How about an update conversation on the post megathread era? December 16, 2019 9:30 AM   Subscribe

It seems to me that the change has been a positive good for Metafilter. Change being the doing away with the Megathreads. Even the sidebar has stopped moving. What are your thoughts?
posted by Mrs Potato to Feature Requests at 9:30 AM (98 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

There's a MeTa just a couple of floors down that chronicles some significant growing pains with respect to post-megathread politics discussion. Might not be a bad idea to disentangle the issue that spawned that MeTa from a wider-ranging discussion, but folks might want to at least skim that to note that not everyone's happy with how things are going.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:59 AM on December 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


also to note that next time I'll scroll back a little before queueing
posted by Mrs Potato at 10:09 AM on December 16, 2019


I won't speak for everyone, but from my angle the load got about 1000% more bearable pretty much instantly.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:27 AM on December 16, 2019 [52 favorites]


I should confess to being wrong about my strongly held opinions when the megathreads were axed.

I am not feeling sad that they are gone. I think the Impeachment threads have been plenty. I still feel informed, I still feel like I have a space in which I can feel comfortable and among allies in the struggle, and I think overall my mental health has improved a touch by not obsessively following Everything in the megathreads. So yeah, I was wrong about how I personally would react to their absence. I'm glad I was wrong!

More important is that the mods are feeling less strained by the threads. Glad to hear things are better for you, r_n. I hope that's the case across the board.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:43 AM on December 16, 2019 [41 favorites]


I like the new world. I had sort of given up on following U.S. politics on Metafilter before, but now the political threads I see are quite approachable.
posted by value of information at 11:32 AM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


There are a fair number of US Politics threads that seem to slip through the "turn off US politics" function, at least initially. Do they get tagged after-the-fact if the poster doesn't tag them? And if so, should we flag them for tagging?
posted by jacquilynne at 11:43 AM on December 16, 2019


Go ahead and flag 'em for tagging (Flag With Note is ideal) because yeah, that's a manual thing.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:50 AM on December 16, 2019 [4 favorites]


I like the new world. I had sort of given up on following U.S. politics on Metafilter before, but now the political threads I see are quite approachable.

ditto to this for me. I find I'm now spending more time on threads of a USA political nature -- not less. Sometimes everything is simply too much.
posted by philip-random at 11:54 AM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


I miss the ‘fucking fuck’ threads but didn’t want to post a new one under the theory that it would just attract all the heat the old mega threads were getting.
posted by bq at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


I miss the megathreads in the same way I miss smoking. Definitely better for my health that both are gone but sometimes nothing else scratches that itch. But I suppose the impeachment threads are the nicotine patch I need to get me over the hump into post-obsessive life.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 2:01 PM on December 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


Yes, to how this has freed up the Mods to work on other much needed things (like the new welcome info, etc.) and maybe just how the job isn't as bleak and difficult without the megathreads. In addition to the less tangible, I would love to see an update of Tell Me No Lies' Metafilter Usage 2010-2019 through the end of the year.
posted by Gotanda at 2:26 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Spoiler alert: the megathread never went away; you're swimming in it.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:26 PM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


No, I'm not. I don't miss them. They quickly became unwieldy, then they became unpleasant. Good riddance, and thank you to the mods for preventing a resurgence of the dickery that went on in them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:30 PM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yes, it's been great not sifting through 5,000 pull quoted article links about minutiae certain folks were obsessed with, just to get the latest informed info. Glad they are gone, the impeachment threads are more than adequate.
posted by agregoli at 2:36 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


I feel I have gotten significantly less informed but also my mental health has improved. So a mixed bag.
posted by corb at 4:43 PM on December 16, 2019 [38 favorites]


What corb said.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:10 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm also significantly less informed. My mental health is about the same.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:43 PM on December 16, 2019 [7 favorites]


I've noticed that general posts in the blue (I hide US Politics threads) have had a lot more energy and participation since the megathreads met their end. It would be interesting to take a look at the datadump and see if this is a real effect or just perception.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:06 PM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]


Flag With Note is ideal

I am so happy we have Flag with Note and I am so sorry I use Flag with Note ALL THE TIME NOW.

I feel less informed than during the Megathread era (specifically when I was working here) and I have 100% decided it's okay to be less informed. I'm not sure in some cases what I needed to be more informed for? I am working hard on the topics and issues I care about, but some of the Megathread coverage was at a level of granularity which didn't help me do my work, talk to people, or otherwise live my life. I am very clear that is a YMMV thing for people, but for me it just highlighted how much I didn't actually need to know about some of this stuff and how much continuing to read a lot of words on a screen was keeping me from doing other things that might have a more tangible difference regarding the issues I cared about.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:17 PM on December 16, 2019 [46 favorites]


I think this was a totally net positive for the site. Maybe there were other factors going on but I am seeing way more interesting FPPs and less stressed/crabby moderators.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:14 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


I do not miss them. There are plenty of single-serving "what horrible things happened in US politics today" sites that one could visit if one wanted to be informed. I don't read those either. My mental health is improved of late, but I'm also now taking drugs for that, so causality is not implied. I do see more interesting posts and conversations here than before. And the mods are doing good work.

+
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:29 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I am so happy to be part of this thread and to be able to read your comments.
posted by Mrs Potato at 5:46 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Of course it's a positive good. I am still so mad that so many people seemed so unconcerned about the strain they were putting on the site's staff by insisting those threads be kept running. Those threads should have been shut down as soon as it became clear that they were creating so much work and so much stress for the mod team, but instead it took years. Obviously some of this is on the mods for not putting their collective foot down, but it's never looked like some people gave enough thought to how much they were demanding when they'd thrash about the slightest changes, let alone the prospect of ending the threads altogether. The mods were put in the tough position of keeping those threads running for the sake of community, at their own expense, and I'm not going to stop being angry that this was treated by many here as anything less than an extraordinary favor that came at great personal cost.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:33 AM on December 17, 2019 [14 favorites]


I was for the change, but I don't think everyone necessarily appreciates how much work goes into any given mod decision. A lot of that is very behind-the-scenes.
posted by praemunire at 8:03 AM on December 17, 2019


I also appreciate knowing that the staff is under less stress without them. I can get what I need from separate threads without having to add angst to the mods.
posted by blurker at 8:06 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I didn't read the megathreads but the stuff I do read does feel nebulously calmer here. I suspect it's improved site member relations generally.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:10 AM on December 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Obviously some of this is on the mods for not putting their collective foot down, but it's never looked like some people gave enough thought to how much they were demanding when they'd thrash about the slightest changes

Oh is this the semi annual ‘get everything we don’t like about people who read politics threads off our chest’ event? Sorry if I’ve been too demanding to want to read about things people want to post about, I’ll stop thrashing.
posted by Drumhellz at 9:35 AM on December 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


jessamyn: I'm not sure in some cases what I needed to be more informed for?

I agree. I was way more informed, but did nothing with that information than stress out.

It brings to mind Kattullus' summary of the hyper-aware deer analogy by Yann Martel. In short, pay attention to as much information as is helpful for you to navigate your world, because at some point, additional information is just additional stress, and won't make you any safer or happier.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:03 AM on December 17, 2019 [13 favorites]




Take your fighting tone and words back to your fighty thread. This thread is for notes on hugs.
posted by Mrs Potato at 10:04 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


The mods were put in the tough position of keeping those threads running for the sake of community, at their own expense, and I'm not going to stop being angry that this was treated by many here as anything less than an extraordinary favor that came at great personal cost.

So, I organize in volunteer community spaces, and one of the things that constantly comes up is, what do we do when we know something would be a good thing, but we don't have the capacity to do it as it should be done without massive strain on the people involved.

This comes up most specifically with 'what do we do when intimate partner violence or sexual assault happens', but also in other areas. What do we do when something is a good, or is necessary, or Important, but it's just a huge burden on the volunteers already struggling? It's a hard thing that we haven't figured out and that's even for volunteers.

For people who are paid, it's harder - and I mean that in a lot of ways, like there is a tendency to put everything on the people in the community who are 'paid staffers' even beyond what is reasonable to expect of workers.

I think that dynamic also applies to Metafilter in many ways. I don't think people were being inconsiderate in saying something was deeply important, or a lifesaver to them. I do think it's hard when important things place emotional pressure on others. I don't think there's a great way figured out of navigating those needs.
posted by corb at 10:05 AM on December 17, 2019 [18 favorites]


Take your fighting tone and words back to your fighty thread. This thread is for notes on hugs.

What about this thread would suggest that it's exclusively for notes on hugs? I'm sorry for being aggressive, but I'm still angry that it felt like people refused to listen to dissenting voices from the mods and other members of the community over the years. Now it seems like there's a consensus forming of "huh, turns out I don't miss this as much as I thought I would," and it's incredibly frustrating. I appreciate what corb said because I don't think people are monsters, and I appreciate hearing how difficult this can be for everyone to navigate even with the best intentions. But it's still incredibly frustrating, and it still feels like there's an aspect of this that's just getting ignored in favor of, you know, "notes on hugs." We're not going to learn anything from this if it just boils down to nothing.

These are my reactions. If you intended for this to be a place where only some people commented on only their positive reactions to change, then I'm sorry for not picking up on that, but you can't ask me to stop being angry just because you don't like my tone.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:20 AM on December 17, 2019 [11 favorites]


Take your fighting tone and words back to your fighty thread. This thread is for notes on hugs.


This is a passive-aggressive fighty tone and words and not really a "note on hug" at all.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:28 AM on December 17, 2019 [12 favorites]


that was not addressed to you. I should have clarified better that it was addressed to Drumhellz. I am sorry you felt you needed to respond to it. I should have thought it out better.
posted by Mrs Potato at 10:28 AM on December 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


I appreciate it, and I'm sorry for the misunderstanding!
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:29 AM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


This site really brings out the worst in me, honestly.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:35 AM on December 17, 2019


Yeah I’m not really in a hug mood. You can go ahead and call me out for it all you want, and be nice to the person being passive aggressive and shitty to me too. I’m sick of this place why did I even bother trying to fit in.
posted by Drumhellz at 10:48 AM on December 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


Drumhellz isn't the person who introduced a finger-pointing, revisionist history of megathread discussion into this thread.
posted by lalex at 10:53 AM on December 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


I left MetaFilter over it.

(Yes, I'm aware of the irony of coming here to say I left.)
posted by diogenes at 11:03 AM on December 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


It may be passive (or I think openly) aggressive, but it's not revisionist. The mods complained for years. Here's me talking about it way back in June 2017. I got a lot of shit for bringing it up over the years, was consistently brushed off as "oh, the anti-politics brigade just wants to tell us how bad we are," and so that's why I'm now mad that most people are now saying "huh, guess it's OK that they're gone." It may not even be the same people, but this is anything but revisionist history. I'm mad about it because up until the bitter end people denied that this was a problem.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:29 AM on December 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


I think the thing that made this all so difficult was that there were people with really strong feelings on all/both sides of this and no clear "This is a plan that will make people happy" outcome. And sometimes people may not have known how much they'd mind or not mind the absence of the Megathreads until it happened. I get that people feel bad in a lot of different directions but there's only 40 comments in this thread by a handful of users, I don't think there's really a consensus on anything, just that some people continue to have strong feelings about the situation. I was on team "get rid of them" and now I'm on team "happy they're gone" but I respect that there are people who don't have the same feelings.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:35 AM on December 17, 2019 [14 favorites]


The good parts of the megathreads really would have been helped by a different technology. There was a lot of detail mixed in with the rants. Some kind of cross linking threaded model so one did not need to jump back and forth to follow trains of thought. (and isolate the wackier or troubling threads of, cough, discussion)
posted by sammyo at 11:43 AM on December 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


What are your thoughts?

Take your fighting tone and words back to your fighty thread. This thread is for notes on hugs.

Which is it?
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:00 PM on December 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


> Now it seems like there's a consensus forming of "huh, turns out I don't miss [the megathreads] as much as I thought I would," and it's incredibly frustrating.

The "consensus forming", if it is, is very much a selection effect:

> I left MetaFilter over it. (Yes, I'm aware of the irony of coming here to say I left.)

I haven't left MetaFilter, but it is no longer my primary internet home, and my time on the site is a tiny fraction of what it used to be. Aside from Quonsmas, I haven't commented on the site between November 15th and now.

On the positive side (since hugs were requested), you should really see my Quonsmas gifts - they are the most amazing, gorgeous, fabulous things! And it turns out that Slack helps scratch the megathread itch reasonably well for me. (All interested folks are welcome to join - the Slack isn't meant to be exclusive or exclusionary.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


> so that's why I'm now mad that most people are now saying "huh, guess it's OK that they're gone."

Just to be clear here, you expressed this opinion less than a day after this MeTa was opened. At the time you posted, it had only attracted 22 comments. 3 out of those 22 comments were from staff members, active and otherwise. One of them was from me just jumping in early to remind folks there's another active MeTa covering similar issues without expressing any views on the question being asked. Several others -- six by my count, expressed no opinion at all on the "Megathreads gone: good? (y/n)" question.

Setting all of those aside, we're left with a dozen comments that you are basing this idea that not many people care about them being gone. And then you're using that snap judgement to cast aspersions on members who felt otherwise, many of whom probably aren't reading this MeTa.

You are certainly allowed to be angry at users that you perceived to be not taking the mods' complaints seriously enough. MeTa is the place for expressing this kind of anger, and I'm all for it when it's based on a valid premise. But if you think a dozen members chiming in over the course of less than 24 hours in a very low-traffic MeTa says anything about how MetaFilter as a whole feels about the megathreads being gone, I'm going to have to strongly disagree. It's generally well-known around here that many users don't check in on MeTa very frequently. Then there's the survival bias of people who miss the megathreads not being around as much. Then there's the fact that, unlike many MeTas, this one didn't arise out of a particular blue FPP, so there's no opportunity to link to it to bring users over.

It just seems very axe-grindy to sieze on a very early trend in the discussion, not only to conclude that there's a consensus that megathreads being gone is NBD, but also to say nasty words about those who felt a different way when these issues were originally decided.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2019 [16 favorites]


Re: the original question -- I feel like I'm missing the megathreads about as much as I thought I would, which is a lot. I liken it to the loss of Deadspin, but with issues that are even more important. There isn't another place like MeFi megathreads, and there probably won't be. I'll get my news and some discussion elsewhere, but the vibe here was special, and I'm sad that it's gone. That doesn't mean it was wrong to get rid of them. It was clearly the right call. But it sucks that it had to happen.

I was adamantly against attempts to try to redirect that energy to other offsite venues, preferring to try to see what it's possible to do within the confines of the community, so the deletion being discussed a couple MeTas below this one was disappointing. I still think there are opportunities to have informative, focused discussions about current US politics events on the site, but it seems that the gap between issues we could cover a year ago and issues that can survive as dedicated FPPs in the current environment is wider than I'd hoped, which is regrettable.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:39 PM on December 17, 2019 [10 favorites]


I used to pay for the privilege of providing free content that was often destroyed without notice by the people I paid for the privilege of providing free content to for their website. I am much happier now that I do not do that any more.
posted by hypnogogue at 12:44 PM on December 17, 2019 [11 favorites]


Some kind of cross linking threaded model so one did not need to jump back and forth to follow trains of thought. (and isolate the wackier or troubling threads of, cough, discussion)


Dare I say, threaded commenting?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 2:00 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


The fact that people who have "left" this website still follow it closely enough to know to pop in to this MeTa indicates that maybe some people don't have a particularly healthy relationship with this website.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:30 PM on December 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


This conversation will go better if people can mostly stick to saying how it is for them rather than trying to mind-read other people.

People have different feelings about the megathreads, we all knew that from before; it's not surprising that would still be true for a lot of people. We can respect each other despite that, and talk about our own experiences of the site with/without the megathreads.

For me, it's been very positive in terms of baseline mental health. Honestly I think we as a team are still recovering in many ways. I'm sorry that we weren't able to find a way to meet everyone's wishes simultaneously on this; we did try, and I'm sorry we couldn't find a better way through. I know the closing of those threads has been a real loss for some people. I've appreciated the effort katra and others have made to keep the impeachment threads informative.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:43 PM on December 17, 2019 [19 favorites]


I've found Chrysostom's election news roundups pretty helpful in mitigating the feeling of being less informed with the closure of the megathreads. (Note: The roundups specifically focus on downballot races and voting rights and don't include presidential race info.)
posted by bassooner at 4:12 PM on December 17, 2019 [10 favorites]


All this angst is the reason I mostly stick to Fanfare..

Thankfully there are no MegaThreads in Fanfare.
posted by Pendragon at 4:46 PM on December 17, 2019


I miss the megathreads but I'm happy that things are better for the mods.
posted by XMLicious at 5:54 PM on December 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


For me, from a moderator perspective, it has been an enormous relief. It was a hard decision to shut those down, and I know for some people a really disappointing one and for a few people basically a dealbreaker outright, and that sucks and I'm empathetic. But it was definitely a good decision in terms of site resources and mod team mental health, not least because they weren't the only difficult thing on our plates.

I think that dynamic also applies to Metafilter in many ways. I don't think people were being inconsiderate in saying something was deeply important, or a lifesaver to them. I do think it's hard when important things place emotional pressure on others. I don't think there's a great way figured out of navigating those needs.

This is pretty much the thing, yeah. There was never a simple explanation or an easy resolution possible for the Megathread practice and the political context surrounding it, no set of people who were obviously right and obviously wrong; we tried shifting site practice to support a difficult situation, and we kept at that shift in practice for what in retrospect was clearly too long under a damaging amount of strain. But we did it because it seemed like it had some worth, and was one compromise answer to a hard situation.

I could probably catalogue some specific gripes or beefs about individual interactions tied to trying to maintain the Megathread practice if I wanted to, but I don't want to and honestly it's such a relief to have some distance from that context a few months on now that I'd prefer even more than my default to basically call everything there water under the bridge and never go back to it.

People weren't trying to be cruel, or inconsiderate, or acting out of a desire to see the Megathread practice take a toll on the mods. People were just wanting something that wasn't working. It was a hard spot for everybody, and conversations about it tended to reflect that, as even this lower-volume, lower-heat retrospective discussion has a bit.

The good parts of the megathreads really would have been helped by a different technology.

I think this is true, and I think the real counterfactual if there is one for MeFi specifically is if this scale of situation had arisen in, say, 2008. Because as contentious and memorable as the run-up to Obama's election was, it was busy and contentious by then-normal standards and didn't get as far as forcing a real hard-decision reconsideration of how MetaFilter handled politics. Something more 2016 scale, at a time when the site's resources were growing instead of shrinking, might have been more likely to produce some affirmative move to spinoff MeFi resources for a different kind of politics-specific site.

But more generally all the things that were good about the Megathreads could be done right now in theory by someone else, somewhere else. That it hasn't come together that I've seen comes down to a couple of things: it's harder to spin a community up from scratch than to leverage an existing one, and the incentive for someone to do something with a MeFi-like sensibility and structure and with MeFi-like non-SV non-billions-chasing ethics is not exactly clear.

Given the resources and the inclination, I can see the idea of having tried to make it work. Or rather to try and support someone else make it work, as the realistic outer bounds of what I can imagine personally having done. But that's operating from a lot of What If rather than from the ground we've actually been standing on. I'd love to see someone else with the means and the drive do it and do it well, but it's a lot to tackle.

In short, pay attention to as much information as is helpful for you to navigate your world, because at some point, additional information is just additional stress, and won't make you any safer or happier.

From a wholly personal perspective, this is a thing I have been trying to think more about, yeah.

And on that personal level I do feel a bit less informed than I was six months ago, and a little part of me mourns that because I took some pride in being Extremely Online re: politics and on being able to dig in on the details in chance politics discussions. But I also didn't actually want to end up in chance politics discussions in the first place, really? Like I'll talk in detail with a friend if we both want that, but I never felt anything but a kind of resentment when watercooler-level engagements came up. If the primary benefit I get in my life from knowing, in detail and to the hour, what's going on in congressional politics is to then be annoyed at friends and acquaintances for not being up to speed, eh, that's not a great use of my energy.

So now I have to actually look up the details a bit sometimes. I still get probably more ambient US and UK politics in particular from moderating than I need to, but I'm not breathing it 24/7 and I can still track the general shape of things pretty well, and for me that's an okay throttling back.

But the other thing is not just additional info is additional stress; it's that keeping myself constantly topped off with info and stress meant I didn't have any headroom for when other info and stress also came along. Being less completely inundated with the minutia of US politics every day means I'm not already at capacity when something else that matters comes along. And, again, there's been other hard or complicated stuff going on in the world and on MeFi and in my life this year, and having some more bandwidth to even grapple with that stuff has been important and meaningful as a change.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:34 PM on December 17, 2019 [16 favorites]


I don't know if spending a lot of time in the megathreads is good for you but I do a lot of things that aren't good for me, so eh.

They certainly weren't sustainable at the level of moderation deemed necessary though so there was no avoiding the Old Yeller treatment. The alternative was less moderation and moderation is a ratchet that only goes in one direction.
posted by Justinian at 6:56 PM on December 17, 2019


The MegaThreads did more than keep me informed. They kept me sharp. They got me interested in a ton of new subjects. They introduced me to a lot of different viewpoints. I got the chance to not just be familiar with but really think through current events.
posted by xammerboy at 9:17 PM on December 17, 2019 [7 favorites]


In terms of the site, I can't help but wonder if the MegaThreads weren't a lost opportunity of some kind. There was a lot of content and thought being provided by a lot of really engaged, really smart users who were pretty much glued to the site all day every day.

I get that it was all a lot to moderate, that there was no obvious technical or design solution, and that MetaFilter does not have a lot of resources, but still it sure seemed like there was a lot of potential for all of that energy to be channeled into something amazing.
posted by xammerboy at 9:32 PM on December 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


I feel like I'm missing the megathreads about as much as I thought I would, which is a lot. I liken it to the loss of Deadspin, but with issues that are even more important. There isn't another place like MeFi megathreads, and there probably won't be.

That's how I feel. I often joke I've been listening to "Gimme Shelter" on endless loop since the 2016 election, but it's been very emotionally taxing and I dread the potential outcome of Trump winning in 2020. The megatheads were a safe place for me to share the experience of this walking nightmare. Knowing I was going through it with the community here helped a lot.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:42 PM on December 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


But the other thing is not just additional info is additional stress; it's that keeping myself constantly topped off with info and stress meant I didn't have any headroom for when other info and stress also came along. Being less completely inundated with the minutia of US politics every day means I'm not already at capacity when something else that matters comes along. And, again, there's been other hard or complicated stuff going on in the world and on MeFi and in my life this year, and having some more bandwidth to even grapple with that stuff has been important and meaningful as a change.

This. This is how I feel. If Potato and I hadn't consciously throttled back, each, our own obsessions with global politics newstories, we wouldn't have found the time to get engaged. The date on this account.
posted by Mrs Potato at 7:26 AM on December 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


I'm a person who read the megathreads a lot but is doing better without them. As someone with a job that means I'm not on the computer all day everyday, they had become impossible to participate in, as hundreds of new comments were posted every time I checked, and I barely had time to read them all, let alone actually comment. And if I did comment, by the time I came back I would see that either 1) no one had even noticed my comment and the conversation had moved on hundreds of times or 2) my comment had inspired a massive pile-on and conclusions had been drawn about me as a human being in my absence. It was all just too exhausting and not being a part of it has been better for me. I still feel like I know what's going on in the world between reading other things on Metafilter and social media and, you know, actually following the news myself directly. I've also found historian Heather Cox Richardson's commentaries amazingly helpful in giving me some of the same quality of information without the endless re-litigating 2016 and personal attacks that the megathreads kept falling into.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:38 AM on December 18, 2019 [13 favorites]


moderation is a ratchet that only goes in one direction.

That's actually not true. There's been tightening and loosening of some moderation practices over the years.

Also wanted to note that I've found the impeachment.fyi newsletter/website to be invaluable in keeping me informed, but only once per day.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:40 AM on December 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


I think closing the megathreads has been good for the moderator team. I don't think it has been good for either my level of informed-ness about politics or my level of engagement with the site (that is, I'm not as engaged with the site as I used to be).

I would've liked to see e.g. a really good FPP about the $2 million fine related to the Donald J. Trump Foundation (I know, be the change). It doesn't really fit into impeachment (yet, I can hope), or Democratic debates, so I haven't seen much discussion about it here. I've missed the perspectives and additional details that posters and commenters provide.

I understand that megathreads aren't sustainable within the site as it operates now. But I'd still like to see more politics on MeFi.
posted by box at 9:01 AM on December 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


I don't think it has been good for either my level of informed-ness about politics or my level of engagement with the site (that is, I'm not as engaged with the site as I used to be).

as someone who found myself increasingly alienated from the mega-threads (impossible to keep up with, let alone participate in unless I dedicated MUCH more time to Metafilter), my experience has proven pretty much opposite to this. That is, I'm better informed about US-politics because

A. I can now actually track a Metafilter politics-related thread, and

B. I've had the time to seek out other sources, other voices outside of the site to fill my void in that regard. I may not be consuming as much STUFF but I feel I'm digesting it better.

I'm also more engaged with the site overall because my time here is more often spent elsewhere, on other things, other concerns, all the stuff that drew me here in the first place. The fun stuff, I guess. Even though some of it can get quite contentious in its own right.
posted by philip-random at 9:39 AM on December 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


There was a lot of content and thought being provided

But the other 95 percent of the threads were an endless repeating loop of
“The BEST people/This is not normal/Wah wah wah the law binds but does not protect.”
posted by MrBadExample at 10:29 AM on December 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


I think the Slack channel has preserved much of what made the megathreads effective, and it's a better format because the conversation can be distributed into separate channels, instead of putting it all in one big channel. The megathreads didn't work here because the format creates a need to preserve a coherent, progressional discussion that maintains its integrity over time. By contrast, the Slack is definitely built for in-the-moment discussion that sticks around for 3-5 days and then scrolls off. For those who liked/miss having a one-stop shop to catch up on all the news and snark about it with like-minded people, then consider dropping in.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:10 PM on December 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


There was a lot of content and thought being provided

But the other 95 percent of the threads were an endless repeating loop of
“The BEST people/This is not normal/Wah wah wah the law binds but does not protect.”
posted by MrBadExample at 12:29 PM on December 18 [1 favorite +] [!]


Eponysterical.
posted by avalonian at 12:47 PM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah the Slack is great and has gotten very active; it's set up to, for example, provide a channel for running commentary on live events like impeachment hearings. Plus there are a bunch of nice friendly non-politics channels if you want to chat with other MeFites about less stressful stuff. Everyone is welcome!
posted by lalex at 1:11 PM on December 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


Ray Suarez, on NPR back in the days when I used to listen to it, quoted Oscar Arias as saying 'the trouble with these countries – they only make dessert!'

That's how I feel about Metafilter in the absence of Megathreads: we only make dessert now, though to be fair I guess we also have hors d'oeuvres quite a lot.

But there is no main course.
posted by jamjam at 1:45 PM on December 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


That's how I feel about Metafilter in the absence of Megathreads: we only make dessert now, though to be fair I guess we also have hors d'oeuvres quite a lot.

But there is no main course.


This analogy is kinda perfect in a way. My friendly addendum would be that during the megathread days the main course was foie gras and the mods were the ducks.

And in the interest of not just leaving flyby comments...

I like that people are coming in with their perspectives and those that enjoyed the megathreads describing their perspectives. I do wish those that come in to long for the days of the megathread made more attempt to address the other side: how the entree was made. To me, a thing is good if you like it, unless it costs too much. Not just to the person, but to whatever life it takes to make the thing exist. I think the existence of the megathreads created a dynamic for mods that was on par with the stressors of content moderation for large social media sites. Constant exposure to borderline weaponized cortisol/adrenaline inducing content takes a toll. Based on mod responses before and after the change, I don't want to consume something that has that cost to make. I find it immoral.
posted by avalonian at 2:00 PM on December 18, 2019 [10 favorites]


> I do wish those that come in to long for the days of the megathread made more attempt to address the other side: how the entree was made.

Most who have chimed in above saying they miss them have also alluded to the fact that they put a lot of pressure on the mods, that they were unsustainable, and that they had to go. Many said the same in previous MeTas on the topic. Given that the decision has already been made, and by most accounts declared a success, I'm not sure exactly what else you're looking for here, but it's starting to resemble a holier-than-thou stance that I noticed in the decommissioning MeTa.

Your side of the argument was correct, and it won out. That doesn't negate the sense of loss people feel, and it'd sure be nice if people could share their feelings on the topic without being hectored about not showing the correct amount of introspection about what the megathreads did to the mods. It was shitty for them. We know. What else do you want?
posted by tonycpsu at 2:39 PM on December 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


Yeah, after being told my viewpoint wasn’t welcome by the OP, while they were simultaneously praising the dude who left a ton of fighty comments, and seeing people coming in and literally saying it’s ‘immoral’ to have enjoyed the mega threads, I have to ask: is there some sort of punishment or contrition that we’re supposed to show? Apologies if this isn’t a ‘hug’ type of comment, sarcasm intended.
posted by Drumhellz at 3:14 PM on December 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I want to come back again to the reality that there's a lot tied up in what everybody's respectively bringing to these discussions. Pretty much anything that steps past "this is how I feel/felt" into "this is how other people did/should/probably feel or felt" is tending to navigate tricky territory.

I think all of us probably have some strong feelings about how we feel other people acted or about where other people's priorities differed from or own, and, I mean, you're gonna feel that. I have incredibly complicated feelings about the whole history of politics discussion on MeFi in the last few years and if I get into the weeds of it it's a mess in there. But it's gonna get harder to meet in a central space to talk about this stuff as folks let the "this is where I'm at" stuff lapse into "this is where I think you were at".

That's not to say talking about systemic issues or the broader costs or stressors or trade-offs of things is out of bounds, but it takes care to not make a quick hop from doing that in a really considerate and carefully constructed way to instead getting into kinda fraught blame-laying or implications or divisive reduction of things down from this being a place full of individual people with varying needs to just one or another and-let's-fight binarization of the userbase into two perceived "sides", one of them in the wrong.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:38 PM on December 18, 2019 [13 favorites]


is there some sort of punishment or contrition that we’re supposed to show?

No. You are fine. Other people may still have issues or concerns, those issues and concerns are theirs. The less people can hyperbolize other peoples' perspectives and actions, I think the better we will be.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 3:52 PM on December 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


I don't think it was immoral to enjoy the megathreads. I stated above that I enjoyed the megathreads? Immoral was probably the wrong word, but I didn't come to that conclusion until what I view as a collective exhale afterwards that sort of revealed exactly how high the tide had risen for those most impacted.

That doesn't negate the sense of loss people feel, and it'd sure be nice if people could share their feelings on the topic without being hectored about not showing the correct amount of introspection about what the megathreads did to the mods.

I think that sense of loss is valid. I wasn't talking about you with my above point. I do think there are some in this thread that are looking for someone to continue their old arguments with. If you'll see, I didn't participate that much in the MeTas, so I'm not y'alls former adversary (I did read every comment of every megathread).

So I wasn't talking about you? I'm talking about the one off comments that are like "it was good, wish it was still here, bye!" or similar. I guess to me it just strikes me as the equivalent of coming back to the site of a formerly toxic work environment and talking about how good the gizmos they used to make were, while the former-to-current employees are still there working. Like, I've been that worker. Maybe technically still am in a different context. I just don't think it's a good look. And like I said, I wasn't referring to you or Drumhellz. If you want to defend the one-off commentators to me, I'm good.
posted by avalonian at 4:10 PM on December 18, 2019


as folks let the "this is where I'm at" stuff lapse into "this is where I think you were at".

original comment put the emphasis on the "you", but the "were" brought to mind something I remember from a negotiation/conflict resolution course I took a while back. Simply put, You Can't Negotiate The Past. They really drilled that into us.

A. because it's already happened, there's no fix possible, and

B. (probably more important) because memory is a tricky thing. It's hard enough tracking what somebody's saying right now right here, reading their inflections (and reflections). Hauling back events even as recent as yesterday afternoon and assuming you've got them right is just not a good tactic.

Doesn't mean you can't discuss stuff that happened, compare notes. But the focus has to be on how that gets us to what now? what next?
posted by philip-random at 5:40 PM on December 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


I did read every comment of every megathread

So -- perhaps you could summarize it?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:56 AM on December 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Trumpism is a fractal of corruption, lies, and greed on every level, everything Trump touches dies, media corporations will not save us, Russians infiltrated the NRA, Donald Trump, Jr. killed an endangered sheep, and Tulsi Gabbard voted 'present' on impeachment.
posted by box at 5:13 AM on December 19, 2019 [5 favorites]


The post asks for people's thoughts. These will be varied. There is no wrong answer. Don't hector people for wrong answers about their own feelings when that's all this thread asks people to share.
posted by agregoli at 5:21 AM on December 19, 2019 [8 favorites]


I’m really glad the megathreads are gone. It feels like the whole site is slowly healing from them.
posted by michaelh at 9:43 AM on December 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm happy that our mods are happier.
posted by oceano at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2019 [5 favorites]


Probably not returning as an active contributor to the site any time soon, and suspect that a lot of what they broke in terms of my trust in the site *can't* be fixed, but from the outside it does seem like the site has done better as a whole.
posted by Artw at 12:21 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Glad the mods are in a better place. I still miss the threads and I visit MF less than I used too, because I still want to be informed about what's going on in the deep and detailed way those discussions made me informed. I mostly read twitter and linked articles and podcasts now, which just aren't the same.
posted by longdaysjourney at 3:02 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


The megathreads had their time and eventually all of it. Especially in 2016, 2017 they helped embody the resistance against the bizarrely unlikely inevitability of it all. The inflammatory response was massive and helped capture the House which delivered impeachment. But ever since we crossed the Rubicon, tension lingers. Things might flare up at any time. Without a megathread, what to do, where to go? Next time might be too late.

On the other hand the Beast feeds on itself and the megathreads also helped feed into that. Nobody can drive their outrage into overdrive all the time. I mean the motherfucker got impeached. That's something, right? It's a struggle, but at least it's not all downhill. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
posted by dmh at 8:00 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


The PoliticsFilter Slack has been mentioned several times but I don't see the link, so:

politicsfilter.slack.com

It's the free version, so only the most-recent 10,000 comments (across all channels) are visible. I think most members like the ephemerality.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:44 PM on December 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


Both longdaysjourney and dmh perfectly expressed how I feel about it. I do miss them. I felt more connected with the community.
posted by jgirl at 11:27 PM on December 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


There are those who are saying that the Megathreads kept them informed; I felt almost completely the opposite, like I had to have already had a certain level of familiarity with current events and politics in order to better participate in the megathreads, so I could best assess how much of the blizzard of comments were fact and how much were opining on those facts (assessing to what degree a comment was over- or under-reacting to an event, how much of someone's comment was opinion and how much was fact, etc.).

I tried reading them at first, in the hopes that they would be a filter for the rest of the news media and a tool to help me sort out all the information that was being thrown at me. I found the opposite to be the case and quickly dropped out.

It seems that the mods are happier and able to deal with the rest of the site and each of their own lives as a result, and this is a net good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:15 AM on December 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


I tried reading them at first, in the hopes that they would be a filter for the rest of the news media and

I wonder if that's the problem right there. Whatever they were, and they certainly were what some wanted -- they weren't functioning well as filters. Which you could argue runs contrary to the one thing this site sorta kinda needs to be. A filter, that is. The mega-threads had too much of everything ... and just for me (who cares about me?) for the site itself, for the people tasked with trying to make it work.

The megathreads had their time and eventually all of it. Especially in 2016, 2017 they helped embody the resistance against the bizarrely unlikely inevitability of it all. The inflammatory response was massive and helped capture the House which delivered impeachment.

I'm not going to argue this. It's hard to prove but it could well be true. But in the end, I'd argue that this place is not first and foremost a political entity, and in becoming one (or certainly becoming more of one), something not good happened in terms of how this place functions, what it feels like to be here. Welcome to life during wartime, I guess.
posted by philip-random at 7:44 AM on December 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter was putting 10 pounds of sugar in a 5 pound bag, day after day. All agreed that something had to give, and, contrary to the allegations of immorality in this thread, everyone also agreed that reducing moderator stress was a hard constraint. There were at least a dozen suggestions for which other requirement should be relaxed, each of which was shot down on the grounds that it did not meet all the requirements. So, inevitably, the bag ripped, and the pressure was relieved that way. But don't kid yourselves that this result met all the requirements. The community became splintered and people found other ways to meet their needs. People who are happy about the new situation are simply ignoring that. It's easy to solve people problems by shooing people away but I wouldn't call that a success. All that happened is a factory closed and a few boutiques took its place, and while some of those boutiques are nice, it's a net loss.
posted by hypnogogue at 9:35 AM on December 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


All that happened is a factory closed and a few boutiques took its place, and while some of those boutiques are nice, it's a net loss.

Not disagreeing with your "net loss" assertion since that is certainly true for some members of this community. But with a 20 year time frame it's more like there were a bunch of small mercantile outposts, some of them became boutiques and some did not, then there were a lot of boutiques, some of which became a factory and some which did not. But the factory wasn't sustainable and now we're back to boutiques and some mercantile outposts. The place did not start out as a factory. It's fine that it became one and I acknowledge the real loss for whom the factory was what they wanted.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:47 AM on December 20, 2019 [8 favorites]


Factory analogy aside, the megathread wasn't something that Metafilter had really done before, it was supposed to be a short term, one off kinda deal that kept extending long past its original vague design. It wasn't fit to Metafilter as it had been or as it expected to be again, so holding the loss of megathreads as a loss to Metafilter does distort the history of the site. Saying the megathreads should have remained is to say Metafilter should no longer be what it was and become something new instead.

To want that is fine, but not really about supporting the site so much as wanting something else entirely. Members that left to find that something else seemingly weren't as invested in what the site has been as much as they were looking for that new thing. They hoped Metafilter would change to provide what they wanted and left when the site stuck to what it had been instead. That's a different story of gain or loss than in suggesting the megathreads were an integral part of the site culture.

Or to abuse another analogy, cortex catered a banquet for a special function and then found the function indefinitely extended with some people insisting on catering everyday, taxing the resources of the site beyond its limits. Some left when the banquet ended and others remained to enjoy the more usual things the site provides.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:16 AM on December 20, 2019 [8 favorites]


Couldn't help but think of this: MetaFilter-is-now-neither-meta-nor-a-filter.
posted by Mid at 10:44 AM on December 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I get agita every time I read that old mathowie comment. The past was a different place and it's really weird thinking about the directions things could have (not) gone.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:01 AM on December 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


Totally agree. I was mainly thinking about the "not a filter" point, but really interesting reading it over.
posted by Mid at 11:14 AM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


It helps to remember sometimes that the site is basically an out-of-control, and ongoing, experiment.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 12:04 PM on December 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


METAFILTER: It helps to remember sometimes that the site is basically an out-of-control, and ongoing, experiment.
posted by philip-random at 5:29 PM on December 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


Not so much YMMV here as wtffwiwimho.
posted by y2karl at 9:18 PM on December 20, 2019


Or as my friend's fighter pilot dad useta say: Six of one, twelve dozen of another.
posted by y2karl at 9:20 PM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed participating in the Megathreads, but I find I don't miss their absence. A lot of what I was reading was basically superfluous to my knowledge of the world: here's another way Trump is breaching the Emoluments Clause; here's another weird grifter associated with Trump shilling for a dictatorship somewhere; that sort of stuff. I'm still kind of confused about all the minor players, to be honest. So in retrospect, I wasn't getting that much out of the Megathreads and they probably weren't good for me, but I can see that they were helpful for some people, and I'm sorry they've lost that.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:28 AM on December 22, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm less well informed (I liked the granularity of stuff going on at the local level outside of my jurisdiction to get a sense of national trends. I think my mental health is better because I've overall cut way back on reading Metafilter (cf all of the "doesn't do race well" discussions of the past year) altogether.
posted by TwoStride at 11:42 AM on December 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


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