Better approaches to posts about trans people and transphobia July 10, 2020 11:09 AM   Subscribe

We need to talk about how trans issues are handled on MetaFilter.

I've noticed that posts about stuff created by trans people or about non-contentious trans stuff typically get way fewer comments than those that are about the things that transphobic people have said about trans people.

It's OK that trans stuff by trans people is a niche interest - there's plenty of posts I'm not interested in either. But the disparity in interest does make me wonder what we gain from the other kind of posts. For cisgender people, I imagine it's reassuring to see lots of other cisgender people disapproving of transphobic sentiments. As a trans person, though, I find reading these threads pretty stressful for a number of reasons:
  • I see plenty of transphobia without it also being reproduced on MeFi, even as a target for disapproval
  • Often cisgender commenters lack nuanced understanding of trans issues leading to the promotion of simplistic ideas about trans experiences ("born in the wrong body", etc.)
  • A small minority of comments will be deniably transphobic, and although this is usually dealt with by the mods fairly quickly after flagging, this puts a burden on trans people to actively flag and/or respond.
In short, I would like posters and moderators alike to seriously consider whether a post about trans issues - especially those related to transphobia - is likely to be of benefit to trans people, to avoid reproducing the same kind of harm that may have already been caused.

I'm not trying to speak for every trans person here, although I have discussed making this post with other trans MeFites. I'm sure other people will have additional insights.

Perhaps this can where we discuss how MetaFilter's approach to trans issues can be improved. Please bear in mind the guidelines on microaggressions and making space.
posted by xchmp to Etiquette/Policy at 11:09 AM (396 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

I've been really grateful for some recent posts about trans issues and people where transphobia wasn't the central theme. The post about Junia Joplin's sermon is a good example -- the post was great, the discussion, short as it was, super interesting.

But somehow I didn't comment or even favorite! So one thing I can commit to is commenting or at least favoriting posts that affect me as that one did.
posted by feckless at 11:29 AM on July 10


Or maybe that's a terrible example because the context of transphobia surrounds her (amazing) sermon? Now I'm not sure.
posted by feckless at 11:31 AM on July 10


I think that's a good post. I wouldn't want to discourage posts about things written about trans people by trans people. Transphobia is part of the context in which trans lives are led. I'm thinking more of posts where the point is the transphobia and the main (maybe only reasonable) response is to object to it.
posted by xchmp at 11:44 AM on July 10 [11 favorites]


I really do consider myself an ally but would never comment here on the topic. I do read with interest.
posted by sammyo at 12:20 PM on July 10 [13 favorites]


I wouldn't want to discourage posts about things written about trans people by trans people.

I personally didn't like that post a whole lot (there wasn't a ton of room for engagement beyond "transphobia bad" and the comments got weird), but see the quoted sentence. It's rare enough that we get our voices heard on Metafilter to begin with. Maybe one day Metafilter will advance to trans posts with depth and nuance, but we're definitely not ready for it yet.
posted by hoyland at 12:33 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


I find trans-related threads on here very frustrating, especially the ones that focus on transphobia. I feel like those FPPs are almost always by cis people, for cis people. They seem to be written for an entirely cis readership, so I end up feeling like we as trans people are an object of curiosity - a topic to chin-stroke over - and not real live people who are right here, reading along and shaking our heads yet again.

I would personally love it if cis people stopped posting threads about transphobia altogether. In an ideal world they could post about transphobia in a sensitive and thoughtful way, but cis mefites are just not there yet, clearly.
posted by Mauve at 1:06 PM on July 10 [16 favorites]


I made the post about Junia Joplin, and I am a cisgender man. I'm glad to hear the post was mostly well-recieved.

But I also appreciate the basic point here: I don't know the first thing about being a target of transphobia, and I should exercise extreme and careful judgement if I consider another post that touches on the topic. I'll do my best to do so.
posted by Frayed Knot at 1:13 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


I'm in the "maybe trans, maybe not" space (somebody once told me the term "gendersleepy" meaning "putting off defining your gender for 5 more minutes because you're so exhausted" and boy howdy does that resonate) so I don't know exactly how I relate to this conversation, but I would like to co-sign it.
posted by brook horse at 1:39 PM on July 10 [23 favorites]


It would be very good if we didn't have to fucking show receipts to get cis people to believe us when people have been or are being shitwaffles. It would be good if cis people would, instead of leaving a dubious comment questioning the validity of an assertion, do their own damn research.
posted by Mizu at 2:01 PM on July 10 [5 favorites]


I've noticed that posts about stuff created by trans people or about non-contentious trans stuff typically get way fewer comments than those that are about the things that transphobic people have said about trans people.

I have a question related to the first part of that sentence. I made this post a few years ago. I did not mention in the post or tags that Jennie Alexander was trans (I say was only because she sadly passed away in 2018).

I was unsure about whether to specifically mention that aspect of her life because I did not want it to seem as though I (a cis man) was making a trans person "an object of curiosity", as Mauve put it. But maybe that was erasure. I welcome feedback on whether or how I could have handled that better and how posts about trans people doing awesome things can be constructed in a way that is celebratory and centering in a positive way.
posted by jedicus at 2:09 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]


I posted about the beginning of JKR's twitter meltdown with a piece that tried to contextualize how to feel about Harry Potter now that was written by an NB. I myself am NB trans and autistic (this is relevant here because in JKR's larger rantings she went off about how ND/Autistic kids are being "misled" into thinking they are NB/trans which is ableist AND transphobic hogwash). I tried to frame the piece as only including the reactions from NB/trans/queer commentators to avoid directly linking to the disgusting rant by JKR... and the SECOND FUCKING COMMENT was a direct link to JKR's screed that I was trying not to give clicks to. When I objected to this I was rewarded with the comment "I still think it's worth reading the original as well as the critique." I flagged the link to the screed- it was not deleted. I haven't been posting as much FPPs lately largely because my posts on racism and transphobia and sexism and ND issues seem to get immediately taken over by white folks/cis folks/men/neurotypicals "just asking questions" in the most shittiest and yet plausibly deniable way possible. And I don't regret the JKR post- once the dipshittery up top was scrolled past I thought quite a lot of us got some good out of reading and posting links to various trans/queer folks dealing with their own feelings about this. But for fucks sake. That second comment should not have been allowed to stand.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 2:26 PM on July 10 [51 favorites]


things that transphobic people have said about trans people

I completely agree that there is a class of posts that do more to amplify the original terrible person rather than help the people who were disparaged or attacked. Much of the time, the original terrible person was hoping that people would get outraged and therefore amplify the message; participating in that dynamic increasingly feels like a mistake. Other times, it feels more like recreational outrage, where the fun is in getting angry about something abstract -- but where it isn't abstract for other people, so they are feeling the hurt while you are enjoying the outrage.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:27 PM on July 10 [11 favorites]


I had a couple of paragraphs here & they kept feeling all pontificatory & gross so ... nah. But I do agree with the criticisms here & with xchmp & winterhill & Mauve, et al & in conclusion I’m YES stories about trans people doing cool shit & being rad AF & NO to stories that make trans people metaphors, or pity cases, or feel-good stories. ‘Nuff said!
posted by octobersurprise at 3:01 PM on July 10 [10 favorites]


Yeah, it's so clear to me when a post or a comment is considering trans people as, like, an interesting phenomenon or philosophical quandry, instead of living people who are right here in the room with you, and it's really alienating and hurtful.

I will say that I've noticed that transphobic and transmisogynistic things I've flagged have been getting deleted more lately than they used to be, and I appreciate that.
posted by ITheCosmos at 5:18 PM on July 10 [17 favorites]


I feel like a broken record because I have written some version of this comment a lot lately, but there are a lot of "breaking news" type posts lately that would be moved from the rubbernecking at a bad crash category to an actual best of the web category if a bit more context were included in the post. Please stop posting "bad thing is bad" posts. We know it's bad. We're aware.

Trans people get covered in mainstream media when we're murdered or when we're a political football, for the most part, so the potential for rubbernecking-type posts goes way up. Consider whether you, the cis person, have more interest than you do experience in the topic. Wait a couple days and use the Craig Ferguson test even if you think you're posting with respect and love: "Does this need to be said? By me? Right now?"
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:55 PM on July 10 [29 favorites]

Often cisgender commenters lack nuanced understanding of trans issues leading to the promotion of simplistic ideas about trans experiences ("born in the wrong body", etc.)
"Born in the wrong body" is a completely accurate and non-simplistic description for many trans people. Please don't confuse cis people by implying that it isn't.
posted by floomp at 7:10 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


One small vote for cisgender people staying out of threads about trans lives, and avoiding making FPPs on transgender subjects. The threads here are vile, and I get the strong impression that the mods have little grasp of how gross they are.
posted by snippet at 7:44 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


I'd rather they did their homework somewhere else to be honest. I'm so tired of being used as a "learning experience" by clueless cis people who can't even be bothered googling. (Just FYI I'm a trans woman who left this site a long time ago precisely because of the interminable transphobia; I'd been considering coming back but the trans posts I've seen here since I opened this account are really discouraging.)
posted by snippet at 7:56 PM on July 10 [3 favorites]


"Born in the wrong body" is a completely accurate and non-simplistic description for many trans people. Please don't confuse cis people by implying that it isn't.

It's also a completely inaccurate and utterly simplistic description for many trans people. More, I would venture to say. Please don't speak for the entire trans community by implying that it's useful for everyone, or that "what cis people think" should steer our own understanding.
posted by Lexica at 7:59 PM on July 10 [7 favorites]


Totally agree, anem0ne.

The way I see it, there are no shortage of good, thoughtful pieces that trans people have written about our lives. It's not 1996, these things are super easy to find. Those pieces will often have nuanced discussions about how trans people feel about the issues of the day. If cisgender allies want to learn about the nuances great, they know how to use a search engine. In the meantime, I don't want "The Trans Discussion TM" on this site. I never did. It's tiresome and is precisely the reason why I quit in disgust the first time. I'm so tired of being reduced to a discussion point by fascinated onlookers. It's dehumanising when bigots do it, but (for me at least) it's barely less degrading when self-declared "allies" do it.

But anyway I'll shut up now. It's probably not much use for me to keep airing old grievances.
posted by snippet at 8:16 PM on July 10 [7 favorites]


Ugh. Sorry but I have one more complaint in me: this kind of comment is why I am deeply skeptical that the moderators are helpful. I don't care how long the post has "waited". It doesn't need to be here, and oh hey here's another pointless and distressing conversation about JK Rowling. Yay.
posted by snippet at 8:53 PM on July 10 [6 favorites]


"Born in the wrong body" is a completely accurate and non-simplistic description for many trans people. Please don't confuse cis people by implying that it isn't.

Great that it's useful for you. That isn't a reason to discourage people from a more complete, nuanced understanding. "Girls like pink and horses and ballet" is wrong and bad even if an individual girl does in fact like pink and horses and ballet. That girl has no right to demand that other girls are misrepresented because the prevailing stereotypes happen to suit them. I can see how having to explain your preferences rather than simply have them assumed (correctly, if you happen to prefectly meet the stereotypes) seems like a loss, but that limited privilege was always built on the back of others' oppression.
posted by Dysk at 12:43 AM on July 11 [22 favorites]


Probably the fewer comments about a lot of trans stuff is because there's been a culture developed here of late of "shut up and listen" if one can't directly relate to a given topic. That's been directly discussed here on MeTa. I suspect many are following that advice.

This is missing the point. The problem isn't that cis people don't comment enough on positive trans posts, it's that they comment too much on negative ones.

The opinions of cis people, even when those opinions are supportive, are not really that important in that context.

If I could favourite this post of winterhill's a hundred times, I would.
posted by Mauve at 2:08 AM on July 11 [5 favorites]


I've noticed that posts about stuff created by trans people or about non-contentious trans stuff typically get way fewer comments than those that are about the things that transphobic people have said about trans people.

Don't confuse a lack of engagement with a lack of interest. I'm surely not the only person who reads many FPPs without commenting. I couldn't bring anything to most trans-related posts, so I only comment when they bear on one of my niche interests.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:19 AM on July 11 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not complaining about lack of comments on good trans posts. I'm highlighting the difference in engagement between those posts and the kinds of posts that allow cis people to engage in performative allyship. Which are often the kind of posts that are really stressful for trans people to read and engage in.
posted by xchmp at 3:12 AM on July 11 [13 favorites]


One removed. Don't comment here as a cis person to try to nitpick or derail the discussion. Hippybear, we've asked you before not to do this in threads about marginalized groups you don't belong to, and I'm giving you a day off. Other folks, even if you are hoping to be supportive (for people making posts about positive trans stories that often don't get many comments, for example), please make sure you are not redirecting the conversation away from the actual points trans people here are addressing.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:07 AM on July 11 [23 favorites]


CIS person

Cis isn't an acronym when we're talking about people. CIS is still a thing, though.
posted by hoyland at 4:12 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Sorry, and thanks! Fixed.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:13 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Don't confuse a lack of engagement with a lack of interest.

I know you were thinking of comments (and favorites?) when saying engagement here, but I think lack of actual engagement with trans people and issues is the actual problem here. (The same can be said for many topics even slightly outside the lived experience of the "average" Mefite.) Outrage, even genuine, at transphobia is easy. Gender--your gender, other people's genders--isn't. That engagement doesn't have to take place on Metafilter, and perhaps shouldn't, be I really wish we'd stop confusing outrage and posts about Daniel Lavery (who I'm picking on because he's always been very much Metafilter's cup of tea, meaning even if he's talking about gender, it's easy mode for MeFi) as actual engagement with gender and trans issues.
posted by hoyland at 4:43 AM on July 11 [14 favorites]


I'm non-binary but don't identify as trans, and why really doesn't matter for the purpose of this thread so I'll skip it.

I really really agree that the discussion of specific trans discrimination and pointing to it as a thing to discuss (or debate! There is no debate!) It is a thing to NOT repeat here. This is really really important. There is overt and microaggressions happening all the time. Everywhere. Those posts don't talk about how to support trans people, how how to have better allyship, how to understand the complicated nature of gender expression, they want to debate things that trans and non-binary people have already said are harmful. This is very harmful. Every day. We cannot tell you how harmful it is because so many people already have, and we are not being listened to. That why these posts have to go. Full stop.

On the other hand, I love it when people post ffps of non-binary and trans people doing awesome things! Ffps where the contribution of people can be discussed and celebrated, and not necessarly focused on the transgender part of it, those are the best for me. My heart sings.

Many people in this community have their gender identity purposefully focused on to the exclusion of everything else about them every day, all the time. It's painful. It hurts. It's also used to disrespect and ignore, to justify why a whole group of people isn't important.

Its really important in community spaces that our specific needs are validated, so we can focus on being ourselves, and expressing ourselves instead of fighting to even be a part of the discussion. Because in these discussions, right now, the actual people aren't a part of it. This has been a thing where the response is clear that most of this community doesn't have a clue how to respectfully handle this topic. Maybe in the future, but not today.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:03 AM on July 11 [21 favorites]


Could be time for a trans advisement group to form.

I did enjoy going to Charlies's in Austin; when it was still open. Quite ripe with culture; and people were free to express themselves as they wished; and were beyond accepted.
posted by Afghan Stan at 7:20 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


This has been a thing where the response is clear that most of this community doesn't have a clue how to respectfully handle this topic. Maybe in the future, but not today.

Watching the community discuss a topic (even disrespectfully) has in the past turned me around on a number of issues. Thankfully not trans rights, which I have never seen a good reason not to support, but on other topics such as policing, for one example. I can specifically remember a few cringe-worthy comments I've made about policing (far) in the past that I have a drastically different standpoint on now.

That's not to say anyone shouldn't feel however they do feel about these sorts of posts, and I agree there are a lot ways we could do this better. I just want to point out that people commenting are not always howling into the void; merely having the conversation often helps in non-obvious ways, so take a little solace in that if you can.
posted by axiom at 8:56 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]


I've noticed that posts about singular they pronouns are often framed around it being a sort of 'linguistic curiosity' rather than one component of a civil rights struggle for a class of people trying to gain legal and social recognition. This mindset leads some folks to comment with free association tidbits about the gendered quirks of other languages, litigate verb conjugation, and generally comment with the sort of jokes and levity that is appropriate in a thread about M-W adding the word "vape" to the dictionary but, to me, feels out of place when talking about a word whose use and acceptance has such far-reaching consequences for nonbinary people.

Look, I get it. Y'all are a bunch or logophile word-nerds and the tendency to start riffing and digging up random semi-related trivia is something I usually love and appreciate about Metafilter when we're talking about fun, zero stakes topics. But this topic is not 'zero stakes' for some of us and I wish folks would consider how random factoids, musings, and jokes look when interspersed between comments by nonbinary folks talking about the real world impact that the wider acceptance, or resistance to, this use of they/them has on us. I'm deliberately not linking to specific threads or comments because I very much do not want to litigate or derail about whether some specific thing someone posted is bad--I'm talking about a broader trend I've noticed. None of these comments or posts, individually, are ones that I would feel comfortable flagging for deletion but in aggregate they make these threads feel pretty uncomfortable for me.
posted by metaphorever at 11:17 PM on July 11 [45 favorites]


A couple more things I'd like cis mefites to stop doing:

- Describing your gender via cutesy euphemisms for genitals or by referring to chromosomes. If you're trying to convey the fact that you're afab/amab but don't strongly identify with your assigned gender, please just say that. Putting the equivalent of "I've got a weenie!" in the Gender field helps nobody.

- Labelling yourself an ally, especially if you then back this up by telling us how you've got trans friends or have dated trans people. All this communicates to me as a trans reader is the fact that you're likely to be extra fragile if someone has to call you out on your cissexism.
posted by Mauve at 11:53 PM on July 11 [29 favorites]


Mauve, the way people describe their gender and/or pronouns in their profile has been on my mind because, like you, I notice a lot of “I have girl parts” or what you nail as being cutesy descriptions. In addition to the note about the field being free form, I have wondered if it’d be helpful to have a note that asks cis people (note: I am cis) to be thoughtful about making a joke out of the field or distilling gender down to body parts. I know that myself and other cis people on Metafilter need to do better in engaging in ways that go far beyond user profiles, so I don’t want to represent this as more than a small adjustment to community norms. And I definitely know not all jokes or creative answers people have in that field are going to be shitty!

(I recognize that allies telling the affected community what looks problematic is often off the mark, and won’t comment again in this thread, but will be reading and thinking about it.)
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:34 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


It should be noted that the gender field didn't used to be called "Gender and/or Pronouns"; IIRC didn't use to be even gender originally but instead it was labelled Sex. I think it's always been free form so some of the cutesy things maybe be a historical reaction to not great labeling that hasn't been adjusted. Lots of profiles are really old in whole or in part (EG: my freeform area hasn't been editted since I added crouton garden link and then that is the only thing that I added. I didn't even know that the field is now titled "Gender and/or Pronouns" until I just looked because I've left mine blank.
posted by Mitheral at 1:20 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Personally I'm less bothered by the profile things than I am but the endemic use of genitalia as a shorthand for gender in general, all over the site, all the time.
posted by Dysk at 1:36 AM on July 12 [13 favorites]


(As a complete aside, I really hate the term "detransition". It presents 'transition' as the process of becoming trans. That's bullshit. Transness is not transition. "Detransition" also makes about as much sense as "untravelling" or "decommuting" home from work, linguistically.)
posted by Dysk at 2:30 AM on July 12 [23 favorites]


I'd rather that gender or pronouns field was just pronouns, personally. Freeform is still fine, that avoids maybe some BS, people can describe themselves fully in the blurb, it promotes asking pronouns.

I really like this suggestion. I was someone with a jokey (though not genitalia-based) answer there; I just switched it to a basic pronoun answer. Right now, the callout there says (this is free-form, go nuts), which seems like it could be reworded to provide more focus.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:36 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


I think an important thing to consider is that trans people are not operating in a cis frame of gender, and likely haven’t since our very early ages of life. (At least as the years wear on for me I’m realizing that is certainly true for myself, I never was cis, i was only expected and coerced to be).

So given that, it’s very much not cool to bring trans people into cis frames to serve as a backdrop of the sexual political struggles that cis people are up against. We’re not your proof of anything other than trans people interacting with gender in a not cis way. We are forced to struggle with cis body politics in specific ways, but they certainly don’t map cleanly to what cis people are dealing with.

So yeah I’d like if cis people could start understanding trans people as actually not cis, ever, and stop trying to abstract us back into a cis frame of reference.
posted by nikaspark at 9:04 AM on July 12 [20 favorites]


>AlexiaSky said: "Those posts don't talk about how to support trans people, how how to have better allyship, how to understand the complicated nature of gender expression...."

I'd love some posts about/including those things. I'm not sure how well they will go given past examples, but I'd love to see things go better.


My kneejerk reaction was "please, god, no" and having spent a little time digging at that reaction, I think it's because discussions of allyship almost by definition have to frame trans people as other and watching cis Metafliter fall all over themselves about how their minds have been expanded or how they've learned something or how they're such good allies feels really shitty. And those threads where a cis person has had an idea "to help" trans people do harm as well. I'd say I can't remember a trans thread on MeFi that didn't hurt me, but the one about Islam and history the other week pulled it off. But before that? I remember pointing to the FPP about Laura Jane Grace's transition in a Metatalk thread some years back, but I can't remember if that was not hurtful or just merely not a disaster. Hell, answers from cis people in AskMe about gender hurt pretty reliably. I basically dread trans posts at this point. I see one and it's like do I save myself the pain and avoid it or do I go in there to correct the inevitable gross misrepresentation of my experience (because guess what, trans people aren't all the same and what you learned in trans 101 is a massive simplification).
posted by hoyland at 11:02 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


I don't care how long the post has "waited". It doesn't need to be here, and oh hey here's another pointless and distressing conversation about JK Rowling.

I just want to acknowledge this feeling, I know you're not alone there. I had misgivings about that post because the conflict between the huge amount of zeitgeisty attention on it and the reality of it being hard to keep a post adjacent to transphobia—even if explicitly critical of it—from wading through a reiteration of or unpacking of transphobic thinking. I tried to set an early tone and expectations in there and watch the thread pretty carefully and worked to be promptly responsive to flags and proactive about stuff we saw regardless, but whether that actually can be enough to avoid that sense of frustration and worry and harm that comes with cis-dominated discussions of trans stuff is a pretty important open question.

I can see an alternate recent history where I just nixed that outright on Thursday and said "there's no good way to unpack the transphobic context of this letter without making our trans community members wade through a bunch of retraumatizing crap, let's just skip this entirely". I appreciate that most folks in that thread made a pretty serious and consistent effort to not let it wander into shitty territory, but most folks isn't everyone and I don't feel convinced that the way I went there was the right choice.

I'd rather that gender or pronouns field was just pronouns, personally. Freeform is still fine, that avoids maybe some BS, people can describe themselves fully in the blurb, it promotes asking pronouns.

I think that's an interesting idea, yeah. As some folks including Mitheral noted, that field has changed over time and it could change again; getting folks to revisit old profile fields isn't as simple as changing the prompt and label, but it's still something that might help. The old jokey genital-based stuff definitely harks back to early 2000s ciscentric thinking.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:11 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


(And really, just thinking out loud about it: if field content lag is a problem with changing that field, we could instead just retire the old one an make a new pronouns field so folks who wish to renew/update that can do so with an appropriate prompt instead of having odd mismatches carried over.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:14 PM on July 12 [19 favorites]


I can see an alternate recent history where I just nixed that outright on Thursday and said "there's no good way to unpack the transphobic context of this letter without making our trans community members wade through a bunch of retraumatizing crap, let's just skip this entirely".

I would have appreciated this.
posted by ITheCosmos at 12:23 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


folks who wish to renew/update that can do so with an appropriate prompt

But, but, ... ThePinkSuperHero. *wail*

Kidding. Depreciating the current field and adding another one sounds like a good idea. I'd encourage something that makes it clear that people need to input new pronoun information otherwise that field isn't going to be propagated in any meaningful way for current accounts.
posted by Mitheral at 12:37 PM on July 12


I basically dread trans posts at this point. I see one and it's like do I save myself the pain and avoid it or do I go in there to correct the inevitable gross misrepresentation of my experience (because guess what, trans people aren't all the same and what you learned in trans 101 is a massive simplification).

Lol, this. I feel like metafilter threads on trans stuff tend to fall into the general cis liberal sense that transness is an object of inquiry; trans pain is something to examine and tut-tut about and consume. this isn't something special to metafilter! like, the combination of trans people being a tiny minority with completely out of proportion amounts of social attention paid to us because transness is situated by the right as the locus of a culture war, that's a whole USA kind of thing. so it's not surprising to me that metafilter follows this arc.

given this, focusing on "let's refine further the gender/pronouns field on the mefi user page" feels comical and misbegotten: its adding visibility without addressing the actual problem metafilter has, which is cis people holding basic views of trans people but still feeling compelled to discuss us ad nauseam in ways that hurt trans people

the miss major thread was ok i thought
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 12:49 PM on July 12 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I want to be clear I don't think that's the core issue or the priority, and didn't meant to imply otherwise. Just marking it as a concrete request that is on our radar, while otherwise reading along.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:07 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I want more trans-facing stuff for trans folks to share and less stuff that's meant for cis people to consume about trans lives.
posted by nikaspark at 3:02 PM on July 12 [9 favorites]


like if anyone wanted to make an FPP about my ridiculous book The Lipstick Ends of Tomboy Femmes I wouldn't be mad...
posted by nikaspark at 3:03 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]




Self links are fine in comments IIRC.
posted by nikaspark at 3:10 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


jeez, I’ve been writing stuff and posting music, writing and spoken word stuff online for years and honestly it’s super fucking lonely because I think probably only 6 people on the planet give a shit.
posted by nikaspark at 3:11 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


self-links are fine in comments and you can totally post stuff on Projects too
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:12 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I’ve put a few things in projects, I should do more of that!
posted by nikaspark at 3:13 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]


This is kind of minor, but one thing I wish cis people would stop doing is linking to ContraPoints videos. I think it's fair to say that Wynn is a controversial figure within the trans community and it's always jarring to see people seemingly endorse her without any real context given around that.
posted by xchmp at 4:15 PM on July 12 [7 favorites]


I'm guessing we're talking about one of the regular sociopaths, the less said about whom the better because they're just hungry for attention and fuck 'em. They're not welcome on MeFi. Feel free to drop me a line with the details if you want.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:45 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


not the right place for a pony request, but has the notion ever come up of putting MeTa behind a restriction so only members can read it?

We've talked through the idea a couple times in MetaTalk, yeah.
It'd be a fundamentally different site, so it's not on the table for how MeFi works. But I agree that it sucks that cowardly shitheads exploiting twitter's lack of any real ethics fucks stuff up for the rest of us. Block/mute and let them go hatefuck themselves is the basic thing.

When all someone wants is attention and the only power they have is getting reactions to being awful, not reacting to them is the best tool we have. It won't make them not terrible people, but it'll make it clearer how empty and full of shit their hobby is.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:54 PM on July 12


I made this account after a transphobic comment someone made got deleted.

It made me realize how easily doxable my previous account was and how the user that made the comment would continue being an active member of this community with no one being the wiser because it got memory-holed.
posted by simmering octagon at 4:56 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]

When all someone wants is attention and the only power they have is getting reactions to being awful, not reacting to them is the best tool we have. It won't make them not terrible people, but it'll make it clearer how empty and full of shit their hobby is.
As someone who has been actively online since I was about 9, in the mid 90s: this has never been true. This wasn't true then and it isn't true now. People will persist regardless.

I don't know who is being referred to currently, but I have been the target of Mefi Outsider, who claims to be supporting me but is still very racist and transphobic (which just makes their support super creepy). I've spoken up about them before. I wouldn't be surprised if we're talking about the same person. I don't know how to make them stop reading MetaTalk, but "ignore them and they'll go away" clearly hasn't worked for them. It just keeps them act without consequences.
posted by divabat at 5:26 PM on July 12 [16 favorites]


(I don't want to derail this thread any further but I'm wondering if I should start a thread about him in particular. He's been a known harasser for years and ignoring him hasn't stopped him.)
posted by divabat at 5:44 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Both Mefi Outsider and Go_Mefi (who I believe is who was being discussed) seem to have disappeared/deleted (odd, since Go_Mefi at least was following along and snarking about this conversation up until at least an hour ago) from Twitter. I'm not sure what that means but thought I'd give a heads up.
posted by brook horse at 5:49 PM on July 12


I do wonder now how to personally avoid off-site harassment and stalking. Maybe a thread or some kind of discussion of what resources and opsec people need to take in order to be more safe these days...

I guess make that SEVEN people who give a shit about what I post online lol.
posted by nikaspark at 5:50 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


(odd, since Mefi Go at least was following along and snarking about this conversation up until at least an hour ago)

Huh, twitter accounts which egregiously violated Twitter’s very clear policies against targeted harassment are no longer on twitter you say?

As cortex and the mods would suggest: FIAMO works.
posted by nikaspark at 5:57 PM on July 12


As cortex and the mods would suggest: FIAMO works.

I'm actually impressed, since I had heard that Twitter was notoriously bad about that sort of thing. But I'm not on Twitter, so I wouldn't know. Gives me a little hope, at least.
posted by brook horse at 6:00 PM on July 12


Apparently they have a pattern of deleting and then undeleting their accounts, so I wouldn't say this is a win. Mefi Outsider has tracked me for years.
posted by divabat at 6:01 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


Same here with Mefi Outsider. Go Mefi is a new one. I am going to see what options I have regarding targeted harassment and stalking, this is seriously fucked up behavior from these folks. I'll keep tabs on them and see if they pop back up again. If they do, I'll keep using whatever options I have to keep them from stalking me online.
posted by nikaspark at 6:04 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is a common thing with those accounts (closing the accounts). Many of the people involved in the POC Metas/POC Slack who have also been harassed by this person have thought those twitter accounts were banned only to find them operating again within a few days.
posted by primalux at 6:05 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


(I've made a new MetaTalk thread about them, waiting on approval, though I suspect it wouldn't be likely)
posted by divabat at 6:14 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I can see an alternate recent history where I just nixed that outright on Thursday and said "there's no good way to unpack the transphobic context of this letter without making our trans community members wade through a bunch of retraumatizing crap, let's just skip this entirely". I appreciate that most folks in that thread made a pretty serious and consistent effort to not let it wander into shitty territory, but most folks isn't everyone and I don't feel convinced that the way I went there was the right choice.

I'm confused, in this thread there was a unanimous chorus from the community saying exactly this. Am I missing something?
posted by bleep at 6:22 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


You know, I have demurred in a lot of conversations with trans mefites about the mods over the years and filed mod missteps primarily in the category of "useless cis people, what do you expect" but, Cortex, you've really fucked this one up.
posted by hoyland at 6:33 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]




I mean how do you go from this:
Today in particular it feels really unnecessary to me and mostly like an opportunity to put ugliness in front of people who already have to deal with too much ugliness already.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:40 PM on July 7

To this?

I had misgivings about that post because the conflict between the huge amount of zeitgeisty attention on it and the reality of it being hard to keep a post adjacent to transphobia—even if explicitly critical of it—from wading through a reiteration of or unpacking of transphobic thinking.

In a week? Knowing how much pain everyone is in right now? Does any care & concern for the members here factor into mod decisions or is it just whatever the zeitgeist wants the zeitgeist gets?
posted by bleep at 6:40 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


mod reaction is just like, shrug, what are you gonna do...

The mod reaction is these are terrible shitheads who Twitter and Twitter alone has the power to actually shut down, and they haven't, for years, despite efforts from mods and users alike. I have misgivings about dedicating a whole metatalk thread to fuckers who are desperate for negative attention but I've put divabat's through anyway because I've expressed my concerns about it before and I want to let it be more of a community self-determination thing. If some net good comes out of that I will be thrilled and welcome a thousand told-you-sos without complaint.

These people have been chasing around all sorts of people on the site for years; they are equal opportunity assholes, they've been actively trying to dox and harass members of the mod team. I agree that the vulnerability of trans folks online and the history of harassment there is especially concerning, as being of a piece with all the other ways in which trans and non-binary folks' identities and safety are threatened on the internet and in physical spaces. I don't think ignoring these shitheads will make them go away; I think Twitter is the only entity capable of making them go away, and Twitter has been non-responsive for years.

I'm sorry for giving any impression that this is a "shrug, what do you do" thing. I don't feel blase, about it, I feel fucking ground down and powerless about it. Because it's an awful fucking situation that I have been directly grappling with for years now and which has negatively affected a bunch of people on this site, and I don't have a solution. It's not shruggy for me, it's deeply frustrating because the one entity with the capacity to take action here is a social media megacorporation that won't and is famously incapable. Ignoring the assholes that twitter won't ban isn't a way to make it go away, it's harm reduction in the absence of any other solution. That's where I'm coming from on it, and it's not a satisfying answer because there's no satisfying answer to this kind of shitty sociopathic behavior exploiting holes in social media policy.

I'll take this to the other thread. Again, I apologize for not communicating my feelings about this more clearly, but I am very very far from whaddaya do about this. It's wrong and it sucks and I want a solution that I have not been able to find.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:45 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Did I really just read the words “equal opportunity assholes” in the year 2020? You’re better than that, cortex.

It's a term I associate strictly with self-identifying assholes who try to defend themselves on that basis. I wasn't aware it had shitty connotations as a critical description; I'm sorry about any harm I did there, and am happy to take it on board as a problematic phrase and avoid it in the future.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:58 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Probably better to take thread locking comments to the discussion here.
posted by Mitheral at 8:13 PM on July 12


I just thought this place was safer

This place has always been less safe than many places on the web, because it is open to anyone on the web to read, and we are unable to delete or hide past comments. What you write here, stays here, mostly, forever. I find that unnerving in this day and age.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:58 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


For my particular Unacceptable Neurological Difference, there are Discord and Slack communities, winterhill. I don't know what's out there but it might be worth an AskMe?
posted by warriorqueen at 7:38 AM on July 13


Yeah, came to say Discord. There are plenty of trans Discord servers (you can search through Disboard) though I don’t know any off the top of my head since I’m still ??? about my gender and not ready to venture there. I am in a LGBTQ neurodivergent server but they have an age cap of 29 so I don’t know if that’s useful to you or not. (One thing to note about Discord is that it does skew younger, and depending on the server you may run into kids as young as 13, which just means you have to put some care into making sure you’re being appropriate).
posted by brook horse at 8:37 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


we are unable to delete or hide past comments. What you write here, stays here, mostly, forever. I find that unnerving in this day and age.

It's not without it's drawbacks. But I hate the bit rot that afflicts 99% of the web. Resources disappear at an alarming rate as soon as they stop making some corporate entity money (SpaceJam notwithstanding). The permanency here is a feature that I find comforting. And Metafilter isn't lojacking it's users or requiring a complete history to post. You are allowed to be anonymous to everyone but the mods and even they only have your billing information.

People should really treat this space as letters to the editor of a newspaper and not a church bulletin board.
posted by Mitheral at 9:34 AM on July 13 [4 favorites]


I don't know what's out there but it might be worth an AskMe?

Honestly, AskMe is a shit place to go for trans resources.
posted by hoyland at 10:04 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


Do not ask mefi trans questions. You will get absolutely horrible advice from cis people who stood next to a trans person at a bus stop one time.
posted by trappist system at 12:30 PM on July 13 [12 favorites]


At this point in the thread, I would be interested in hearing the actions that the mods intend to take based on the discussions we've had here.
posted by xchmp at 1:37 PM on July 13


The attack helicopter thread contributed to the harassment of the story's author, a trans woman, and her taking a very good, complex, well-written story down. I think that it's really important to highlight that and also to acknowledge that there were trans members who contributed to that shitstorm. It's complicated, and I think a lot of it is that it's so hard for trans people to not feel anxious over anything that's not neatly packaged up for a cis audience. I don't know how to solve this because a lot of the issue I saw in that thread was cis people 'boosting' and validating the opinions of trans commentors who were actually wrong, both in their reading of a work of fiction and in their demands that it should be taken down. I think that my main takeaway would be that there aren't shortcuts here.

Just to underline here: yes I am trans (if you trawl through my comment history you will find instances of me saying I wasn't while repeatedly bringing up trans issues, because I was still in wild denial about that aspect of my life). One of several contributing factors in my general disengagement with MetaFilter over recent years has been the general Awfulness over trans issues, including responses to an AskMe about fucking trousers which left me in tears and had a serious effect on my confidence and self-worth for some time. Trousers!
posted by Acheman at 4:36 AM on July 14 [11 favorites]


I can see how my comment might seem to be implying that trans members only fell on the 'this story is bad and should be taken down' side. There were certainly more viewpoints than that in the thread, and I know one mefite wrote a medium article about the way in which the story really spoke to their own experience of gender. That said, I think that it's really clear that trans members did contribute to the harassment by calling a complicated story in which a trans woman explored difficult feelings around gender identity, vile and terfy. Cis commenters made that worse by amplifying only those voices and contributing to the author withdrawing her story. It's a really horrible episode which I know has made a number of trans creators feel afraid to make public any work which explores their own gender experiences, because of the danger that they will be harassed.
posted by Acheman at 6:08 AM on July 14


Or, wait a sec. I'm re-reading the thread and your comments in it. With respect, I think you should step back from trying to comment on the situation. You were wrong, you helped to hurt a trans author, you 'deduced' a bunch of things about her which were later demonstrated to be untrue, eg that she was cis and a TERF. I understand that your comments were coming from a place of hurt and trauma but doubling down on them now is not okay. You should be upfront about how wrong you were and the damage you helped to inflict on another trans person, even if that wasn't your intention at the time.
posted by Acheman at 6:16 AM on July 14


Is there a link to this helicopter thread?
posted by Dysk at 6:19 AM on July 14




Can we please not relitigate that thread?
posted by mittens at 6:40 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Regardless of what you thought of the helicopter story itself, that thread is a prima facie example of FPPs that are harmful to trans people on this site.
posted by hoyland at 10:28 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Why? There was no foreseeable outcome for such an FPP besides cis people theorizing trans experiences. Had the post been made by a trans person, I would have thought them naive, but perhaps they’re just less jaded than me. But instead we end up with trans people being expected to have public reactions for the benefit of cis people. Either we’re supposed to affirm their feelings or get out of the way because our lived experiences are inconvenient, but not actually engage with the story. If it spoke to you, that was only welcome inasmuch as it comforted cis people. And if it didn’t speak to you, well, good luck.
posted by hoyland at 10:35 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Let me be perfectly clear. What I am trying to say is, the voices that should be 'boosted' aren't the ones that are publicly accusing a trans woman first-time author of being a cis TERF and harassing her off the internet. You need to step back and acknowledge that you said untrue, harmful things and that had a horrible end result. You cannot continue to act victimised and pretend that the problem with that thread was that cis people were too willing to listen to people who weren't you. To the extent that anyone in that thread 'validated' your accusations, that exacerbated the actual, material harm that was done to a real person, as well as the knock-on harm to the multiple trans artists, mostly women bc that's how this shit plays out, who are now frightened to post their work because they know that if they are perceived as stepping a foot out of line they will be vilified by their own community. It's a real fucking problem and you are part of it.
posted by Acheman at 12:10 PM on July 14


Gently, let's not make this thread be about that thread? That thread and the controversy around the story was a hard thing for a lot of people on social media and I think we can acknowledge that there's lingering hurt, that there are intersectional issues here (eg calling out racism in the middle of that storm of "what standing does this author have to write about trans matters" stuff), and that intra-trans-community discussions are made extra-hard when brought out in the middle of a wider community like this. All of which contributes stress and heat, and that illustrates the point of this Metatalk thread in the first place -- that it's hard and can be an imposition to have these threads that make trans people feel pressure to respond under those circumstances.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:22 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Waving the trans flag to silence a nearby trans person, claiming some very tenuous link to "harassment" of some distant trans person, is, imho, pretty gross.

Like, if you really cared about not giving cis people ammunition to attack trans people you sure as fuck should not be making overheated accusations about trans people in your same community jfc.
To the extent that anyone in that thread 'validated' your accusations, that exacerbated the actual, material harm that was done to a real person, as well as the knock-on harm...
fuck that noise
posted by fleacircus at 4:09 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Acheman the answer to transphobia isn’t racism.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:27 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


So there's still no response from the mods about anything they plan to do/change on the basis of this discussion then? Figures.

Of course, how important is that now that so many trans people have buttoned here or in the other thread?

Well, buttoned or been kicked off the site.

Here's a question for cortex? Are we going to get banned/have the post closed if we discuss how you banned a member of our community in what certainly looks like bad faith?

Because that's honestly something that seems relevant to how you treat trans people on this site. Those of us still (currently) here, anyway.
posted by death valley compound at 11:43 PM on July 14 [9 favorites]


I lurked for about 15 years before finally joining up, after another trans mefite reached out to me on a different platform. I'm depressed and frustrated at how trans people are driven off MetaFilter again and again, endlessly, needlessly.

MeFi really does not deserve its trans members, and the only reason I haven't buttoned myself is that I want to be able to reach out to the remaining trans mefites and reassure them that they are not the problem here. The problem is the cis staff and cis members who continually make this site hostile and unusable for us.
posted by Mauve at 12:39 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


also what's bullshit. the way cis people noped out of this thread. trans people deserve to be heard but you all go silent af when we ask to talk about what you've done and what you are doing to change.

Hi Kanata. I mostly stay silent, on the theory that it's what I would prefer were our positions to be reversed, but among those things are: I try to use people's preferred pronouns and avoid making assumptions about gender; when someone raises TERF-like talking points I rebut them; and when people express simplistic views on sex and gender I try to help them realise what a complex and non-discrete thing it is, as well as impress upon them my view that persons who do not wish to harm others should avoid giving thoughtless and general opinions on something which is very nuanced and affects people so intimately.

I'm not saying this is a whole lot, or even adequate, but you asked.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:57 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


I'm depressed and frustrated at how trans people are driven off MetaFilter again and again, endlessly, needlessly.

Yeah, I woke up this morning after last night's bloodbath, still so bothered by this. I realize I'm not saying anything new here, but I do need to say it.

People in positions of cultural power--whether we're talking white people in relationship to race, cis people in relationship to gender--expect everyone else to be perfectly emotionless about things, and cannot handle the fact that emotional volumes get very loud if you're part of a community that suffers constant abuse. There's an expectation of quietness, politeness, waiting for our saviors to do the work of saving us, if there are resources and time available. It's an expectation couched in terms of being rational, as though emotions are an irrational response to stress.

The way this played out last night was shocking, and I'm not sure people realized just how cold their talk of archives and continuity came off. I'd prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume they don't realize that what was offered was a terribly stark choice: Leave and have years of contributions wiped out, or stay and be silenced by the threat of outing*. There are so many other options. They're just technical ones, they take work, thought, and care (someone brought up reddit's deletion policies, which was what came to mind for me too), they're complicated, they're hard, but at least they are not a stark cold choice between two different forms of silence.

(*ETA i know outing isn't the word i'm looking for here but i can't figure out the right word i mean, apologies if the word seems insensitive.)
posted by mittens at 5:01 AM on July 15 [15 favorites]


Trans users who are having your accounts wiped or are otherwise buttoning, please feel free to join the Transfilter slack. The link will take you to a brief sign-up form.
posted by mittens at 5:11 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


(trans users who remain on MeFi are welcome too)
posted by death valley compound at 5:13 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


(hah, i'm an idiot. thanks, death valley compound!)
posted by mittens at 5:14 AM on July 15


People in positions of cultural power--whether we're talking white people in relationship to race, cis people in relationship to gender--expect everyone else to be perfectly emotionless about things, and cannot handle the fact that emotional volumes get very loud if you're part of a community that suffers constant abuse.

One of the things I'm doing to be an ally (or bare-minimum not-an-enemy) is paying attention to deeper structures, the systemic elements that are the "what the fuck is water? asked the baffled fish" punchline. The above sparked a little connection snapping into place, different privilege-differential dynamic, but same effect: I suddenly think about research filtering to layperson level, that statistically speaking, guys perceive a group as being majority women when the numbers cross something like twenty-thirty percent.

The connection: what people slotted into cultural power shapes perceive (and react and overreact to) as emotional volume is similarly exaggerated, and/or their own emotional volume perceived and portrayed as much lower. Because it's being expressed in the system's approved performance ways.

Which anger-making direct example: you cannot tell me that last night's shitshow of "we've wiped your previous account and also now you're banned" wasn't emotional as fuck on cortex's part. But it's performed in an "unemotional" "rational" way (and you know that performance isn't anywhere near done, just taking a deep prepatory breath, and gormlessly wondering why the abused are already flinching in expectation).

A depressingly short number of years ago, I would have been (and was) simply blind to that. But I do now, imperfectly of course: I'm steeped in the shape that larger structures have decided I get to inhabit. But I'm actively trying to make that imperfect better; I'm mostly quiet about it because I'm also aware of how easily things can turn into the privileged (hi, me!) talking over and taking over the space, and also because the work to not let one's own privileged role to easily go unchallengingly unexamined shouldn't be about seeking cookies.
posted by Drastic at 7:18 AM on July 15 [12 favorites]


I have been reading this thread but not commenting, because there has not been a place where I thought it was appropriate. I try to be supportive in trans-themed thread, although I have backed off some lately because I felt my support was not as supportive as I thought. I am still looking for places where I can be a legitimate support, but I am trying to step back a little.

I'm also a little depressed, because I had a raft of trans- and gender-related podcasts lined up, which I think both trans and cis members might find interesting, and I'm really questioning if that is something I should do or not.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:37 AM on July 15


GenjiandProust: I have backed off some lately because I felt my support was not as supportive as I thought.

I'm having similar thoughts. I recently tried to do some POC allyship work in a thread about racism and it turned out some people did not appreciate that at all, so now I'm more cautious, for fear of making things worse for someone.

I'm doing the things that Joe mentioned as well, or at least trying. But just like Joe, I'm not sure that it deserves a mention, it's not a big deal or something.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:43 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I've never been a super active member and my participation has really dropped off lately, but I've been lurking following this thread because the issues it raises have been frustrating for a while, and then from there I followed the harassment thread (which is pretty horrifying!) and like a lot of folks I'm badly taken aback by the situation and by the response to it.

I can't continue to use the site and feel safe. I'm really sorry; Metafilter helped me come out, but looking at it more closely, the individuals who really helped me were a lot of the members who closed their accounts (and were banned!!??) over the last day or so. Thanks for the link, mittens. I'm out.
posted by elsilnora at 8:06 AM on July 15


I'll echo Joe and Too-Ticky. And I've been reading this thread, as reminders or lessons of how to be a better ally.

The comment upthread about finding trans-related threads on here very frustrating, especially the ones that focus on transphobia, as they are very cis-focused despite the topic, was eye-opening to me in the worst sort of way. It shouldn't be a surprise to me, but it was, so I wasn't critical enough of my own responses in the past. Now I'm reframing how I read and share trans-related stories, making sure they're not posed as curiosities, but as people. Even writing that makes me feel awful that it took this thread to consider that aspect.


For whatever it's worth, I'll link to cortex's comment in the now-closed thread about what he and the mods are doing now and going forward to address issues and concerns raised there and before. It's a ways up from the end, so it may get lost in the 655 comments in that thread. I don't want to make this thread into an extension of that one, so I'll leave it at that.

To everyone leaving, or changing to a new, less visible persona, I'm so sorry this is how things are now, and be safe. I hope MetaFilter improves and can be more of a safe space in the future, but I'm not holding out much hope for that.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:14 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I just want to say I am still dismayed at cortex’s choices around this issue, and the larger balancing of “but we like the site the way it is” against options to reduce doxxing and harm to trans members of the community and others. There is an almost-egotistical mindset here of wanting to be “the kind of site” that doesn’t “give in” by adapting to the times, as if perfectly preserving past threads about like, skin care and “can I eat this” are matters of immense philosophical importance—but many of those cheering that mindset on will never know what it’s like to bear the costs of that mindset. I mean, my god, the self-importance! It seems far healthier in multiple ways to me to prioritize community safety and embrace the reality that much of the internet (like LIFE!) is ephemeral.

After so many of these discussions over the past few years, I’ve thought about whether it’s giving up (and sinking back into the comfort of my privilege) to just walk away, as opposed to continuing to pester the mods. So many cis users, me included, have directly and selfishly benefited from the work and thoughts of trans users here. So is it wrong to take my understanding and leave? But after last night I just can’t really stomach having a role in this site...

Anyways, either way, I really value and have deep respect for trans users here, who have been put through a lot of unnecessary shit most of us won’t have to go through, and still constantly extend compassion, understanding, and love to others.
posted by sallybrown at 8:33 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


I want to be clear: people are not only leaving because of the threat of off-site harassment, but because of the ways that the site has dealt with that. This includes aspects such as:

Failing to inform people being targeted by harassers that this wss taking place, despite long-term knowledge and the direct experience by staff-members of how serious this harassment could become.

Failing to inform those particularly at risk of such harassment.

(Unless I've missed it, I haven't seen any apology for either of these things and the barely-even-a-commitment to "look at trying to reach out to individual folks with careful warning" does not inspire confidence.)

The account mentioned previously that was banned from returning after deleting past history (following what initially looked like a good-faith offer to discuss that option). Plus the threat this represents -speak up too loudly or too critically and be disposable. Still waiting to hear whether we can talk about this issue, or not, without the thread getting locked.

Plus, the issues raised here around moderation decisions in threads about trans stuff need their own response.
posted by death valley compound at 8:45 AM on July 15 [13 favorites]


Cortex either needs to start making better decisions or start making fewer decisions. A good leader knows when taking charge is called for & when delegating is called for. A whole lot more delegating would go a long way.
posted by bleep at 8:47 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


One case in point is this thread (warning, discussion of TERFery with some dismissive and transphobic comments). I did what I felt was my part on pushing back on a particular (cis, as far as I know) poster's ignorant comment. He came back with a long and tendentious reply, which I flagged and wrote the mods, who deleted the comment and some follow up comments, which was the policy at the time, but erased at least one trans members response. So, while I thought that was a reasonable approach, trans members still got silenced, which isn't an outcome I am happy with
.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:00 AM on July 15


the larger balancing of “but we like the site the way it is” against options to reduce doxxing and harm to trans members of the community and other

This gets me too, and feels analogous to skirmishes over racist team names - the side that says "this is actively offending and harming us" really ought to be prioritized over "but tradition". Mods cutting off discussion (or posting with comments locked from the start, cf. at least one financial update thread) because things are contentious rather than because a solution or at least a new path to try has been found doesn't help.

(Back to lurking in this thread as another cis-het-increasingly dismayed poster)
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:26 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


also thank you and the few cis people who replied. I'm on the verge of buttoning (again, just another trans person disappearing as cortex refuses to deal with this) and I suppose I was looking for someone other than trans people to speak up and see what is happening. so while indeed it is the bare minimum I appreciate you seeing and responding.

Just personally, I haven’t been saying much to not take space and focus away from trans voices. This is all really distressing to read and absorb, especially people being harassed and feeling unsafe. I would like to see social or technological solutions draw on those experiences rather than be lost in more abstract approaches.

Like others commenting, I am trying to evaluate how best to engage and where it is and isn’t useful to be present.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:29 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


trans people deserve to be heard but you all go silent af when we ask to talk about what you've done and what you are doing to change.

I've been reading this thread and trying to broadly categorize types of posts and how to engage with them. Here's where I am with that so far, but it's still a work in progress. If any of this is off the mark, then I apologize in advance, invite criticism here or privately, but definitely don't expect anyone else to do that work for me. This is my roadmap, not one I am suggesting for anyone else.

Posts about cool stuff involving people who happen to be trans, but where the post has nothing to do with them being trans or issues facing trans people: Green light to post and comment as with any other post.

Posts involving cool stuff that focus on issues facing trans people, or people specifically because they are trans: Don't post, but show appreciation and engage thoughtfully with comments. Leave space for trans people to be heard. I don't feel like I understand the potential negative consequences of posting something like this (e.g. making trans folks seem like a curiosity) well enough yet, hence the "don't post" status.

Posts about trans people or trans issues where there's potential controversy even among trans members of this community: Definitely don't post. As far as engaging with comments or marking comments as favorites.... what do? I admit I'm struggling with this one. Normally I would want my engagement with such a discussion to be informed by a strong feeling of what the right point of view is, and I would like that to be informed by the people who are experiencing transphobia. It not reasonable to expect all trans people to be unified all the time about everything, so as a cis person, is it better to just sit out those discussions entirely? At the moment that is what I think I should do.

Posts that portray trans people in a negative or confrontational light (because they are trans), or discuss issues facing trans people in that manner: Goes without saying, don't post. Engage by flagging for deletion. If not deleted, support the pro-deletion side of any ensuing discussion.

Sorry for so many words. I was hesitant to comment for fear of getting things wrong, but I hear you that silence from cis people in this discussion is also a way of getting it wrong.
posted by FishBike at 9:37 AM on July 15 [11 favorites]


If I, as a mostly cis person, am sitting a discussion out and listening... is it appreciated if I show my silent presence by marking the post as a favourite?
Just to say: I'm reading this?
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:41 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


I am not trans but the shutdown of that thread with a lot of angry people asking for answers, whew. Not cool.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:00 AM on July 15 [7 favorites]


As a cis person I'll just second what Dip Flash says above; given my own personal circumstances and privilege and knowledge, my job right now is to keep my ears and eyes open and my mouth shut.

I sincerely appreciate all the labor trans members and more able allies than myself have put into MetaFilter over the years. I am deeply sorry some of them have burned out and/or no longer feel this place is safe. I would like to see this put right soon.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:16 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Will we get a response regarding what happened? I held off making a comment about it directly here last night, but it is relevant. If there is a wider context, that needs to be discussed. It very much looks like the user in question was banned for having a panic attack after finding out accidentally that the community has a broken stair harasser who targets trans and PoC users. As mittens says, it's unreasonable to expect people along marginalized axes to remain reasonable in all situations - many folks will have histories of trauma and lingering PTSD that manifests in situations of harassment and abuse, as was the case here.

The only other wider context I'm aware of is that the banned user was too pessimistic for many on the site. However, this is 2020. Actual no-fooling fascists are in power in the US, Brazil, Hungary and rising all around the world. There is an ongoing global pandemic that the world's "most powerful" country has completely failed at containing. Socioeconomic inequality has reached the point of ruling classes openly robbing the rest of us - individuals and small businesses are going under and about to face mass evictions in the US with no sign of government aid whatsoever. The climate crisis is obviously not going to be handled by anyone because what that actually means in practice is severe, rapid degrowth and that is neither an attractive political position nor something that is without moral weight. More relevant to this thread, trans rights are being eroded wherever they have made inroads at all. Hate crimes, racially targeted violence, antisemitism - all on the rise. Things are bad. I understand the site culture here wants to avoid catastrophizing and I try to practice that myself, but if you aren't pessimistic about the present moment or the future, you're a moron. There is a place for sharing, discussing or simply venting over possible worst-case scenarios. Refusal to acknowledge them at this point is a denial of reality.

I understand why that's discouraged and that the mod team cannot handle the emotional labor of opening space for peer-led support groups for emotionally unstable people fretting over the actual end of the world. I know there have been instances of suicidal ideation - I have been part of that problem, and I apologize - but there is also a knee-jerk pushback against pessimistic worldviews in general which I feel increasingly inappropriate and at odds with the trajectory of the world.

So. Was there additional context? Is it the history of catastrophizing? Did something else happen? We don't need details but we do need some vague shape of an explanation because it looks like a user made a reasonable request (albeit while having a panic attack), the public-facing responses to that were all along the lines of, "This isn't easy to do with the site architecture but sure, okay, we will figure out how to do it," then you figured out how to do it and oh, also, by the way, you're banned and don't come back. What the hell?

This site has a history of treating marginalized users poorly, not taking their issues seriously, taking bigots at face value so long as they are polite, etc. This year, it has made significant progress in addressing those issues. Enough that I decided I wanted to come back as an active user... and then all this. I am now thinking seriously about whether I want to continue participating in or reading this site at all. One day after returning. Will this ever change? Will it get better? That this thread has just kind of trailed off and will likely get locked soon without real resolution after what happened makes me think no. Not really. Things might get a little better. Issues can be addressed at surface-level. But there are deeper systemic issues in how MetaFilter runs that feed into how marginalized users get treated.

In many ways, this is sad to me. I like the idea of a carefully-preserved archive. I like the idea of an entire section of the site set aside for discussing site issues, celebrating what it does well and hashing out how to improve what it does poorly. These are good, utopian ideas. I am horrified by the all too brief lifespans of everything online. I have worked for many years to archive websites, cultural ephemera and art that has gone out of circulation. 2020 was the year I finally let go of my efforts there. They're unrealistic and all this infrastructure will not be around for much longer; it hurts to let go of the utopian ideal of archiving everything, but we're in long emergency conditions and it makes more sense to prioritize what to preserve than continue using a wide net. It's past time for MetaFilter to begin letting go of some of the founding utopian web principles it's held onto. That doesn't have to mean betraying them completely, but it does have to mean acknowledging that the web in 2020 is a very different place than the web in 1999. There are ways in which it's better; there are many more ways in which it's worse.

This is just reality. Being left to deal with transphobia on their own is just a reality for trans people, too. How the site could handle that better? Learn to better recognize those dynamics, get better at stepping in to respond to TERFs, stop thinking of trans people (of any marginalized group) as a monolith, stop thinking of the kinds of weirdos who post here as representative of the groups they belong to, stop treating marginalized users as if the groups they belong to are their sole and shining identity. Understand that there is an emotional cost for marginalized people in just seeing posts about their oppression. I think the Harper's thread went well - transphobic comments got deleted quickly, cis users worked together to document evidence of the thing being organized by TERFs and used as an ideological Trojan horse. No one debated the letter at face value or the validity of trans people, that I saw. That's a good result for a thread like that! Many trans users here have nonetheless said it caused them pain to see it posted at all. There is a weight of past trauma here that makes that response understandable. It has to start being taken into account with regards to posts about trans issues, transphobia, stuff trans people are doing in the world.

It's hard. There are a lot of plates to juggle. It's exhausting. Trans people all knows this. PoC all know this. This is how life is if you belong to a marginalized group. It's unending work. Learning how to pick up the slack with a lot of that work and act together in solidarity is the best thing that unaffected folks can do to help.

I wanted to be quieter, this time. Just some weirdo who makes FPPs about spiders and music. I don't know if I want to stay, now. There's a lot to think about; and I don't have the energy for that.
posted by Lonnrot at 10:19 AM on July 15 [21 favorites]


is it appreciated if I show my silent presence by marking the post as a favourite?
Just to say: I'm reading this?


It's a little idwosyncratic, but I generally use favorites to say :I have seen this." I don't usually put them on comments I find abhorrent; i prefer to show engagement by pushing back, but I do put them on comments that dispute with each other as a way to say "I am following this" and not "I agree with member Y."
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:20 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I think it’s helpful as a cis person to be told you’d like to hear from us to share what we’ve learned or are doing on the site. It’s a good lesson to realize that our voices should be invited into a thread about and for trans/NB voices, whether here or elsewhere, instead of assuming we have anything relevant to say. I have a feeling I am not the only one who assumed we shouldn’t be commenting here to let those affected let their voices shine so thanks for speaking about how the silence looked, kanata.

On that note, for my part I haven’t been commenting because I disagree with the characterization of cortex’s actions, and the best thing I can think to do it to keep an open mind and try to better understand the other side. I don’t say this because I am arguing anyone out of their position — I am saying the opposite, in fact. I say it because essentially, when marginalized members say they’re being harmed and I don’t agree, that means I need to shut up and listen.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:25 AM on July 15 [11 favorites]


Another mostly cis person commenting, and agreeing with other cis commenters, i.e. what Dip Flash said applies to me as well: I haven’t been saying much to not take space and focus away from trans voices. ... I am trying to evaluate how best to engage and where it is and isn’t useful to be present.

It is really tough to navigate these issues and threads, and to know when your voice may contribute support, and when instead all you may be doing is potentially (unintentionally) drowning out the voices of trans people.

FishBike's outline
is pretty much how I have been operating on Metafilter, and Too-Ticky's question is one I have myself. I did want to be clear, for what it is worth, that you do have my support, and I very much appreciate all the work of trans members on Metafilter.

The number of people leaving due to that other thread is really upsetting, and I wanted to be explicit about that as well. (I don't want derail, or to put too neutral a spin on that, but there are some pretty clear signs of mod burnout going on in various threads, and they may want to do some thinking on how to handle that before Metafilter implodes more than it already has.)
posted by gudrun at 10:29 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Basically: how can we build trust and solidarity when it is an unspoken assumption that participation here will result in being targeted by some obsessive nutter? Yes, this site is public-facing so being cautious with personal information is reasonable and to be encouraged. As a target of proto-Gamergate, I'm paranoid A.F. However, if there is a years-long problem of offsite harassment that bleeds into and affects site culture - how are trans or PoC users supposed to participate in good faith knowing this? The problem extends beyond the site, which makes it difficult to deal with - but it affects the community here, too. What happened leaves one with the feeling that victims of harassment are only welcome so long as it's convenient to manage on the site, and whatever happens offsite is just, y'know, whatever.

I'm entirely confident this is not the impression intended, but it's where we are right now. It has to be talked about in order to reestablish trust.
posted by Lonnrot at 10:31 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Will we get a response regarding what happened? I held off making a comment about it directly here last night, but it is relevant. If there is a wider context, that needs to be discussed. It very much looks like the user in question was banned for having a panic attack after finding out accidentally that the community has a broken stair harasser who targets trans and PoC users. As mittens says, it's unreasonable to expect people along marginalized axes to remain reasonable in all situations - many folks will have histories of trauma and lingering PTSD that manifests in situations of harassment and abuse, as was the case here.

I am not sure it needs to be discussed in this thread, though. Yes, it had a strong negative impact on trans members, and if trans members want to talk about that impact here, I support them. I don't think cis members should be trying to restart that thread in an explicitly trans thread.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:33 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I'm trans. I came back on this account to avoid these exact sorts of dynamics. I did not want to out myself at all let alone immediately, but here we are.

It. Needs. To. Be. Addressed.
posted by Lonnrot at 10:37 AM on July 15 [9 favorites]


The person in question is an extremely close and personal friend and cortex has made it clear not to discuss it and on that front I agree.

Just be okay with some ambiguity because I assure you the only person who can explain why they did what they did is cortex at this point and the user that we are talking about is not the person who’s actions need to be examined here.
posted by noiseanoise at 10:40 AM on July 15 [13 favorites]


As far as trans topics go, I’ll say what I said in the other thread: threat is a function of risk over time. At this point I don’t think this site is a place where human and social dynamics are safe to discuss in any personal terms, ever. It’s probably more of a better site to post about STEM hobbyist stuff and build a historical repository of say, weird facts about synthesizers than it is a space to discuss the intersectional social contexts of identity terrains.
posted by noiseanoise at 10:45 AM on July 15 [8 favorites]


There are two ways forward that I can see from this:

1) A sincere effort from cortex at reconciliation and reestablishing trust. This means no more of this tip-toeing around topics and vaguely alluding to things. It is difficult to discuss things openly but there is no other way forward. This was a catastrophic fuck up that has burned the trust of many trans users. Again. "Let's all just move on" is not possible, I am sorry. What happened appears random and vindictive. All of this is directly relevant to trans users. How is the site supposed to get better at combating transphobia if there is a very determined transphobe stalking folks and the site response is... what, exactly? Ban people who bring it up? Reluctantly allow a MeTa, then lock it with no explanation? The official response to the actual problem was deeply vague and the initial followup action was actively harmful.

2) This site will continue to bleed trans users. People will come here, participate, make threads - trans topics will come up. They will join them. They will become frustrated and hurt. They will seek help. They will not get help. They will find out that in fact the mods have a history of supporting transphobes. They will leave. Rinse, repeat.

I just came back and I do not feel safe or welcome here. I feel similarly as noiseanoise as far as what this site is and can be; I had hoped to make special interest FPPs, maybe comment sporadically, but I can't really participate in a community that regards its marginalized users as less than human.

I'm posting a lot, so I'll step away for a while but, cortex, please do not dismiss and ignore this.
posted by Lonnrot at 10:53 AM on July 15 [12 favorites]


One of my deep COVID regrets is that I really like that user's comments and had a trip planned to their city. I had hoped to be able to meet them and have a drink or a meal or something. Sadly, everything got postponed, and here we are.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:53 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I will say this: It's not unreasonable for website operators to have a policy to not allow users who have submitted forget me requests to come back given the effort it probably takes to perform these kinds of requests. My only frustration is with the way that was communicated. But I'm not here to tone police anyone ever.
posted by noiseanoise at 10:59 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


noiseanoise: It’s probably more of a better site to post about STEM hobbyist stuff and build a historical repository of say, weird facts about synthesizers than it is a space to discuss the intersectional social contexts of identity terrains.

Sadly, that sounds like the message from cortex, too, which breaks my heart. As people mentioned in the other thread, and throughout the site, MetaFilter has helped them find themselves, and other people with similar experiences. The more we have to guard ourselves about who we are, the more sterile the site will become.

But right now, it sounds like the way these issues are being addressed are by having anyone who is worried about being a target, now or ever in the future, is to say nothing that can identify you as you.

There were ideas put forth in the other thread to remedy these and other related items, but they're big, gnarly technical issues, and it's unclear if those items are off the table, shelved for later discussion, or being actively pursued. I hope something's happening, but it doesn't look or feel like it.

Looking ahead, one discussion we could have in a separate thread is how MetaFilter will deal with individuals want/ right to be forgotten. Really, we're 14 years late to discuss this, given that the EU and Argentina put these types of policies into place in 2006 (Wikipedia). Still, I don't think we should derail discussions of how to better approach posts about trans people and transphobia with this technical, site-specific discussion.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:09 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


I think the most helpful thing folks can do, cis, trans, nonbinary, EVERYONE, is to stop and consider for a moment which way the content of the FFP is facing. Is it cis-facing or trans facing or both? And come to the content with that in mind before deciding how to interact with it.

I think that shapes how we internalize the FPP and talk about it and will make trans material less activating on a deep personal level as well as more approachable and less argumentative in general.

I think a lot of times what we're seeing is people trying understand who the creator of the content is writing for.

A lot of the criticism towards me that I think is valid is that I make cis women feel uncomfortable being cis, that my expressions on this site globalize the cis experiences with say, pregnancy and sexism in ways that comes off as saying cis women living their lives harms me. And while that's certainly a way it can come across, I also know that cis women don't define my womanhood as much as I don't define theirs, so that's on me to do better moving forward. What I'm always trying to get across is that the experiences cis women have with gender is not the global biological experience of womanhood, not that they can't relate their bodies to themselves as women. And I think that's where I've failed in the past and created more heat than light. As well as give ammo to TERF's to then go off and spread shit about me elsewhere online.
posted by noiseanoise at 11:45 AM on July 15 [9 favorites]


Kanata I am reading and reflecting. I thought that as with threads specific for PoC that this was meant to be for trans people only although on rereading the posting I see I was wrong.

I am definitely taking away from this that we need more positive stories about trans experiences and less about transphobia. I am also reminding myself that for trans members that the real life risks of being harassed/doxxed are heightened.

I miss a lot of trans specific threads so if any trans members feel in need of an ally, hit me up via email. My sister is trans and supporting the LGBT communuty is an important, but also personal issue to me.
posted by biggreenplant at 11:59 AM on July 15 [5 favorites]


Hi everyone, I've been working on a draft MeTa that speaks to some of the more general site issues, including the right to be forgotten. I'm still working on the MeTa now but hope to put it into the queue later today. I have been reading this thread and have read and participated in the other one, so the MeTa I'm drafting reflects several of the themes that have been discussed and seeks to focus the discussion on the future of the site and our participation. It won't be able to cover everything, but I appreciate filthy light thief bringing up the right to be forgotten here, and wanted to mention that I'm working on a MeTa about it.
posted by katra at 12:02 PM on July 15 [33 favorites]


Thank you, katra.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:16 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Kanata, thank you for your explicit comment asking cis members to show up and asking what we are doing as allies. I understand now that this is a thread that cis users like me should have been posting in and not just reading quietly, and I am sorry that my silence here has been hurtful to you, and to other NB and trans members.

I have now read through the entirety of the other MetaTalk thread re Twitter abuse, and I am saddened that so many trans members have felt unsafe and unsupported enough by the site to disable their accounts. These are people who have made Metafilter a much richer community by their presence, and I am very sorry to see them go.

Briefly, I support users’ right to be forgotten, especially given the circumstances in which these members are asking for that feature. They’re being harassed and feel unsafe. In my opinion, that’s the necessary criteria.

After reading the many comments in which trans users have stated their preferences for ally support, I have a better idea of how to interact with trans related posts. Mostly I think I’ll be continuing to favourite posts and comments by trans users, but I will make an effort to actually comment more as well. It’s important for cis users like me to hold space for trans and NB users and not overshadow or overtake those threads, but it’s also important not to be silent.

Finally, I’m currently struggling with how to reconcile having volunteered to be part of the BIPOC board with the lack of transparency and support to trans members evidenced in the Twitter abuse MetaTalk thread. I have seriously considered withdrawing and not participating in the site anymore. However, since my approach has always been intersectional, perhaps that board is a good way to address the intersectional concerns of PoC and trans users. I don’t know.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:20 PM on July 15 [7 favorites]


I will strive to be as strong of an ally as I can for all trans members here as long as I am able to continue being here. Many trans members have stood up for and been allies for the POC here, and obviously there is intersection between our two communities as well. Right now, I feel like at least 80% of my interaction here is spent calling people out and scolding them for shitty behavior toward marginalized community members and it's really wearing me thin. I try to interact just as a "normal" user and the bullshit just doesn't stop, so then I feel like I can't stop calling it out. I can't believe how that harassment Meta went and nothing has so strongly made me want to button before than that thread, but I also don't want to abandon anyone who needs support and allyship. It's a shitty situation for so many of us to be in, and has at least made it certain that I will never be involved with anything "official" on this site unless something radically changes about the way it is run (and honestly, probably who it is run by).
posted by primalux at 12:38 PM on July 15 [9 favorites]


+1 on "was reading along & absorbing & erring on the side of self-decentering", but given the more explicit call for voice I'm here for the occasion.
To the original observation of which threads get more comments, I've been thinking over how my actions play into that dynamic. At least as I'd observe in myself, I tend to be rather unlikely to comment much in general, but posts where I observe a greater chance of transphobia my barrier-to-comment drops as I feel I need to be readier to wade in & help shoulder the expectation. Which, hopefully good thing in trying to keep the heat off directly targeted users (I'd leave it to others to judge whether I'm accomplishing this), but not-so-good in that it perpetuates that pattern.

My identity isn't exactly firm enough to be directly relevant beyond sense of group alignment/affinity, I figure (though props to nikaspark for being very personally helpful on that front), but with that it means I'm here as a body & a voice to lend support to those calling for it.
posted by CrystalDave at 12:48 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


kanata, I, too, misunderstood the intent of this thread, and I agree with other cis members upthread that we (cis members) need to take a more active role in supporting our trans members. I haven't done a great job of that in the past, not because I don't think it's important (it's crucial) but because I was allowing the perfect to be the enemy of just fucking saying something. So. From now on, I will say something.

To start, and this might not be the place for it: cortex should take a leave of absence from the site to work on management skills and effective communication skills. If you're going to own a business, cortex, you need those skills. MetaFilter is a community, yes, but it's also your business. Your anxiety surrounding so many issues this site faces, while completely understandable (I suffer from it as well, so I get it), is totally getting in the way of, well, so much here. Intent matters for shit when all that is actually necessary is an honest apology (without backstory or reasoning) and more frequent (not more wordy) check-ins.
posted by cooker girl at 12:49 PM on July 15 [17 favorites]


the way cis people noped out of this thread

When I have imperfectly tried to be an ally in the past, I have been told pretty bluntly multiple variations of "Don't speak for us or about us. We can speak for ourselves."

I've internalized that pretty strongly. I'll flag stuff I see, but unless specifically asked to I'm not going to try and speak up, because I've been bluntly told not to in the past.
posted by anastasiav at 1:44 PM on July 15 [12 favorites]


As a cis person, I want to apologise. I am bloody sorry for all my thoughtless comments and ignorance. I am sorry for not calling people out.

Allies, we have to do better. We can't let our friends down.
posted by daybeforetheday at 2:24 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


I also have been reading along but trying not to take up the air in the room. I had actually started a comment earlier in the thread that was more or less what you are asking for now, but decided at that moment in the discussion me inserting myself wasn't appropriate. I may have been wrong, or maybe it was less appropriate earlier in the discussion but is appropriate now.

Since I now understand it's wanted at this point: The last time I made a MeFi post specifically highlighting a trans-related topic was, let's see...2015. At some point between then and now I realized that MeFi is not a place that I can trust to handle discussions about trans people in a way that is supportive, safe, appropriate, useful, or even just interesting to my trans and/or nonbinary friends, many of whom are (or used to be) on this site. And I made a conscious decision not to make any more posts focusing on trans people because I can't count on the userbase behaving in a baseline decent fashion.

I will not intentionally initiate a conversation that I damn well know is likely to become an offensive, exhausting, and/or othering shitshow. Or in the best case to be a retreading of Trans-101 for the billionth time, rather than an actual interesting nuanced complex discussion of whatever person or topic came to my attention. I've thought about starting, and then killed, a few posts since then. Sometimes other people came along and shared the same thing I'd meant to share, and it's gone a variety of ways, but I've never felt like I made the wrong decision in not bringing those links to the site myself. I am not the person who should decide when/if a discussion about trans people starts on Metafilter.

My participation on the blue waxes and wanes with my mental and physical health, so there are stretches of time when I'm not there at all, but when I am, I try to keep an eye out for posts that seem like they might be prone to transphobic nonsense and to hang out there and flag aggressively, or to comment and favorite in support of threads that seem to be going / may go well. I've kept a closer eye (here and everywhere else in my life) on where I'm making unfounded assumptions about people's genders/names/pronouns, and to address my fuckups where I do make them. With my particular personal friends who are on the site, depending on how exactly each of those relationships workw, I sometimes check in with them privately to see how they're doing when one of these shitshows is ongoing, and how I can best support them, and I try to do whatever the thing is that that person needs from me.

I don't think any of that makes me a good ally. It's maybe the lowest possible bar of decency, and anyway "ally" isn't much of an identity. A particular act might be good allyship, maybe, but I think that's a little different from declaring oneself just broadly to be "an ally."

I'm furious and sad every time I see another trans person buttoning. It makes this community so much less than it could be. Which is fine, no one owes this community their continued presence, especially when they are made to feel unheard, unsafe, misunderstood, misgendered, mistreated, etc. But for what it's worth: I notice, and I miss so many interesting and thoughtful voices here. I hope (and in some cases know) that those folks have found other, better places to be. They are not forgotten.

If I were running a site where this many marginalized people felt this unwelcome and unsafe over this long a time period, I would consider that an all-hands-on-deck emergency. That it hasn't been treated as one for - well, years at this point - is a damning failure of site, owner, and community.
posted by Stacey at 2:37 PM on July 15 [12 favorites]


I think the issue of trust is a really important one, and I don’t think there’s an easy answer to it. Trying to keep things rational and unemotional hurts trans people and other marginalized people so much more, though. I really hope going forward that we can prioritize being kind over laying down boundaries that cut off frightened people.

The dynamic of being prioritized then banned is an aching wound to me. I really don’t think it was meant this way, but it struck me as someone hearing they were being prioritized, relaxing just a little, and then getting body slammed with a ban. Our inclusion in a community can feel like such a commentary on our value as people, and my heart hurts for someone being cut off mid-panic in that way.

What I want is for MetaFilter to be a place where people can feel safe when the rest of the world is targeting them, but I’m not sure that’s possible. Ignoring the trolls hasn’t made them go away - it’s emboldened them and isolated their targets. It’s enabled them to set up organized stalking and harassment while asking their victims to act like nothings wrong.

“Don’t feed the trolls” is a lie. It’s always been a lie. Bullies aren’t “fed” by the suffering of their victims, they’re fed by their own sense of power and the shared comradery of contempt for others. Asking targets to ignore it so it goes away is blaming the victim and indicating that we won’t support them if they speak up.

We need a community where speaking up gets people support, not blame or rejection. How do we build that?
posted by Deoridhe at 2:51 PM on July 15 [16 favorites]


I am still so shaken by what happened last night. I have thought about it all day, and am so sad. We suffered tremendous losses as a community last night. I don’t know how we move forward constructively under the current culture.
posted by all about eevee at 3:22 PM on July 15 [7 favorites]


I appreciate the cis people here engaging in a way that centers trans people. It's good to see expressions of solidarity. Personally, after yesterday's events I don't really have the energy to engage much more than that (and would be surprised if I were the only person feeling that way).
posted by death valley compound at 3:38 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I don’t think it’s ok at all for Mefi to become a space where you can be a nerd about your specialist topic, but you can’t be trans.

Once upon a time it was a place where being female was concerning enough that I (cis) very carefully limited my comments so my gender wasn’t obvious. For years. We changed that; it’s time we change it now for our trans users.

There’s harm done by regular users like me (I am definitely guilty of not commenting much in threads where I don’t know what I am talking about; I am trying to find ways to indicate I am listening and learning and just not speaking because it isn’t my place). There’s already lots of constructive advice in this thread and elsewhere about what users can improve on within the site itself.

There’s also a bunch of commentary on how mods can improve some on-site decisions, and I don’t have much to say there; I think there have been some positive changes of late but more is needed if users still don’t feel safe.

But there’s one more area that I haven’t seen discussed in this thread, that I would like to see. Some of the bad behavior that makes trans users want to leave the site isn’t on the site. Changing site culture here only, won’t fix that behavior. But mefites are a sizable group, with no small amount of collective privilege on various axes. We have to fight back for our community, all of us, if we want to keep it. How are we going to do that?
posted by nat at 3:50 PM on July 15 [12 favorites]


I am also upset about what happened yesterday and in that now closed discussion thread. I'm hesitant to get into a further discussion of it in this thread in case it results in this one getting closed as well. I feel some kind of a way about that, and it isn't good.
posted by FishBike at 3:52 PM on July 15 [7 favorites]


I picked the right week to come back to metafilter...

One of the reasons I went from daily reading and frequent posting to rarely reading and never posting was seeing so many people I respected leaving the site.

The other one was being a Mexican immigrant in the US working on getting a green card. I could not risk being doxxed or some of my comments being read by the wrong kind of person in a position of authority.

It happened once, and I buttoned. It was a feeble attempt at blackmail and it was easy to find out who it was and to set them straight, but it was still one of the scariest periods of my life.

It was clear then that I could not bring my whole self to metafilter and be safe.

I really wish mefi can make it another 20 years, but I feel like it will be in read only mode for me for a while.
posted by Dr. Curare at 3:57 PM on July 15 [12 favorites]


I feel like if we're going to hold ourselves accountable for anything, it would be useful to formalize what that is. So maybe that would be a productive line of discussion?

Site policies and operating procedures are one thing, and although we have some input into them, they're ultimately up to cortex and the staff. But there's nothing to stop us from formulating our own community-driven code of conduct or some other list of expectations of each other. Perhaps people could even sign onto it voluntarily in some visible manner.

I feel like this would give people something to lean on when deciding whether and how to engage, but also might relieve trans MeFites of some of the labor of constantly having to explain things. Like some sort of document we can just point people to as a starting point in their own learning, among other purposes.

I don't know, is this a dumb idea? A derail from what we need to be talking about here?
posted by FishBike at 4:46 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


FishBike, I have often wondered about putting together a set of users who are dedicated to allyship on different topics that can be alerted in a few different situations: a.) when posting a thread, asking the group to engage early on, b.) when encountering ignorance in an ongoing thread, asking for allies to do the education, c.) assistance in flagging and communicating with the moderators when unacceptable behavior isn’t being addressed.

I am a part of this sort of organized group (in the fat activism sphere) that alerts members to combat overwhelming hatred and negativity in comments on news articles or social media/blog posts since those are almost always unsafe places for those most affected (and experts on) the topic to try to have a conversation. I’ve longed for that support on Metafilter many times when it comes to experiencing fatphobia, homophobia or sexism and I can see it being helpful to trans and NB folks here, too.

It also addresses the fact that those of us, like myself, who are on Metafilter sporadically or who focus on just one subsite or topic, can too easily miss one thread going all to hell and even coming into a thread hours later means the damage has been done. Often I have learned of total bullshit going down in threads weeks after it happened and wish I could have been there to speak up. It would be great to have a real time way of being notified that support is needed.

I recognize that it takes work to direct allies (in the group I am in, I often will need to do education or direction to allies who are offering to speak up and sometimes they completely miss the mark and it’s awful, but I limit how much labor I put towards it knowing others will help). I don’t think this is a panacea. Cis members still need to do work without being asked. However, if this is something trans and NB members would find helpful, I would gladly help coordinate it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:19 PM on July 15 [7 favorites]


I do my best to call out bad behavior from anyone when I see it as well as flagging with note to get a mod's attention but I am never sure if I'm supposed to be doing that or not. Isn't that why we have mods? So that threads don't become focused on each other's behavior?
posted by bleep at 5:25 PM on July 15


bleep, I can’t tell if that’s a reply to me, in case it is I will clarify I’m talking about increasing positive engagement about what we want to see on Metafilter, educating ourselves so we can leave more nuanced comments — less just focusing on mass flagging.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:31 PM on July 15


Is the issue that mods aren't doing enough? If that's the issue, then what's the cause? And what's the solution? If that's not the issue, I would love to just be able to wrap my head around why there are so many different groups of folks who are constantly screaming for help to be able to participate comfortably here. What is actually going wrong, what is the cause, and what is the solution?
posted by bleep at 5:31 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


(No sorry these aren't replies to anyone just wondering what the heck is happening here)
posted by bleep at 5:31 PM on July 15


When I have imperfectly tried to be an ally in the past, I have been told pretty bluntly multiple variations of "Don't speak for us or about us. We can speak for ourselves."

I don't recall having told you this directly, but I definitely leave comments saying things that could be interpreted to mean "cis people stop commenting on trans topics". I don't want to pretend that when I'm at the end of my rope, I'm not thinking "Would you shut up already" or "Oh god, cis person who made this FPP, why did you do this to us"*. But what do I want cis people to do when I say something like "Either we’re supposed to affirm their feelings or get out of the way because our lived experiences are inconvenient, but not actually engage with the story. If it spoke to you, that was only welcome inasmuch as it comforted cis people. And if it didn’t speak to you, well, good luck." (that was me earlier in this thread)? I like talking about gender. If a post about trans stuff makes you reflect on something about your own gender, I'd like to hear about it.** It's as much on topic as me talking about my gendered experience. What goes awry is cis people taking the contents of the FPP and then theorizing trans experiences (for hopefully obvious reasons) or theorizing about gender generally.

I personally don't mind doing trans 101 until the cows come home, but I have noticed that in the last few years, Metafilter (and not just Metafilter--I think it's a thing in the social strata many Mefites call home) has decided that it supports trans people and therefore doesn't need(?) or is scared(?) to ask dumb questions. And so we get silence or we get theorizing about our lives. But no "this part of the article struck me because it reminded me of when I..." or even "I have a dumb question if someone would mind indulging me". Yes, you end up walking a fine line to not talk over marginalized people or to avoid demanding to be educated, but part of actually being an ally is understanding that you'll fuck it up and being capable of being graceful when that happens.

*And, honestly, if I don't recognize your username, that is my instinctive reaction to trans-related FPPs most of the time.
**Though, for god's sake, don't tell us how you've just realized how privileged you are.

posted by hoyland at 5:34 PM on July 15 [14 favorites]


Flagging and moderator intervention are helpful sometimes, and yes I think that is definitely something we should be doing. Flags are not visible to anyone but the staff, though, so people cannot see if zero or a thousand people flagged a problematic comment. Similarly there are comments that might not reach the level of a moderator deciding to delete them, but which are still problematic in some way. These things probably won't change (and probably shouldn't) although the specific boundaries do change over time.

So it's up to us to educate or to push back, as appropriate, in addition to flagging, because it's a visible show of support and because it helps tackle those comment in that grey area between 100% OK and deletion-worthy. Just drawing from my own limited experience in a moderator-like role in a small online community, when we had someone show up and start to harass the community, it was wonderful to be able to raise the alarm and quickly have a dozen people show up to help. Even if there was nothing effective they could do at that moment, just them all showing up felt great. I would like trans MeFites to be able to experience that feeling here and want to keep talking about how to make that happen.
posted by FishBike at 5:51 PM on July 15 [4 favorites]


I'm happy to continue calling out bad behavior & it's great to know that it's something I'm supposed to do & not breaking the social rules.
posted by bleep at 6:08 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


But no "this part of the article struck me because it reminded me of when I..." or even "I have a dumb question if someone would mind indulging me". Yes, you end up walking a fine line to not talk over marginalized people or to avoid demanding to be educated, but part of actually being an ally is understanding that you'll fuck it up and being capable of being graceful when that happens.

Honestly I thought these kinds of comments were unwelcome relating to stories that weren't about my demographics. I'm sorry I misinterpreted that.
posted by bleep at 6:10 PM on July 15 [6 favorites]


What is actually going wrong, what is the cause, and what is the solution?

What is going wrong is that we’re too biased towards flash points wrt to trans topics, the cause is due to trans people being historically erased and cis people thinking they are the default of gender and the answer is cis people recognizing that they aren’t the default of gender and trans people being given a little extra space to be feral and claws out a little while we’re establishing trust.
posted by noiseanoise at 6:19 PM on July 15 [6 favorites]


Honestly I thought these kinds of comments were unwelcome relating to stories that weren't about my demographics. I'm sorry I misinterpreted that.

I mean, I think it's a fine line to tread, and there are ways to do it that are offensive or at least annoying, and ways that are engaging and welcome. Also, people's opinions vary about this! Some people will want these kind of comments and others won't. You won't be able to make everyone happy and part of being an ally is being okay with that. Marginalized people live that every day, so being an ally means being willing to say something and realize that it won't be perfect, not every marginalized person will be happy with it, and you will have to do the work to figure out if that means you did the wrong thing or not.

One thing to keep in mind is that while "listen to marginalized people" is a great concept it's not that easy because marginalized people are diverse and have different opinions. A lot of allies end up, I think, cycling between a bunch of different opinions/stances because one marginalized person says a thing, so they adopt that stance, then a different one says a different thing, so they adopt that stance, and they keep cycling through each time they meet a different marginalized person. And while I understand that instinct, really that's not what "listen to marginalized people" means. To be a true ally means doing the work of synthesizing those opinions, and paying attention to where those voices are coming from, which are coming from the communities you're in and which are outside of it (perhaps you will act different in different communities, because expectations differ between them, for example), whether there is consensus or debate, what the potential harms are of taking which side, etc. It's a lot harder than just going e.g., "Trans person said to do this? Okay, that's what I'll do from now on!" but it's work that needs to be done.

Sorry, this isn't necessarily specifically directed at you, bleep, just made me think of something that's been rattling around my head for a while, so here's that ramble. And that's not saying don't listen to what hoyland is saying--part of this process is weighing the opinions of those in the community you're interacting in more heavily, because you should interact with them how they want to be interacted with. But just saying, if you've seen other people say that they don't want these comments, maybe that helps you think thru and reconcile that?
posted by brook horse at 6:28 PM on July 15 [27 favorites]


I mean, I think it's a fine line to tread, and there are ways to do it that are offensive or at least annoying, and ways that are engaging and welcome. Also, people's opinions vary about this!

This, exactly. I do think opinions will differ greatly on how welcome dumb questions are, in particular. The other thing that is frustrating or tricky from an ally perspective, particularly when we're thinking about Metafilter, is that you can make a comment that is reflecting about your own experience of gender and your comment is part of a dialogue with the FPP, but then 10 other cis people come along and just want to talk about the experience you mentioned instead and now everyone is just talking about cis experiences. Deciding not to comment in the first place is valid choice and maybe the even the right choice in some spaces, but so is saying "I know I mentioned X, but my experience isn't actually the point here, so maybe we could move our focus back to the FPP itself". I'm struggling to come up with a more concrete example, unfortunately.
posted by hoyland at 7:04 PM on July 15 [12 favorites]


I wonder if the "truth sandwich" structure would be effective to be able to engage in a discussion as a cis person without accidentally centering it on cis people again? Meaning, lead off your comment with something that centers trans people, say what you wanted to say about your own experience or point of view, and then close with something that centers trans people again. And none of that can be platitudes or what have you, it all needs to be thoughtful and genuine.
posted by FishBike at 7:10 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


Also we need to consider neurodiversity where folks try to share their experiences as a way of connecting with what other people are saying.

So for instance, my reflex is to relate by talking about myself and often that comes off as self centered, and I understand now that when I’m engaging with someone for whom I represent as a potential oppressor (abled, thin, white, dialect) I have to work to remember that I am neurodiverse and to press pause on that reaction to lead with my own experience in an attempt to bridge a connection. Instead I can wait until I have a more complete understanding of what it is I dont know, and then start trying to build a bridge based on asking for permission to share my own personal life accounts.
posted by noiseanoise at 8:01 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Still waiting for a response to these questions and to these points.
posted by death valley compound at 11:23 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]




Regarding death valley compound’s point, yes I’d like to hear mod responses to your questions too.

But I can’t make the mods respond, and the mods are only a few people. How can the user base respond better to offsite harassment?

I think those of us who aren’t affected should be working this problem too. Is someone able to automate searching for usernames so at least people have the option to know when they are being targeted? That seems like something we could do as a community regardless of mod response. (I can’t, I don’t have the technical know-how and definitely don’t have any twitter experience).

Or should more of us get twitter accounts so we can respond? Or should we be more actively looking for a user with a real contact there?

And, what about the wider web? As long as Mefi is on the open web, people can read the content here and drag it offsite. Obviously nikaspark’s suggestion of making the site policy against this more clear, and adding some technical barriers, is great, but I can’t make that happen (and likely no one can immediately). So what can I do instead? I don’t read any other websites regularly, but I could change that if more eyes on the problem would help. Would it? People who have been or are being harassed shouldn’t have to fight that alone.
posted by nat at 12:08 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Well, first off, reassurance is important.

I can ask you do you feel safe This Month?

But next year or the next five years later that answer may change.

So, how do we make a reporting mechanism that protects us? I have thoughts. They are probably weak.
posted by noiseanoise at 12:51 AM on July 16


My engagement with MeFi has been limited and haphazard lately — I saw this post but, like others, didn't read it carefully enough to see that a cis response was asked for. The harassment post caught my attention and involvement because I'd just recently become aware of those twitter accounts.

Speaking for myself, as a disabled person who's living in this 2020 hellscape we're all trapped within, I have very few spoons left these days, if any. Just discovering those harassing twitter accounts and reading their tweets a few weeks ago just hugely upset and depressed me. I have a problem with depression and I've been sleeping 15-20 hours day because things like that just make me want to hide.

I've learned so much about trans lives from folk here in the last six years — I self-identify as cisgendered, but really I'm genderqueer because deep discomfort with some male gender stuff and an attraction (envy?) of some aspects of the female gender role has been central in my psychology and life since childhood. I'm slowly working through some of these feelings with the benefit of the many experiences and perspectives presented here; and I'm very grateful for that. But I very keenly feel that it would be inappropriate and hurtful for me to present that part of my life in this context — I feel for all intents and purposes here I'm cisgendered and I need to be sensitive and mindful as an ally, but because I might more properly be described as "genderqueer", I both have some investment in these discussions but also vulnerable in some weird way.

More than anything I want to be a good ally, but my engagement with MetaFilter has been migrating to FanFare because I just don't have many, if any, spoons left these days. My whole experience of MetaFilter from my joining, 16 years ago, has been a struggle to be a good ally — the sexism was bad then and there was a succession of individual women who would speak up, be shouted down, and then would fade away from the site. As a result, I spoke up frequently and, in doing so, made a number of classic mistakes. I've tried to learn from those mistakes. My experience of this whole time of MeFi has been of different groups expressing their hurt and everyone else slooowly learning to listen and change behavior. I've kept learning to be a better ally, and I've had to accept that I will occasionally make mistakes. Fighting transphobia and racism has become the focus at MetaFilter in the last six or so years and it's super-frustrating that old mistakes are being repeated and progress is so slow. But my life observation is that progress is always slow because it takes hard work and, especially, changing habits.

Being disabled has utterly consumed my life in the last ten years and, as this has happened, dealing with ableism here has given me some deep insight into the experiences of all the people here I've been trying to be a good ally to. I don't begrudge anyone losing their patience or just losing their shit, or being fed-up and angry. Or just giving up. And, especially, just being really fucking exhausted from either just suffering micro- and macro-aggression silently or speaking up and taking on all the shit that inevitably follows from doing so.

More than anything else, as an ally I try to avoid speaking from the privileged position of abstraction and generalizing and thought-experiments. I try to listen carefully and learn from it, and err on the side of silence if I'm not sure what I have to say will be helpful. I try to avoid centering myself (which I fear I'm doing in this comment), try to avoid calling attention to my allyship, and try to reward the efforts of other allies (without making it about them). Most of this stuff I've had to learn by making mistakes along the way over the last sixteen years.

The harassment thread disturbs me — and it's made me sad. I think it's quite possible to answer and correct the problems in that thread, this and related trans threads, and the PoC threads, but it's a lot for cortex to do when he's so clearly struggling himself. I imagine myself in his role, given the experience and knowledge I have, plus assuming I wasn't disabled in both body and mind... and I don't think even then I'd be equal to the task. Nevertheless, for MetaFilter to survive, these changes need to be made.

And I do think it's worth surviving. I think it's flawed and always been flawed, but that it's been a net positive in this world.

Finally, what I try to keep in mind and I hope other allies will keep in mind, are the unique threats that trans folk face in a transphobic world. The stakes are very, very high. As allies, how we listen, respond, think, and behave should always be informed by this stark truth.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:22 AM on July 16 [17 favorites]


On the topic of what cis allies can do, for the perspective of this nonbinary trans girl:

In my experience over the years on this site, the root of many of the problems wrt cis people and trans topics is this tendency to regard us as abstract concepts rather than real live human beings. You might not even be consciously aware that you're doing this, but it happens. And it's harmful on many levels, but there are solid solutions to this that won't involve you having to walk on eggshells or feel like it's difficult to navigate. Bear in mind that this is solely my perspective.

When cis people begin to chime in about transness, they will treat this topic as they would any other abstraction: something that you can discuss while only having observational experience, something you can speculate on, even something that you can debate. This leads to the paradox of participating in a discussion about trans people but not listening to them, or even dismissing or arguing with them.

That being the case, if an FPP is lauding a trans person of note, by all means voice your support for them. If it's criticising them, maybe sit it out. If an FPP is about a trans issue, it'd be a good idea to do more listening than talking. Drop those favorites on trans folks chiming in. Flag transphobic comments rather than engage them—I know many folks will advise that cis allies need to confront transphobia from their cis friends as well as within themselves, but my feeling is that in a thread on the internet, you'll do more good with FIAMO than speaking for trans people who are already in the thread.

It really comes down to recognising the space you occupy as a cis person, making more room for us on trans-related posts, and most of all, not regarding the trans experience as some other abstraction but the collective experiences of your co-workers, relatives, friends and partners who are not the gender they were assigned at birth.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:29 AM on July 16 [13 favorites]


As a trans person, I'm deeply disturbed by the banning of a trans member--how it was handled both publicly and privately--over her asking to keep her data and identity secure. Frankly, the only reason I haven't buttoned at this point is because it's very clear that it's what the parties trolling metafilter want. At this juncture, I'm wondering if it's actually what the moderation team wants, too. A site of only cis people.

This site is actively harmful to trans folks.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:02 AM on July 16 [22 favorites]


xchmp, thank you for voicing this. I want to acknowledge that I'm seeing and hearing you.

I would like posters and moderators alike to seriously consider whether a post about trans issues - especially those related to transphobia - is likely to be of benefit to trans people, to avoid reproducing the same kind of harm that may have already been caused.

I've been thinking about this a lot and now that I'm part of the moderating team, it feels even direr to address the ways in which Queer and Trans lives (and QTPOC especially) are seen and treated. I would love to see more content on the site about all the ways Trans and Queer people are resilient, beautiful beings - that our plight is not the only thing worth talking about. Whether its the creation or consumption of content, it's so damn important to beg the questions, "who is the intended audience and who benefits from this piece?" If it isn't people at the margins, I don't want it.

I'm a nonbinary Muslim. I have spent years repressing my identity and now live in an environment where my gender identity is consistently erased, invalidated, and leaves me traumatized daily. My partner and I are doing our very best to just exist in this time and space. Hearing you all voice the impact of the threads here is really important to me and I am doing my best to come up with ways to address these problems and actively improve the quality of life here for Trans people.

It's important for you all to protect yourselves and sustain your mental and physical wellness in all the ways that feel best for you. I'm sorry this is happening and I'm with you. My position in this world does not mean I'm absolved of anything and I do have privileges that should be utilized more effectively. I'm working to do that.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 7:55 AM on July 16 [24 favorites]


The moderator team (or at least their leadership) here has an incredible tendency to tuck up and just wait for things to go away, which we're seeing again in this thread and the closed one and have seen, well *gestures broadly*. Maybe they're discussing things in the background. Maybe they're furiously working on plans. What I see, and what I think a lot of us see, is a thread with genuine concerns closed abruptly, a trans user banned for what seemed like no apparent reason, and then radio silence on the issue or, well, any indication that they're listening or care.

I think a large part of the frustration stems from the extreme Web 1.0 conservatism changing the site for the benefit of the users. And some of it is, well, none of this is hard. Something Awful has plenty of flaws and is running on an antique code base, but I can still click on a user's name and see why they were banned or probated and be taken to the exact post (if I want to read for myself). You can also delete the contents of your post there. Reddit lets you delete posts. Many sites let you delete your entire account and be done with it.

Part of the frustration is that none of this (seems) hard considering major social sites and buggy old webforums alike manage to do SOMETHING.

Part of the frustration is that sometimes the mod team seems to want to just clean up bad posts and not steer discussion at all. Like they want to be purely janitorial, to use a turn of phrase. But sometimes they want to jump in and post and steer discussion like regular users. Which I personally think is great, BUT, being a mod means you're a voice of authority and a voice of the site weighing in, and I don't think everyone is cognizant of that.

Finally, cortex seems prone to lashing out and a lot of the site conservativsm seems to come across as "We don't wanna", even if there are good reasons for not doing the thing. Cortex seems like a good person, but even I observed several months ago they seem extremely stressed and I feel like their default mode (especially with disadvantaged populations) is "Oh christ, what do they want NOW?" And I get that it's frustrating to seem/feel constantly attacked and have to rewrite your mental programming to adjust for social justice and whatnot...but that's the job. And it is, or can be, a fun job, but it's still a job.

I'll decloak a bit and say in a previous life I was a community manager for a large project that had an extremely contentious and rowdy userbase. (Metafilter is mild and gentle in comparison) They were vicious and funny and I actually really enjoyed them most of the time.

A big part of the problem here is unclear expectations like:

Are moderators just "thread janitors" or are they empowered community members? Can they jump into a discussion or do they just show up as disciplinarians?

Are bans going to be public or private? Right now, it seems like they want them to be private...except when they want to prove a point or really twist the knife on someone they don't like, which is uncool?

A lot of user requests get foot dragging for being too hard or too technical...but it turns out it's actually really simple, and if enough people get angry, they can dragoon the staff into doing what they want. So is it THAT hard or is it "We just don't wanna"? (A lot of times it feels like the second).

Users have 0 insight into the ongoing technical and staff developmental projects the site is undertaking. People might've been a lot more tolerant of the hesitation on word filtering if they knew the team was working on 15 other important things. Basically we don't know how to file a ticket and we don't know when that will be resolved or decided on, which is a pretty basic customer service issue. Lots of people are fine with a "No" as long as it's a firm "No" and they know why.

Which brings me to my biggest point: The default mode of site leadership when they don't want to do something seems to be to try to bamboozle the userbase. The problem that keeps coming up is it's 2020, lots of sites are doing what seems like a pretty basic request, and, frankly, computers and such are no longer the mystery they were in 1998. You are going to have a hard time convincing me it's technically hard to delete a user's post history when I'm not even a hardcore web programmer but literally every social site I use does it. You had a hard time convincing us a word filter was this nigh-impossible task when people could hand you 2 lines of code that would do it. People can take some pretty hard medicine with good grace, but you can't lie to them (or seem to lie to them) about obvious things and then be surprised when they figure out it's bullshit and get angry about being lied to.

User safety. To me this is a huge topic and the lackadaisical response is troubling as hell. It's 2020 and we've seen that "just ignore the trolls" winds up with the trolls goose-stepping in the streets. People are genuinely at risk IRL INCLUDING YOUR OWN FUCKING STAFF WHAT THE FUCK DUDE I'VE BEEN A MANAGER OFF AND ON AND IF USERS CAME AT MY STAFF I WOULD RAIN DOWN HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE ON THEM and like if legal avenues didn't come up I'd go to their house for a beatdown Jay and Silent Bob style.

That topic in particular is one of the ways to harness the site's inevitable Engineering Disease and urge to futz around the edges. Say "Hey all, people are getting harassed and Twitter is unresponsive, what else could we do?" then LISTEN and say "Okay, we've listened to you all and I think these are the best approaches."

I mean, literal professionals in the field are offering you suggestions and get treated to "lol okay".

When you have fucked up, as you clearly have in this case, use some of that training you're supposedly getting and say "Okay, clearly we didn't handle it well..." and let the discussion continue. Every time there's one of these threads, there's a lot of "Oh we were discussing it on the back end, that's why we didn't say anything for days," like the users are supposed to know and see that and just wait for the exalted opinion to come down on high like the Ten Commandments.

I will now jump in the ring of various professionals that offered their advice and say what I think you should do.

-Make explicit the roles of the moderators and administrators in the community. Are they thread janitors, are they "Users but empowered", are they something else?

-Figure out what your policy is going to be on probations and bans and stick to it. It doesn't need to be a Wall of Shame. It can be saying "24 hours probation for Soandso" when a post is removed. Clearly "nothing" isn't working for you guys.

-User safety. Jesus fucking christ do better.

-When users raise a complaint, they need clear insight on when it will be addressed (if it can be addressed) in concrete steps. With updates as the process moves along. Again, tap the technical expertise of the userbase and say "Guys, we got stuck on Bleh, any ideas?" if it's a technical issue.

-Right now the biggest and most pressing issue is being able to clean up or remove your post history.

You need to:

Develop what the policy is going to be. If it's "This is basically a self-ban and that account is done", I think that's fine. Doing pissy "Okay well DON'T COME BACK" is super shitty.

COMMUNICATE TO THE USERS WHAT THE POLICY IS good lord.

Communicate to the users how long it's going to take to do.

Take feedback and see if someone has a better way to do it.

(travelingthyme posted in the interim, of course, so please assume I don't mean you).
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:55 AM on July 16 [52 favorites]


Yeah travelingthyme really seems to get it and really seems to be trying to do well and I feel like they're being trotted out to say "Okay, we get it now! See! We let you have a mod and everything!"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:15 AM on July 16 [15 favorites]


Ghostride the Whip, 100%. I just can’t help feel like a site owner who prioritized users would attempt to at least think creatively about this safety issue, instead of trying to be like, a museum security guard warning people not to touch things. If we can’t support deletion, why not anonymity? If we worry about aspects of anonymity, what controls can we put on it (only for posts that are already closed, only for posts that are over a year old, etc)? Instead of automatic no to any idea.

This site is nothing without its users, and trans users, and other users at risk of doxxing, are users also. But it seems a lot of people here value the site’s past as some kind of info dump over its utility to users (and thus its future).
posted by sallybrown at 8:18 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


The comment by Ghostride The Whip above is possibly the best comment I've ever seen on MeTa. Thank you.

Speaking of which, this probably deserves its own post, but I haven't the time right now ...

I suggest that no permanent bans be executed independently, that at least two mods agree on permabans.

If an emergency happens, the user could get a temporary ban, with a permanent ban to follow.
posted by NotLost at 8:19 AM on July 16 [6 favorites]


Like I honestly get the sense that some users, and maybe even cortex, would rather have a site that closes down for lack of traffic but remains a pristine archive of internet history, over an active, living site that’s willing to morph and change in line with modern best practices, including user safety, including when that means making edits to historical threads. If the site is primarily an information archive, then it makes sense to focus on the “harm” of a handful of comments, or identities of users, removed. Even then...think of all the dead links and out of date info that’s stored on this site!! (Try looking up AskMes about clothing recommendations from a decade or more ago.) But if the site is primarily a community, harm to one member or employee should outweigh the minimal cost of change to past posts. Imagine you’re the owner of a company and someone is raiding your goods to use them to assault your employees and customers: why is the choice “well, I really like the floor plan the way it is, so you better make sure you guys are paying attention and wearing your safety gear, oh and if you don’t like getting assaulted maybe you’re wrong for this company” or even “well, I doubt this will happen a lot so ignore this guy”?
posted by sallybrown at 8:52 AM on July 16 [15 favorites]


sallybrown: But if the site is primarily a community, harm to one member or employee should outweigh the minimal cost of change to past posts.

I do feel that the site is primarily a community. I disagree that the cost of change to past posts is minimal; I believe it's a considerable cost.

At the same time, I still believe it's worth it to pay that price if it can reduce or prevent harm to members and staff. That is so important in my eyes, especially since that harm tends to target specific groups who are already underprivileged, that it clearly outweighs the disadvantages.

I'm very much in favour of a mechanism that allows members to anonymise their past posts. One by one or in bulk, whichever the member prefers.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:00 AM on July 16 [9 favorites]


I often find myself in situations where I’m not being heard and people aren’t validating my experience. It’s frustrating, painful, and makes me feel as though my autonomy has been ripped away from me.

On a personal level, If I can offer anything at the moment, it’s hearing people out and acknowledging their experiences here. If I’m not hearing folks, I cannot take action. I’m doing what I can with my positionality as a new staff member to relay the issues I’m seeing, hearing, and experiencing while the team works on strategies for addressing whats happened to the best of their capacity.

I have full autonomy and agency on this site and no, I have not been placed here to alleviate the pressure/push for accountability/discomfort that’s being collectively experienced right now.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 9:01 AM on July 16 [23 favorites]


Sorry for derailing, I'll stop now.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:02 AM on July 16


[..] while the team works on strategies for addressing whats happened [..]

At least one of the events that people here are very upset about is not a thing that "happened", it's a thing the owner of the site actively did. I find it infuriating to see passive phrasing like this, as I feel like it demonstrates a lack of ownership by the staff with respect to actions they've decided to take. I know we were not supposed to see the communication that went to the person who was banned, but that was like a case study in what not to do, along similar lines, in addition to trying to tell a person their own position on whether something is working for them or not. I can only imagine how rage-inducing that must be to some of our trans friends here.

I don't mean this as a shot at you, travelingthyme, your comment was just a convenient example to cite while I express something that has really been bothering me over the last few days.
posted by FishBike at 9:26 AM on July 16 [13 favorites]


Further to what I said above, and not to abuse the edit window: I feel the phrasing used is important not just for demonstrating ownership of decisions, but also for leading a different thought process leading up to those decisions. For example, don't say something "needs to stop" like it's an externally-imposed constraint, say "we've decided we won't allow this to continue" and think about the decision in those terms.
posted by FishBike at 9:31 AM on July 16 [6 favorites]


So, with regard to these "strategies for addressing whats happened", what does that include? This thread was originally about general trends in the way cis users interact with trans issues on the site to the detriment of trans people, not a singular event that occurred. That deserves its own response, separate to the trauma has been experienced over the events relating to the other thread.
posted by death valley compound at 9:35 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Develop what the policy is going to be. If it's "This is basically a self-ban and that account is done", I think that's fine. Doing pissy "Okay well DON'T COME BACK" is super shitty.

COMMUNICATE TO THE USERS WHAT THE POLICY IS good lord.


Yes, please do this. We still have no idea what the banned member did "wrong." Now I feel nebulously afraid that because I've expressed unhappiness with the current moderation strategies publicly on the site, at any point contacting the moderators could result in my being banned. And then the larger community could be told that it was for Very Good Reasons that are Private and have it implied that I was a long time problem user.

That's scary. We should all feel chilled by this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:37 AM on July 16 [19 favorites]


One of the things Lonnrot put very well up yonder was "But there are deeper systemic issues in how MetaFilter runs that feed into how marginalized users get treated."

One underlying issue is I'm now very sure that fundamentally, judging of course purely by only his public-facing statements, cortex does not agree with that. Systemic issues, they're outside problems, definitely not in-house. If they are any in-house, it's users, not moderation policies such as they not-formalized badly-communicated sort-of are.

Fishbike's points about phrasing intersect with my thinking on this: there's a big tendency for passive-voice being used, and wobbly statements that are close neighbors to passive-voice. There's allusions to mistakes having been made, or we can discuss possible ways to improve. Things of that nature. The subtext is, the way things are, at the core level? That's fine. There are missteps, even mistakes, but they're not explicitly owned or specified exactly what those may have been. Just sort of general failings-to-be-perfect.

They're aberrations, deviations from the norm, and the norm is good, in other words.

That goes largely unexamined, and I'm sure will be protested that's not fair or accurate to put that way. But there's been a lot of that kind of phrasing pointing at just that view over the years, and that's just what I've noticed. For marginalized users, I have to imagine it's not just something noticeable, but being screamed into their ears with how clear it is.
posted by Drastic at 9:38 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Hey folks, I want to at least get a response in here to apologize for not checking in sooner. You're right that this quiet doesn't help things, and whatever other stuff is going on on the site we should as a mod team be trying to check in more regularly even if just to make the reading-and-discussion we're doing as a team visible. I'm sorry we haven't been doing that, we're going to make more of a priority of that going forward.

We're trying to get several things done right now to better support documentation of day to day mod work, visibility of community and dev priorities, etc. I am hopeful that will all help with some of this, but we've ended up pretty heads down trying to get that done and that's been at the expense of clearer and more frequent communication in individual threads including this one and that's our fault. I apologize for that, we'll strike a better balance.

death valley compound prompted responses up thread to some specific things, and I will try and follow up on those later this morning, but I don't want to hold off saying anything in the mean time. For now I'll point to my comment from a couple days ago about what now and what next stuff, us offering account wipes on demand, and the need to do some work as a team to size up and plan for site development stuff. There's some good ideas there worth pursuing that will take some time to work out.

But some core things:

How we are going to address posts about trans people and transphobia. One, redouble what we've been doing already: adding trans-related posts to our Radar tool so the team can actively monitor those discussions proactively and take action promptly with deletions and notes. Two: more consistently prioritizing reducing the harmful impact of posts touching on trans issues on our trans members over general interest desire to see something discussed. I am sorry I didn't trust my initial instinct to just say nope outright to a Harper's post the other day; that's a good example of failing to make that priority what it should have been.

On account wipe stuff: let us know if you need to do that, we'll do it. I recognize this as a safety concern and am trying to support that need, so if it's what you want to do, just ask. frimble has gotten a semi-manual but straightforward system in place and we've been processing requests on demand, just write to us at the contact form. I hear the desire for a more automated/self-serve option, and that's something we can talk about in more detail but is a whole development project and not something we can roll out quickly, so handling stuff through mod communication is the necessary route for now.

No one is going to get banned for contacting the mods or expressing unhappines toward modding practices. I know people are upset about us closing that account the other day, and I understand that, but it was not a case of punitive reaction to requesting a wipe or being critical of the site's handling of trans issues. I don't know how to get into more detail without throwing a critical spotlight on someone currently hugely concerned about their privacy, but it was not a default case, wasn't done lightly or with spite, and wasn't something that happened without team discussion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:53 AM on July 16 [15 favorites]


the listening and hearing thing, while great, is nothing without action. That's what xchmp opened this thread for

I apologize for misreading this thread's intent (as seen in my previous comment) and will work on being more of an active ally.

Now I feel nebulously afraid that because I've expressed unhappiness with the current moderation strategies publicly on the site, at any point contacting the moderators could result in my being banned.

Yes, even though I'm not that frequent of a poster (till recently, man lockdown gets dull) I've had similar thoughts that have kept me biting my tongue and scrolling past the missing stair instead of posting things like "WTF?" or "if this were politics we'd be discussing impeachment and fitness to lead" or "'I have anxiety, therefore you can't expect more from me' is a) a copout and b) trivializes millions of other people's struggles to get by in life while dealing with mental illness". (That last one may be projection from hearing about the resident teenager's frenemy, but their brain still isn't fully formed so I cut them a little more slack.)

What is the official structure of MeFi-the-business? Is it cortex as sole owner/operator with the other mods as employees? Would it be possible to implement a co-op style with them being co-equal, or a board of directors advising cortex? These ideas were probably raised in one of the site finance threads but it's been awhile.

(crossposted w/cortex)
posted by Flannery Culp at 10:03 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Yes, that user's requests were apparently "the final straw," but the timing was very bad.
posted by NotLost at 10:06 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Cortex. I'm happy to hear about some of the decisions that have been made around moderation.

With regards to banning the user, I think brook horse made some good points about the decision to ban the user in the other thread.
posted by death valley compound at 10:07 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


. I know people are upset about us closing that account the other day, and I understand that, but it was not a case of punitive reaction to requesting a wipe or being critical of the site's handling of trans issues. I don't know how to get into more detail without throwing a critical spotlight on someone currently hugely concerned about their privacy, but it was not a default case, wasn't done lightly or with spite, and wasn't something that happened without team discussion.

You need to contact her and tell her why you banned her. Yesterday. But today will suffice.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:07 AM on July 16 [11 favorites]


Wow. Using the banned user's privacy as a fig leaf for not being able to explain why she was banned, that's disgusting.

Cis mefites who want to be good allies, here is a thing you can do: hold the site owner responsible and accountable for this behaviour. God knows you'll probably be the only people around to do so, if MeFi keeps on losing trans members.
posted by Mauve at 10:20 AM on July 16 [8 favorites]


but it was not a case of punitive reaction to requesting a wipe or being critical of the site's handling of trans issues.

I cannot believe this.
Far be it for me to engage in post hoc thinking, but it is impossible for me to believe that the account wipe request was unrelated to your decision to ban this user. brook horse makes this point eloquently.

I couldn't possibly continue to support, or post on, this site.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:26 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Yes, this is bullshit. No sugarcoating. I previously ended my monetary support over concerns about mod behavior and financial opacity and am prepared to leave entirely.

Cortex, a lot of people love MetaFilter, as seen in the birthday thread. Is this what you want its legacy, and yours, to be? That people left this site in droves because they couldn't be sure of the safety of the userbase, or even the employees, even after multiple issues and possible solutions to them were brought forward?
posted by Flannery Culp at 10:34 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


What if metafilter isn't a community? What if it's a business?
posted by bq at 10:37 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


That's fine, but stop pretending to be a community.
posted by all about eevee at 10:39 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Businesses that survive tend to retain and grow their customer base, not hold the door for them when they leave and lock it behind them.

Why continue to put in effort when it takes weeks of comments to get the site owner to make even a minimal change? I doubt my leaving will have more than an infinitesimal effect, but at this point it’s more of an effect than I would have by staying, so I’m out also.
posted by sallybrown at 10:39 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Thank you for getting back to us, cortex. I do like and sympathize with you. I don't believe the problems the site has faced are your fault, even when they could be handled better, but I think there are a lot of systemic factors at play that influence these dynamics and it's long past time to start thinking about how to foster healthier interaction on the site.

Since several people seemed to take my earlier comments as a referendum on the banned user's behavior, I should clarify that I think I understand the fuller context and sympathize with both of you, really, but still feel the timing and handling of that was exceptionally poor. It kicked out someone in crisis while they thought they were getting help. That's actively harmful to someone experiencing a panic attack stemming from the very rational and reasonable fear for their safety re: obsessive harassers. It was that cutting off while someone was reaching out that horrified me and left me very sad yesterday.

To be extra clear, I never intended to raise personal details about anyone involved, but it's possible and necessary to discuss mod actions as they relate to things like this without going into detail. My own (disastrous) experience moderating a longrunning community taught me that. I fully understand the instinct to make bans private - they can often involve heated, ugly things or personal details that endanger others. During my time running a longstanding (eleven years? twelve?) online community, I banned exactly two people. One, for racism that came to the fore after being emboldened by the Trump election. The second for sexually harassing another user. I had extensive private talks with him about his behavior because I considered him a valuable member of the community and thought he could probably understand why his behavior in a one-off instance was inappropriate, and then not do it again. Instead, he dug in, began directing misogynist rationales at me and several other people spoke up and it turned out we had had a broken stair member for years. I kept details of his banning private, other users basically took the sides of the two banned members and everything kind of fell apart.

In retrospect, I can see what I did wrong. I did not want to share personal or private details regarding either ban, but I needed to clarify the specific reasons why for other members. I didn't want discussions or "drama" surrounding that to dominate, so I thought the adult thing was to handle it on the mum and move forward. It would have been simple enough to have issued a notice saying, "Soandso has been banned for repeated [racist/sexist] remarks." It would have caused some discussion and drama, but it would have given other community members a reason. Trust would not have been so badly severed.

Mods here are very inconsistent about this and while it's gotten way better have had a history of giving sort of snarky or misrepresented rationales for deletions/bannings. For instance, I think trying to summarize a user's position by "quoting" them with an exaggerated statement they didn't actually say is a bad approach for numerous reasons but that's happened pretty frequently in the past. Being clear, direct and firm is ideal. Mistakes and misunderstandings will happen, but whatever.

re: account wipes. I'm still confused. Is this a one-time request? The realities of being online in 2020 mean that people may need to request this several times through no fault of their own. I have not had to do so for a few years now, but I used to have to delete my Reddit accounts regularly because I'm someone who has been targeted for mass harassment. Organic use of MetaFilter can result in personal security flaws. Like: I write things under my real name. Sometimes I would like to post them on Projects. I think other people would like to see them. I won't, ever, because then that's a point of linking my presence here to my real identity. People may come here and do things like that and then get targeted for harassment and need to severe those links.

re: listening. What brook horse said above about listening to multiple perspectives and then synthesizing them is spot on. Personally, I am glad the Harper's thread was posted. It caused me some distress to read, but I err on the side of "address things directly." I think that can do good when it's done well. Where it goes poorly is when instances of transphobia or TERF activity (to be specific to this thread) are treated as invitations to debate. Something this community has struggled with - which I notice in white liberals generally - is in understanding that certain perspectives are not open to debate. There are limits to the free exchange of ideas that should stop short of considering whether or not groups of people are fully human. Often, these arguments are not as blunt and obvious as that but that is the effect they have. I'm happy with the Harper's thread because I felt it a good instance of shutting down this sort of "just wondering" approach to stealth bigotry, and demonstrating how it happens and how to counter it.

There is never going to be a perfect response to handling trans issues (or other issues affecting marginalized people along other axes), and I think both mods and regular users here need to stop seeking them. A pattern I've seen play out here is users asking for a one-size-fits-all approach to allyship, and getting frustrated when there isn't one. Marginalized folks are as diverse as any other group of humans. We'll disagree, we'll fight. Part of listening means trying to reach beyond just reacting to what people say and doing what individuals have said is good, and trying to synthesize a deeper understanding of what it is like to belong to another group of people. We can't have direct experience and we have to be extremely wary about theorizing over the experiences of people in categories we don't belong to, but it's possible to sympathize and reach fuller understandings. There was an article posted here (or on one of my crazy-ass intersectional anarchist spaces; I see a lot of things float up from there to here lately, and I'm glad!) recently on how allyship needs to turn into solidarity. That's what I mean.

re: technical stuff and Web 1.0, I agree with everyone advocating for better user-end control over our information here, but I will admit I also like that this site is built on older architecture and principles. I don't know the ins and outs of how MetaFilter is built, but if it's possible to implement anonymizing/account wiping features while maintaining the current architecture, that would be ideal. This is an accessibility issue as much as anything. I've spent most of my life in places with un/developing world infrastructure where reliable access to fast internet was not really a thing. One of the reasons I ended up here is because it's one of the few websites that would work consistently for me. It's time to start thinking about how to better implement security features that will help protect users here, but it's also worth keeping things slim and trim wherever that won't result in exploitable holes.

I'm long-winded as all get out, I am really sorry.
posted by Lonnrot at 10:40 AM on July 16 [16 favorites]


Sorry, one more thought to tack on: I was genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of the user who was banned pretty much all day yesterday. I really want to emphasize that while I think I understand the reasons, cutting someone off at the precise moment when they believe they are receiving help during a crisis - which, again, is an entirely reasonable response to discovering one is being targeted for harassment by a bigoted stalker - is a potentially very harmful thing that can result in escalation of the crisis. I think looking into deescalation techniques would benefit everyone a lot both in general and in more specific instances of responding to transphobia, racism or bigotry of any stripe as it might manifest here. I know you have a lot on your plate and the thought of adding more might be distressing - many of us are right there with you these days - but I think it would be helpful to look into.
posted by Lonnrot at 10:46 AM on July 16 [6 favorites]


Hey folks, I want to at least get a response in here to apologize for not checking in sooner...I'm sorry we haven't been doing that, we're going to make more of a priority of that going forward.

This is not the apology this thread needed. I think you missed one.

And, with that, I'm out from this site.
posted by avocet at 10:54 AM on July 16 [6 favorites]


I think it’s helpful to understand what leads to a member being advised this site isn’t for them.

I also think the fact that it hasn’t been done was because the user was having extreme anxiety about their identity and not as a way to obscure anything — the posted exchange showed that expectations and boundaries had been discussed in an ongoing matter between the moderator team and the user. Without those details, it is really difficult to accurately judge. (And my judgement of the situation continues to be at odds with many, though I agree with the need for transparency.)

I hope a clearer idea of what kind of behavior makes a user unwelcome, beyond the obvious (e.g. spam) happens fairly quickly. I am assuming it’s part of the documentation that the mod team has been working on, so it is being treated as a priority? (As far as I can tell it’s not all in one spot on the site right now.)
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:57 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


I can't believe all we got is yet another "Sorry for the lack of updates, do better blah blah blah". Seriously Cortex it's the same thing in every one of these threads & it is not acceptable.

I am sorry I didn't trust my initial instinct to just say nope outright to a Harper's post the other day; that's a good example of failing to make that priority what it should have been.

You do not have to rely on your instincts. In fact you should not rely on your instincts at all. Your instincts are why you are hemorrhaging paying customers. Do anything but listen to your instincts. The community said they didn't want that post. You agreed with them. You let it through anyway. All you had to do was nothing. Or listen to the professional team you hired. Let them do it. If they don't do a good enough job, find someone else for the job. This is business 101.
posted by bleep at 11:03 AM on July 16 [13 favorites]


Cortex, you have still not provided a reason why this user needed to be banned right now, in a time of crisis. Did they need to be banned immediately, at this very moment? Would not banning them risk significant harm to the community in the next few days, such that it was worth further alienating a victim of transphobic abuse while they were still in crisis? Was it necessary that they be prevented from posting on the site again now, as opposed to days or weeks or months from now, when the crisis has (hopefully) abated?

You don’t need to provide any details. These are yes-no questions. Can you answer that?
posted by brook horse at 11:05 AM on July 16 [17 favorites]


I've been very absent from the site while jobhunting and am really just catching up properly and it's shocking.

What's been said above about customer support - we ARE customers, not just contributors - in business is so true. You are losing the people that create the magic around here, and thus you'll lose my interest and that of many others, never mind that you've hurt many people and offended many others, ALL of whom I care about. Whether I have ever interacted with them or not.

If employees are not actively approaching dissatisfied members to work with them to make things better, this place is back on the road to collapse.

If the kind of transphobia that's gone on around here happened in meatspace leadership would have been forced to step down. I don't know cortex, for better or for worse. But leadership is responsible for what happens here.
posted by wellred at 11:14 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


I know people are upset about us closing that account the other day, and I understand that, but it was not a case of punitive reaction to requesting a wipe or being critical of the site's handling of trans issues. I don't know how to get into more detail

The time to get into detail was with yourself, before you wrote that email that really, really, really, really made it seem punitive, emotional & unilateral. The way things appear matters because that's all we have to go on. The members of this community care about each other and you really can't be unaware after all this time that people could be upset about one person appearing to be mistreated. Did the entire mod team really agree with that email and the way it was handled? Nobody really brought up the possibility that the account could just be wiped and deal with the rest later because they're clearly having a hard time and don't need any additional shit today?
posted by bleep at 11:15 AM on July 16 [8 favorites]


No one is going to get banned for contacting the mods or expressing unhappines toward modding practices. I know people are upset about us closing that account the other day, and I understand that, but it was not a case of punitive reaction to requesting a wipe or being critical of the site's handling of trans issues.

I don't know why anyone would believe this. I don't believe it. From what I have gathered, the user in question does not understand why they were banned and has no idea what these previous actions that have been alluded to were. Let's suppose they really were posing issues to the site on an ongoing basis. Shouldn't that have been communicated to them? Maybe there were mod notes or previous email correspondence that they didn't interpret as intended. Who knows. But regardless of how justified a ban may objectively be (and, like everyone else, I don't see it), wouldn't the kind thing to be to tell them "Hey, remember x,y,z, there's a pattern here that's not good for the site?" Because, right now, all anyone can piece together is "feel threatened, make new account, ask for old posts to be deleted, get banned".
posted by hoyland at 11:15 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


I'm a long time member (cis and white) but not a super prolific poster. I don't even know exactly what I want to say that hasn't been said more eloquently by others in the anti-racism threads or here, but it feels important to not be silent.

This site -- no, actually the extensive emotional labor of its marginalized members -- has had an immense impact on whatever small progress I have made toward becoming a better ally. I have learned so much here from those members over the past several years, and I am deeply grateful to you. I support you 1000%, and will be more vocal in my support of you in the future.

I started to say "I don't mean to pile on cortex," but at this point it really feels like a pile-on is warranted because NOTHING ELSE SEEMS TO GET THROUGH. Your posts in these threads have been maddening. Like, even before the banning yesterday, I saw the language evolving (presumably a result of the training), but the crystal clear subtext is that things will change as little as is absolutely necessary to shut us all up. If that's the actual intent, then just say that and let those of us who want something different go find it somewhere else. But wrapping the status quo in some newly woke language is insulting to anyone with a brain and a heart.

And THEN we get to the banning, and the followup "apology" today. I have moderated an online community -- I get that this isn't easy -- but my god it's as if you woke up and decided to muster up every ounce of cluelessness, privilege, and tone-deafness possible in order to cause maximum harm. I know you're not actively sabotaging your livelihood to troll us, but it sure is starting to feel that way.

Maybe you could let travelingthyme drive for awhile? Their comments seem to heal rather than harm, but they can't stop this car crash from the backseat. You've hired good people - let them help you make this place better. Something must change before anyone else buttons -- this site is nothing without its members.
posted by somanyamys at 11:15 AM on July 16 [18 favorites]


Sorry, one more thought to tack on: I was genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of the user who was banned pretty much all day yesterday. I really want to emphasize that while I think I understand the reasons, cutting someone off at the precise moment when they believe they are receiving help during a crisis - which, again, is an entirely reasonable response to discovering one is being targeted for harassment by a bigoted stalker - is a potentially very harmful thing that can result in escalation of the crisis.

I recognize this and get that this is part of folks' feeling about it, and I can see the problem there. I think the reality of their in-the-moment participation on MeTa is that they were digging themself the same kind of hole of public vulnerability they were trying to get out of with the wipe, which is a big part of why we came to the point of doing it then and not eventually. The timing wasn't down to perceived harm to the community—people talking openly about their frustrations about the site is a common and welcome thing, see this thread and many many others—but self-harm by someone acting out in a crisis mode fashion on the site. That's something the mod team has to take action on, and it sucks to do.

That was a big driving part of the decision to take immediate action then. But I see the other side of that too and get why it contributed to their and others' hurt about the situation, and I fully recognize and agree tackling it as a "hey, it'd be best if you stop interacting about this on the site now, let's follow up in a few days" thing instead of moving directly to account closure with discussion later would have been a good approach here instead. I'm sorry for creating additional distress for both that user and everybody involved. It's the opposite of what we were trying to accomplish, and that's on us.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:20 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


hoyland: Because, right now, all anyone can piece together is "feel threatened, make new account, ask for old posts to be deleted, get banned".

Isn't there a missing step here: 'make private email conversation public'?
I'm under the impression that that is considered a bannable offence here. As always I could be mistaken.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:21 AM on July 16


The private email conversation was made public after the banning. So if it's a missing step, it's a last one.
posted by Drastic at 11:24 AM on July 16 [6 favorites]


Thank you, I had the timeline wrong then.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:26 AM on July 16


I find the terms "self-harm" and "crisis mode" as well as the frequent references to "anxiety" absolutely infuriating on this thread. Can we make references to behaviors and actions without essentially calling users hysterical?
posted by mittens at 11:26 AM on July 16 [15 favorites]


Ties right back to the overly emotional (in wrongly-performed ways), doesn't it?

I know it's not very much, but hopefully it's at least a scrap of something beyond nothing for cold comfort, for marginalized users: no, you are not the only ones seeing this shit.
posted by Drastic at 11:29 AM on July 16 [7 favorites]


Supporting the right to be forgotten means literally to be forgotten. The actions, behaviors, etc. of this user are gone. Disappeared. Forever. cortex has been consistent in not bringing them up again, which is appropriate. That's the flip side to the right to be forgotten - there's no longer any accountability or traceability to those persons actions. I think that tension is something the site is going to have to get used to.
posted by saeculorum at 11:30 AM on July 16 [10 favorites]


As the poster of the Harper's thread, just briefly: it was my mistake not to take more pause to understand the full depth of the two prior "reasons for deletion" that popped up before posting. I thought it seemed sufficiently neutral in terms of framing, and I'm relieved that the thread did not go as badly as it might have. I should have engaged more with what dedicating community space to material born from toxic intents entails for the trans folks among us, and I apologise for not having done so.
I'm listening hard and will endeavour to not mistread in the future. Also: there is an amazing amount of work on display here, but also a grievous lot of pain; I do hope there is healing ahead, I will take care to learn with a view to that, and aim to find a way to better contribute to this place and its denizens.
posted by progosk at 11:35 AM on July 16 [4 favorites]


I think the reality of their in-the-moment participation on MeTa is that they were digging themself the same kind of hole of public vulnerability they were trying to get out of with the wipe

Sorry cortex, but you are coming off as very disingenuous when the explanation you give here is different than what you said to the user when they wanted their comments deleted. (For that, I say "thank goodness" that someone actually did post the e-mails to that user.)

In the other MeTa thread, you said "As much as we don't routinely or casually do account wipes, the mod team is willing and has many times before worked with folks to redact or remove material or otherwise deal with safety- and privacy-endangering account stuff to help someone deal with a situation" which implies that you were going to help users respond to a safety situation -- one you created by withholding information -- by working with them to delete comments. You even said you'd done it before.

But in your private response you said "I feel like your needs and expectations are at odds with what MetaFilter can practically provide at this point. This account wipe is a massive step away from our expectations about how the site works, and while I'm prioritizing your needs and safety with this request it needs to be the end of relationship that's fundamentally not working."

Oh, that mean old user! How dare they request you to do the thing that you explicitly promised you would do! Clearly their expectations are faulty.

They weren't digging a hole, they were on a brand new account name trying to protect their safety.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:38 AM on July 16 [19 favorites]


Cortex, are you aware of how incredibly condescending and insensitive you have been and are coming off here?

I understand the concern you had and what you were trying to do. Whether or not that was the right thing to do, the way you handled it is possibly the worst way you could have.

Are you able to verbalize exactly what you did wrong in that initial e-mail, and in the comment you just posted?

If not, I think you need to take a step back and... I don’t know, at this point. I don’t want to place this on our new mods. Are any of the older mods up to addressing this? Because a lot of work needs to be done to address the significant damage that has been done. You don’t get to just say “that’s on us” and move on. But I don’t know if you’re capable of even seeing the work that needs to be done. People keep trying to tell you and you say “I hear you” but you really, really don’t.
posted by brook horse at 11:39 AM on July 16 [16 favorites]


mittens, if that is directed at me, I will clarify that I'm using that language not to imply the banned user was hysterical - I took pains in my comments to say that their responses were completely rational given the situation - but to identify patterns of behavior I recognize in myself and others. I may be wrong, obviously we can't know what is happening in other people's heads, but I believe they were in crisis. In their shoes, I would be in crisis, too. It's helpful to identify that because the response was one that probably escalated that, which is a very bad thing one should prioritize avoiding in responding to someone in crisis. My stomach dropped when I saw what happened and I rode out a low grade panic attack for a full day, myself.
posted by Lonnrot at 11:40 AM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Also, for real, can someone wrestle the keyboard away from Cortex and stop him from posting here. We need someone else, ANY OTHER MOD, to jump in here.

And I don't mean travelingthyme & loup, I mean every other mod who should have the long-term detailed knowledge to properly weigh in. Eyebrows? Taz? LobsterMitten? Even former mods? Jessamyn?

Does it bother ANYONE ELSE that every time Cortex posts here, he alienates more and more users?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:42 AM on July 16 [15 favorites]


Like, “I hear you” rings real hollow when you’ll apparently ban a user because you think that’s what they need, but not listen when they tell you what they actually need.
posted by brook horse at 11:42 AM on July 16 [11 favorites]


I will step away from the thread. loup is the mod on duty as of now this morning and so the only other person expected to be around until shift change in a few hours. I'll ask the team to try and be collectively more responsive here and elsewhere with checkins during discussions. I don't know how to split the difference between being peppered with questions and being expected not to respond but if my absence is going to do less harm than my responses I'll do that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:45 AM on July 16


Also, not to abuse the edit window, but it's bullshit to say "I won't comment on this because of the user's privacy" when by your own statements to that user you've made it clear that you know perfectly well that they're leaving and never coming back.

You have something that supports your reading of the situation? Anonymize whatever personal details and then POST IT.

Or scratch that, give it to a different mod and ask them to set you straight.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:45 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


cortex: if my absence is going to do less harm than my responses I'll do that.

All signs point to yes.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:48 AM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Jesus Christ. Just watching complaints and advice bounce right off the hull is maddening.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:57 AM on July 16 [7 favorites]


I think you need to spend some time understanding why your responses are causing harm and then come back and do better.

I would still like responses to the things I raised earlier, but I'm happy to wait until it can be approached in a more productive way.
posted by death valley compound at 11:59 AM on July 16 [7 favorites]


I think cortex should probably look into seeing if there's something like a Toastmasters for written communication. Because in the most charitable view, the existing personal style of layered qualifiers and softeners and I hear yous and folkses is suboptimal at best.

In less charitable views, it sure looks like the no-no public showing of private ?explanation? being at odds with the one here is because of an attempted damage control of seeing posters speculating about a crisis being super bad timing and attempting a judo move of Actually That's Exactly Why It Had To Be Done! I Just Expressed It Poorly!

I'm not too inclined to the charitable view these days, but I love being wrong about this kind of thing.
posted by Drastic at 12:00 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


I don't know how to split the difference between being peppered with questions and being expected not to respond but if my absence is going to do less harm than my responses I'll do that.

It's not the fact that you're responding that's bad, it's the wild content that you keep providing that doesn't make any sense and just raises more and more questions. I can't believe you need this much hand-holding and yet refuse all help & advice.
posted by bleep at 12:12 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Seeing the problem is the first step in being able to support someone. Then, you figure out how to fix the problem by working with the person whose relationship with the business is broken. Not by doing better next time.
posted by wellred at 12:15 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


I don't know how to split the difference between being peppered with questions and being expected not to respond but if my absence is going to do less harm than my responses I'll do that.

Now imagine someone else imposed that decision on you rather than allowing you to make it for yourself...
posted by FishBike at 12:15 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


I think the reality of their in-the-moment participation on MeTa is that they were digging themself the same kind of hole of public vulnerability they were trying to get out of with the wipe, which is a big part of why we came to the point of doing it then and not eventually.

Because I think this needs to be made explicit: you're impugning a member's mental health to defend your decision to ban them because they indirectly called into question your failure to protect them and other community members when being threatened. This is the definition of both gaslighting and DARVO.

Last night I was venting to my spouse about this and he (someone with experience moderating leftist spaces and dealing with white supremacists online) immediately suggested that if you're not actually friends with the folks trolling the site, then your actions seem to suggest that you tacitly agree with them. Otherwise, you wouldn't be banning and chasing off trans members. I think it's a good time for the moderation team to at least consider the optics of this, if not the ethics.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:56 PM on July 16 [16 favorites]


the right to be forgotten is a principle and not a prescription of meaning.

Cortex has every right under GDPR and CCPA to say "keeping the comment history is critical to metafilter as a business model, so I'm not deleting them, however to keep with the principle of removing potentially identifiable user-generated content I can delete the user name from the bylines and anywhere that username appears in any comments" And that will meet the principle.

As far as what internal PII Cortex needs to keep in order to maintain his online business, he can state what those data elements are, document how they are stored, what the business purpose is and be done with it.

It's also within Cortex's right to state "you only get one right to be forgotten request because our business model can't sustain multiple right to be forgotten requests from an individual over time".

Again, my only irritation here is with the way the decision was communicated. There was absolutely no need to make this personal and Cortex you need to stop over-functioning for the community.
posted by noiseanoise at 1:09 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


This thread and the other have been exhausting to try and read.

I'm a trans person, I'm okay with the ban, I'm okay with the reasoning behind it, I trust the mod team when they say there was a lot of history we don't know about with that user. I don't think they were banned because they are trans. I don't feel chased off the site by the mod team.

If anything, the comments by the users in this thread and the other thread have made me feel really fucking awful, and has made it clear that the trans community that I want to be part of probably doesn't exist on the site -- it is, for sure, not the vocal community.

xchmp, I appreciate the original topic and hope that the community takes it to heart.

This thread should probably be closed. It doesn't seem anything possibly constructive can come out of leaving it open.
posted by curious nu at 1:14 PM on July 16 [32 favorites]


From a “solution to harassment” point of view, posting that MeTa was extremely irresponsible. The poster shouldn’t have posted it, and the mods shouldn’t have allowed it, at least without a) gathering as much information as possible from the now-shuttered Twitter accounts and privately informing mentioned individuals. Not to sweep it under the rug; it should have been made public once affected people had a chance to process and respond. Dropping it like a bomb tossed into a meeting hall made a lot of drama but no security.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:18 PM on July 16 [14 favorites]


This is kind of minor, but one thing I wish cis people would stop doing is linking to ContraPoints videos. I think it's fair to say that Wynn is a controversial figure within the trans community and it's always jarring to see people seemingly endorse her without any real context given around that.

I am not cis, and I love Contrapoints - and I think she has very valuable things to say about gender and discourse. I will continue to link to her videos when I think they are appropriate.
posted by jb at 1:20 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


You have every right to feel as you do, as do other trans people here. I hope that trust can be built with the moderators here and I think the only way that can happen is with more dialogue. I remain hopeful that we can work towards this being a constructive space and hope that the moderators allow this by continuing to engage once they feel better equipped to do so.
posted by death valley compound at 1:21 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


My considered opinion is that MetaFilter needs a dedicated community relations specialist. I understand there's no money for it, but this has been a persistent failure point that has actually impeded progress on the very things that both management and the community are trying to improve.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:41 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


he .. immediately suggested that if you're not actually friends with the folks trolling the site, then your actions seem to suggest that you tacitly agree with them

This is a really mean comment to make, when cortex and (more so) his colleague EM are both themselves targets of the trolling and have talked about the toll it’s taken on them.
posted by Klipspringer at 1:48 PM on July 16 [32 favorites]


cortex has done very little to actually rein in the trolling and protect both the mods and the users here, even if he was also a target.

(For what it's worth, I was also targeted.)

I'm a trans person, I'm okay with the ban, I'm okay with the reasoning behind it, I trust the mod team when they say there was a lot of history we don't know about with that user. I don't think they were banned because they are trans. I don't feel chased off the site by the mod team.

I don't think anyone said he banned this user because she is trans. We have no idea why he banned her. She doesn't either. Again, this is pretty weird and alarming precisely because of that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:02 PM on July 16 [15 favorites]


My stomach dropped when I saw what happened and I rode out a low grade panic attack for a full day, myself.

I'm cis and not usually very affected by this sort of thing and the way it was handled made me feel sick to my stomach, too. It was really not good.

In my estimation this went badly wrong from the beginning. As GenjiandProust said, the MeTa should probably not have been allowed to stand. It was a very bad way for someone to find out they'd been targeted. I don't know what the right way is, but "publish information that sends someone into crisis, scold them when they demand immediate action for their safety, and then ban them for reasons they don't understand" is somewhere below the subbasement level of community relations.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:17 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


publish information that sends someone into crisis

is this a fact, or are we interpreting that?
posted by noiseanoise at 2:21 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


By "publish information" I mean, just letting that MeTa stand in the first place.

I'm inferring it from the comments on the MeTa. That's what it looks like, and that's why, I think, a lot of people saw that and were upset. And the user in question isn't around the site anymore to talk about it.

Even if it's not what it looks like, it looks terrible and has alienated people anyway.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:28 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


It looked like a crisis from where I sit. But yes, that's my interpretation.
It was painful to watch and I wish I could have done something to make them feel better.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:28 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


What noiseanoise said. Also, the claim that she doesn’t know why she was banned (of course, PhoBWanKenobi may be in contact and know more). From the exchanges in the thread, there is a lot unsaid and unrecorded. Which is not saying that she should have been banned or, even if she should, that it was well or skillfully done (although it looks that cortex was trying to be sympathetic, but not getting there).
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:29 PM on July 16


Hi there!

Your most quiet mod here. I’ve been silently reading this thread since it started and now I want to share some personal thoughts here. I hope you understand that I’m not trying to hijack the conversation but share my perspective on how I see things happening from the inside, if I keep waiting for the right moment, I’ll never say anything, and that’s part of the problem.

As some might know, I joined the team about a month and a half ago (you can read my introduction here) and I wanted to share some background on why I joined in the first place.

MeFi has been in my radar for years but I never formally signed up for it. One of these days I was going over a list of bookmarks I’ve saved over the years and was happy to see I had many posts from MeFi dating back to 2005. I’m mentioning this not to idealize the value of the content we have in the site but to recognize the awesomeness of the ***people*** sharing their thoughts and contributing to this community.

One of the things, if not the most important thing, that drew me to want to be part of MeFi was the alignment with my values and how much thought has been put into the policies MeFi has.

Since I’ve joined I’ve confirmed many times how all the team cares about getting things right for the users and, as someone with a background in Trust and Safety, I can tell you that we all align considering user safety the first priority.

I’ve been amazed to see all the work the team does in the background to improve how things are done and all the thought put into giving everyone a safe place to talk. That being said, there’s always a ton of work to be done and we are working non-stop on having better systems and policies but the reality is that this takes time.

Something I said before and I have to say again is that we have failed to communicate effectively the efforts we are doing across the board, and I want to avoid creating more expectations. Hopefully, as changes and improvements start being visible you will agree with me that focusing on making them happening was a good call.
posted by loup (staff) at 2:30 PM on July 16 [17 favorites]


the MeTa should probably not have been allowed to stand.

Once divabat had submitted the Metatalk, I do not see how the mods could have refused to publish it or prematurely closed it without creating a mess just as big as the one we actually got.
posted by great_radio at 2:31 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


I've mostly stayed away from Meta over the last little while because my participation here on anything serious was never terribly good for the community or me, but it is so hard to see so many people being hurt by a site that I love and the reaction from the site just being worse and worse and it just feels wrong to not add my voice.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:31 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


Once divabat had submitted the Metatalk, I do not see how the mods could have refused to publish it or prematurely closed it without creating a mess just as big as the one we actually got.

There is a queue for a reason. The mods could have very easily said "not yet." and collected the information on the Twitter accounts, contacted the named people privately, and helped them react to it, whether by blanking their accounts or anonymizing them or whatever solution seemed correct to the mods and the users. As it is, the outcome was pretty much the worst possible for the site. The best response to a crises is rarely screaming at people that there is a crisis and letting them figure it out.

If they had done that, the site would be better informed and have lost fewer members. It's not like users are owed MeTas; they are owed consideration and care.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:39 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


Hi loup, I appreciate your comment and intentions. I think it's going to be difficult to put trust in invisible improvements that are coming at some point in the future. If you've been reading the thread, you'll see that this has been a fracture point for many people who are now no longer members here, and it may become that for more, including myself.

I would like to trust that things will be better, but the recent events and the response to that in this thread have certainly damaged that trust, though I hope not beyond repair. But trust cannot be rebuilt by secrecy, no matter how well intentioned.

To be more explicit, what I see in this thread aside from the justified anger and hurt is a desire for the site to work with trans people to improve things. We realise change and improvement is an incremental process, but it has to involve the people who it is intended to benefit.
posted by death valley compound at 2:48 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


By the way, please do not read my comment staring "What noiseanoise said." as casting any doubt or aspersions on the banned user. By the end of that thread, she was in obvious distress that I would not wish on anyone, especially not a user I have respected and admired for years. I wish there was a way that she and cortex could have found to give her the space to recover and come back (and I still hope she might, although I don't think the site deserves it). I don't believe that cortex was trying for the worst possible outcome, but, as I have often said, we can't judge intentions, only impact, and this impact has been terrible.

Which is why I keep saying that the decision to make and post that MeTa was irresponsible. It achieved nothing at the cost of quite a few members one of them in a very cruel way, and immense emotional distress to many more.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:49 PM on July 16


screaming at people that there is a crisis and letting them figure it out

I don't think this is what divabat was doing, divabat was screaming you know about this, why is this an open secret. I understand why divabat wanted to force the issue. Letting it out of the queue with a perfunctory "they're bad people and I don't know what to do about it" as the first comment on the thread was a terrible start, and it got worse from there.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:50 PM on July 16 [14 favorites]


this fractured our trans community here yet again.

The trans community here has never included non-cis people who disagree with certain other loud non-cis people.

Your instincts are why you are hemorrhaging paying customers.

The people I am close to who have left this site did not leave due to cortex's instincts, but due to the twitter-mob style ganging up that has been fashionable in recent years. I joined metafilter 16 years ago because it was a place with fascinating and courteous discussions (I admired Miguel, languagehat - and even that foul-mouthed quonsar), and I wanted to be a part of that. I have tried to do so, over the years, but over the years, I feel like metafilter has become less "safe" for me, less welcoming to discussion and, in general, more hostile. I see so much anger in this thread which is unproductive and just hurts other people.

People tell me, "oh, you can't tone police!" But they can never tell me the line between "righteous anger" and "constant hostile barrages". My reaction isn't to tone police, it is to "nope" out of the conversation. I don't want to be involved in a "community" that is so harsh to its other members, including other marginalized people, yes.

But it isn't due to anything that cortex or the other moderators have done. I have seen them working so bloody hard to try to hold inconsistencies, to act NOW but also don't SAY anything - but don't DON'T say anything.

If you really like Metafilter, and want to see it be a safe and welcoming community, be that change, don't just demand it.
posted by jb at 3:00 PM on July 16 [50 favorites]


If you really like Metafilter, and want to see it be a safe and welcoming community, be that change, don't just demand it.

The irony is that that is very literally what this post is about. With much effort having been invested in it by the very trans people you accuse of shouting you down.
posted by hoyland at 3:07 PM on July 16 [12 favorites]


The mods could have very easily said "not yet." and collected the information on the Twitter accounts, contacted the named people privately, and helped them react to it, whether by blanking their accounts or anonymizing them or whatever solution seemed correct to the mods and the users.

Not yet??? This has been going on for a year and a half and cortex has told no one. Without that post, would the banned user ever have found out about it?
posted by chainsofreedom at 3:14 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


The user has given me permission to state that she is unaware of the "long history" that Cortex is referring to. The only history she is aware of is some deletions for jokes/noise and her asking to take a break during the election.

I think many users are under the impression that there has been long discussion between the user and the mods about their concerns. This is not the case. Again: she does not know why she was banned.
posted by brook horse at 3:44 PM on July 16 [23 favorites]


I don't think this is what divabat was doing, divabat was screaming you know about this, why is this an open secret. I understand why divabat wanted to force the issue. Letting it out of the queue with a perfunctory "they're bad people and I don't know what to do about it" as the first comment on the thread was a terrible start, and it got worse from there.

I have no idea what divabat intended, I only know what happened because of her actions. And, as I keep saying, intentions don't matter, only impact. Her impact was disastrous. The mods as a whole, and cortex in particular, are also to blame.

Not yet??? This has been going on for a year and a half and cortex has told no one. Without that post, would the banned user ever have found out about it?

I am describing the world we could have had, should the site/mods have taken concrete action before the MeTa was posted. Why wasn't concerted action taken sooner? I don't know. It may have something to do with cortex and Eyebrows McGee suffering from their own harassment. It could be an over-dedication to "don't feed the trolls." Again, the motivations don't matter. But the failure to take earlier action is not evidence that the MeTa was a terrible idea.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:08 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


I think MeTa is one of the longstanding issues that contributes to outcomes like this. I think divabat was right to make that MeTa and xchmp was right to make this one. These are intra-site issues that deserve to be addressed. The harasser should have been acknowledged in some way prior. I just don't think open MeTas are always a good format, especially for issues that affect marginalized people. Too often they turn into fights and too often there are mod actions that are hasty or ill-informed and end up doing damage to the cause of making this place more welcoming.

I don't know what alternatives could be tried and I don't want to spend this space brainstorming that, but I believe MetaTalk as a section of the site is fundamentally broken. It's a utopian ideal, but ultimately the site isn't run as a horizontal collective so the end result is too often pitting users against each other, or users against mods. There have been good results from recent MeTas with regards to racial issues, so some channel of mod-user communications need to be open, especially with marginalized users, but the history of MeTas that successfully resulted in improved community standards versus those where a whole bunch of people button in rage/burnout/hurt is not good. I think it's time to try something else.

A lot of people were confused as to whether this thread was for trans users only or for everyone; I think that the BIPoC threads have been helpful, so something similar for trans users makes sense to me.

That being said, there are obvious deep rifts between different users about what the site culture is or should be and I don't know if those are really reconcilable or how to move forward from them. I am still debating if I want to be here and how; I think I will just post about things that are interesting to me and unlikely to get heated and try (and probably fail) to avoid topics that intersect with my identity. I like this place a lot and I hope it heals and changes in positive ways, but at the end of the day it's just a shared website that's been around for half of forever and the energy and emotional work to participate in threads like this is exhausting. I wish this was a place where I felt cool sharing every facet of myself, but I wish so much of the present moment was otherwise.

I'm going to step back now, but I hope that ways to repair trust and safety can be acted on.
posted by Lonnrot at 4:12 PM on July 16 [16 favorites]


I think many users are under the impression that there has been long discussion between the user and the mods about their concerns. This is not the case. Again: she does not know why she was banned.

Then maybe cortex (or, better, a different mod) should reach out and explain what went on from the mod's point of view and see if there is a way she can return, assuming she wants to. It's a huge
loss to the site that she was driven away.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:14 PM on July 16 [12 favorites]


The people I am close to who have left this site did not leave due to cortex's instincts, but due to the twitter-mob style ganging up that has been fashionable in recent years.

Consider please that the people you are close to are not the people who have left the site in the past 72 hours (at least a dozen by my count). All of them have been 100% crystal clear about their reasons for leaving.

Consider also that people can leave a site for different, non-overlapping reasons.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 4:16 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


GenjiandProust: intentions don't matter, only impact. Her [divabat's] impact was disastrous.

I don't mean what follows as a personal accusation. The quoted words sound like victim-blaming to my ears. That's not really how I interpret the intentions don't matter, only impact mantra.

For a reductio ad absurdum example, it sounds like blaming the person who introduced the parents of [insert EvilPerson's name here] for the evil done by EvilPerson after they reached adulthood, decades later.

Or like blaming activists protesting for freedom for the repressive government crackdown that their protests led to.

I don't know whether the post should have been allowed. The topic of the post seems, to me, to merit some discussion. Again, I'm not accusing you of victim-blaming, and feel fairly certain that wasn't your intention.
posted by syzygy at 4:26 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Hi everyone, as an update to the MeTa I mentioned above, without getting into all of the details, it is still in the drafting phase and will likely take some time before it can be posted. In the meantime, I think there are some incredibly important points being made in this discussion, including about the site and what can be done to make it safer and more inclusive. I really can't emphasize enough how important I think the discussion happening here is, and my MeTa is trying to build on this one, and I appreciate you all so much for participating.
posted by katra at 4:32 PM on July 16 [10 favorites]


To the trans members and ex-members of the site: I am listening, I support you, I am concerned, and I am saddened by the emotional distress I've witnessed in this and other recent discussions.

I want this to be a safe place for all of you. The same goes for any and all who are less-privileged, on whichever axes.

I haven't engaged much here in the past few years, but I'll try to do better. Although I don't say much, this community is special (to me), and that means I value each and every one of you.
posted by syzygy at 4:40 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


for what it's worth:

- I was a victim
- I made the MetaTalk post because I was tired of not having any other avenue to talk about it when it was so clearly linked to Metafilter
- cortex was more concerned about me misrepresenting him than any potential safety issues and wanted me to change the post to change my interpretation of his words; I refused
- this is victim-blaming
posted by divabat at 4:46 PM on July 16 [54 favorites]


The timing wasn't down to perceived harm to the community—people talking openly about their frustrations about the site is a common and welcome thing, see this thread and many many others—but self-harm by someone acting out in a crisis mode fashion on the site.

Is this self-harm comment referring to the comments made that by person in the other thread? Bc unless the comments referencing self-harm were deleted, I saw no such thing and have read all of their comments on that page.

Please clarify (any mod, since cortex says this was a team decision) because it sounds like the decision to ban the person was - in part - because they were making self-harm comments in the thread that don’t seem to exist.

If they were sending private messages considering self-harm, banning seems like the absolute worst possible decision to make and is making me question what exactly is going on. I appreciate the mod work and have been a donor in order to help fund more staff. But.... I need some help to understand what was meant by this comment from cortex about the team’s decision.
posted by affectionateborg at 5:10 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


I made this account because I realize now it's not safe posting here from my main account. I'm non binary.

Arguably Trans people aren't saying just one thing, because we didn't all have a meeting to vote unanimously on anything. We are just as capable and just as fallible as any humans, and that's why it's important to listen to a number of voices, not just to those that say what you like to hear.

But what I am saying, and perhaps others will agree, is that I don't want cis people to be silent. I'm asking cis people to be thoughtful and humble about when they communicate and what they say, and then to communicate after thinking about it, if that makes sense.

It may be uncomfortable to wade into issues, to risk making a mistake, but I'll take an earnest mistake followed by correction and an apology over silence. And I'll definitely take cis voices supporting us. And it's probably also better for cis people to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable, as long as they don't privilege feeling unsure about what's ok, over something like trans people being harassed.

Advocate for trans people and for their voices to be heard.

Also if anyone wants to memail me about good places where it's more safe to be myself than here, I would appreciate it.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 5:32 PM on July 16 [11 favorites]


For a reductio ad absurdum example

That's not a reductio ad absurdum, that's a strawman. Protestors are not guilty of the violence committed by the state.

A better example might be someone throwing a rock at a person who they felt had harmed them and hitting an unrelated person. The rock-thrower's intention was to redress grievance, but their effect was to harm a person unrelated to their grievance.

On a totally different point, this whole thing reminds me depressingly of the "medium blue stocking" affair from 2014 (warning TERF fuckery), the main outcome of which was leaving people eying each other and wondering "who was that?" Which of the people in this thread is a malignant actor? And that's a terrible thing to contemplate.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:50 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


There are comments now removed from this thread, that make me assume I might know who the user is, but of course it could be someone else who has asked to be forgotten.

I'm paraphrasing from memory but they said: one of the infuriating things is that cis users of mefi assume that we are handling things well at mefi.

This hit home, as I reflect on the fact that while mefi seems to be better at trans (and race) stuff than other places (online and IRL) as a cis, white user I can't assume that and need to listen to marginalised voices.
posted by freethefeet at 5:57 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


GenjiandProust, I say this with kindness: I am not sure how it is helpful to focus this discussion on divabat, one of the victims, when the posting of the Metatalk is not the root cause of the problems at Metafilter. Debates about intentions vs impact aside, framing the discussion around divabat's choice to make a Metatalk post may cause more harm than good. Let's try to approach this with as much kindness as possible, especially to community members who have been directly harmed by the people behind the Twitter accounts and Metafilter's mismanagement.
posted by nightrecordings at 6:08 PM on July 16 [19 favorites]


I think that's a good suggestion, and I think we should apply it equally to the mods who were themselves victimized. I think there are valid criticisms to be made, but there is a level of vitriol being directed at cortex in some of the recent comments above that is not constructive.
posted by Mid at 6:39 PM on July 16 [19 favorites]


Is this self-harm comment referring to the comments made that by person in the other thread? Bc unless the comments referencing self-harm were deleted, I saw no such thing and have read all of their comments on that page.

If I am following correctly, and we are talking about the same user, all those comments disappeared along with the requested profile deletion. I did see a number of intensely reactive responses (no criticism is intended in that description) at the very beginning of the Meta which are now long gone and which might have provided more context. Losing voices mid-discussion does make it difficult to reconstruct events.

I've been 19 years a member here and I have never felt the site-wide temper to be so precarious. Cortex and the mods were primary targets of the Twitter harrassment, as well as members. In all the calls for Cortex to do better and manage better and communicate better and spread healing balm in the thread, is there a model for what that would look like? What would the best and most affirming practices be? What would a perfectly safe space in this famously unsafe internet resemble? Every time a user bails out of the thread and cancels their account it feels like a blow. Perfection of purpose and action is quite a lot to ask, especially when we are all living with constant waves of background anxiety mixed with a kind of End Times fear. People make posts in which they seem to articulate a vision of how shitty the moderation is, how transphobic, etc., and I see the mods doing the best they can to sustain a community that is surely worth the effort. I don't discount anyone's feelings. I am grateful for what Metafilter has been. I hope its finest spark continues.
posted by jokeefe at 6:46 PM on July 16 [33 favorites]


And I second what Mid says above. There's an edge to the criticisms that are truly harsh.
posted by jokeefe at 6:47 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Cortex is also in charge of, and owns this site. He has power that users do not, and his decisions and actions affect the site from top down, and patterns, are, well, patterns.
posted by ShawnStruck at 6:55 PM on July 16 [12 favorites]


I think that relighting a closed thread in this thread was a bad idea, and I regret that I was weak enough to get drawn into it. I apologize to the trans and non-binary members who should be the major voices here. Maybe it’s time for a MeTa for only trans and non-binary voices.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:00 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Eight-and-a-half hours ago I asked for any other mod besides Cortex and the two newest mods to leave some sort of comment about their thoughts and feelings. We were told a new shift would be coming on. The exact quote was "I'll ask the team to try and be collectively more responsive here and elsewhere with checkins during discussions." We await any response from someone other than loup.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:14 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


I don’t know the mod hours, but if loup started working after cortex, is it possible there hasn't been another shift change?

I recognize there is little to no goodwill towards the mods here after years of longstanding work by members here to change things for the better. But at the same time, Metafilter doesn’t have a lot of resources to pull on. We need moderators to keep an eye on more threads and communicate more with members. We need more privacy tools, automated filtering to catch language that doesn’t belong here, consultants to continue the anti-racism work, living wages for employees, more accessibility features to name a few.

These are needs, and yet — for a site with very little money, and not a lot of employees, I am looking to the mod teams to set clearer expectations and hope that at the same time members will also recognize that no matter how frustrating it is these things haven’t been done yet or made a priority yet, the reality of the site finances is what it is and so is the capacity of frimble to do development work when they work part time.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 7:36 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


In all the calls for Cortex to do better and manage better and communicate better and spread healing balm in the thread, is there a model for what that would look like? What would the best and most affirming practices be? What would a perfectly safe space in this famously unsafe internet resemble?

Were it not for the last sentence, I would have assumed good faith in this question. But something about your use of the word "perfectly" comes off as very snide. But maybe that wasn't your intention, so I'll imagine you just breezed by every comment preceding yours in this thread and the recently closed one and asked your question in earnest.

1) There is no perfectly safe space for marginalized groups on the Internet. Just like tinned beef, the Internet contains some percentage of donkeys and horse assholes.

2) Here's what people were asking for, with various degrees of urgency:
a) The ability to selectively delete your own comments -- Just like other sites have (Reddit, Slashdot, fricking Facebook...)
b) The ability to selectively anonymize your own comments (see above)
c) The ability to lock down certain areas to members-only
d) Failing any of the above, the ability to remove all of one's posts from the site, an extreme measure made even more daunting by the fact that at least one person who asked to do this was clearly told that they should not come back to Metafilter unless they alter their expectations.

3) Moving beyond comments, there's also:
a) Why has Cortex not exercised any legal options against two asshats who apparently have been obsessively tracking discussions of race and trans rights on Meta and posting about it on Twitter?
b) No seriously, they apparently doxxed and harassed Eyebrows McGee among others, how are these motherfuckers still standing, do you not stand by your own friends/employees?
c) Why has an earnest effort not been made to root out whoever they are? The site had to be positively dragged into accepting funds for a diversity consultant, no one imagined to solicit donations to combat an actively hostile external threat?
d) Why were other people targeted and highlighted by these people not privately told, especially when Cortex said that he's been monitoring what this Twitter duo? Why did it take a MeTa thread for people to stumble across this?

4) Why must every mod action be secretive, and basically boil down to Cortex saying "We hear you, we're working on it" and then go radio silent?
a) For the record, Wikipedia and Slashdot are two other creaky old relics from Web 1.0 days, and yet every editorial/mod action taken on those sites is tracked and viewable. As has been pointed above, even edgelord havens like SomethingAwful will tell the forum members why someone was banned/timed out.
b) In fact, some sites keep a perfectly readable moderation log right on their frontpage. Is this really so impossible?

And finally,

5) If making literally any of the changes suggested above is completely technically impossible because of frimble's time/old codebase/gremlins/whatever... what's the point of maintaining the site in it's current form if its poor design alone is bad enough to be a social justice issue?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:42 PM on July 16 [23 favorites]


I agree with genjiandproust. The mods making a hash of things doesn’t mean divabat handled them well.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:56 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


So I’d like to make a point. This whole thing start to finish has been a shit show. But specifically on what cortex said re: self-harm. I was following along with the comments in the threads before the wipe occurred. I have been taking to the user in question. I also have Eidetic memory. In no way could a reasonable person have interpreted those comments- or the ones from the emails as evidence of self-harm. Angry? Sure! She’d been doxed and harassed! Why shouldn’t she be? But I saw the evidence of my own eyes- and have spoken to the user in question. They. Did. Not. Threaten. Self. Harm.

But lets put that aside. You know what has absolutely chilled me to the bone? Accusing trans folks falsely of self-harm is a tried and true method of assault and harassment and murder. As we should all know at this particular moment in time- calling the cops on folks in mental distress is a very good way to get them killed. That’s for folks in real mental distress or sucicidality. That’s why so many folks involved in police reform are trying to put systems in place for folks in distress to have their calls taken care of by social workers instead of cops. But calling the cops on trans folks falsely is a very good way to have a non-suicidal person either shot by the police or dragged away to an involuntary hold by a transphobic officer. So in particular to accuse someone who is trans falsely of self-harm- and for the record accusing anyone of self-harm falsely is bad and potentially dangerous-
But Specifically A Trans Person, and specifically A trans woman... I’m really in shock.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:00 PM on July 16 [28 favorites]


3) Moving beyond comments, there's also:
a) Why has Cortex not exercised any legal options against two asshats who apparently have been obsessively tracking discussions of race and trans rights on Meta and posting about it on Twitter?
b) No seriously, they apparently doxxed and harassed Eyebrows McGee among others, how are these motherfuckers still standing, do you not stand by your own friends/employees?
c) Why has an earnest effort not been made to root out whoever they are? The site had to be positively dragged into accepting funds for a diversity consultant, no one imagined to solicit donations to combat an actively hostile external threat?


EM posted about this, and mentioned how difficult it is to talk about these issues publicly. I am not going to provide further explanation about the legal and law enforcement systems, because EM already explained it. But I am going to ask that the needs of marginalized and disproportionately impacted people be heard and respected, and that we center the autonomy and rights of those directly impacted by these crimes instead of considering ourselves entitled to tell them what to do or to demand that they disclose privileged attorney-client communications.
posted by katra at 8:04 PM on July 16 [14 favorites]


We await any response from someone other than loup.

This is so fucking dismissive. JFC.
posted by JenMarie at 8:16 PM on July 16 [24 favorites]


So I’d like to make a point. This whole thing start to finish has been a shit show. But specifically on what cortex said re: self-harm. I was following along with the comments in the threads before the wipe occurred. I have been taking to the user in question. I also have Eidetic memory. In no way could a reasonable person have interpreted those comments- or the ones from the emails as evidence of self-harm. Angry? Sure! She’d been doxed and harassed! Why shouldn’t she be? But I saw the evidence of my own eyes- and have spoken to the user in question. They. Did. Not. Threaten. Self. Harm.

But lets put that aside. You know what has absolutely chilled me to the bone? Accusing trans folks falsely of self-harm is a tried and true method of assault and harassment and murder. As we should all know at this particular moment in time- calling the cops on folks in mental distress is a very good way to get them killed. That’s for folks in real mental distress or sucicidality. That’s why so many folks involved in police reform are trying to put systems in place for folks in distress to have their calls taken care of by social workers instead of cops. But calling the cops on trans folks falsely is a very good way to have a non-suicidal person either shot by the police or dragged away to an involuntary hold by a transphobic officer. So in particular to accuse someone who is trans falsely of self-harm- and for the record accusing anyone of self-harm falsely is bad and potentially dangerous-
But Specifically A Trans Person, and specifically A trans woman... I’m really in shock


Drawing an equivalency here between the murder of marginalized groups by police and the moderation actions in question is really gross.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:32 PM on July 16 [15 favorites]


I apologize, that wasn't my intention. The reason I made an exception for both of the new mods in an earlier post in this thread is because I didn't want to them to have to answer questions like "why has X been site policy for so long?" and "why would these technical requests be so difficult?" when they're the most recent hires. I didn't think that should be their burden. After all, from what I understand they still haven't been given an updated manual yet.

Oh, and that reminds me:

5a) or 6) whatever,

Why have the rules and procedures for this site not been made explicit, despite multiple requests? What behaviors get a warning, vs a ban? Are some site users warned more often, and if so, why? Why was the manual not updated in advance of the new mod hires? How many mods does it take to issue a ban? Has anyone ever been unbanned, and if so, why? ...and so many other questions that other sites simply answer up front in their user FAQs.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:34 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Accusing trans women of being suicidal/self-harming when they are not is a thing which is far far grosser. I am merely pointing out that these sort of things? Have real life precedent and context which in other spheres is often fatal. Don't want your actions as a person in a position of power (moderator/site owner) compared to another group in a position of power (police) re: trans women? Great! Then don't put words in peoples mouths/ascribe intentions to those words that are not there. It's a low fucking bar and cortex sailed over the top.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:37 PM on July 16 [13 favorites]


I figured self-harm referred to continued involvement on the site after erasing her old account. She'd been doxxed and we knew who her old account was so if she continued on the site with her new one then she'd be in as much danger as she already was, moreso if she thought the new account offered some measure of protection.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:42 PM on July 16 [17 favorites]


can we please stop trying to speculate on the user’s understanding of how metafilter and the internet works, their mental state or anything else about them for that matter?

Just accept that this will be ambiguous for a while and do something else
posted by noiseanoise at 8:52 PM on July 16 [14 favorites]


I figured self-harm referred to continued involvement on the site after erasing her old account. She'd been doxxed and we knew who her old account was so if she continued on the site with her new one then she'd be in as much danger as she already was, moreso if she thought the new account offered some measure of protection.

I understood it the same way.

Was a term as loaded as “self-harm” appropriate to use to describe this? Probably not, no. Especially given the additional social context that Homo neanderthalensis is laying out here. I think I understand what cortex meant, but it’s a problem that the way he’s communicating it is seemingly (even if unintentionally) just throwing gas on the fire.

Idk, I don’t post much, but I’ve been a regular lurker for at least 8 or 9 years. I’m really sad watching all this go down this week, especially having wanted recently to try to dip my toe into this community more actively. I want to be a part of a better Metafilter, so I’m sticking here for now. (Carefully.)
posted by circle at 9:04 PM on July 16


So. Back to the original purpose of this thread (but by no means ignoring its course), a thing that keeps coming up is ambiguity, and the discomfort people have with it.

I'm genderfluid. That means ambiguity and liminality is a central theme in my life. I'm also a lot of other marginalized things in partial ways so I often feel ill equipped or poorly positioned to comment on things in this space. But I think that being comfortable with my ambiguity is a strength I've developed over time, and something a lot of people on this site, and in the world right now are desperate to avoid.

All I'm seeing are dire calls for clear documentation, procedure, rules. How to be a proactive ally, exactly. How to know exactly how to act so as not to offend anybody ever, and fear about having done just that in the past. Requests for 101 guidelines and primers. Examples of how someone should have acted instead of how they did so that ideal models can be had.

It makes sense that this is a need right now. We've always lived in uncertain times but right now I think more people than ever are truly cognizant of that fact. Being sure about things is a matter of safety and trust. I don't think anybody making these requests is wrong or that we shouldn't demand clarity and reciprocal trust from the mod team. But I do think that there's a lesson here for cis mefites for how to behave in tandem with those of us who are not.

Try to sit with your discomfort, and live with ambiguity. If a post about a transgender person or their work brings up uncertainties in you, sit with them for a while, let them simmer. Become okay with a transitional state - it's not always gender but also social behavioral norms, or emotions, or ideological movements. I think that's what's happening now on the site, and also in the world. I think if more cis people could allow for ambiguity in more spaces, there would be more energy for trans people to breathe and speak up when there's something to yell about.
posted by Mizu at 9:25 PM on July 16 [27 favorites]


So for the record- I ain’t speculating about shit. I have talked to the user in question and she is denying that she ever ever ever wrote anything that could be reasonably construed as implying self-harm.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:28 PM on July 16 [10 favorites]


I guess then what I want to figure out is a better way to advocate for them in this comment thread. I’m concerned that people are prone to forget that the person we are discussing isn’t able to be here and yet they are still is able to see all of this happening. With that in mind I’m trying to comment knowing that my close, dear friend is able to read our comments.
posted by noiseanoise at 9:42 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


This user and I have a “BFFL” kind of friendship that started because we met here on metafilter.

I’m trying real hard to keep my personal life and feelings out of this but i do want to say the decision by cortex has cut pretty deeply into my social life and I’m trying to work through that, as well as show up for my friend and not make it all about my feelings right now. But I’m having them.
posted by noiseanoise at 9:48 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


I just don't think open MeTas are always a good format, especially for issues that affect marginalized people. Too often they turn into fights and too often there are mod actions that are hasty or ill-informed and end up doing damage to the cause of making this place more welcoming.

I don't know what alternatives could be tried and I don't want to spend this space brainstorming that, but I believe MetaTalk as a section of the site is fundamentally broken.


I agree. When people are upset enough to post their concerns to MetaTalk it hardly ever ends well. In fact, usually about half the people involved just end up leaving. The pattern has been repeated for years: we keep seeing the same cycle of injured people leaving this site for venues that upset them less even though they have less ostensible commitment to human values - even Twitter, for gorsakes! Leaving aside cases where the moderators themselves offend people, it can't be just a moderation problem. I think it comes down to MetaFilter's Web 1.0 design, something which is part of its charm but which constantly fosters microaggressions.

We're encouraged to use the FIAMO (Flag It And Move On) system rather than respond to problematic comments directly. That's because Metafilter uses a flat, unthreaded comment system, and pretty much anything other than direct engagement with the FPP tends to derail it. The only tools moderators have are deletions, and banning, and the ability to post warnings about behaviour that may lead to deletions and banning. But in my experience I can FIAMO and either nothing happen, which makes me feel like crap, or the comment gets deleted. In that case, yay, but my problem usually isn't with an individual comment: it's about the attitudes and behaviour which that comment represent. The commentator probably doesn't even know I complained. Alternatively, someone complained about my comment, with the same problem. Maybe I'd like the chance to know what I did, or (because you often get cascades of deletions) what the person I responded to did. My point is, moderation addresses comments, not injuries: people that are upset tend to stay upset.

MetaTalk is supposed to be the avenue for addressing things like this, but time after time the people bringing complaints actually get more upset. The reason, I think, is that the complainants are being forced to engage with the site rather than the users that upset them. They're bringing a complaint about moderation - that is, not enough deletions of problematic comments - rather than the underlying issue. The moderators respond with BUT WE DID THE DELETIONS or WE WILL DO BETTER WITH MORE DELETIONS but that wasn't really the problem and it's not going to make people happier. Any advance such as employing new moderators or having new training sessions ultimately relies on them using the same inadequate tools.

I'm not suggesting that threaded comments are a panacea. I think they'd help, but what we really need is more respectful conversation between users as users, which is not something facilitated by this site's design. Maybe it never can be; perhaps we're locked into this format by path dependency and budget constraints. But we keep losing the best and most deeply engaged users, and we're losing them precisely because of their engagement. This can't go on.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:08 PM on July 16 [39 favorites]


Joe, that was really well thought-out.
posted by NotLost at 10:21 PM on July 16


This of all metas is not one I thought would be turned into another argument for threaded comments.
posted by Dysk at 10:33 PM on July 16 [16 favorites]


Joe stated that threaded comments aren’t the one solution (even if they may help). I think we can avoid that fate.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:35 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Is it also worth mentioning that there are "gendercrit" reddits where TERFs do the screenshot and point and laugh thing? That's a thing. Has been for years. I got threatening phonecalls to my house for a while when they decided I would be fun to pick on specifically.

At no point did it even occur to me that it might be cortex's fault. He had nothing to do with it. Did he know about the reddits in question? Doesn't matter to me. He had nothing to do with what the assholes were up to.

There is a cost or risk associated with being publicly trans on the public internet. That was always true and likely always will be. That is why there are so so many closed trans communities online. That sucks, but I don't think it's either useful or fair to hold the mod team here responsible for that, or to suggest that the way they've handled it is an affront.

The sad reality is that you just have to take it as understood that there will be nazis, trolls, and TERFs having a screenshot-sharing point and laugh session somewhere over anything anyone does, doubly so if you're somehow marginalised. If it isn't these particular two twitter accounts, it's a bunch of others. Or idiots on reddit. Or any of countless closed communities.

Short of a major global change in law and enforcement thereof, there is probably no real recourse to ever making this problem go away. Even if you get these two permanently banned from twitter, there will be others, and other platforms. Going down this path, eventually people will roll their own if they have to.
posted by Dysk at 10:50 PM on July 16 [33 favorites]


yes, being trans online and IRL forces a kind of continual and intentional self erasure in order to remain safe. A constant balance between needing to blend in just enough to not draw the wrong attention and being visible just enough so that there is some kind of knowledge in the world that we actually do exist.

I would like more tools here to give me more power over that requirement I have in order to live my life. As the site functions currently the best option is to button accounts and start new ones every few years (this is my fourth Mefi account in ten years). It would be nice to not have to create new usernames but also I totally understand it’s an ask I have for more options besides BND’s and not a right that I’m owed.
posted by noiseanoise at 11:05 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


yes, being trans online and IRL forces a kind of continual and intentional self erasure in order to remain safe

If you want to remain safe or does that. Being trans does not force it on its own. Some of us are in positions where we can (or are stupid or pigheaded enough to) just take the risk, and fuck the TERFs and other transphobes.

(This is my only mefi account. I was the target of medium blue stocking back in the day, and that is around the time the off-site harassment started. I have not stated hiding or erasing any of myself as a result because fuck those assholes, they don't get to have power over me.)
posted by Dysk at 11:20 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I could have have stated that better by prefacing it with “depending on circumstances”

I’ve experienced very targeted and fucked up forms of harassment based on the profession I’m in and my responsibilities at work. It’s more that I don’t want metafilter intersecting with that too terribly much but I’m also in a position where I unfortunately end up representing trans people globally due to the tokenization of trans people in positions of tech leadership at global technology companies. And here again, the process starts all over. Little bits of commentary add up, people are able to trace things here and there, then perhaps someone I interview decides to get even because they didn’t get hired, decides it’s because of me, starts poking at the edges, unraveling my life details and closing in and the next thing you know I’m burning another set of social media accounts. And I understand that this isn’t metafilter’s problem, it’s mine, specifically. And yes, thank you Dysk for pointing out that it’s not “because trans” everyone’s circumstances are unique, and my don’t have to be catered to and I don’t expect it.
posted by noiseanoise at 11:33 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


I’ve reached an internal feeling of “I give no fucks” due to having shorn myself of facebook and tumblr and any connection with my real
name coupled with the privilege of having been born and still living in a city that is in many ways synonymous with “queer”. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what it’s like to self-censor- being in a position IRL where I’m open as Queer but am still called by the wrong pronouns daily. I guess I might erase myself IRL but like hell will I do so here. If there is such as thing as a community here- and I’d like to think so- we’re better than this. Or at least we should be.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:47 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


First, to our trans members, I'm sorry for the hurt we've caused, and for people who are feeling as if their efforts are unheard. I am reading everything, even though I haven't commented before now. It's a scary time for everyone, and more so for marginalized people, and I'm so sorry that this all has added more feelings of vulnerability and alienation on the pile.

Thank you for the care and energy you've brought to the site and to these discussions.

(This comment is just addressing a couple of concrete points, and then talking a tiny bit about site things I'm thinking about upon reading. There are so many thoughtful comments in the thread that I have appreciated and I don't mention even a fraction of them here; I'm sorry for leaving most things out. Normally I wouldn't comment in this situation with such a partial collection of points that's still too long. But am posting this in the spirit of saying something even if it's imperfect, also I'm now going to bed.)

On 23skidoo's question on account wipes without a reason: Yes. Obviously right now we're mainly thinking of people who feel worried by the harasser situation but we're not asking for any kind of reason. cortex wanted to do this fast for people and without a lot of the "what about xyz implications" that would normally be involved in a huge policy change. So for now, if you want that (with the understanding it's a one-time-only thing): just let us know and we'll do it. We haven't gone deeper into policymaking on it.

On the phrase "self harm" that affectionateborg and homo neanderthalensis mentioned from cortex's comment: To be clear, the person did not threaten self-harm. In context the phrase was about being in panic mode and re-creating identity vulnerabilities with the new account in a conspicuous way, but it would've been better to avoid that phrase entirely. Thank you for pointing out the problem with the phrasing.

- -
On many other questions: These threads have raised a suite of fundamental questions for the site, about changing core practices on privacy, transparency, persistence of identity, etc, and we don't have answers yet. This week cortex and frimble have pushed to do quickly the things that were most urgent, but I anticipate the next steps will be slower. Thank you to the knowledgable people including nikaspark and others who offered suggestions on this stuff.

As the thorn bushes have roses and others have said, we have very limited resources. I know people are frustrated because they can't see things happening. We need to plan and communicate better about what we're doing, stick to priorities, be clear when we can't do something. This week has upended our task list; we need to figure out how to keep the important anti-racism work going while also bringing in this new important set of questions.

Toward being public about what we've been working on prior to this week: several projects related to anti-racism concerns are also relevant to some of the concerns trans members have raised in this thread. One is revisiting the Community Guidelines and how to use them better as a basis to improve consistency of moderation. We've already got some pieces in the Guidelines that are meant to help with some of the cis-centric behaviors mentioned in this thread -- avoid treating identity issues as an abstraction, believe people about their own experiences. The idea is to make it easier for mods and members to name those problems more clearly when they're happening. It's useful to hear how people are talking about these kind of things in here.

Thank you to everyone involved in the thoughtful discussion here about what trans members do and don't want to see from cis members in threads (and variation among what people want), and cis members taking that feedback.

Thank you also for sharing thoughts about how you manage your web identities.

I want to reflect back what death valley compound said: yes, mods should work more directly with trans members on what can make the site better for trans members. We clearly need to find better ways to do that. (I have some ideas, e.g. an advisory board or directed Metatalk thread, but would love to hear if trans members have thoughts.)

And I'm thinking a lot about what Lonnrot said, that Metatalk needs to change in some fundamental way to be a better space to work on issues affecting marginalized people. I think some kind of big changes to Metatalk are necessary. Joe in Australia's comment about Metatalk is also really a good point on this and echoes some things that came up in racism discussions last summer.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:00 AM on July 17 [36 favorites]


Thanks LobsterMitten. There's a lot of positive things in your comment.

I'm still in a place where I think there needs to be an acknowledgement of what went wrong, acceptance of responsibility and some direct steps to avoid similar things (the exit of members of our community by choice or otherwise) occurring again. I don't think that's up to you, but it's going to be difficult to move forward with those particular issues hanging over things.
posted by death valley compound at 3:46 AM on July 17 [7 favorites]


MetaTalk is supposed to be the avenue for addressing things like this, but time after time the people bringing complaints actually get more upset. The reason, I think, is that the complainants are being forced to engage with the site rather than the users that upset them. They're bringing a complaint about moderation - that is, not enough deletions of problematic comments - rather than the underlying issue.

I do want to emphasise that this MeTa was an attempt to address the underlying issue. It has one mention of moderation, namely that relying on flagging transphobia places the burden on trans members, i.e. therefore we need community change, not moderation or technical change. That is not to say Joe is wrong here--there has been very little discussion in this thread from cis people about making the site better. Kanata managed to steer us there a while back. That's been the fate of many a trans MeTa--cis people argue about making rules and ignore the actual problem, eventually they get bored and we're left with a few cis people actually engaging, but then random people show up and call for the thread's closure (do not do that to this thread, seriously). This one has been derailed by massive mishandling of off-site harassment, but also never got off the ground because many cis people ignored it and then claimed they thought they weren't welcome to comment (I believe the first comment in this thread is from a cis person! did you even read the it?).
posted by hoyland at 3:49 AM on July 17 [9 favorites]


At this point I am wondering how we can get this thread back on track without being disrespectful to the important and necessary discussion that spilled over from the now closed harassment thread. I don't think that opening yet another MetaTalk thread about the latter would be a good idea right now. Will people feel like we're ignoring or don't care about what happened if we go back to trying to talk about better approaches to posts about trans people and transphobia?
posted by FishBike at 4:06 AM on July 17


Hi, I'm a cis member who's been hanging back and listening up to this point so I could learn more about how trans and non-binary people would feel more safe and welcome here. Towards that end, I have a question about a post I made once - it was a super, SUPER tone-deaf post that I thought was being supportive to the trans community, but it really kind of wasn't (it was a link to a goofy video the cast of KINKY BOOTS made in response to a trans rights issue). I left it up so it would be a space for cis people to shut up and for trans people to weigh on on how it actually was pretty dumb and reductive, in the hopes that maybe well-intentioned idiots like me would hear that out and wouldn't do that again.

I'm considering maybe it's better if we kill that post now, shall I ask the mods to do so?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:17 AM on July 17


(Hit post too soon - I don't want to kill the discussion on my post, is what's stopping me. If people think it's actually helpful to leave the comments up then I'll leave it. But I'm afraid it's making people uneasy and that was never my intent with that post so I'm happy to pull it.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:19 AM on July 17


You want to delete a post you made in 2016? Or am I not seeing the right one?
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:25 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Because deleting that thread would remove all the work trans and non-binary folks did to point out what was wrong with that link/project. One point I keep hearing is that as a cis person, if I make a mistake, I should listen to why it was a mistake or why something is problematic, and sit with it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:40 AM on July 17 [12 favorites]


There's a non-trans-related topic on which I made some profoundly misguided comments here many years ago that I regret terribly. I've attempted to make up for it by actively doing better on this topic since then, and I think that's the better course of action. If we ever managed to get to a place where we were doing so well on that particular neurodiversity issue consistently in the present, then maybe it would make sense to spend a few moments considering whether the archives should have some shitty things removed from them. As is, there's more than enough work to do in the present that I think it's not a good use of anyone's time to send users or mods on a fishing expedition to clean up years-old discussions, possibly re-hurting people in the process. I suspect the same applies here, though if our trans community members mostly feel differently their voices should win the day.

While I'm here: I've been trying to sit with and consider why I held off on posting earlier in the thread, and did not do so until specifically called to do so by kanata, who did so much heavy lifting here that should not have been required. I did not at any point think this was a trans-only conversation but I did think it was one where cis voices should be a minority, and that a comment about what I personally have learned/done would be derailing. So I did not speak at all. Upon reflection, I think I could and should have posted a short comment expressing that I am here, listening, deeply concerned about the community's and mods' treatment of trans members, and that it's urgent that we fix this years-long failure. I could have done that briefly and without centering myself, and should have, and I'm going to try to take that lesson on board next time I'm in a situation like this.
posted by Stacey at 5:26 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Do you want it removed because you feel guilty about it, or do you want it removed because you think people might still be hurt by something posted four years ago that would not have come up for discussion until you raised it?

I have no personal stake in it. I am asking the trans and non-binary members what they would prefer, instead of assuming I'm doing the right thing by leaving it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:43 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


On the phrase "self harm" that affectionateborg and homo neanderthalensis mentioned from cortex's comment: To be clear, the person did not threaten self-harm. In context the phrase was about being in panic mode and re-creating identity vulnerabilities with the new account in a conspicuous way

The user made no reference to her other account in-thread and if this were really the concern, cortex would have allowed her to make another account without any weird and frankly creepy warning that she's only welcome back if she's happy with the site.

There are so many disgusting aspersions on her mental state here and her history--a history which has been deleted, and to my knowledge, she still hasn't been supplied with. And this is why it's a problem that goes far beyond one user, because the lack of transparency both to her and the greater community means that an angry mod could ban our account, scold us about how we can only come back if we're repentant and good, and talk about how damaged/damaging we are in other spaces. And this could happen to anyone. Noisy trans folks. People being harassed. A cis person who makes an ill-timed joke. We're all assuming this kind of mod practice has only happened once. But honestly, we don't know that. We know for sure that it happened this time because she very bravely and generously supplied her conversation with cortex which was a big ol' heap of gaslighting and double speak, to the point where I had to read it three times before it became clear that he was saying he was banning her immediately.

I also want to applaud divabat for stepping forward about this. I'm disappointed that once again a QPOC had to assume the risk, even here, of greater harassment, for transparency and possible action. Also I just noticed that they buttoned. Another one gone. When are the mods going to do something?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:56 AM on July 17 [12 favorites]


anem0ne, there was a call for cis people to weigh in on what they might do to make the site better. I was looking for guidance on whether this was a way I might be able to do that. That's all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Jesus - anem0ne, I'm taking it to MeMail.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Also I'd like to know why the mods keep saying the deletion policy is one time only, and why asking for an account deletion set off the banhammer in the first place. If someone is dealing with harassment, asking for deletion more than once might be a necessity, and I think we need to step away from the idea that it's something naughty or even negative to request. We need to value people above data.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:06 AM on July 17 [20 favorites]


Just dropping in to say I agree that. deletion policy shouldn't be one time by default. People are human, get comfortable, and may make mistakes about revealing themselves. Forcing them to stick one time only or some such does nothing but harm them.

Yeah, this may require some deep thought and heavy recording of the site to make it possible. Yeah it won't be easy, but it's the right thing to do.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:19 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos, the thread is a bit feral right now and you have come in with an ask that appears to be based on some anxiousness you’re having over potential harm you might have made here years ago. In the future when a meta has gone like this I would like to suggest leading with what you feel and asking if anyone has time for a check-in before attempting to unpack something new into the thread.
posted by noiseanoise at 6:25 AM on July 17 [10 favorites]


Just my 4 cents, adjusted for inflation.
posted by noiseanoise at 6:26 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 AM on July 17


The thread about one-time-only, the inherently violent framing as "nuclear option," (violent-metaphor descriptive framings of things that sparked upset internal states is a fragility symptom I notice more and more thanks in enormous part to the sheer labor of so many people over the years) talking up how disruptive and difficult it is, is one that ties back again to my previous nattering about framing problems as deviations from the good norm. Among the other bad effects from that kind of unexamined worldview is the natural tendency to start applying a kind of unconscious algebra to the equation: any deviations from the good norm are therefore bad. Since they are bad, if they happen more that's more bad. Must stop more bad. Be normal! No different! Only be different in approved way!
posted by Drastic at 6:31 AM on July 17 [10 favorites]


A few thoughts, as I wake up and collect my ideas and feelings:

> My stomach dropped when I saw what happened and I rode out a low grade panic attack for a full day, myself.

> I'm cis and not usually very affected by this sort of thing and the way it was handled made me feel sick to my stomach, too. It was really not good.


I'm also feeling sick about what was happening in the now-closed thread, especially coming after the BIPOC thread that arabidopsis started. I'm a cis, het, white guy who really, really appreciates all the work and openness MeFites have brought to threads on race, and now on trans issues and matters. But I'm feeling gutted to realize this site isn't a welcome, safe place, and how calls for improvements have been answered, or more commonly, not answered.



Joe in Australia: MetaTalk is supposed to be the avenue for addressing things like this, but time after time the people bringing complaints actually get more upset. The reason, I think, is that the complainants are being forced to engage with the site rather than the users that upset them.

I think advisory boards for focused groups and issues would be helpful, for both the ability to get more direct feedback, and also have more focused discussions. It means more coordination and organization, and less transparency than open MeTa threads. But if that means we get solutions implemented and don't lose more MeFites, I think it would be valuable.

Off the top of my head, the advisory board could take suggestions, ideas, and concerns from the site membership at large, bring those to the group and the mods for discussion, then report back out. This would provide structure and some transparency, assuring people that their concerns are heard and addressed.

This also means more time invested by members and moderators, but I think it could be productive. The BIPOC advisory board could be used as an example, or template, depending on what's appropriate.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:03 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


I would not want to suggest creation of an advisory board that would be comprised of people in a marginalized group that I'm not myself part of. While there would be benefits to having one, it also seems to be asking said group to do even more work to fight a problem that they're not causing.
posted by FishBike at 8:53 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


My initial feeling in response to filthy light thief's idea is one of hopefulness, because I can imagine an intersectional venn diagram of advisory boards working together and serving as allies to help protect and advocate for marginalized and disproportionately impacted groups on the site. I personally wish for allies against the kinds of impacts I've experienced on this site, and have wished that I had more support from the community, and essentially had a community bat signal that I could activate to call for help. Not everyone will be able to offer the energy and time, but some of us may be able to, so maybe it can be something to consider as a way to focus our efforts on bringing real change to the site. I haven't had a chance to think this all the way through, but the idea of more collected power for people who are invested in this community, that could allow us to have a more effective voice, it does have some appeal to me, including because people who are marginalized and disproportionately impacted by the site wouldn't have to feel so alone in their efforts to defend their right to be here.
posted by katra at 9:30 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


We need to plan and communicate better about what we're doing[...]

I sometimes feel like I'm in Groundhog Day with the mods repeating that they need to be doing better about communicating what steps taking to resolve different issues. What's stopping this communication from happening and what can be done about it?
posted by amarynth at 9:48 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


Yes, to be clear, I'm supporting the idea of a trans advisory board, and not that I be a member of such a board. Thanks for calling that out. I'm speaking here as an ally, and with hopefulness for ways that MetaFilter can get better, and get safer.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:36 AM on July 17


We need to plan and communicate better about what we're doing[...]

I sometimes feel like I'm in Groundhog Day with the mods repeating that they need to be doing better about communicating what steps taking to resolve different issues.


I came here to say this too. Every single thread is the same. I get that it's not just about the mods, it's about how people behave in threads towards each other, and I don't think it's about a blind devotion to law & order & rules to expect that the reason we have mods at all is to help people know how they're supposed to behave and put a stop to behavior that needs to stop. We got a big push from the mods to stop the abusive sexist stuff a long time ago and it worked. It's clearly not working for the other marginalized groups here or we wouldn't have new threads every week about how it's not working. The mods' work is a big part of that.

I get that it must be frustrating to feel like you're putting care, concern & safety in the forefront of your decisions & for people to not acknowledge that. But we can't acknowledge something we can't perceive.
posted by bleep at 11:04 AM on July 17 [7 favorites]


I infrequently comment or participate in threads relating to trans experience or portrayal, because my identity doesn't sit comfortably in any of the boxes.

I'm stating that up front because I'm not a huge fan of the callout to have to participate in any specific threads on the site; for me the ability to not participate is a pretty important one in managing my own experience as a community member.

However, I can speak from almost 3 decades of identity work online so I'll try that, with the caveat of that if there's one thing that's taught me, it's that my identity issues are not everyone's else's. :)

I think one basic thing that the General Membership, whoever that is, could do is to remember that for some of us, our identities are, and have been our whole lives, deemed as unacceptable or in fact have simply been inexpressible.

When I was a child and a young adult, I did not understand exactly what made me different or even that I was as different as I turned out to be, nor were there words for it. There still actually aren't great words for it. But I did know that I had a very large gap between my actual, lived, inner experience, and what appeared -- I mean quite honestly, I still don't actually know how it works for anyone else -- to be the common experience.

If you are cis and neurotypical and you just nodded and remembered being bullied for being smart and think that gives you some insight, I honour your experience and I share that particular experience. But I kind of ask you to take me at my word that being bullied for being smart also is truly nothing like having one's inner identity fail to line up with anything around one. I was able to read The Great Brain and Encyclopedia Brown and and and and and, but when it came to being multiple there were like, maybe, in the 70s and 80s, 5 or 6 choices in the world...not that they were in the children's section or presented to me. And I can still probably list them all in a reasonable sized spreadsheet.

I could write a book on the results of that and am but here are a few takeaways to remember:

- it's very hard for people whose lived experience is in an extreme minority group to ignore cultural portrayals of people like them, because those stories are so limited. There are so many books about male murdering psychopaths in the world both real and imagined, and yet I would venture a guess that when people say "I'm a guy," most people aren't thinking of say, the Emperor Tiberius. And yet, when I say "I'm multiple/have MPD/DID" I would guess a significant portion of people are thinking of Sybil/Three Faces of Eve/Fight Club/Split/Minds of Billy Mulligan/Roseanne Barr. Maybe if I'm lucky the music of Tori Amos or the story of Joan of Arc. So I cannot rely on the multiplicity and complexity of human experience here.

- having that narrow band of portrayal taken as a base for any kind of thought experiment can be pretty hurtful. In multiple communities, for example, it is pretty common to talk about agency and legal contracts and all those things, but when non-multiples treat multiples as an extreme case of the principle of not jailing the innocent (i.e. you can't jail just the murdering psychopath personality), it can feel pretty gross pretty fast.

- defending 'greater good' arguments like oh, Roman Polanski is a great artist even if he sodomized a young girl, will necessarily put you in the category of apologist

- treating all the members of one group as a monolith is gross, just substitute "all women..." or "all white people..." or whatever. I fell down on this in a few words in a recent comment on the blue and it's on my mind.

At the same time, I think it's important for those of us who, of course, can never, ever get away from who we are...to have the space and the support also to step back. So if we can not make trans people responsible for vetting things, like not say "well no trans person objected to this post" that would be great. For example, I would have to really watch myself before participating in a thread about Split, which I see I did do in my own guarded way but I'm quite sure I was not up for flagging every gross comment about multiples in that thread.

However, I see that some comments were flagged and removed, so that's pretty great.

Anyways I'm petering out and have to go kayaking now but...solidarity to all who want to increase understanding and not noise.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:08 AM on July 17 [22 favorites]


I'd like to add my voice to the question around deleting accounts being a "one time only" thing, when it sounds like that may help with the safety of some of our community members.

I do like the idea of having an advisory panel, but we need to make sure we are not putting the burden of this work onto a small group of folks who are already dealing with significant stress just for living their lives in a world that marginalizes them. We should share the load. Additionally, more transparency into the daily workings of the mod team, so that we know what is being worked and can help if needed would be great, and it looks like that is in the works, so thank you mods.

Also, apologies for not adding my voice sooner, I was also under the mistaken impression that allowing our trans community to speak in this thread without being drowned out by others was what was desired. I was wrong and I will try to do better.
posted by blurker at 11:43 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I appreciate the comments in this thread. I see that trans MeFites have suffered and are suffering, and we all agree that that is just all kinds of wrong.

I have cut back on my participation here during the pandemic for mental health reasons, and I may cut it back still further or leave if we (the collective we, in this case the cis folks) and MetaFilter (in this case, cortex and the mods) cannot figure out how to make this a safer, kinder, and more welcoming place for trans MeFites and other marginalized folks.

Y'all don't need MetaFilter to make your lives harder. I regret deeply that it does. That doesn't fix anything, I get that those are just words but I wanted to say them anyway.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:53 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


If someone is dealing with harassment, asking for deletion more than once might be a necessity, and I think we need to step away from the idea that it's something naughty or even negative to request. We need to value people above data.

I agree with this. The counterargument to deleting someone's history is that it damages the site (or its history, or continuity, or some variation of that). I agree, it does. And it's a very real loss. But it seems to me that that is the way in which we, the rest of the community, can take on and participate in the damage done by harassers. By accepting that damage ourselves, we can hopefully be telling our more vulnerable members that while we may not be able to stop the shitty behavior of others, we are at least willing to share in their pain - to sacrifice something in order to make them safer.

What I'm trying to say is, harassers and assholes do damage. The deletion of site history should be thought of as part of that damage, and we should blame the assholes for it, not the folks being harassed. We should not leave individuals to manage their safety on their own after the first "freebie" but instead behave as if the attack is against all of us. Because it is. The only question is whether we're going to all participate in the damage, as a community, or allow the damage to happen discretely to individuals. I would rather have chunks of the site disappear than have people disappear.

This is maybe a clumsy way of saying all that, and I apologize if it doesn't make a lot of sense or comes off wrong; my point is simply to say we need to make the idea of solidarity mean more.

It took me a little while to get here, but I'm at the point where I'm ready to agree that the fundamental architecture of MetaFilter might need to change in order to make it a safer space. I don't know what that might look like; all I'm saying, as someone who's been around for a lot of years, is that fundamental changes to the site should be on the table and might very well be necessary.
posted by nickmark at 2:36 PM on July 17 [30 favorites]


In the meantime while all of this is being worked out, I would like to say that I think it needs to be made incredibly obvious than you can contact a moderator to get comments deleted that may reveal sensitive information. Before I was very active on this site, I made comments about having undocumented family members in the heat of the moment when someone was saying incredibly shitty things about undocumented immigrants. I worried for YEARS about those comments somehow endangering my family and I honestly had no experience with the moderation here and thought I would have to "plead my case" and possibly get told no. All I saw was that there was no easy way to delete comments (we couldn't even edit comments then!) and everyone seemed to value having this preserved record over everything else. I'm sure there are many many users who are in the same position I was in *right now* and I think there needs to be somewhere obvious where it very clearly says "If you need a comment removed because of the information revealed in it, please contact us and we will do this for you."
posted by primalux at 2:53 PM on July 17 [23 favorites]


I meant to say, in this notice it should be also made obvious that you can completely delete your account and comment history.
posted by primalux at 3:03 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


It should also be made obvious whether you'll be asked to leave the site permanently if you do, or whether you only get one chance and need to judge if the time is right.
posted by thoroughburro at 3:05 PM on July 17 [9 favorites]


Of course fundamental changes to the site would be necessary. You can't have 20+ years of semi-conscious design with no develoment transparency or feature roadmaps and expect that long-standing, unaddressed community issues wouldn't be reflected in the code, policy and structure of the site. It's classic Conway's law here.

This is why I constantly push for more development transparency whenever social issues come up. I'm not trying to de-center the topic at hand, but rather I'm trying to highlight the throughline between community issues to user experience to site structure and development efforts. They're inextricably linked and so you can't treat these like independent silos. And why a coordinated, iterative approach to problem-solving is required.

In businesses you often have a wildly different problem where there's a very mature product management and development function with roadmaps and plans and the whole thing is so unmutable and impenetrable that the fight is about deconstructing the silo and getting them to understand their connection to the community and user experience that they're inadvertantly creating.

Yet here, this business acts more like a non-profit or interest group where the product management (and development as a) function is just ... absent. So years and years of technical debt are unknowingly being accrued and the experience declines over time until the community revolts over the realisation that so many of the unreflected policies and decisions no longer make sense and are actually causing harm. For example, what exactly is the rationale behind a 'only wipe your account once' stance and how did that come to be? Does it still fit in with the community ethos? Without easily accessible communicated or otherwise documented thought around this, assumptions and unshared expectations result, which will end up as strange garden paths and missing stairs in the site structure. And we just navigate it until we hit walls and rehash the same arguments amongst ourselves. But where is the accountability that these community discussions ever get mobilised into action plans by the site leadership into the development function? What is the process for that?

Which rounds us back to the topic of basic safety measures and why this site treats this so differently than other communities. We are not unique, we just haven't evolved. I personally don't understand what is lost by putting MeTa behind a safety wall. It's not like this is some mega popular site where a substantial piece of the internet-viewing public is going to be at a loss if they don't have access to our wisdom on MetaTalk. It's an inward-facing, admin-focused subsite serving the members of a little-known long-standing dinosaur community. I say that lovingly but also with frustration. In the modified words of Golda Meir, don't be humble, we're not that great.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:58 PM on July 17 [20 favorites]


you only get one chance and need to judge if the time is right

I think I understand the one-chance-only perspective: that you will recognize that you'll need to change what you post with your new account, this time appreciating that your comments are going to be public and stick around forever, and you need to carefully choose how you link your profile to other social media profiles you may have, or what personally-identifying information you reveal going forward.

Underlying this assumption is that you would only delete because you mistakenly put too much personal info out there, or linked your Metafilter profile to something with too much personal info. Not for any other reason. Of course, maybe this isn't going to hold true for a lot of people here (certainly in this thread and the other one). And it highlights how out of line Metafilter is with other sites where you can delete for any reason.

I personally don't understand what is lost by putting MeTa behind a safety wall

It won't help the kind of thing described in the other MeTa thread. This measure isn't even a speed bump, it's no measure at all. You can probably assume the twitter users taking screenshots are members here (I mean, they keep coming back), or that they can join easily enough.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:28 PM on July 17 [6 favorites]


At this point, I'd actually love to see MetaFilter do some fairly basic user research to survey the community (even something as simple as sending out a Google form link site-wide via memail) on the proposals that have been hashed out in this thread and others. I don't mean a binding democratic vote, but something that would generate actual data that would be more informative and tangible for Cortex and the mods to go on than just trying to navigate priorities based on the back and forth here. Importantly, surveying not just yay/nay opinions, but also how deeply-felt they are. Identity-related demographics completely optional, but present to allow marginalized individuals in particular to have a voice without wading into this adversarial and exhausting mess of a thread.

I'll also point out that there are also multiple alternatives in-between going full members-only closed community and maintaining the current status quo that could be considered (i.e., giving posters the option to make individual posts visible only to logged in users during submission, instead of making a universal change for the whole site or particular sub-sites; further limiting profile visibility and full posting history to members; paywalling not the whole archive, but perhaps anything more than x years old; and so on).
posted by Pryde at 4:53 PM on July 17 [7 favorites]


So I'm a trans member who will likely button after this is all over. I've never been a particularly active poster here, even though I was a lurker for a solid 15 years before signing up for an account. How come I never posted much? Well, the inability to delete or anonymize posts and comments is terrifying.

Lots of people have been saying similar things upthread, but I just want to underline that this is not some brand new problem, this has always been a problem, and is another part of why Metafilter struggles to keep members from marginalized groups.

I've dealt with targeted harassment before, and am very, very disinclined to deal with it again. Because of that, I keep strict limits on my digital footprint. My Twitter and Facebook posts and likes are automatically deleted after a few months. Every couple years, I make a new Reddit account and delete my old one.

This ensures that if I attract a harasser who starts going through my posts with a fine-tooth comb and trying to connect dots about me, they have relatively little to work with - a few months to 2 years of history max. This is what I need to feel comfortable enough to engage with strangers on the internet.

Seeing the discussion around account wipes framed as a "one time only" deal or a "nuclear option" is really disheartening. If this policy stands, Metafilter is going to continue to mostly attract voices who don't have much to fear from harassment. I'm sure we can all fill in the blanks and guess what those voices tend to have in common.
posted by Basil Stag Hare at 4:59 PM on July 17 [26 favorites]


I think there needs to be somewhere obvious where it very clearly says "If you need a comment removed because of the information revealed in it, please contact us and we will do this for you."

You're right. I haven't been in a mod-facing role on the site except as a fill-in person but I can edit the FAQ so I added an entry that I hope strikes the right tone. It's always been policy but now it's written somewhere. I know it's a really small part of the work that needs to be done, but I think that and conversations with the existing mods can hopefully move the needle on that. I am sorry it's taken so long.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:06 PM on July 17 [44 favorites]


You're right. I haven't been in a mod-facing role on the site except as a fill-in person but I can edit the FAQ so I added an entry that I hope strikes the right tone. It's always been policy but now it's written somewhere. I know it's a really small part of the work that needs to be done, but I think that and conversations with the existing mods can hopefully move the needle on that. I am sorry it's taken so long.

jessamyn, thank you for your quick responsiveness. I think many of us have been waiting for a mod--any mod--to do something like this in this thread. I always appreciated your empathy and level-headedness on issues like these, and I hope the current mods can take this sort of action as a template to use to move forward.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:23 PM on July 17 [16 favorites]


Yet here, this business acts more like a non-profit or interest group where the product management (and development as a) function is just ... absent.

Please don't impugn nonprofits like that....

I mean, I'm being sardonic in rejecting that comparison - I agree with you that the infrastructure is way behind the times. But I think calling it "like a nonprofit"is a screamingly bright example of the issue. The kinds of things that go on here are not tolerated at any of the nonprofits I'm aware of. "Even" nonprofits, as limited in capacity as they are, if they are professional, have moved far beyond these obstacles and roadblocks and debates that amount to deck-chair rearranging. Let's call it what it is, neglect and indifference.

The thing is, there are a lot of things we want from MetaFilter. We can talk racial awareness training
, new mods, policy, code, documentation etc., all day every day, but ultimately, the site cannot provide the things we want. They are simply and for various reasons beyond the capacity of the site to manage. So what then?

I understand this thread originally had a purpose and wholeheartedly endorse it. Because of MetaFilter, and just about ONLY MetaFilter, I moved from being someone who fundamentally knee-jerked rejected trans issues and people 20 years ago to someone who has an expanded view and is in support of all gender expressions. And then, my sibling came out as trans after 40+ years, and thank MetaFilter I knew something about it. So thanks to all who have spoken here and given the energy to educate the ignorant among us. Once again, it's the users who have pushed a community into a new and better place. They deserve the support of the infrastructure. The infrastructure, though, is probably inadequate to provide it.
posted by Miko at 6:46 PM on July 17 [19 favorites]


We got a big push from the mods to stop the abusive sexist stuff a long time ago and it worked. It's clearly not working for the other marginalized groups here or we wouldn't have new threads every week about how it's not working. The mods' work is a big part of that.

(Long-time user who buttoned because I couldn't deal with the mods lack of response to social justice imperatives.) It was not a big-time push from the mods. It was a big-time push from jessamyn. That sort of culture change requires leadership from people in power. That's exactly what's currently lacking from leadership, and that's exactly why we've ended up with "janitorial" (as someone eloquently termed it!) moderation.
posted by lapis at 7:32 PM on July 17 [35 favorites]


Because of MetaFilter, and just about ONLY MetaFilter, I moved from being someone who fundamentally knee-jerked rejected trans issues and people 20 years ago to someone who has an expanded view and is in support of all gender expressions.

Yep, just adding a me too to this- I am deeply thankful for the users who shared who they were, so that when students of mine tell me who they are I believe them.

I know it's not ok to expect trans users to educate cis users, but I am so grateful for the users that expanded my conservative world view.
posted by freethefeet at 9:21 PM on July 17 [8 favorites]


Total agreement with freethefeet. I have been better able to support trans friends and family solely due to the generosity of the trans community here and I am extremely grateful. I know there is more for me to do, as I said upthread, to shoulder a greater portion of that work.
posted by blurker at 9:33 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


hello, i closed my account about a year ago. i'm trans
i've been on the site since i was a kid - i'm in my early 30s now
i never wanted to educate people about myself. it was coerced
i don't want to hear your gratitude now. it's a lie
you cannot thank me for something that was taken without my consent
posted by old fish at 1:35 AM on July 18 [23 favorites]


i never wanted to educate people about myself. it was coerced

There was an "old queer" bingo card on Twitter a couple of weeks ago and one of the squares was something like "have been volunteered by straight people for a diversity initiative", which was one of the squares I needed for bingo and I debated whether a committee I was on in grad school counted, as I had certainly volunteered myself, as had everyone else. But, of course, the existence of said committee had been coerced by the university's poor handling of anything related to trans people.* I feel much the same way about an advisory board here, except I don't believe such a board would get to issue reports (that admittedly no one read) about Metafilter being shit at trans stuff. It seems telling that no one has said "Yeah, I'd be on such a board." I think I'm feeling more generous towards MeFi than a lot of trans users at the minute and my willingness extends to the occasional emailed question, not meetings. Except, of course, I'm not sure any of the issues raised is these threads about the workings of the site are actually trans-specific. We happened to be the ones at the center of this implosion, but I suspect it could have been virtually any marginalized group on the site. We do have a culture problem around trans issues that is specific to trans issues (well, until we get to the intersectional culture problems), but you don't fix culture with mod processes.

*It was hilariously subversive, though. Someone knew someone in the right office to get the committee blessed as an official university entity. So there was an official university entity that issued an annual report about how shit they were to trans people.
posted by hoyland at 4:34 AM on July 18 [16 favorites]


old fish and hoyland, thank you both for commenting. I'm sorry I brought up an advisory board, as I'm in no position to suggest or coerce more work from the trans community.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:13 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


i don't want to hear your gratitude now. it's a lie
you cannot thank me for something that was taken without my consent


Wow do I feel this.

Sometimes, a cis person will drop into my life to ask what they can do better. This always makes me incredibly anxious, because of the way it usually plays out when I answer: they become very defensive, take issue with my tone, flat-out don't like the answers, and inevitably storm off in a huff. Because they're not actually trying to do better—if they were, they'd just be doing the work—but rather, what they seek is some kind of hand-holding praise from me that they're one of the good ones.

Like I can't even expect my own co-workers, people who have known me for years, to correct someone when they misgender me. And that, to me, is like the bare minimum. Most of these calls for education aren't really that; they're demonstrations of their good intent, and praise-seeking.

I want to see cis people do their own reading. I want to see them defend me at the office, on the street, in a public place when someone is getting loud with me. I want to see them sticking up for trans people who aren't famous, who don't "pass", who might not even be particularly likeable people but whose transness is nonetheless something that deserves defending. There are many places where they can get an education; what matters to me is how they act in the day to day.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:53 AM on July 18 [23 favorites]


I think the general community should know that as of today--July 18th--odinsdream hasn't received any communication from the mod staff beyond what was posted on this page. She hasn't received the archive of her deleted content, four days after requesting it and several days after it was promised, or any more explicit explanation for why she was banned. She gave me her permission to share this.

I think it's really wrong, and I also think it's important to share broadly because users who request account wipes without backing up their content first may not receive their archived content.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:24 AM on July 18 [28 favorites]


That treatment is unconscionable. I don't care what her allegedly problematic backstory is, she could be a complete monster and still not deserve this lack of basic respect.
posted by thoroughburro at 10:36 AM on July 18 [5 favorites]


My understanding is that frimble ran the comment export; once we get a link from them we'll send it to odinsdream. This should have happened more quickly, and I'm personally sorry that it didn't.

Also I added a note in the FAQ that says that username changes, while generally disallowed, are explicitly allowed in cases of gender transitioning where old usernames would be a problem. I can't speak to evolving mod practices and policies, but can make sure existing policies (this has been the case for a long time and should have been documented publicly) can be explicit and not just "You need to know to ask"
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:54 AM on July 18 [11 favorites]


I'd also like to know whether there is any plan to reach out to the targeted users to let them know this has been happening so they can take any precautions they deem needeed. I'm quite literally outraged that has not happened.
posted by Miko at 10:58 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I think the general community should know that as of today--July 18th--odinsdream hasn't received any communication from the mod staff beyond what was posted on this page.

Thank you for the update. I’m shocked and angry that the mods aren’t taking this more seriously — communication should have been a priority.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:27 AM on July 18 [6 favorites]


She deserves a response. Far too much time has passed without her receiving one.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:44 AM on July 18 [7 favorites]


> My understanding is that frimble ran the comment export; once we get a link from them we'll send it to odinsdream. This should have happened more quickly, and I'm personally sorry that it didn't.

It would be basic courtesy to also inform her of the delay. I'm at a loss for why they are being treated as a spammer or worse. I assume there is bad blood beyond my knowledge, but to me and many others, she was a valuable member of this community and deserves better.
posted by thoroughburro at 12:06 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


At this point I feel like the most useful thing I can do is add my name to the list of people asking for a resolution to this situation with the person who was banned. Given what has already happened to date, the best possible outcome is probably still not great, but could be a lot better than the situation as of now.

That person deserves better, and also it doesn't feel like the conversation about other things we can do to make posts about trans people and transphobia go better can really continue until then.

(I'm avoiding naming the person as I'm not sure if they want even more occurrences of their user name to appear on this site.)
posted by FishBike at 1:06 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


As a non-trans person, I gotta say the optics of this look really bad. Not a "oops" kind of bad, but "WTF are you thinking" bad. "I will remember this" bad.

Maybe there's a good explanation about all this, but ignoring requests for answers will turn that possibly good explanation into ash. So please, just give a explanation, at least to the user in question.

PLEASE.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:16 PM on July 18 [21 favorites]


Yeah, I'm solidly on team "consequences matter more than intent", and even if all that speculation is true, the consequences are still that one user got banished, many others are upset in ways ranging from confused to furious to fearful for their safety, and the (female, part-time, retired) mod is the only one coming in to say 'hey, request X is something we can do, I'll take care of it' across multiple threads and months.
posted by Flannery Culp at 1:28 PM on July 18 [11 favorites]


[Hey folks -- really sorry but I've deleted that long comment, and some short follow-up comments, as getting a little too in the weeds with what is going on in a way that seems like is not okay. Drastiic, I'm happy to MeMail it to you if you want to post it elsewhere, but I think we need to keep it out of this thread.]
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:43 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I am a hundred percent okay with the deletion. It was not the time or place and I apologize.

Matters of privilege of all sorts, including toxic masculinity and its effects, are intensely on my mind due to events on metafilter and the world in general. But again, not time or place: indeed, the time may well be "never" and place "my own hard drive at most."
posted by Drastic at 1:46 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'm solidly on team "consequences matter more than intent", and even if all that speculation is true, the consequences are still that one user got banished, many others are upset in ways ranging from confused to furious to fearful for their safety, and the (female, part-time, retired) mod is the only one coming in to say 'hey, request X is something we can do, I'll take care of it' across multiple threads and months.

Yes. Agreed. How much labor do the trans members of this site and one semi-retired mod have to do to get some kind of acknowledgment or resolution? How many trans members have to leave the site? I count at least eight who have done so over two threads that publicly announced they were leaving and I'm sure there are many more.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:07 PM on July 18 [10 favorites]


Typically the dolphin emoji has been used in online spaces to mean “I’m out for reasons and please don’t speculate why”. It would probably be a good idea to assume that dolphin emoji is implied behind buttoning unless otherwise specified.
posted by noiseanoise at 3:09 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Those are the people in these threads who specifically said they were leaving because of these threads.

In reference to a comment upthread: I asked odinsdream if she wanted me to use her username or not and she said it was fine.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:17 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


Yup totally in alignment with you and I apologize for my comment not being more specific. It’s the buttoned users we may find over time who never said anything is what I was thinking of.
posted by noiseanoise at 3:36 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


If this site feels that I am more valuable as my 10 year post history instead of as an active trans member (who might get doxxed for being trans) then I would like to know so that I can stop wasting my effort here. Why should the hypothetical reader get to benefit from my posts if the site won't protect me when shit happens? Why is the hypothetical reader so much more important than current members??

I am deeply DEEPLY troubled by how this banning was handled, especially how the "self-harm" concern trolling was used by the owner of this website against a trans user. This is the "crazy trans woman" trope and it's unacceptable. (I think her anger was 100% justified holy shit how the fuck were we NOT TOLD ABOUT THIS FOR OVER A YEAR AND A HALF??? Sure glad I decided to check MeTa on a whim because I had NO FUCKING CLUE.)

This is not an external problem. This is an ongoing problem with how Metafilter handles conflict and calls for accountability from its marginalized users. Sometimes it feels like we're too much trouble to be worth Metafilter's precious few resources. If you want us here so bad, prove it. Make it worth staying for.
posted by buteo at 3:58 PM on July 18 [20 favorites]




odinsdream asked 168 AskMe questions, which are still accessible at their original URLs — albeit they are marked deleted at "Poster's Request", and flagged as no-index for search engines.

In the case of a user wipe for privacy reasons, shouldn't the text of their AskMe questions be overwritten?
posted by Klipspringer at 12:08 AM on July 19 [5 favorites]


We're discussing a couple of possibilities. At this point what has been done is that frimble put together something quickly to delete mass comments / posts via the normal delete process, which has always been done individually, by hand. So these deletes are just like standard deletes right now: not indexed, not searchable on the site, not included in google (et al) searches once they re-crawl to get the no-indexing tag, not included or listed on member pages, or archives, or anywhere on the site, but are still at the original url.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:44 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


completely agree with buteo's recent comment and so many of the comments in this thread calling out the site's culture and moderation. and reading about the user-ban being discussed, i'm also extremely disturbed by that and by cortex's comments and actions.

there are so many concrete, clear paths-of-action commented in this thread (and many metatalks prior) that hold the possibility of improving the way mods can make the community safer for everyone and especially for trans people. we all see these calls-to-action being repeatedly kicked down the road, ignored, and argued with. it's unacceptable and infuriating.

it's sickening that there is anyone in this community arguing or implying that preserving old content, or an old community standard, is more important that protecting trans people.

you cannot say that member safety is the #1 priority and then not enact 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or all of the 5034985 things user have suggested to improve safety and moderation. am i in a bad dream? what is happening? who are you protecting right now and why? because it's not trans members. it's not the meta community. how are we supposed to give a fuck about a site if it doesn't value and protect its trans members?
posted by sweetjane at 2:09 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


There's a difference between all actions suggested and actions that actually make members safer, and we are concentrating on expending more resources on the latter, which includes advice received in this thread, and via contact email.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:31 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


It's 4 days since I asked for a response to these particular points:
Failing to inform people being targeted by harassers that this wss taking place, despite long-term knowledge and the direct experience by staff-members of how serious this harassment could become.

Failing to inform those particularly at risk of such harassment.

(Unless I've missed it, I haven't seen any apology for either of these things and the barely-even-a-commitment to "look at trying to reach out to individual folks with careful warning" does not inspire confidence.)
And 3 days since cortex promised to address them.

I'd still like to see this addressed.
posted by death valley compound at 2:59 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]


Also,

expending more resources on the latter, which includes advice received in this thread, and via contact email

I'd be interested in hearing which options are being explored. Not because I want to nitpick any particular approaches, but because I would like to understand better what aspects of member safety MeFi is prioritizing.
posted by death valley compound at 3:02 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]


Yes. A good general operating principle right now would be maximum possible transparency. Asking users to trust and read into the gaps is doing MetaFilter no favors at the moment.
posted by Miko at 5:05 AM on July 19 [5 favorites]


We are talking with a lawyer who is not our regular (business oriented lawyer) about what actions we can take, and discussing what sort of site changes would actually create a safer situation. We've reached out to people who have experience in safety protocols, including an expert member from the site (or possibly more than one ... I might have missed one or two), and reached out to Twitter employees we've now had some sort of first-person intro to via site members (as opposed to sending our requests to the twitter void, which we had already been doing all along). We've acted on the member history swipes, because it felt really important to people, but I actually feel like we could have used that time in a better way, since there are tens of shady sites out there that scrape our content, so deleting from Mefi just means that we can't view a lot of what has been on the site, here on the site, while it's extant elsewhere.

This is off the top of my head, but I can tell you that making massive site changes in a few days is not something we are ready to do because first of all we need to work smart in ways that will actually improve the situation and that takes some thought and consideration, and also we do not have the sort of budget that allows us to just hire all the high-powered personpower to do all the work and consulting in a few days. Mods are already working crazy unpaid overtime, particularly cortex who has worked a pile of back-to-back shifts, plus being around constantly for new mod training and discussion about site problems, and LM, who has to be forcibly kept from working about 20 hours out of 24, but everyone, except for part-time mods (we aren't going to make them do unpaid work), and we have to stretch what is available to do the most we can with it, in the smartest way. One thing that our anti-oppression consultant told us is to not be pushed into making instant changes, that some things just take the time they take to do right, and we are trying balance everything and do as much as we can, in the smartest way we can.

Other mods can chime in on other items that I may not be up to speed on (because again, it takes such a long time to catch up every shift to everything that has happened on the site, all the mod actions and what the background and context was, as well as any discussion that happened about site issues and incoming news, it's really daunting, so consider this a partial list. And, I'm not supposed to be saying this, because literally, nobody wants to hear about our problems and usually get angry when they are mentioned, but that leads to more accusations of not doing anything, and honestly more disfunction all around.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:39 AM on July 19 [46 favorites]


Well, it sounds like you're impossibly under-resourced.
posted by Miko at 5:58 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


So these deletes are just like standard deletes right now

I'd like to point out that the correspondence from cortex that was made available, as well as comments in the thread repeatedly referred to account wiping and I see that this terminology continues to be used, despite some of the data still being accessible (albeit non-indexed).

I'm trying to be kind and understanding, but really, this prevaricating about actually removing data that users have requested be removed (not unindexed, removed) does not read well. If you weren't getting to actually remove the data, why give that impression? Why continue to describe this as an account wipe when data remains partially accessible? If the plan is to further erase the data, why haven't you communicated timescales for this or engaged with the users who are affected to explain the limitations of this process.

The user still hasn't received the archive days after it was promised, with no explanation or update on this process. Nor further explanation of why they were banned in the first place.

Properly dealing with this stuff, communicating and managing expectations would have avoided so many of these problems and actually saved you time.
posted by death valley compound at 6:28 AM on July 19 [8 favorites]


Taz, looking at the wider scope of the activities mentioned in your comment, many of these seem like positive things and thank you for taking the time to outline them. I agree with Miko that you sound very under-resourced. I'm glad you communicated that, because it does help to understand the context in which all this is taking place.
posted by death valley compound at 6:36 AM on July 19 [7 favorites]


If a person requests an account wipe/deletion, what happens to the comments in an FPP or a MeTa thread that they might have posted? Do those all disappear as well (at least in terms of indexing and findability, even if they are still "there" via the URL)? Or is it just the text of the main post and the "posted by" that disappear?

I was thinking about how site policy changes and clarifications are often buried deep into a long MeTa discussion, and I hope losing that record isn't an unintended consequence of this.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:58 AM on July 19


but really, this prevaricating about actually removing data that users have requested be removed (not unindexed, removed) does not read well.

Well, we may need to come up with a different word than "wipe" (that's what we're calling it in mod discussions) but we've never lied about this, and always described what the process is to anyone asking about it, in contact mail or on the site. But there is more to think about in every single request to "just make change X" to the site. For example, what if the person who originally posted the 9/11 thread, on the day, as it was happening decided they wanted an account wipe that completely obliterated that post? All of that history entirely wiped out? There are very many posts on the site that are major landmark posts and discussions, and not just for Metafilter members, including being included in the library of congress archive (or whatever it is, not stopping to look it up right now). People are angry that we don't just immediately change everything drastically, but we do need to work through the consequences of mass automated actions like that. We've always worked one on one to delete, edit, anonymize, adjust on comments or posts that a member feels in retrospect is too revealing, and that means we've been able to preserve valuable discussions while achieving the goal the member has of self-protection. But tearing through the site with a blind blunt-edged tool that just completely decimates swathes of stuff that we would never be able to retrieve is something we need to hold up on a bit and consider if there is a better way.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:59 AM on July 19 [28 favorites]


always described what the process is to anyone asking about it, in contact mail or on the site

We can see exactly how this was described (apologies for linking to private correspondence here, but it's been linked before in both this thread and the other thread, so trying to talk around it without directly mentioning it seems pointless). At no point in that exchange was it explained that this would leave some data available.
posted by death valley compound at 7:06 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]


Hey all, just wanted to say hi and note that today and tomorrow Jessamyn and I are fill-in modding and there probably won't be much in the way of policy responses. I don't want y'all to think you're being ignored, but the short-staffing is real! (Also, hi!)
posted by restless_nomad (retired) at 7:11 AM on July 19 [15 favorites]


Some stats:

From 12th to 19th July, 18 user accounts were wiped, causing the following content to be deleted:
  • Metafilter: 279 posts and 17,341 comments
  • AskMe: 359 questions and 9,469 answers (of which, 619 had been marked best)
  • MetaTalk: 71 posts and 3,665 comments
The earliest deleted content was from 2004.

As a consequence of the wipes:
  • 9,065 Metafilter posts have had one or more comments deleted
  • 7,607 AskMe questions have had one or more answers deleted
These stats are aggregated, contain no identifying info, and were calculated from public data.

As taz has set out, posts and questions described above as "deleted" are still accessible at their original URL, but marked as deleted and "noindex" for search engines. Deleted comments and answers are not accessible.
posted by Klipspringer at 8:36 AM on July 19 [13 favorites]


taz, thank you - the direct honesty in your replies (including the specific frustrations of mods) is actually much more helpful than soothing words about listening and prioritizing etc. Was a bit on the fence as to whether I should say something, but since you mentioned this level of transparency has caused irritation in the past, know that I at least appreciate and actually much prefer this kind of openness over the standard mod communication style here.
posted by Lonnrot at 10:58 AM on July 19 [18 favorites]


The user still hasn't received the archive days after it was promised, with no explanation or update on this process

They have now. I'm aware the timeline on this was unacceptable and won't insult anyone with explanations.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:47 AM on July 19 [25 favorites]


For example, what if the person who originally posted the 9/11 thread, on the day, as it was happening decided they wanted an account wipe that completely obliterated that post? All of that history entirely wiped out?

This is something I think worth having a critical discussion on. If it were coming down to someone's literal safety from a physical attack, the 9/11 thread can go as can essentially any other one. Yes, there are some threads that served as significant turning points in site management, but I think that better documentation could summarize that those happened without having to maintain the bloody garments themselves for everyone to examine.

I think we here are MetaFilter's biggest fans and we revere the archive a lot, not least because for some users it's tantamount to a journal of their interests and existence over the years. But I would challenge us to consider that though we might have love for some of this content, it might not be as precious to history writ large as all that, and that it could be archived in various ways with limited access without being too much of a sacrifice. I'm sure most users have contributed content to sites that are no more. I like the continuity of the archive, I poke around in past threads every so often, yet if I'm going to continue using the site it won't because of the awesome archive but because of reliably good conversation and an interesting userbase in the present.

It has been brought up that the archive gets hits and that's monetizing and that helps the budget, so I'm sure that's another aspect that complicates matters. It all winds back around to 'what is the purpose of this site,' and if it's to be a body of archived user-contributed literature, that's one thing, but if it's a living community, that really brings with it a completely other set of requirements around community care and people first. If that's what the site is, I for one would be completely willing to sacrifice archive access - especially because 99% of threads are decidedly less historically interesting than 9/11.
posted by Miko at 12:07 PM on July 19 [15 favorites]


I want to preface this question by saying that I'm very in favor of being able to delete our own posts and comments but, what personal information could a post in the blue have?
They are supposed to be as free of editorializing as possible.

I understand deleting mass deleting comments (and posts in other subsites) to make sure no personal detail can be used for doxing and harassment but I'm not sure deleting posts on MeFi achieves that purpose, especially if the post can be edited to be posted by "anonymous" or some other archive account.
posted by simmering octagon at 1:05 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


Statistics and hypothetical examples speak to the value these people have brought to this community over the years, and what a shame it is they're not going to be here to continue that. This is why it's so important to offer other options besides bulk deletion of comments and posts. Options that would, most importantly, allow more people to continue their participation here, but would also allow more of the historical content and "post as navigational structure" to remain.

Given that bulk "mark as deleted" is rightfully available upon request, but deleted posts remain viewable, other options don't have to pit privacy and safety against content preservation--many such options would improve on both fronts.

I'm sure the Metafilter staff are considering a variety of these options. Is this the right time for a community discussion of them? Are the staff seeking community input on this right now?
posted by FishBike at 1:12 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


I have long been sympathetic to cortex and the mod team at large, whom I believe love Metafilter, want it to do well, and work hard at it. However, I've long been growing more uncomfortable with the institutional conservatism and reluctance to change in the face of a different environment.

This last week has been the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I no longer have confidence that current leadership is willing or able to steer Metafilter in the right direction.

I have turned off my monthly donation. I will leave this account open, in case anyone ever wants to reach out, but I will no longer be participating here.

Best wishes to all MeFites.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:39 PM on July 19 [11 favorites]


For example, what if the person who originally posted the 9/11 thread, on the day, as it was happening decided they wanted an account wipe that completely obliterated that post? All of that history entirely wiped out?

What would be the problem with deleting the content of the post, but leaving the comments from other users?
posted by teraflop at 1:51 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


Just make the "Posted by XXXXXXX" random on posts/comments of people who want to delete themselves from the site. So it would read "Posted by Anon48293842983" on the post or first comment, then the next reads as "Posted by Anon9349283" and so on.

Possibly not easy to code, but a good thing to do.

My dream would involve a massive code rewrite of the site, so that every username or mention of could be anonymized if the years wished. Also hard to code, but still the right thing to do in the 21st century.

We need to think of a compromise that generally favors anonymity, but tries to preserve some of the site coherence.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:06 PM on July 19 [19 favorites]


Hi restless_nomad!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:07 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


At this point many people have suggested it but having, as a first measure, the ability to merge a comment into some universal "anonymous" user space seems like a pretty good idea. That's not going to solve everything but I can think of several tiers of response below fully disappearing a user, and having that sliding scale seems like it would probably reduce the need for that final option (which I'd certainly rather not have happening a bunch, though I don't feel like it's fair to preemptively declare such hard lines on its use, either).
posted by atoxyl at 2:27 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


The history is definitely a feature here, but having some outs also gives people more space to talk about certain things.

I've been places where it was considered a bad idea for users to have eternal delete/edit capability because it would allow them to obfuscate their own bad behavior, but we do have mods here who presumably could be allowed access to old versions.
posted by atoxyl at 2:33 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Not to mention, users are basically allowed to have an entirely different persona through the use of sock puppet accounts. I understand why they're allowed in terms of asking and answering questions or making comments with sensitive information, but I see accounts that are clearly labelled as socks answering all sorts of questions or making comments that have no sensitive information in them at all. It seems like at least some people use them as a way to just not have information/attitudes associated with their main account. I don't even necessarily have a problem with it, but it does function essentially the same as just posting anonymously so I don't see why it's a big leap to just have comments and posts anonymized when someone would like them to be.
posted by primalux at 2:52 PM on July 19 [7 favorites]


I think there's an argument that pre-emptive anonymization options are better, when applicable, but the way I'm imagining the use cases for retroactive anonymization a major one is "realizing that things you've talked about obliquely over the course of multiple threads can be pieced together to give a more complete picture than you'd like" which is certainly something I've thought about before.
posted by atoxyl at 3:06 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


Trans issues deserved their own thread, which was supposed to be this one.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 10:43 PM on July 19 [25 favorites]


[Hi, just wanted to remind folks that this thread was intended to be about Trans issues on the site. I understand that there's a lot to be discussed in relation to account deletions and other important details but I would hold off on having that conversation here. ]
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 9:09 AM on July 20 [9 favorites]


One of the things I’ve seen suggested in this thread is having cis members volunteer to be notified when there’s transphobic activity in a post, in order to go in and push back so that trans people who are tired don’t have to. I’d like to second that idea.

For example, I know sometimes I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with race related stuff in a post, and I appreciate it when white users step in after I step away or go quiet. (Not stuff that should be deleted; stuff that would be better dealt with through discussion and education.) Maybe I can pay that forward by offering, as a cis person, to do that for trans folks who don’t have the emotional energy to do Trans 101 again.

Though I’ve decided to keep my membership here for now, I have cut way back on MeFi lately and don’t read every post, so I don’t always know when something is going down in a discussion. But I’m much more likely to see a MeMail, and be able to come in to a post and try to steer the discussion to a better place (and obviously, flag things that do need to be deleted).

So, whether you’re a trans person who sees something needing pushback in a post you want to nope out of, or a cis or trans person who wants some backup in a post related to trans issues, I volunteer to respond to MeMail requests for assistance.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:13 PM on July 20 [12 favorites]


^^Seconded, for all the same reasons. Hit me up via MeMail and I'll see it.
posted by cooker girl at 1:04 PM on July 20 [6 favorites]


I have finally caught up on this thread and the situation is untenable. We are hemorrhaging marginalized members who add rich content to this site. We have to do better. Count me as another who will add pushback to any posts or comments that result in harm to trans members.

I don't post often here, but I have been reading for almost 20 years. I will gladly walk away and halt my monthly contribution if some of the major concerns raised above by other trans members don't get some sort of acknowledgement in the next few days with a detailed plan for addressing them with some concrete timelines. Preferably starting with an explanation to the banned member about why she was banned and why now and going on from there.

The bias and blindspots regarding trans and other marginalized members here has become overwhelming. Major changes have to occur and I hope many of the suggestions(which are borne of intensive free labor from some of our resident experts) can be implemented and if they can't then this maybe isn't a place that should exist any longer. I will help in any way I am able and I am willing to sacrifice any of the supposed features of this site for the comfort of its valued members.

I love you all and I hope this site can be restructured to be more welcoming and safe.
posted by doktorj at 1:16 AM on July 21 [8 favorites]


Having read the comments and further events rather than popping down to the bottom: fuuuuuck.

Since the post and responses were good work and don't deserve to be buried -- I think I heard a pretty solid message from trans and enby members that they would be harmed less if cis users would stop posting about trans issues and in particular about transphobia news, transphobia debate, and transphobic 'culture wars' shit.

Could we write that down and make it policy?

That in itself won't do much, but it's something that could possibly help steer moderation, even future "It looks like you're posting transphobia bathroom news! I'm displaying the policy for reference" technical means.
posted by away for regrooving at 11:07 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


But now. Basic safety and respect for trans people are huge things that Metafilter is fucking up.

To pick one concrete thing, this "one wipe" policy. This is structurally anti-inclusive to trans members (among others, but they're the topic), because it's saying flat-out: if you are someone our society tends to harass, Metafilter is not for you. Metafilter is for people whose need for a wipe is because the Internet has changed in the last 25 years, or because they used to be young and unwise, but after this wipe, they're safe. Because new creeps are not going to crop up in infinite numbers in respond to their identity.

And why this policy? I'm a grumbler about "link rot", I like archive.org, I also know past posts I'd hate like hell to lose -- but prioritizing that over live people's safety and inclusion is wrong. Also a quick path to kill the site's future. I may not have perspective but I really don't think I'm exaggerating? If Metafilter prioritizes the archive over users, it might be cleaner just to freeze the state and call Metafilter done.

The facet that gets me is that it isn't even a cold assessment that a user's writings have too much value to let out of the hands of those who by the user agreement now control them. The owner's willing to drop ten years of data, but a second drop of one year, that can't be allowed. It reads as a line-drawing exercise done on principle, or less charitably would be as a power flex, the two are mostly two sides of the same coin. Which underlines the Metafilter is not for you move.
posted by away for regrooving at 11:45 PM on July 21 [35 favorites]


I want to apologize about the recent banning situation. Closing odinsdream's account at that moment, instead of having a discussion about immediate needs and safety, created extra hurt for her during an already scary and stressful time, and left a lot of other MeFites feeling worried or uncertain about how safe or welcome they were on the site. That sucks, and I'm sorry for causing that worry and hurt.

I'm also sorry for implying that this was due to long-standing issues with her. It was not accurate to suggest that those conversations had been ongoing. This was a genuine misapprehension on my part, and I regret the damage it did.

It's a priority for me that we continue to make forward progress in making this a community marginalized folks feel comfortable and supported in. My decision-making in this case did the opposite, and I apologize, to the user and to everybody. I'm working with the team to find ways we can avoid these kinds of negative outcomes in the future.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:24 PM on July 22 [9 favorites]


Hey all.

A bit of news: deleted Ask posts are now not visible even at their original URL. This is true whether or not they are deleted as part of an account-wide wipe. We will be improving this process (and solidifying the policies around it) more over the coming weeks, but this was an urgently needed change.

There's been a lot of good, useful stuff in this thread, and I have a whole list of the problems Metafilter has with trans-related posts and comments and a corresponding list of suggested solutions. This is great! This is something we can work with on the moderation front.

But, as many people have made clear, moderation tweaks aren't going to solve the whole problem. We need some systemic changes at Metafilter, behind the scenes and right up in front, in order to address the larger communication and accountability issues. And we're going to make them.

Stay tuned for an announcement post tomorrow. I'm going to close this thread for now; when we come back to the subject, it's going to be with some different systems in place to make sure that the conversation results in real, trackable, effective change.
posted by restless_nomad (retired) at 4:24 PM on July 22 [29 favorites]


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