Rolling out some updated site documentation October 14, 2019 8:49 AM   Subscribe

We're updating some site documents today to better reflect contemporary MetaFilter.  Today's updates include the New User pages that potential new community members move through when signing up, the site's core guidelines page, and a new document discussing common microaggressions and being mindful about the impact of dominant-culture dynamics on a diverse membership.  I'll talk in more detail about all that below the fold.

MeFi's documentation has been built up incrementally over the last 20 years, and a lot of pieces of it are closer to 20 years old than they should be.  We talked earlier this year about revisiting all of it for updates, and this is part of that.  These documents in particular are among the first things someone joining the site will see, so we wanted to make sure they cover some basic but fundamental ground about what this place is and what expectations we have for community members.

The mod team ended up rewriting most of these from scratch; as much as the historical value of the old pages has a place in my heart, revising those in place would have made for messy, compromised documents mostly for historical value's sake, so we've chosen to make a fresh start on these instead.

The new pages:

- the New User page, which potential new members reach when they click on the "Sign Up" link on the front page.  The old version was a little structurally scattered and philosophical.  The new one outlines more directly the signup process itself and hits on the major points of confusion or site misuse we run into with new users, and is more concise overall. (Here's the old New User page, for reference.)

- the Join page, where potential new members go after the New User page, which is substantially the same as before but we've slightly expanded it to be clearer about current character limitations on usernames, the visibility of optional personal info fields on profile pages, and the fact that stuff posted on the site will turn up in google searches.

- the Community Guidelines and Expectations page is a brief statement of the site's overarching goals and a detailed list of DOs and DON'Ts that outline point-by-point the core aspects of member participation that make this place work and the things that aren't welcome or okay, and more specifically outlines some unacceptable behavior that had been treated more as implied or assumed before.  Previously the Guidelines pages were site-specific documents for MeFi and Ask MeFi, and focused more on "good/bad post" etiquette without substantially discussing behavioral expectations; that's information that can be handled in the FAQ and on posting pages.  We want this updated Guidelines document to be a site-wide page that is more visible to the members and readers and to be more useful as a reference about basic expectations in comments and interactions. (Old MeFi and AskMe versions.)

- the entirely new Microaggressions and making space page is a more detailed run-down of a couple things: an explanation of the need for folks who belong to one or more majority or culturally-dominant groups to be aware of and take responsibility for the impact that has on other members, and a list of some of the most common microaggressions that tend to come up on MetaFilter.  These are all things that have been repeated points of discussion over the years on the site; our hope is that identifying and summing them up on this page will make it useful as a reference to point people to, so that members of marginalized groups don't feel compelled to personally do the work of explaining these points yet again when they come up in conversation on the site.

We've gotten these into good enough shape to start with, so we're rolling them out now.  I don't expect them to be perfect at this point, so feedback on the details is welcome; I'd like these to be living documents informed by the community, and there are likely things we will want to tweak and add both now and in the long run while still aiming to keep them fairly concise and readable.

This is a subset of the overall site documentation work we've had in progress; some of these currently link to other site pages that are dated right now but will be revised in the long run.   But we'd rather get these out as a start than delay longer to try to get the entire interlocking structure in place.

Thanks again to everyone in the community for the feedback and suggestions, in site discussion and over email, that have helped inform this work.
posted by cortex to Etiquette/Policy at 8:49 AM (108 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite

This is truly wonderful to see! Thanks to everyone for all the hard work. I've devoured everything (and will do again I'm sure) and here are my initial observations:

1. It's great to be reminded of how the site works, what it wants to be and how to be a good participant here.
2. I've learned a lot from the microagressions page -- what a great list for MetaFilter and for life in general.
3. All this has also reminded me of what I love about MetaFilter.

Thanks again!
posted by iamkimiam at 9:26 AM on October 14 [4 favorites]


Whoa, seeing the microaggressions and making space page, my first thought was how do you even start with something so seemingly insurmountable and hard to understand for first timers to the subject matter but the result you have is pretty great and strikes the right tone from start to finish. Well done, and great rewrites all around.
posted by mathowie (retired) at 9:40 AM on October 14 [35 favorites]


Just a formatting suggestion: I think it would be better if the text block had space to the right like all the regular mefi pages do because of the sidebar. This makes each line shorter and easier to read.
posted by Mizu at 9:47 AM on October 14 [5 favorites]


Formatting quibble: Which are maybe more about the "Plain" theme:
- the h3's on the Microaggressions page touch the left margin
- unordered list, same page, has same problem
- "Pick a username" text block is dark gray on dark blue on Join page

Content-wise: microaggressions page is great. Particuarly like the sentence "Cisgender" isn't an insult. I also like the gentleness of the corrective language on that page a lot.
posted by artlung at 9:52 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


I think these rewrites and the new page are great! And congrats on making the leap and letting go of the historical versions so you could do better on the rewrite. I need to learn that lesson in my own work sometimes!
posted by brainwane at 10:00 AM on October 14 [2 favorites]


Thank you for doing this work. I haven't had time to read all of it but so far it looks like a massive improvement.
posted by Jpfed at 10:01 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


Ah, good call on the formatting stuff, artlung; I think the left margin stuff on the Classic theme got eaten by some versioning, we'll get some space back in there. The "Pick a username" issue is mostly an odd peeking-behind-the-curtain thing, since in principle you'd not actually get there while on a custom theme because you haven't actually signed up yet.

Mizu, reasonable point on the general right margin issue, yeah.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:06 AM on October 14 [2 favorites]


If i was signing up today, these pages would give me a clear idea of what i was walking into and a model for how to participate, make me feel safe participating and talking to mods if i have a problem, and make me excited to contribute :) good shift. honestly they cleared up some stuff i hadn't 100% picked up on or been clear on before, also.
posted by gaybobbie at 10:09 AM on October 14 [5 favorites]


Digging the guidelines and microaggressions reference pages so far - good steps forward!

I especially liked the last bit of the "Remember we come from many different backgrounds" item (as an extremely-online American myself): "If you're an American or an extremely-online native English speaker, allow for the possibility that other people are coming from a very different cultural or linguistic context. Be kind."
posted by rather be jorting at 10:11 AM on October 14 [8 favorites]


These are superb so far. Well done.
posted by General Malaise at 10:13 AM on October 14


On the New User page, in the paragraph about payment, could the words "contact us" link directly to the contact form? Otherwise, a new user has to read all the menus on the top and bottom to find it.
posted by xo at 10:23 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


I look forward to reviewing all of this closely, and thank you for all of the hard work. My initial feedback is wondering if the smaller-sized font on the Guidelines page could be enlarged, to increase readability, especially for those of us with vision issues.
posted by katra at 10:43 AM on October 14


This is all really, really great - thank you for making this a priority.
posted by Twicketface at 10:54 AM on October 14


How about a Privacy Policy?
posted by floam at 10:54 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


Tiny typo: under Dated/offensive/x-ist language on the Microaggressions page
mimicking AAVE as a joke or as eye dialect
should that be "as a dialect"?

Both these pages are excellent. Thank you.
posted by anastasiav at 10:55 AM on October 14 [1 favorite]


I had to look up eye dialect but it looks like a real thing worth having looked up. If only for the name of the guy who named it!
posted by cgc373 at 10:59 AM on October 14 [19 favorites]


Good catch on the contact form reference, xo; that's fixed now.

wondering if the smaller-sized font on the Guidelines page could be enlarged

The text should be at the same scale as the rest of the site—in Modern, that'd mostly be 12pt, in Classic that'd be whatever you've got the font size customized to. Looks like the h elements for "do's" and "don'ts" is a couple points smaller; is that extent of the text that feels smaller than usual, katra, or are you seeing more generally too-small text there? If the latter, if you can email me a screenshot of what you're seeing and browser info we can see if it's a specific client thing.

How about a Privacy Policy?

On the list of stuff still in progress, so we're linking to the current FAQ content on privacy issues for now.

I had to look up eye dialect

Yeah, I'm realizing that it's a little jargony. Really useful and pertinent jargon, but maybe something that would benefit having a link to an explanation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:11 AM on October 14 [5 favorites]


Huh, I have learned a thing! I always assumed "eye dialect" was an eggcorn for "idiolect".
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:14 AM on October 14 [14 favorites]


It took me some time and some help from others to understand what you meant to convey by "Cisgender" isn't an insult. Perhaps you could flesh that out a little for others that, like me, don't have the context you may have assumed.
posted by hypnogogue at 11:17 AM on October 14


Thank you, cortex! Initially, all of the unbolded text was appearing in a much smaller font that I was squinting to read in Classic, but when I went back to screenshot what I was seeing, it's no longer like that. It's all in 12-point and much easier to read now.
posted by katra at 11:26 AM on October 14


I like how the Recurse Center's "lightweight social rules" include not only guidelines for one's behavior, but also guidelines for responding to misbehavior. I mean stuff like,
Like the other three social rules, this one is often accidentally broken. Like the other three, it's not a big deal to mess up – you just apologize and move on.

If you see a subtle -ism at the Recurse Center, you can point it out to the relevant person, either publicly or privately, or you can ask one of the faculty to say something.

If you are a third party, and you don't see what could be biased about the comment that was made, feel free to talk to faculty. Please don't say, "Comment X wasn't homophobic!"

Similarly, please don't pile on to someone who made a mistake. The "subtle" in "subtle -isms" means that it's probably not obvious to everyone right away what was wrong with the comment.
The microaggressions page, by contrast, has no such content, which is unfortunate in a few ways:

1. It aims to educate an ignorant but privileged reader of the concept. Is there corresponding documentation for less privileged people who have found themselves the target of a microaggression, know very well what it is, and wish to understand how they are permitted to respond?

2. Even for the apparent intended audience, the page does not provide any guidance on how to respond when accused of a microaggression.

3. There is no sense of scale. How bad is it to have committed a microaggression? How hard should one try to defend oneself from such an accusation? How much argument should one be prepared to endure if one wishes to point out a microaggression?

Anyway, I'm glad you're trying. This is better than what we had before, and I am glad that you have been consulting PoC via email and in this thread.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 11:27 AM on October 14 [21 favorites]


That's definitely part of the challenge with a short summary like the ones we have on that page, hypnogogue: every single one of those categories of microaggression is a complicated topic that could use a lot of unpacking and contextualization. And in the long run I'd like for us to be pointing to more detailed resources for all of those things, so folks ready to do some more reading in the moment can get right down to it.

The trade-off is: this is a page about what we expect from folks on MeFi, and things they need to know about and work to accommodate. Its role is not to fully educate anyone, just to say "here are some things that matter, things that as a community member you need to be aware of".

So e.g. pointing out that cisgender isn't an insult isn't sufficient to get someone confused about that up to speed, but it's enough to let them know that as far as how they participate on MeFi, arguing that point is off the table and they need to do some work on it if that's a problem for them. We can't do all that work on a short document, but we can at least communicate to folks that these things matter. As we're able to round up additional resources for folks willing to do that reading, that'll let us expand on the utility and context of this starting point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:28 AM on October 14 [6 favorites]


"It's valuable to acknowledge explicitly that we all screw up sometimes, and to provide a clear path forward."

This is something we've been talking about a lot and thinking about how to frame, so it is on the list. Not sure if it'll end up a page, or a metatalk we can link to, or something else entirely. But we definitely want to give people models for how to provide corrections in the moment, in ways that won't derail the thread; and models for those being corrected to respond gracefully; and to provide some guidelines for when mods will and won't step in -- we'll stop a pile on, we'll delete someone digging in and getting defensive, we won't delete a calm and fair correction, etc.

This has been a very large project involving a lot of work and a lot of starting from scratch and trying to find the right phrasing and framing for complicated and sometimes sensitive topics, so it's very one-step-at-a-time, and very iterative. We look forward to improving it with feedback and experience, and expanding on this work to address other old or missing documentation!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 11:35 AM on October 14 [5 favorites]


Those are good points, meaty shoe puppet. Partly I'm thinking of the Microaggressions page as being an elaboration/supplement to the Guidelines page, where there's some discussion of that stuff, but (a) that could probably use some more explicit cross-linking back to the Guidelines page, and (b) it may be worth adding a little more text on the Microaggressions page itself about responses and the paths for recourse.

One of the things with MeFi that differs from a lot of other places taking documentary approaches to this stuff is how hands on and one-and-one the mod staff is generally able to be when responding to stuff, and that's affected some of what we've prioritized in framing stuff out. But I recognize that that itself is something we'll need to keep thinking about in terms of what we say explicitly on the site vs. taking as just sort of known as a site culture reasons. Like EM says, work in progress; something I look forward to us expanding on as we keep pushing forward.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:38 AM on October 14 [3 favorites]


This is really great!
posted by ellieBOA at 11:52 AM on October 14


This is some good work here. I really like the revised Microaggressions and Community Guidelines/Expectations pages. Grape job! stickers all around.

I learned something new on the New Users page, I don't think I realized the various things that were required to make a post! Makes me wonder how some of the spammers have the patience for their instantly-deleted posts...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:08 PM on October 14 [2 favorites]


Thoroughly enjoyed reading the new pages, and I will be certainly using them as examples of good community guidelines for other online communities that I see struggle with good-faith participation.

AAVE brought me up short, I hadn't seen the acronym before. It's googled easily enough, but that's a great opportunity for metatext.
posted by carsonb at 12:47 PM on October 14 [3 favorites]


I love these!

Yeah, I'm realizing that it's a little jargony.

It's super jargon-y and I think for intro docs you should just err on the side of using terms that are more intro-level. If there are too many have-to-look-up terms it can sound like the rules were written by people coming at this from an intellectual/academic background and I think you don't want to do that? I might just say "mimicking other people's speaking styles and dialects" because this is a LOT of words and while I think they are mostly great, you want them to be read as smoothly as possible.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:53 PM on October 14 [26 favorites]


As much as I love these (and I do, a lot), where can I send my list of sentences in the Microaggression page that need comma-fication?
posted by hanov3r at 1:09 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]


Are these going to be linked from the front page? So we can find them in the future?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:17 PM on October 14


Microaggressions and making space

I'm wondering if a title like Making Metafilter a welcoming place would describe the same content without frontloading jargon. (Microaggression is a super useful concept, but not in everyone's vocabulary.)
posted by zamboni at 1:23 PM on October 14 [42 favorites]


That's a really good idea ^^^^
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:25 PM on October 14 [11 favorites]


I love all of this so much. Tweaks aside, this kind of thing really does take some phenomenal work to put together, and I think it will be really helpful going forward.

One thing I particularly like is that the don't be a jerk exhortation comes after a whole lot of discussion about what being a good community member does mean, in a positive direction. It's easy to say "well, don't do this or that" but much harder to concisely describe how any given person should be (or try to be) in complex social situations.
posted by sciatrix at 1:43 PM on October 14 [7 favorites]


I'm sure you're not trying to list every kind of microaggression, or offensive/x-ist language, but it would be great if ageism could also be included in one of the lists of things to avoid.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 1:57 PM on October 14 [17 favorites]


I think this is wonderful, and want to say up front: thank you! It's gratifying to see this stuff happening.

Piggybacking on still_wears_a_hat, one thing that I kept looking for in the expanded guidelines was a mention of fatphobia/sizeism, which is something our community and the mods have made great strides on but still needs a lot of handholding in threads. As someone who has made it my mission on Metafilter to be extremely vocal in talking about the effects of weight stigma it would mean so much to me to see y'all make it more formally something you're against.

Also, as said above you probably aren't trying to list every "ism" but classism was kind of a surprise to see missing too, there's so much intersectionality for all this stuff but I think it can help to be explicit about what doesn't fly.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 2:18 PM on October 14 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I'm realizing that it's a little jargony.

I'm saying this as a math textbook editor, but (imo) any resource designed to teach something new to people will probably require using some jargon. Don't be afraid of *any* jargon. This is probably more jargon-y than it needs to be, but please don't excise all of the jargon from the docs, as some of your jargon is being used effectively. Like, in the section titled Microagressions, you quickly/simply explain what they are and you provide examples of common ones. If you didn't understand microagressions at all, you can get a sense of what they are just by reading the section.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:17 PM on October 14 [16 favorites]


I'm thrilled to see this work, and I know that you'll be improving it as we go.

In the microaggressions.mefi, I stumbled on the phrase significant disabilities under the second heading. Many people who acquire disabilities experience toxic gatekeeping, both internal and external. I don't think slicing up degree of impairment is helpful when you're defining the unmarked default MeFite.

As it happens, Metafilter provides affordances for disabled people--I bet we're overrepresented here.
posted by Jesse the K at 3:26 PM on October 14 [13 favorites]


I really, really like the Microaggressions page. To some extent, it reads like a cliffs notes version of the way this place has helped me to grow as a person, and I’m indebted to the people here and in real life that helped me to understand this stuff, either by example, through their posting and comments, or by directly challenging ideas I had and helping me to understand the impact of my words and actions.

I get that being the kind of person who needed the handholding to see that my word choices were an issue is, in itself, part of the issue in the first place, but I don’t know how to express my gratitude for the help I’ve received here without admitting that, had I not read what people are saying, had I not directly been called to task, maybe no, I might not have learned what I have. As exhausting as it is to have done the work, I am grateful to those that did, and honestly understand the feelings of those that chose not to engage, because it is a largely thankless and aggravating amount of work trying to educate people who think they already know everything.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m glad to be in a place that has that as a resource for new members, and if it were possible, I’d love to see that expand to other sites, other forums, and maybe even just out into daily life. It seems like a really good guide to being a more open and caring society, and I’m interested to see how it evolves with the feedback you’ll get.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:27 PM on October 14 [13 favorites]


I just want to say thank you to the mods and the community of MetaFilter people for these. But, especially to the mods for following through and putting time, care, and skill into doing this for all of us.
posted by Gotanda at 4:03 PM on October 14 [5 favorites]


Great work team, these are very helpful.
posted by smoke at 5:52 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]


Are these going to be linked from the front page? So we can find them in the future?

Yeah, I want to get them linked a bit more prominently, between some FAQ tweaking and getting something in the footer of the page. Back in the day the guidelines got namechecked more actively when their "how to make a good post" focus was a more central point of discussion, but that fell by the wayside over time as basic posting culture gelled a bit, the site's scope of functions expanded, and where we've been trying to put our attention from a community management perspective has shifted. And one of the things that's been sobering to recognize revisiting this stuff is how much it didn't feel obvious even where "the guidelines" were for the average user, and how out of date those pages were. So rethinking where we surface them is a next step now that we've got them in place; it should be possible to search "guidelines" on the front page and get there.

I'm wondering if a title like Making Metafilter a welcoming place would describe the same content without frontloading jargon. (Microaggression is a super useful concept, but not in everyone's vocabulary.)

I could see that. I am torn on both not wanting to knock folks over with jargon and as 23skidoo is noting not getting away from getting folks up to speed on some useful terms. Microaggression seems important enough and useful enough to just put out there prominently and get folks acquainted with, hence the focus on the page of introducing and defining it; whether it being it the title helps or hurts there, I don't know, but we can chew on it some more.

In any case, thanks for all the feedback so far, everybody; I'm going to slate up the simpler changes and a couple copyediting things that have come up for another edit pass once the sun comes back up in frimble land, and we'll start work on some of the more involved ideas about additional text.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:55 PM on October 14 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering where the site links for the Community Guidelines and Microaggressions pages are. I don't see them in the bottom set of links, I don't see them anywhere on any page except this and possibly also links while signing up for the site. These should be easily findable at all times, IMO.
posted by hippybear at 6:05 PM on October 14


And I see this is already a part of the discussion.

Although honestly making finding the guidelines and whatever a search is still a step too much for most. These should be EASY to find, and one shouldn't have to look too hard.
posted by hippybear at 6:09 PM on October 14


Ah, yeah, I mean search as in CTRL-F, not as in using the site search function. Just straight up putting the word "guidelines" on the page so someone will find if it if they look for that word, whether with text search or just visually checking the bottom of the page where useful stuff is likely to be linked.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:11 PM on October 14


So rethinking where we surface them is a next step now that we've got them in place

Here's one way among many. I don't know, this might be a bad idea, but as soon as I saw the guidelines and microaggressions pages my mind immediately went here:

If each bolded list item in the guidelines got an ID in the DOM, then it would be possible to link to individual list items. So the markup would look like

<li id="be-sensitive-context"><strong>Be sensitive to context</strong> Read a thread before commenting...

which would make it possible to link to it at the url https://www.metafilter.com/guidelines.mefi#be-sensitive-context .

By making these individually linkable, you can then incorporate those links into deletion reasons. [This post was deleted for the following reason: The posted link uses othering language and exoticizes real cultures]. This means that deletion reasons could be a sort of regular reminder of the guidelines.
posted by Jpfed at 6:55 PM on October 14 [41 favorites]


Microaggression seems important enough and useful enough to just put out there prominently and get folks acquainted with, hence the focus on the page of introducing and defining it; whether it being it the title helps or hurts there, I don't know, but we can chew on it some more.

So, I was originally seeing it as a standalone page as linked in the MeTa: Microaggressions and making space, and my concern was that folks are less likely to click on the link or engage with the content if they're not familiar with the concept.

Seeing it in context as linked in MeFi Community Guidelines & Expectations makes it clear that it's specifically an in-depth explainer/footnote for the Take extra care in discussions where you're a member of a dominant group. and Avoid common microaggressions guidelines. As you might have guessed, I'd missed this comment by cortex entirely:

Partly I'm thinking of the Microaggressions page as being an elaboration/supplement to the Guidelines page, where there's some discussion of that stuff, but (a) that could probably use some more explicit cross-linking back to the Guidelines page, and (b) it may be worth adding a little more text on the Microaggressions page itself about responses and the paths for recourse.

My feeling is that if it's just an explainer on microaggressions, where folks aren't coming in cold, the title's fine. If it's going to be encountered outside of that context (particularly if the content is elaborated on and added to), the title is a bit of a hindrance.
posted by zamboni at 7:19 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]


Deliberately Creating Inclusive Culture could be an alternate title, or something along those lines, maybe?
posted by hippybear at 9:54 PM on October 14 [1 favorite]


Chiming in as someone not from the US.

I think an explanation of what it means to be welcoming and inclusive is a great idea.
That said, I think the actual explanations could be phrased using simpler language and more specific examples. I'm trying to imagine reading these a few years ago before I joined Metafilter and I would not have understood what a lot of this meant. It's not that they are jargony (although they are a bit IMO) it's that they sound at times a bit vague to someone not used to talking about these issues in this specific way. I'm on my phone right now but I'll gladly come back with more examples when I'm back from work.
posted by M. at 10:42 PM on October 14 [8 favorites]


Can I suggest putting a link to the guidelines under the comment box so that it’s right there for every new user (and current users!) when they start to type a comment. Maybe next to the “Note: Everyone needs a hug.” footnote?

People will read these things in their own time & at their own pace & they’re probably only going to skip read them when they first sign up. Making it as easy as possible to find them without being obnoxious (from a UI point of view) would probable help to get the message across to everyone.
posted by pharm at 3:20 AM on October 15 [14 favorites]


Also, the guidelines are a really good start at making explicit some of the posting rules that had previously been implicit. The site has been relying on moderation to push things back toward ill-defined community norms whenever anyone overstepped the mark & I don’t think that this approach was a good use of moderator time.
posted by pharm at 3:25 AM on October 15 [5 favorites]


I think this is a great effort. I do have a few comments though, and I'm going to dissent a bit in that I think there's still a lot to discourage new members. These are clearly coming from a moderation perspective...at some point I hope there will be room to be like, enthusiastic and welcoming.

https://login.metafilter.com/join.mefi
If you hit the character limit, you may be trying too hard.
This reads as unnecessarily snarky to me.

https://www.metafilter.com/guidelines.mefi
I love the statement at the top: The fundamental goal of MetaFilter is for this to be a good, kind, generous, inclusive, and fun community on the internet.

I think the Don't section is strong.

For the Do section...I like the clarity but here's where I think the tone is potentially very offputting to new people. ("Act like you want to be here"????) Stick to your expressed site values, not judgy language like what "decent" people do. In other words, the guidelines are not kind, generous, or fun. To clarify my perspective here's a middle-of-the-road rewrite.

Original:
Do's
Treat the people here decently.
Treat each other like fellow community members. Be considerate and respectful. MetaFilter discussion threads are conversations, not contests; add your own informed perspective and nuance instead of shutting others down. Extend the benefit of the doubt in conversations, and earn the benefit of the doubt that others are extending to you. Listen if someone says they're upset, and be willing to apologize and step back if you've said something hurtful, even if it was unintentional.

New:

Dos:
Generosity
MetaFilter discussion threads are conversations, not contests, focused on treating each other as valued members of our community. Please be considerate and respectful. Add your own perspective instead of shutting others' down. Assume goodwill and post with goodwill.

You help set the focus of the site by what you engage with and how. Model the behavior you hope to see from others. Encourage and support people and content you enjoy.

Accept feedback gracefully. If someone criticizes your ideas or statements, or points out harmful impacts, it's not a personal attack. Remember that you can do harm without intending to, and the goal is to avoid doing harm to fellow community members. Be willing to listen and apologize.

Inclusivity: (all the other points; I could quibble but whatever)

Fun: After your one week waiting period, jump in! Help us grow the parts of the site you love through your participation.

Just for shits and giggles, here's a rewrite of the first do's focused on expressing values in a more community-boosting way:

Do's:
MetaFilter has been around for over 20 years because of the our members' generosity towards each other, and our creation of a real online community, learning and growing together. MetaFilter discussion threads are conversations, not contests. Please join us in being considerate and respectful. Add your own perspective instead of shutting others' down. Assume goodwill and post with goodwill.

You help set the focus of the site by what you engage with and how. Model the behavior you hope to see from others. Encourage and support people and content you enjoy.

Accept feedback gracefully. If someone criticizes your ideas or statements, or points out harmful impacts, it's not a personal attack. Remember that you can do harm without intending to, and the goal is to avoid doing harm to fellow community members. Be willing to listen and apologize.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:15 AM on October 15 [12 favorites]


There's a little alignment bug on the newuser.mefi page. If you scroll up so that the pinned menu bar appears, the hamburger menu to the left of the MetaFilter logo is uncentered vertically. It looks like this in both Chrome and Safari on a MacBook. Oh, the "scroll to the bottom" arrow shows the same behavior.
posted by octothorpe at 6:31 AM on October 15 [2 favorites]


I think it's hard for all of us to read these with a true beginners mind. If you haven't already, cortex, I suggest you and the other mods reach out to people in your lives who aren't on Metafilter (I mean, there must be some right?) and ask for their feedback. That may be the only way to really judge how jargon-y and inside-MeFi these really are.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:24 AM on October 15 [28 favorites]


Thanks to all who have worked on this, both PoC and mods!

I'll echo suggestions to retitle the Microaggressions page "Making Metafilter a welcoming place," and to either reduce the jargon, or at least include definitions on the first use of a term. While I hope people would take a moment to look up terms that aren't familiar to them, that's also asking people to stop reading a guide and look up a term, when it could be defined on the same page briefly, perhaps then with a link to a MetaFilter glossary, where we could include more context as to why these terms and ideas are important to MetaFilter and this community. Lower the barrier to participation, where possible and practical. Also, it can be an opportunity to reinforce the meaning and importance of a phrase that someone might think they know already.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:10 AM on October 15 [3 favorites]


For the Do section...I like the clarity but here's where I think the tone is potentially very offputting to new people. ("Act like you want to be here"????) Stick to your expressed site values, not judgy language like what "decent" people do. In other words, the guidelines are not kind, generous, or fun.

Oh gosh, the guidelines could be more kind/generous, but I don't think "fun" should be a consideration when considering the tone of the new site documentation. Metafilter can value "fun" as a goal for the website without making the documentation fun.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:45 AM on October 15 [7 favorites]


The FAQ is going to need some freshening up. For example What makes a good front page post to MetaFilter? points to guidelines that have little to do with crafting an FPP. I'm new. What should I do first? says "Note that things can vary between parts of the site - for example, MetaFilter (or MeFi) and Ask MetaFilter (or AskMe) have different guidelines" but these link to identical guidelines.
posted by peeedro at 8:46 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as cortex said above, there are vast swathes of documentation left to work on, not least the (huge, sprawling, not entirely useful) FAQ.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:27 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]


First off, all this feels like fiddling while Rome burns. Where is the financial update that was promised for today, October 15? What are the trends in revenue and user engagement?

I think the new user material is still too verbose and could be considerably more concise. The site should be welcoming new users, not scaring them off with pages and pages of material to be read and carefully parsed. The whole point of newuser.mefi as it stands is to force potential new users to hunt for the correct link that will allow them to advance -- terrible.

I would model the process on the sign-up text from Reddit, which is much simpler. I copy and paste it in its entirety:
By having a Reddit account, you can join, vote, and comment on all your favorite Reddit content.
Already a Redditor? Log in
By clicking next, you agree to our Terms and that you have read our Privacy Policy and Content Policy.
Strive for that level of concision. No more than 50 words in total.

Some specific suggestions:
    * I would kill newuser.mefi altogether and link directly to join.mefi.
    * I would tighten the text on join.mefi:
      * condense the material on usernames and move it under the username box (if it's necessary at all)
      * cut the first and last name boxes and homepage fields (who has a homepage these days?)
    * I would add no more than two links on join.mefi to new user documentation.
posted by crazy with stars at 9:29 AM on October 15 [8 favorites]


Where is the financial update that was promised for today, October 15?

I would point out that it is currently 9:30 am Pacific. You can't complain something hasn't been delivered if it is still the due date.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:31 AM on October 15 [3 favorites]


Where is the financial update that was promised for today, October 15? What are the trends in revenue and user engagement?

This work is good and glad to see it, and I do not want to be uncharitable. But, I am also very eager to hear the bigger picture / longer term plan for MeFi staying alive. Hoping beyond hope for something inclusive and revolutionary!
posted by Meatbomb at 9:36 AM on October 15 [2 favorites]


Where is the financial update that was promised for today, October 15?

The most recent site finance snapshot, from August 2019 says "We'll have a scheduled financial update around October 15", so it seems like for months the plan has been to drop the next financial update close to today, though not necessarily today.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:48 AM on October 15


Oh gosh, the guidelines could be more kind/generous, but I don't think "fun" should be a consideration when considering the tone of the new site documentation. Metafilter can value "fun" as a goal for the website without making the documentation fun.

See, this kind of comment demonstrates the issue. I didn't suggest some kind of terrible perky, you know, FUN, in any of my edits directly, and I do get what you're saying -- but the tone of the documentation on this site overall is likely preventing people from joining or participating.

I find the tone currently...circa AOL-hits-the-web in terms of feeling like we're giving you 80,000 reasons you're not worthy to join or post..which was a thing then, because the Internet was growing every day with not all THAT many sites clamouring for attention, and a lot of us who were managing communities at that time actually did write our documentation with a kind of weariness at the influx of people who had no idea.

But those days are long over and people have so many options. I've managed communities since that really wanted/needed growth, and also needed people to adhere to their guidelines, and one way you get people to read through documentation is to make it feel - not exactly inspirational, but on brand. The joyful nature of FanFare for example, share what you love! is entirely absent in the Dos and Don'ts.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:48 AM on October 15 [16 favorites]


Putting on my linguist hat here, looking at this bit:

Appropriating vocabulary or concepts from other cultures to use out of context or figuratively (e.g., claiming something is your "spirit animal," pejoratively describing things as "ghetto," mimicking AAVE as a joke or as eye dialect)

I think this bit is trying to get at something a little different than what comes before it; maybe something like the following gets at that better:

"Mocking, joking at, or trivializing the way a group of people speaks is often (intentionally or not) a way of mocking, joking at, or trivializing the group of people itself. This can take the form of, but is not limited to, making fun of people's names, treating certain concepts as jokes ("spirit animals"), calling ways of speaking "broken" or "lazy", or using offensive imitations of particular accents or dialects (e.g., using fake "Ebonics" or Southern English)."

Could work, along with links to the Wiki articles about linguistic discrimination.
posted by damayanti at 10:22 AM on October 15 [6 favorites]


See, this kind of comment demonstrates the issue. I didn't suggest some kind of terrible perky, you know, FUN, in any of my edits directly, and I do get what you're saying -- but the tone of the documentation on this site overall is likely preventing people from joining or participating.

I don't think the over-all tone is as off-putting as you do, so we're going to have to disagree on this point.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:53 AM on October 15 [2 favorites]


23skidoo: I don't think the over-all tone is as off-putting as you do, so we're going to have to disagree on this point.

For the sake of being more inclusive than less, wouldn't it be good to err on the side of avoiding putting anyone off with language selections in Building A Better Metaftilter guides? I can imagine existing users, particularly frequent readers, people who listen to the podcasts and may have even met cortex and other mods in person, can put the guides into someone's individual voice, and hear inflections that aren't overtly included in plain text.

But this guide isn't just for people who already know who cortex and the mods are by handle, if not by actual names. I think it's best to default to as neutral language as possible, considering the broad audience and the intention of welcoming in a diversity of people.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:29 AM on October 15 [1 favorite]


For the sake of being more inclusive than less, wouldn't it be good to err on the side of avoiding putting anyone off with language selections in Building A Better Metaftilter guides?

I mean, all that's going to do is make someone say that they think that fun docs will prevent people from joining or participating. Anybody in this thread making claims that the docs as written will/won't definitely put new people off is 1) not a new person, and 2) just spit-balling their opinion. As Frayed Knot said above: "I think it's hard for all of us to read these with a true beginners mind. If you haven't already, cortex, I suggest you and the other mods reach out to people in your lives who aren't on Metafilter (I mean, there must be some right?) and ask for their feedback. That may be the only way to really judge how jargon-y and inside-MeFi these really are."
posted by 23skidoo at 11:41 AM on October 15 [4 favorites]


Anybody in this thread making claims that the docs as written will/won't definitely put new people off is 1) not a new person, and 2) just spit-balling their opinion.

Some of us do or have done this for a living, with real tracking and real conversion stats at our disposal.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:53 AM on October 15 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the update, cortex--overall I like the new user guidelines and the section on microaggressions. I would be fine with retitling the microaggressions section "Making Metafilter a Welcoming Place" but still having a subsection titled "Microaggressions" because I think it's a useful concept for people to learn if they don't know it. I wouldn't want to axe the term altogether.

I agree that it's not possible for those of us who are already users of the site to know how a brand new person would react to the new site guidelines, and I think getting feedback from a (racially, linguistically, nationally, gender etc.) diverse group of actual new people would be useful.

However, I will also say, as a racialized person I would be very happy to come across a site that took inclusivity as seriously as these documents indicate. It would make me more, not less, likely to join. I think the current tone of the documents is fine and not off-putting, but like I said, I don't know how an actually-new person would feel about it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:56 AM on October 15 [11 favorites]


Some of us do or have done this for a living, with real tracking and real conversion stats at our disposal.

Cool cool, never said you didn't. I still don't think your opinion is more valid than mine.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:28 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


> Cool cool, never said you didn't. I still don't think your opinion is more valid than mine.

More informed opinions are more valid opinions. You have an equal right to have an opinion, and to argue in favor of it, but not an equal right to have it considered by those who believe lived experience leads to a more correct assessment. It's a big Internet with a lot of people and a lot of opinions, so it's natural that we would defer to those with expertise.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:35 PM on October 15 [14 favorites]


There is no "we", there's Cortex. If he wants to listen to whoever, he will.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:45 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


One other thing I thought of - would it be possible to break up the longer text into paragraphs and maybe use bullet points?
posted by M. at 12:45 PM on October 15


You have an equal right to have an opinion, and to argue in favor of it, but not an equal right to have it considered by those who believe lived experience leads to a more correct assessment.

I am going to be very blunt. Some of us in this thread, including 23skidoo, have identified in previous threads as racialized/PoC, and we definitely have an equal right to have our opinions be considered--given our lived experience--when we are discussing the very documents that are a response to several MetaTalk threads about PoC participation on this site.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:53 PM on October 15 [32 favorites]


I should have said "considered equally". The claim was that warriorqueen was just "spit-balling", and that's clearly not the case. Just as one's professional experience cannot substitute for experience as PoC, neither can one's experience as a PoC substitute for professional experience. There was talk of MeFi hiring consultants to help with outreach, so I assume free advice from someone who builds communities for a living and can measure increased reach among important demographics would be welcome. Instead, it appears it's being rudely dismissed.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:14 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]


Instead, it appears it's being rudely dismissed.

I think it's important to consider the audience for arguments on this. We're not taking a vote; you don't have to convince any other members of anything. There's zero virtue in yelling at each other over this. Everyone has different points of view and different priorities; ours are, in these documents, helping to shape Metafilter into a space where a wider variety of people feel comfortable and welcome than has previously been the case. Considering whether we're achieving that aim requires that we look first at the viewpoints of the people who have not felt welcome previously, and secondarily to a more mechanical, does-this-bring-in-the-numbers perspective. Because I think most of us can understand that if we prioritize the latter, the former never gets addressed.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:24 PM on October 15 [18 favorites]


Gonna suggest we just pause and not get into some kind of conflict here. People are giving feedback, that's great, thank you we appreciate it.

This document project is a giant project with a lot of interlocking pieces and serving a lot of different audiences -- from brand new people to longtime members with specific issues in mind they want to see addressed. Those audiences are going to get addressed by different pieces of the project. The directing-traffic part is going to be a process of refinement to be sure people can find the piece that meets their needs. We're listening and incorporating feedback. Everybody's trying to help because we all want this place to be good, we're all on the same side here and we can discuss things in that spirit.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:24 PM on October 15 [9 favorites]


Ha, timing!

Anyway - thank you all again, I truly appreciate hearing people's responses to this.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:26 PM on October 15


I think things could use a bunch more AAVE. That is:

<acronym title="African American Vernacular English">AAVE</acronym>

for various terms. In fact, you could eventually turn them into links to somewhere else, but still have the title attribute give a short summary.

Thinking along the same lines as the alt text for image descriptions. It would be awesome if the post editor had a button for these things.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:31 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]


How does the alt text work on mobile, though? That'd be my main concern.

(Also, just want to say thanks to the mods for doing the work on this - as we're going to have these norms, it's extremely helpful to have them written down and accessible to others, both for those of us who are on the site and for trying to explain to other folks what this site is about)
posted by dinty_moore at 1:39 PM on October 15


On iOS 12.4.1 with Safari zengargoyle's AAVE acronym link above doesn't do anything. It just looks like the text AAVE.
posted by cgc373 at 1:41 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]


The claim was that warriorqueen was just "spit-balling", and that's clearly not the case.

*longest sigh ever*

You've read waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much into my use of the word spit-balling. I've said almost* everything I need to say, so I'll bounce out this thread now.

*Putting some returns between the bullet points would help break up the wall of text in the Do's and Dont's list.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:53 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]


(That's because <acronym> is deprecated. If you use <abbr> it might work better. Stats from caniuse show almost everything supports it, save IE6. And if you are using that, you have other, larger issues. Here is a test: laser. Title/hover states on phones can be tricksy, though.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:18 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]


laser just looks like laser with the phone (iOS 12.4.1, Safari).
posted by cgc373 at 3:54 PM on October 15


Catching back up this afternoon. I want to reiterate some of what LM and r_n said above: this isn't a fight over whose feedback wins, this is just a thread for folks to give what feedback they have on these new documents. This is a complicated place and that feedback is gonna be sometimes contradictory, or at least expressing multiple parallel priorities, and that's okay; finding good compromises for multiple priorities is kinda the whole process we're gonna continue to work through as long as this place exists. Hearing the feedback is useful for me, and having folks put it in a "here's the reason why I think tweak x would be good" context is a good approach to being heard without needing to get at odds with each other about it, so I'd appreciate folks continuing to aim more for that as we work to iterate these documents over time and supplement them with other revised and new documents.

As far as the philosophy behind these new documents: we've done these rewrites an eye toward both addressing behavior expectations within the community and growth in the long-term, and those aren't the same and don't have a one size fits all solution.

And the behavior expectations aspect is about MetaFilter now, about the community we have now, and is talking about things that matter to me about what kind of space this is and what we expect of each other, right now. It's in significant part about saying out loud "these are the expectations" instead of relying on a more haphazard oral tradition and instruction through reactive moderation to distribute that knowledge. That may not be the best way to entice large volumes of new users, but it's important to me that as we aim to bring new folks in to the site that we are bringing in folks who find these kinds of community expectations acceptable. It's not acceptable to me to prioritize growth over those things, as much as we can work on doing both. I want folks to want to join MetaFilter for MetaFilter's sake, not just because the signup process is slick enough that they don't have to think about what they're joining.

So finessing the presentation to hit an ideal compromise is what we can aim for. We won't substantially remove the setting-of-expectations content in the new documents, because that stuff is really important to me and to a lot of people in this community, and addresses some long-running issues where the site has managed to fall short in actually serving a diverse membership. They're things that need saying. But finding some iteration of the signup process and documents that helps people get accurately acquainted with the site and those sorts of expectations in a readable and approachable way is, for sure, the long-term goal here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:12 PM on October 15 [9 favorites]


For the microaggressions page, I'd add something about how "Fixed that for you"/"I think you mean" should be used with caution, if at all. They've been a fairly frequent source of contention.
posted by Candleman at 11:31 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure how the discussion became " We won't substantially remove the setting-of-expectations content in the new documents, because that stuff is really important to me and to a lot of people in this community, and addresses some long-running issues where the site has managed to fall short in actually serving a diverse membership" OR "It's not acceptable to me to prioritize growth over those things, as much as we can work on doing both. I want folks to want to join MetaFilter for MetaFilter's sake, not just because the signup process is slick enough that they don't have to think about what they're joining."

The idea that making the language polite and enthusiastic about the site, especially given that these guidelines are likely to be visited 1) skimmed by new people 2) skimmed over as new people post or comment for the first time, or 3) referred to when there's a violation, here is somehow anti-POC or anti-current-expectations just shows how entrenched the "act as if you want to be here" aspects of this site are.

I mean, we don't have to agree about tone but if a discussion around making the tone a little bit nicer in the opening paragraphs is taken as somehow putting down POC...I dunno what to say, man. In fact, there's really nothing to say at that point. I did not suggest making any of the inclusivity, don'ts, or microaggressions parts more mild.

I also don't know what to say to the idea that people had BETTER GOSH WELL THINK before they join. That really makes me think about my own investment in the site. And that's absolutely everyone's perogative but I don't find that aligns at all with the stated site values of kind and generous etc.

Anyways, I've given enough of my time to this.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:07 AM on October 16 [15 favorites]


For the microaggressions page, I'd add something about how "Fixed that for you"/"I think you mean" should be used with caution, if at all. They've been a fairly frequent source of contention.

Isn't that just regular passive aggressive jerkery, not microaggression?
posted by zamboni at 7:31 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]


FTFY can also be used in joking terms, which is how I've used it, often "fixing" press coverage of a topic, but this is a good reminder to myself to review how I use language like this.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:03 AM on October 16


Yeah, microaggressions are things that come from, and have an extra painful charge because they're embedded in, a larger context of inequality. It's not the same as just small annoying things people do to each other. It's seemingly-small things that [a] are extra alienating or hurtful because of the context and [b] a dominant-group-member may not realize are quite as hurtful as they are, because dominant group members are encouraged to remain ignorant on how the inequality they benefit from hurts others, etc -- hence the explainer page. With the microaggressions list, we're trying to stick to things mentioned as being problems by affected members in past Metatalks or in private correspondence about racism and other -isms.

The main Guidelines page includes more general stuff, in addition to the brief entries on taking extra care and microaggressions (we need to keep it brief on that page, so we've put the more detailed explanation on its own page). To be clear, many of the general guidelines are also drawn from MeTa conversations about -isms, it's just they're things that are easier to explain very briefly than the taking-extra-care/microaggressions stuff.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:54 AM on October 16 [3 favorites]


Oh, and on the specific "fixed that for you" genre of comment: "Speak for yourself not others" on the main guidelines page is meant to address this, among a number of other things.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:04 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]


Perfect is the enemy of the good.
posted by Drumhellz at 9:39 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]


Is the publishing of these guidelines going to coincide with increased enforcement of the anti-microaggression policy, based on the fact that it's now written down? I understand that hard cases make bad law, but there are certain "-isms" that seem to be more permissible than others, and I think it might be useful to include some kind of language to at least note the general parameters of where the gray areas begin.

One example that comes to mind is the "Florida man" stereotype, which a lot of people find funny (including every member of my family and circle of friends who was born in or currently lives in Florida), but which of course have the potential to offend. There was a "Florda Man" FPP earlier this year, and while the content was pretty innocuous, I can imagine Florida residents getting tired of the trope to the point where it could be considered a microaggression, just as people rightly get upset about talk of "flyover country". Would that post from May be flaggable for deletion under these new guidelines? I'm totally fine with that, as the Florida Man jokes are low-hanging fruit that make me not feel very god about the part of myself that finds them funny.

There's also the question about dominant groups as the targets of microaggressions, or even some otherwise prohibited behaviors like wishing harm to them. I've favorited many an "eat the rich" or "someone set up us the guillotines" type comment over the years, but I can see some people reading these kind of comments now and claiming that the rules as written are being inconsistently applied without some inclusion of language about punching up vs. punching down. There are always going to be judgement calls, but unless the mods are prepared to take a harder line on inflammatory rhetoric toward dominant groups, it might be useful to clearly articulate that more leeway will be given to those punching up so that members of dominant groups understand they can't call an "eat the rich" comment a microaggression. Or can they?
posted by tonycpsu at 10:07 AM on October 16


"dominant groups as the targets of microaggressions" = No. That's not what is meant by microaggressions. See my previous comment. This obviously needs to be something we say more emphatically in the explainer page.

Under "Don't"s on the main Guidelines page we have a point about not wishing violence on people. Go ahead and flag guillotine comments.

About Florida man comments, they're generally not great; flag them and we'll see. We've had discussions in the past about how a number of Mefites feel excluded by lazy stereotypes about the US south and Texas etc, and it's something people try to be better about, and which we'll often nudge people on. Under the more detailed page on microaggressions, we do mention not invoking stereotypes of a place. One wrinkle is, the US south/Florida/Texas case is a little like criticisms of Christian churches, where often the people criticizing are people who grew up/live in that environment, and that's a sort of different thing from outsiders making the same points.

Honestly there's no way to capture all this stuff in a super fine grained way. I know we're all nerds who love to poke and find holes and edge cases. But it's a trap to try to anticipate every possible situation or rule or exact response, and we're not going to try. These Guidelines hopefully give more shape to the principles we're trying to operate with, and we've tried to keep them brief enough that people can actually read them and try to keep them in mind.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:19 AM on October 16 [17 favorites]


I sort of feel like this is one of those "trust the mods" situations? Outlining "Hey dominant group, you can't claim microaggressions" seems to be really anticipating a sort of pushback on a stronger delineation of both existing moderation and expectations of moderation moving forward where I feel that the 3-4 people likely to claim this sort of thing can basically be dealt with on a personalized basis.

Since the megathreads (and their special rules) are sunsetting, there is actually a fair amount of time on the back end for mods to do some of the "high touch" things like contact a user and talk to them about edge-case scenarios enough so I think outlining all of them in a guidelines page isn't useful.

Back in my mod days, we definitely spent waaaay too much time putting up with a tiny set of assholes who would grief a lot of mod decisions and I think the current mod team does a better job at pruning out constant ankle biters under the general "act like you want to be here" clause.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:20 AM on October 16 [17 favorites]


Is the publishing of these guidelines going to coincide with increased enforcement of the anti-microaggression policy, based on the fact that it's now written down?

Aside from the stuff other folks said above: part of the idea of getting this stuff written down clearly is to signal to folks that this stuff is okay to flag or drop us a line about when y'all see it happening. That's the biggest barrier to enforcement for us as mods, is we have to see it before we have a chance to act on it at all. And one of the frustrations folks have expressed in the past is that it's wasn't necessarily clear to someone not following MetaTalk discussions closely that the site even considered this stuff flagworthy.

So in general I don't think we're talking about an increase in intention to enforce: this is all stuff that, documentation or no, the mod team has already been making an effort to keep an eye out for and to make moderation calls on when we saw it. But I'm hopeful it will help in the short and long term with encouraging folks to flag stuff for us to look at, or to be more mindful of their own comments in the first place so there's less stuff that would merit flagging in the first place.

I did not suggest making any of the inclusivity, don'ts, or microaggressions parts more mild.

Heya, warriorqueen, I want to be clear I wasn't intending that as specifically a response to you and I apologize for making you feel that way. This is a conversation that has a larger context than this thread, and the tension between discussions about prioritizing growth and onboarding vs. prioritizing establishing clearer documented boundaries on community behavior has been pretty pointed at times in the last few months and I feel the need to be really clear about where and how that tension meets my actual priorities for this place. I felt like I needed to address that larger context clear and early here with the conversation starting to turn in some of those familiar circles, but I wasn't trying to put you on the spot.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:17 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


Quick note about Florida Man: it's the product of Florida's particularly strong public records laws and that's something to be proud of.
posted by asperity at 12:18 PM on October 16 [16 favorites]


> Quick note about Florida Man: it's the product of Florida's particularly strong public records laws and that's something to be proud of.

Sure, but many comments on Florida Man posts here read more as "lol look at these assholes" rather than paeans to robust government transparency. Is that something we want less of in light of these guidelines? Should we be flagging these more now that there's more concrete guidance?
posted by tonycpsu at 12:33 PM on October 16 [5 favorites]


asperity, thank you for sharing that article. It completely changed my perception on the number of stories coming out of Florida and has provided me with the basis for an awesome lesson plan for my high school classes!
posted by WaspEnterprises at 12:33 PM on October 16 [7 favorites]


I really wish all (or enough) browsers supported some of the most useful features, but I guess it's hopeless. Maybe there could be a glossary of sorts on the Mefi Wiki. Which I just discovered doesn't do https...
posted by zengargoyle at 12:39 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


tonypcsu: go ahead and flag it if you feel like it's a problem in context. On any given comment - it's always ok to flag a comment or contact us and let us know your concerns or ask us what the deal is, if you're feeling uncertain.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:46 PM on October 16


many comments on Florida Man posts here read more as "lol look at these assholes" rather than paeans to robust government transparency. Is that something we want less of in light of these guidelines?

IMO the Florida example is much more context-dependent than some other kinds of "lol weirdos" content and I'd be against a blanket prohibition on alligator-related news. (Lived in FL longer than I've lived anywhere else, currently live in a state where the largest police departments have encrypted police radio and access to both the "lol weirdos" news and the "how many people are dying in the streets?" news is increasingly limited.) I think LobsterMitten's take on it is good and would be happy to see the nastier kinds of local-stereotype comments gone.
posted by asperity at 12:49 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


Site funding MeTa is up.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:38 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


Quick note as the person who posted that regional stereotyping MeTa, prefacing with the fact that my background is Georgia and Texas rather than Florida: I am not sure I would jump to fret over Florida Man type things, and I generally wouldn't worry about regionalism that's being participated in by people from or near that region. The trends I was really frustrated with at the time (and now, though less so) were dismissive attempts to write off entire regions as a whole, especially glee at the suffering of those regions. Most of my point was to remind MeFi that residents of these places are a) not a monolith but also b) include a lot of progressives who are actually trying to make the place better for all of us, as well as a lot of marginalized minority groups. And in particular I wanted very badly to push back hard on "well just move, God, if you don't move you deserve what happens to you" sentiments.

As has been pointed out up thread by cortex, there's a very definite difference between comments that are part of intra-regional teasing where folks from those regions are participating and places where while regions are getting written off. By definition, Florida Man doesn't refer to all of Florida either explicitly or implicitly--in fact, that's half the joke, that a whole state's worth of weird is encompassed in one alarming person. So I tend not to think it's part of the trends I was identifying, then and now.

It's also important to me that that request to think about the way we refer to various regions of the US not be interpreted to assume that regions can't be criticized or even teased. Leadership in these states is often hellacious, and the reflexive reaction from some folks in these states to respond to criticism by refusing to break ranks is counterproductive. My point is actually that when folks toss out those criticisms, they should be careful to pick targets accurately, because when those targets are over broad the ire can make things particularly difficult for Southern progressives and marginalized people,who often receive it from all sides. That erodes allyship and solidarity on a national level, and that's bad fucking politics as well as a bad way of relating to fellow people.

All THAT said, Florida Man falls neatly within the tradition of tall tales about ridiculous choices. Those really are a big aspect of the culture of a lot of these regions, and those things aren't inherently problematic in and of themselves. It depends, as with many things, on context.
posted by sciatrix at 5:21 AM on October 17 [8 favorites]


And a link to that MeTa for the curious who might not know what thread is being referenced. I actually really appreciated the work in the disabilities MeTas recently of brainwane and diss track able, among others, to provide links to referenced threads for context. I say this as someone who is generally kind of crappy about doing that myself, especially on mobile where it's more difficult to do! (I'm actually on mobile now because my laptop is out of commission, and my thumb is definitely starting to complain.) But I think linking in that way is a really useful way to help make discussions about metadynamics more accessible to new folks, and I really appreciate people who do that in conversations like this.
posted by sciatrix at 5:30 AM on October 17 [6 favorites]


Heya, warriorqueen, I want to be clear I wasn't intending that as specifically a response to you and I apologize for making you feel that way. This is a conversation that has a larger context than this thread, and the tension between discussions about prioritizing growth and onboarding vs. prioritizing establishing clearer documented boundaries on community behavior has been pretty pointed at times in the last few months and I feel the need to be really clear about where and how that tension meets my actual priorities for this place. I felt like I needed to address that larger context clear and early here with the conversation starting to turn in some of those familiar circles, but I wasn't trying to put you on the spot.

Well, thanks.

I will ride the hobby horse one mile further though.

I do not think these items (clear boundaries/new people/new donors, frankly, so an invested new user) are incompatible or that there is tension between them.

I've written and deleted paragraphs on this but it's way too wordy. In summary:

- the members you want will inherently value the core values of the site, so there is nothing wrong with having clear documentation or upholding what I will badly label social justice principles

- as with most things, the way you do it will speak as loudly as the words, and new people are especially poking around to try to get a sense for that, to the extent that they do - mostly they will be reading the actual content and comments anyway

- the members that you want - active, thoughtful, engaged, enthusiastic, ready to spend a few bucks if they can afford it - also will want their enthusiasm and willingness to spend their time, everyone's most valuable resource, to be appreciated, especially at each hurdle

- it's at those hurdles that they are most likely to be reading your documentation, and most likely to be impacted by tone

- a few sections of your documentation, not to harp on the one line but I think it's the clearest expression, of 'act like you want to be here' gives a weary, weary sense...consider whether this meets your actual goals, and what assumptions you are making about who is coming to the site(s) in the first place or getting ready to comment or post

- the idea that making things easy or welcoming for people means only stupid or wrongheaded people show up is...an antiquated view of online community and makes a lot of assumptions about who is online and ready to contribute
posted by warriorqueen at 6:58 AM on October 17 [11 favorites]


It's exciting to see these updates! I appreciate the Community Guidelines & the expanded information on microaggressions.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 1:27 PM on October 17


Ooh these look great, thank you! I appreciate how thorough they are, and I don't mind the wordiness - it helps filter (ha) out the people who don't give a damn.

Re "cisgender is not a slur", could I suggest:

"Words used to neutrally define dominant groups are not slurs against that group. For example, the word "cisgender" just means someone who is not a transgender person (also sometimes referred to as someone who identifies as the gender assigned to them at birth) - it's not a judgement against people who are not transgender themselves."
posted by divabat at 10:24 PM on October 19 [6 favorites]


I'm so happy you are doing this! Thanks!!
posted by dbx at 8:22 AM on October 21


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