Impeachment and the Whistleblower September 25, 2019 8:04 AM   Subscribe

I'd argue that maintaining separate single-topic threads for the impeachment discussion and the whistleblower discussion doesn't make sense and isn't working very well. Thoughts?
posted by diogenes to MetaFilter-Related at 8:04 AM (92 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I'm not super committed to handling this one way or the other. If there's some consensus among the people who want to participate in these threads, I'm happy to go along with that.

We don't "close" threads on the blue (that option only exists on Metatalk) so whatever approach people want, that's worth keeping in mind.

The distinction I can see between these threads would be: impeachment process updates in the newer thread, details on the scandal in the other. But I don't know if people feel like that will work in practice.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:09 AM on September 25


As long as people aren't posting the same thing in both, then I'm happy with any solution.
posted by Etrigan at 8:12 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's an odd one because the two lines of discussion may end up pretty naturally collapsing together as this moves forward.

That said, I wanted to do some steering on it yesterday to at least recognize the distinction between the topics of e.g. what-happened-yesterday with all it's strange "is this a dam bursting?" energy vs. the already fairly well-established discussion of the details of the whistleblower situation that had already been developing in that dedicated thread.

I feel like as the next couple days shake out we'll see better whether there remains a meaningful distinction between the two topics, and in the mean time it's bound to be a bit of an odd muddle either way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:13 AM on September 25 [8 favorites]


Mega Thread! Mega Thread! Mega Thread!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:27 AM on September 25 [34 favorites]


I can still see a clear dichotomy between developments in the impeachment process and finding out information about the whistleblower and those underlying events. But when we get to actual testimony about or from the whistleblower conducted under the auspices of the impeachment investigation, things will get tangled.
posted by sallybrown at 8:28 AM on September 25


Well if I have more than three tabs open on my tablet, I get mixed up which thread is which since I can't read the tab headers. I just now realised I posted something on the impeachment thread that more rightly belonged on the whistle blower thread because I saw a link to the transcript and didn't double check what page I was on.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:30 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


The distinction should be straightforward:

—The impeachment thread is about the politics of the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry (running across multiple committees).

—The whistleblower thread is about the details of the intelligence complaint (which includes Trump's Ukrainian dealings but may expand to cover other potential crimes).

There's naturally going to be some overlap between the two, but the directions of the discussions are not the same, In that respect, from the beginning we're seeing different styles of conversation in each thread.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:31 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


I want what's easiest for the mods. Is moderating two very fast-moving threads easy for you guys?
posted by all about eevee at 8:32 AM on September 25 [14 favorites]


I was thinking about creating a Turning Turn Turn, Cursing Curse, Spitting Spit MeTa for the venting reactions to the impeachment inquiry announcement, right as the new impeachment FPP was created and seemed to end up serving that purpose.

To a certain extent, the new impeachment FPP is retreading ground already covered in the earlier impeachment FPP that is still open, but it mostly seems like hot takes and meta-discussions.

Maybe we should consider a distinction for folks who want to continue a more news-oriented discussion, that we keep using the original Impeachment FPP, because it is filled with background information and had a discussion based on the more detailed following of the news that was happening in that thread.

If folks want to vent, use the more recent one. If folks want to get into the depths of the whistleblower investigation, there is a lot of background information and discussion currently happening in that thread.

Or, maybe the venting and hot takes will settle down in the new impeachment thread, and we can get back to posting about the news?
posted by katra at 8:35 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


The old impeachment thread pretty much died after the new thread and cookies were posted.

I think that 1. the new impeachment thread was pretty much unnecessary considering we had the old one already, but 2. now that it's here, the whistleblower thread should just be folded into the new impeachment thread. That's not to say that it should be a megathread, because surely there will be many politics-related things that won't bear on impeachment, but the whisteblower complaint is the decisive impetus for impeachment. The topics are inextricably linked- and will continue to be so as the administration tries to control the damage.
posted by Jpfed at 8:46 AM on September 25 [3 favorites]


1. the new impeachment thread was pretty much unnecessary considering we had the old one already

I agree. And it does seem like the posts in there are getting kind of megathread-y, maybe because the timing of it meant it was featured at the top of the site and easily accessible as all this news began breaking heavily yesterday?
posted by sallybrown at 8:52 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Etrigan: "As long as people aren't posting the same thing in both, then I'm happy with any solution."

But then I get twice the favorites!
posted by Chrysostom at 9:03 AM on September 25 [16 favorites]


I want what's easiest for the mods. Is moderating two very fast-moving threads easy for you guys?

Almost never, but then neither is moderating one. Probably what's going to be easiest for us in this specific case is accepting that the current situation is a muddled and fast-moving one and rolling with the fact that the MeFi thread situation is going to be likewise for a bit. It would be a relief not to feel like we need to definitively solve a hard case well in among the rest of it.

Which, I don't mind folks talking about their view and parsing and preferences in here, I'd just ask that we keep it grounded at that level: it's a kind of a weird one at the moment and we're all gonna have our own preferred playbook.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:05 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


Is there a concise list of best practices for participating in such threads and keeping the moderation burden manageable? Flag It And Move On (FIAMO) is really my main rule.
posted by theora55 at 9:18 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan: "Mega Thread! Mega Thread! Mega Thread!"

Two threads enter, one thread leaves.
posted by chavenet at 9:46 AM on September 25 [16 favorites]


—The whistleblower thread is about the details of the intelligence complaint (which includes Trump's Ukrainian dealings but may expand to cover other potential crimes).

The part in parenthesis is a direct path to megathread. Limiting the whistleblower thread to the Ukranian dealings is a better option.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:18 AM on September 25 [3 favorites]


ZeusHumms, that makes sense to me, because the new Impeachment thread more explicitly includes a broader scope.

My one suggestion for edits would be to directly insert links between the whistle blower thread and the new impeachment announcement threads in the above-the-fold text, directing folks to either one from the get-go, instead of hoping they'll notice comments within the threads.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:30 AM on September 25


None of these distinctions make much sense from a journalistic or public interest point of view. The congressional investigations -- impeachment -- will revolve around the details of the transcripts, the whistleblower, and the events behind them. Witnesses will be called, including the whistleblower, by Congress in the process of impeachment. Every news article out there will mix both the case against Trump and the political process and background pressures. It actually bad for public knowledge to try to split these topics because it requires folks to jump back and forth between very similar threads and, for those who stick with the more popular one (impeachment), it means that potentially relevant details will be lost in the whistle-blower-only thread.

In practice, though, I don't think it will make a big difference -- participation feeds back on itself, and where there is redundancy people naturally gravitate towards the more active locus (the impeachment thread). It would be a fool's errand for mods to rigorously enforce a distinction that no journalist or politician would actually recognize, but they don't seem to be doing that, so that's ok in practice. Nor does this mean that the impeachment thread becomes a megathread though -- all the other perfidies of Trump (and as he ramps up distraction mode, there will be plenty) are excluded, as is the Democratic presidential process. So hopefully that -- plus the fact that the community here is in almost complete unanimity about the particulars on impeachment -- will keep the mods sane. At least until Trump's big distraction effort (whatever it may be) ramps up and we have a second running thread on that fresh hell...
posted by chortly at 10:30 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Vitametamegathread.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:34 AM on September 25 [8 favorites]


The part in parenthesis is a direct path to megathread.

Discontinue use of Megathread if any of the following occurs:

- Itching
- Vertigo
- Dizziness
- Tingling in extremities

Do not taunt Megathread.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:36 AM on September 25 [15 favorites]


Lots of duplication in the two threads right now.
posted by diogenes at 10:38 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


The part in parenthesis is a direct path to megathread. Limiting the whistleblower thread to the Ukranian dealings is a better option.

For the moment, that's the main thrust of the whistleblower thread, but, as has been pointed out there, we don't have a confirmation of the substance of the whistleblower complaint (anon. sources say it includes Ukraine but isn't limited to it). The FPP started before we even guessed Ukraine was involved, and breaking news may take us in additional directions later. For now, the best approach is to stick to what we're learning as new information comes to light.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:47 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


Yeah, even since I posted a few minutes ago, the overlap between the threads seems to have gotten more confusing. I'm sure in the heads of some participants it's clear, and with a sufficiently long exegesis it could be made clear to the rest of us what belongs in which thread, but even to someone fairly conversant in the norms of US politics, metafilter, and public discourse, it's not at all clear to me on a case-by-case basis, and leads to a pretty incoherent pair of conversations. Seems like the only thing worse than a resurrected megathread is two simultaneous megathreads.
posted by chortly at 10:48 AM on September 25 [5 favorites]


Trying to sort news items into two different threads based on some non-obvious nuance feels like such a waste of time and energy.

Also I miss the megathreads.
posted by BeginAgain at 10:54 AM on September 25 [24 favorites]


so dumb
posted by banshee at 10:54 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


I’m uncomfortable with the amount of focus on structuring where people want to post things and where people get to talk about them. I’m also uncomfortable with the amount of repetitive Pelosi bashing that seems to get left up, with a mod note appearing only when there is pushback. I’m also uncomfortable because my back hurts. I don’t expect, or desire, anyone here to fix any of those problems.
posted by Drumhellz at 11:06 AM on September 25 [10 favorites]


Any political thread in MeFi is going to devolve into a megathread, just ask any of the dozens of people complaining about that in them. Get your megathread and general blue political discussions here:

https://join.slack.com/t/politicsfilter/shared_invite/en[...]
posted by hypnogogue at 11:08 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


It seems to me, as someone who just jumped back into things yesterday and hadn't been following the previous whistleblower thread, that having both means in order to participate in the discussion in the impeachment thread, you'd be expected to also be following the other one to have all the information. And that seems unrealistic and cumbersome. If information about the whistleblower's allegations is necessary to have an informed discussion about impeachment, then surely that information belongs in the impeachment thread. Otherwise you're going to have people (like me atm) who don't have all the latest details.
posted by threeturtles at 11:11 AM on September 25 [5 favorites]


It seems to me, as someone who just jumped back into things yesterday and hadn't been following the previous whistleblower thread, that having both means in order to participate in the discussion in the impeachment thread, you'd be expected to also be following the other one to have all the information.

From my view, there is a lot of heavy lifting that has already been done in the earlier threads for people who are just tuning in now - those threads are an opportunity to quickly get caught up, so we're not repeating the same discussion and links in the new thread.

Similarly, we're in a topic-focused FPP era now, and we're not doing megathreads, and from my view, we do have separate topics: the current impeachment thread is politically focused, and has more discussion about the political aspect related to impeachment, while the whistleblower thread is more focused on the intelligence and national security details, which are running parallel to the political discussion.

For me, trying to figure out where to post is more art than science, and to a certain extent depends on where the discussion currently is at in either thread. I don't think we're going to get this perfect, and maintaining two threads is an opportunity to manage what has the tendency to be two separate tracks of discussion.
posted by katra at 11:55 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


I essentially flipped a coin to decide where to put my last comment, and now the same things are getting posted in both threads. (Is the DNI threatening to resign whistleblower-related, since it's about the whistleblower complaint, or impeachment-related, since it's about testifying before Congress in an impeachment inquiry? Neither answer is really wrong.) There are perfectly reasonable arguments for really any arrangement of threads and what belongs in them, but I think it makes sense now to treat this as a special case, not worry about a general rule, and just play traffic cop and pick one thread at this point.
posted by zachlipton at 12:03 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


I'd say that since Pelosi's announcement, the volume of duplication is larger than the volume that's distinct to each thread. If you can't close a blue thread, then at least put a mod note in the older thread simply noting that events have transpired that make it too difficult for both to continue and let someone post milk and cookies emojis.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:03 PM on September 25 [7 favorites]


For the record I’ve noticed and appreciated your contributions, Katra.
posted by Drumhellz at 12:04 PM on September 25 [7 favorites]


*Jason Statham punches megathread*

"Chew on this, you ugly bastard."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:25 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


All I want is the threads to be kept clear of speculation and the riffing pruned back.
posted by agregoli at 12:47 PM on September 25 [6 favorites]


All I want is the threads to be kept clear of speculation and the riffing pruned back.


Yep. And the relentless doomsday scenarios and "dems in disarray" and "oh noes the dems are already blowing it" etc etc etc etc
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:57 PM on September 25 [19 favorites]


If people were able to abide by those guidelines, we would still have the megathreads.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:10 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]


Well it would be nice if people tried to abide. At any rate, my request was for the mods, who have been doing great work deleting nonsense in the current threads.
posted by agregoli at 1:14 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


It would be nice if the mods were a little more proactive about reining in the people who just keep A/B testing different ways to slip in their "I hate Nancy Pelosi and you should too" comments every single chance they get.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:17 PM on September 25 [12 favorites]


MetaTalk: It would be nice if people tried to abide
posted by Burhanistan at 1:31 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


It would be nice if we could have a MeTa focused on a specific problem not become a vehicle for people with long-standing grudges to shoehorn those into the discussion.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:46 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]


It would be nice if the mods were a little more proactive about reining in the people who disagree with me about what is currently happening in the topic we're here to discuss.
posted by diogenes at 1:46 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]


It would be nice to cut out all the passive-agressive shit.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:48 PM on September 25 [14 favorites]


From my view, there is a lot of heavy lifting that has already been done in the earlier threads for people who are just tuning in now - those threads are an opportunity to quickly get caught up, so we're not repeating the same discussion and links in the new thread.

Which is fine, but going forward if new information is posted in the older thread instead of the newer thread but is necessary to understand discussion in the newer thread...it's a recipe for confusion.
posted by threeturtles at 1:50 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


I flagged the new impeachment thread as a duplicate because the previous one was 8 days old and 200 comments long at that time. If you came to MeFi looking for the impeachment thread then it was right there in the sidebar. I didn't and don't think that a new thread was warranted but I guess going forward it makes the most sense to make the new impeachment thread the only one people should be posting to.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:14 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


...threads to be kept clear of speculation and the riffing...

Can someone explain why these are bad again? Also will/should these standards be applied to the rest of the site? Thanks!
posted by banshee at 4:04 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


As someone reading and commenting in the threads, I would really prefer if we could move all the impeachment+whistleblower conversation into a single thread. Right now it's basically the same conversation happening twice.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:07 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


> Can someone explain why these are bad again? Also will/should these standards be applied to the rest of the site? Thanks!

I think mainly it only applied to the megathreads since all the riffing would inflate the comment count quickly and the idea was to optimize the signal to noise ratio. And so now with the megathreads shut down the riffing kind of cropped back up in all the trump related threads and since those are really all tendrils of the same monster it has the same aggregate effect of noising up the signal. I don't think it's verboten in other threads generally.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:19 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


Riffing is bad because real musicians play the notes as they were written on the page. Riffing is, at best, socialism.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:31 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


It's one of the biggest events in U.S. history. This is one Metafilter will want archived as one thread ten years into the future. Open it up full throttle. It doesn't mean we're going back to Megathreads... unless... Cortex wants to? ;-)

P.S. You will recognize me at the next MeFi event as the guy wearing the "Megathread Forever" shirt. :-)
posted by xammerboy at 6:32 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]


MetaTalkSam Elliot: It would be nice if people the Dude tried to abide
posted by Ghidorah at 10:35 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


I removed the Whistleblower thread from recent activity, and I'm just going to talk about it in the Impeachment thread because the alternative is silly.
posted by diogenes at 5:22 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]


The system works!
posted by agregoli at 9:58 AM on September 26


For what it's worth? I vote closing one of the threads (earlier one about the whistleblower makes most sense to me) and leaving just the one open.
posted by litleozy at 10:27 AM on September 26




METAFILTER: it would be nice
posted by philip-random at 10:43 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


I vote closing one of the threads

This isn’t an option, per LobsterMitten, at the start of this MeTa: “We don't "close" threads on the blue (that option only exists on Metatalk) so whatever approach people want, that's worth keeping in mind.”

Those who don’t want to discuss the whistleblower in depth can simply go ahead and post all they like in the current impeachment thread. This isn’t a huge dilemma.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:54 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]


Those who don’t want to discuss the whistleblower in depth can simply go ahead and post all they like in the current impeachment thread. This isn’t a huge dilemma.

Of course it isn't a huge dilemma in the grand scheme of things. But what you just said is counter to the guidance from the mods in the thread. Rules that change day by day are annoying, that's all.
posted by diogenes at 10:58 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


Well, “we're all gonna have our own preferred playbook”, per cortex. You’re free to ignore the focused whistleblower FPP, and I’m going to stick to posting politics in the current Impeachment thread.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:07 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Ah my bad Dokter Zed, missed that! It isn't a big deal in fairness.
posted by litleozy at 11:47 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


I strongly urge using some sort of weird mechanism or 10 posts or whatever to close one of the threads. It's gotten ridiculous.
posted by Dashy at 12:13 PM on September 26 [1 favorite]


Honestly people are replying to things from one thread in the other thread and to follow the conversation at all you have to be reading both simultaneously. Some kind of direction on which one to post in has to be given because these are two different topics anymore.
posted by threeturtles at 4:10 PM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Consider enhancing Mifi to allow interleaved crossposting. There are many crossover topics.
posted by sammyo at 7:36 AM on September 27


I thought there was yet another thread about this on the blue, but it turns out instead it's a pretty comprehensive post on the Canadian election that I'm looking forward to diving into. Why start out out talking about the US? I almost skipped it!
posted by ODiV at 8:18 AM on September 27


Consider enhancing Mifi to allow interleaved crossposting.

Metamegafilter, coming soon to a web browser near you.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:35 AM on September 27 [2 favorites]


Consider enhancing Mifi to allow interleaved crossposting.

only with nested threads pls k thx
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:46 PM on September 27


I just posted about tonight's Bill Barr revelations in the impeachment thread. Am I breaking the rules? Who knows!
posted by diogenes at 4:32 PM on September 30


Regarding megathreads: Why you hate my phone?

I thought we retired the megathreads for a reason. But you be you.
posted by jadepearl at 12:19 AM on October 1


It does seem to get pretty megathread-y at times (the long comments wandering far afield from the topic and musing about various scenarios) but good job to the mods on paring it back when you can.
posted by sallybrown at 4:44 AM on October 1


90% of recent comments in the impeachment thread aren't on the subject of developments in the impeachment process. It's fine with me. I like it. I'm just surprised that the mods are allowing it. It seems to be a retreat from previous positions.
posted by diogenes at 5:45 AM on October 1 [1 favorite]


Regarding megathreads: Why you hate my phone?

Due to the size of the current impeachment thread, there is a new Impeachment hearings Draft FPP under construction on the MeFi Wiki.
posted by katra at 6:18 AM on October 1 [1 favorite]


I'd love for the mods to add a blurb to the next Impeachment FPP that describes the rules and expectations.
posted by diogenes at 8:07 AM on October 1


If they figure out the rules and expectations they should let the US government know too, because it seems like no one really has any idea.

(yes yes, I know you meant the thread rules)
posted by ODiV at 8:14 AM on October 1 [1 favorite]


We're not allowed to talk about the veracity of Trump's corruption allegations against Joe Biden in the impeachment thread? How is that not related to the impeachment, it's literally what Trump is getting impeached on.
posted by rue72 at 1:00 PM on October 3 [2 favorites]


Since the first impeachment thread was It Begins, shouldn't the second one be "It: Chapter Two," where the evil clown (hopefully) meets its end?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:57 AM on October 4 [2 favorites]


It's technically Chapter 3, but the new impeachment thread is titled: Did Democrats get their smoking gun for impeachment?
posted by katra at 4:13 PM on October 4


Or not...
posted by katra at 4:29 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


I am a little confused by the grounds for closing. ("Unfortunately, this thread is not working; 50% of comments have been flagged and it's generating frustration from people treating it as a megathread and people treating it as not-a-megathread.")

I can't see a single comment in the new thread that wasn't directly related to the impeachment.
posted by shenderson at 4:59 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


I too am confused by that thread being closed. It was a well-formed FPP and on-topic. The only thing at fault was the "megathread-ish startup noise" of riffing on a topic, which _has_ been allowed to larger degree in the topic-focused threads.

"It Begins" is at 1600+ comments, which we know is a painful user experience for many users. There needs to be a roll-over impeachment thread, unless you're just going to ban discussion of impeachment going forward.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 5:19 PM on October 4


Breaking the thread down, AFAICS there were around five active subtopics, all tied pretty directly to impeachment: the asking-China-for-dirt thing (relevant both as a likely effort to deflect scrutiny and as an example of on-camera impeachable conduct), the Pence-complicity / line of succession thing (inescapable in any impeachment discussion), the knowledge-by-or-concealment-from-Senators thing (central to the Ukraine-specific impeachable conduct), the public-opinion-and-manipulation-thereof-relating-to-impeachment thing (inseparable from any impeachment discussion since impeachment is a political process), the House-vote-not-required thing (again inseparable from any discussion of the impeachment process).

Some individual comments may have been on the riffy side, but even those were in-scope; it's not like people were posting Dem primary polls or the Congressional resignations of the week or the like.

Is there perhaps a way that commenters can frame our comments to be more explicit to other members of the community that we are staying on-topic?
posted by shenderson at 5:29 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


Oops, I forgot #6, the whistleblower-policy thing. But that's again pretty inseparable from impeachment at this point, no?
posted by shenderson at 5:44 PM on October 4


One of my posts that was deleted out together U.S. foreign aid to Kenya and how it has dropped, speculating whether it was because Kenya refused to Trump up an Obama north certificate. I have hard data about the aid numbers. Was the suggestion of the birth certificate too speculative? I personally suspect that Trump would have done this. I don't think it was off-topic.
I also had my previous post deleted with about four hours of research going into it.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:38 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


"I can't see a single comment in the new thread that wasn't directly related to the impeachment."

There were some, but the real problem was the flagging rate was astronomical. Half the flaggers were flagging because they were upset people were off-topic and treating it like a megathread; the other half were flagging because people were riffing and being noisy and NOT treating it like a megathread. The flagging rate was at 50% of comments and climbing; I literally could not keep up with the flag window. I'd clear one flag and five more would appear. I had a couple of unpleasant interactions with users who were angry or aggressive about how it was and wasn't being modded. It simply was not going to be possible for us to moderate, and we obviously need to do some work on our end about setting clearer expectations about what will and won't work in a post-megathread news tsunami like the impeachment.

Cortex is a little under the weather but communicated with the team that put it together briefly this evening and the rest of the mod team is checking in and catching up as they're available so we can talk about what went wrong and how we can possibly avoid a repeat, and how to create a space where users feel comfortable with the expectations and mods are able to do our jobs.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:59 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry about my above comment and not checking it for auto-corrections.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:26 PM on October 4


Speaking from the sidelines, a random commenter (e.g. me) with no context is going to have no idea why their comment was flagged or why the thread was taken down. It all seems incredibly opaque from the outside. I came here to better understand why the thread disappeared and the main takeaway I get is that the mods are overwhelmed.

I strongly agree with the comments above that there is significant historical value to these threads. Open up the throttle and focus moderation efforts on clear evidence of violations of community standards. It’s hopeless, and counterproductive, to try to put a leash on this beast.

$0.02
posted by simra at 10:02 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


... or just don't go there.

This site gets by on its moderation. If we're finding ourselves in situations where we can't moderate the dynamics of what's going on, maybe we should just pull out of them altogether, save our strength for battles that can be won. And yes, I mean the charged American political stuff that's only going to be getting more and charged, I fear. Much as I've valued what I've got from Metafilter in the past with regards to this stuff, I don't want to see the site go down in efforts to somehow contain it.

Links to analysis and the like, for sure, but maybe steer the clear of the actual stuff itself as it breaks. Let the rest of internet chase that fumble.

My $0.02, also randomly from the sidelines ... literally.
posted by philip-random at 10:27 AM on October 5


Well, if it can't work it can't work, and only the mod team is really in a position to judge that. But this seems different from past newsfilter-type issues if the dysfunction is coming not from the actual content of the thread, but from overuse of the flagging function.
posted by shenderson at 7:46 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


which, please correct me if I'm wrong, seems driven by a collision of:

a. the site's stated desire to NOT do political megathreads anymore (in other words, new policy, because the old policy was killing us in various ways including Way Too Much Trouble To Moderate);

b. the current American political reality that everything can't seem to help becoming one great MEGA stew of interrelated and convoluted stuff, because it kind of is and likely will continue to be as long as whatzizname remains boss (all one great confusion of bloated and diseased cult of personality);

c. the "flag it and move on" tactic we've been urged to use when encountering stuff that runs contrary to point "a".

It seems we're left with either:

- giving in to the mega-thread inevitability and just letting the things go where they will until entropy sets in (and hope there's something left here in terms of functional community), or

- just saying NO to what genuinely feels like a fallacy now: that we can somehow manage something this big and interrelated in the context of Metafilter (its culture, its guidelines, its coding). In other words as already stated (now in all caps): STOP ALL ATTEMPTS AT REAL TIME TRACKING OF BREAKING AMERICAN POLITICAL NEWS.
posted by philip-random at 8:20 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


I know everyone’s minds work differently, but to me it seemed pretty clear that to keep a politics-related thread workable, we could post news updates (with some pull quotes but not too long ones), commentary on the topics at hand, insight or analyses of the situation (Trump requesting that foreign powers assist his political goals, and the resulting impeachment inquiry of him), and in moderation, jokes and memes about the situation, but that we had to avoid extended riffing, two particular conflicts (Bernie vs. Hillary and Pelosi: Devil or Angel?), long musing about hypotheticals or really extended predictions, and catastrophizing/“none of this matters anyway” type stuff.

My perception is we tended to do pretty well while news was early/developing, but during those weird pockets of radio silence where it feels like shoes are about to drop, users start wandering off the path of the conversation from nervy anticipation and uncertainty of what’s going to happen—having gotten into a pattern of having things to post about, it was hard to resist and to just wait rather than post.

I will say the threads I’ve read have been particularly outstanding at not repeating stuff already posted, which is a challenge in a news heavy thread.
posted by sallybrown at 8:46 AM on October 6 [5 favorites]


This isn’t working. Thanks,
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:28 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


Which "This"?
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 3:56 PM on October 6


I think Zed's expressing frustration about the whole overall difficulty of navigating the US politics discussion dynamic on the site, which he's put a lot of personal effort into. Which, I feel you man. Do what works for you.

So I'm still kind of mush-brained with whatever I came down with a few days ago, but alert enough to pull my shift tonight so I've been catching up from over the weekend. Current immediate-term state of things is I expect based on a draft I saw we'll see a new impeachment-centric post soon that should provide a concise jumping-off point for continuing discussion of that situation. That should take the strain off the current creaky thread. Topic-specific posts for distinct major branches of that situation will probably be helpful for keeping some of that strain off too, much as I know that can be a little trickier to keep track of in its own right (e.g. where this thread started).

Short/medium term, we're in a weird spot right now where it's going to be hard to thread the needle on a moment of peak weirdness/busyness even by Trump admin standards in US politics where we both want folks to be able to discuss and keep up with the situation and just absolutely cannot lapse back into the megathread dynamics we shut down a couple months ago. So it's gonna be I think no matter what a bumpy-at-times mix of mods trying to encourage people to check themselves and not go full-throttle in threads and to check in with individual high-volume participants, and folks generally needing to accept that even with that nudging the natural state of a MeFi thread on a busy topic is that it's a sometimes noisy and chaotic place and not something we have the resources to pare down with aggressive deletions the way we tried to do with the megathreads.

Basically, nobody is gonna be able to get everything they want and we're gonna need everybody to kinda run with that. It's a weird situation and it's gonna be a muddle.

What with the brain mush I'm not gonna try and get into more detail or be more definitive about that; we'll probably be talking about some of this a little more soon to try and better set expectations for folks. But in the absence of that, I'd mostly just ask that y'all bear with us, understand this is a hard mess to navigate, flag stuff in politics threads that is genuinely problematic, avoid going on flagging sprees or flagging stuff that falls more into just "this isn't the flavor of comment I'd prefer to see" territory, and when in doubt drop us a line at the contact form to ask or give us a heads up on something complicated.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:52 PM on October 6 [8 favorites]


Y’all are doing fantastic work and we appreciate you!
posted by simra at 9:07 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


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