Site Update #1, 2020 July 31, 2020 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Hello Metafilter! Welcome to the first of many regularly-scheduled updates on the state of the site. Comments will be turned off for these, as they’ll cover far too many topics for an unthreaded conversation to manage, but we’re happy to hear from you via the Contact Form. If you want to discuss a particular subject with the community, you’re welcome to open a separate MetaTalk thread for it.

MetaTalk, User Feedback, and Expectations:
  • Metatalk is going to work a little differently. Read about it all in this thread!
  • Policy MeTas will be open for a minimum of one week, and a maximum of “as long as they are useful” (or 30 days, which is the current max.)
  • Submit MeTas as you always have! Policy MeTas will probably not be posted on Friday/Saturday/Sunday , but that’s the only limitation (and is something we have used the queue to manage since its inception, as long experience suggests that starting a policy MeTa at the beginning of the weekend tends to lead to worse outcomes.)
  • Feedback (on a MetaTalk subject or in general) is welcome at the contact form or sent directly to me at
  • Long-term: a user survey has been suggested, and I would like to do it. Given the rest of our to-do list, I can’t give an ETA at this time, but I’ll keep tracking it.
Site Finances:
  • Due to a peculiarity in how our revenue reports run, (*cough* PayPal *cough*) I will not have a solid month’s data until tomorrow. So this update will not have hard numbers; expect more detail in future updates.
  • We’re doing some internal staffing and schedule adjustments that will help balance the budget demands of adding new admin hours
  • Jessamyn will be coming back a few shifts a week! This will help some of our full-timers get a little more time to themselves.
  • Long-term: Once the administrative and project-management tasks are caught up, we’ll be able to look at some of the revenue- and membership-increasing ideas that have gotten backburnered.
Site Privacy and Offsite Harassment Issues:
  • We’re taking a hard look at our overall privacy policies and systems; this is going to a be a priority over the next two months
  • We will be building a formal Privacy Policy comparable to similar sites that is compliant with GDPR and California privacy laws
  • Existing privacy policy information (including 20+ FAQ entries) will be reviewed to make sure they are clear, consistent, and effective
  • IRL and AskMe posts are no longer visible at all when deleted.
  • Our systems of deletion and anonymization are being reviewed by frimble to see if we can make them more flexible and useful in privacy-sensitive situations; expect more on this next update
  • The automated Twitter accounts that retweet Ask Metafilter posts and some Metafilter posts are under review
  • For clarification, deletion of individual comments or posts for privacy reasons is something we are happy to do on request. See the FAQ for details.
  • Account Wipes are their own topic; see below
Account Wipes:
  • If you need your account completely wiped due to privacy concerns, this is a thing we can do.
  • Metafilter is regularly scraped/copied by third parties we cannot control; an account wipe does not guarantee that the information is no longer on the internet
  • To request an account wipe, follow the process here
  • Accounts that are wiped will be closed. Users who request an account wipe can continue to use the site with a new account.
  • This policy is subject to change as we evaluate our legal and technical requirements and capabilities
Slur Filter:
  • Metafilter now has a system that prevents publishing posts and comments that contain one of a list of egregious slurs; read more here
  • This list was generated based on a few MetaTalk threads; however, that has proved to be a disproportionately harmful process
  • A number of alternatives have been proposed and are being considered; in the meantime, if there is a word you think should never appear in plaintext on MetaFilter, please let us know via the Contact Form
  • frimble is currently polishing the existing implementation; if you notice any bugs, let us know!
  • Next Steps: determine a healthier process for adding words to the filter while prioritizing the input of relevant communities
  • Scope and discuss adding more nuanced possible systems including providing alternative words, automatically flagging-for-moderation certain context-sensitive words, and offering per-user filters
  • Join the in-progress conversation here
Advisory Board:
  • Travelingthyme has made significant progress on the Mefi Global BIPOC board! Read all about it here
  • If you’d like to help fund honoraria for the board, you can do that via the Funding Page. Just send a message via the Contact Form or to and let us know to earmark your contribution for that purpose.
  • If any POC are interested in participating in the board or receiving meeting notes regularly, please email travelingthyme
Guidelines and Documentation:
  • Metafilter has updated our site guidelines. Read the announcement and discuss them with loup here
  • loup is spearheading an overall revamp of our documentation and site pages! Next up: the About page.
  • loup is also leading work on a formal Privacy Policy.
  • As mentioned above, privacy-related FAQ entries are on the priority list to be updated, in conjunction with the policy.
  • A question was asked about Service- Level Agreements (as in, how quickly a response can be expected in various situations). We’ll look at this and incorporate it into the FAQ where appropriate.
First, a note: this will cover items from this thread about trans issues as well as the MetaTalk policy announcement thread and this thread about the slur filter. I’ll be working backwards through recent threads over the next month or two, and we expect the advisory board to be a big help in clarifying moderation issues as well.
  • Trans users have requested that we delete posts that are showcasing transphobia for its own sake; we’re on board and will do this going forward
  • We will apply heightened scrutiny to posts made by cis people about trans people in general
  • Some topics that usually end up being hurtful: trans people and sports, bathroom laws, trans people and medical discrimination, and children and gender nonconformity in general. We’ll keep a very close eye on these topics even when the posts themselves are well-framed and coming from inside the community
  • Mods definitely try to be aware of dogwhistles (anti-trans, racist, etc) but it is a constantly-shifting environment and we are making it a priority to keep our education current. If you see something on the site that you recognize as a dogwhistle, absolutely flag it (with note is ideal!) and let us know.
  • Moderation in MetaTalk, in the new system, will be focused on preventing inter-user conflict from escalating and supporting the Guidelines. This has been bumpy in this first week and we apologize for that; we’ll be working on making sure the team is all on the same page there.
  • Sizeism/fatphobia is a recurring issue on the site as well; that’s something we do not consider appropriate for Metafilter and moderate accordingly.
The Boring Backend Stuff:
  • First priority is getting in-progress and to-do items captured so they can be properly tracked
  • Other than items mentioned above, frimble will be prioritizing some necessary backend work that has gotten backlogged. Big new projects will be scheduled around this work.
  • It’s been proposed that the site have some downtime for staff vacation and planning/admin catch-up; it is a possibility we’re considering but we have no firm plans at this time.
  • Projects that are on the list but on hold for higher-priority items:
    • Staff tag on posts
    • Revisiting the flag button design
    • Considering retiring the gender/pronouns field and replacing it with just the optional “pronouns”, to remove a lot of outdated and often offensive jokes from the original format
    • Restructuring the sidebars to highlight MetaTalks
Thanks for reading! The next update is scheduled for Friday, August 14 - see you then!
posted by restless_nomad (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 11:39 AM 58 users marked this as a favorite

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