Editorializing September 12, 2019 7:04 AM   Subscribe

What are the rules on editorializing, exactly? I notice some posts with a strong poster's-own-voice getting through, and some getting deleted, and I haven't been able to figure out the rules behind the rule.

I haven't gotten any of my own posts deleted for editorializing (that I remember, anyway), so I don't have a direct personal interest in this, but I do notice that some posters seem to have tapped into some sort of exception to the editorializing rule, and I'm wondering if that exception could be made explicit. Examples, if you're wondering what I'm talking about: What's the difference between this post and this one? Thanks.
posted by clawsoon to Etiquette/Policy at 7:04 AM (68 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

There are a couple of factors. One, did it get flagged? If it doesn't get flagged, we may just plain not see it. Two, is it a post where the poster's opinion isn't going to shape the thread in a meaningful way? (I personally don't bother deleting cute-animal posts for editorializing, for example, because it's needless static and doesn't improve the site.) Politics stuff, sensitive topics, and complex topics the content of which the average user doesn't necessarily already have an opinion on are the ones where we prefer to delete and ask for a reframe, because the poster's stated opinions can really warp the threads in ways that tend to not be about the content but about the poster.

(This is not to say it's impossible for the poster to express their opinion - certainly, framing and link selection are the most powerful ways to do so - but putting a my-feelings thesis statement in the post is what really tends to skew the resulting discussion.)

Hippybear's ongoing music posts are honestly on the bubble - very strongly editorial in ways that we don't love, on topics that aren't usually flashpoints. But we've talked about it with him before and this seems to be the compromise that we can make.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:12 AM on September 12 [6 favorites]


What's the difference between this post [Tori Amos b-sides] and this one [California will offer health benefits to undocumented immigrants]?

The difference I see is that the latter, the deleted post, is political, where the former, not deleted, is not political.

From my experience, fandom (in the loosest sense) is given more leeway for editorializing, while political and political-adjacent posts are expected to be just the facts (though the poster can then provide their "editorial" comment directly following the post, but I personally wait for a few comments, or lacking comments, a few hours, before joining the discussion, so I don't appear to instantly try to steer the conversation). Maybe I've internalized this norm as a fine way to set boundaries because I've been on MetaFilter for years now, but at the moment, I rather enjoy reading people's passionate posts about their fandoms, even (especially?) where they aren't my fandoms.

In my eyes, the California post is pretty light editorializing. Change the title, delete "It is and has been alarming that" and remove the final sentence, and it seems like a factual post.

But this gets to the point about updated and clarified guidance for MetaFilter. Is this something that is currently in development, or lower on the list of site work?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:53 AM on September 12 [15 favorites]


Filthy light thief and many other folks who post music FPPs don't editorialize. They may background/historical info or factual context about the musician/music, but they don't use "I" pronouns and don't insert opinions.

However, I also have concerns about over-patrolling the more slightly editorial posts because of deletions in recent site history (you know to what I am referring) that masquerade as deletions for editorializing/"outrage"-filter when it fact it reflected a muchbigger community and modding problem on topics concerning racialized peoples and communities. (I am not suggesting we relitigate that here, as I am not trying to get us on a derail if that even would be a derail, but I would be remiss to not bring it up).

I think the biggest (and most simple to follow) rule re: editorializing should be staying away from "I/me/my" pronouns.
posted by nightrecordings at 8:07 AM on September 12 [17 favorites]


But this gets to the point about updated and clarified guidance for MetaFilter. Is this something that is currently in development, or lower on the list of site work?

Absolutely in development, and I hope we'll get some stuff up publicly in the next week or so. One of the biggest challenges is making sure everyone has a chance to sign off, when we're not all around (and working) at the same time.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:21 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]


Not picking on hippybear here, whose contributions I rather enjoy, but these seem to be the relevant examples at hand and I'm asking this question honestly:

What exactly has changed between this post (deleted) with a mod note saying "it still needs to be an actual Metafilter post and not a personal blog post" and this post (not deleted)?

I'm asking because this might seem like a pretty nebulous and confusing state of affairs for anyone who's a new member, or even a long-time member who's contemplating a first post. And as someone who reflexively avoids first-person pronouns in FPPs, I'll admit to finding it perplexingly inconsistent.

It doesn't seem to be spelled out that clearly in the guidelines or FAQ aside from a mention of axe-grinding in the FAQ, but that's a very specific type of editorializing that doesn't seem to be at issue here.

So my next question is pretty much the same as filthy light thief's question above:

But this gets to the point about updated and clarified guidance for MetaFilter. Is this something that is currently in development, or lower on the list of site work?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:23 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]


Absolutely in development, and I hope we'll get some stuff up publicly in the next week or so. One of the biggest challenges is making sure everyone has a chance to sign off, when we're not all around (and working) at the same time.

Ah! Asked and answered. Thanks.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:24 AM on September 12


I'm really glad you asked this. When the first Unite the Right rally happened, before it became a national news event, I wrote a post about it and refrained from calling the organizers and participants Nazis even though I felt that they were. I was afraid it would be considered editorializing and that the post would be taken down.

I want to bring this up here because I think that we need to acknowledge that trying to be "neutral" or avoid editorializing is not actually a neutral position.

I would also like to apologize to the community for normalizing Nazism/fascism in an effort to avoid editorializing.
posted by CMcG at 8:37 AM on September 12 [33 favorites]


I'm honestly not sure if I am missing something here, but the only editorial stance the Tori Amos post appears to be making is that the links... are good? Isn't that generally assumed to be the case on MetaFilter? Obviously sometimes we link to terrible subject matter (news, deaths, etc) but we assume that the links themselves are good journalism or commentary or whatever. I actually really enjoyed the lack of framing in the Tori Amos post and almost said something in the thread to that effect.

It used to be said that a good MetaFilter post is something that you think people "should" see, not something you think people "need to" see, and while I don't think that is entirely true these days, I think that mantra might be useful to consider if you are worried about the tone of your posts.

I also heartily agree with CMcG that neutrality is often not an equitable position, as it privileges the status quo and the majority. I think a good example of a non-neutral but non-editorial post might be the most recent Brexit post by rory. It doesn't shy away from the true facts of the situation, but also doesn't try to advocate or sway the readers' opinion.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:57 AM on September 12 [15 favorites]


nightrecordings: I think the biggest (and most simple to follow) rule re: editorializing should be staying away from "I/me/my" pronouns.

That's a clear rule, and not pushing against you personally, but I question the need to exclude all editorial/ personal commentary in posts, in part because I enjoy posts like those from flapjax at midnight, who uses a lot of I/me/my.

And to me, that makes sense. Fandom isn't driven solely by facts, but also emotion. Should emotions be kept out of posts, and saved for comments? It'll make post-making more clear, and also standardize moderation a bit.

I'd be interested to hear from other users as to whether these "personal posts" make MetaFilter more or less welcoming. I realize I may be speaking from a place of privilege and comfort with "MetaFilter norms" that others don't have when I voice my enjoyment of these type of "fandom" posts.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:34 AM on September 12 [5 favorites]


For me the concern is mostly for someone who gets their first post deleted for editorializing after seeing editorializing on the front page, becomes convinced that there's an unfriendly ingroup-outgroup dynamic here, and leaves. Clearer rules (and clearer delete messages) might help with that: Instead of "sorry, no editorializing", maybe the delete message should be, "sorry, no editorializing on hot-button topics" or something like that?
posted by clawsoon at 9:42 AM on September 12 [31 favorites]


I think there's a weird conflation of "editorializing" and "using the Blue as your blog".

Calling Nazis Nazis when they are Nazis: meets the dictionary definition of editorializing but not problematic for MetaFilter (and it sucks that you felt like the policy deterred you there, CMcG).

Post where most of the post is your original content/commentary and you don't need to click on the links at all to engage with it: could be completely objective but not really MetaFilter material.
posted by capricorn at 10:30 AM on September 12 [6 favorites]


Big Pharma fails to deliver again, nope, not editorializing at all.
posted by lalochezia at 10:48 AM on September 12 [4 favorites]


a weird conflation of "editorializing" and "using the Blue as your blog"

Exactly. hippybear does a balancing act in that regard and I'm fine with it. AFAICT the difference between the deleted Prince post and the current Tori Amos post is the ratio of content to gushing. The former had one link, the latter has many.

I'm all for passionate expression of enjoyment.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:29 AM on September 12 [5 favorites]


I think there's a weird conflation of "editorializing" and "using the Blue as your blog".

The latter certainly seems to be a lot closer to how the rule is applied in practice, yes.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:41 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Something that I've found helpful is reading the deleted posts blog, which sometimes has useful info about why a post was deleted. But it hasn't been updating since some time in July. It would be nice if someone could get that working again.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:35 PM on September 12 [7 favorites]


The latter certainly seems to be a lot closer to how the rule is applied in practice, yes.

Yeah, I think my comment could have been clearer but I'd really like (some polite and compassionate version of) "get your own blog" to be the actual written policy instead of the confusing "editorializing"1. Personally I do think the hippybear posts are a little too far on the side of bloggy.

1 ...which it isn't. I've just noticed that the written policy is only against editorializing in the context of hot-button topics, which tracks really well with what restless_nomad said above.
posted by capricorn at 1:20 PM on September 12


hippybear posts lots of excellent content to this website. Let's not be pointlessly critical about them just because we're bored on a Thursday?
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:44 PM on September 12 [20 favorites]


Against my assumptions, I really enjoyed the week where people were making posts out of their old bookmarked websites, which veered kind of close to “get your own blog” territory. Things got weird in a good way.
posted by sallybrown at 1:45 PM on September 12


"This music is good, listen to it" is the kind of low-stakes topic that to me is fine for some brief editorializing.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:00 PM on September 12 [8 favorites]


I adore hippybear’s music posts — and not just because their tastes seem to line up with mine — but I have flagged their posts in the past due to the first person nature of their posts and will continue to do so.

The rules need to be applied evenly. And it’s not that hard to edit a post to for the rules.
posted by terrapin at 2:21 PM on September 12 [10 favorites]


Am I alone in wanting at least some editorialising when people post about art and culture? The world is happily large and diverse enough that I don't know every artist, album, performance, book, film or exhibition enough to have a way to get through (or even access) what I'm experiencing. I come to Metafilter because I want the community's perspective on what they see as the best of the web, not a list of content. (That goes doubly for non-famous, non-English, non-US art, where the likelihood of me having any exposure to it elsewhere is vanishingly smaller.)
posted by mdonley at 2:28 PM on September 12 [11 favorites]


For me the concern is mostly for someone who gets their first post deleted for editorializing after seeing editorializing on the front page

This is also why I'd like to see clearer rules. I don't really have a strong opinion on editorializing or sharing personal anecdotes in a post but I've been here a while and I've read a lot of posts and I can't figure out why some posts are deleted and others stand.

Against my assumptions, I really enjoyed the week where people were making posts out of their old bookmarked websites, which veered kind of close to “get your own blog” territory. Things got weird in a good way.

This is exactly what Metafilter is in my head: People posting links to interesting content they found. Maybe I'm misunderstanding where it got close to "get your own blog" and away from a "community weblog."

Something that I've found helpful is reading the deleted posts blog, which sometimes has useful info about why a post was deleted. But it hasn't been updating since some time in July.


I use the MeFi Deleted Posts userscript with Tampermonkey which makes them visible inline. It's interesting to see why posts are deleted and occaisionally I still get something out of the links when they're not spam or exact duplicates.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 2:28 PM on September 12 [4 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong but pretty certain here that What's That? is the only acceptable "editorial" FPP in MetaHistory.
posted by nightrecordings at 2:58 PM on September 12 [5 favorites]


Lots of posts, whether they use I-language or not, boil down "I liked this" or "I didn't like this" as the reason for sharing. I don't feel like it's a problem for posts to contain that level of people's opinions. The more someone curates and posts stuff for other people, the more I'm forgiving about that being a bit more overt. Stylistically, I'd be fine with stricter standards, I don't think this makes the community worse or anything.

On the other hand, when the posts get to be more about somebody's opinion than just "this is neat", then I can see the line starting to blur about whether we're seeing an opinion posted as an offhand aside about a link, or whether the point of the post was the opinion and the link was provided as backup. I feel like relaxing this much further would lead to a lot more of the latter, and would be a bad plan.

So far, the stuff that has been getting through feels like it's in a comfortable range of "incidental comment on the topic as a part of a larger effort" rather than "let me tell you how I feel".
posted by Sequence at 3:13 PM on September 12 [4 favorites]


I'm slightly in favour of this kind of editorializing. My benchmark for it is from another MeFi maxim - is the post "oh, people might find this cool" and not "people should know about this!"? If so, a little bit of editorializing is okay - we're a small site, and getting to know a little bit about the people behind the posts feels very much part of the culture at this point (see the water cooler threads). Anything particularly contentious or political shouldn't have it though.
posted by solarion at 5:53 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Personally, I editorialize heavily on many of my posts (ex, ex, ex, ex, ex and so forth). I have never had a post deleted for editorializing, and I tend to be the person in these conversations grouchily arguing that "no-editorializing" rules do more harm than good. I usually don't say "I", but my point of view is generally clearly evident in any multi-link post I produce. Some of that comes down to link choice, but most of it is my framing text: because I know very well that many if not most people don't read all of the links in multi-link posts about a topic, I try to make it clear what I want people to take away from each link in posts like that.

I completely agree with nightrecordings that the effect of banning editorializing has a silencing effect on marginalized points of view. In fact, I am much heavier on editorializing when I'm trying to bring a perspective here which is not already well represented and which I don't expect mods to already be closely acquainted with. In these cases I think it generally falls to me to create a springboard for discussion that encourages the conversations I want to have (usually aimed at specific groups of people with relevant experiences and interests) and discourages the conversations I don't want to have (usually aimed at people wading in to demand 101-type rehashes of a surface-level look at a topic, Hot TakesTM, and dismissive one-off pooh-poohing of the topic at hand). I am most heavy with that editorializing on posts that handle disability, class, and queerness, but any topic that I think needs to be handed sensitively (e.g. Georgia Tann's influence on closed adoptions) gets a similar treatment.

I have never been able to quite understand the difference between editorializing in a multi-link post and framing one. I often find that I either sit worriedly on the sidelines wondering whether I'm at fault because my multi-link posts nearly always are trying to bring out and discuss a specific point of view, or sit cantankerously in these MeTas encouraging other people who seem like they are concerned about the same things I worry over to follow my example.

Everything I bring here is shaped by my point of view and my decision that it was lovely to share. Pissing and moaning about whether or not someone is clever enough to tuck their opinion under an unsaid implication, as I usually do, or states it outright while they come here to share something they liked... guys, that's a bad look, and it is not helpful when it comes to inviting more people into this party. There's nothing wrong with that California post except that the poster is too up-front with her enthusiasm and too bluntly excited. Why in the hell should we penalize enthusiasm here?
posted by sciatrix at 7:07 PM on September 12 [21 favorites]


The rules need to be applied evenly. And it’s not that hard to edit a post to for the rules.

If having a post deleted didn't trigger the 24-hour refractory period, maybe. As it is, by the time I have that mild reprimand and then have to wait for 24 hours before I can even try again, I'm generally done with the impulse to post on the topic at all, and often have a definite drop in my motivation to post on other topics, too.

And I'm pretty experienced and confident about my posts. Someone who is learning, not so much. We want to make MeFi more accessible and intuitive, right? That's been a huge thread in the State of the Site discussions. Well, if someone makes a post and it gets deleted because they fucked up the framing, why not let them immediately resubmit a reworked version? Why do you have to wait? What are you supposed to be reflecting on, again?
posted by sciatrix at 7:10 PM on September 12 [20 favorites]


Yeah, I've always thought the 24 thing should be waived if the post is deleted. If the post was a shitfest and the user is being an asshole, then assess a timeout. Otherwise, you can try again right away.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:14 PM on September 12 [17 favorites]


As far as I can tell, by MetaFilter convention an FPP that said

As their share of the wealth inevitably increases , some of the rich are now hoping to suck the blood of their young . Is it time to ask if being wealthy is inherently immoral?

would be OK if the bolded parts were recent links (which is quite easy to do, e.g. an article by Pikkety, a piece about Thiel, and a Nathan Robinson essay).
posted by mark k at 11:26 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Well, if someone makes a post and it gets deleted because they fucked up the framing, why not let them immediately resubmit a reworked version? Why do you have to wait? What are you supposed to be reflecting on, again?

This is definitely something that should be considered.

If we're worried about someone abusing this (not even sure how, but just throwing it out there), then maybe require that someone can only (re)post within 60 minutes of the original and with the express approval and assistance of a mod on duty. I think that'd ensure no one is using this in a bad faith kind of way.
posted by Fizz at 4:15 AM on September 13 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think that's right, mark k, except hooo boy that theoretical post reeks of blood libel and anti-Semitism. I'm not sure it would stand on those grounds. At least, I really hope not.

But "editorializing" wouldn't be the stated reason that got it deleted. Either a mod would recognize the blood libel or a wave of irritated posters would come in and start commenting and flagging, and then it would be deleted. Consider here this FPP, which also contained a strong point of view that attracted vigorous disagreement but was also written in standard house style. The problem wasn't the inclusion of a strong opinion; the problem was that a) many people disagreed strongly with that opinion and b) follow-ups wound up focusing heavily on back and forths about that particular opinion. (This is not intended to be a call-out of that OP; like I said, this is absolutely how I might frame a similar post informed by an opinion I hold.)

Note that here the deletion was described as resulting from framing rather than editorializing. I sincerely think that's because of style rather than actual inclusion of opinions, and I think that the focus on unwritten rules of style makes posting FPPs more impenetrable and more intimidating to many people, not less. I think that's a culture problem.
posted by sciatrix at 4:57 AM on September 13 [5 favorites]

> "Yeah, I think that's right, mark k, except hooo boy that theoretical post reeks of blood libel and anti-Semitism. I'm not sure it would stand on those grounds. At least, I really hope not."
Oh, for fuck's sake… that sort of wilfully bad-faith reading, performative preciousness, and over-reactive pre-cog gatekeeping is one of the reasons this place has stultified, is losing active members, and isn't picking up any new ones.

It lines up nicely & slots in with the echo-chamber hivemind, but it's really not attractive to anyone wondering why they're still here, let alone people thinking of joining.
posted by Pinback at 5:30 AM on September 13 [11 favorites]


In the past, I have contacted the moderators when I've been thinking about making a post I thought might skirt close to the guidelines.

My most recent music FPP could have used more editorializing. As it stands, it was pretty close to mystery meat: Here's a cover by this band you've never heard of doing a cover of a song by this other band you've never band you've never heard of. There's no indication in the post at all of why I think it's something worth listening to.

I'd come across a nice blog post about this song in Spanish, a language a lot Mefites understand. I included a link to it as an afterthought, in a comment. I could have included a translation of an excerpt from the blogger's commentary and a link in the actual post, or something. There are ways I could have made that post better, and maybe more people would have ended up discovering something they liked or thought was interesting. That's ultimately the goal of posting things to MetaFilter anyway.
posted by nangar at 6:42 AM on September 13 [5 favorites]


hippybear posts lots of excellent content to this website. Let's not be pointlessly critical about them just because we're bored on a Thursday?

That's a really mean-spirited and dismissive interpretation of my comment, and of my intentions in posting it. I really enjoy hippybear's comments and they seem like a really great person who is dedicated to making the site a more fun/funky/weird place. My comment was not in any way meant to be "pointlessly critical", it was to argue for a change to the wording and enforcement of the policy.
posted by capricorn at 8:03 AM on September 13 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I think my comment could have been clearer but I'd really like (some polite and compassionate version of) "get your own blog" to be the actual written policy instead of the confusing "editorializing"

So, I think sometimes the two things do overlap ("editorializing" and "bloggy"), but sometimes they don't, and it's still worth differentiating.

In fairness: I am very strange regarding editorializing and what is sometimes (mostly in the past) referred to as "moderating your own post". I literally do not comment in posts I make, because I think that if I wouldn't post it if I couldn't steer the discussion (via heavy editorializing or by jumping in and immediately commenting about how I feel about it), it's not a good post for MeFi.
posted by tocts at 8:43 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]


That's a really mean-spirited and dismissive interpretation of my comment, and of my intentions in posting it.

It wasn't just you. In fact, it was the first mod comment that kicked it off.
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:48 AM on September 13


My most recent music FPP could have used more editorializing.

damn, nangar -- that's a great performance. Thank you.
posted by philip-random at 8:52 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


Pinback- historical antisemitism has included painting Jews as vampires. I’m sorry that you don’t see why such a post might be harmful but frankly if stopping anti Semitic framing stops someone from signing up to metafilter then good. We don’t need antisemitism on this site.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:17 AM on September 13 [11 favorites]


I believe Pinback's point was that the antisemitism was assumed before the (hypothetical) links were explored. If the argument is that we can no longer accuse any rich people of metaphorical vampirism regardless of their religious/cultural background, I think I'm with Pinback insofar as this feels like a bridge too far in pre-cog gatekeeping realm, because the rich vampires I know seem to hale from all creeds and cultures.

But I'm not Jewish, so maybe my opinion on the matter isn't that relevant.
posted by philip-random at 9:41 AM on September 13 [5 favorites]


At the risk of re-railing the thread, I think one thing we can all agree on is that, whatever the actual rules the mods want to enforce are, they should be enforced consistently regardless of whether an "editorial" or "bloggy" or whatever post is by a new person or an established member of the Cool Mefite Club.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:47 AM on September 13 [12 favorites]


wilfully bad-faith reading, performative preciousness

I shouldn't be as agog as I am that you could actually put those two things right next to each other without seeing the irony, but I am anyway.
posted by Etrigan at 9:50 AM on September 13 [8 favorites]


Let's try to stay remotely on topic here, folks, and try not to assume the absolute worst of everything everyone says. It's no more accurate than assuming the best, and it's much, much harder to get successful communication that way.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:02 AM on September 13 [3 favorites]


Regarding Hippybear's posts, I like them but I don't think they are a great fit for the front page because they do read so much like blog posts from a personal record collection. Those kinds of posts are great, but would fit much better on Fanfare where it would be a big plus to have people feel able to just albums or music they like without having to worry so much about framing or finding a reason to do so other than wanting to share and hear what other's think. (If that isn't an option, I'd rather the posts stay because they are enjoyed than be removed just to tighten the rules on bloginess. They just seem a more natural fit on Fanfare.)

For other kinds of posts I think framing is a pretty significant thing to consider as it often drives the conversation as much or more than the content of the links. Framing a topic in a way that feels exclusionary or suggests some sort of shared Metafilter POV isn't great for most things as viewpoints here do vary, but with some obvious boundaries either way as there are some key tenets that are held as more defining of the community's values as a whole. I wouldn't expect the site to demand posts about Trump not show any evidence of a point of view since that doesn't make sense for the site.

In a similar way, I agree that there are posts that are good for the site talking about issues that are needed to better inform site norms which require a point of view to make. Posts about areas the site has had a historical blind spot towards, but that fit the overall goals of the site for its improvement can be absolutely necessary. For me, it's really how strongly the subject matter aligns with the site's aims in determining how well the post fits a non-editorializing ideal. The problem of course is in trying to figure where those boundaries lie, since different people have assumed commonality when it wasn't there and that goes poorly.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:51 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


Cat-Scan.com is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their scanners, or why.

Flagged with Note: This should go on their own blog, because it has an expressed opinion and uses first person.

Seriously, I'd rather see dozens of "I think this is cool, give it a look" posts than posts where people pretend they're keeping at arms' length from the subject but you darn well know that XYZ is THEIR THING and they want you to make it your thing too. Both styles contain editorializing, but one style has been workshopped more so it doesn't seem so at first glance.
posted by kimberussell at 11:37 AM on September 13 [12 favorites]


Sorry prize bull octorok, it turns out I am the bad-faith comment interpreter. Hug?
posted by capricorn at 11:49 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]


In fact I'm pretty sure I've made a lot of bad comments in this thread, because I definitely didn't mean "posting weird fun stuff from your bookmarks" when I said "get your own blog". I love those posts. Going to chalk it up to it's been a long week.
posted by capricorn at 11:51 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]


I want to bring this up here because I think that we need to acknowledge that trying to be "neutral" or avoid editorializing is not actually a neutral position.

Yeah. I also think that if we are trying to encourage participation and membership that we should have a very very light hand on this. The one friend I got to get on metafilter wrote a great post that was deleted for having the wrong "tone." (Not political even).
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:59 AM on September 13 [13 favorites]


Sorry, I'm jetlagged, he wasn't my only friend who I've gotten on here but he's the only one who was excited to post and participate.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:01 PM on September 13


Seriously, I'd rather see dozens of "I think this is cool, give it a look" posts than posts where people pretend they're keeping at arms' length from the subject but you darn well know that XYZ is THEIR THING and they want you to make it your thing too.

I agree, sorta. I think Metafilter would do well to downright encourage more posts like those of Hippybear, where users get to express themselves through their interests for no other reason than the joy of sharing as long as those interests are in a form that allows for easy transmission in that way. Metafilter's main strength is as a community, even more than a link sharing site. Finding ways to help build or get to better know that community through its likes and pleasures should be an important part of the site.

At the same time, however, not all posts do fit that category even when they are about something a user may feel a strong sense of agreement about or come out of their experience and interests. Posting a music video one likes is different than posting an essay about music. One is just providing an experience of the thing directly, while the other is making an argument about something.

The former generally causes minimal problems since people who are interested will give it a go and others will pass by without feeling much need to comment. An essay is something different in that people who dislike a thing may still hold an interest in an argument about that thing which is why framing those posts well can make a big difference in how everyone interacts with the content and each other. Those posts can go badly when taken or framed personally as any argument will likely face some rebuttal on the site and some of those arguments people will feel very strongly about, even, or maybe especially, when they might seem perfectly natural to the person posting it. (As one might note from any of dozens of restaurant/food essays that don't account for class difference that have been posted to the site for example.)

That's why I'd like to see the Fanfare space used more for posting things people enjoy like music while keeping the front page a little more circumspect about how things are framed as a way to help maintain as much civility as possible knowing arguments will happen.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:59 PM on September 13 [3 favorites]


In my eyes, the California post is pretty light editorializing. Change the title, delete "It is and has been alarming that" and remove the final sentence, and it seems like a factual post.

Agreed. I mean, I won't try and argue that it doesn't fit some definition of editorializing, but the editorializing seems light, and it doesn't seem (to me) to be the kind of editorializing that would preclude differing opinions, or which tries to make other people feel bad for having differing opinions, or which offers up opinions of people who have differing opinions. I think it could have stayed up and I don't think the amount of editorializing in the post would have led to comments that would have been that much different than a purely factual post. If that post fails the "no editorializing" test, I think we could stand to loosen the standards a tiny bit.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:15 PM on September 13 [3 favorites]


"Well, if someone makes a post and it gets deleted because they fucked up the framing, why not let them immediately resubmit a reworked version? Why do you have to wait? What are you supposed to be reflecting on, again?"
"If we're worried about someone abusing this (not even sure how, but just throwing it out there), then maybe require that someone can only (re)post within 60 minutes of the original and with the express approval and assistance of a mod on duty. I think that'd ensure no one is using this in a bad faith kind of way.""


We do low-key, ad hoc do this -- we'll sometimes say in the deletion note "get in touch to rework" or (especially with new posters) we'll sometimes e-mail them and say "Hey, your post is great but the framing is going to be a problem, would you like to rework it?" and if we can do that within about an hour, we will edit it and undelete it.

As part of the broader reworking/modernizing/updating of the rules documents, we can look at if we want to make that a more clearly available process and encourage people to reach out to us if we don't reach out first. The big limitation on the ad hoc process is mod availability -- if there's a big fighty thread going on, the mod-on-duty is going to be working flat-out just to keep up, and reaching out to a deleted poster falls by the wayside (and deletion reasons often get more cryptic and less clear because of the rush to get back to the fight). On the plus side, since the megathreads went away, that happens a lot less often and we can do more of this sort of outreach.

As I think about it, I feel like maybe we should find a way to make visible to mods if someone's post is within their first, say, five FPPs, so we'll be more proactive about outreach in those cases, but we'd have to kick that around and see if it would work.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:54 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


[Comment and a couple replies removed; I am really not down for going ten rounds on the hypothetical showdown of being watchful for anti-semitism tropes vs. the need to protect e.g. "vampire" riffing as abstract discourse. It's possible to keep an eye out for hrm-worthy stuff when it comes along and comment on it; it's possible to talk through ambiguous cases; doing that instead of getting entrenched is generally gonna be a better strategy all around on the site. I'd like folks to steer this thread now back toward concrete discussions of actual site policy and events instead of digging into what feels like a needlessly increasingly ugly fight on this.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:25 PM on September 13 [10 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with that California post except that the poster is too up-front with her enthusiasm and too bluntly excited. Why in the hell should we penalize enthusiasm here?

FWIW I didn't read the post as enthusiastic & I don't think anyone wants to penalize enthusiasm. To me the post read as a series of bald assertions stated in loaded language ("alarming", "afraid", "ailments ... in advanced stages"), none of which are supported or even addressed by the linked piece. If each assertion had its own link then I think it would be a different matter.
posted by dmh at 5:16 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


The volume of FPPs seems really low—under 10 a day. In the interest of encouraging user participation and a wider readership, is it really beneficial to prune the handful of posts because they didn’t meet the platonic ideal of a FPP? If a post isn’t genuinely problematic, then why delete it?

I agree with the people who suggested that a note about how to rework it, and allowing its immediate resubmission, would be a better way of handling a deletion than requiring a 24-hour wait. The volume of new posts is not nearly high enough to require that kind of waiting period, and unless the reason for deletion includes some solid instruction on how to rewrite for a successful submission, it’s useless and just seems punitive.

If the goal is to create kind of a standardized voice/style for FPP submissions, then a style guide of sorts should be specified to which people can refer while creating their post. If that’s NOT a goal, then posts shouldn’t be deleted for not conforming to a voice.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:42 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


The volume of FPPs seems really low—under 10 a day.

I don't think this is accurate. I just did an informal count of the past few days and daily FPPs ranged between 15 or so to over 20. Personally I think that's just fine in terms of volume. I can barely keep up with them as it is, and frequently discover that I hipped to a cool FPP after the discussion had started to peter out. One of the major things that has kept me coming back here over a period of years is that the quality of the posts combined with the quality of the moderation has made it possible to have interesting and civilized discussion.
posted by slkinsey at 7:16 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


yeah, seconding slkinsey's observation that under 10 FPPs per day doesn't feel accurate, certainly not lately. I can't say I was paying close attention but I definitely noticed post Labor Day that posts and overall activity seemed to be up (and significantly so) in comparison to say, a month previous. It is a fine balance between post "quality" and MeFi not coming across as too exclusive, too wound up in "the platonic ideal" of what an FPP must attain ... but then that's what we're doing here, I think, addressing that balance.

Autumnheart, I do very much agree with this:

If the goal is to create kind of a standardized voice/style for FPP submissions, then a style guide of sorts should be specified to which people can refer while creating their post. If that’s NOT a goal, then posts shouldn’t be deleted for not conforming to a voice.

For me, the problem isn't with the "I" word (though I don't think I've ever used it myself in an FPP) so much as a harder-to-pin-down degree of imposing a point-of-view which, often as not, really doesn't need to be present in order for the post to work. By which I mean, you want to hook a reader with as few words as possible, get them clicking links and otherwise engaging. Oft times, trying to tell them what you think about the subject in so many words (or worse, what you think they should think) only gets in the way.

So on one hand, it's annoying as hell to have the site rejecting (or even just critiquing) your stuff for transgressing in what must seem trivial ways. On the other, if you do manage to grasp the nuance, it's going to make your experience here better, I suspect.
posted by philip-random at 8:56 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Wow, I had no idea my posts were being discussed until just now.

Honestly, the only part of that Tori Amos B-Sides post that is editorializing are the sentences "They have really great B-Sides" and "They're more interesting than you might expect." Everything else in that post is factual.

I know I'm on the bubble with my music posts. I try to keep them as neutral as possible while still saying "here's a thing I like, maybe you'd like it too". My non-music posts are pretty non-editorial, as I learned years ago even one stray adjective can drive everything off the rails.
posted by hippybear at 10:17 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


I mean I've gotten to where I often don't even try to find a pull quote from an article to put as a "more inside" because the selection of that pull quote is, itself, a form of editorializing and attempting to shape the discussion. I use words from the top of the article, the headline and the subhead, and provide little else. For my non-music posts.
posted by hippybear at 10:25 AM on September 14


Yes, let's definitely clarify the policies about how to follow the style guide while keeping MetaFilter weird.
posted by hypnogogue at 6:44 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


It feels like Metafilter has tried in the past to maintain in FPPs the illusion from academic writing that the author does not exist, and it also feels like that is changing.
posted by clawsoon at 9:53 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]


Yes, let's definitely clarify the policies about how to follow the style guide while keeping MetaFilter weird.

Yeah, let's do that. I'm not trying to be a contrarian with my posts. I'm just using my own voice with my music posts. As I said, I strive for complete neutrality with my non-music posts.

If there are deep objections to what I've been doing and the community wants to strive for more conformity with posts, let's make that a thing, and let's also make consulting the style guide something that is more apparent. I don't even think there is a style guide right now, is there?
posted by hippybear at 8:05 PM on September 17 [4 favorites]


So, let's begin with the comment just slightly upthread. Does MetaFilter want posts to maintain the illusion that the author does not exist? Does the use of "I" in a post make it a foul? First question in the style guide.
posted by hippybear at 9:57 PM on September 18


I honestly feel like the mods should be guiding this discussion, but I'm trying to get something started.

This is a thread that should yield some fruit. Let's make MetaFilter better by working together on this.
posted by hippybear at 9:58 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


I worry about dropping the "house style" altogether. If everybody starts editorializing straight out of the gate with their FPPs, I don't see it serving the overall feel of things in a positive way.

But I honestly don't view as that big of a deal ... unless it becomes one. A quick look at the four FPP's from today so far reveal four posts that I can't seen benefiting in any way from being presented in the "first person". They'd probably just require more words.
posted by philip-random at 7:59 AM on September 19


I feel like the swerve towards emphasis on a style guide (or not a style guide) ... kinda misses the point?

The reason first-person presentations on posts can be an issue isn't per se style -- it's more that first-person presentation often correlates with a high level of focus on the poster's personal opinion about the thing. Nobody is saying you can't like or dislike a thing you post about, but I think it's pretty valid to ask: are you posting this because it's interesting, or because you wanted a place to get people to read your personal opinion about it?

And I get it: there's no hard and fast rule. Like, I would hope most people would agree that a single link to a Wikipedia article accompanied by a 5,000 word essay by the poster would not be a good fit for MeFi, as clearly the poster's goal is to foreground their own original work. I think similarly most people would agree that a link to a scholarly article with a representative pullquote is a good fit. In the middle, though, it gets subtler, and it's in there that the problem with first person presentation arises.

The issue isn't "you shouldn't ever say 'I' or 'me' in a post" -- it's that if you find yourself saying those things a lot, maybe you're actually trying to post your own essay or thoughts, not post a link to things for the community to view and discuss.
posted by tocts at 8:07 AM on September 19 [8 favorites]


Tocts has hit the nail on the head from a mod perspective, I think. It's not a style thing, it's a managing-the-subsequent-reaction thing. There's room for a fairly broad range of styles (and room for a lot of disagreement about them!) But if we do delete something on the ground that the framing isn't great, we're always willing to work with the poster to make it doable, and we often reach out proactively (albeit privately) to do so, especially with newer users.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:27 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


Well, excessive editorializing has never been welcome on the blue. To go back to examples (by me) mentioned above (not by me), this post I feel is pretty neutral. It's "hey this is a cool thing" but it's not lecturing on why it's cool and why it should be paid attention to and instead is just putting it there for anyone to digest if they wish. While this post obviously has a much bloggier tone to it and I never (to my memory) disputed the deletion. I sort of knew when I hit "post" that it might not fly.

The place for getting into my personal opinion would be in the comments, like I did with this post where I said very early on what my opinion was, and it didn't destroy the thread.

Anyway, I'm honestly not being defensive. I'm interested in exploring this. Is it sort of like the "I know it when I see it" thing that is often said about transgressive material? Or do we need real guidelines.

I know the mods have been responsive when I've had a deletion for bad framing, and I've had more than a couple back and forth almost "development session" with them at times in the past. That's a pretty good route to take with a lot of posts that have bad framing and interesting subject matter.

i don't know how proactive the mods are at reaching out to people who have had deletions. I've never had a mod reach out to me to say "sorry, had to delete your post, maybe we can work on it". It's always been me bitching at them about the deletion that leads to the discussion.

Is that something that could, perhaps, change? Like a deletion for good subject/bad framing might lead to an email from a mod saying "yeah, sorry, but let's work on this"? That would be a way to steer community behavior in a more tutorial kind of way that could spread across the culture over time.
posted by hippybear at 7:47 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


an example of FPP editorializing from today's front page that doesn't bug me at all, I suppose because the stakes just aren't that high. IE: am I really going to take offense to somebody thinking they may need to take up a new hobby?
posted by philip-random at 10:07 AM on September 21


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