some of those thousands of long-time MeFites who you said have been leaving.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:21 AM on July 24 [15 favorites]


zachlipton said: there was a long line of people ready to explain how the megathreads were destroying MeFi and ready to describe in vulgar detail their contempt for those who participated in them.

I feel this is an example of something that cortex asked people to be mindful of when he said "No telling other people what they think or feel; no mind-reading." There's no way to know what comments would have been left had the thread not been shut down, and hypothesizing that one group of members have contempt for another group of members sounds like straight-up mind-reading to me.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:50 AM on July 24 [19 favorites]


I know how valuable these threads have been to people and how sanity saving they have been. I also know that the nonthreaded, every topic at once with no delineation has kept them inaccessible to me and other people. I think many Mefites will find it easier to stay informed and on top of things when these threads are in more manageable bites. We don’t need the entire elephant at once, we can eat it one bite at a time.

I truly hope that those people who are feeling a sense of loss over this decision will give the change a try before swearing off metafilter. So much of your valuable comments have been hidden from other Mefites because they’ve been in dense inaccessible threads. Far from not valuing your contributions, I have wanted to be able to read and parse them. I tried a few Megathreads, but found that my slow comprehensive style of reading meant participation was always beyond me, so I quit reading them. I would like to read all this thoughtful and insightful commentary people keep referencing, and I hope that more topic focused threads will give me that opportunity.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:53 AM on July 24 [54 favorites]


AS a news/link feed I'll dearly miss the megathreads as they are invaluable for keeping up on all the latest info on everything, but as an editorial service, so to speak, I can see why they are such a headache.

The feelings involved with the arguments and general indignation towards events I mostly share, the arguments over how the democrats/the left are or aren't addressing things that keep repeating themselves are one thing that is understandably contentious but even more its just the general anger and indignation towards events outside the control and desire of anyone here that sparks comments of anger and pain that make the threads so depressing to read. Not because those feelings are wrong, but because the force of that anger has little external outlet for solution in the exchanges, beyond reminding people to contact their representatives and the like, so the anger instead is just vented into the air as a cycle of cynicism, hopelessness, rage and despair. That too is understandable and the worries are almost entirely shared by the whole of Metafilter, but where just reading it everyday is draining, most of us could, at least theoretically, skip it if we find it getting to be too much, the moderators have no such option and have to soak in that anger everyday.

I'm not sure whether getting rid of the threads will improve things as much as hoped since the anger that remains will be taken out in individual threads where the same sorts of arguments will occur and same anger will be expressed, without having the same rules of confinement that the megathreads developed. Instead of some constant low level back and forth over Biden or Pelosi, the arguments may become more heated for being stored up longer waiting to find expression in a new thread. More individual posts to vet on whether they fit the site seems likely to happen and more places for arguments to occur then would seem to follow. I don't know if there is a fix to the anger that comes from a society in chaos, but I support whatever might make the site work better for the users and the mods.

If the megathreads move to a different location, I guess we'll see if they can find moderation as standalones, but I'm sure I'd at least keep reading for the links as long as it wasn't too contentious. I just wish there was some way to keep the daily links and more newslike clarifications of fact on site while letting the arguments go elsewhere so the mods don't have to deal with it. But that's a selfish wish to have others keep providing me with the fruits of their labor, so I accept I'll just need to search out more info myself instead.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:11 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


On preview, I see that biogeo wrote this:

"I'm going to prepare a separate MetaTalk to go up within a day or two to propose some strategies for creating a child-blog that could help fill the role that the megathread has served."

Although I wrote all which follows prior to seeing your comment, I'm going to post this comment anyway. I do think making another Meta specifically about this possibility, in whatever form or forms, is a good idea. Please go ahead and make that post.

--

Over these 20 years, there have been several attempts to off-site stuff that didn't quite work here and doing so while maintaining a sense of kinship with MetaFilter. Some of these were viable and even relatively popular for a few years, and a few still exist, but most faded away.

The two I'm most familiar with (not counting MonkeyFilter, a look-alike created when sign-ups were closed 2002-2004) are MetaChat (chatty socializing) and MefightClub (gaming), both of which still exist. The former arose out of a discussion here about the proliferation of the MiguelCardoso-era chatty MetaTalk posts and was founded by Taz and dodgygeezer. The latter dates from 2007 and was founded by stavrosthewonderchicken. Also, SportsFilter was founded by rcade in 2002 and is still around. I'm sure there were a few attempts at a MeFi-like politics site, because this has always been an issue here. None of these rely upon MetaFilter usernames, though in other situations there have been validation methods such as "add [X] to your MetaFilter profile".

However, I don't think there's ever been as urgent a need to accommodate something off-site as there is now with regard to the politics megathreads.

One really important consideration to keep in mind is that the two primary goals of an off-site politics megathread site -- community overlap/familiarity and eliminating/transferring problems -- are slightly in conflict. If there were an integrated login (which I agree with odinsdream isn't necessarily prohibitively difficult) then you'd have exactly the same people over there, usernames and all, as you have here. Which would be really good for the first goal, but it could easily mean that the less or unmoderated crap on that other site could blow-back here. That's something to consider.

I personally think that while a subreddit would be extremely robust, easily created, and very flexible on how little or no modding is done, it would end up feeling very non-mefi in a way that wouldn't work. But I very likely could be wrong; I'm old and not a redditor.

These days, setting up a group blog that looks and works like MetaFilter is much easier than it was in the 2000s -- I don't think that's much of a hurdle. While I've had my own hosted domains for almost twenty years now, I really have no idea what traffic would be like for such a site and whether it would, for example, be unaffordable for me. I live on a small fixed income. And who knows how much moderation might eventually be required? I could see an unmoderated site going well enough, provided a strong ethos on not screwing up MeFi proper; but I can also see it ballooning into something unmanageable even if it was begun with the intention of little or no moderation.

All that said, I think this idea should be explored. I think that although as I mentioned the two goals are somewhat in conflict, I do think it would be very important to make the move as seamless as possible, ideally with a MeFi-dependent login and a MetaFilter link (maybe on the politics sidebar). For all other reasons, though, it would need to be distinct and not in any respect a worry for cortex.

It's clear that the megathreads have been very important to a vital portion of the community. While I think the decision to make a change is for the best for all the reasons discussed, I also would like to see the needs of this important part of our community met while still having this portion of us anchored to and an active part of MetaFilter.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:13 AM on July 24 [15 favorites]


The MegaThreads are irreplaceable for me. I was expecting this MetaTalk thread, but it was always framed as a future community discussion. I wasn't expecting them to just be dropped, though I understand the reasons. Here are my practical thoughts:

1. What about using volunteer moderation?
As noted, some of the users involved in the megathreads are unusually engaged. Wouldn't they make good candidates for volunteer megathread-only moderators?

2. What about megathread specific funding?
The megathreads appear to be high value and irreplaceable for many users. These users may be inclined to provide additional funding for megathreads?

3. What about politicsfilter?
Politicsfilter did once exist as a Metafilter clone. It was not successful at the time as a standalone site, but maybe it would be now? Matt Howie likely has the code. Everything needed could be already ready to go. It looked and worked just like MetaFilter.

4. Put access to the megathreads in metatalk or fanfare?
A major source of tension seems to be that the megathreads are too accessible, which makes them a temptation some users get sucked into? It feels like some people want all politics, some all links, and some a mix. I don't know how that tension ever gets resolved.

The megathreads were, for me, the best solution Metafilter has hit upon yet for political threads. All the information about what was going on was in one place. There was an optimal ratio of news to thoughtful commentary. They were unique and I will miss them.
posted by xammerboy at 2:14 AM on July 24 [20 favorites]


I also want to give a shout out to the megathread super posters, especially Zachlipton. I owe all of you my thanks, my sanity, and many beers!
posted by xammerboy at 2:16 AM on July 24 [11 favorites]


I'm in the camp that thinks there is no other source like the megathreads. None. I sincerely thank every person who did the work in putting them together and every person who commented, clarified, explained and educated throughout. The megathreads have been a sanity saver for me and offered me up-to-date information and education in the format I like best to receive it.

So while I accept that this is a decision that has been made because it is best for the mods (who I deeply appreciate) and the community as a whole and for entirely justifiable and important resource reasons, I'm not going to pretend I'm happy about it. It is also true that MetaFilter can't be everything to everyone and while I also enjoy the cats in scanners, cool things on the internet, art posts and considering whether or not it's safe to eat that, the truth is I can also find all of those things elsewhere online.

As someone said upthread, I suspect I will spend less time onsite and that there will be less participation overall.
posted by faineant at 3:55 AM on July 24 [17 favorites]


Thanks to everyone for their contributions to the megathread. This decision also makes me sad, mainly because I've often said to friends and colleagues that this is where I get the most accurate information about what's going on. I think there's a lot more readers of the threads as well that will be disappointed with this. I don't feel that I will be able to find a replacement for this information and while I understand that there will be more topic-specific politics threads, I know my method of reading (on my phone) cannot handle multiple windows with multiple thousand post threads. I understand it doesn't provide everyone with that experience but I'm still dismayed that I won't be able to as easily find the information I am usually trying to share with people who don't read/follow as much. And I agree with those who say it's one more step to normalization. At least reading the threads gave me hope that people were still fighting back, and kept me informed.
posted by meowf at 4:06 AM on July 24 [11 favorites]


I guess the title of what will now be known as the last Megathread, seems pretty apt now too. All the best to everyone in the future.
posted by meowf at 4:13 AM on July 24


This is bittersweet for me. I was heavily involved/invested in the megathreads for a long time, up through a few months ago, when I hit a wall mentally and emotionally and just couldn't continue immersing myself in it. I've felt a little better since then, but also... guilty? i guess? in a weird way. Like, not bearing witness to every single atrocity and insult was somehow a surrender or an acceptance. The effort to pointedly distance myself from sociopolitical stuff for my own mental health feels a little bit like if I found a lump under my skin somewhere and decided to just not look at it or think about it and hope for the best. And yet it was necessary, for me anyway.

So I get it. I thought for a long time that I couldn't make it without the megathreads, until I hit the point where I couldn't make it *with* the megathreads. Folks who aren't happy about this, I get it. But it's been clear for a long time now, and especially in the last month of metas, that they've been sucking the oxygen out of the rest of the site and something would have to change eventually. Early on I naively hoped that the something to change would be a happy ending, events would come to a head and the bad guys would be carted off to jail and the good guys would fix everything, everything could just go back to normal and we could all breathe a sigh of relief. But none of these things is going to happen, not soon, maybe not ever. And even though the country is still very much in crisis mode, and many of us individually are still very much in crisis mode, this particular site and this particular set of humans tasked with maintaining and moderating it can't keep operating in crisis mode, not indefinitely. So yeah, it's a tough call, but I understand.

Thanks so much to all the folks who worked so hard to help keep the rest of us informed and engaged (and sane). I will miss the sense of community and all-in-this-togetherness that I found in these threads over the years and I hope we can maintain at least some of it through the rest of the site. Maybe the real megathreads were the friends we made along the way.

Not the end of this thread obvs but to tehhund and the rest of our honored rearguard, a final bit of respite: 🥛🍪🍪
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 4:18 AM on July 24 [33 favorites]


I've mostly moved away from the Megathreads; it doesn't look like I've commented in one for a month and frankly commenting in them seems a little pointless because they just get lost in the fray and there doesn't seem like a lot of actual dialog going on.
posted by octothorpe at 4:51 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


Count me in the group of understanding but disappointed.

I echo the sentiment that there really is no other place on line with the quality of the collaborative information sharing/interpretation. I appreciate that this depends on the the largely unseen yeoman's work that the mods have done to keep the megathreads from exploding into gigathreads. Thank you all for having done that work over the years. I wish it weren't necessary and I fear that if/when the community discussion shifts to another platform, we will get a big lesson in its importance.

I can't imagine leaving MeFi nor stopping financial support for it--it's still the best of the web by far. That said, I'm so grateful that people more technical than I are figuring out options for transferring the tradition and I would also be quite willing to pitch in financially to support that.
posted by Sublimity at 4:52 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


This is a big problem for me, but probably not for the reason you're thinking. I haven't read a megathread in over a year. Keeping up was a sisyphean task and I would never catch up with reality. But now the task of catching up isn't sisyphean, it's daunting but finite. Suddenly I'm compelled to pick up the rock again.

So if I lose more years of my life to reading the megathreads, then I'm going to blame some of the people in this thread; and then I do not forgive.
posted by Tehhund at 4:59 AM on July 24 [111 favorites]


Tehhund, I hope the milk and cookies are still going to be good when you get to them. Maybe AskMeFi whether you can eat this, if you're uncertain.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:02 AM on July 24 [9 favorites]


Thank you for hosting them for as long as you have.
posted by Manic Pixie Hollow at 5:11 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


I understand the need from the mod perspective, but I'm really sad about this.

It was missing the ease of (x) new comments in my perpetually open megathread tab that brought me back after I buttoned due to a bit of nastiness in a antisemitism MeTa post a while back. If it weren't for the megathreads, I wouldn't have come back, honestly.
posted by Ruki at 5:34 AM on July 24 [8 favorites]


As an American MeFite abroad I'll miss them, but the rest of the site is worth far more to me as a whole.
posted by mdonley at 5:34 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


As a lurker for as long as I can remember who finally made an account during the megathread era and proceeded to continue lurking about, I'm genuinely going to miss the breadth and depth of politics coverage they provided.

I hope that an alternative springs up from here because the simplicity of the format and the humanity of the contributors made the consumption of such inherently stressful content so much more bearable than via other venues.

Also, silly as it sounds, the occasional jokes about someday generating a print version of the megathreads gave the oddly comforting sense that this insane era of cruelty might have definitive bookends. Now there's simply a "to be continued..." which remains true but feels emptier.
posted by otsebyatina at 5:40 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


I keep being sad thinking I will miss the megathreads (and I will), but then I read the Mueller thread and there are 7000 comments about how Mueller will/will not save us and the Democrats will/will not ask the questions some law guy on twitter said they should that will crack the whole case open, and it just makes me sadder.

What I liked best about the megathreads was that someone was explaining the stories. I feel like I can barely look at the news. I had to hide the Apple News app far away on my phone because every story feels like a death-knell. Whereas in the megathread there were context, explanation, and courses of action. Even if everything is fucked, having someone explain intelligently why it's fucked is so much better than trying to make sense of a thousand news sources. I don't think there's a way to replace that; having those explanations diffused among several threads doesn't feel like the right solution, since the repetitive arguments will also be diffused among those threads. It's so much easier to scroll past the latest iteration of "Is Pelosi The Actual Antichrist" when it's limited to one thread, so you can get to the good and meaningful stuff. Now it will be everywhere, unquarantined, and how will that reduce the moderation (let alone the reading) burden?

The decision has been made, and there's no point in arguing against it, but count me in as someone who really appreciated the megathreads and all the posters and commenters who made them so informative, lively, and even actionable. I'll miss my morning firehose of awfulness.
posted by mittens at 6:04 AM on July 24 [34 favorites]


Politicsfilter did once exist as a Metafilter clone. It was not successful at the time as a standalone site, but maybe it would be now? Matt Howie likely has the code. Everything needed could be already ready to go. It looked and worked just like MetaFilter.

Did Matt spin off that site, or was it someone else? I don't see it listed on the MeFi Wiki of Mefi Clones or similar websites, and I'm failing to find it referenced on prior MetaTalk threads beyond passing references (a comment in 2009, for example), and I can't find a mirror of it on Archive.org.

This could be a test case to run volunteer moderation off-site. I don't want to delve into details of how that might work in this thread because that's a pretty big derail, and I wouldn't be someone who did anything other than spot moderation (or I'd find myself in even more of a time-sink, which I really should avoid, so I'm in no position to spout about "what I'd do" if I'm not actually going to do it).
posted by filthy light thief at 6:14 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I will be less informed going forward.
posted by bootlegpop at 6:19 AM on July 24 [13 favorites]


I understand that some people are upset. I'm sorry about that, and don't feel contempt for the genuine distress. But I thank you for this decision.
posted by theatro at 6:20 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Ancient college joke was that there should be more plants in teh halls of government - reason being the massive CO2 concentration (blah blah, blah blah blah, endless talk and large crowd of O breathing organisms; and subsequent CO2 exhalation).

The political threads were often of similar context. Lots of energy being used; minimal output or result. Akin to an Orwellian 'one minute hate' or what ever it was that the day would start in the _1984_ society.

A certain level of amusement to some, and venting to others will be missed; but like so many negative things; the osmotic and environmental exposure won't be missed; and there probably isn't a lot of people anywhere that want to read negative negative H8 H8 crap all day long as part of a job, which frequently had to have underpinnings of literary riot control.
posted by Afghan Stan at 6:31 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Afghan Stan: negative negative H8 H8 crap

It seems to me that you missed a large part of what these threads were about.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:33 AM on July 24 [17 favorites]


I got a lot of information from the Megathreads but very little of it was actually day-to-day relevant or personally actionable for me so it was just empty dopamine hits and endless rage fuel leading to crisis burnout, and not healthy. I dropped out of them a few months ago and that's helped my mood. Well, along with the meds, and quitting Facebook. Same kind of thing though: junk social interaction.

If we get narrowed posts on specific politics things that have an obvious focus and a natural winding-down of discussion, that's better for me.

So, I support the decision, but I don't imagine that carries a lot of weight.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:39 AM on July 24 [12 favorites]


I've been reading Metafilter assiduously for 18 years or so, and this is my first post.

The megathreads have been the first thing I check when I wake up and the last thing I read before I go to bed, virtually every day, for the past several years. They have been incredibly important to my mental and emotional health at a time when the world is burning around me. They are a place to be informed, educated, persuaded, and comforted in my outrage, knowing that there are other people out there who still recognize, from day to day, that what is happening to us is not normal. There is nothing else like them on the Internet.

I understand the decision that's been made, but I am deeply saddened that it is necessary. I hope the topical politics threads fill some small measure of the void that will be left. And I hope, too, that moderators not be too quick to delete new politics threads based on their own determination that what is being discussed is not sufficiently FPP-worthy. Please keep a light hand on the reins in that regard, at least at first. What doesn't seem significant to you may be quite significant to people who wish to read or discuss it -- and there is nowhere, literally nowhere, that there exists the quality of discussion you have in this community. I know. I've looked.

Thank you, too, to the moderators for all their thankless work, for the megathread contributors for keeping me sane for so long, and for the Metafilter community in general for the laughs, thoughtfulness, and engaging topics of all stripes that it has provided, and is providing, every single day. I'll be reading.
posted by Gadarene at 6:40 AM on July 24 [77 favorites]


I agree with posters above that megathreads changed in nature since 2016.
I used to go to Metafilter whenever there was a big event happening, both as a refuge but also as a place to get explanations, and a better understanding of what was going on.

But after the elections, the Megathreads became too intense, even to just fact check the links in them. And reading them on a mobile device was painful. And being in a different time zone meant waking up to 100+ comments every morning, which is why ultimately I think I couldn't keep up (or risk commenting and not missing responses to my comments)

I'm happy to see smaller, more focused threads - especially because I think it'll make debunking specific claims easier to read. I like the idea of giving them tags so we can filter them out of the main page if we want to. It feels like the right decision to me.
posted by motdiem2 at 6:46 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


If the mgeathreads are as important as many people have asserted (which I agree they are), then a spin-off site should have no trouble establishing itself, committed to the same principles that people feel make MetaFilter special. It's somewhat surprising to me that it did not happen of its own accord a while ago. I only lightly peruse the threads (I usually bail after the first 200-300 comments), but I would almost certainly join a new site myself, while continuing to be a part of the original MetaFilter as well. I don't see where this has to be such a dramatic schism.
posted by briank at 6:47 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


I keep the current megathread open 24/7 because even if I timestamp it, I will lose my place if I close it. Even if there are only a couple hundred comments, that is seriously annoying. At the moment I have 6 tabs open...I can't even read the headers, there may be more...but they are all current political events I am following: Epstein, Brexit, Boris Johnson, Mueller, this... Devolving the megathread into spinoff topics and more tabs, aduh. Other than favoriting the last comment read, is there any reliable way to bookmark one's place in the thread?

Also, TWinbrook8 and I read Metafilter in very similar ways, it seems -- I have those same tabs open on my phone, plus the one about supermarkets in foreign countries from a couple weeks ago that I'm savoring and only halfway through, plus the How to Drink one as I work my way through its links -- and I would be interested in an answer to this question as well. Is there any good way to jump to last post read in a given thread? Feel free to memail me (hey, I can do that now!) to minimize the derail.
posted by Gadarene at 6:48 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


I imagined this drain on resources would resolve with volunteer moderators helming the megathread at least part of the time, users possibly drawn from the "prolifics" mentioned above.

I can say immediately, with confidence, that I do not have the skillset for moderation. The job requires not only a particular talent, but also a rare temperament. Flagging and moving on kept me on an even keel in fast-moving threads and near-flame wars. Having to go through the process of assessing and deleting comments would drive me insane (and I would take the megathread with me).

hypothesizing that one group of members have contempt for another group of members sounds like straight-up mind-reading to me.

Someone literally said, in a deleted comment that resulted in a one-day ban, "fuck those people" after repeatedly haranguing against high-activity posters somehow killing off the MeFi community. That comment received several favorites before it was deleted.

Twitter is way worse for my mental health than the MegaThreads. It's all the horror with none of the community.

Journo-Twitter has its uses, but the signal degrades practically as soon as the first comment hits. Some independent journalists have better followers, but the ones for national newspapers and news programs are almost immediate targetted by trolls and cranks as soon as they tweet. Building a community out of that would have to start with an invite-only account, which is admitting the platform's limitations from the start.

The best platform for people to move to is probably reddit.

Home of r/The_Donald?

Seriously, Reddit has some subreddits I occasionally skim for news articles, such as r/Keep_Track and r/Russia-Lago. They're good for news aggregation, but mediocre in terms of overall discussion compared to the megathread. Their "best"/"new"/"controversial" sorting algorithms actually impede conversation on a larger scale, and upvotes/downvotes are ultimately an inadequate substitute for human moderation. (I'm on the fence about threaded comments. Sometimes it's helpful for some people to have a particular line of discussion branch off from the larger one. However, the immediacy of a chronological "live blog" list of comments focuses the conversation better, even though it requires more moderation.)

I've been thinking about backup plans for the megathreads for a while, thanks to my pessimistic nature, but obviously without success. I honestly wonder if it wouldn't be a better use of time and energy to update Wikipedia, one of the few bright spots on the web. It's not a coincidence that like Metafilter, it has a very active moderation policy.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:49 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


I will miss the mega-threads, sad to see them go. There were certainly times when I would skim them, paying attention specifically to links and articles over the sometimes repetitive conversations (and those conversations at other times were often moving, enlightening, or at least salient), but it was certainly better for me than trying to listen to radio/watch tv/read everything.

Will be missed
posted by Golem XIV at 6:53 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


As one of the “prolific” contributors of the megathreads — and having created nine of them back when it required little more than a few links topped by a Futurama quote — a few thoughts:

1. I’ve been very grateful to have access to participating in a forum that not only has provided timely and important aggregation of political news, but has also promoted such an informed commentary of extraordinary quality and insight as well as applied compassion in the form of activism and engagement.

2. While I appreciate that many have had different experiences with the megathreads, mine has been highly positive, and I will be disappointed to see them go away. Along with many other benefits, they have provided a monument to one community’s rejection of, and resistance to, the authoritarianism, systematic bigotry, and other threats posed by the current US administration.

3. I appreciate that the moderation load of the megathreads, combined with insufficient funding to support them, makes it an unsustainable feature of MeFi.

4. As did many others, I increased my financial support to MeFi in recognition of the above, hoping that cumulatively our contributions could make it work. I acknowledge that we were unable adequately to do so.

5. I do fervently hope that we are able to transition to an alternative that still meets the needs of the 300 or so of the most “prolific” commenters, as well as the hundreds of MeFites who did not comment heavily but still read the megathreads with appreciation.

6. To the pursuit of item #5, I am happy to contribute time, money and effort — here on MeFi or on some alternate site — to permit our little “salon” to continue, at least through the 2020 elections.

7. I especially would be eager to serve as a volunteer moderator. (By way of resume, I was the Senior Admin on LinkFilter for about a year and was in discussions with the owner to buy that site, until he decided instead he wanted to retain the IP, and let the site close rather than selling it. So I know what being a moderator entails.) I’ve been here on MeFi for 15 years as a member, and a few years of lurking before that, so I know the culture here. To my recollection, the only comments I’ve had deleted by mods here on MeFi in the past dozen years have been the rare “riffing” asides on the megathread (deletions justified) or comments that I’ve requested deletion of because I duplicate posted, etc. So I’m not a trouble-maker in the comments and, like many of you, appreciate on a fundamental level what a marvel a well moderated discussion can be.

8. Thank you, once again, to the MeFi moderators for your hard work and willingness to let the community experiment with the megathreads. And whatever comes next, please count me in!

Cheers!
posted by darkstar at 7:11 AM on July 24 [36 favorites]


Home of r/The_Donald?

Yup, although they quarantined it a couple of months ago. Reddit is obviously useful as a tool for political community building and discussion.

They're good for news aggregation, but mediocre in terms of overall discussion compared to the megathread. Their "best"/"new"/"controversial" sorting algorithms actually impede conversation on a larger scale, and upvotes/downvotes are ultimately an inadequate substitute for human moderation.

Yes, it is good for news aggregation, a big reason I suggested it. It also allows for conversation, and is overall more participatory than something like a big single-authorship blog post format would be.

Reddit does have upvotes and downvotes (although downvotes can be modded out), but it also allows for human moderation; it's not an either/or. Regardless of the location, there will have to be moderation involved. There will need to be moderation both for limiting users to particular participants and for comments. I don't know that blogging platforms have that kind of capability out of the box. (Really, I don't know.)

In terms of sorting algorithms, some of it is a matter of taste, but subreddit owners can choose to have "new" as the default sort. You could also choose to make catchall posts that resemble the aggregated link roundup here and then put all the discussion in the comments, instead of allowing new posts for each link.

Ultimately, I'm not super invested in how this happens, but I don't want people to have misconceptions about the tools available.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:13 AM on July 24 [14 favorites]


So, where shall us political weirdos go? Because I'm pretty sure the ultimate endgame here will have to be a near total ban on politics on metafilter with a few rare exceptions granted for extraordinary (as defined by the Trump era) events.

I just don't see the actions proposed by the mod team functioning at all. I get the intention, I can even sort of see how it's a good intention, but I think ultimately it's a plan that simply cannot work because there is a firehose of shit IRL, there's enough material to be worthy of dozens of individual threads per week, and the mods (understandably) don't want the front page to be wall to wall "ZOMG THIS AWFUL THING". So they'll have to pick what is important, which will create a lot of bad feelings, and ultimately I'm pretty sure the solution is going to be to end all political discussion here.

So, for us political junkies there's really only one question: who creates our politicsfilter home, who's the mods (if any), and how much do we need to contribute to server upkeep? I doubt there's any chance of having full time paid mods, and for all that I gripe about moderation being... overzealous... betimes here I suspect we all like Metafilter because unlike other sites (hi Reddit!) there is moderation here.

I'll kick in my two cents: I don't think the MeFi codebase is ideal for the task and I'm not sure slack is really the ideal platform for all that I'm glad there is a politicsfilter slack that I just joined.
posted by sotonohito at 7:15 AM on July 24 [8 favorites]


I just don't see the actions proposed by the mod team functioning at all. I get the intention, I can even sort of see how it's a good intention, but I think ultimately it's a plan that simply cannot work because there is a firehose of shit IRL, there's enough material to be worthy of dozens of individual threads per week, and the mods (understandably) don't want the front page to be wall to wall "ZOMG THIS AWFUL THING". So they'll have to pick what is important, which will create a lot of bad feelings, and ultimately I'm pretty sure the solution is going to be to end all political discussion here.

Yeah, that's the part I don't get. I mean take that Epstein thread. It's like some of the worst of the megathread concentrated to a higher dosage. Not so much in arguments, but in the extended speculation over his predatory behavior. Add a number of threads on other subjects of equal importance to that and it seems like the mods will have even more challenges rather than less as at least the megathread have evolved something like a minor dampening system for extended back and forths on subjects to keep the thread viable.

This seems to mean that either choices over what is important enough to fit the site are going to be made, and really irk some people, or that the whole advantage of having a megathread containing so many potential topics is lost and many different threads will spring up to replace it. Neither seems to really be a better choice.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:31 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


If you want to have accounts elsewhere that are verified as specific Metafilter users the simplest approach is probably a variation on one of Google's methods for verifying you own a domain. It would go like this:
  1. User creates an account at notmetafilter.com
  2. User asserts that they are, in fact, iamthisuseratmf on Metafilter.com
  3. Notmetafilter.com provides user with a unique UUID, IAM-A-UUID and tells them to plop it in the about section of the user profile for iamthisuseratmf
  4. User logs into metafilter.com and puts IAM-A-UUID in the about screen of their profile
  5. User tells notmetafilter.com that it's done
  6. Notmetafilter.com retrieves that user's profile page (I forget if there's a way to get one w/o a user's id number; if not the user will have to provide the id number too)
  7. Notmetafilter.com parses the page, verifying from the title tag that the asserted username is what's in "{username}'s profile | MetaFilter" and that the provided IAM-A-UUID appears in the about block
  8. When that's verified you know this person had control of that login.
It's not perfect but it's good enough. The distinction between a person being that person and a person being able to log into a person's account and edit their about page is pretty small. It has the advantage that you don't have to force a person to use an identical handle if they don't want to.
posted by phearlez at 7:34 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Perusal of the megathread has been part of my daily routine since its inception.

All good things come to an end, and I am OK with the decision. The only reason I am posting is to say thanks. First to all the megathread posters. Your posts were funny, exasperating, and important. I learned tons. Second to the moderators. Given the volume of repetitive bickering that made it through moderation, I shudder to imagine an unmoderated megathread.

I created this account in response to the recent State of the Site Update. I appreciate the moderators and the members, and I hope Metafilter survives.
posted by lumpy at 7:39 AM on July 24 [8 favorites]


> Home of r/The_Donald?

Yup, although they quarantined it a couple of months ago. It's obviously useful as a tool for political community building and discussion.


It speaks volumes that Reddit's greatest example of "political community building" is straight-up demagoguery, abetted initially by the IRA Russian troll farm. It also took threats to law enforcement for Reddit's mods to quarantine it, instead of banning it for the death threats and eliminationism that were its bread and butter from the start.

The problem with starting up a political subreddit in that environment is that brigading constantly threatens to disrupt discussions, and Reddit's 4chan-trained trolls are a dedicated, tireless lot. I wouldn't want to spend a single minute screening out baby-talking Nazi frogs and honking Hitler-clowns (yes, that's a literal, accurate description of the members of a couple of Reddit's alt-right troll communities).

(Incidentally, I have a Reddit account that's dedicated strictly to harmless hobbies since those apolitical micro-communities are OK by and large. Engaging politically on Reddit would require a similarly restricted account.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:39 AM on July 24 [8 favorites]


23skidoo said: hypothesizing that one group of members have contempt for another group of members sounds like straight-up mind-reading to me.

Doktor Zed said: Someone literally said, in a deleted comment that resulted in a one-day ban, "fuck those people" after repeatedly haranguing against high-activity posters somehow killing off the MeFi community. That comment received several favorites before it was deleted.

Go back and read the quote which I was responding to when I wrote what I wrote. I stand by my statement- it's straight-up mind-reading to say that at the end of the State of the Site MeTa "there was a long line of people ready to explain how the megathreads were destroying MeFi and ready to describe in vulgar detail their contempt for those who participated in them."

If someone said "fuck those people", that's definitely rude and hurtful (esp. if you're one of "those people"), but it's site culture that favoriting a comment can mean anything or nothing, and there's no (good) reason to believe that the several members who faved a short rude and hurtful comment were waiting to explain how the megathreads were destroying MeFi, and there's no (good) reason to believe that the several members who faved a rude and hurtful comment hold other Mefites in contempt.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:41 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


I actually feel (and always felt) that the megathreads were a kind of defeat. Things were getting so bad that it was necessary to – what was the word – "silo" their discussion in order to prevent cross-site-infection. If we can view the present departure from megathreads not as a defeat (as in: acceptance of the Crazy as Normal) but rather as a sign that the community has re-learned to be reasonably functional even under the added political stress, all might still be well...
posted by Namlit at 7:45 AM on July 24 [16 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the ultimate endgame here will have to be a near total ban on politics on metafilter with a few rare exceptions granted for extraordinary (as defined by the Trump era) events.

I just counted, and out of 50, there are about 9 or 10 threads currently on the front page that I'd count as political in nature. All of them are from before this meta was posted, so this is what's already going on outside of the megathreads. You could get a higher or lower number depending, and not all of them are the "current events" type of political discussion that the megathreads filled, but there is really no danger of politics being banned here.

Mueller thread
Boris Johnson thread
Al Franken thread
thread about populism
Thread about mutual aid
Thread about censorship in China
Brexit thread
Thread about pride celebrations in Poland
Thread about incarceration/policing
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:45 AM on July 24 [14 favorites]


I'm not sure slack is really the ideal platform for all that I'm glad there is a politicsfilter slack that I just joined.

Just a quick observation: it’s a completely different medium not just because it’s real-time chat-like, but because it’s private, not discoverable through search engines, not readable by anyone not signed up. THAT is the huge difference with Metafilter. Reddit at least is public. NOT saying it’s better just because of that, but it’s a big consideration if you are thinking of a space to have political discussions like the ones held so far on Metafilter. Those megathreads are a historical resource in a way. (For better or worse, depending how much you appreciate them.)
posted by bitteschoen at 7:54 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


Part of what I got from the mega threads was comradery with their people who stay engaged and enraged: the resistance.

This. I mean - I think now, at the end of things, that it's important to be very up front about what, in effect, the megathreads /were/. It was a community unto itself, a subcommunity within a community, of people who resisted and brought their resistance there and remembered the resistance others were doing.

I haven't posted there in some time, because I've been deeply busy with union organizing for low-wage workers - which I view, in an age where the fascists are targeting the poor to bring hate against the Other, as resistance work just as mighty as any other. But I don't know if I would have been in a place to do that, if it hadn't been for the megathread helping me to make those connections, encouraging me to take concrete action rather than fall into a pit of despair. It's a weird feeling - something that is now one of the driving forces of my life and great lights of hope, and the megathreads, I think, were one of the things that helped create it as an outlet.

The megathreads were also, for me, one of the things that made me feel truly welcome on Metafilter. When they started, I hadn't been in the habit of revealing a lot of myself on Metafilter. I had some valid reasons, involving some domestic violence and a shitty ex, but I just didn't give very much vulnerability, and so people had a hard time relating to me or understanding where I was coming from, because I wasn't really giving them a hook to do so. I spent a lot of time worried about people misunderstanding me and that I'd one day have to leave.

The leadup to the election of Trump, and the megathreads as a place that had consistent people talking to each other, made me feel safe to expose that vulnerability. I've been talking a lot more about who and what I am and who and what I'm doing, and it's made me understand and be understood a lot more. It made me feel like I had comrades and friends fighting the good fight all over the world, and I am deeply going to regret that loss - even if I haven't stopped in in a while, I knew I always /could/.

But also I think, very deeply, that cortex is right about the site's capacity. It's like union organizing - I might wish I had a strong group of organizers to help be externals to a shop to win a campaign, but if I don't have them, I still have to move forward with what I have. The site has needed to hire, without having the funds to hire, another moderator for a long time, partially as a result of us having a dedicated, moderated space we could talk about all this. 50% of mod attention is no light matter at all. Mods have been deeply stressed out - and kind of forced into the trenches of what is essentially a resistance war - for years. We value this community, in large part because of its moderation. It is not okay for us to burn out our moderators and then ask for more.

So count me in the crew of those who mourn, but understand. I wish there was another way, but it seems that there isn't, and so, another beautiful thing dies.
posted by corb at 8:00 AM on July 24 [84 favorites]


It speaks volumes that Reddit's greatest example of "political community building" is straight-up demagoguery, abetted initially by the IRA Russian troll farm. It also took threats to law enforcement for Reddit's mods to quarantine it, instead of banning it for the death threats and eliminationism that were its bread and butter from the start.

And? Are you boycotting it? No? You have an account there for fun? I'm not sure how relevant this is.

The problem with starting up a political subreddit in that environment is that brigading constantly threatens to disrupt discussions, and Reddit's 4chan-trained trolls are a dedicated, tireless lot. I wouldn't want to spend a single minute screening out baby-talking Nazi frogs and honking Hitler-clowns (yes, that's a literal, accurate description of the members of a couple of Reddit's alt-right troll communities).

No, this is not the reality. The moderation tools there are useful and they work. There are numerous functioning left and/or liberal subreddits. Consider the entire "shitredditsays" ecosystem. I am on a bunch of large subreddits that work completely effectively to facilitate the kind of discussion that you claim cannot happen.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:01 AM on July 24 [15 favorites]


So they'll have to pick what is important, which will create a lot of bad feelings

I think the thing for me is that there are a lot of things that are important but small (by 2019 standards), and that's a lot of what I've tried do throughout my comments, highlight some of the day-to-day stories that matter (and some of the fluff that doesn't when it's amusing or particularity screwed up) below the big ones. I'm talking about things like, say, this story today on the impact of the limited Medicaid expansion. That's not something that's really going to be its own FPP, but is the sort of thing

Which is ok. I understand where we are, how we got here, the need to do what's best for the site as a whole, and that not everything needs to have a place on MetaFilter, and there are lots of other venues to get that kind of information. But I think our discussion and my learning was richer for those who shared that kind of knowledge, and it's sad to be losing it.
posted by zachlipton at 8:03 AM on July 24 [20 favorites]


so.. reddit, then? is that where this is going? So let's get going then.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:05 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


There is no replacement out there for what the megathreads were. People who used them to keep up with things and stay informed cannot just follow shit on Twitter, or watch The Guardian headlines. There's a true journalistic kind of integrity to the megathread that simply isn't available elsewhere, and I deeply hope that some group tries to stand up a replacement, even though they've been given basically zero time to do so. I consider this decision, and the way it was announced and handled, to be pretty damn insulting to those of us on the site (a minority of membership, granted) who found great value in the megathread, or worked on making them a real resource for the public at large.

There is nothing else like them in the world right now, and that's really a huge, huge loss.
posted by odinsdream at 8:09 AM on July 24 [47 favorites]


I think the thing for me is that there are a lot of things that are important but small (by 2019 standards), and that's a lot of what I've tried do throughout my comments, highlight some of the day-to-day stories that matter (and some of the fluff that doesn't when it's amusing or particularity screwed up) below the big ones. I'm talking about things like, say, this story today on the impact of the limited Medicaid expansion. That's not something that's really going to be its own FPP

What I'm wondering is whether politics hounds want to gather links and stories in the wiki as they have for the megathread FPPs, but then prior to posting take those and group them into topics. So that medicaid-expansion link might not get its own FPP by itself, but taken together with other healthcare stuff like Sarah Kliff's costs-of-healthcare series or the latest studies on maternal mortality etc. might add up to one.

In short, the free flow of small stories would move to the wiki, then focused FPPs can be made from grouped-up links.
posted by Jpfed at 8:16 AM on July 24 [8 favorites]


That's kind of exactly what happens to make the current megathreads, isn't it? They're drafted and workshopped and include links to everything that's happened since the last megathread and when the new one gets completed.
posted by odinsdream at 8:19 AM on July 24


The links and summaries aggregated for the megathreads in the wiki are not yet then subsequently grouped by topic and made into separate topic-focused FPPs. So that's the change I'm proposing.
posted by Jpfed at 8:24 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


At the same time that you folks who value the megathreads are asking those who support this decision to not use contemptuous language, I have a request: stop being contemptuous about the rest of Metafilter.

When you dismiss the site at large as being only about cats or “can I eat this” posts — and that’s happened about a dozen times in this thread — it stuns me. Honestly it also feels dismissive of anything that isn’t US politics specific, so that the threads about emotional labor, about personal identities that have been oppressed long before current day, about personal relationships that sustain us, are labeled as not important. They’re important to many of us in the same way the megathreads are, and this dismissal of the rest of the site being inconsequential reinforces why I feel like the megathreads did harm: it feels like it siloed users into only caring about one topic and ignoring the health of the rest of the site because it was the only important topic.

We can care about more than one thing. Solely focusing on Trump and that state of US politics is, to me, more of a luxury of the privileged, not the opposite. Folks who are asking if we can just raise money to keep the megathreads going: that makes it seem like you’re not engaged with Metafilter as a whole, the requests for that come across as tone deaf based on recent Metatalks about site culture and finances. It makes me feel like you’re saying “just give us more resources, not less, because there is nothing else worthwhile here.” That’s also reinforced by the “nail in Metafilter’s coffin” type comments on this thread. As though the megathreads are the only valuable part of the site and that anyone who disagrees just doesn’t care about the state of the world. That’s truly contemptuous.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 8:25 AM on July 24 [106 favorites]


The linkapalooza at the top of megathreads was a useful reference but as someone who spends a lot of time "soaking in it" I rarely found them all that useful or new. Which doesn't mean they weren't useful to others, but I usually skimmed by the parts that weren't the current rules of engagement in the comments that would follow.

For me the useful part of the megathreads has always been folks drawing connections and contextualizing things. For my money one of the greatest failures of the news in my adult lifetime has been an abdication of the final W, why. Who what where when, no problem, it all makes it in there. But few political or social actions happen without a reason or goal and when that doesn't get discussed we don't get contemporaneous coverage of what's happening, just a snapshot. Some things, like setting hospital-grade standards for clinics, even sounds reasonable until someone gives you the why of it making it harder for abortion clinics to exist and the connected fact that those standards are out of step with all other similarly classified health facilities.

Aside from that, news is rarely focused on providing the answer to "this is bullshit, what's the effective place to fight it? What tools work best to do it?"

The megathreads have been invaluable in that creating a web, even if sometimes it turned into something that looked more like a wild-eyed person with yarn and a corkboard. I'll miss that, and I'm not sure where else to find it or resistance tools in a similar form.
posted by phearlez at 8:30 AM on July 24 [27 favorites]


the thorn bushes have roses, I disagree with your characterization of the posts in this thread.
posted by Gadarene at 8:31 AM on July 24 [11 favorites]


In all honesty, good for those who found community and support in the megathreads but I always found them to be the most insular and least welcoming part of metafilter, which in fairness is already a pretty insular sort of site. The impression was always that these were the threads for US politics wonks to chat, bullshit, hang out and fight, with their own hyperspecific etiquette, in-jokes, grudges. Less so since the changes but still. Jpfed's numbers seem to suggest that they really are/were the arena of a pretty small group of users.

I don't know if having a spread of politics threads will truly help - I've found the discussion in subject-specific posts to be a lot deeper and more insightful than what I've seen crop up in the megathread, maybe because they're not just tracking the news - but much of the description of the megathreads here is alien to me.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 8:37 AM on July 24 [20 favorites]


The thorn bushes have roses, thank you for posting that. It's a vibe that I've been feeling throughout this thread but haven't been able to articulate, even to myself.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:37 AM on July 24 [15 favorites]


The links and summaries aggregated for the megathreads in the wiki are not yet then subsequently grouped by topic and made into separate topic-focused FPPs. So that's the change I'm proposing.

I've been thinking about the logistics of how workshopping discrete topics for US Politics would function on the wiki. The first issue is how to work on multiple FPP drafts simultaneously. The current page for drafts is simply "U.S. Politics FPP Draft". Having several different FPP drafts in that one place will be logistically impossible. We'd need cortex's OK to open multiple draft pages on the wiki, presumably sorted by general categories (e.g. health care, taxation, Trump administration, Capitol Hill). We'd have to determine those beforehand, and even then, I can see them proliferating.

By the way, many thanks to cortex and frimble for the quick turnaround on creating a separate politics channel on Meta Chat. It's working well this morning, as people have joined it to discuss the Mueller hearings in real time while others in the regular channel are able to discuss other topics (Boris Johnson, BBC radio)/
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:37 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


Consider the entire "shitredditsays" ecosystem.

You might want a better example, as SRS is dead as a doornail and has been for years.

It is true that with a dedicated and utterly ruthless mod team you can, with constant struggle, keep a community on reddit from being totally overtaken by the endless attacks mounted by the site's large community of devoted right wing trolls.

But it takes serious effort and a willingness to instaban lots of people and it's a constant game of wackamole. It isn't impossible, but starting a new politically left subreddit is going to be a hard slog at the beginning and require a large number of mods.
posted by sotonohito at 8:44 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


We'd need cortex's OK to open multiple draft pages on the wiki, presumably sorted by general categories (e.g. health care, taxation, Trump administration, Capitol Hill). We'd have to determine those beforehand, and even then, I can see them proliferating.

Just a reminder, we don't run the wiki in any way. Pronoiac is the current wiki-runner, as far as I'm aware.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:46 AM on July 24


I'm grateful for all the philosophical and practical points of view expressed above, and I am sympathetic to the resource strain that the megathreads presented (which is why I decided to become a monthly contributor some time ago).

That said: for those of you who are finding yourselves surprised at the degree to which you feel homeless on this news, please know that you're not alone. If I wasn't a more active participant in the megathreads, it was because someone more eloquent could be counted on to express what I wanted to say (or needed to hear). You earned the tens of thousands of favorites I left there.

Above all, thank you for being my constant companions during this dark time. Whatever comes next, I do not look forward to going it alone.
posted by kelborel at 8:49 AM on July 24 [28 favorites]


Checking in from team "profound sense of loss, but I get it" here. My gut reactions, in no particular order:

1. The fact that megathreads were unsustainable does not mean that attempts to decommission them and redirect that community energy to a number of other threads will be any more sustainable.

2. With more threads to monitor, and more places for "rehashing" of arguments that aren't allowed because someone had the same argument several years ago, my prediction is they will be even less sustainable in the short to medium term.

3. The only way they become sustainable over the medium to long term is by attrition.

4. Reading between the lines, not only of the posts in this thread but of others where the topic of megathreads came up from those who dislike them, it seems like the plurality opinion from the mods and those who've commented so far that this attrition would not be unwelcome, or at least would be the lesser of all evils, because, in their mind, it's the only way to get back to some ideal version of MetaFilter that they believe the megathreads took away. I predict they will be disappointed.

5. I don't see myself jumping in a lifeboat to some other destination to discuss these topics. I'll continue to read and occasionally post elsewhere throughout MeFi, of course, but Slack and other chat interfaces are not the answer, at least not for me. Reddit is most certainly not the answer, because I hate what Reddit represents, I hate threaded comments, and I know that enough of the MeFi user base won't come along.

6. A news / current events / politics subsite would probably be my ideal compromise, and the fact that this has been explicitly ruled out of order for discussion here is extremely disappointing. I'll leave it at that for fear of having this comment killed.

7. For now, I will probably participate in the individual topic threads as much as I can, provided that I can operate within the parameters of the newly "revisited expectations". If I cannot, or if the increased pressure on people to rein in certain topics becomes too much, I'm not sure what I'll do.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:49 AM on July 24 [18 favorites]


I'm surprised nobody mentioned r/politics (which is pretty much Anti-Trump Central these days) and its megathreads, if not as a destination but at least as an example of how it's done elsewhere. r/politics megathreads are typically single-issue threads , but like Mefi's megathreads, they start with a roundup of relevant links. Those babies can be huge (> 30,000 comments in some cases and they sometimes need to be split in Part 1, Part 2 etc.) though still readable on mobile devices (the app is better though). r/politics has a lot (56!) of volunteer mods, but downvoting takes care of trolls.
posted by elgilito at 8:50 AM on July 24 [10 favorites]


I would be nervous about associating my MetaFilter account with a Reddit account.
posted by pracowity at 8:56 AM on July 24 [18 favorites]


I just counted, and out of 50, there are about 9 or 10 threads currently on the front page that I'd count as political in nature. All of them are from before this meta was posted, so this is what's already going on outside of the megathreads.

Sure, but the point was more that the megathreads right now are acting to contain topics that, lacking those threads, likely will be mooted as posts of their own. That will either lead to more political posts, more avenues for problems since the rules of the megathreads will be gone and each individual thread will be more involved and potentially argumentative or anger filled than allowed in the single thread.

There are at least half a dozen topics over the last week or so that could have generated their own threads which will make the front page more political if allowed or require the mods to make somewhat arbitrary decisions on which posts are worthy and which aren't and that will understandably rub some people the wrong way. Killing the megathread is an understandable desire in many ways and I'm okay with it for the reasons mentioned above, but I'm not sure what replaces it will be an improvement given the era we are in. I don't know how Metafilter can be both a political site and not one at the same time without these problems.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:59 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


I am hoping that the individual politically themed posts would generally have the same standards as any other FPP, where the quality and content of the links matter. Having a bunch of news stories gathered together without larger analysis in the links themselves (as opposed to editorializing in the text of the FPP) seems less than ideal for the front page.
posted by lazuli at 9:11 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


There's a true journalistic kind of integrity to the megathread that simply isn't available elsewhere, and I deeply hope that some group tries to stand up a replacement, even though they've been given basically zero time to do so. I consider this decision, and the way it was announced and handled, to be pretty damn insulting to those of us on the site (a minority of membership, granted) who found great value in the megathread, or worked on making them a real resource for the public at large.

As far as I'm aware, the kind of information in the megathreads is available elsewhere. It is available in the very news sources that people who posted linked to in the megathreads.

The megathreads were designed for people to share news sources and discuss them amongst themselves. They were never intended to be your main news source. It strikes me that asking for journalistic integrity on an internet blog is misdirected, and expecting the moderators to essentially run a news media outlet on top of their regular duties as moderator is demanding too much.

I sympathize with those who are hurt by the demise of the megathreads, but I also invite you to ask yourselves what it was you were seeking from them - community? Information? Someone to pre-digest the news for you, perhaps? (No shame in that last, sometimes that's why I poked my head into the megathreads.) The megathreads are not the only place to obtain those things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:11 AM on July 24 [20 favorites]


I sympathize with those who are hurt by the demise of the megathreads, but I also invite you to ask yourselves what it was you were seeking from them - community? Information? ... The megathreads are not the only place to obtain those things.

That's easy. Information alongside community. And the MegaThreads were the only place for me to obtain those things together. Unless you want to consider Twitter comments a community.
posted by diogenes at 9:14 AM on July 24 [16 favorites]


As far as I'm aware, the kind of information in the megathreads is available elsewhere. It is available in the very news sources that people who posted linked to in the megathreads.

It's the crowdsourcing that's a key to why they're useful. Hundreds of people synthesizing the news and bringing together stories from the past, together as a group, working on this corpus of information, in a way that, to my knowledge, isn't available elsewhere. IF IT IS, I'd gladly use that place for my information.
posted by odinsdream at 9:17 AM on July 24 [24 favorites]


i just got here, and without reading all three hundred and some comments while on my phone:

i relied on those things, truly, on a personal level, and it gave me a good 30,000 foot view from a professional level. i further thought they were an important historical document. to have them gone lowers the utility of the site for me, and it's been pretty apparent recently that mefi hasn't been a great place for our members of color for a while-- well, i was already not participating very much beforehand. i'm sure i won't be missed.
posted by dogheart at 9:17 AM on July 24 [8 favorites]


Diogenes: if what you're seeking is "information alongside community", then the entire rest of metafilter can provide that. So what is it about the megathreads specifically that the rest of metafilter does not have?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 AM on July 24


I'm very grateful that the megathreads existed. I learned so much about activism, and found them comforting when there seemed to be positive turnings on the horizon. But like so many of us, i found them to be stressful and ultimately disheartening as events haven't moved far enough in the right direction yet.

I fully support the move toward a more inclusive MeFi as the top priority, and hope that this change gets us kicked in that direction swiftly.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:19 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


> I always found them to be the most insular and least welcoming part of metafilter

Agreed 100%, and I say that as someone who posted somewhat regularly. That goes along with some of what I was saying regarding "rules for thee but not for me" - In particular, I cannot emphasize how much it felt like the hyucking hyuck and fucking fuck threads came off as they were really just meant as a place for those who weren't part of the in-crowd. While some of the regulars moved there and played by the rules, there were plenty who just carried on doing what they were doing - and while maybe some of it was moderated away, much of it was not. Usually the same comments by the same people that I had seen plenty of times.

Every time new rules were laid out, it still seemed like the same people would come by and shit despair all over the thread, or make the same in-jokes - just well established and documented in-jokes.

The despair thing, though - there were fewer people than I could count on a single hand - always the same people - who would regularly swoop in and post something so bleak, hopeless and defeatist that it really was countering a lot of the hope and insight I gleaned from these threads. It was learning to filter these out on my own that kept me from sinking entirely into defeatism and despair myself. These comments remain. They were never moderated. They are not hard to find, they are in almost every political thread.

I know that I was moderated a few times, and definitely for most of those, I should have been. But what I saw remain made incredibly clear to me was that there is a privileged class that can get away with saying things that I can't.
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:20 AM on July 24 [23 favorites]


if what you're seeking is "information alongside community", then the entire rest of metafilter can provide that. So what is it about the megathreads specifically that the rest of metafilter does not have?

I didn't mean information in general. I meant information about our corrupt government and our steady descent to fascism.
posted by diogenes at 9:23 AM on July 24 [10 favorites]


expecting the moderators to essentially run a news media outlet on top of their regular duties as moderator is demanding too much.

I'm unaware of the mods complaining about overseeing the news link side of the megathreads. The journalistic sources cited were typically trustworthy, and only a few times did the community decide to exclude certain ones as un reliable. The problem has always been with their general social function.

So what is it about the megathreads specifically that the rest of metafilter does not have?

General USPolitics/POTUS45 news coverage. As zachlipton points out, limiting US Politics FPP to single subjects means that potentially significant developments will have to wait until there's a new FPP devoted to them.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:27 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


re:Reddit, /r/metafilter exists (I mod it) and is already skinned to look like the site (in the old Reddit layout, anyway). After some earlier struggles with ex-user trolling, it's fairly quiet these days apart from syndicated Best-Of posts since most MeFites on Reddit have no reason to keep up with a redundant subreddit. But if people want to try recreating a weekly megathread experience in a place with a more direct link back to MeFi without having to spin up a whole new site (or subreddit), I'd be happy to hand out mod tokens. Just MeMail me with your Reddit username if you want a tag over there identifying you with your MeFi account, and mention relevant Reddit modding and/or megathread editing experience if you want access to mod tools or the subreddit wiki (which could be useful for constructing drafts using Reddit's markdown code).
posted by Rhaomi at 9:29 AM on July 24 [40 favorites]


Some of us are steeped in US politics everywhere but Metafilter. It's part of our jobs; we are running a local grassroots group; or volunteering with one; or are doing campaign work; or working/donating/volunteering in some humanitarian capacity; or have active offline social connections that cover this stuff. It's weird to me that people think the megathreads are the only way to get that--I know they are a valuable way but the only way?

I spend a lot of time in places and with people who are keeping each other informed and connected to the fast-moving, constantly terrifying corruption, cruelty, graft indifference, ineffectiveness and incompetence of everyone currently in the US government. I also spend time in places where someone is firmly and gently (but constantly) drawing a "No politics here" line.

I do not really engage with the megathreads as Metafilter is on the "no politics here" side of the line for me (for the most part. Some topics are inherently political or are best engaged as political topics). Yet I still feel them pulling so much resource and focus. But I feel that everywhere I go in my U.S. these days. There are no havens.
posted by crush at 9:31 AM on July 24 [15 favorites]


I know that I was moderated a few times, and definitely for most of those, I should have been. But what I saw remain made incredibly clear to me was that there is a privileged class that can get away with saying things that I can't.

One of the most frustrating things for me as a mod in that context, and I know this goes for the rest of the team as well, is that even with a concerted and draining effort to try to keep things even keel it was impossible to be fully consistent and even more so to *seem* fully consistent in this constant breakneck context, given how easily one or two slights can become representative in any given person’s view of The State Of Things.

So on the one hand I want to say, no, the problem was not a privileged class of commenters, the problem was a structure in which eliminating any hint of asymmetry was impossible while depending on folks’ inconsistent self-control rather than outright draconian top-down control of every single comment.

On the other hand...I get it? That inconsistency, and the impossibility of actually getting away from it, is part of the unsustainability of those threads. I can feel hard done by by unmeetable expectations and uncharitable interpretations, but the social problems for the site go beyond my personal feelings or sense of personal justice. If everything else was working and I was just personally annoyed, I’d just be being annoyed and so be it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:34 AM on July 24 [24 favorites]


Some of us are steeped in US politics everywhere but Metafilter. It's part of our jobs; we are running a local grassroots group; or volunteering with one; or are doing campaign work; or working/donating/volunteering in some humanitarian capacity; or have active offline social connections that cover this stuff. It's weird to me that people think the megathreads are the only way to get that--I know they are a valuable way but the only way?

I'm not generally trying to gather and process information from news sources when I'm volunteering or protesting.
posted by diogenes at 9:39 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


cortex and team, thank you for this decision. I absolutely think it is the right one.

Like the thorn bushes have roses I'm also frustrated with the false dichotomy I'm seeing between "MetaFilter is a place for political organizing and reacting to events in real time" and "MetaFilter is for fun stuff and cat pictures". MetaFilter is fundamentally, structurally designed to be a place to post interesting things on the internet and discuss those links. "Interesting" doesn't have to mean fun, positive, upbeat, weird, cute, etc. though it often can and does. I've discovered tons of fantastic articles and other content on the Blue that delved into challenging, topical subjects including politics and sparked incredibly valuable, informative discussions.

But when discussions become about things that are not the link(s) in the FPP that is posted, I think that's when MetaFilter becomes a huge challenge to manage and moderate. I want to stress that that's not because of the topics or the people commenting in any way. It's because of the format of the site, which is that you have a post and then you have strictly chronological, non-threaded comments underneath. That includes both wide-ranging megathreads and single-link threads where the goal is to discuss a thing that happened, not the content of the specific link about the thing.

I've said this here before. A lot of people disagree with me on this. Many of them have even said "well, if the format is the problem then the format should change" but in my opinion that site would be a fundamentally different thing from MetaFilter and it would lose a lot of what makes this place magical and special to me.

All that said, I also know that the politics threads were very important to many members of this community, including several I consider my friends, and I hope you'll all stick with us and keep giving MeFi your energy. And that you'll keep posting great, useful, informative politics links and discussing them on the Blue!
posted by capricorn at 9:45 AM on July 24 [16 favorites]


I didn't mean information in general. I meant information about our corrupt government and our steady descent to fascism.

And the moderators are also saying that more topic-specific threads are going to still be okay. This is not the elimination of any and all political content forever more amen, this is more of an encouragement to revert back to the older model of "one thread for discussion about Epstein, one thread for the discussion about the Mueller hearing, one thread for discussion about ICE raids" as opposed to "One Thread To Rule Them All, One Thread To Bind Them".

So if that information is still going to be available, what has been lost, save a drain on the moderators (which they have REPEATEDLY spoken about)?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:47 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


A couple points. Has anyone collated the number of news sources/ links in an average megathread? Politico, TPM, Daily Beast, CNN, PBS, WaPo, NYT, Esquire, Axios, WSJ, various Twitters, Fox News, BBC...these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Checking those daily would consume more of my time that reading the link highlights in a megathread. Then there are all the local or more obscure sites that I would never find on my own. Not every news story needs its own FPP but they can be rolled into a megathread. I'm worried where they will fit in when the political threads are broken up into discrete topics.

Second, just fyi, Reddit is blocked in the country where I spend a good amount of time. The wifi signal is poor, a VPN just adds to the lag. Other countries block other sites; I don't know if my current VPN will work there. The Metafilter Chat page, I don't know what is the problem there but my "keyboard" refused to pop up when I wanted to comment. The one time it did, I couldn't see what I was typing, it just ran out of the comment box instead of wrapping text. (Kindle Fire HD, less than a year old).
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:51 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


It's weird to me that people think the megathreads are the only way to get that--I know they are a valuable way but the only way?

Nothing in this huge wide world is the only way. But the tool/technique/source you have come to use and trust is important because it's the one you trust and know. Everything is replaceable. Doesn't mean it'll be easy to find it or that it'll work the way you want/expect.

Which also addresses if that information is still going to be available, what has been lost. What's lost is someone's habits and comfort. It's fine if you don't share the concern, but I don't see why it's necessary to tell people who are discomforted by this that their feelings are wrong.
posted by phearlez at 9:54 AM on July 24 [13 favorites]


So if that information is still going to be available, what has been lost, save a drain on the moderators (which they have REPEATEDLY spoken about)?

I don't understand why you're arguing about what will or won't be a loss for me. The MegaThreads worked for me, I'm going to miss them, and the new/old model isn't going to work for me.

(I haven't even argued against the decision. I understand the moderator issue.)
posted by diogenes at 9:57 AM on July 24 [13 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos I don't think that'll work because either it'd turn the entire front page into nothing but politics (undesirable) or it'll mean the mods will have the unpleasant, polarizing, and inevitably pissing people off duty of deciding which few politics threads qualify as important enough.

Ultimately they're going to have to basically end politics posts except for end of the world level events just to avoid the problem. Either that or they'll have to jettison some of their userbase.

cortex Not to turn this into a pile on for the mod team, and maybe I'm just too biased to see the reality. But it isn't just the megathreads where its pretty clear that there's a privileged viewpoint if not a privileged user group.

I've seen many threads where there was back and forth between a leftist and a liberal which ended with all leftist comments deleted but all/most liberal comments left intact and a mod note asking that the subject be closed thus permitting the record to be one of unquestioned liberalism.

I'm sure that isn't the intent of the mod team, I'm not accusing anyone of modding out of deliberate bias or prejudice, but it is the result. Almost invariably when a mod deletes some comments and closes a topic the comments that aren't deleted are liberal, or at least leave intact the final comment from the liberal side thus giving them the last word and shutting down any leftist rebuttal.
posted by sotonohito at 9:59 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


sotonohito, I don't think "leftist vs. liberal: who's been the most silenced all my life'd" is a good direction for this MeTa to go.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:02 AM on July 24 [33 favorites]


Ultimately they're going to have to basically end politics posts except for end of the world level events just to avoid the problem. Either that or they'll have to jettison some of their userbase.

This strikes me as catastrophising, and I don't see how splitting up the megathreads for smaller more focused threads ends up with a total politics ban. If anything in the short term it will increase the politics on the blue.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:04 AM on July 24 [14 favorites]


I think this is a good decision - I was waiting to donate to the site to see how this all shook out, and I bounced straight from this announcement to the donations page to set one up.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:05 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


...I don't see why it's necessary to tell people who are discomforted by this that their feelings are wrong.

I'm just not seeing anywhere where anyone is saying that anyone else's feelings are wrong. Correct me if I'm wrong, please do, but I don't see it.
posted by cooker girl at 10:08 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


cortex Not to turn this into a pile on for the mod team, and maybe I'm just too biased to see the reality. But it isn't just the megathreads where its pretty clear that there's a privileged viewpoint if not a privileged user group.

The constant treatment of moderators by people declaring they're biased really makes me look askance at the idea that anyone would choose to be a volunteer mod.
posted by dw at 10:09 AM on July 24 [20 favorites]


I haven’t seen bias, but I do appreciate sotonohito’s point, though.

It is probably true that views further from the “center” of any debate are going to be viewed as more likely to need to be deleted, especially when forcefully stated, while those closer to the center have the luxury of not having to make their views more forcefully, because theiy are tacitly seen as more mainstream. This is an artifact of entertaining a spectrum of views, without necessarily indicating bias.

(There may also have been bias, but it’s really not required, in order to explain the phenomenon sotonohito’s pointing out.)
posted by darkstar at 10:09 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


sotonohito: it'd turn the entire front page into nothing but politics

Not politics in general. US politics.
I don't necessarily agree with your stance, but let's be clear about this. We don't have a problem, and aren't anticipating a problem, with too many postings about politics in other countries.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:10 AM on July 24 [9 favorites]


I'm just not seeing anywhere where anyone is saying that anyone else's feelings are wrong. Correct me if I'm wrong, please do, but I don't see it.

Some of us have expressed that we feel like we're losing something irreplaceable. Others have responded that we shouldn't feel that way because we aren't losing something irreplaceable. Seems pretty straightforward to me.
posted by diogenes at 10:15 AM on July 24 [16 favorites]


I think the real upshot is we've developed two communities with very different needs and mores and vernaculars. And they're now different enough that one needs an entirely different set of resources than the other one and is far more intensive of mod time/effort.

This isn't bad. This is completely normal. This is how communities evolve. But when one starts consuming the other, you have to start making choices. Some places close the old community, some spin off the new one (or the old one). Right now MetaFilter doesn't have the resources to do either one.

I understand and respect those who mourn for the death of the megathreads. As I've said before, I didn't like them, but I respect how people feel. It was their community.
posted by dw at 10:16 AM on July 24 [11 favorites]


Speaking strictly for me, this is going to have the effect of making me read more about politics on Metafilter and not less. The megathreads were simply too intimidating, long and all-encompassing, so I just gave them a pass. More narrowly tailored posts about specific stories are much more interesting to me. I just read the Mueller thread and found it valuable, but I initially passed over it because I thought it was Yet Another Megathread.
posted by zeusianfog at 10:22 AM on July 24 [29 favorites]


it'd turn the entire front page into nothing but politics

I don't think it has to. I feel that Metafilter has gotten so used to the megathread that it can be hard to imagine how to discuss US-politics without comparing it to the megathread. I feel if members wrote their US-politics posts with the guiding principle "Topic-specific posts should be written broadly enough to accommodate the inclusion of important breaking/ongoing news which is tangentially-related to the specific topic" that we could have much fewer individual US-politics posts on the Blue than we had right before the idea of the megathread was started.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:24 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


Some of us have expressed that we feel like we're losing something irreplaceable. Others have responded that we shouldn't feel that way because we aren't losing something irreplaceable. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Okay, and I get that. And please believe me when I say that I'm not trying to litigate language or anything, I'm truly trying to understand; did anyone actually use the words "you shouldn't feel like you're losing something irreplaceable."? Because I am just not reading any of the comments that way. I'm seeing people try to comfort and assuage the feelings of loss by emphasizing that we can still talk about politics in smaller threads, and suggesting ways to keep the Megathread community together but not on the front page.

And if your response is no, no one actually said that but it feels that way when they suggest alternatives, I get it. Perhaps you (the general you) don't want to be comforted and assuaged, maybe you just want to vent. That's a perennial problem with any group of people, really. Some want to simply be heard while others want to pose solutions and salve feelings.

I personally have found that when I try to read the most charitable intent possible in people's comments, I generally feel better. Not telling anyone what to do or how to feel, I promise. Just my personal experience that may help others.
posted by cooker girl at 10:31 AM on July 24 [10 favorites]


I'll say that, while I appreciate that the megathreads had value for some people, I had to back out of them pretty early. I'm working very hard to keep myself from being self-righteous about being educated about things without taking action on those things. I've found that, when I dive headfirst into KNOWING ALL THE BAD THINGS THAT ARE GOING ON, I get so exhausted and it takes up all my mental time and effort and energy and I've got nothing left to devote to things like calling my congresspeople or volunteering or participating in direct actions. The megathreads checked an "I know what is going on, so I am done acting" box for me, and keeping track of the nitty-gritty day-to-day grind of the Trump administration basically paralyzed me and kept me from actually doing anything. They filled in the same box for me as, say, watching The Handmaid's Tale (which I've also stopped): wallowing in things being bad, feeling virtuous for knowing about how things are bad, and then moving on.

I don't say this at all to say that this is what people who made heavy use of the megathreads were doing. This is to suggest that there are lots of ways to keep updated and that perhaps being a person who knows all the updates isn't the best or healthiest or most productive or the only way to work against the administration in the US, and to suggest that maybe this is could be impetus to redirect mental energy and emotional labor in more productive ways, either on or off metafilter.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:32 AM on July 24 [31 favorites]


23skidoo: "I feel if members wrote their US-politics posts with the guiding principle "Topic-specific posts should be written broadly enough to accommodate the inclusion of important breaking/ongoing news which is tangentially-related to the specific topic""

This is just sneaking the megathread back in under another name. No thanks. Either that 'important breaking/ongoing news' deserves its own post, or it doesn't.
posted by crazy with stars at 10:35 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


And if your response is no, no one actually said that but it feels that way when they suggest alternatives, I get it. Perhaps you (the general you) don't want to be comforted and assuaged, maybe you just want to vent.


I’m not sure this is getting quite at it. Several comments have been made that ask “what are you really losing” with follow-ups that are clearly attempting to minimize the validity of those feelings.

Suggesting that those who are frustrated by this “really just want to vent” is a perfect example, and doesn’t seem to be as constructive or charitable an observation as you may imagine.
posted by darkstar at 10:37 AM on July 24 [16 favorites]


Regular megathread readers have repeatedly, in the threads themselves and in MeTas, pointed out that they can walk (engage in activism / direct action / contacting congresspeople, etc.) and chew gum (follow the megathreads) at the same time. Many have also said that the megathread served as their gateway to activism, or as a catalyst to their activism, or as a respite from their activism. Yet people still feel the need to remind everyone that "maybe there's a better way" or "the megathread wasn't good for me, so maybe it's not good for you."

We get it. For fuck's sake, if the mods are going to spike "rehashes", they should definitely spike this allegedly-coming-from-a-good-place "if you megathread, you might be activisming wrong" rehash.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:40 AM on July 24 [31 favorites]


Okay, understood. That's why I was asking. For the record, I did not say "really just want to vent" and putting it quotations makes it sound like I did.

I didn't intend to trivialize anyone's feelings and I apologize.
posted by cooker girl at 10:42 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


I cannot believe I even need to type this, but obviously there's at least one person who doesn't get the construct.

Consolation and assistance: I'm sorry you feel this loss, this seems hard for you. Perhaps you can fill some of the things you're worried about losing with X and Y, and you'll always be able to Z.

Sort of consolation accompanied by refutation: Yes, you are sad. But given that X and Y exist what are you really losing? Can you please justify your feelings to me by refuting these things that I assert mean you don't need to feel that way?

Nobody in history has ever been effectively consoled by "your partner was actually bad to you in X way and now you can see other people!"
posted by phearlez at 10:42 AM on July 24 [10 favorites]


There's a nastiness creeping into this thread, and it isn't coming from the MegaThread regulars.
posted by diogenes at 10:45 AM on July 24 [25 favorites]


Apology accepted and it’s totally cool, cooker girl!

(For what it’s worth, the “just want to vent” passage was copied directly from your comment, which I cut and pasted at the top of my comment. It wasn’t my wording.)
posted by darkstar at 10:47 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


I cannot believe I even need to type this, but obviously there's at least one person who doesn't get the construct.

This is incredibly dismissive and if it's directed toward me I feel like shit and I feel stupid for even trying. I doubt it was your intent because I don't want to believe it was, but if it was your intent, I don't even know what to say.
posted by cooker girl at 10:48 AM on July 24 [8 favorites]


It was the "really" that bugged me. It sounds super dismissive that way.

Anyway, I'm clearly not helping here, so I apologize for fucking things up and I'll stop now.
posted by cooker girl at 10:49 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Ah, yes, that’s right. Yes, the “really” should have been outside the quotation marks. My apologies.
posted by darkstar at 10:51 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


I read most of the megathread and commented a few times. I stopped a few months ago because it was making me miserable. I'm glad it is winding down.

On the more topic driven posts can we expect slightly chiller modding? Especially with things like the debates can we keep a few more one liners and jokes? I understood why they were problematic in the megathread but I do love a good zinger and I would appreciate it if we brought back some of the live blogging / fanfare energy back to posts about the debates ect.
posted by Uncle at 10:51 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


There's a nastiness creeping into this thread, and it isn't coming from the MegaThread regulars.

There was creeping nastiness after a few hundred comments even in the "Mefi funding" and the two "PoC" threads as well, which is why I walked out. I've participated in 2000 comment long grey threads before. Either we're reading the nastiness wrongly in today's context, or it truly has gotten snippier and less collegial. (though, were internet communities ever collegial? speaking from 25 years of commenting) - so, what has changed, if anything? Our perception? Our expectations? Or the tone and anger?

Or is it the same divisiveness, infighting, sniping, and pettiness that seems to cloak everything these days emerging from USA onto the internets?

That, at least, is toxic to communities, and if the site's owner's vision and mission are centered on community, then this nastiness must be addressed.

What has changed? When did it start permeating everywhere? Does it make sense to have a retrospective thread around Christmastime to see if it was indeed the megathreads and their fallout as many believe? Or, if its still around, then what pus filled boil has ripened in recent years and needs lancing? This, imo, is part of the ongoing site moderation assessment activities.

Jump down my throat but having hung out in most parts of metafilter for 15 years now, I've come to believe that our website adn community has attracted divisive elements in recent years to prey upon our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, given that the bulk of the site's tenor tends to skew very anti- administration. Which imo is another reason not to put a honeypot out for them.
posted by Mrs Potato at 11:04 AM on July 24 [10 favorites]


Sort of consolation accompanied by refutation: Yes, you are sad. But given that X and Y exist what are you really losing? Can you please justify your feelings to me by refuting these things that I assert mean you don't need to feel that way?

Nobody in history has ever been effectively consoled by "your partner was actually bad to you in X way and now you can see other people!"


But it's not being framed just as a personal loss, but as a loss of a real and serious political organizing and information tool.

There is also an important emotional element. But to the extent that the megathread was/is important, politically, people need to be able to discuss it with some objectivity instead of solely focusing on the emotional investment of some of the people who were involved there.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:05 AM on July 24 [12 favorites]


I want to point to and reiterate my comment from yesterday; this is a big change, with big feelings all around, and I'm gonna ask folks to remember to step back and be kind.

People are going to feel a sense of loss or a sense of relief or a complicated mix of both, along with a dozen other things, and it's going to be different for everybody. Nobody needs to be told whether or how to feel a sense of loss about this, or to be told what not having a personal investment in the megathreads means about them, or or or. I think people are by and large making a good effort there but keep in mind how easy it is to, even with good intentions, end up effectively explaining other people's feelings to them, and how bad it can feel to be on the other end of that.

My focus with this particular thing is going to remain on the "what next?" questions, both in trying to make what space we can on the site for new things and sustainable solutions to some of the stuff that had been megathread territory, and in supporting folks figuring out self-directed off-site solutions for that. I think we can both work on that and give folks space to just sort of feel what they're feeling, especially right now when this is new.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:13 AM on July 24 [23 favorites]


As it seems this thread may be shifting from a “what’s next” focus to more of a discussion of perceptions, I’ll duck out for now.

But I’m serious about the “time, money and effort” commitment I made upthread. Either here on MeFi or elsewhere, I’d like to contribute. If anyone has additional ideas, please MeMail me. (Rhaomi, I’ll be in touch after my flight this evening to discuss possible modding on the MeFi Reddit sub.)

Chin up, all! Keep calm and MeFi on!
posted by darkstar at 11:16 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


As a non-citizen green card carrying resident of the US who, for reasons unknown, ended up on some list causing me to be pulled out for lengthy interviews every time I've re-entered the US since 2008, I haven't traveled outside the country since Trump took power. And, believe me, I want to. My dad just passed away in my home country but I can't take the risk of going to the funeral for fear of losing my entire life here.

I will unfortunately need to start my next green card renewal process before the 2020 elections even take place.

With new policies popping up such as the one requiring disclosure of and passwords to 5 years of social media history including closed accounts by people entering the US on visas I'm rather worried. Not to mention the recent arrests and refusals to release of actual fully documented US citizens by BP and ICE. I've been gradually purging my social media of political content so, unfortunately, I can't take advantage of switching to reddit or using the twitter list posted above.

MetaFilter is the one place obscure enough I feel I can maintain an account that I can get away with not mentioning during interviews and applications.

So, for me, the megathreads have been a life line of generally well curated and presented information I feel I can safely explore and read, and the only community I can safely participate in, without leaving visible and hard to erase traces that might come back to haunt me. Hell, without the megathreads I likely wouldn't even have known about half the stuff I mentioned above that is directly putting the life I've built for myself in the US at immediate risk.

I understand the burden on the moderators. I understand the intent is not to do away with political posts and discussion in general. But these are unusual and very dangerous times. And this site and the megathreads specifically are something rather special and highly valuable to people like myself. A stream of vital information that I can have a high degree of trust in.

I wonder how many there are like myself that are quietly following the megathreads monitoring developments. I'm a white male from Germany and so just about as privileged as non-citizens come but even I am basically shitting my pants on a weekly basis. I can't even imagine what others with different backgrounds are experiencing. But I have to assume I'm far from the only one relying on the megathreads in this way. There is incredible value here.

So, to me, this will be a huge loss. More narrowly focused posts will likely not contain the same amount of incidental bits and pieces of information that are surprisingly vital to people like myself. It's profoundly saddening.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:29 AM on July 24 [79 favorites]


A couple points. Has anyone collated the number of news sources/ links in an average megathread? Politico, TPM, Daily Beast, CNN, PBS, WaPo, NYT, Esquire, Axios, WSJ, various Twitters, Fox News, BBC...these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Checking those daily would consume more of my time that reading the link highlights in a megathread.

There were 8400-ish (ish because of some links that were either ill-formatted or my parser couldn't handle them) separate domains linked to in my dataset (after some canonicalization: nyt, twitter, youtube all have multiple domains, and I grouped each company's links together).

Twitter is by far the most commonly linked-to domain: there were about 27,000 twitter links, almost quadruple the next-highest (WaPo with about 7000 links). Users linked to about 7600 different twitter accounts, with the top 372 accounts making up 50% of the twitter links (unlike most of the stuff I've looked at, the distribution is beautifully Zipf-ian, with realdonaldtrump having twice ddale8 and thrice kylegriffin1 etc.).

If we look at the 93,000 non-twitter links, half of them come from
32 sources.
washingtonpost     6988
nyt                4760
wikipedia          4639
youtube            3872
politico           2951
cnn                1927
theguardian        1920
talkingpointsmemo  1518
vox                1492
thehill            1489
npr                1446
thedailybeast      1160
theatlantic        1050
nbcnews             879
huffingtonpost      847
bloomberg           777
slate               774
newyorker           754
buzzfeed            701
reuters             682
google              679
fivethirtyeight     663
facebook            663
nymag               623
motherjones         584
wsj                 575
apnews              510
imgur               470
axios               450
arstechnica         441
businessinsider     426
usatoday            415


So yeah, the sources were pretty widely varied.
posted by Jpfed at 11:29 AM on July 24 [18 favorites]


There is also an important emotional element. But to the extent that the megathread was/is important, politically, people need to be able to discuss it with some objectivity instead of solely focusing on the emotional investment of some of the people who were involved there.

I'm sorry I was snippy in your direction, cooker girl, and I didn't mean anyone to feel bad. But seeing this above quote from another person just makes me feel like I want to throw my hands up all over again. There's a whole bunch of "I am sad but understand why" comments in the thread, so I don't get why anyone would think there's not this willingness to discuss or even a lack of openness to being pointed at alternatives. Nobody's asked for an exclusive focus on the emotional investment. The only think I ever asked, above, was to not be told that feeling was wrong. "I don't know why you feel that way" is a dismissive line whether you follow it up with "because you still have X and Y."

I'm walking away from this topic because I feel like I am just saying the same thing over and obviously I am not getting more clear. I apologize for hurting any feelings and being pissy about it.
posted by phearlez at 11:40 AM on July 24 [10 favorites]


Agreeing with monopas books for weapons.

I really hope that something like sub-mefis could be established
- differing moderating expectations and perhaps user run moderation (with appeals going to staff mods)
- some version of threading. If I check on a thread 1/day, then actually read a link, if I want to comment on something 100 comments up it really seems silly
- When looking for news and developments, it can be a grind sift through reactions chiming in "this sucks/this is horrible". I completely agree with these statements after enough reading and skimming it's feels like drowning in woe. Adopting emoji like "reactions" to comments (instead of having to "favorite" a comment about such-and-such atrocity) may help both give catharsis and reduce the sifting and moderating work-load. And somewhat modernize the feeling of the site.

Users find value in the thread. Users do not want to lose the community. Give dedicated folks a chance to keep a way to stay connected, engaged, informed, and hope. The users aren't always right, but I'm not sure losing what has grown into such a large piece of the community will help the site or the users.

I hope I'm wrong, and this change will lead to healthier mods, users, and community. I'm sad that that a resource I use for coping with reality (and a sanity checks that yes, others think things are crazy and terrible but keep hope) without completely devolving into a liberal counterpart of teaparty/Trumpists.
posted by 6ATR at 11:43 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


The megathreads over the past two-three years are an incredible indictment of Trump, those who enable him, and those who have failed to oppose him robustly. I'm sorry to see them go, but look on them as something we should all be proud of.
posted by Gelatin at 11:48 AM on July 24 [17 favorites]


Users linked to about 7600 different twitter accounts, with the top 372 accounts making up 50% of the twitter links (unlike most of the stuff I've looked at, the distribution is beautifully Zipf-ian, with realdonaldtrump having twice ddale8 and thrice kylegriffin1 etc.).

That’s some cool data right there. I’d love to have a look at that list! 👏🏽
posted by bitteschoen at 11:49 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry I was snippy in your direction, cooker girl, and I didn't mean anyone to feel bad. But seeing this above quote from another person just makes me feel like I want to throw my hands up all over again. There's a whole bunch of "I am sad but understand why" comments in the thread, so I don't get why anyone would think there's not this willingness to discuss or even a lack of openness to being pointed at alternatives. Nobody's asked for an exclusive focus on the emotional investment. The only think I ever asked, above, was to not be told that feeling was wrong. "I don't know why you feel that way" is a dismissive line whether you follow it up with "because you still have X and Y."

That's fair. I was responding in part to another comment moreso than to yours, and I should not have quoted yours, I don't think.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:51 AM on July 24


(commented too soon---also I'm sorry!)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:51 AM on July 24


"Everyone needs a hug."
posted by cooker girl at 11:54 AM on July 24 [20 favorites]


It sounds like some people who deeply value the megathreads may switch to posting to and reading a subreddit, or the wiki, or potentially something else. It sounds like Reddit has some momentum/critical mass as a potential platform, but some downsides people point out about Reddit are: brigading from other Reddit users, downvotes (though that can be switched off), nested/threaded views (though the default can be "flat" and people can choose to view as flat), prominence and surveillance concerns, and country restrictions. And I know that the low-graphics, all-text interface is helpful to some people on mobile phones.

I am not a frequent megathread participant or reader, but I want to mention Dreamwidth communities as a platform that some people may find amenable. The big rolling megathread-like conversation that I know of on Dreamwidth is Fail Fandom Anon, in case you want to look at an example (in their case, they use a LOT of topic-per-thread threaded conversations to keep things findable, and commenters are meant to be anonymous, but neither of those constraints is necessary for a Dreamwidth community). Dreamwidth is much lower-profile than Reddit or Twitter (I've seen very very little or no brigading), it's got light/text-only/low-bandwidth modes, there's an existing set of very granular moderation features (e.g., having a set of "administrator" members who have more powers than "moderator" members, and setting it up so that only a particular list of Dreamwidth members can make posts or comment on posts), it's easy for a reader to view comments as flat instead of nested, and I haven't heard anyone say that Dreamwidth is blocked in their country. And it's free to start a community or create a membership. There's an existing MetaFilter Dreamwidth community in case you want to try out what it's like to post/comment/read within a Dreamwidth comm.
posted by brainwane at 12:06 PM on July 24 [10 favorites]


I haven't been a prolific commenter in any of the megathreads, but I've appreciated the work that went into creating, curating and moderating them. The megathread du jour has been an open browser tab for me every work day. Count me as one who's sad to see them go, but not so sad as to ditch Metafilter for somewhere else.

That said, even though I haven't said much over on Slack, I've been enjoying the Politics Filter there.

Tip: currentstatus.io
posted by emelenjr at 12:18 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


the other thing i'll say, from having been a Campaign Person pretty well full time since 2016-- the megathreads were damned useful as an information resource while i was working, because there is just no time on a campaign to stay abreast of every new atrocity. so if a voter or a volunteer had an issue they wanted to talk about, or wanted to say something about whatever fresh hell was going on, i could pretty well get context on it from the megathread and come up with something intelligent to say. i could tell if a ground operation was working or not from people's reporting about their experiences, whether or not the user in question could themselves. and nothing was ever really called until Chrysostom called it. (Chrysostom's updates might be the worst loss for me, personally, actually. i don't trust polls, but i trust that dude.)

i also won't forget that the megathreads were what kept me sane during a particularly shitty and chaotic portion of my life-- hi, summer of 2016, and losing my dad and my apartment in the city i loved, and other sundry shittiness-- and eventually sent me stumbling into my hillary campaign office. what my life would be like without that, i shudder to contemplate. if it weren't for the megathreads, i don't think i would have thrown myself into it the way that i did, and it's the only reason i can live with myself now.

it's just one more loss of a resource, i guess, and lord knows i'll personally recover-- i always have thus far, but i'm sad for those that have less resources than i do.
posted by dogheart at 12:23 PM on July 24 [47 favorites]


From the lead in:
PoliticsFilter: folks have proposed many times starting a formal subsite/subsection. Given our resources and other site work that needs doing, this isn’t something we can even really consider right now, so I’ll ask folks to not restart that conversation again in here.

Brandon Blatcher used to run politics filter. It became 100% US centric minutie which is fine if you are so far into US politics. Anyway it petered out.
Also this is part of the ongoing problem and again I quote PoliticsFilter: folks have proposed many times starting a formal subsite/subsection.
We ask .. nothing now it's don't even start the conversation.

So we seem to have a whole bunch of people who want a centralized place for Politics Filter which will probably get crazier as the weeks go on and as US election season really kicks in and Britain probably heads towards a hard Brexit to become Trumps poodle and the official Metafilter answer seems to be go do it on your own!
That's nice and inclusive isn't it?
posted by adamvasco at 12:24 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


That's nice and inclusive isn't it?

It is okay to say that this site can't be everything to everyone. The mods are working on some other fairly serious inclusivity challenges right now. My charitable read is they're being smart and prioritizing and being pragmatic about what they can realistically do. In an ideal world, the site would be able to keep megathreads on-site for the people who care about them and others could flag (or not) and move on. Realistically, money and, by association, time are limited. Triage can be ugly and stir up bad feelings, but I'm seeing this as a triage situation not as a "Hey we just chose this because we care about the feelings of one group less than those of another."
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:35 PM on July 24 [66 favorites]


> So we seem to have a whole bunch of people who want a centralized place for Politics Filter which will probably get crazier as the weeks go on and as US election season really kicks in and Britain probably heads towards a hard Brexit to become Trumps poodle and the official Metafilter answer seems to be

"Sorry, we can't afford it. We don't have the resources."
That's how the answer reads to me. It's not what many of us wanted to hear, but it is what it is. I would have loved it if MetaFilter could easily afford to give us all of this and more. But if it can't, then it can't.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:41 PM on July 24 [12 favorites]


dogheart: "and nothing was ever really called until Chrysostom called it. (Chrysostom's updates might be the worst loss for me, personally, actually. i don't trust polls, but i trust that dude.)"

FWIW, I've been kind of laying low, but will be starting up again, either on my own blog or on whatever megathread replacement gets cooked up.

(prediction: Dems take both houses of VA legislature this November)
posted by Chrysostom at 12:41 PM on July 24 [46 favorites]


brainwane: I want to mention Dreamwidth communities as a platform that some people may find amenable.

Hah, good one, I had not thought of that. There is a decent-enough structure in place there for people to make posts; they can be long and have links. People can comment on them. There's the possibility to moderate; there is threading. There's even modest but working image hosting. It's free and ad-free.
Technically, there is no reason why something similar to the Megathreads could not exist on Dreamwidth.

Of course the technical side is only one aspect. But still.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:46 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I would for serious pay a few bucks a month for your tinyletter version of those posts, Chrysostom. And not just because that prediction is so desperately what I want to hear.
posted by phearlez at 12:50 PM on July 24 [7 favorites]


I loved your updates when I used to read the threads, Chrysostom. And I never thought to click on your profile to find your blog, I'll keep an eye on it! And if you decide to also share them via tinyletter then I'd follow that too.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:53 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


This is great news.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:55 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


As a daily megathread reader and occasional poster, I'm both saddened to see them go and relieved that I might get more accomplished during my work day. But I've been much more politically active lately (a vigil, a march, much more political dialoguing with my tween), and that's both because of the megathreads and despite them. I can only click on so many tweets and read so many articles and consider so many perspectives before I close a tab in frustration and rue my own fecklessness. I'll miss desperately the feeling of camaraderie cultivated here, and hope that it will be perpetuated in a renewed form, but my intent is to fill that vacuum with ramped-up physical world action, including but not limited to in the run-up to the impending election.

I'm aware that many Mefi-ers have been leaps and bounds ahead of me on the activism front for years. What I'm trying to awkwardly convey is that I appreciate you, I appreciate this site and the megathreads, and I'm looking forward to channeling these feelings into a new optimism and activism.
posted by vverse23 at 12:58 PM on July 24 [8 favorites]


I basically just lurk but I will miss the megathreads very badly - I am another who valued the asides and the small-news and the insightful conversations that grew from the constantly bubbling pot of stock made from the Big Stuff.

Four or so years ago I was not particularly politically minded. The megathreads changed that - and I'm not even from the US (although I guess the UK is a related kettle of eels, and I have plenty of ties in the US). It wasn't the bad news firehose - it was the reactions, and the insight, and the analysis, and the great discussion.

I'm not sure that multiple posts will create the same synergy, but. I understand the reasoning. I appreciate the mods. If this is what's required, then, ok.

Definitely up for lurking on some alternate site if that becomes a thing. Reddit (subreddits can be made private, no? for the prevention of brigading?) sounds good, but I'm A-OK with wherever, if that can be figured out.
posted by Ilira at 12:58 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


I'm kind of personally down on megathread replacement ideas at the moment. Some of that comes from the times when I've been in front of a computer to follow them super actively and saw just some of what would soon get deleted; as much as we could (but need not) talk about issues with overmoderation, it was also clear that they needed near-constant attention just to work. So beyond just kind of personally needing a break right now, I'm not really enthused about the idea of trying to port the whole megathread enterprise to another platform wholesale, because I just don't see how it works without some degree of staffing. I've also never liked how exclusionary and cliquey the megathreads became—more out of habit rather than deliberate attempts to exclude, but it's the outcome that matters—, and think a private subreddit or other venue could be even worse in that regard.

But a newsletter is one idea I've had in the back of my mind. Chrysostom's elections news could be a great newsletter all its own, which I'd subscribe to for sure. Or maybe there's some value (and a lot of potential editorial challenges) in a broader community-edited mefi uspolitics newsletter featuring news, insights, analysis, and jokes from mefites. It would be worth trying to think if there's potential value in it that isn't already filling a need covered by WTF Just Happened Today? (itself community-edited through Github), the Crooked daily newsletter, and such. But it could be a venue to fill the gap between no megathreads and legit psychologically damaging ourselves and the site.
posted by zachlipton at 1:17 PM on July 24 [8 favorites]


I did love the megathreads but have absolutely no desire to drive the mods into the ground, so I respect whatever decision ya'll make about how to handle things. We'll all put on our big girl pants and cope.
posted by emjaybee at 1:42 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


As a non-USan who has also lived in the country I skim the megathreads regularly, though with less and less attention over the past months. I definitely will not be sad to see them gone, and I think I have argued for it in the past. I'll be delighted to read thematic posts and commentary I'm interested in instead of scrolling endlessly down a megathread.

At the same time, I do have a few concerns. Correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember that one of the reasons for having megathreads in the first place was to prevent the Blue from being engulfed in a tide of US politics posts. Now, even if the moderators restrict posts, we are still going to have an even greater skew towards US politics and society on the front page than we do now.

Of course, it's possible to hide these posts, and I do, but I can't help but think that there is a likelihood that the Blue's general culture will drift towards becoming even more US focused. The main reason I was always a strong advocate of a PoliticsFilter was that the culture of political discussion could then flourish elsewhere than on the Blue. I absolutely understand and respect cortex's point that this is not possible or desirable right now so I won't say any more about it.

I see cortex has written that a purpose of the change is to 'adjust downward the overall weight of US politics discussion on the site', but I am not entirely clear on how that would be achieved by having more uspolitics posts, at least so far as site culture goes (I definitely see how it'll reduce the moderation burden, which is an excellent thing).

I am also not sure that suggesting users go offsite for discussions that are clearly extremely important to them is the best solution for a site that is already shedding users. We've had a number of members post in this thread who are not frequent commenters in the megathreads and perhaps other parts of the site, on how they value those threads.

Anyhow, mods, I would be interested in hearing a little more about your thoughts on how to keep uspolitics posts under control. For example, will you allow rough sets of topic areas to develop (eg: Mueller, specific races, primaries, etc), perhaps using the wiki as some have suggested above, and delete new posts in that category if the old one is live? Will you treat them like any other posts on the blue, with slightly blunter moderation? Or will you wait and see what new norms develop around them? (If the last, I hope you will steer the norms at the beginning instead of responding to them after they are set.)

I don't know, it's a tricky situation and you have my sympathies for having to deal with it at a time in your history when everyone is already so much on edge.
posted by tavegyl at 1:46 PM on July 24 [12 favorites]


So, where shall us political weirdos go? Because I'm pretty sure the ultimate endgame here will have to be a near total ban on politics on metafilter with a few rare exceptions granted for extraordinary (as defined by the Trump era) events.

I actually think this is going to happen. It's the only way to really end the mods' problems.

But it isn't really about the blue; there are so many things that are harder to focus on, and give light to, good things, interesting things, artful things, the best of the web even, that are getting smothered everyday everywhere under the weight of Trump. It's awful. I have no idea how to get out of it.

Yeah, in all honesty it's hard to have interest in fun, fluffy things any more to read or post about when everything is awful.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:51 PM on July 24 [10 favorites]


I've seen a couple of comments to the effect that moving the megathread elsewhere will result in a noticeable drop in the user community here... and I don't think that's very likely? Some people probably do ONLY interact with the megathread but I for one enjoy most of MetaFilter and plan to stick around.

Whether I am also getting a concentrated stream of curated politics commentary elsewhere won't make much of a difference to that. Mileage, as always, may vary.
posted by Ilira at 1:56 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


In 2008, MetaFilter was cracking down on "electionfilter" posts, so I posted this question and was directed to the SomethingAwful Forums. Because of what I learned there, I was the first at my big election watch party to know that Obama had essentially won the election when he won a certain state.

I'm still a member of SomethingAwful today, and I still mostly only read the political forums. They have their own weird culture for sure, but I have gotten a TON out of them, and during the most recent election I found them to often be more useful sources of info than the megathreads (which I also participated heavily in and still read).

Anybody who can pony up the $10 should check SomethingAwful out. It may be just what you're looking for.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:13 PM on July 24 [20 favorites]


oh man that'll mean my online evolution is gonna go plastic.com user to mefite to sa goon?
posted by notyou at 2:32 PM on July 24 [17 favorites]


Yeah, in all honesty it's hard to have interest in fun, fluffy things any more to read or post about when everything is awful.

I absolutely understand that sentiment, and there are days where I don't even want to get out of bed, e.g. most of November 2016.

For me, though, reading about cats stuck in scanners is an act of defiance to a fascist regime that only wants to grind people down and control our thinking. I will fight, I will protest, I will provide financial resources. But, I'm going to laugh, make art, write, and raise my kid while doing it. Defiance is a valid form of protest.

Regardless of what happens to the future of the megathreads, we must not stop resisting in the ways we can until these fascists are driven from our soil.
posted by dw at 2:48 PM on July 24 [20 favorites]


Sorry, I haven't read all the comments here, but I think this is a good decision. I stopped following the megathread a few days ago, and then this happened. I would like to say I stopped because it was going in circles, but to be honest, my thoughts weren't even that deep. It was more of an instinct.
Today I was driving all day, and thus couldn't get good updates on the Mueller hearing or on Boris Johnson's cabinet. I came here first to get the news and was happy to find the best news and commentary, as I expect it from all of you good people. Specially, I was happy to find a separate Mueller post, so I didn't have to scroll through hundreds of speculative comments on Nancy Pelosi or AOC.
posted by mumimor at 3:03 PM on July 24 [12 favorites]


I'm kind of personally down on megathread replacement ideas at the moment...I'm not really enthused about the idea of trying to port the whole megathread enterprise to another platform...

I might be missing something about the 'new' approach of multiple threads. It seems like today's activity over in the Mueller thread (with a few exceptions) was useful, clear, insightful, and respectful. With some personal restraint (I'm guilty of having too little), the 'new' approach seems feasible. I really don't want to go to Reddit or SomethingAwful. With some thoughtful linking between threads, it could work. IMVHO.
posted by j_curiouser at 3:05 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


reading about cats stuck in scanners is an act of defiance to a fascist regime

It's... really not.

I mean, as much as I agree with the thorn bushes have roses further up the thread where they -- rightfully! -- ask others to stop speaking contemptuously of the non-politics side of Metafilter, let's not give each other medals for having other interests than politics, nor for finding pleasure even in the middle of this annus horribilis.

Because I also agree with the people above who are -- rightfully! -- afraid that co-opted fascist police forces in their own country may one day target them. The fact that you and I can partake of this evening's FPP about Overwatch's new tank character, or the dog from I've Pet That Dog, or the Japanese man feeding stray cats is, much as we don't want to admit it, a small expression of privilege.

These and many other interesting things discussed on Metafilter are orthogonal to the current omnishambles. Partaking in them doesn't make us heroes any more than it makes us villains.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 3:10 PM on July 24 [11 favorites]


This kind of feels like it belongs here (and feels maybe eponysterical):

As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing, "Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses."

As we come marching, marching, we battle, too, for men—
For they are women's children and we mother them again.
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes—
Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses.

As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient song of Bread;
Small art and love and beauty their trudging spirits knew—
Yes, it is Bread we fight for—but we fight for Roses, too.

As we come marching, marching, we bring the Greater Days—
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler—ten that toil where one reposes—
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses.

— James Oppenheim, Bread and Roses

posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:13 PM on July 24 [12 favorites]


By that I mean: I don't think we should necessarily speculate that participating in the lighter things is a sign of privilege. Yes, it is Bread we fight for—but we fight for Roses, too.

Even in the darkest of times, humans have made jokes, art, and discussed smaller things.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:15 PM on July 24 [43 favorites]


I had to bow out of the megathreads over a year ago because the combination of that weight of despair, my then-ongoing withdrawal from a psychological addiction, and a shit-ton of terrible personal stuff was literally killing me (thanks for the encouragement, mochapickle). The anxiety and tension I felt on those rare occasions when I accidentally clicked on the current megathread were real and painful, leading to me asking for this pony.

I understand people are hurting from this choice, and i empathize with those experiencing a sense of loss, but I'm also hopeful that the energy the mods, et al, have been pouring into the megathreads can now be tapped for things to help make Metafilter, as a whole, better, more inviting, and more inclusive.
posted by hanov3r at 3:31 PM on July 24 [6 favorites]


Even in the darkest of times, humans have made jokes, art, and discussed smaller things.

Not only that, but a good number of us have to take a break sometimes, even if it's just fifteen minutes. Burnout is a real danger.

Other people react to things differently, but I want to respond to this comment, which seemed really dismissive of ChuraChura's point about too much information leading to inaction (for her).

Regular megathread readers have repeatedly, in the threads themselves and in MeTas, pointed out that they can walk (engage in activism / direct action / contacting congresspeople, etc.) and chew gum (follow the megathreads) at the same time.

Which, okay - it works for some people, but information paralysis is a real issue, and not something that should be outright dismissed. One of the best pieces of advice I got in 2016 was to pick a cause - maybe two causes, focus on them, and do whatever work you can. Bring a friend so it's social, but allow yourself to take a break once in a while. Forgive yourself for not knowing and not being able to do everything for every cause - expect others to do their part and choose those causes. The megathreads work well if your plan is to know a little of everything, but not if you're trying to be a specialist.

I'd also make a point that the political megathreads do miss a lot. There are some topics - especially those that might need more than a thirty-second explanation, or affect marginalized groups who aren't represented well here on Metafilter - that could use a little more space than they could get in the megathreads, especially if there's another big thing going on that day. By partitioning things off a little, you might get better discussion.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:47 PM on July 24 [28 favorites]


I'm kind of personally down on megathread replacement ideas at the moment.

I'm also not really interested in replacement ideas. There are other link aggregators, like the newsletters mentioned, twitter, TPM Prime, etc, that I can use to replace that function of the megathreads. And I sort of feel like the segment of people who Are Doing The Site Wrong have been encouraged here to find other more appropriate outlets or platforms. If that not's how it was intended, it's how it was received.
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:54 PM on July 24 [5 favorites]


But it isn't really about the blue; there are so many things that are harder to focus on, and give light to, good things, interesting things, artful things, the best of the web even, that are getting smothered everyday everywhere under the weight of Trump

Yeah, in all honesty it's hard to have interest in fun, fluffy things any more to read or post about when everything is awful.

And this pretty much shows why the megathread had to go. When everything else on metafilter is dismissed as "good things, interesting things, artful things" or "fun, fluffy things", that's a sign that the megathread has completely distorted the discourse about metafilter. The rest of metafilter just isn't seen as important enough to exist compared to the megathread.

There are massively serious, important things posted about everywhere on this site. But the megathread delegates all of them to "unimportant fluff" compared to the US politics, not of the week, or even the day, but of the current minute.

The megathread has become a black hole sucking the site down into it, partially because of the insistance that it's the most absolutely valuable function of metafilter.

And it really isn't even useful except for those who obsessively follow the threads. It's utterly useless for outsiders; there's no search function, no floating list of links and resources. Supposedly from what I've heard there's incredible resources for activists, but to get to them you have to wade through thousands upon thousands of Twitter posts about how Pelosi Wants to Destroy AoC.

At this point it's obvious that what's wanted and needed isn't a Metafilter with a megathread, but a megathread by itself. One maintained by the people that have the most investment in it. I wish it luck.
posted by happyroach at 4:11 PM on July 24 [54 favorites]


And for what is worth, besides Reddit, Something Awful, and Twitter, there's places like Lawyers Guns and Money and Talking Points Memo if one wants chatty blogs that focus on politics. Hell, even rpg.net has US politics threads that duplicate pretty much everything covered in the Megathreads. Of course one would actually have to start from the ground floor on those blogs and there'd a different culture. But oh well.

The point being that if one wants to do the work, there's ways to have a Megathread clone. If one doesn't, there's curated sites that do the work of maintenance. At this point the only reason to want it on metafilter is if one demands that these particular mods do the gruntwork, at the expense of the rest of the site
posted by happyroach at 4:21 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


I find it somewhat disconcerting to read about complaints about not being allowed to propose paying for another mod, etc...as if the proposers don't know or don't care about the recent discussion in that context concerning hiring a POC mod. If it's "don't know," that bespeaks a serious detachment from current broader site culture for people coming in wanting changes; if "don't care"...
posted by praemunire at 4:29 PM on July 24 [18 favorites]


I'm going to chime in with Segundus. I've come to believe the megathreads have become unhealthy for me personally and generally unhealthy for the site, a bubble of epistemic closure that is harmful for the community. I think we all need a breather here, especially now that the next presidential campaign is underway.
posted by SPrintF at 4:39 PM on July 24 [6 favorites]


"And for what is worth, besides Reddit, Something Awful, and Twitter, there's places like Lawyers Guns and Money and Talking Points Memo if one wants chatty blogs that focus on politics."

I've read TPM since it began, I like Josh Marshall quite a bit, and I'm a subscriber: but I can't recommend TPM's comment section. It often infuriates me because it's so very much a middle-aged, white male, political junkie boyzone. They experimented a few years ago with adding a culture section and had a few writers discussing episodes of Broad City and, OMG, the comments were repellent. Ageist and misogynist in a very unapologetic way. There have been many times over the years when I've felt very alienated from other middle-aged, left-of-center white guys here on MeFi but TPM's commenters really put things in perspective.

I think it will be very difficult to find other internet communities that are liberal/left political news junkies that aren't filled with stuff we no longer tolerate here. Long ago I wanted to comment at TPM when they first added "The Hive" But I've always been disappointed with it. I do comment very occasionally.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:45 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


4+ grueling years. 445,000+ comments.

Let's play with these numbers. Assume the megathreads need their own mod, 24/7. Assume we want to pay each mod $40,000 per year for a 40 hour week. That means we need 4 mods for the megathreads. Total cost of $160,000 per year. Total cost for 4 years, $640,000. $640,000 / 445,000 = $1.44 per comment.
posted by clawsoon at 4:49 PM on July 24 [5 favorites]


dinty_moore, how is it "dismissive" to note the benefits of participation in response to someone noting that there are drawbacks? I never said their feelings / concerns weren't valid.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:51 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


happyroach: "And this pretty much shows why the megathread had to go. When everything else on metafilter is dismissed as "good things, interesting things, artful things" or "fun, fluffy things", that's a sign that the megathread has completely distorted the discourse about metafilter."

I think you're highly overstating things. I've never read a megathread; the stuff being discussed in this thread isn't what I enjoy about MetaFilter. But I get why it's of value to a lot of people. The reason it has to go is because MetaFilter can't afford the mods that it would take to moderate the megathreads and the rest of the site. That's it. If Bill Gates donated a billion dollars to MetaFilter right now, we wouldn't be having this discussion, because the one and only reason megathreads are getting the axe is lack of mod resources. Maybe you'd still want the megathreads to go, but they certainly wouldn't have to go.

That said! I agree that people are seriously mischaracterizing MetaFilter and posing a false and annoying dichotomy.

Here are some of the fun, fluffy topics of MetaFilter posts in the week before this announcement: posted by Bugbread at 4:58 PM on July 24 [18 favorites]


🛑
posted by clavdivs at 4:59 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


🔨🕑!
posted by Bugbread at 5:00 PM on July 24 [31 favorites]


Megathread has a post about a Guatemalan boy dying in CBP custody.

Too bad that link is too much for the community/site to handle.
posted by Windopaene at 5:18 PM on July 24


At this point, Windopaene, you are not engaging in good faith. You are essentially trolling.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:22 PM on July 24 [40 favorites]


I'm one of the folks who kind of lament the decommissioning, but as SO MANY OTHERS have said, I get it, I accept it and long live MetaFilter.

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been so supportive and informative in those threads. One important recurring thing was the debunking of misinformation and outright propaganda. I could always count on those threads to keep me honest both with my friends and with myself. It's a big fucking deal to see that happen quickly in real time...and from people I trust.

The megathreads served a great purpose but it's totally OK to move on. The horror may not be over, but the shock of it is. Those threads helped us with the shock.

We will continue to support each other and we will continue to share pertinent information and survival tactics as they arise.

I really care about you fuckers. Be good. Be strong. Don't quit and ask for help if you need it!
posted by snsranch at 5:23 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


that link is too much for the community/site to handle
Not to pile on, but...holy crap, is that some offensive, self-congratulatory bullshit.
posted by neroli at 5:28 PM on July 24 [16 favorites]


Will discussing that link for an hour and then forgetting it when the next atrocity comes benefit anyone? Will it prevent future atrocities? Will it lead to justice?

Or will it just make everyone angry for a moment and then feel righteous for having been angry? Or if not righteous, then paralyzed at the flood of injustice.
posted by JDHarper at 5:29 PM on July 24 [10 favorites]


dinty_moore, how is it "dismissive" to note the benefits of participation in response to someone noting that there are drawbacks? I never said their feelings / concerns weren't valid.

This is a long thread and I don't want it to become a one-on-one argument about word choice, but it's hard to call 'I can also walk and chew gum at the same time' anything but dismissive.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:30 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Too bad that link is too much for the community/site to handle.

I respect people's real and legitimate grief here, but it's not the links that are too much for the mods to handle, it's the work of moderating the threads -- which they have been trying to do for years -- and I think it's unfair to make this kind of comment. I value the site that housed the megathreads and its constellation of though and interesting posts, contextualizing, discussion, and community, and that hasn't gone away (yet) and there's no reason to behave in bad faith about it.

While I get, totally, that the megathreads ending is a real and present loss for people, I personally believe some of the light in the dark will continue...as long as the revenue gap cortex recently shared is addressed. If you don't, okay, but...really? You think this decision was made because people can't handle bad world news?

As was pointed out above, it would cost $160k for a full time mod team for the megathread, and that's before health insurance which, by the way, is on the chopping block for the current staff if the revenue gap isn't addressed. I'm really kind of relieved that cortex and the team are willing to make what was probably a very emotional and difficult decision in order to try to free up resources to address the significant challenges the site is facing, as well as to continue to provide a liveable work situation for the team.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:30 PM on July 24 [30 favorites]


No, I'm upset, and angry.

Because the mods say this is what has to happen? Sorry, megathread was very important to me and many others in the community.

Is it trolling because I posted nothing to this thread as it developed? Waited til now for my disappointment to boil over? Bah

EDIT: This is what the Megathreads provided to many of us. Information about what's going on. I still think that is important to provide to the community. But, Catwoman!
posted by Windopaene at 5:31 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how much this is being emphasized already, but there's a really important connection between "The threads have been important/amazing/etc" and "The mods are overwhelmed", even if they sound like arguments for opposing positions: namely, the amazingness is clearly due, in so many ways, to the mods. Their effort translated directly into the benefits felt by the many people who benefited from the megathread, and for that I'm extremely grateful. Thank you so much, sincerely.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:32 PM on July 24 [41 favorites]


Is it trolling because I posted nothing to this thread as it developed? Waited til now for my disappointment to boil over? Bah

That comment comes off as somewhat snide and condescending, which is what people are reacting to. When I look at that link in this context, I think “I hope that without the Megathread there’s still a good way to use Metafilter to share stories like this one,” which I would guess is at least part of the sentiment underlying your comment.
posted by sallybrown at 5:35 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


that link is too much for the community/site to handle

So the constructive thing I would say about this is: consider framing it out as a post. Weigh the available context for it, look for some links, see what other dedicated threads we've had in the last couple months about border facility awfulness etc. Suss out whether it feels on the balance like something that should get its own thread; if so, give a post a shot. If not quite that much, keep it in the pocket as something to reference as a comment the next time a fairly topical post comes around.

These are the normal ways stuff has worked on MetaFilter for basically its whole existence. I sympathize, I really really fucking sympathize, with the way moving away from the megathread process is going to put folks on unsure footing about some of the details, just as moving to them in the first place a few years ago did.

But we aren't flipping a switch on the viability of discussing any of this stuff at all, and we're not moving into some strange untested waters: MeFi has had posts about hard stuff for years, and it will as long as it exists.

If you feel like that should be a post, it's okay to sit down and do the work to make it a post. But throwing it in here as some kind of protest gotcha, as if it's already been considered and rejected and that in turn proves something about MeFi or the need to move away from the megathread process, doesn't feel at all useful to me or like an attempt to engage with everything that's been said in the post and in this discussion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:38 PM on July 24 [27 favorites]


Windopaene, you posted five times before in this thread, so I have no idea what you're talking about with this: "I posted nothing to this thread as it developed? Waited til now for my disappointment to boil over?"

During those comments, you've consistently refused to read what others have written, including cortex, about why this decision was made, and yes, it's trolling if you make a comment saying you think the megathreads are ending because a link about a news story is "too much for the community/site to handle."

Many people have said that the megathreads are important to them and expressed their disappointment without insulting the entire userbase with shitty comments like that. Knock it off. Go back and read what cortex posted, and read his subsequent follow-ups.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:38 PM on July 24 [10 favorites]


Hit post right as your comment came in, cortex, and probably wrote my last sentence right as you wrote yours! I would not have posted mine had I seen yours — and I'll drop this particular topic.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:40 PM on July 24


I have read it. The moderation is too much for the mods to handle, seems to be the important point, that everyone seems to be okay with.

The folks who have posted about the important community the Megathreads have created, get dismissed... Hmm.

Tell me how our "community weblog" is going to hit this link, in the new plan. It won't. Will there be an active immigration thread? Maybe.

But, yeah, I'm trolling. More posts by the Whelk, whom I admire a lot, which, just from reading a sentance are obviously by the Whelk. But, random one liners in a megathread... NEEDS MODERATION!!!

Just really disappointed. I can get "the best of the web" from any number of shitty sites. Metafilter was special.

EDIT: Metafilter became MORE special by hosting the Megathreads
posted by Windopaene at 5:47 PM on July 24


So what is your counterproposal?
posted by Bugbread at 5:49 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


It's okay if you're disappointed. I have a lot of sympathy. But I feel like you're pivoting that disappointment into making uncharitable assertions and just dismissing the stuff I'm actually saying, and there's not really anything I can do with that.

If you're just frustrated and washing your hands of the whole thing, okay, but just give the thread a pass if/while that's where you're at because this isn't going to get anywhere.

As an aside: we need folks to not use the edit window to add/modify the content of comments after they go up. Fix typos, don't add new sentences etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:58 PM on July 24 [8 favorites]


I have no idea. Maybe the site can't survive as is. In which case, maybe it isn't what it used to be. It's always been an iffy proposition. Funny there wasn't a fund drive to save the megathreads...

I'm not the answer man. But I've read lots of posts in this thread that have said, essentially, "guess I won't be coming here/supporting any more".

The mods will have to view more threads to moderate, which won't incur any savings of time/money...

It's a fail, bodes poorly for the community's future, etc.

Or I'm a troll, and it will all be awesome...
posted by Windopaene at 5:58 PM on July 24


Sorry for edit abuse
posted by Windopaene at 5:59 PM on July 24


Apropos of no particular comments but of a general thread running through many, I'm reminded that site stability issues weren't the only thing that nearly led to Metafilter shutting down in 2002. Mod burnout over politics threads was at issue too. But instead of shutting down, new user signups were turned off two(?) days later--a resource-aware decision that set limits on multiple problems without really resolving them.

In hindsight, 2002 might have been an amazing year to go all-in and build something huge out of a problem that could have been spun in those days as too much user engagement. I don't know if 2019 will turn out to be a good year for something new to evolve elsewhere (the "self-directed alternatives" cortex and others have mentioned) or a missed opportunity here. But I understand the decision and sympathize with everyone trying to grapple with it.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:04 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


The mods will have to view more threads to moderate, which won't incur any savings of time/money...

Unlike an average MeFi thread, the megathreads require (more or less) mods to sort of be reading along as they're happening. This is what cortex meant in the original post about "fracturing site expectations." Megathreads had their own rules, rules that don't apply elsewhere on the site. Which is one of the things that can contribute to this site seeming unwelcoming or opaque to newer members which is in and of itself a barrier to inclusivity. Eliminating megathreads doesn't automatically make the site more inclusive, certainly, but it does mean that more of the site (absent MetaTalk) is operating under the same set of guidelines.

This is easier for mods, easier for members. Even if mods were reading the exact same number of comments, which they won't be, they will, by and large, be in slower-moving threads that have the same expectations as everywhere else on the site.

The mods did a decent job trying to accommodate people who really wanted megathreads to exist. However in doing so they set up a different guideline and rule structure in order to keep that system going. Made sense at the time, I felt, but eliminating them will absolutely save mod time (and, by extension, money). It's an open question if that can be used to help with some of the other problems facing the site, but it's a move worth trying, and worth trying before 2020 elections really start ramping up. I wasn't part of this decision, so I hope it doesn't seem like I'm just like "Our mods, right or wrong" but I do understand the issues they're facing and they're sincerely difficult.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:09 PM on July 24 [34 favorites]


Hi! Long-time non-US lurker, just joined. I have usually kept a megathread window open for the past couple years to follow along, and lurked for many years prior to that. Thanks everyone for your contributions.

I generally agree with most of the comments above, discordant as they might be. I am pro-decommissioning, for what it's worth. I will probably pay more attention to other threads and other parts of the site now. Thanks everyone, including all of you that have let us hear your contrary opinions recently, and in years past. And thanks to everyone for all the posts - whether I enjoy them personally or not. I would not want a site with only posts fitting my tastes. It would be boring (to me). Metafilter continues to show a peculiar talent of aggregating high-quality content. It is the only place on the internet where, by default, I read the comments.

I particularly appreciate jessamyn's comment describing this in the language of triage. The community (including mods) can obviously handle a lot, but the site and staff are limited in resources, and in the middle of some substantial turbulence. Thanks mods.

Over the years, I have been amazed at the culture of reciprocal respect, dignity, and general human goodness that Metafilter nurtures in its various parts. Reading the site has, I think, helped me mature as a person. The megathreads, especially considering the often horrifying content they discuss, have not been an exception to this. I want to recognize the substantial community goodness that persists despite current concerns. The fact the this community can wrestle with so much, while maintaining such recognizable compassion, respect, and dignity is remarkable. So, I chose to opt in to participation now.
posted by sillyman at 6:14 PM on July 24 [29 favorites]


[Again, Windopaene, give the thread a pass at this point.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:17 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


But, Catwoman!

Using a post about a black woman’s career as an example of something that is trivial is not a great way to show that megathreads are the only way to tackle social issues on metafilter.
posted by snofoam at 6:24 PM on July 24 [54 favorites]


As a non-megathread reader, a quick curiosity question: There have been multiple comments about megathreads having different rules. Is there some link to the megathread rules/guidelines?
posted by Bugbread at 6:24 PM on July 24


Bugbread, probably the most centralized info there is stuff outlined in the late 2017 "Resetting Expectations" post and stuff discussed in this late 2018 MetaTalk post.

Beyond that, there's a been a lot of MetaTalk discussion and even occasional in-line discussion in megathreads themselves. But some of the difficulty has come from those things coming along as emergent guidelines and expectations, sometime explicitly outlined by the mod team but often as much as anything as ad hoc and usually incomplete consensus among participants and readers.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:31 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


> This is a long thread and I don't want it to become a one-on-one argument about word choice

I don't think we're running out of Internet, but if we are, I don't think we hit the breaking point after your post, but before my response. If you're going to call out a comment of mine, I have every right to respond to it if I feel you're mischaracterizing me.

> but it's hard to call 'I can also walk and chew gum at the same time' anything but dismissive.

This isn't merely about "word choice". Directly engaging with someone's argument that megathread participation is zero-sum is just about the direct opposite of being dismissive of that argument. A member cited their experience with the megathreads getting in the way of their activism, as many others have done previously. In response, I cited the experiences of others (including myself) who had their activism sparked by the megathreads, or had the impact of their activism amplified by them, or had their battery recharged by participating in them. Never did I say the other member's feelings about the relationship between their own participation and activism were invalid.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:34 PM on July 24


Sunsetting the megathreads is a good call. And I’m pretty sure when the final one locks I will hear the mods popping champagne corks across the Pacific.
posted by um at 6:35 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Suggestion: Folks who really posted to the metathreads and/or found them useful should make a weblog where they can continue posting said links. When it's up and running, post it in Projects and i'm sure it'll be a source of front page posts on Mefi.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:46 PM on July 24 [12 favorites]


I don't consider closing the megathreads down something to celebrate, just something that is at this point necessary to keep stuff functioning at all. For now the mods are just hoping to get some more needed work done on the site and in the MeFi community.

I'll pop a cork when Trump's out of office and the nazis are fucking off properly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:47 PM on July 24 [60 favorites]


I’ve enjoyed the megathreads but I welcome this decision because of the positive impact it’s likely to have on the mods. Hopefully this decision will also allow cortex to focus on the enormous and fundamental challenge of MetaFilter’s financial viability.

The series of MetaTalk posts this month have been illuminating and reflective of cortex’s willingness to open serious, in some cases existential, issues to community input. I’ve been grateful for all the various discussions.

As I see it, MetaFilter faces a fundamental existential issue: the inadequacy of its revenue to fund its expenses. We’ve discussed this ad nauseam but I’d love to see cortex prioritize that as THE most important issue to confront head on.

Others might disagree, but the second most serious issue I see is the risk of moderator burnout. I’m on record as stating that the expectations of the moderators are unsustainable, and I stand by that. It’s an exceptionally demanding job and our mods are human and imperfect yet still among the best I’ve seen on the internet. Well-moderated discussions (even if we quibble about the quality of that moderation) make this site special. I’d love to see the addition of a POC as a moderator as a significant priority. I’d love to see more mods, and more diverse mods at that, as a general proposition, both to ease the burdens on the staff and to offer new and valuable perspectives. Until MetaFilter is on more solid financial footing, though, those can’t be the highest priorities, important as they are.

Literally every other issue confronting the site, no matter how important (and making the site welcoming to everyone and making a hard decision about the megathreads are examples of INCREDIBLY important matters), won’t matter if there isn’t a solid business plan first and foremost.

Mods, thanks for everything you do to make this such a neat place.

Thanks to all who contributed so extensively to the megathreads.

cortex, thank you for your thoughtful and reasonable explanation for the discontinuation of the politics megathreads. Thank you for making a hard decision that hopefully will make life easier for the mods. May I implore you now to focus on the “hair on fire” emergency that is the site’s lack of a business plan?
posted by cheapskatebay at 6:52 PM on July 24 [18 favorites]


I have read a lot of chunks of Megathread over the last 3 years, commented a bit sporadically. I got some value out of them, but also a lot of heartburn over people relitigating the primaries in like every single thread, etc.

The data crunching work people have done is pretty telling, though. It seems like Megathreads have always been performative to some extent and are only getting moreso. If just 13 commenters provide a huge chunk of the words and a lot of us are more regular lurkers, it seems like the really active core should put together a blog or a podcast or something. I would subscribe.

I know putting a whole new thing together is no easy task, but the numbers suggest that this is not really a conversation as such, but more of a panel discussion with limited audience participation. That's not really what MetaFilter is for, and maybe that's why the Megathreads have always felt like a tacked-on semi-solution.
posted by rikschell at 6:52 PM on July 24 [5 favorites]


If we're going to flag certain behaviors as dismissive, I'd appreciate it if "using the word 'performative' to describe a conversation about the life-and-death issues that directly affect the participants in the discussion" could be added to the list.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:03 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


I know putting a whole new thing together is no easy task, but the numbers suggest that this is not really a conversation as such, but more of a panel discussion with limited audience participation.

This talk of making a new thing strikes me as just coming to terms with loss, and its why I'm not interested in a replacement. If there's not a sustainable solution for this to exist with an preexisting infrastructure of an established user base and culture, site architecture, and paid moderators, expecting to just start up a replacement with none of that is really a nonstarter. And it's why the actual numbers mentioned above put this all in a bit of depressing context, 13 people feeding a potential audience of 300-500, with maybe a maximum of half that willing to pay costs to spin off something new and unproven, is not a viable plan. Those numbers more than anything else said here make me want to direct my efforts into something else, maybe not even online based.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:08 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


As I mentioned above, I registered the megathread.org domain just in case folks here want to use it to build a new venue for the megathread subcommunity. It looks like I could set up a Wordpress blog through my provider, Dreamhost, relatively easily. However, I have no experience as a web administrator, and I don't really have much personal interest in sinking a lot of time into this project, and am willing to transfer the domain to any Mefite or Mefites who have a good idea for how to use it.

I would be thrilled if the most prolific megathread posters wanted to come together and create a group blog at this domain. The comment threads for such a blog can be structured very similarly to Metafilter comment threads, and I don't see any reason those who love the megathreads couldn't seamlessly transition to such a space. Of course there would need to be some adjustments (user accounts, figuring out how to live without Metafilter's professional mod team, etc.) But this would only work if the core group of most prolific megathread commenters are willing to make it work.

So far I haven't received any memails about this domain, and if there's no interest in this idea I'm not going to push it. I had to stop reading the megathreads some time ago, but I really appreciated the news round-ups and analysis when I did.
posted by biogeo at 7:24 PM on July 24 [15 favorites]


I have been a regular megathread reader and got a ton out of them. That said,

I am sorry for people who are losing something they've enjoyed
I am sorry for people who are losing something they've grown to need
I am sorry for the mods who have been pushed beyond their limits,
and I am sorry for the mods because of the pain that will come from enforcing this new policy
I am sorry for users of this site who found their overall enjoyment hurt by the existence of the megathreads

Remember folks, this is Metafilter: We're all in this together.
posted by jermsplan at 7:37 PM on July 24 [17 favorites]


I find the newsletter idea intriguing and would like to subscribe.
posted by maxwelton at 7:57 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


That’s some cool data right there. I’d love to have a look at that list!

I've updated my profile to include the top domains and twitter accounts linked to in the megathreads. I had to massage the data pretty hard to get the domain list so that part isn't link-ified like the twitter accounts are.

----------

And I sort of feel like the segment of people who Are Doing The Site Wrong have been encouraged here to find other more appropriate outlets or platforms. If that not's how it was intended, it's how it was received.

I don't mean to take up too much space here but I would like to reiterate the possibility that the current workflow for composing megathread FPPs could fit in the new world without too much change. It just needs an extra step in which links are clustered or grouped into topic threads. In fact, some megathread FPPs already have clustered link roundups; it seems to me like breaking each link cluster up into its own focused thread could be in the spirit of the changes the mods are looking for (though I hope a mod corrects me if I'm wrong about this).

The other change implied by this is that, in the current megathreads, if someone has a link to a new story not related to existing links, they would just drop it in the thread, whereas in the new workflow I'm imagining that new link would go either in its own post or, if it's too thin for that, into the wiki to await more information to be clustered with into a topic post.

I hope that the current set of megathread posters and commenters feels welcome in the rest of the site in a post-megathread world. I really think topic threads could accommodate the politics-discussion needs of the userbase. So far, they seem to be working well- though of course it's hard to say whether or how that might change after the megathreads go away.
posted by Jpfed at 8:11 PM on July 24 [11 favorites]


It just needs an extra step in which links are clustered or grouped into topic threads.

This totally makes sense to me. It's basically just group developing the kind of post that (for example) kliuless does.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:15 PM on July 24 [7 favorites]


> the problem was not a privileged class of commenters, the problem was a structure in which eliminating any hint of asymmetry was impossible while depending on folks’ inconsistent self-control rather than outright draconian top-down control of every single comment.

Well, I think maybe it can be a bit of both? I agree with you on the latter part, for sure. My only reason for being a bit more insistent that the first one actually is a thing is because I definitely perceived that the same people would post the same "forbidden" things time after time. I suppose it's possible that they added some value to the thread that I wasn't perceiving, but mostly, it was just a venting of "welp, we're fucked" or similar. And I get that, we definitely kind of are right now, but repeated over time, that sort of repetitive "we're fucked" can have a really negative effect on the threads and the readers, which is why I presume "fucking fuck" was created.

I'm not talking about the occasional venting, because things are most DEFINITELY fucked up right now, and that's gonna happen. But when you see the same people do the same things repeatedly - things that have actually had separated threads created for that explicit purpose, and they keep doing the same thing thread after thread after thread - well, I wouldn't call that inconsistent self-control, that's what I would call incredibly consistent behavior. That sort of thing is why it may seem like there is a "privileged class."

Interestingly enough, I feel like one of the best ways to deal with this via what you are doing is by having the discussion be more topical and focused... Just having "a megathread" in of itself is inherently non-topical, and having it as a thing we do here is an excuse for the same people to hit the '---> NEW THREAD --->' link blindly, ignore the incredibly well put together post itself, (you don't need them if you've followed the thread every day, right?) and just continue the exact same conversation in a new post. I say this as someone who is not innocent here.

It's kind of hard to call ANYTHING non-topical in the megathread, just because it is what it is - the fact that it's constantly referred to as "the megathread" is telling in of itself. Because it's a continuation of a continuation of a continuation, it's really no surprise the same arguments and types of comments need to be moderated again and again, which is OF COURSE going to cause burn-out. I cannot count how many versions of "we are NOT relitigating the 2016 primaries" I have seen. I dread the idea of a megathread when the 2020 primaries come around.

I say all of this to say that I totally support the topical shift, I think it's a good one, and it's more true to how this site has operated for a long time - and I think it's naturally upsetting to a lot of us because it's breaking up a group that has been bonding for some time, where we've seen value in what each other has to say, but there's no reason we can't preserve that into other topical threads. I'm at least willing to see it out, and I don't think there will be any shortage of topics for some time that we could discuss.

On preview:
> It just needs an extra step in which links are clustered or grouped into topic threads.
Yeah, I agree here. I think the things we are posting can absolutely go in topical threads. But I also won't be surprised if it just evolves into "---> NEW THREADS HERE, HERE, AND HERE --->"
posted by MysticMCJ at 8:30 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Just a reminder, we don't run the wiki in any way. Pronoiac is the current wiki-runner, as far as I'm aware.

Aside, but: I had no idea that the wiki was run by a third party (I was a bit surprised that MeFi management would leave a dangling low-use service running, and have a different domain for it, but what do I know).

I wish I hadn't made an account there now. The wiki doesn't use HTTPS and whoever runs it can see your IP etc. Presumably your password is hashed in storage on the wiki, but if you re-use your MeFi password it could still be a problem. I would avoid it. My last edit was to actually add the not-operated-by-MeFi information to the home page in bold and scramble my password. Yeah, the info is in the FAQ but also the wiki is linked in the header or footer of every page so one can be forgiven for being confused I think.

For this same reason whoever makes a private /r/mefipolitics or whatever should really avoid using the MeFi name even though it's a convenient shorthand.
posted by sylvanshine at 9:00 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


"It looks like I could set up a Wordpress blog through my provider, Dreamhost..."

That's my provider, as well. I'm basically almost a couple of decades antiquated now and to build and admin something like this would force me to reacquaint/learn some stuff I'm past being motivated to do. Even so, I'm from the days of building things from scratch and the advent of CMSs and these days everything is so much more mature and modular and packaged now so in some respects I think things are much easier than they were in my day. But...this stopped being fun for me a while back.

My bigger concern if, say, I were to host it would be the total cost. I just happened to be looking at the Dreamhost site admin stuff last night and I have some hosting plan I'd never heard of because they've kept changing things while still sort of grandfathering. I've got a few parked domains I don't want to give up because they are TLDs of my seven-letter customary username. Surely a text site would remain within the cheapest tier for dB and bandwidth, but I'm so outdated and haven't paid attention I don't have a clue. I live below the federal poverty level, so I worry about such things.

That's too much information, probably, but like you I've been feeling while reading this thread that a lot of people want something that's closely affiliated with MeFi, except informally -- it seems like it could be possible to implement something (relatively) seamless for the megathread users. I'm not one of them, but I take their unhappiness seriously.

I'd really like you to go ahead and make that post you planned in a few days so that the feasibility can be discussed and some possible ideas considered. There are the two of us thinking about this kind of solution and numerous others have made suggestions. I think it's very much worth discussing, especially by the motivated portion of the user base, because it's up to them/us and there's clearly a demand. Maybe it is unrealistic. But we should discuss it with the group of interested mefites and see if it makes sense and could be done. And we should definitely discuss whether no or little moderation could work and if that would have ramifications for MetaFilter itself.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:06 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


FWIW the wiki's always been run by a trusted MeFite; it is offsite software so caveat emptor as far as that goes but it's not some rando, just not something that MeFi itself directly operates.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:13 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


"I find the newsletter idea intriguing and would like to subscribe."

Wouldn't it be kind of fun to just make a megathread listserv daily digest? Talk about going old school.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:14 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Just chiming in to say I didn't actively participate in the megathreads, but I was a frequent reader, and so this is a serious blow. I know I'm not the first to say this, but I'll add to the chorus that there have been times in the past 4 years that this place has been a sanity saver.

This feels like a loss when it comes to hoping for a more moderated and civil internet. If Metafilter can't effectively do it, then I'm pretty sure it's not going to work anywhere else. I am skeptical of offsite replacements (not to say they are all bad ideas, I too would subscribe to any created blogs or newsletters that arise from thread participants), because if it's not working here, with paid moderation and all the advantages here, I don't think it will go well elsewhere.

I guess the numbers are the numbers, but I have to think the audience was much larger than the number of commenters. I would like to think I can't be that unique in reading but not commenting, but maybe I'm an odd duck.

I am not a heavy commenter in general, but I do love this site deeply, and so I support whatever direction it moves in. I very much hope this provides respite for the mods.

It's a shame we live in a world where something like these threads can't exist because they were special. They were a place of sanity and crowdsourced analysis that went beyond anything else found online or elsewhere.

There's a weird situation here where Metafilter's moderating expenses create an incentive structure where less site participation potentially creates cost savings. I've made a living running websites and web publishing, but I still wouldn't consider myself an expert since every situation is unique - that said, I don't know that a structure like that is going to end well. Revenue should be tied to maintaining and increasing membership - new creations like political megathreads should be positive events for the site vs. the situation now where it seems like Metafilter lives or dies based on how much Google likes Ask Metafilter.

Again, I support the decision solely because it sounds like the mods need it, but I think it's very optimistic to think this is going to fix any of the other issues with the site, as some posters seem convinced will happen.
posted by imabanana at 9:16 PM on July 24 [32 favorites]


If you are going to do something like wordpress or any other self hosted blog/forum, you will need good spam prevention at minimum, you will want to ensure that you have some barrier to make signing up for an account something that can't just be scripted (something the MeFi fee does other than just pay for the site) and if it's something that takes off, you may find yourself very unhappy with how you may need to scale up to deal with it. If you want to be at the point where you can handle as much traffic as the megafilter threads, you may be surprised how much care these things need.

I'm presently running a top 500 site that's based off of drupal, and have run large sites using phpbb, joomla, and many other forum/blog frameworks, as well as a couple of really ill conceived dating sites based off of open source software. They are all fine for a really small community, but scaling them much larger can be challenging and is often more than just "run the same thing, but bigger". You also have to stay way on top of security updates, and you have to have an eye out for things like compromised user accounts, etc. - and that's without getting into moderation duties.

That's also without getting into things like ensuring you have at least backups, but a way of ensuring site continuity if something does go wrong. And it will, and often in ways you don't expect. You may find that a simple misconfiguration has lead to facebook/google scraping your site aggressively, running up bandwidth and usage charges, or you may suddenly find that you are hosting a bunch of tor links and cryptic messages. You may find a lot of user information disclosed. The most important thing is to make sure you have a way of knowing if these things actually happen, and you will want to be monitoring for anomalies as well.

If you can't dedicate the time to the system level stuff, you will want to find a fully hosted solution - Don't run one on your own on a random VPS unless you are incredibly sure what you are doing and prepared for the worst. All of the major frameworks have a lot of moving parts, and while coding practices are generally better than they used to be, the surface area for an exploit is much larger, and publicly available sites that haven't been hardened - and I mean much more than just basic password sanity here - are giant targets for drive-by exploits. This can be as simple as having someone post a bunch of spammy comments to being used as a mail relay for spam to being used as an unwilling/unknowing repository for a bunch of things you probably don't want your name attached to.

I apologize if you already know much of this, I'm not trying to talk down or anything - It may be an easy thing to just install the software on a provider and get it running, but keeping it running safely and dealing with the things that do come up is the much harder part, be it something that needs moderation, or be it something worse - and it may demand more of your time and attention than you expect.
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:34 PM on July 24 [10 favorites]


Following the idea of spinning up a new site, is the MetaFilter code still something that could be copied and implemented elsewhere, even as an old version?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:41 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


MeFi codebase is a big idiosyncratic beast and not sanitized for public consumption. Wouldn't be a good choice for anything other than literally cloning MeFi itself, definitely overkill for a more single-focus project.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:45 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Jrun closed connection
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:50 PM on July 24 [6 favorites]


I'll be honest, given the age of the site, I've always assumed that the whole thing is running on a bunch of cleverly written obfuscated perl scripts that literally nobody wants to ever touch again. A cursory investigation shows that the site is setting CFTOKEN and CFID - which is bringing back horrible memories of cold fusion. I'm ASSUMING that we aren't running on CF, at least not at this point. I don't think you'd want to fork that. :)

I'm going to re-recommend discourse, as it really has been the least awful of any I've used from a consumer perspective, and for all the reasons I listed above, I still am pushing you all towards a fully managed solution. If you can't find a way to pay the $100/$300/whatever it scales to in whatever model you see for launching this, then I doubt you will be able to make it work at scale anywhere. If you are generally uncomfortable with a fully managed solution because it's "someone else's computer" I totally understand, but unless you are in a position in which you can dedicate compute, storage and bandwidth under your control to this IN ADDITION to the time and dedication to run the site, you are going to be using AWS or another cloud provider at best anyways.

Sadly, a few years back, I would have been in a great position to dedicate bandwidth, compute, and storage, but I am no longer. I ran a few datacenters, and one of the perks was that I was given leeway to dedicate some of our older (but still very capable) equipment to "community functions" like mirrors, forums, etc. There was a lot of flexibility here. It's a shame that job went completely to shit. But that is also a risk that anyone else who would be in a similar position to donate computer, storage, and bandwidth would likely be in.

If it's not happening out of someones goodwill, something has to pay the bills. It may seem cheap to think "hey, I can stand up a VPS running a database and phpbb!" at first, but I can assure you that it isn't in the long run.

Which brings me back to discourse and friends.

I'll admit that I'm biased, but some of the best communities I've seen outside of MeFi have been around the synth community - elektronauts in particular - and many of the sites heavily use discourse. The ones that don't are the ones where gear wars erupt often, and also tend to have more issues.

It's still, you know, just a forum - but it already works great on all modern devices, has infinite scrolling without pagination, etc - it isn't perfect, but it's one of the best options if you aren't in a position to dedicate the time to managing it yourself. Whatever money you think you will save managing it on your own, unless you live and breath this shit and you are in a privileged position where you can totally dedicate time to it without regard for income, you will spend tenfold in the longrun, or simply collapse due to load/exploits/etc.

I would be happy to contribute to running such a thing if we have decided that is the only option, but I think we should give the topical stuff a go first, personally. I think it may not be as bad as some of us predict.
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:02 PM on July 24 [10 favorites]


> Wouldn't it be kind of fun to just make a megathread listserv daily digest? Talk about going old school.

Oh my god, that's such an awful/great idea that I totally want this to happen. The crazy thing is that it could work. I am still on a couple of (very niche) listservs that are active and feel very much like a community.
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:07 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Politicsfilter did once exist as a Metafilter clone.

Did Matt spin off that site, or was it someone else? I don't see it listed on the MeFi Wiki of Mefi Clones or similar websites, and I'm failing to find it referenced on prior MetaTalk threads beyond passing references (a comment in 2009, for example), and I can't find a mirror of it on Archive.org.


Yeah, this was a real thing. A user owned the site separately and ran it, but he got the code from Matt and worked with him to get it up and running. For a while it was heavily promoted on Metafilter. I want to say it was up and running sometime during the Bush years, maybe earlier.
posted by xammerboy at 10:23 PM on July 24


It was politicalfilter.com; long defunct and the archive.org snapshot is a broken, unstyled mess, but here's an early 2009 snapshot.

It's something Brandon Blatcher built, not based off the MeFi code as I recall but just a style-alike on some CMS. Here's 2008 Projects post announcing it, and an earlier AskMe exploring the idea.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:30 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Anyways, TLDR on running your own site - If metafilter being a paid site can't make the megathreads work, I'm really curious how others think this will work in a format that will actually pay for itself and is also well moderated using off the shelf software that is known to be a magnet for malicious activity.

Despite the somewhat unhealthy relationship with the megathread that I have, I really do wish it would stay the same, y'all... I know I've complained about some repeat offenders, but I really love every one of you. But the reality is that without some serious benefactors commiting to at least a year and a half (I'm optimistic) of paying for extra moderation with no strings attached, I don't see how it does. We can talk the talk, but unless we have a gofundme that can pay for the additional cost here (of funding mefi for temp extra staffing OR for another site) I have to agree with the decisions being made here, as I don't see another option.

I've always wondered how the megathreads would end... Let's be honest here, if I1 was impeached today, would this end? Will it end if we have a Democratic lead executive office next election? I don't think it would - there's still a lot of horrible shit going on that's going to take a long time to unravel, and if $NOT_PREFERRED_CANDIDATE wins, then we could easily be talking about the same things for at least the next administration - Even if we somehow installed $PREFERRED_DEMOCRATIC_CANDIDATE into office fight now, things wouldn't suddenly be fine - the best case is that we would end up discussing the horrible things on a more topical basis. Which is what we are doing here now.

Bottom line is that I've been here for 14 years (HOLY SHIT) and I loved you all before the megathreads, we still had good long threads before the megathreads, and we'll continue to do so. Every regular on these threads - even the ones I complain about (and chances are I still love you regardless) - you are all part of the same conversations that happened before we ever hit critical mass. I think we will be OK. If you don't believe me AND you are a long-timer, check out some of your older comments - pre megathread - and re-read the threads. You may be surprised to see that it doesn't look as different from now as you may think.
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:30 PM on July 24 [8 favorites]


MysticMCJ, I appreciate the thoughts. I'm aware of some but not all of that, and aware of how much I'm not aware of, so it's certainly helpful. Dreamhost offers a "1-click" installation of Wordpress that theoretically gives sane security settings as a default, but I am definitely not prepared for, or interested in, a high-intensity admin workload. But perhaps one or a few of the regular megathread denizens are, and I'd like to provide an antidote to the sense that because the megathreads are closing on Metafilter, that community is necessarily dissolved.

Ivan Fyodorovich, thanks for the prompt to move forward with a planning post. I was debating internally whether it seemed worth going forward with. I'm actually feeling in a bit of an odd place about this, as I stopped reading the megathreads some time ago and am no longer closely tuned into that subcommunity, but the feelings of defeat and grief that a lot of of folks here are expressing is really troubling and I'd like to do what I can to help show that just because Metafilter can't do this any more, doesn't mean that it can't be done in a different way, and doesn't mean that community has to dissolve. (I also think that Metafilter calving off child communities from time to time is probably ultimately good for Metafilter and makes the whole Internet a richer place, and would like to see that model succeed.) I have some thoughts and opinions about what may work as a starting point, at least, but I'd also be quite happy if someone more personally invested in the megathreads wanted to take the lead. I also am utterly lacking in financial resources of my own to throw at this (I'm not at poverty level, but the $14 domain registration was not a trivial expense for me), and honestly if I had them I'd probably invest in Metafilter proper first, so anything requiring significant expense is going to require a benefactor or community funding.

But, if there is interest in pursuing this but no one else feels they have a good sense of how to get the thing started, I'd be happy to try to foster that discussion with a more targeted Metatalk post. I've got one half-drafted anyway.
posted by biogeo at 10:44 PM on July 24 [5 favorites]


FWIW, the contemporary, readable code base that in my mind yields a clean and simple UI fairly close to Metafilter's (but closer to HN's) would be the one for lobste.rs, available here. I've never written more than a line of Ruby, and I think I already see where to sort an index page by newest rather than by upvotes. Turning off downvotes, moving the comment window down, and turning off comment-specific replies would probably also be straightforward. I think user signups by default require invitations from existing users, addressing at least one common issue with running a forum. Leaving downvotes in place for a set of trusted users might work as a shared moderation scheme.

As a relevant point of comparison, the WhatTheFuckJustHappenedToday community site (i.e. forums, not the news page) seems to use Discourse.
posted by Wobbuffet at 10:48 PM on July 24 [5 favorites]


The more I think about it, the less clear I am on how this change is going to work. The megathreads were created in the first place because of the proliferation of politics posts, so we can't go back to that. So then there will either be continual mod work deleting FPPs for whatever reasons they can come up with to keep it down, or the mods expect that eventually users will become discouraged from posting about political topics unless it's a super-important, once-a-month level event? But even if there are just a few threads, in order for there to be less mod work in total, is the assumption that these will be on such specific topics that mods will be deleting a much larger percentage of comments, and that eventually users will learn this and only comment occasionally? I honestly don't know how it's going to succeed (ie, be easier to maintain than the megathreads), except via discouraging hundreds of users from posting and making comments. Otherwise it's just dispersed the issue, as well as creating new ones that the megathreads were intended to fix, such as long arguments about whether, eg, comments about what Trump said in China about his state taxes counts as sufficiently on-topic for a thread about Mueller, say.

Really, it just seems like there will be a defacto megathread (as the Mueller one is now), or maybe two, at any given time, with the most active users simply working a bit harder to make their news items fit into the theme.

Heck, here's a solution then: defactomegathread.com is available. Someone should just buy it, and on the parking page put the url for whatever the defacto megathread is on any given day. That way everyone will know and can coordinate, and I'm sure if we choose the one most central to the week's news, 90% of what would have been posted on an official megathread can be worked in there. Problem solved.
posted by chortly at 11:00 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


No-one else remember warfilter? (wayback machine link)
posted by thatwhichfalls at 11:05 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I seem to recall the megathreads grew out of live blogging the primaries and debates in 2016 so we should not do that in 2020, subsite for engaged users seems good idea.
posted by vrakatar at 11:06 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


If there is need for a megathread equivalent after Jan 2021 (lets be fair, shit's gonna go down after November 2020 either way) I may never stop screaming.
posted by Marticus at 11:21 PM on July 24 [7 favorites]


More seriously than my previous comment, I would definitely support standing up an alternative forum. If it was possible, I would sincerely ask the mods to delay the cancellation of the megathreads for a couple more weeks to give a little time to get it up and running. Two other thoughts:

1) Peer moderation in political forums is incredibly hard. It always leads to acrimony, factions, flouncing, and all the rest. Anyone considering standing this up had better be ready for that. It is inescapable; hoping it doesn't happen is not a plan, you need to have a plan for dealing with it when it does inevitably and repeatedly happen.

2) The reason the megathreads work at all here, apart from the mods, is the very specific community of people. A new forum will utterly fail if it is immediately flooded with outsiders. To avoid that, it seems imperative that a new site only allow registered MF users, perhaps in the manner described by phearlez above. Otherwise it had better have a really powerful and active mod system or it will be flooded with trolls.

On preview, one additional minor thought: All the great intentional communities, online and off, were born in circumstances like these, budding from previous and somehow limited earlier communities. A new forum could really be not just a make-do political holding area, but a wonderful community in its own right if we can do it right.
posted by chortly at 11:21 PM on July 24 [7 favorites]


I'm ASSUMING that we aren't running on CF, at least not at this point.

Oh ho ho, you know what happens when you assume.
posted by silby at 11:29 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


I think the off-mefi implementation proposals are bit of a derail, tbh. maybe a thread on system aims, if the devs want to take it that way. pretty early/fuzzy for spitballing design options. IMHO (ducks). I think I'd like to hear more proposals for how we could make it work here. dunno. thoughts?
posted by j_curiouser at 11:37 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Wobbuffet: "Mod burnout over politics threads was at issue too"

Interesting to see in that very old post from 2002 that then it was (apparently) possible to see deleted comments.
posted by crazy with stars at 11:40 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Afaik Metafilter is most definitely still running on ColdFusion.
posted by KTamas at 11:58 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Remember folks, this is Metafilter: We're all in this together.

Are we though? Because the mods decided to close the megathreads because they are unsustainable, Metafilter cannot afford them. The megathread users completely understand that. We all know how much trouble Metafilter is having with figuring out a sustainable revenue model. Nobody disputes that or begrudges the mod team or the site for having to make hard financial decisions to keep a valuable website going. I think everybody wishes they could give more, or find a benefactor to support the site, or something.

At the same time, the decision to close the megathreads is met in this thread with an outpouring of relief that people who don't like the megathreads no longer have to put up with them, much of which is couched in an implicit judgement of the people who used and found value in the threads as being the cause of the sites problems at worst and at best as wasting their time and effort in delusion to no real effect, simply replicating aggregations of links.

The goal of the mod team to fix this financial and manpower shortfall is to discontinue the threads without any resolution to the reason the threads exist to begin with. Either the problem which created them will reemerge in a proliferation of political threads, or more likely the mod team will have to begin active censorship of political discussion which falls below a certain threshold of gravity or importance. I do not think this solution will work because I don't think either of those are healthy situations. But the reaction of the aggrieved portion of the site readership is to reintegrate this "sub-community" (which thought itself simply part of the community) back into an acceptable form of commentary. And if that can't be done, the solution is for this sub-community to go somewhere else.

So I think there are two crosscurrents here. There's the closing of these threads because they are too expensive; then there is the derogation of this sub-group by other commenters. Not because this sub-group is unhealthily concerned with some personal bugbear, or trolling, but because they hurt the site by reminding people of the fascist crap heap the world is becoming.

I think the first current is understandable. I think the second is a shame. One of the reasons I read and then joined Metafilter was because it had an inclusive, intelligent political community.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:24 AM on July 25 [21 favorites]


It's a community, but "community" doesn't mean "total consensus." There have always been conflicts in what people think MeFi is for. I remember taking part in the Great (Actually Tiny) "Single Link Posts Are Terrible" vs. "Single Link Posts Are Great" battles of yesteryear.

Also, honestly, I don't think it's just "people who read and loved megathreads" versus "people who hated them." There are doubtlessly lots of people who are in the middle, but they're not reading the thread, because why would you read the thread if you didn't have Strong Feelings either way?

Well, I mean, at least one person here is doing that, but I feel like maybe I'm a bit of an outlier here.
posted by Bugbread at 12:38 AM on July 25 [12 favorites]


Shortly before the LinkFilter site was decommissioned in the mid 2000s, several of us regulars that were really committed to the community we’d established there decided to set up a secondary site, called LinkPirate. (There was no software piracy or anything. It was just named that because we found most of our content from other sites, as was the style at the time.)

I registered the domain name and paid the hosting costs on GoDaddy. With some help from one of our members, and a lot of personal time studying this new thing called Drupal, we were able to put together a reasonable facsimile of the LinkFilter experience, though with considerably less technical flair.

The LinkPirate site was locked, and accessible only by registered members. Registration was only via prior membership in LinkFilter, or with a recommendation from a LinkFilter member.

The site lasted for about two years, until the very sort of issues that MysticMCJ enumerated above led to an accumulation of technical cruft that it couldn’t be sustained. Here are some things I learned from that experience:

1. Everything that MysticMCJ said, squared. Because we didn’t have paid technical staff, we relied on the cobbled-together bits of time and expertise from the two members that were technically savvy enough to handle every new Perl quirk we encountered, or the new software or browser quirk that Drupal manifested, or whatever. It wasn’t enough. It seemed every month required some new coding, and our volunteers had their own, regular work to do. At one point, some new browser caused our chat room to stop scrolling text, and we’re like: okay, our volunteers don’t have the bandwidth to track down and fix this problem, so now what? The chat room was never fixed after that.

2. Which leads to the second big deal, which is that volunteers get burned out, or have other life priorities, or whatever. And when your skill sets are spread thinly to begin with, the loss of just one highly engaged volunteer can seriously threaten the whole endeavor. You can’t just go out and hire a replacement for those skills, because you really have nothing to incentivize a new volunteer — who has not previously been a member — to come do free work for your community.

3. Attenuating new member registration by linking it to the original feeder site was a blessing and a curse. It definitely kept our discussion threads free from trolls and spam, which made the mod load almost nonexistent. However, once the feeder site went defunct, and after the rush of new members fleeing the sinking ship, we lost our main potential new member source. By word of mouth, we were able to encourage a handful of friends to join after that, but it wasn’t enough to offset the slow attrition of members that occurs as a natural part of any online community. After a point, we stopped having a critical mass of participants to generate the kind of energy and variety that attracted many of us to the community in the beginning. And once the chat room stopped working, without having viable options to get it fixed, we knew it was time to pull the plug.

4. All of which is to say: if any third party site is not actively promoted or featured on MeFi, at least until it reaches some critical mass to be self-sustaining, then it’s a good bet that the membership, energy and interest in that third-party site will soon shift into a decay spiral. Given the enormous amount of either money/time/expertise required to get something like that off the ground, it’s a daunting prospect for any potential investor of those resources, when faced with such a possible outcome.

So, that being said, I’d tend to view setting up a technically demanding, third-party site to be so impractical that it doesn’t satisfy the criteria for sustainability. Which is why I’d much prefer a solution that leverages some pre-existing, low-tech forum tools that can be tweaked to give us, say, 80% of what we feel we need in a discussion board, while minimizing risk as much as possible.

I really like the user-editable wiki as a model. Perhaps with a new Journal page posted every week, letting verified users add time-stamped comments and links to the bottom of the page. A team of volunteer moderators to do clean-up. Something like MeFiWiki seems like it could come pretty close to the current megathread experience if it were configure this way.

How feasible would this be to set up without requiring too much technical or financial overhead? How feasible would it be for MeFi to host it, and link to it, if specific funds were raised to offset costs of hosting? (Forgive me if this has already been dismissed as a viable option for reasons that I’m not recalling right now.)

Continuing to brainstorm options...
posted by darkstar at 12:46 AM on July 25 [13 favorites]


We could create a real-world community instead of an online community. Perhaps with a touch of Neo-Pythagoreanism, because beans. Also we could have fancy hats.
posted by XMLicious at 1:03 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Ray Walston, I think your characterizations of people’s reactions in this thread are extraordinarily uncharitable. No one is saying they don’t want you around. A sub-community is just a smaller community within a larger one. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re excluded from the larger one. A number of people felt excluded from megathreads for various reasons, and even proponents have referred to them as cliquish. That’s what made them a sub-community. Not everyone could or did participate.

It’s also misreading people to assume that their opposition is due to an unwillingness to confront fascism or face reality. As several people have pointed out now, politics exist elsewhere on the site, and no one is proposing political posts disappear. It’s only this one specific vehicle for political commentary that needs to change. Yes, it’s a big change and there won’t be the sheer volume of information that there was before. But as a venue for politics, they worked for some people and not everyone. They certainly weren’t the only way to keep up with politics — to say otherwise would be a disservice to the people who put in hard work in other ways.

For my part, any talk about reintegration (which is really not how I would phrase it) is motivated by two things: a desire for me to personally engage more with politics on this site in a way that has largely been impossible for the last few years; and a desire to interact with a lot of people I rarely saw because they were only in the megathreads. Please consider that the barriers presented by the megathreads, which I and others have talked about, were real and went far beyond our personal failings. Please consider that opposition to these threads could be for reasons that you may not personally relate to, which may be very different than hate or ignorance.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:35 AM on July 25 [27 favorites]


I realize the way I wrote that could look condescending, but look, this is all I’m trying to say: I want you all to stick around! I don’t see this as an us vs. them thing, so please don’t think of it as one, either. I think pretty much everyone really means well, even if we’re not perfect in execution.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:58 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


At the same time, the decision to close the megathreads is met in this thread with an outpouring of relief that people who don't like the megathreads no longer have to put up with them, much of which is couched in an implicit judgement of the people who used and found value in the threads as being the cause of the sites problems at worst and at best as wasting their time and effort in delusion to no real effect, simply replicating aggregations of links.

that's a lot of negative projection. relief at the end of toxic trumpianism spreading through a website/community != implicit judgement of people involved in the threads.... unless you have something to feel guilty about?
posted by Mrs Potato at 2:41 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


cortex, thanks for the PoliticsFilter background.

Brandon Blatcher, what was your experience running that site? Did you close the site because site activity wound down, because of other life priorities and the workload required to run the site, and/or something else?

The LinkPirate site was locked, and accessible only by registered members. Registration was only via prior membership in LinkFilter, or with a recommendation from a LinkFilter member.

This sounds like the structure I'd imagine for a new site/ service -- don't make open invites, but include a contact link in case someone does stumble on the site.

I'm probably being naive, but I feel like there are devoted users of the MegaThreads, plus a core who coordinate making new posts, which could translate into a userbase and volunteer mod squad. But I don't have any experience running a forum or discussion site, and I may be up-selling this with the selfish hope that something works out to feed my enjoyment of the MegaThreads as a curated information stream, when I should be looking to other sites and resources that are already listed in this thread.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:05 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


I’m going to reserve judgement until I see how this unfolds. I prefer more focused topic based threads, so this may be positive.

That said, I’m here for the politics at this point. I have read every word of the Megathreads, but usually don’t comment because my point of view is already covered or someone has already posted the item I came to add. There’s a few other things I’m interested in on metafilter, and I guess I read other topics before 2016, but the succinct run down in the mega threads without the infuriating spirit of Twitter was very appreciated. I just started monthly donations after the last appeal, will keep them for now but re-evaluate if there’s not enough useful content in a few months or the user decline continues.

I spent almost no time engaged in politics prior to 2016, and I imagine I’m not alone. I’ve learned a lot from the frequent commenters who know a lot more about the topic, and I especially loved the run downs on polling and campaign mechanics from some of you. I hope we can still expect that content!

I do feel like there’s a push for certain topics and people to go to other platforms in the recent changes, which is fine, but seems like it’s the opposite of what the site needs to survive. I’ll trust the mod team here has thought about it and thinks the changes will increase engagement and users (the only thing anyone should be focused on right now on the site, given the declines in users and activity). Best of luck in the change, I hope it helps.

Personally, I’m already spending more time on reddit after the last meta talk about the site’s future, and imagine that will accelerate with this change (checking out r/politics now). I won’t spend time on a new blog, etc, and think that isn’t going to replace this site unfortunately.
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:36 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


OK, I have just created a Reddit account. Someone with a Reddit account at least a month old needs to create the subreddit.
posted by pracowity at 4:44 AM on July 25


(By the way, I was not explicitly clear about this in my previous comment, but Dreamwidth is a platform that provides hosting. You don't need to register a domain name, run a server, install software, etc. to start a Dreamwidth community. Figured I would mention that given MysticMCJ's and darkstar's comments.)

pracowity, Rhaomi upthread mentioned openness to using the existing MetaFilter subreddit?
posted by brainwane at 4:48 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


As someone who burned out on the megathreads shortly after the election, and although I still check them for curated links and the tales of a couple of people here who actually Know Stuff about particular topics in the news, I don’t think I have commented in one in ages. I’m also here less than I used to be in general, maybe in part because of megathread burnout (there are other reasons, some about metafilter, some about my IRL existence). I’ve been back and more active in the last couple of months (a pattern for me over 13 years and two usernames — metafilter always draws me back but breaks are really helpful for me, and this place can feel really cloistered and intense in ways that relax if you step back from over-investment). It’s still unique and among the best communities on the net and I still want metafilter to be there and be healthy.

This policy change seems reasonable and timely to me, and maybe necessary and certainly worth a try. I prefer more topically focused politics threads by a lot anyway. I get why some mefites feel bereft, having quit the megathreads cold turkey in 2017. It was hard not checking them daily for a few weeks after more than a year of hitting the pipe multiple times a day. It’s like running out of weed when your dealer is on vacation, but it’s not a bad detox. It will likely pass and the politics discussion will still be here.

My appreciation for the folks who made them workable for so long: the careful FPPs, the extensive curation of links and election results and statistics, the extensive specialist knowledge (legal especially) that was often on display, and the hard work of the mods in herding a bunch of pissed off (or scared, or sad) cats.

The people of Puerto Rico just showed us where we should be putting our political energy down. Deep breaths, pace yourselves for the monster fight that’s coming, and la luta continua.
posted by spitbull at 5:12 AM on July 25 [17 favorites]


OK, I have just created a Reddit account. Someone with a Reddit account at least a month old needs to create the subreddit.

I am happy to do this and then pass it to you if rhaomi doesn't want to use the existing site. Would have to be this evening, though.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:15 AM on July 25


Closing time
Open all the comments and let you out into the site
Closing time
Turn all of the links on over every boy and every girl
Closing time
One last call for hot takes so finish your boos and your cheers
Closing time
You don't have to go home but you can't stay here

I know who I want to win the vote
I know who I want to win the vote
I know who I want to win the vote
Win the vote

Closing time
Time for you to go out to the subsites you will be from
Closing time
This post won't be open 'til some news or some elections come
So make up all your rackets, respect them in the Brexits
I hope you have found a friend
Closing time
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

I know who I want to win the vote
I know who I want to win the vote
I know who I want to win the vote
Win the vote

Closing time
Time for you to go out to the subsites you will be from

I know who I want to win the vote
I know who I want to win the vote
I know who I want to win the vote
Win the vote
I know who I want to win the vote
I know who I want to win the vote
I know who I want to win the vote
Win the vote

Closing time
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:19 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


pracowity, Rhaomi upthread mentioned openness to using the existing MetaFilter subreddit?

Thanks.

But is it open only to mefi members? I would not let anyone join the subreddit unless they can mefi mail a request to a moderator of the subreddit.
posted by pracowity at 5:24 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Or as Willie Nelson says:
Turn out the lights, the party’s over /
They say that all good things must end /
Let’s call it a night, the party’s over /
And tomorrow starts the same old thing again.

posted by spitbull at 7:07 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


I hate to see them go, but I understand. Not sure what I will do without them, frankly.
posted by all about eevee at 7:36 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Interesting to see in that very old post from 2002 that then it was (apparently) possible to see deleted comments.

I was blearing over my first cup of tea and trying to suss out what this meant, and I think I'm caught up now: we're talking about the "this" link in the post text of this aforementioned 2002 MetaTalk, which is a link to a deleted post with the url "https://www.metafilter.com/comments_deleted.mefi/21405".

Which I'd forgotten all about, and now I'm curious, so, reconstructing from memory and a little bit of searching: as I recall wasn't actually a link to a deleted comment or comments, but to a deleted post with a confusing name for the CF page/function. This is I think the days before visiting a URL for a deleted post directly would work the way it does today.

e.g. a post deleted now can be linked to by it's URL and you just see it in its deleted state, with deletion reason attached:

https://www.metafilter.com/182181/Wacko

But when the site started, that wasn't the case. It may be that up until August 2002, you just plain couldn't view deleted posts at all; here's a reference from that month to the "comments_deleted.mefi" URL structure, on of a couple references that month that are the earliest search hits I could find. I think it's something Matt added around then, and you can find direct references to "lofi" in related discussions, which was itself a stripped down view of MeFi that was an alternate view of the site with fewer features and some idiosyncrasies. Technically I guess lofi is still there, though it was undermaintained in 2002 and hasn't gotten any more attention in the last decade-plus. The comments_deleted URL no longer works, though.

You can see that "here's a deleted post" approach in action on the blue later in 2002, with the "Bye Bye" comment early in (n.b., Michael Jackson stuff) this deleted thread, linking in turn to a couple of other deleted threads about the same thing, using that defunct url structure; if you just rewrite those comments' links as plain post URLs you get this post and this one, using the modern linking practice.

To really piece the details and history on that together would involve digging through a lot of 2001 and 2002 MetaTalk discussions, I think; as much as we want to improve MeFi's current documentation, it's easy to forget what a scattered wild west the early days were in terms of Matt just kinda...doing stuff and maybe mentioning it later in MetaTalk, so, scavenger hunt with this sort of thing. I was using the site search, restricted to MetaTalk, for "comments_deleted" and "lofi", if anyone feels like plumbing those depths more thoroughly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:46 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


And yes, MF is still a ColdFusion project. CF itself has been modernized significantly under the hood over the years, which is nice, but it's also still CF.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:47 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


How feasible would it be for MeFi to host it, and link to it, if specific funds were raised to offset costs of hosting?

Hosting is hosting, it's very commodity now, so if folks needed to spin up a custom software install I don't think there'd be any real cost advantage to it being on MeFi's AWS account vs. your own, and for an unofficial project it'd feel a lot cleaner and more self-directed to have it be independently hosted. So I'd say moot point on that aspect.

But linking to it is something we could definitely do to support it and give it visibility.

.... unless you have something to feel guilty about?

I don't know what this was supposed to be but cut it out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:03 AM on July 25 [17 favorites]


And yes, MF is still a ColdFusion project. CF itself has been modernized significantly under the hood over the years, which is nice, but it's also still CF.

Hope you guys are running the latest release!!! There are currently 4 10.0 CVEs for Cold Fusion that were disclosed in early June.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 8:29 AM on July 25


Really, it just seems like there will be a defacto megathread (as the Mueller one is now), or maybe two, at any given time

This is definitely going to happen. Whichever post is the most fascism adjacent is going to draw the MegaThread crowd for a while. I'm struggling with it now. The way I'm interacting with the Mueller thread is very similar to how I would interact with a MegaThread. But that model was crushing the mods, so I guess I'm not supposed to interact with it that way? So maybe I shouldn't interact with that thread? Or interact in a different way that I don't understand? Or go away?

(I haven't said anything that required deletion or moderation. I have railed against Dem leadership for the umpteenth time, but it seems freshly relevant to the topic of the thread and currently breaking news related to the topic of the thread.)
posted by diogenes at 8:33 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


interact in a different way that I don't understand?
I think that if you're aware you're saying something "for the umpteenth time," maybe don't say it quite so much?
posted by neroli at 8:39 AM on July 25 [14 favorites]


I've never commented on a megathread, but I've read every one since this current nightmare administration began. I've become far more politically engaged as a result, and I thank everyone who allowed that to happen. I will miss them, and if a serious alternative is created I will join and read that. This is sad news, but I'd be more upset if metafilter itself stopped entirely.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 8:54 AM on July 25 [12 favorites]


pracowity: "But is it open only to mefi members? I would not let anyone join the subreddit unless they can mefi mail a request to a moderator of the subreddit."

It's currently public, but very small -- about 600 subscribers, largely from when I first announced it on MetaTalk a few years ago. I use the sub's "flair" tags (confirmed via MeMail) to identify people with their MeFi handle if they want.

It should probably stay public if you want the critical mass to support a megathread-esque experience, but I think there's a way to limit comments in megathread posts to users with MeFi-confirmed flair if trolling becomes an issue.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:00 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


I think that if you're aware you're saying something "for the umpteenth time," maybe don't say it quite so much?

Maybe. And to be honest, I read that as an argument for going away.

In my defense, I didn't literally say the same thing for the umpteenth time, but it is a subject I often return to. In this case, I think I added a bit of insight after watching the entire Nadler hearing that he structured it as a build up to announcing impeachment at the end of the day. I don't think that was articulated by any of the other comments or links. And I criticized Pelosi for refusing to let him proceed with that plan. Maybe nobody wants to hear that? Maybe nobody wants to hear me challenge Schiff's argument that we shouldn't impeach because it would be "a disruptive experience."

If that's doing MetaFilter wrong, then I don't know how to do MetaFilter, and I should probably go away.
posted by diogenes at 9:05 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


I want to hear it, diogenes.
posted by Gadarene at 9:14 AM on July 25 [10 favorites]


I can't speak for the mods, but I thought that there was a push to shift MegaThreads to more new information and less personal takes, to both extend the viable life of threads (particularly for mobile users), and reduce the work for mods to wrangle discussions, debates and comments.

As I see this decision and past actions, they weren't attempts to silence opinions or make people go away.

Personally, I used to drop political news from elsewhere in the world in MegaThreads, to bring broader world context and comparisons, with both positive and negative news, but the direction was to do less of that, again to extend the viable life for individual threads. I still think that sharing this sort of broad-scope comments was a net positive, but I also see that it made MegaThreads busier than if they weren't included.

In other words, personal preferences and practices were changed in MegaThreads, to make them more viable parts of the broader site, given various fiscal and time limits.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:40 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Certain topics are allowed to come up more often than others. Topics that tend to create lengthy discussions that require moderator intervention receive more scrutiny. In these waning days of the megathread, anything tangentially connected to Democratic strategy or the Speaker herself has such a high bar as to make a productive conversation impossible. Even if the "rehash" flag isn't thrown immediately, the amount of tiptoeing around the landmines to make sure that it isn't seen as an attack on a particular individual or their supporters is far more trouble than it ends up being worth.

The intent of this is to reduce strain on the mods, but it wasn't enough to save the threads, and it ended up making them just barely worth saving, even for many who still want them to remain.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:46 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


The changes to moderation (which for the mods seems to have amounted to “take all your worst instincts and go for it”) were the thing that made them truly toxic instead of a bit unwieldy and crap. Getting rid of them is a good move but late and leaves a lot of damage - good luck to you guys repairing that (and not finding odd new ways to double down on it), though I think I’m still done with the site for now.
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


So, is there a deadline when MF will close down the currently active megathread? Or will it be allowed to run its course all the way to the end of its 30 day natural lifespan?

I need to know so I can set a reminder in my calendar to see who gets the last word in.
posted by notyou at 9:53 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


So, is there a deadline when MF will close down the currently active megathread?

We haven't discussed shutting it down early - right now, the plan is to let it run its course, as far as I know.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:55 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


My sense has been that there are a significant number of users who engage in the megathreads and not very much with any other part of the site. Is that true? Those threads were very useful to me in the spring and summer of 2016 when I was doing long distance backpacking and wanted something that I could load up on my phone when I was in town and read later in my tent to keep abreast of US political news. But since then I haven't really been back to them. They felt like an extension of a certain part of Twitter to me and when I got back I had Twitter, and now I'm slowly backing away from most social media one way or another.
posted by Kwine at 10:00 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


brainwane, thank you for the suggestion of Dreamwidth. I’ve been snuffling through some of the communities on there and it looks like it has potential. I created a free account and fiddled with the journal function and it seems like it’s straightforward enough, and robust enough, to serve as a megathread forum by itself, without having to set up a community.

Basically, one superuser account could create a new Journal entry post each week, with others commenting on that journal entry. It can be threaded or flat, and can even be toggled, to make it easy for people to scoot past discussions that don’t interest them, or read everything as it was chronologically posted. I’ve just been looking at the security features and they seem good and multivariate. The style elements support minimalist, mobile-friendly displays.

Pros: It’s completely free, technically very accessible, and can be stylistically similar to what we’re used to. And as cortex is happy to link to it to support it and give it visibility, that will be a boon in terms of driving new energy to it. It could also be coded with a prominent link back to MeFi so that, although it is distinctly not MeFi, it still functionally feels like part of the ecosystem. And since it isn’t slamming MeFi’s servers, the current proscriptions against riffing and hot-takes might be relaxed a bit, possibly lightening the mood a little while reducing some of the mod workload to ride herd on pruning those kinds of comments. (Though this last bit might be wishful thinking). And it’s not a part of a site that folks may be more leery about (as some have expressed concerns, for example, with Reddit).

Cons: The free account might not scale to the magnitude of what we are talking about (journal posts with a thousand comments, for example). I don’t yet see how to make such journals visible to visitors who don’t yet have accounts (i.e., supporting lurkers). It will still require modding to keep the discussions from turning sour. Other possible technical or logistical hurdles that I haven’t spotted yet.

Anyway, just wanted to report back on my preliminary research on Dreamwidth as an option. Thanks again, brainwane, for the suggestion. I’d be very interested in hearing more about the site’s journal function possibly being used this way, if you have any insights on that. (Feel free to memail me if you’d like.)
posted by darkstar at 10:18 AM on July 25 [10 favorites]


cortex: "Which I'd forgotten all about, and now I'm curious, so, reconstructing from memory and a little bit of searching: as I recall wasn't actually a link to a deleted comment or comments, but to a deleted post with a confusing name for the CF page/function. This is I think the days before visiting a URL for a deleted post directly would work the way it does today. "

Oh wow you did some real research! You must be right that this is an old way to see a deleted post, though the name is pretty confusing. Lots of gnarly beasts still lurking in the back corners of old-timey Metafilter.
posted by crazy with stars at 10:20 AM on July 25


> So, is there a deadline when MF will close down the currently active megathread?

We haven't discussed shutting it down early - right now, the plan is to let it run its course, as far as I know.


These days, we'd try to start drafting a new megathread before the current one reached 2K comments and post the fresh FPP once the old one hit 2.5K. At 3K comments, people would be complaining about how the thread wouldn't load properly on their devices (which, like jokey riffing and venting, would add to the thread's load). The current megathread (>1.3K comments) has slowed down after this MeTa's announcement and the Mueller hearings, so we'll see how long it takes to reach longboat status. It would be something if it managed to trudge along to the 30-day mark.

I've been thinking about the logistics of how workshopping discrete topics for US Politics would function on the wiki. The first issue is how to work on multiple FPP drafts simultaneously. The current page for drafts is simply "U.S. Politics FPP Draft". Having several different FPP drafts in that one place will be logistically impossible. We'd need cortex's OK to open multiple draft pages on the wiki, presumably sorted by general categories (e.g. health care, taxation, Trump administration, Capitol Hill). We'd have to determine those beforehand, and even then, I can see them proliferating.

I was also thinking that we could simply have sequentially numbered draft pages, e.g. "U.S. Politics FPP Draft", ""U.S. Politics FPP Draft-2", "U.S. Politics FPP Draft-3", etc. along with "Catch-all", "Catch-all-2", etc. as repositories for stories to track. I'll ask Pronoiac about this once ideas have gelled.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:31 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Whichever post is the most fascism adjacent is going to draw the MegaThread crowd for a while. I'm struggling with it now. The way I'm interacting with the Mueller thread is very similar to how I would interact with a MegaThread.

This is something that's been interesting to watch with the Mueller thread. The first thing I'd say is that it's drawn in a lot of new people, either those who didn't usually participate in the megathreads or who used to do so but stopped. Which is great, because the megathreads became so exclusionary and dwindled down to fewer and fewer commenters (though I learn here that a surprising number of you have been reading along all this time); topical threads are a better way to engage with a larger portion of the community. The Mueller thread felt a bit more like the megathreads of yore, and I mean that in the best way. But there's going to be some adjustment there's a larger pool of people participating without so much of a "megathread consensus" and as much implied knowledge of the landmines and what is and isn't up for relitigating.

And there's going to be some adjustment that goes back to why the megathreads were created in the first place, which is how much one topic leads to another. If the hearing is on-topic, the leadership press conference about the hearing presumably is on-topic, and if that's on topic, everyone's feelings about the Speaker's leadership and impeachment are pretty much on-topic, and pretty soon, it's basically a megathread without the news. That's something we're going to have to figure out how to balance.

Which I think comes back around to the idea of trying to move the megathreads wholesale to another venue. There's a high risk of that venue becoming, once again, extremely insular and exclusionary, even more than they were here, to the detriment of the conversation and likely the well-being of the people in it.
posted by zachlipton at 10:42 AM on July 25 [13 favorites]


Doctor Zed, I was just experimenting with posting the last draft megathread to a test subreddit and got decent results. They use markdown, not HTML, but a free converter got it 90% of the way there -- you just have to add extra line breaks and remove the unsupported [small] tag. Of course, subreddits come with built-in wikis, so people could construct them in markdown natively if they wanted. Protected editing permissions, too.

Folks would also need to decide whether to default to vote-sorted threading or try recreating a chronological view. Bad news for the latter is Reddit doesn't support a completely flat discussion -- even sorting by date shows replies nested under comments -- but there are browser addons that can create this view of you really want it.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:47 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


[Checking in briefly on mobile during a pause while hiking. darkstar, glad you took a look at Dreamwidth! I can respond at greater length in several hours, or someone else can jump in and discuss Dreamwidth features, but, briefly: I am like 90% certain that you'd want to create a Community, similar to https://metafilter.dreamwidth.org, rather than just use one user's journal, similar to https://siderea.dreamwidth.org/ . But maybe I am misunderstanding what you are saying/asking?]
posted by brainwane at 10:47 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


I've been thinking about the logistics of how workshopping discrete topics for US Politics would function on the wiki.

It occurs to me that if we wanted to pursue a wiki format itself, there are any number of free platforms out there. Obviously, one could simply run MediaWiki on a private host, and Wikidot, TiddlyWiki, and OurProject are also popular options (Wikia/FANDOM is of course ghastly).

Doctor Zed, I was just experimenting with posting the last draft megathread to a test subreddit and got decent results. They use markdown, not HTML, but a free converter got it 90% of the way there -- you just have to add extra line breaks and remove the unsupported [small] tag.

Thanks, Rhaomi. Yesterday I was looking at the "Decommissioning the US politics megathreads" on r/Metafilter (pop. 642), and it seems that there are a couple of comments that are below the threshold of my account's visibility (they're not downvoted as far as I can tell—there's just no sign of them). Is that a feature for non-subscribed redditors viewing a thread (or just a bug)? And I've used Reddit's wiki functions, which are fine. I've never been especially taken with Markdown, but whatever.

Incidentally, in that thread, the newly joined u/onerarepupper writes:
A site change that already has a dozen users talking about the possibility of moving activity they find valuable to offsite isn't awesome.

I say this in the context of the informed commentary in the "State of the site" thread that warned that, in cases of declining revenue like mefi's, a "death spiral" can happen surprisingly fast. So decisions that reduce engagement/activity are kind of scary. People said these things well in the SotS thread.

I think there's a tendency to view this change as somehow symbolic (myself included)... but I don't know how that would be. If I'm right, it hasn't really been expressed "in the text" of the thread yet. "So is this vague discouragement to not do much US politics any more?" zachlipton came closest.

If it's a subtle way of telling political commentators on mefi to back off, that would be a real loss, on the whole, to the community and the "business". I have appreciated the information and perspectives shared in those threads, and feel I can read them as much or as little as I want, and I don't expect the threads to heed my emotional states or "addictions". That's my job. I mean, the reality is upsetting, not the f'ing threads.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:14 AM on July 25 [7 favorites]


I was also thinking that we could simply have sequentially numbered draft pages, e.g. "U.S. Politics FPP Draft", ""U.S. Politics FPP Draft-2", "U.S. Politics FPP Draft-3", etc. along with "Catch-all", "Catch-all-2", etc. as repositories for stories to track.

Would it be too unwieldy to have them all on the same wiki page, just separated by hr tags? Fake examples:

--------------------
*Uncategorized*
Pruitt hired by Fox
Erik Prince deploys mercenaries to Syria to fight on behalf of Russia
Sarah Huckabee Sanders has a book
--------------------
*Border Detention Crisis*
(Todo: writeup)
These journalists snuck into a facility
CPB officers had a private subreddit and just, shit, man
....etc...
--------------------

Then editors could without too much effort go "the Pruitt story and the SHS story could both go into an FPP about how ex-Trump admin folks find new careers in the media" and then move those into their own section.
posted by Jpfed at 11:15 AM on July 25


Would it be too unwieldy to have them all on the same wiki page, just separated by hr tags?

Yes, I suspect it would. Having multiple uses editing the same page simultaneously was often a pain in the neck on the MeFi Wiki. The potential bottleneck of having multiple drafts on a sig (TVTropes has a feature that locks down a page as soon as a user starts editing it for ten or fifteen minutes IIRC, but I don't know if the MeFi Wiki would ever consider implementing that.) Besides, the draft of the average megathread FPP already requires several screen-lengths to scroll through, which made reviewing it inconvenient.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:24 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


I think I'd like to hear more proposals for how we could make it work here. dunno. thoughts?

I plan to be back around later today, but as one of the posters of megathread FPPs, I wanted to at least briefly mention that all I want to talk about at this point is how to make it work here, and I have some brewing ideas about how to configure the wiki to make collaborative posting workable for topic-specific FPPs.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:32 AM on July 25 [15 favorites]


I think having a framework for topic specific post collaboration would be a great good for the entire site inside and outside political posts and if that came out of this it would be wonderful.
posted by selfnoise at 11:40 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Co-authored posts would be a cool pony for me, since I have Ideas but not the will organizational skills to make them happen. I don't see that being an easy thing to do, and I can see why it would be a problem, but anyway -- yes. Post collaboration would be good for the whole site and not just politics. I think it's good to be thinking in terms of what's good for everyone, rather than just as adaptations to the needs of politics-specific things.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:43 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Also highlighting this on the front page would be useful. I'm a reader of the megathreads, not MetaTalk. I'm sure I'm not the only lurker in a similar position.
posted by armacy at 11:44 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Also highlighting this on the front page would be useful. I'm a reader of the megathreads, not MetaTalk. I'm sure I'm not the only lurker in a similar position.

Maybe add a link to the US Politics sidebar?
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:49 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Doktor Zed: "Incidentally, in that thread, the newly joined u/onerarepupper writes:

A site change that already has a dozen users talking about the possibility of moving activity they find valuable to offsite isn't awesome.
"

I don't think I've ever read any comment on r/Metafilter that was a positive one about the site or its leadership.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:05 PM on July 25 [12 favorites]


Huffy Puffy, as you quoted "Closing Time," Semisonic has a new one that I've been thinking for a couple days about posting in here. Thank you to my fellow MeFites for making a difference in so many ways, in the megathreads and everywhere else.

There was a time when I believed that all it would take is one look one heart to change me
There was a time when I could see a straightaway line for someone somehow to wake me
But innocence is paid in flames and dreams of change waste on the vine
When all it would take is one voice/ one light/ one hand
Writing the words of one choice/ one fire/ one pen
Changing the world within me and around me
Changing the world within me
That’s all it would take
posted by jocelmeow at 12:14 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Whichever post is the most fascism adjacent is going to draw the MegaThread crowd for a while.

Probably, and if I had to wager I would assume that it's going to be a lot of malleting for the mods for a while to prevent it. But I suspect that in short order a bog-standard metafilter approach of insisting that discussion be on-topic for the original post will prevent the wide-ranging, accompanied by a few of the usual suspects showing up in metatalk and complaining about mad indiscriminate orbital deletions and how this time they really are going to be done with this site.

Complaining about moderation has been a constant as long as I have been here and I doubt it'll change overall, other than peaks here and there. But I bet the "this tries to turn into a megathread" won't last but a month, tops.
posted by phearlez at 12:15 PM on July 25 [8 favorites]


Yesterday I was looking at the "Decommissioning the US politics megathreads" on r/Metafilter (pop. 642), and it seems that there are a couple of comments that are below the threshold of my account's visibility (they're not downvoted as far as I can tell—there's just no sign of them). Is that a feature for non-subscribed redditors viewing a thread (or just a bug)?

I nixed one comment for blatant spam and the other was automatically filtered by the site from a user with a deleted (or banned?) account. It was also pretty shit-stirring, so I didn't bother restoring it.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:35 PM on July 25


Yeah, Reddit has a long-standing bug/feature wherein the "number of comments" displayed for a thread includes all comments, including ones that normal users can't see because they were removed (by mods), deleted (by the user themselves) or caught in the site-wide spam filter.

There are third-party sites that scrape every comment on the site shortly after it's posted, and often you can find the text of deleted comments there if they weren't removed too quickly.
posted by teraflop at 12:41 PM on July 25


I think I'd like to hear more proposals for how we could make it work here. dunno. thoughts?

I missed the State of the Site MeTa, but read it in its entirety. And I have read but not participated in the Outragefilter meta (and followed its links to the PoC thread).

With those threads in mind, I have some observations and maybe have an idea. I am not sure it is a good idea, and its as much about the SotS concerns as the Megathreads, but I'm going to leave it here anyway, since the SotS thread is closed.


-Metafilter is continuing to trend in the wrong direction, whether looking at money or new members or activity, etc. There are many reasons for this, but at least one of them is changes to the web and the way people interact with it, and impacting both suitable material for FPPs and the pool of people who want to engage MeFi style and only ever in a browser. The most serious specific consequence for sustainability beyond user numbers is Google Ad revenue.

-The issues MeFi has with PoC inclusion, participation and recognition (and to a lesser extent US-centrism) both contribute to the issues with the sustainability of the user-base and require resources to remedy

-The Megathreads consume an disproportionate amount of shrinking resources, and there are further disparities within the participation patterns w/r/t to posters and readers.

-Since the aim is not to quell political discussion but to reduce the overall comment volume and relax the need for mods to follow the threads in real-time, the decision suggests that the mods see the megathreads problem as being fundamental to their generality even with rules against one-liners and hot-takes.

-Another way to say that, is that the evolving Megathread rules came to represent a rescinding of the policy against "Newsfilter" specifically in the realm of US Politics, along with a less complete relaxation of the policy against "Chatfilter" (and eventually the recognition that certain additional kinds of chatfilter were needed, and so the fucking fuck and hyucking hyuck threads).

-There has always been some trouble, even among established users, avoiding Newsfilter FPPs and also chatfilter in single-topic current event FPPs despite knowing that it dilutes the Blue.

-Thus, the benefits in retiring the megathreads may be entirely offset by bringing back the negatives that a proliferation of substantially dire single topic FPPs have, if the politically engaged MeFites who used to congregate in the megathreads don't just pack it up.

The proposals to deal with this have been:

-Bring back PoliticsFilter — something like FanFare but about "politics."
-Shunt discussion across single topic FPPs to a dedicated chat channel (really not the same thing at all)
-Offsite it under independent management.


I'd like to suggest another idea — give the people what they've always wanted and what the sites diverting views provide, structure it to require less moderation, monetize the hell out of it and see if it can support itself and maybe even throw off revenue for MeFi, as well as ranking higher in news searches and so pulling people back to MeFi and AskMe.

NewsFilter. (Not just "politics.")
The Orange (with the all of the appropriate "hazard" and "urgent" connotations that color carries) is the new Blue.

Perhaps with inline thread tools that acknowledge where most links are from and leverages the browser, like a popup card viewer for tweets similar to the YT preview, maybe for embedding AMP views of articles if that's allowed.

Maybe it could also support user posts, in addition to threads, like Medium. Why not stick a straw in that milkshake, too?

I could see it as another MeFi topsite or else a spun-off site but still operated by Metafilter,Inc to go further with the sink-or-swim approach and make it clear that different expectations and content policies pertain (and perhaps different advertising). And to allow it not to be shackled to ColdFusion, if building it on Discourse or whatever is easier.

If entirely spun off iit could go not-for-profit if that's better or solves problems with volunteer administration, development and moderation — and MeFi could be on/control its board.

Mods could be selected from day one to guard against US-centrism, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

Basically, if a spun off site is needed because all of us here feel there is no acceptable alternative news aggregator, then why not go large with it and see if it can actually claim a place in the world and return value to MeFi?

I feel like this is either a terrible idea or a really good one.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:52 PM on July 25 [19 favorites]


Re: reading but not commenting.

After the "Recalibrating Expectations" post a while back, I stopped posting most of the time because I didn't really understand what was ok to post anymore. Indeed, I've stopped posting as much across site because I'm anxious about doing it wrong. I try to only post when I have a link to contribute. I don't even feel 100% confident that that's the right way. I don't want to make additional work for anyone though so I've figured a lot less is more.

I could be wrong, but I imagine there's at least a few other people who post a lot less than they did since "recalibrating."
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:54 PM on July 25 [18 favorites]


Metafilter: this is either a terrible idea or a really good one.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 12:56 PM on July 25 [5 favorites]


> I feel like this is either a terrible idea or a really good one.

Whether it's terrible or good, (I think it's good), it's been explicitly ruled out of order for discussion here:
PoliticsFilter: folks have proposed many times starting a formal subsite/subsection. Given our resources and other site work that needs doing, this isn’t something we can even really consider right now, so I’ll ask folks to not restart that conversation again in here. For now we need to just try and move back to older MeFi practices on US politics discussion, and see how we’re doing and go from there.
(I know you tweaked "PoliticsFilter" to be "NewsFilter", but I assume anything involving a subsite falls under the same guidance.)
posted by tonycpsu at 1:01 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I feel like this is either a terrible idea or a really good one.

An excellent summary, and I feel the same. Intriguing, obviously against past concepts of what Metafilter is and it abuts the weirdness of thinking of the site as something closer to a commercial enterprise as a purpose rather than a social site that almost accidentally seeks funding. I doubt this ship will sail, for those and other reasons, but I'm not sure there isn't some merit to the idea given the more site norm based alternatives aren't looking so strong either for dealing with the problems at hand, at least as I understand them.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:01 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Despite those instructions since the SotS thread is closed, and since we are basically discussing a non-MeFi-but-still-somehow-MeFi PoliticsFilter, I floated the case for a more maximal design still under the site's umbrella somehow. Potentially as a spin off expected to support itself, due to those resource concerns. (I understand that merely shoving the megathreads into their own tab wouldn't change anything.)

The name change was not empty, I think a full-on "NewsFilter" might actually work in a way "PoliticsFilter" wouldn't and might be worth discussing, but it doesn't need to be here I guess. (Although, where?)
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:12 PM on July 25


> (Although, where?)

My interpretation isn't "where", but "when", as in "not now". Which sucks.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:14 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Like, at the very least, it'd be nice if the subsite idea were on a level playing field with the things people are doing to bring about an off-site alternative.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:18 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


On the longevity of mefi question it seems really really clear from both this and the PoC thread that mefi needs to plan to drastically increase the number of moderators in order to lessen the overall burden on any one moderator. Since there isn't funding for such, moderation may need to be much more of a part-time or even piecework gig, managed by a group of paid employees or something. I dunno what, but if mefi is gonna stick around in anything close to the social format it currently is, what else is there?
posted by odinsdream at 1:20 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


Thanks, brainwane — I had only spent about an hour looking at Dreamwidth and didn’t get into the community development side of it. But the example you posted of https://metafilter@dreamwith.org certainly offers a more robust set of solutions than a single superuser journal. (I just thought it was encouraging that even just using a single journal could allow replication of the lion’s share of the megathread experience.) That’s why I must really defer to others who are more tuned in to Dreamwidth to provide clearer impressions based on their greater familiarity with it. Suffice it to say: it looks very promising.

The one observation I would make at this first glance is that the community page has a lot of formatting and design elements that — as someone used to the MeFi experience — provides a more distracting look and feel. Boxes separating each comment, commenter icon pictures, buttons for “Link Reply Thread from start Parent Thread Hide 1 comment“ beneath each comment, and the ample white space borders framing each of these elements, etc.

Some people like this, and on many discussion boards I frequent, I do too. But when I’m on mobile (or anytime, really), and I’m reading MeFi threads, I’ve always appreciated their minimalism for ease of reading and text flow from one comment to the other. So my pony request (here we go) would be to provide a more minimalist community page style.

—-

Also, and not to relitigate the decision but just seeking information, I seem to have missed the portion of earlier discussions where the offer of volunteer admins for MeFi may have been declined as unfeasible. If the mod workload is a key issue, then volunteer mods would have been the first option discussed, probably, but it’s clearly not an idea in the mix right now. Could someone give me a brief précis on why they are not being considered a viable option? Thanks!
posted by darkstar at 1:56 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I am not overly confident that Metafilter is going to survive in its current format. The site is bleeding members and participation is dropping sharply (whether due to bigotry, changes in Internet culture, or the learning curve needed to participate on the site) while revenue is in decline. Mods are also clearly beginning to burn out. I hope that getting rid of the megathreads helps, but the site is just not going to go back to the level of participation and engagement it had pre-2016 election.
posted by all about eevee at 1:56 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


On the longevity of mefi question it seems really really clear from both this and the PoC thread that mefi needs to plan to drastically increase the number of moderators in order to lessen the overall burden on any one moderator. Since there isn't funding for such, moderation may need to be much more of a part-time or even piecework gig, managed by a group of paid employees or something

I'm not sure that's clear at all. The site doesn't have the money for new moderators or management overhead so I'm not sure many people would agree that's the direction things are going to have to go in. If anything I think people should prepare for fewer moderators as revenues decline.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 2:05 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


If we discourage catastrophizing in the megathreads, do we really need it in the meta-megathread?

Can we maybe wait and see how things go before we declare the site dead?
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 2:15 PM on July 25 [39 favorites]


Seriously, the State of the Site meta was closed because it went to shit (because of white fragility/racism) and I’m really frustrated that suddenly you all want to continue the conversation here. This is not the “let’s spitball ideas to save Metafilter” thread and I’m super fucking tired of people deciding the site is going to close unless they, specifically, share their thoughts that have been rehashed so many times by now.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 2:27 PM on July 25 [25 favorites]


darkstar makes a very good point. Minimalism is key for me. Blazing fast internet is not universal. Avatars, inline images, too many font styles, all that clutter is web circa 1995 and makes my eyes bleed. Granted, if finding a new megathread home is the solution, then that takes priority over aesthetics but I hope it is a consideration.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:27 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Seconding the idea of keeping this more focused on megathread and what-next stuff in the narrow sense of accommodating politics discussion and other social energy erstwhile happening in them. I don't blame anyone for having whatever doubts or skepticism they have about MeFi's long-term model but we don't need to just have that entire discussion again in here.

Like, at the very least, it'd be nice if the subsite idea were on a level playing field with the things people are doing to bring about an off-site alternative.

The subsite idea involves an expenditure of even more resources than the megathreads do, at a time when we are recognizing we're already critically short on resources. I didn't warn folks off re-proposing a politics subsite to spite anyone, I did it because we're in no practical position to consider it right now.

I'm not going to promise something I know full well we can't deliver. I have no idea if we'll think things look different enough—financially, philosophically, etc—in the future that it'd be a conversation we could practically have, but I know it's not one we can do right now and it would be cruel to pretend otherwise to folks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:18 PM on July 25 [18 favorites]


though I think I’m still done with the site for now

As someone who likes Artw, this sucks. How much do the megathreads actually cost not in modding terms but in server/processor terms? Is there anyway to find that out? Could the mod-burn out problem be solved by less heavy handed modding? So much of the problem seems to be contextual modding, i.e. each mod has to use their own best judgement to implement the loose philosophy of the site. Maybe there should be a clearer rubric for mod actions. You could even make it much stricter than it is now and still lower the amount of mod-involvement by making mod decisions less of a personal judgement call on the part of the mod on duty.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:29 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Cortex: would you be okay with a separate MetaTalk thread for gauging interest in & discussing/organizing offsite options? I think at least some of the rough ideas sketched out here are potentially workable but they’re so far below the fold they may as well be invisible to 99.9% of the userbase.
posted by Ryvar at 3:31 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Yep, Ryvar, I think that's fine. A couple folks have mentioned upthread the idea of starting one up specifically for that.

How much do the megathreads actually cost not in modding terms but in server/processor terms? Is there anyway to find that out?

Putting a precise number on it would be tricky because the threads don't exist independent from the site's overall infrastructure. But in terms of overall hosting/server costs MeFi's monthly AWS expenses are in the $1600 range; the megathreads represent significant but also decidedly minority chunk of on-site activity so if you ballparked standing up something that served an equivalent load in an equivalent way you might ballpark sheer AWS load at a couple hundred bucks. But there's huge asterisks next to basically every term in that kind of napkin math.

Could the mod-burn out problem be solved by less heavy handed modding?

No, because the unusually high amount of mod intervention was itself a response to already extant problems with the megathreads. We've been through a few different variations on how to try and manage them. They've all been unsustainable. We need to move back to an established MeFi-baseline model, rather than cycling through the whole set of possibilities again.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:45 PM on July 25 [10 favorites]


would you be okay with a separate MetaTalk thread for gauging interest in & discussing/organizing offsite options

Could we please at least wait for the current megathread to close and see how more tightly focused US Politics FPPs could work before we officially start lowering the lifeboats?
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:49 PM on July 25 [14 favorites]


Would a subscription-only politics subsite be workable, perhaps? Or possibly a subsite that carries political advertising: I think liberal campaigns would find this a great way to reach out to potential volunteers &c.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:57 PM on July 25


would you be okay with a separate MetaTalk thread for gauging interest in & discussing/organizing offsite options

Could we please at least wait for the current megathread to close and see how more tightly focused US Politics FPPs could work before we officially start lowering the lifeboats?


This makes sense, to me at least. Then there's also no need to revisit any of the intersecting concerns from the SotS thread in terms of how a user movement to off-site politics would impact activity and revenue, or interact with the other issues raised in the recent MeTas.

FWIW, I didn't make the suggestion I did in order to try to revive the SotS discussion directly, especially its ending. And I don't think there's actually anything special about my version of any ideas, if some revenue-generating offshoot for newsfilter has been suggested before. The razzmatazz was just to try to be a little upbeat about the prospect that some of these lemons might be juiceable if we're willing to have a re-look at the hoary notions of "Newsfilter" as something to avoid (not just US Politics/Megathread/Doomsaying content), if it means people are going to keep going elsewhere. That's all.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:09 PM on July 25


Thanks, Cortex. Much appreciated. I’ll reach out to some people here after work and see if anybody wants to workshop a post. FWIW the megathreads were the last thing of serious value to me on Metafilter with Fizz gone, but I sincerely believe your team exhausted every approach to making them work here. My own feeling is that any workable model for the megathreads requires threaded comments both to remove the practical reasons for corralling tangents as well as reducing the workload of pruning interpersonal shitstorms down to a single-click deletion close to the trunk (also: enabling users to more fully explore subtopics and tangents that do interest them).

I don’t believe megathreads can be made to work sustainably within a Metafilter-style context, and you’ve been clear that the code base isn’t ready for external use under any circumstances. Plus side, this means any potential alternative effort starts with some rough boundaries having been set.

Could we please at least wait for the current megathread to close and see how more tightly focused US Politics FPPs could work before we officially start lowering the lifeboats?

Moot point: there is no realistic timeframe for a minimum viable alternative in which this isn’t the case. Even if everybody willing to bootstrap an alternative poured in a wildly unexpected amount of time, money, and talent *AND* the prolific posters reconvened there would still be a significant gap period. The question is whether your preferred worst case is to discover mid-way through the assessment period that an alternative isn’t needed, or at the end of the assessment that you need to begin working on an alternative. Depending on your feelings towards the megathreads, well, YMMV.
posted by Ryvar at 4:21 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Moot point: there is no realistic timeframe for a minimum viable alternative in which this isn’t the case. Even if everybody willing to bootstrap an alternative poured in a wildly unexpected amount of time, money, and talent *AND* the prolific posters reconvened there would still be a significant gap period.

Counterpoint: We haven't so much as begun to workshop even the first post-megathread focused US Politics FPP. (The timing of the "Mueller Under Oath" FPP and this MeTa was entirely coincidental.) I would anticipate seeing multiple active such FPPs on the Blue's font page if things go well. Today's has posts going back to Monday, so four US Politics FPPs seems perfectly reasonable.

Also, the suggestion that the spirit of the megathread would no longer be viable if there were a gap period strikes me as overstated. Besides, the August congressional recess is coming up, which is going to slow down the news cycle appreciably. By the time Congress reconvenes in September—and the ship of state really hits the sand—we'll know how the megathread decommissioning has worked out, one way or the other.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:39 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Even the most wildly optimistic timeline for an offsite alternative wouldn’t see something ready for users before 4~6 months. Nov 2019~Jan 2020 when the ElectionFilter traditionally explodes, was my thinking.

To be clear: I wouldn’t expect a MetaTalk post on this anytime in the next couple weeks.

At any rate, I think we’re mostly combatively agreeing with each other, at this point. Happy to take this offthread and continue on MeFi mail if you want to discuss further.
posted by Ryvar at 4:49 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


To be clear: I wouldn’t expect a MetaTalk post on this anytime in the next couple weeks.

Thank you, that's much clearer and makes perfect sense.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:52 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Please skip this comment if you don't want to get into the details of Dreamwidth community options! I'm going to respond to a few questions/thoughts from darkstar and TWinbrook8, liberally pointing to bits of the Dreamwidth FAQ and a few examples. And I'm trying to really just respond to specific things asked here, plus I'm sure I'm not being very comprehensive because I haven't administered certain kinds of communities before and might be missing stuff.

On minimalism & mobile friendliness, formatting, etc. people mentioned:

disliking Boxes separating each comment, commenter icon pictures, buttons for “Link Reply Thread from start Parent Thread Hide 1 comment“ beneath each comment, and the ample white space borders framing each of these elements, etc.
wanting a more minimalist community page style instead of Avatars, inline images, too many font styles, all that clutter

Dreamwidth users have a LOT of options in customizing the styling of their own journals and of communities they administer. Here's an example thread and community with a much more minimal style. So whoever is administering a Dreamwidth community can make the default display very minimalist, per the members' consensus.

But also, anyone who creates & logs into a Dreamwidth user account, in your Dreamwidth settings, you can ensure what whatever you are reading on Dreamwidth, while logged in, uses the minimal-styling "light mode" (here's an entry using that user's chosen styling and here is that same entry in light mode), or you can customize your preferred theme and have journals, entries, comment pages, etc. display to you with that styling. So there's flexibility both on the publishing side and on the reading side.

On dealing well with thousands of comments:

This is where I'd again point to Fail Fandom Anon which is used to very high volumes of comments, and, for instance, opens a new post for commenting once the previous one hits 6500 comments.

On visibility/security choices:

DW community administrators have a lot of flexibility. You can set all new entries to a minimum security of: Everyone (public), Members, or Administrators. And there are lots of "enable comments from" options, both as a default and per-entry, plus anti-spam options. As for membership, administrators can choose one of three options: anyone can freely join, moderated (anyone can ask to join, must be approved by an administrator), or by invitation only from a group administrator. Another option for a community is entry moderation: All entries must be approved by a moderator before they will be posted to the community. (A community can choose to have a set of "moderator" members separate from the set of "administrator" members.) And there's flexibility in moderating who can create new tags, add tags to entries, and remove tags from entries (anyone, members only, or admins only) and who can add existing tags to entries (anyone, author of the entry and also admins, members only, or admins only).

On money:

Anyone can create a Dreamwidth community for free. You do get more features if you pay. Basic paid account: $35 USD per year; premium paid account: $50 USD per year. The extra services available are mostly increases in things like the number of links you can have in a link list, number of tags, number of custom styles, and number of entries in moderation queue, both per user in a community and in total. But only a paid account can have full-text search of posts in the community, and of comments within the community, and an "Active Entries" sidebar module, and those seem pretty worthwhile in my opinion. And I'm not currently administering any paid communities, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's even more stuff I am missing (e.g. to help mobile users) that paid communities get. I am a very infrequent megathread participant, but if people want to try out a Dreamwidth community as a potential home for some MetaFilter members' US politics synthesis, curation and discussion, I'll happily pay for a paid account for the first year ($35) of the community. All the individual members can sign up for free and still get the benefits of participating in a paid community.
posted by brainwane at 5:28 PM on July 25 [8 favorites]


> Would a subscription-only politics subsite be workable, perhaps? Or possibly a subsite that carries political advertising: I think liberal campaigns would find this a great way to reach out to potential volunteers &c.

a series of irl events across america wherein megathread participants network in the interest of finding and participating in volunteer opportunities.

or alternately a series of irl events across america where leftist megathread participants and liberal megathread participants get in fistfights.

basically i’m saying we should either do mutual aid or found fight clubs. i’m happy whichever way it shakes out.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:34 PM on July 25 [11 favorites]


Subside subside, from the people, not the filter. Another potential problem with that, crossover. That, IMO is weedy hard mod wise. Going by cortex' data, by staying out of megathreads, I've saved the filter at least 50$.
posted by clavdivs at 5:54 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


...one topic leads to another. If the hearing is on-topic, the leadership press conference about the hearing presumably is on-topic, and if that's on topic, everyone's feelings about the Speaker's leadership and impeachment are pretty much on-topic, and pretty soon, it's basically a megathread without the news... - zachlipton

'the simplest thing that could possibly work' is to get a new thread going when you get to three degrees of separation from the main topic. If it has the weight and significance for it's own thread. If it doesn't, then maybe it's not critical at the moment.

Also...

A lot of enthusiasm out there for an off-site solution. Will there be proportional commitment for a sustained effort?
posted by j_curiouser at 5:56 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


I could install these.
runs
posted by clavdivs at 6:01 PM on July 25


"A lot of enthusiasm out there for an off-site solution. Will there be proportional commitment for a sustained effort?"

Who knows? But ought not we shelve that whole discussion for another thread? I feel like it's kind of derailing this one a bit, or overwhelming it. I do want to discuss it, but not this much right here, where I fear it may be drowning out other stuff that is also important.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:06 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


I guess that was snark. I'll bow out. Have fun.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:11 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


[Comment and a couple replies removed. Windopaene, you need to decide whether you want to be here or not, because this kind of behavior is pointing to the latter and I’ve already tried a couple times to let you turn it around and am not gonna continue.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:12 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


If Metafilter can't survive with the Megathreads anymore, what is the point anymore? What "community" exists if the most important thing happening here, is unsustainable?

I think the point is we're going to try to build a better, more open and accessible community. I'm not sure what that means for the impact on the moderators, but we're going to find out if and when we try to collaboratively create smaller, more-focused FPPs that allow for more in-depth discussion to happen.

A common theme of complaints against the megathreads is that they feel exclusive, require a lot of time, seem to have their own rules, and most of all, don't allow for critical examination of the many topics posted, especially when these topics are otherwise important to a lot of people who would otherwise want to participate.

The megathreads often do naturally split into a variety of major themes, and the recent Mueller testimony FPP is a coincidental example of what may be possible in the future, especially, as noted above, when it appears to have drawn greater participation from a wider variety of members.

If topic-specific FPPs work, it means there may be more discussion and engagement, and I'm not sure what that will mean for the moderators, but my hope is that without the pressure to exclude more in-depth discussion and to keep comments fairly laser-focused on breaking news, it will be easier on the mods and healthier for the goal of nurturing and sustaining the entire community.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:25 PM on July 25 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I'd point to the Mueller thread as a decent example—neither sterling nor wonky, just...normal and fine?—of a topic-specific post that's on the busier side. It's a big event sort of situation, so the thread's been a little chattier and complicated in tying in related stuff than I'd expect a typical topic-focused thread to be, but for all that it's managing not to be Just Everything Entirely, and it's after its busiest action still in the hundreds and not the thousands of comments. We've done a little bit of mod work in there but not as much as we'd normally need to do for a proportional chunk of megathread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:57 PM on July 25 [19 favorites]


If Metafilter can't survive with the Megathreads anymore, what is the point anymore?
Of course metafilter can survive without the megathreads; it's just that Pandora's box has been opened. So alternative options are being voiced.
I personally very much like the idea of sponsored affiliate subsite which should be self financing and even making a small bit of change to help the main site.
Metafilter is financially broken rather than broken broken.
There are more important items nearer the top of the list with probably the number one being a POC mod.
Hopefully we will have a financial meta soon to get a firmer idea of the business end of the site hopefully announcing a FUCKING GREAT BANNER ADVERT WHICH NOONE CAN MISS BEGGING FOR $$$ to bide over a transition period of some sort.
However this is the megathread megathread.
posted by adamvasco at 8:11 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


The biggest worry I have parallels the conversation on outragefilter and how minorities felt that their perspectives weren't being addressed. In a megathread, anyone could bring up some new persecution that Trump inflicted on a given set of people. How important that set of people didn't really matter to whether it was admitted to the thread, as long as it was a legitimate news link to new information it was allowed to stay.

Now, to talk about an act of the current administration on a minority is going to have to be evaluated on whether or not it is a fitting FPP for the site. This is (reasonably) a much higher bar. My fear is that this is going to disenfranchise people who feel like the site does not think that their problems are important. It looks to me like a Metatalk waiting to happen.
posted by Quonab at 8:32 PM on July 25 [14 favorites]


The "brainstorm megathread replacement options" post is up.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:01 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


To be clear: I wouldn’t expect a MetaTalk post on this anytime in the next couple weeks.

NARRATOR: The MetaTalk post went up that night.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:20 PM on July 25 [19 favorites]


The "brainstorm megathread replacement options" post is up.

talk about being late to the game, but I have a good reason. I just turned sixty. And as
someone even older than me pointed out, I am now officially wise even if I'm not.

So anyway, I think this brainstorm-megathread-options post is a wise one ... as long as it doesn't turn into a megathread.
posted by philip-random at 9:44 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


NARRATOR: The MetaTalk post went up that night.
posted by tonycps


Yeah I was hoping to reach out to people who’d expressed an interest, then people identified as prolific posters in the megathreads, SWOT some of the potential options as a group and maybe check whether Miko/jessamyn had structural/community culture Day 1 advice before hitting MetaTalk with a cohesive community interest gauge/feedback post.

So, not what I had in mind but we can just do the initial brainstorming bit there.
posted by Ryvar at 10:27 PM on July 25


NARRATOR: The MetaTalk post went up that night.

Yeah, to be clear biogeo had explicitly forecast posting a metatalk about initial brainstorming stuff a day or two ago. I think either theory on timing is good, but this is more someone following through on something they'd already discussed than an actual swerve on anything, later thoughts from other folks about a longer timescale notwithstanding.

The biggest worry I have parallels the conversation on outragefilter and how minorities felt that their perspectives weren't being addressed.

I hear you there; I'll say that from my end, from mod team perspective, we took away from that conversation the need to be aware of and make space for possible posts in that territory. So on the one hand, yeah, there may be a less consistent space for throwing in a one-off comment about something involving marginalized people in a running thread (just as there may be less of that space for one-off comments about everything else). But we're going to be trying hard to be sure that of the stuff folks do make dedicated posts about, that stuff will have just as much space, rather than letting it fall through the cracks or being nixed as "outragefilter" etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:40 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


Yeah, Ryvar, I appreciate that point of view also, and it could very easily turn out that a) there just isn't that much to say yet and the thread I posted will just kind of wither without much discussion, or 2) there will be plenty of discussion about brainstorming/ideas that may give people a more positive sense of direction, but a follow-up discussion of the sort you're describing will still be necessary. I hope you'll continue with your plan to reach out directly to specific individuals who may be interested in this and maybe doing some small-group discussion in another setting. By the time you've done that I think another thread on the topic will probably be a good idea regardless of how the one I've posted turns out; I think this is going to be a bit of a process to work through.
posted by biogeo at 12:18 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


Cool. I was wondering whether I should under the circumstances and I obviously agree this is going to be an intense process. My time availability's limited because crunch but I really want to help where I can.

Oh, and I apologize for missing your comment upthread about this until Cortex pointed it out just now. My bad.

We're straying offtopic though so that wraps it up for me in this thread. Hope to see a bunch of you over in the new one.
posted by Ryvar at 12:32 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


The biggest worry I have parallels the conversation on outragefilter and how minorities felt that their perspectives weren't being addressed. How important that set of people didn't really matter to whether it was admitted to the thread, as long as it was a legitimate news link to new information it was allowed to stay.

Now, to talk about an act of the current administration on a minority is going to have to be evaluated on whether or not it is a fitting FPP for the site.


I am uncomfortable with the way this is phrased. It’s the way you say “they” and so on. I feel like the concerns of people of color keep being used as a bargaining tool in this thread, in a way that feels a least a little cynical and self-serving.

I can’t and won’t speak for people of color — but did people express anger and frustration with this site at a time when the megathreads were still going strong? Why then would megathreads be a solution? Not being able to post an FPP and being relegated to a link in a massive thread (read by a only subset of the site) is not a solution for anything, but in fact a manifestation of the problem itself.

It’s one thing to say how important the megathreads have been to you personally. It’s another thing to declare how important they are for everyone else.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:32 AM on July 26 [21 favorites]


And I realize now that I could be mistaken — saying “they, the minorities” reads to me like that is not how you identify yourself, and I wrote my response based on that assumption. If I’m mistaken, I apologize. I shouldn’t be making assumptions like that.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:41 AM on July 26


> To be clear: I wouldn’t expect a MetaTalk post on this anytime in the next couple weeks.

NARRATOR: The MetaTalk post went up that night.


Oh for fuck's sake. This is quite the thing to wake up to.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:31 AM on July 26 [4 favorites]


In the new MeTa, zachlipton asks "What is a megathread?" and draws out certain implicit expectations in a way that people in this thread might want to read, even if you're not interested in discussing new continuation options right now.
posted by brainwane at 3:46 AM on July 26 [5 favorites]


maybe check whether Miko/jessamyn had structural/community culture Day 1 advice

My advice is just "get going" (as in "start working on it" not "get out") so I think a new MeTa thread is a good idea. Look, none of the options are going to be perfect, but I think an offsite megathread-type solution where users were at least at first limited to people who can be verified as MeFites would be a great idea and there are many good options out there. Will leave other comments in the new thread.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:49 AM on July 26 [8 favorites]


I have left the megathreads on and off over the last year or so to protect (or salvage) my mental health. I'm actually a little relieved as I always felt like I should be keeping up on the community thoughts.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:05 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Cortex, jessamyn, mods, can you quantify the difficulty with moderating the political megathreads, both What works, and What doesn't work? That would be really helpful to document because it likely applies to other MeFi doesn't do X well issues.

I have trouble in the political megathreads because of the:
  • Volume of comments, and people like me who come in in the middle and comment, but, sheesh
  • Unlinked and/or unexplained self-references to upthread or previous threads
  • Wild tangents that take on a life
  • Over-reactions, accusations, hyperbole, over-the-top comments
  • Unattributed/ incorrect/ sketchy information/ claims. Links to sketchy information.
  • Bad/ missing logic. Logical fallacies
  • Asshattery, blatant rudeness
  • Occasional bullying from poeple who will not tolerate others' opinions, similar to above

posted by theora55 at 1:48 PM on July 26 [5 favorites]


The political megathreads were launched to resolve issues, and it seems like we're going right back to the same setup, so it would make sense to get a handle on the same old shit.
posted by theora55 at 1:53 PM on July 26


I'm here to comment on Dreamwidth based on the post brainwane made wanting help answering questions about the possibility of using it as a base for a megathread transplant.

I've had a decent amount of experience running very active communities on LiveJournal, sometimes even around contentious (no_lj_ads) or emotionally charged (writing critique) ones, but less on Dreamwidth itself, which has fewer active communities overall though the bones are all there. For the most of this post, I'm shortening Dreamwidth to DW.

DW can handle the base technical challenges of megathreads without a sweat: people having accounts and making comments and viewing those comments, and the basics around moderating. But hey, a lot of places on the internet can do that. Here's a run down of some of the other differences that will effect how things go:

COMMUNICATION DIFFERENCES

* Comments are threaded, though can be viewed flat on any given post easily starting from oldest going to newest. That means people can reply directly to other people and conversations can branch, for better or worse; however, people can consume the commentary from least recent to most recent. It also means due to the notification system that you can pretty much have a conversation directed at you in a way that you can't on MeFi; I know on MeFi I'm prone to making a comment but can forget to check back and maybe somebody responded to it but I didn't know or didn't read far enough. Comment threads can go DEEP, but collapse at a certain level at a top level view.
* Comments are also paginated: no one big long endless post. Downside is you can't just endlessly scroll, upside is performance is not going to be an issue browser or server wise the more that comments happen. MeFi says no length limit on comments; DW has one but it's long enough (16K characters) that I don't think it matters in practice. The maximum number of comments a post on DW can have is 10K, and limitations like captchas start kicking in at 5K. The combination of flat mode + pagination means you can easily bookmark your place in the comments, like TWinbrook8 would want!
* MeFi has this handy dynamic "new comments since" thing that doesn't have an equivalent on DW; the closest you can get is having a post open in flat mode and refreshing the page and see what's come up since.
* You can get email notifications! With a high amount of granularity, even. So you can get email notifications of new posts, or new comments, or just new comments in the threads/posts you're interested in. Also, you can reply using email too, which given DW's lackluster mobile support is a real boon.
* You know how MeFi has the name of who posted a thing at the bottom? That's not going to be a guarantee in a DW community, because everybody looking at the thing has control over, and most viewing styles priviledge the who before the content. I think I've read about MeFi doing that on purpose, so that you consider the comment before the person, so if that's a factor to how megathreads operate then it's definitely not going to hold over on DW.
* Additionally, accounts on DW have something called icons, which are images up to 100x100 that you can attach to a post or comment. Each account can have multiple icons they can choose to use in any context, so sometimes they amount to metacommentary or commentary flair from a given account; others don't upload an icon; other people will only just use the one.
* There's no favoriting/kudos for comments at this time, but I know some people might actually like that, I've seen comments talking about that being a detrimental part of their megathread experience. Like MeFi, that means all comments have the same priority of being seen.
* On MeFi there's the read more and you are very limited in what you can have above the fold, on DW there's cuts which are more flexible (you can have more than one; you can modify what they say) and must be done manually by the person making the post.
* On DW you can post polls, if you have a paid account, or the community is paid.
* On DW most every person is going to have their own individual journal, and the community would have a reading page of the public posts of the members there (and, if one has access, the not public posts), which is something I have really loved for the metafilter community I have there. There's no equivalent on MeFi.
* On Metafilter, everything is public. On DW, people can make posts that only others in the community can see.
* On MeFi, you cannot delete your own comments; what you say is up there to stand as a record. On DW, everyone has the ability to delete their own comments and it is considered a right to be able to do so. Additionally, the person that makes a post has the capability to delete that post at any time, or edit it.
* You can embed images inline on DW (image hosting exists but is paltry), unlike on MeFi.
* If there's a calendar view on MeFi, I certainly don't know of one, but a DW community would have one, making it easy to go back and see posts from a given time.
* On DW you can, if you so choose, allow anonymous commments.
* Privacy wise, communities can enable IP logging of commments, but that can be turned off.
* Someone on DW can ban another user. That means that banned account won't be able to reply to comments or posts that person is making in the community.
* On MeFi, posts age out of the ability to be commented upon. On DW, I don't think there's a mechanism for that at the moment.
* On both DW and MeFi, you can send private messages to other users. On DW, you can turn off this capability, or limit it to people you give access to, or disallow it.
* The list of disallowed HTML on MeFi is smaller and more embedding is allowed on DW (beyond images even, like YouTube videos). No live preview at the moment, though there is a preview button. A lot of strides have been taken to make DW more MarkDown friendly so people have less of a need to know HTML.
* MeFi gets mainly consumed (I think) through its subsite front pages, but most of DW gets consumed from an individual user's reading page. So I guess that means context switching of other people's journals (or syndication feeds! You can use DW as a feed reader!) vs the posts to this community.
* On DW people can do whatever spinoff activities they decide to do, whether in their personal journals or making seperate communities. On MeFi, what exists serves as a binding of everybody in the same boat, but that's not going to be the case on DW.

MONEY DIFFERENCES

* DW is non-ad-based and supports itself through the purchase of paid accounts. The paid account features mostly benefit, though there are some small benefits for having a paid community as well. To my knowledge, DW pays enough to support itself through the purchase of these paid accounts, mostly because roleplayers really love extra icons for their roleplaying games.
* You can purchase "points" on DW and gift those points to others, allowing the recepient to purchase paid accounts.

MODERATION CAPABILITIES

* A community can be set up to have open membership, moderated membership, or invitation only membership. Members can have top level posting access or not. Moderators can set it up so that all posts go into a queue and only get posted once approved. So one could conceivably have open membership, but make it so that new members can't automatically make top level posts. If posting to the community is moderated, you can still designate users to not have to go through that moderation, which is also a good compromise.
* You can delete comments.
* You can screen comments: hiding the comment from view, except for those who made it and the mods. Apparently, one can even mark a particular user to have all their comments initially screened by default, though an admin console command? Ha!
* You can freeze a comment thread: nobody can make any further replies to that comment or any of its child comments. This I think would actually be a boon to a megathread moderation: freezing a comment thread is an indicator to participants and come latelies to keep things from spiraling further.
* You can make a comment as an admin to specifically mark your comment or post as something happening in a moderator capacity, so people can tell the difference between you as a participant and you operating as an authority.
* You can ban a user from a community.
* However, there's no easy flag/report button for comments and the reason like on MeFi. Somebody would have to private message the mod, and the mod would have to have DMs available, or there'd have to be an email set aside for that purpose (I've seen communities do that on LJ), to report things going down.
* And a mod can't edit the contents of a post, though they can disable comments on it, or delete it entirely.
* The mods of the community for this would not also have the powers to ban somebody from the whole site, obviously; given that DW has a lot of personal journal side focus on top of community capabilities, that means anybody that ended up banned in the community could still be quite entangled with other community members (they could have mutual subscriptions, etc) or still contact other users if they haven't been banned by them. I'm not pointing this out as a bad thing, but it does change moderation equations, I think?

A POTENTIAL ACTION PLAN

Not the only way to do things, just how I would suggest going about it if enough people were interested to run with it:

* Figure out what community username to use, make the community, figure out who are the mods/admins. I think it's obvious that there should be PoC, multiple, in administrative capacity here from the get go--I would hope that brainwane would be willing to be one of them, for instance. This feels important because it's something MeFi has fallen down on, but this project doesn't have to start on that kind of a footing. I'm willing to help in an assistive and technical capacity; I'm very familiar with the platform (have even done some code development on it!) and have a decent amount of experience moderation but while I've followed megathreads in the past I'm not a steadfast participant myself and so I should not be the one to determine the direction of things.
* Compose a basic set of operation and culture rules--you wouldn't want to get too specific to start with, I think, until you saw what kind of problems actually--put them in the profile of the community. Decide how the community is intended to function: do we have one active post at a time, a one to one attempt at replicating the megathreads, or how do we determine what are the FPPs? If it's one active post at a time, who posts it, and when do we go to the next one? (For instance, once comment count hits 5K?). The community itself could be used to discuss these by the people setting it up--a public or members only post, depending on how people feel about it--maybe collaboratively editing a GoogleDoc that ended up as the rules.
* Set up a community style that is mobile decent and more Metafilter adjacent (I could help with that)
* Compose a Dreamwidth technical entry point FAQ post, talking about what people would want to know coming here from Dreamwidth about how things operate. People will also be able to comment on this post to get assistance with things they have trouble with (my style sucks! How do I X! Is there a way to Y?). (I could also help with this!)
* At the start, I believe this community should be open membership, or at least allow comments from all registered DW users. DW is an internet backwater and that can be used to our advantage here to reduce the barrier to joining. The most likely failure mode for this endeavor won't be the firehose of the megathreads causing stress and strain: it will be not enough participation to be viable. And the open community can move to moderated membership at any time if open membership/commenting turns out to be a problem.
* Do something like this and identify megathread participants. Look at the posting history of the people you find so that if they're commenting on this thread saying "oh what a relief it's over, this was no good for me"...then you probably don't want to invite them, because we want to be respectful! Can also comb posts like this for people who say they loved the megathreads to follow and invite them personally. Otherwise, somebody should personally private message them, if they can be private messaged, with a short, friendly message of invitation. It's important for the technical post and the culture rule stuff to be up before inviting anyone this way, so they can know what to expect and gauge their interest appropriately. This specific step matters because, as I said above, your most likely mode of failure is not enough participation. Or, if the Metafilter admins want to promote it to provide that seed activity, that would also work. But one way or the other, something needs to be done to start it up.
* At this point, sit back and see what happens, and adjust accordingly.
posted by foxfirefey at 2:53 PM on July 26 [14 favorites]


(foxfirefey, you probably want that very informative comment on this thread instead...?)
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:04 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Oh geez mateez, thank you! And here I thought I was doing due diligence just by reading through this long thread, ha! I don't know if I should replicate that wall of text, but I can definitely link to it over there.
posted by foxfirefey at 3:20 PM on July 26


Ok that thing is happening again where I cannot keep up with this thread over several days and am now about 200 comments behind, and first I would just like to say I also got a whole lot from the megathreads, genuinely - not always daily but frequently, and I totally get the sadness around their demise. And I hope the things people are recommending (like in that new Meta), will work for everyone! (But, I would also like to remind people that this thread is happening in real time with fewer people than might otherwise choose to participate.)

Anyway I am dropping this comment because I keep wanting to say, every time I see it (and maybe someone already has, as I'm 200+ comments behind) but GEEZ people, announcing to all that the new plan (smaller, more dedicated threads) simply will not work, could not possibly ever work, and what a terrible idea that is and also Metafilter is going to be swimming with the fishes any moment...

let's find out, first, if they work. We shall do this by trying the thing. This is what we're doing now. There will always be plenty of time to be furiously negative later! Change is hard, but is not always for the worst.
posted by Glinn at 5:10 PM on July 26 [24 favorites]


I have an update.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:28 PM on July 26 [26 favorites]


where I cannot keep up with this thread over several days and am now about 200 comments behind,

This .... even if one wanted to participate in thinking about the future of the site, IMHO one of the main “exclusionary” dynamics here is the sheer volume of discourse, most especially on metatalk — where we have several concurrent longboat threads about the state of the site, several quite long...and TBH with a lot of the same voices in each of them doing the lion’s share of discussing things. I’ve had times of being more heavily involved here myself and I don’t begrudge anyone the right to take a bigger (voluntary) role than others in defining what the membership wants and who it even is. But if you want to keep and attract people, the sense is that the site is a wall of woke text and only really for people that have already been here a while. And who deal really well with walls of woke text (like academics, writers, etc).

Me (and I am an academic type) — I’ve been here in three incarnations for 13 years, as I said waxing and waning and sometimes dropping out for long periods, and other times feeling more commitment. I’m back to reading the site and following it and worrying about its future too, but I can’t keep up with metatalk even if I try. I can’t read metafilter for several hours a day, which seems to me is what it would take to feel like you knew enough to dare to enter the metatalk conversations especially without stepping in it, repeating yourself, or making a rookie mistake.

Reminds me a lot of academia. And that’s not good.

This is why threaded comments are useful, at the cost of everyone having read every word of a thread before weighing in on their own particular issues. Another thing that could work is limiting the ability to post to some number of comments per day or whatever, either voluntarily or in the code. Heresy I know.

A graph of these threads would show ten or twenty people who care deeply about this site talking to each other a lot, with maybe another 60-70 less engaged but closely following. May e the numbers are slightly larger but that’s my impression and always has been. Many others never even look at metatalk, and they’re mefites too. I like the banners welcoming people to join these discussions and contribute, but it is frankly a well-meaning hothouse in metatalk. This includes some of the strongest for a more inclusive metafilter.

Empirically I know people to whom I have recommended this site who look at it and describe to me seeing it as wall of text written by a small clique of insiders with very particular rules that are hard to discern without major time investment.

AskMe is so successful I think because it eschews this. You can read it for fun. You can read it casually. And responses really are metered and limited by topic and relevance and (at least by convention) frequency and usually length.

Not complaining, just observing. I too roll my eyes at each new MeTa that is bound to descend into the same people having the same highly articulate fights, over 700 comments or more. Part of me wants to read the whole thread, part of me knows it won’t be that rewarding because whatever I think, I’m not going to devote two hours a day to the task the way some folks here seem to have the time to do. And that’s fine too, but it means the discussion here may not represent the full spectrum of experiences on the site, or the will of the community of users, or any real insight into how to grow the community rather than shrink it through angry buttoning and gradual disengagement (which is happening in and in response to recent MeTas at a rather alarming rate).

TLDR MeTa has long had the same issues that the US politics megathreads have: too muchness that ends up reading as an insider/outside dynamic and is inherently exclusionary.
posted by spitbull at 3:47 AM on July 27 [38 favorites]


Typo: This includes some of the strongest for a more inclusive metafilter. —> strongest VOICES for ....
posted by spitbull at 4:04 AM on July 27


... and now i have FIVE damned threads open in their own tabs.

I think if you really want to end the megathread, a complete overhaul of the "Recent Activity" page is in order. Show more than the last ten comments, and add "X new comments" hallmarks and keystroke refresh. This multiple tabs thing is worse than a 5000 comment megathread.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 9:49 AM on July 27 [7 favorites]


A graph of these threads would show ten or twenty people who care deeply about this site talking to each other a lot, with maybe another 60-70 less engaged but closely following.

I care deeply about this site, but I have a job and other things that I do. I'm glad to see these threads go because they had become a small group of people arguing with each other about the same things all day every day (with occasional huge blockquotes that were unreadable on mobile) where other people simply weren't welcome to comment.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:39 AM on July 27 [23 favorites]


I blame exactly one person for doing this to Metafilter, and he's not going to stop doing it. I was hoping things would return to normal once you vote him out.

Fucking quidnunc kid, I knew all those promises seemed too good to be true.

I think the megathreads were full of smart, interesting people, a great (the best on the net even) place to catch up on the latest shitshow episodes, AND pretty much in newsfilter/GYOB territory. A blog I would read from time to time, but still. Good call.
posted by ctmf at 2:00 PM on July 27 [5 favorites]


yeah, the more I think of what the megathreads have become, the more I'm reminded of one of the more annoying turns-of-phrase you get in the film biz. That is, a producer reads your script and says, "This is a movie I'd like to see", which sounds promising until you realize it's actually a thumb's down, because what they tactfully didn't say is, "This a movie I want to MAKE."

But I'm the sort of guilty part in this allusion. In other words, "A megathread in which all the myriad complexities and passions of the current American political discussion are fused together in a single thread -- that's something I'd like to see. But (and it's all bullshit before the but) not on any site that I've got anything to do with."

I fully respect Metafilter for having attempted the above, and now for having the sanity to abandon the experiment. I look forward to noticing a tangible improvement in overall site sanity over the next weeks and months. Call me a glass-is-half-full type, but I prefer a stew analogy -- ie: this f***ing stew has got way more cilantro in it than it used to, and I like cilantro, but not this much, not when it becomes the ONLY thing I can taste anymore.
posted by philip-random at 8:57 AM on July 28 [10 favorites]


In the spirit of good faith and experimental whimsy, I'm occasionally posting links to the last catchall megathread to complicate the notion that certain news is too much for the site/community to handle. Figured I'd give it a try, especially after seeing some comments on r/metafilter that seemed keen on making assumptions about supposed sensitivities. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

One thing I have noticed in my few days of having the catchall megathread in my recent activity: it's a lot easier to keep up with the newer comments now that there are multiple other posts, such as the Mueller thread, for people to comment in.
posted by rather be jorting at 9:14 AM on July 28 [5 favorites]


Once a friend and I stopped by her uncle's house to pick up something. He received us in his study, which was lined with floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with tomes on the JFK assassination. His collection numbered at least 1000, not counting videos, works on other members of the Kennedy family and their tragedies, etc.

With its many appalling story lines, including multiple criminal acts and actors, the Trump Administration has the potential to inspire the same obsessive devotion to minutia in, well, me. If I'm not careful, I could ride the wave of my outrage for years and years. Wait until you see my collage of photos linked by strands of red yarn!

But for another few weeks, I have the remaining megathread.
posted by carmicha at 1:31 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]


Apologies, I don't have time to read most of this, I read a bit at the beginning and ran out of steam, so sorry if I've missed something, but my 10p-worth would be -

I've stepped into a megathread probably once, for all of 30 seconds, I didn't understand any of it and stepped out again (am not from the US, have a reasonable interest in politics, but the level of detail in those threads meant I couldn't understand them). I had no idea they were taking up around 50% of the mods' time. They've obviously been valuable to a lot of people, but if losing them means the rest of Metafilter gets ~double the mod resource in one fell swoop, then hooray.
posted by penguin pie at 3:08 PM on July 28 [4 favorites]


indirectly relates to the megathreads and the last three years

I can't believe it has been almost three years. I'm a privileged white guy, and I feel damaged. I can't imagine what it must be like for anyone on the margins.
posted by mecran01 at 8:22 PM on July 28 [4 favorites]


Well, in practical terms, now that things have settled in a bit, instead of one MF politics tab perpetually open, I currently have 4, including the main page which I used to check only daily and now need to monitor in case new politics threads that draw the majority of traffic suddenly emerge.

I guess this is what the mods are going for -- eventually the overhead on this will become too much and I'll stop visiting MF as often -- but it seems like a fairly high cost to drive away all of those like me who read constantly, post infrequently, and (I hope) have never been contaminating with megathread attitudes the other threads (which I visited more often since 2016 since the MT brings me back multiple times a day). There is a long tail of benign users you lose in excising the most damaging head of the distribution.

It's also the case that if the MT isn't actually drawing users away from other posts, and indeed may be drawing some users to the site more often than before, it may be masking a much more severe decline in non-MT MF usage that may become more evident once active MT-readers like me are successfully driven away. But that's an empirical question I don't have the data to pontificate upon.
posted by chortly at 11:43 AM on July 29 [11 favorites]


I know you may not be asking for a solution, chortly, but just in case anyone is running into the same thing -- for people who are adjusting their method of keeping track here are some options:

If people want a single page to bookmark, the uspolitics tag page (www.metafilter.com/tags/uspolitics) shows all the posts tagged with "uspolitics" in reverse chronological order. So it's a one-stop place to keep track of new posts.

We'll be updating the US Politics sidebar that's available on desktop and on mobile-Modern.

You can use the Recent Comments tab on the front page in desktop to see posts that have the most-recent comments, which lets you see reasonably quickly if there's a really hot active thread.

And Recent Activity is always a standby; it shows recent activity in threads you've participated in or chosen to add. You can add threads to your activity without commenting in them, by clicking the "Add to Activity" link just under the post's byline.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:04 PM on July 29 [14 favorites]


Thanks, LobsterMitten! I'm happy to adjust my process to try to make the new system work better for me.
posted by chortly at 12:29 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


(looks at the 20+ tabs I have open in my current browser window)

LobsterMitten, thanks for that summary!

FWIW, despite my multi-tab inefficiency, I can confirm that Recent Activity is very helpful for keeping track of posts regardless of participation.
posted by rather be jorting at 12:37 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


I've been reading Metafilter for over a decade (maybe longer?) and didn't know about "Recent Comments" — thanks, LM! Sometimes I'll view subsite posts/comments using "Popular" and be sad to have missed out on interesting conversations while they were happening, I bet this is just what I've been missing.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 1:17 PM on July 29


Jeez, some people acting like cortex said, "No politics ever" - which he didn't. MeFi is stressed with it's resources and changes need to be made.

I personally feel that the mega-threads have a cliquey feel to them and if you don't know every little thing that had been discussed already it is difficult to jump in. The mega-threads are about EVERYTHING US politics and that makes it hard to participate with a topic a mile wide and a mile deep . I think I would be more inclined to participate in smaller-bite size US political topics. I don't know all the details on trade negotiations and wouldn't participate in an FPP about that, but I might like to participate in a conversation about politics and education specifically, so I welcome this change.
posted by NoraCharles at 10:44 PM on July 29 [14 favorites]


Mall Stores: We're losing customers.
Mall: We kicked out the anchor tenant.
posted by M-x shell at 6:48 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Mall: because they were accounting for 50% of our security and maintenance budget, but only (some lower percentage*) of our actual sales. Also, people who visit the "anchor tenant" have been known to bring aggression into other stores, which drives away other customers from those stores.

Mall: and to clarify, we're changing zoning regulations** to prohibit these kind of "everything under one roof" big box stores, and instead allowing more boutique and niche stores. So you can still buy political material, but it's not a free-for-all.

* Has anyone run numbers on the number of comments per thread for US Politics threads compared to the rest of the site since the rise of MegaThreads? In sheer number of comments per thread, they're some of the most active threads, but what percent of MetaFilter activity do they represent?

** I know, malls don't set zoning regulations, but I don't know what to call mall-based regulations. Yes, I'm fixating on the wrong things here, but getting the narrative right is (not at all) important. ;)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:05 AM on July 30 [12 favorites]


As long as we still have the Orange Julius, we will survive.
posted by mittens at 7:52 AM on July 30 [16 favorites]


Entirely as a personal practice note: I tend to keep a thread I either have to or very much want to keep up to the minute on open in a tab, make sure everything else I want to get around to keeping up with is in Recent Activity (either by having commented or having clicked "add to activity" in the byline on the post) and then use RA as a kind of depot for kicking open the non-up-to-the-minute threads when I'm ready for some catchup reading.

Which works for my brain in particular, is all. And my mod perspective on it means I usually have a two or three additional "have to" tabs open at any given time independent of any sense of personal need/want, so I'm more acclimated to this practice than I might otherwise be. But I've very much come to think of RA as my personalized index into things that I definitely want to read up on but don't want to have to glance at a new-comments number on a tab for reflexively every 30 seconds.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:39 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


As long as we still have the Orange Julius, we will survive.

In this metaphor I think the Orange Julius Caesar is the biggest problem.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:11 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


As long as we still have the Orange Julius, we will survive.

Hot Take on a Stick
posted by rhizome at 11:24 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


if anybody needs me I'll be at Spencer's GIFs
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:40 AM on July 30 [27 favorites]


Apropos of nothing, we named our most recent cat addition Julius, because he is orange.
posted by biogeo at 4:51 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Auntie Anne's Plate of Beans
Sbarro ALL MY LIFE
posted by dw at 4:55 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Long ago he created the Megathread, looking for beauty, and perfection. And what did we get? A hedonistic nectar or greed and power.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:56 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


look, the whole mall is Banana Republic!
posted by sylvanshine at 9:22 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


if anybody needs me I'll be at Spencer's GIFs

This feels like a good nail in the coffin of the pronunciation argument, ty.
posted by missmobtown at 6:53 AM on August 8


A friend of mine has just gotten divorced because his ex just would *not* stop talking/face-booking/twittering about the current political situation. His now ex- was and still is daily clutching pearls, taking headache powders, etc, and non-stop chat/facebook et all and blah blah blah.

My friend was interested in a partner.

But she refused to back away from her computer, they didn't walk the dogs together down at the river anymore, actually, they didn't do anything that wasn't tied into this jive.

Make no mistake -- it's a horror show. But there's got to be a time to give it a rest, un-clutch our pearls, go walk the dogs, find a way to catch your balance.

And before anyone jumps my ass saying that this is some sexist, patriarchal, toxic male thing -- get a grip. It'd have been that same if it was one of my woman friends who needed to walk because her man was pearl-clutching and moaning.

And a lot of our best hearts and minds got sucked into those ongoing threads, it deflated the site overall. I'm glad that they're going bye-bye.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:53 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


It's dead, Jim.

Incidentally, I pulled time.gov up on my phone out of curiosity to see if the thread would close at exactly 8:20. And just as it ticked over... MY PHONE RANG. (It was a robocall.)

Anyway, it closed right on the dot.

.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:24 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


It's probably for the best that my kids took forever to get to sleep so I couldn't sneak in after your comment with a silly LAST PSOT!
posted by Jpfed at 7:20 PM on August 9


.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:39 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:21 AM on August 10


Well, I said my goodbyes to the megathread yesterday, but I neglected to publicly express my deep gratitude to the mod team for all their incredibly hard work keeping them functional for so long. (Instead I thanked them in the notes when I flagged my antepenultimate comment for a proofing error.). But it’s important to say this on the record: The megathreads would never have worked without their intense effort to trim the circular arguments, duplicate links, catastrophization, and extended riffing. Since MeFi sensibly doesn’t note deletions visibly, the resultant thread reads cleanly and clearly, like the best kind of editing. For that, I’m especially thankful, not least since I know it’s a job that I couldn’t perform even if I tried. So thanks again, mods.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:26 AM on August 10 [12 favorites]


A new post went up on the blue a bit ago, and when I first saw it I was confused. I thought the megathreads were decommissioned. When I clicked to look inside, it seemed even more like a megathread. Then I saw at the bottom that it came from a collaboration of mefites on the wiki as a replacement for megathreads.

I don't see a huge difference between this new US Politics post and the megathreads. I mean, I can tell it's all about one issue inside US politics rather than all the things that are happening, but it just doesn't *feel* very different to me. I'm interested in seeing if the new approach makes any functional change to solve the issues that the megathreads had.
posted by Stewriffic at 11:05 AM on August 10 [5 favorites]


I very much doubt this new US Politics post will push past 1000 comments, for one thing. It’s not meant to be a catch-all, unlike the megathreads.
posted by adrianhon at 3:51 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Yes, and by being more (or less) focused on a topic, I imagine it's easier to moderate, as well. Both because there are fewer total comments, and it's easier to delete derails when the topic defined, versus "U.S. Politics" in general.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:31 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Thank you, Rhaomi, for that list and retrospective.

also

Darn you, Rhaomi, for that list and retrospective.*

I started here https://www.metafilter.com/161034/The-RNC because 1) the RNC was coming to Cleveland and I thought the river might catch fire again and take the city with it this time and 2) at that time I was spending endless hours in a dark room holding a fussy baby so what was I going to do but read pages and pages of real-time commentary on MetaFilter?

Anyway, your godforsaken list has revealed to me that I have to go back in time by more than a year to read all our best hot takes and zingers.

*Tongue firmly in cheek here. I really do mean the "thank you" part.
posted by Tehhund at 6:21 AM on August 12 [12 favorites]


I miss the megathreads. They kept me grounded.
posted by Manic Pixie Hollow at 7:37 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]


I miss the megathreads. They kept me grounded.

US Politics posts can still be found at https://www.metafilter.com/tags/uspolitics, and https://www.metafilter.com/tags/potus45

We're also still working collaboratively on US Politics and US Politics-adjacent posts at the MeFi Wiki U.S. Politics FPP Draft page.

Sorry not sorry Tehhund ;)
posted by Little Dawn at 9:02 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]


I mean, I can tell it's all about one issue inside US politics rather than all the things that are happening, but it just doesn't *feel* very different to me. I'm interested in seeing if the new approach makes any functional change to solve the issues that the megathreads had.

I'm making a point of not using them since I'd be tempted to interact in a way similar to how I interacted with the MegaThread, and I know that's against the wishes of the community. So there's a functional change in that there's at least one person not participating, and that should make things easier on the mods.
posted by diogenes at 11:20 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I mean, I can tell it's all about one issue inside US politics rather than all the things that are happening, but it just doesn't *feel* very different to me.

The general idea is that the focused #uspolitics/#potus45 FPPs should be sufficiently broad to support an ongoing conversation for a decent length of time and concentrated enough that the discussion doesn't spawn multiple derails. In addition, we're looking to produce enough of them to cover the important news, with active threads open for long enough that they can be updated. (For instance, we're now on our second Jeffrey Epstein thread, the first having automatically closed just before his suspicious death, the new one launched when documents from his defamation lawsuit were unsealed.) None of them have the breakneck pace that resulted in the megathreads' perpetually overheated atmosphere, and if anything, the quality of conversation is even better. From what I understand, the mods are finding them easier to work with as well.

Some aspects of the megathreads that I hope won't fall by the wayside are following ongoing stories for longer than the mainstream media does and picking up on details that become more significant later. There's so much going on—every branch of the federal government is, metaphorically, on fire—and so much that's purely distracting, e.g. @realDonaldTrump's tweets. Although dividing our attention between multiple #uspolitics/#potus45 FPPs will have its challenges, it's bound to be easier to follow than the ever-accelerating velocity of the megathreads.

But for those who miss the constant stream of general information, I've found that the unofficial PoliticsFilter Slack is like methadone maintenance for news junkies.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:33 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I mean, I can tell it's all about one issue inside US politics rather than all the things that are happening, but it just doesn't *feel* very different to me.

That particular post might have felt familiar because my editing work (i.e. start with bitteschoen's framing and research and then add links to fill in the lede) was reminiscent of recent megathreads. But that FPP began with a suggestion in the El Paso/Gamification of Terror FPP, so the lede sought to summarize what had happened and then expand it into a larger discussion that would have otherwise been a derail from the El Paso FPP. From my view, it is and it isn't a variation of what we previously did, because before the megathreads closed, major events, like Mueller's testimony, were already spawning topical FPPs.

I feel like we're in an experimentation phase with the US politics posts, and it looks like we're already seeing broader participation from the community - my hope is that the posts are more accessible now, because more focused and thorough conversation is possible, the barriers to entry are reduced, and entire topics that someone might want to avoid, like Epstein, are much easier to navigate around.

I'm making a point of not using them since I'd be tempted to interact in a way similar to how I interacted with the MegaThread, and I know that's against the wishes of the community.

I wish you would join the experiment, but I respect your choice. I tend to read the megathread and US Politics vitriol on Metafilter as encouragement to keep trying to participate, because at least we #Don'tLookAway, and we've been trying to hold elected officials and the media accountable like nowhere else on the internet that I've found. I think the diffusion of the US Politics posts across Metafilter is an opportunity to address many of the accessibility and exclusion complaints that have been raised in good faith by members who would like to participate, so my goal has been to work on supporting posts that help facilitate more open and accessible discussions. I think the success of the US Politics posts so far is a reflection of the support that we do have in the community, including from our hard-working moderators, to help us figure out how to do this in a sustainable way.
posted by Little Dawn at 1:24 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


In addition, we're looking to produce enough of them to cover the important news, with active threads open for long enough that they can be updated. (For instance, we're now on our second Jeffrey Epstein thread, the first having automatically closed just before his suspicious death, the new one launched when documents from his defamation lawsuit were unsealed.)

I mentioned this in the DreamWidth thread, but this model doesn't seem sustainable. You're going to end up with several rolling threads instead of one rolling thread. Rolling immigration threads, rolling impeachment threads, rolling primary threads, rolling tariff threads.

Some aspects of the megathreads that I hope won't fall by the wayside are following ongoing stories for longer than the mainstream media does and picking up on details that become more significant later.

There's a tension here. Threads only last 30 days, right? You're only following stories long-term if you roll threads over (like topic-specific MegaThreads). Is that what we're doing? The immigration post certainly looks and feels like a topic-specific MegaThread.
posted by diogenes at 1:31 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


You're only following stories long-term if you roll threads over (like topic-specific MegaThreads). Is that what we're doing?

No, I meant that in the megathreads, I used to drop in the odd article about topics I suspected would be more significant later. One example would be Turkey negotiating with Russia to receive S-400 missiles, which I noted in May, which came to a head in July, and which will have ramifications down the road. I don't see that needing its own FPP, although it could be folded into one about, say, Trumpian arms policy. A counter-example would be the Trade War II focused FPP, which is obviously going to receive regular updates throughout its 30 day lifespan and which we can refer back to the next time Trump tries to ratchet up tariffs (and there may be an interlude between these). The point is that focused-topic FPPs look to be easier to moderate without any drop-off in the quality of discussion.

but this model doesn't seem sustainable.

It seems fine thus far—and the rolling Brexit threads suggests that this model can work out. It's certainly more sustainable than the megathreads.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:50 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


> There's a tension here. Threads only last 30 days, right? You're only following stories long-term if you roll threads over (like topic-specific MegaThreads). Is that what we're doing? The immigration post certainly looks and feels like a topic-specific MegaThread.

A topic-specific megathread isn't a megathread, though. My understanding is that there will be more strict policing of these threads to make sure they don't become catch-alls, and I've seen at least some evidence of that so far.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:52 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


You're going to end up with several rolling threads instead of one rolling thread. Rolling immigration threads, rolling impeachment threads, rolling primary threads, rolling tariff threads.

The Recent Activity feature seems to work fairly well for this, including because these posts don't tend to move as quickly as the megathread, and we can pick and choose the ones we want to follow.

There's a tension here. Threads only last 30 days, right?. You're only following stories long-term if you roll threads over (like topic-specific MegaThreads). Is that what we're doing? The immigration post certainly looks and feels like a topic-specific MegaThread.

One way to link to a previous post is to note it at the end of the new FPP with the usual "Previously on Metafilter" link. Another possible option is what we did in the megathread, by adding a link to the new FPP as the old FPP was being closed. It is an adjustment, but we also have familiar posting traditions that can be used to help link ongoing discussions.

I also think tags are an underused resource on Metafilter, and may become more important for finding topical US Politics discussion now that we don't have the one-stop shop of the megathread. Over at the U.S. Politics FPP Draft wiki page, I plan on expanding the discussion of tags, but I've been beanplating how best to refer to the upcoming election, because it doesn't look like there has been a standard tag (e.g. election2020, 2020election, 2020elections) and I think we need to pick one and stick with it. But that's a derail about a detail for now - my general point is that I think we have options for how to manage US politics discussion without the megathreads, and we don't necessarily have to be particularly innovative due to the resources that we already have here.
posted by Little Dawn at 2:03 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


The Recent Activity feature seems to work fairly well for this, including because these posts don't tend to move as quickly as the megathread, and we can pick and choose the ones we want to follow.

I find "My Comments" works well for threads I'm significantly engaged in. The "add to activity" function also helps.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:06 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Cortex said this at the top of this thread:

Some of the substantial major stories or developments in US politics will make sense as standalone posts. We want folks to rework their expectations back in that direction, toward making topic-specific posts with focused discussions, as was the standard practice up until 2016. Sometimes that may be a couple paragraphs of roundup of links on a complex topic; sometimes that might just be one really good link worth discussing in its own right. More “here is a specific thing worth talking about”, less “here’s the state of everything, go”.

What you guys are creating wasn't the standard practice in 2016.

I'd like to help out with the new politics model, but I'm struggling with the fact that the current solution seems to run counter to what cortex said he wanted.
posted by diogenes at 2:13 PM on August 13


To put it another way, how am I supposed to square "We're experimenting with new ways of doing things" and "Do it like you did it in 2016."?
posted by diogenes at 2:18 PM on August 13


> What you guys are creating wasn't the standard practice in 2016.

What aspect(s) of the political threads started since the final megathread opened do you think goes against the way things were done in 2016?
posted by tonycpsu at 2:21 PM on August 13


What aspect(s) of the political threads started since the final megathread opened do you think goes against the way things were done in 2016?

Trying to facilitate an ongoing conversation that persists beyond a single standalone post.
posted by diogenes at 2:26 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


> Trying to facilitate an ongoing conversation that persists beyond a single standalone post.

It seems to me like you're hung up on what you imagine the intent of the posters / participants is rather than whether the end result resembles how things worked before. There are plenty of examples of posts that went 2, 3, even 4 weeks with frequent updates prior to 2016, many of them pertaining to aspects of US politics. Posts on topics for which there is less to discuss at the time they're posted will likely get a few dozen comments and then go dormant like they always did, while posts with a more active relation to current events will probably be active for longer. The specifics of how long posts stay active or how many posts they get might differ, but I see these as differences of degree, not kind.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:36 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


There are plenty of examples of posts that went 2, 3, even 4 weeks with frequent updates prior to 2016, many of them pertaining to aspects of US politics.

It isn't the first 30 days that I'm talking about. It's the notion of an ongoing (rolling) conversation around a particular political topic.

For example: "It seems fine thus far—and the rolling Brexit threads suggests that this model can work out."

We weren't building a model around the rolling of single-topic political threads in 2016.
posted by diogenes at 2:48 PM on August 13


There's also this from cortex:

Part of the goal here is to adjust downward the overall weight of US politics discussion on the site

I'm not sure we're moving towards that goal with the model that is developing. Moving political discussion off-site seems like a much more straightforward way to accomplish this.
posted by diogenes at 2:59 PM on August 13


It's understood by everyone—mods, posters, and commentators—that this is an organically evolving situation in response to what's happening in the nation and the world. We can't turn back MeFi's clock to early 2016 any more than we'll be able to restore the news cycle to 2016 once Trump is gone (TTTCS).

While we could probably use some mod feedback in this thread at this point, here's Cortex from a little later in the thread:
Yeah, I'd point to the Mueller thread as a decent example—neither sterling nor wonky, just...normal and fine?—of a topic-specific post that's on the busier side. It's a big event sort of situation, so the thread's been a little chattier and complicated in tying in related stuff than I'd expect a typical topic-focused thread to be, but for all that it's managing not to be Just Everything Entirely, and it's after its busiest action still in the hundreds and not the thousands of comments. We've done a little bit of mod work in there but not as much as we'd normally need to do for a proportional chunk of megathread.
The El Paso (and the Dayton) Shooting thread was similarly a more active than the standard FPP and required mod attention—but much less than a megathread. Its activity has slowed down, even as it continues to receive updates both about El Paso and Dayton and discussion about gun control and mass shootings as they pertain to the situation. From this side of the screen, it looks like a reasonable successful #uspolitics discussion. In contrast, the Trade War II and Immigration Raid FPPs received burst of activity following the breaking news but have cooled off quickly, even though it's also receiving updates. And the Dem Debate thread keeps chugging along. We'll doubtless continue to discuss these topics after the threads have closed simply because they won't disappear from the headlines (I really, really wish I could be confident there won't be another mass shooting in the next three weeks…). And these threads collectively haven't generated the number of mod notes as the last megathread or, it's safe to say, anywhere near the attention.

> There's also this from cortex:

Part of the goal here is to adjust downward the overall weight of US politics discussion on the site,


Here's the other half of the equation, which is where the balancing act comes in: and the moderation attention needed to manage it.

So far, we're doing OK with the equilibrium between discussing #uspolitics/#potus45 on the Blue and lowering the amount of attention the threads require from the mods. We're continuing to work with the mods and the MeFi community to bring about a post-megathread solution that we can adjust to.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:08 PM on August 13 [3 favorites]


So, to speak as a subject matter expert on cortex: I feel pretty okay with how things are going at the moment. We're in a bit of flux, folks are adapting their expectations on the site and experimenting with off-site ideas and that's pretty much how I expected things to go.

I don't expect everything to shake out immediately, and I won't be surprised if in the next couple of months I and the rest of the mods ends up needing to provide some nudges as we see what's working well and what's not, but in the immediate term I can report the whole staff is feeling a kind of marked relief with how stuff has felt the last week or two vs. how it was a month ago. The degree to which the difficulties with the megathread model as it was specifically functioning were tied to those specifics—rather than to the concept of political discussion itself, or to that of detailed threads on political subjects—is if anything clearer now with folks' energy elsewhere than it was when we made the decision to move on this, and it was already feeling pretty substantially clear then.

There will continue to be a lot going on in US politics for what I'm going to give myself the psychic kindness of characterizing vaguely and hopefully as only "a while", and we're gonna keep having discussions of it on the site. I think the current model, with more topic-focused individual threads, is working well. It's been more manageable. It's been less exhausting. When there's trouble or moderation needed in one of them, it's needed on a specific subject, not On The Subject Of All Things Political And Community-Expectation Intersecting At Once, and honestly that's huge just by itself.

While my focus has been on the idea of dedicated single-topic threads as basically self-contained entities, and I think that's likely to be the case for most threads, I think it's a given that sometimes even a given single story/situation will be protracted and thorny enough that it may see more than one post. The Epstein case is a good example of that—I don't really have a problem with there being a second thread when, indeed, the whole thing has sort of dragged out over the course of the first month that there was a dedicated thread. I don't want Endless Epstein Threads, and it may be that another month on there won't be enough happening with the story for it to make sense to immediately follow up, but I can tolerate the occasional sequel/threequel on a specific subject that really is continuing to develop in a high profile way over more than thirty days.

My main expectation there is that folks (a) keep the threads themselves on topic and (b) refrain from just habitually Next Posting every topic because the thread is closing rather than because there's something really substantial and post-worthy and new happening. We'll navigate the hairier edges of all that as it comes along; it's hard to say much about whether and where that's going to be a problem when we're still a few weeks in to even announcing the retirement of the megathreads, so that's another case for seeing how things are going a couple months down the line.

I'd ask folks to basically keep actively in mind how much this is a new and in-progress thing and not feel like we need to draw conclusions or forecast too aggressively vs. doing what normally works well on MeFi: taking it a thread and a day at a time, see what's working, see what feels like it could use nudging, and work along incrementally from there. I've already thrown the one big switch that needed throwing; now we're in the slower, subtler process of seeing how things go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:19 PM on August 13 [10 favorites]


Can I ask why people are writing stuff like "This is a topical US politics post on X topic" at the bottom of their posts? Is it just to remind people that it's NOT the old kind of politics post? When I see something like that, it feels weirdly formal and in-crowd -- like posts related to politics are still sort of treated as these special things with their own rules and expectations. But I wanted to ask in case I was getting the wrong impression and being unfair in some way.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:08 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


I can tolerate the occasional sequel/threequel on a specific subject that really is continuing to develop in a high profile way over more than thirty days.

To help me think through an example, how about the subject of impeachment? It's definitely going to develop in a high profile way over more than thirty days. At the moment, I don't think there's a thread for it. Should I create one? Do I need to make a blockbuster collaborative post on the subject, or can I just post an article about a new development? When the thirty days are up, and there's another significant development, should I create another FPP on the subject? Can I do that 4 times? 5?

Anyway, I did read an article on the subject of impeachment today that I had some questions about. Since I didn't think there was a current topical US politics post on the subject, I posted the article and my questions on DreamWidth.

I'm not implying that this article warrants an FPP. But it's a good example of the kind of stuff that doesn't fit anywhere in the new model. I guess it will once someone starts a rolling impeachment post? Which is kind of weird and confusing...
posted by diogenes at 5:46 PM on August 13


Can I ask why people are writing stuff like "This is a topical US politics post on X topic" at the bottom of their posts?

I did it for the immigration post not for any particularly good reason. I suppose my main intent was to communicate that there was a bunch more inside, that it was intended to be a post on recent developments related to US immigration in general, as opposed to just being one about the ICE raids in Mississippi. I didn't want to do the cute "there's [more inside]" thing, so I thought just explicitly saying what it was meant to be made sense. And further, I wanted to communicate that, despite kind of looking like one, it wasn't a megathread, but was intended for ongoing news and discussion on its topic.

I didn't particularly think of it as exclusionary, but I can understand how it came off that way and apologize for that.
posted by zachlipton at 6:12 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Not that it's the core of what you're asking, but fwiw there's and impeachment-related post currently and it'd be fine to add that in there if you feel like it fits and someone didn't get to it already.

But looking at it broadly: if there's post-worthy developments about impeachment—which given the churny nature of US politics I'd characterize as "something happening" rather than just "folks writing down thoughts about the possibility of something happening"—I'd expect folks would be considering making a post. At which point, they'd ideally work through a few thoughts:

- Is there a post on the topic open already? If not:
- Does this feel like a significant development from wherever the conversation/news was when the last discussion left off? If so:
- Does it feel like this development's already clearly a noteworthy thing (as opposed to a thing that yet might or might not turn into a noteworthy thing)? If so:
- Think about making a post!

I don't have a more detailed rubric for this than that; I'd like folks to think about whether they're posting to fill a void on a topic or posting because a post feels like it's a genuinely interesting and useful thing, mostly, and if it's the latter and there's no other obvious reasons why not, then, okay, so it goes.

If folks seem to be posting more to just fill the topical void, we'll step in and try and steer some. If folks are posting in a way that feels like they've conspicuously missed the context of other recent discussions on that or closely related subjects, likewise. I expect to have to do a little bit of nudging and sorting through in the process of all this.

Another big part of it is that there's a big difference between two, three, four posts in as many months on a specific subject that run to the hundreds of comments and don't swing around wildly topically, and an indefinite series of posts that run to the thousands of comments and are trying and failing to be everything to everybody. As much as I'm not excited about the prospect of a long string of posts on a given political topic month following on month, I recognize that some specific issues could end up having that sort of shape and if they're not otherwise causing major problems on the site that's probably gonna be okay.

Which, again: I care more that people aren't posting for seriality's sake, that even if something turns into plural threads on a given topic, it does so because there's something really substantial each time prompting the post, something other than "well, there's still some burbles burbling along so I guess we gotta make another post about x".
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:12 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Anyway, I did read an article on the subject of impeachment today that I had some questions about. Since I didn't think there was a current topical US politics post on the subject

There is indeed an active impeachment FPP. One habit to adjust to will probably be checking to make sure that there aren't already open FPPs on a given topic. Searching by tags helps, as does MeFi's menu bar search function. In general, it will be better to add comments to ongoing focused #uspolitics/#potus45 threads instead of starting new ones. Maybe if it's a case of a major development, a new focused FPP will be necessary, or if it's an especially good article, it could warrant a single-link FPP.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:12 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


(Jinx, cortex.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:14 PM on August 13


I didn't particularly think of it as exclusionary, but I can understand how it came off that way and apologize for that.

Thanks for the explanation, and no worries, I figured it wasn't a big deal. I only asked because I thought I'd noticed a few posts that did that, and I wasn't sure how to interpret it. I figure this is still something of a transition period.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:04 PM on August 13


There is indeed an active impeachment FPP.

Ah, I forgot about that one. It fell off the US Politics sidebar. I just checked Recent Activity, and it was a looong scroll to get to it due to inactivity. It is the tenth FPP under the #potus45 tag, so I could have found it that way.

I did post my question there. It seems like the number of people who will see it and potentially answer is going to be very, very tiny.
posted by diogenes at 5:47 AM on August 14


diogenes, I think quite a few people use RA to monitor threads so it does pop back up on many radars, if not all.

Though if your goal is to get a question answered, specifically - maybe askme is more valuable than an FPP?
posted by mosst at 6:34 AM on August 14 [3 favorites]


Can I ask why people are writing stuff like "This is a topical US politics post on X topic" at the bottom of their posts? Is it just to remind people that it's NOT the old kind of politics post?

I've also used a note like this, and, what zachlipton said, pretty much. To the degree that a poster can steer the discussion, I wanted the discussion in my Elizabeth Warren post to be about Elizabeth Warren, not the twenty-odd people running for president or the invisible primary or Biden saying something racist or who ate what at the Iowa State Fair or whatever (not to say I don't enjoy those kinds of stories, because I do).

I also see this as a period of transition, and expect that these notices will at some point seem unnecessary.
posted by box at 6:56 AM on August 14 [3 favorites]


One of my big fears about the loss of the megathreads was that I wouldn't be able to keep up with an explosion of new politics mini-threads, but so far, I think it has been a real positive? For one thing, there's not that breathless minute-by-minute "something huge is JUST about to happen" feeling I often got from the megathreads, where there would be this emotional amplification effect that was very gripping but also...kind of wheel-spinning? For another, being able to ignore some of what's going on is really refreshing! There are a couple of big political things that I find too tough to keep up with, and being able to still read some threads without those particular things has been good for the old mental health. (And it's SO MUCH LESS DAUNTING to comment in a smaller thread.)

I'm still trying to get used to recent activity for fast-moving threads, because sometimes i don't realize one is going to speed up, and suddenly i'm missing comments and have to jump back into the thread and scroll back and try to find my place. And sometimes I forget which thread I'm in, because of course we're often talking about the same people in two different threads.

But overall, I feel much more optimistic about this change than I thought I would.
posted by mittens at 7:20 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


I did post my question there. It seems like the number of people who will see it and potentially answer is going to be very, very tiny

I saw it this morning and have responded after reading the NYDN article (Engel's spinning his support to appeal to his constituency, but there's more to the Dems' impeachment strategy, or lack thereof).

Mosst's suggestion of using AskMe in a case like this is a much better way to get a fast response. When there's a specific question about parliamentary procedure, the Dems' waffling statements notwithstanding, there's less likelihood that the conversation on the Green will turn into politichat.

It fell off the US Politics sidebar.

Would it be possible to expand the US Politics sidebar a little? At the moment, it has only five items, and increasing it by just a few would help. I've also been considering if the "Megathread-Adjacent Posts" section in the boilerplate for the megathreads could be translated to the focused #uspolitics/#potus45 FPPs including links to other such open threads, or maybe a link to tags. (This raises the question of if it would help for the #uspolitics/#potus45 FPPs to have their own unique tag.) But this is housekeeping that we can work out at its own pace.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:46 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I think we can think about expanding that (or making it expandable as a user preference, maybe). As is we definitely built it with the "megathread + a couple other things" use case in mind, and with a somewhat larger crop of topic-specific threads going it may make sense to try and accommodate more entries.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:05 PM on August 18 [4 favorites]


Would it be possible to modify the "Recent Activity" page to be able to auto-follow new posts matching a user's selected tag(s)? While I'm specifically asking about the #uspolitics/#potus45 tags, it might also have utility for other tag keywords for other people.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:19 PM on August 18


That's a bigger sort of idea to tackle; right now that's more what the "My MeFi" filter is meant to capture, with folks adding what they want to RA selectively instead of potentially firehosing it. I don't have strong thoughts either way on it at the moment beyond that, though, just want to mark it as something where the complexity of the idea and potentially of the execution makes it hard to say anything other than "maybe, at some point, but we'd need to talk about it more first".
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:37 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]


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