"Talk... less." August 18, 2020 2:05 PM   Subscribe

In addition to the ~biweekly megathreads, the 2016 DNC saw four daily threads with 12,536 total comments, plus a 1,598-comment VP thread for literal potato Tim Kaine. This cycle there are no megathreads, and a grand total of *checks notes* zero posts or comments on either the DNC or VP nominee Kamala Harris, a charismatic woman of color with a complex record who may potentially lead the nation for a dozen years if everything breaks her way. I know the megathreads were a burden, but this seems sub-optimal, especially given the desire on the site and in society generally to spotlight women leaders, black voters, and the push for criminal justice reform.

Personally, I didn't post about the VP/convention because I've been busy with another project (plus I was super bummed about Warren not getting the nod). But I'm genuinely surprised no one else did. Is it because of the underwhelming virtual nature of this convention? The lack of surprise over a widely-expected VP pick? A desire to avoid relitigating the primary or anybody's record when pretty much everybody here is #bluenomatterwho? Does anybody even want to see a Harris/DNC/RNC thread?
posted by Rhaomi to MetaFilter-Related at 2:05 PM (309 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Just to note, this is not a moderator thing - we haven't deleted any posts on any of these subjects and would be fine with one should it go up.

Please be kind to one another and don't treat this as a free-fire zone for fighting about politics, please. Thanks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:07 PM on August 18 [15 favorites]


I would have made a post on the blue but I'm just so overwhelmed with work and quarantine and sick, elderly parents.

I would love to see a Harris/DNC thread but if I'm being honest, I have zero interest in an RNC thread.
posted by cooker girl at 2:28 PM on August 18 [7 favorites]


I have been a little worried about another megathread growing out of the convention, because I just don't have the energy for more contentiousness, especially in a primary where we've known the outcome for months. There doesn't seem to be anything to say about the fait accompli that doesn't risk an argument; one can either say, "yes, that happened exactly as we thought," or can detail reasons for wishing it had happened otherwise...which would immediately start a fight, accusations of Secret Fascism, litmus tests about whether dissatisfaction with the candidates makes you a bad person, lengthy explanations about why the policies you'd hoped would be embraced can't get handled right now... I just don't see how a thread could go well. I'm happy to be proved wrong, as always, though.
posted by mittens at 2:30 PM on August 18 [12 favorites]


I miss the megathreads.

I accept my aloneness in that regard.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:32 PM on August 18 [86 favorites]


I also noticed the lack of thread on the Kamala Harris VP pick, as well as the (still ongoing) convention. On one hand, there are a bunch of ways those could go badly, and Metafilter not throwing out a thread without good research and framing seems like a sign of maturity. On the other hand, it does feel like a lack.
posted by feckless at 3:03 PM on August 18 [2 favorites]


I feel like a Kamala Harris thread would be a fiery tornado of drama, anger, arguments, recriminations, derails, blocking, buttoning and an all-around bad time. But maybe I'm just a pessimist.
posted by zeusianfog at 3:06 PM on August 18 [24 favorites]


Is it because of the underwhelming virtual nature of this convention?

Underwhelming? People are engaging in this convention unlike anything we've ever seen in the past. Viewership last night was at least 28.9 million, compared to just 10.2 million in 2016.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:09 PM on August 18 [30 favorites]


I thought of doing it, but then I didn’t...

At the moment, I’m extremely anxious: I see rump declaring martial law in the next 60 days, and starting an actual, bloody civil war. I hope I’m wrong.
posted by growabrain at 3:12 PM on August 18 [10 favorites]


Agreeing with zeusianfog. A post about Harris specifically would be an absolute clusterfuck on this site, unfortunately.

As far as the DNC and other ongoing US political topics, I have chalked the recent lack of momentum up to everybody just being exhausted; and for many of us, scared and stressed literally all the time on top of that. There's so much going wrong in the world right now. I'd be fine with a DNC thread and I honestly miss the megathreads, too, but I just don't have the spoons.
posted by Lonnrot at 3:14 PM on August 18 [7 favorites]


I think it would be hard to tell the comment stream from pretty much any DNC/RNC/Harris post, no matter how well done, from what you would get if you fed the megathreads to GPT3 and asked it to write a new one.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:37 PM on August 18 [7 favorites]


It's difficult to build a post that's up to the standards expected of a political post. At the end of the megathread era, there were collaborations and a wiki and even an almost-standardized footer with more resources. We have to find good sources that aren't paywalled, that will let you run adblock without a nag window but not AMP because Google is awful, not a Twitter thread because they are hard to navigate, and never the NYT because we all hate it now and there will be a derail about it. Don't forget to warn about autoplaying video or potentially geoblocked content.

It's also difficult to contribute unless you can be here for an extended amount of time to keep up with the thousands of comments, lest you repeat something that was 350 comments ago. You can be jokey but not too jokey. You can debate, and perhaps argue, but don't cross the continuously shifting dotted line into fighty.

It takes so much energy to talk about politics here. I'm sure many of us are talking about Harris and the DNC, just in friendlier places where we can simply say "I'm excited about Harris, good choice!" or "that speech was great!" without feeling like someone's going to go for your throat. Which is not here anymore.

I mean, it took me 20 minutes to work up the nerve to even *write* about talking about politics here.
posted by kimberussell at 3:58 PM on August 18 [150 favorites]


I kind of feel that there is a bit less to discuss this time around. Like it doesn't matter at this point what Biden or Harris say or do, everyone has to vote for them to prevent another 4 years of Trump. The stakes are too high to vote your conscience for some no-hope 3rd party candidate or to not vote at all because the candidates don't speak to you in the way you'd like. In 2016 you could think otherwise but we've seen what a disaster the last 4 years have been and I can't even picture what the world would be like after 4 more years of Trump. Maybe in 2024 there can be some nuance to your decision-making but not in 2020.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:03 PM on August 18 [44 favorites]


Like it doesn't matter at this point what Biden or Harris say or do, everyone has to vote for them to prevent another 4 years of Trump

Never in the field of human conflict was so little expected by so many of so few.
posted by GuyZero at 4:25 PM on August 18 [14 favorites]


"Like it doesn't matter at this point what Biden or Harris say or do, everyone has to vote for them to prevent another 4 years of Trump. The stakes are too high to vote your conscience for some no-hope 3rd party candidate or to not vote at all because the candidates don't speak to you in the way you'd like. "

Seconding this. What the hell else is there to freshly discuss in a megathread now? I mean, if someone wants to start one, go to it, but I just don't have the energy to care or discuss it either and it's a fait accompli: vote for them or ..... see below.

and I can't even picture what the world would be like after 4 more years of Trump.

I can, but I won't say it because it would get removed by the mods for being super depressing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:32 PM on August 18 [7 favorites]


Why doesn’t someone be the change they want, and make a thread? I don’t particularly want it, but it will undoubtedly be great for many members of the community.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:47 PM on August 18 [6 favorites]


(This MetaTalk thread should not be the politics thread. Once a DNC/Kamala Harris/Whatever thread exists, this metatalk should be closed lest it become the politics thread anyway.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:48 PM on August 18 [5 favorites]


Legit didn't even know the DNC was happening until the middle of the evening yesterday; I stopped following politics when it became abundantly clear that the government was not going to do or be anything anymore at any time in the foreseeable future. I'll vote for the democratic candidate no matter who it is as long as my lack of permanent address doesn't prevent me from voting. Meanwhile I have enough on my goddamn plate cleaning up the wreckage our trash fire government has made of my daily life.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:12 PM on August 18 [14 favorites]


I'll echo what others have said. I was genuinely excited when I saw that Harris was the VP pick -- it was the first piece of political news that I felt unambiguously positive about in months, maybe years. I almost started to put together a post... but as I thought about what that discussion was likely to look like, I just couldn't muster the energy.

I'm afraid I just don't trust the site overall any more to approach these conversations with the required nuance and respect for each other. I feel like the site's culture is now in place where at least a significant fraction of the membership approaches things from the presumption that others (or at least certain others) are acting in bad faith. I don't even know that they're necessarily wrong; all I know is that this is a really poisonous place for a community based around discussion to be in. Much like kimberussell described above, it takes so much energy to craft even a simple comment in such a way that someone won't read it in the most negative, hostile light, it's often easier to just... not say anything. I don't know whether it's actually worse now than it was four years ago or whether it's just that things are so shitty now that my tolerance has changed. In 2016, I loved reading and commenting in the megathreads during the DNC. There was plenty of heated disagreement but I at least felt like people were engaging with where others really were coming from, and I really felt like I was hanging out with my people here. Now? I don't know. I'd love to be wrong, but it's hard not to expect a conversation about Harris as the VP candidate or the DNC in general to just turn into yet another round of "No, you don't really think the thing you say you think. Let me tell you what you actually believe and why that makes you a horrible person."

I don't know. I don't even know if anything has actually changed in the site culture or if it's just my perception, colored by how much the last four years have sucked generally. All I know is, when I thought about putting together a post celebrating Harris as the VP nominee, the very idea of what that discussion would look like exhausted me. And while I kept hoping that hey, maybe someone else would do it, and it would turn out better than I expected, as time went on there just... wasn't one. And I have to wonder if other people considering making such a post were feeling the same way I was.
posted by biogeo at 5:24 PM on August 18 [83 favorites]


It's difficult to build a post that's up to the standards expected of a political post. At the end of the megathread era, there were collaborations and a wiki and even an almost-standardized footer with more resources. We have to find good sources that aren't paywalled, that will let you run adblock without a nag window but not AMP because Google is awful, not a Twitter thread because they are hard to navigate, and never the NYT because we all hate it now and there will be a derail about it. Don't forget to warn about autoplaying video or potentially geoblocked content.

And then after all that work, 90% of people would ignore the links entirely and just jump in the discussion making all the same the same arguments as they had in the previous post.
posted by octothorpe at 5:45 PM on August 18 [21 favorites]


Does anybody even want to see a Harris/DNC/RNC thread?

I emailed a mod when I couldn't find a single comment about Kamala Harris on the day she was announced, because I assumed I was just dumb about how the politics threads worked and where they live these days. I'm not a big contributor to political discussions but I do like to pop in occasionally to see what's being said. I was directed to Trump and Covid as being the current mega politics thread but it was crickets on Harris. Which seemed super weird but... 🤷‍♀️
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:49 PM on August 18 [4 favorites]


I had to quit the megathreads for my mental and emotional health. If a DNC thread comes up, I will avoid it. When I saw that Kamala Harris had been picked for VP, I was excited, and immediately shut out anything beyond knowing only that fact, because I don't need to see the kinds of things that are doubtless being tweeted, facebooked, memed, or commented regarding Harris, or Biden.
posted by coppertop at 5:49 PM on August 18 [5 favorites]


For whatever reason, Metafilter is dying. Someone posted a series of charts on reddit(!) which shows that participation is down by most meaningful metrics. For example, Comments per Month, Posts and Questions per Month, Favourites per Month.

This issue is far bigger than just worrying about having fighty political threads.
posted by Rumple at 5:50 PM on August 18 [69 favorites]


just in friendlier places where we can simply say "I'm excited about Harris, good choice!" or "that speech was great!" without feeling like someone's going to go for your throat. Which is not here anymore.

I would like to think that “I’m excited about Harris, good choice!” is banal enough to stand. It’s the “I’m not excited about Harris”, the “I like Harris, but she’s a cop”, and the “Harris was a meh AG” comments that would send everything downhill, then someone will do a racism.

What we need for big news threads are inverse “.”s. Say, “!” for like, “>(” for dislike, etc. Which, I suppose, is why other platforms have reactions emoji. Because when you want to express yourself and not talk about it, reaction emoji are tops.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:58 PM on August 18 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I’m feeling, personally, like a lot of the positives and negatives cancel each other out on that VP pick, so I’m not excited to talk about it. If other people feel differently then they should.
posted by corb at 6:04 PM on August 18 [3 favorites]


I feel like, what there to say? I'm voting for them. Anything beyond that is just an expenditure of energy I don't have. In 2016 I read every megathread cover to cover and campaigned as much as I could, but now I just feel grim. Saving my energy for the GOTV effort.
posted by HotToddy at 6:07 PM on August 18 [12 favorites]

meaningful metrics
I think this begs the question that comments/favourites/posts per month are actually meaningful metrics? Or if USpol megathreads full of furious comments each with a gorillion favourites are an indication of healthy activity...
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:19 PM on August 18 [8 favorites]


For whatever reason, Metafilter is dying.
Well, I don't agree with this. I'm sorry so many do. I know there are a lot of problems but I still hope this place is here in ten years.

Kamala is badass. I hope Warren will lead the Senate and maybe Barbara Lee or Katie Porter will be appointed Senator and the slow process of fixing this horrifying and bullshit mess will start. I am avoiding most news lately, but it's all there on the periphery like, all the time. I am not as pessimistic as many, that a DNC thread would go sideways. Everything is just so utterly and terribly WEIRD. And mostly bad. But it can't all be bad or there would be no point at all. Perhaps I will go watch Michelle Obama and some other speeches.

People are engaging in this convention unlike anything we've ever seen in the past. Viewership last night was at least 28.9 million, compared to just 10.2 million in 2016.
That is nice to know! That is something.
posted by Glinn at 6:28 PM on August 18 [24 favorites]


Rumple: "For whatever reason, Metafilter is dying. "

I don't agree. I like this place a little quieter. It feels more like it did when I joined up.
posted by signal at 6:42 PM on August 18 [25 favorites]


I feel like the Politics tab in Chat would be good for live-commenting for the crowd that wants that.

I'd be interested in reading a recap post AFTER it was over, but 100% understand if no one has the energy for that, and don't think less of the site if it doesn't happen. I'm not sure how that thread doesn't turn into a general megathread, but if the mods are game to chance it, hopefully someone will write it.

I think both Biden and Harris are divisive figures for the left, and don't know what constructive/interesting conversation could come out of that post. If someone's got some good links, though, share 'em.
posted by curious nu at 6:48 PM on August 18 [2 favorites]


Also can we please not go down the "Metafilter is dying" conversation here -- Rhaomi's got a good question and it's an important topic as we go into this US election to figure out how we want our posts to go this year.
posted by curious nu at 6:50 PM on August 18 [8 favorites]


it is also, as noted not really part of the story.

Anyone here could write a politics post, as thin as a single NPR story (since no other post is obviously forthcoming), and it’s clear that no one here feels motivated to. And that’s fine! Take it to chat, take it to the PoliticsFilter Slack! Take it to Fanfare (Arguably the best venue for the DNC discussion.) Take it to memail if there’s a particular mefite you want to hash it out with and/or know better.

One of the benefits of being a li’l neighborhood site (so to speak, you could take it Nextdoor but I wouldn’t) is that no one’s outside of the room, beating down the door to know what we have to say. It doesn’t have to be for us. Current events are opportunities to hash things out and make some content, but we don’t have some obligation to produce material for anyone but ourselves.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:07 PM on August 18 [5 favorites]


Favorited for the A+ title.

> This issue is far bigger than just worrying about having fighty political threads.

I mean, it's related, right? At least to some extent? This will be my first comment on the Blue/Green/Gray since June 18th. Essentially all my former MeFi activity has moved to the PoliticsFilter Slack, and I didn't even think to look for a Biden/Harris/convention post.
posted by RedOrGreen at 7:15 PM on August 18


Metafilter is dying, and I would prefer not to postpone the discussion until the memorial service — you know, just in case there's something we can actually do about it.
posted by jamjam at 7:32 PM on August 18 [8 favorites]


Metafilter is dying, and I would prefer not to postpone the discussion until the memorial service — you know, just in case there's something we can actually do about it.

I think we’ve had that discussion... a lot, though? Fanfare is a response to it, so is the BIPOC work, so are the fundraising drives. We can have a new iteration of that discussion, but having it in a thread about why there isn’t a politics thread seems unrelated. Besides, it seems like the reason why there’s no thread about Harris or the DNC is that these MetaTalk participants don’t want one, and if they do then they can take it to PoliticsFilter. That’s not a death of the site thing unless you consider politics threads let to the site’s future.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:41 PM on August 18 [10 favorites]


I mean, really clearly “MetaFilter is dying” is both demonstrably true and the most responsive answer to the question of this post. If the user base were not constantly shrinking, someone would have made the post you seek. I too would be happy to discuss what we can do about it. My suspicion is that it’s probably not reversible. That’s an incredibly painful thought for me to confront.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:45 PM on August 18 [14 favorites]


curious nu: Also can we please not go down the "Metafilter is dying" conversation here -- Rhaomi's got a good question and it's an important topic as we go into this US election to figure out how we want our posts to go this year.

This is a discussion for another time, but one to come. In the Site Update #2, restless_nomad wrote: "We have a number of membership- and revenue-increasing plans that we’ll be exploring later this year.

Back to the topic at hand, I think the question isn't of framing, because as octothorpe noted upthread, % of people would ignore the links entirely and just jump in the discussion making all the same arguments as they had in the previous post.

If nothing else, this should be a reminder to re-frame expectations around political threads, if not all threads -- we shouldn't be fighting each-other, because no one's going to win that fight, and the community loses. Push back against aggressions and micro-aggressions on-site, but the politicians and decision-makers in question aren't in the virtual room, so keep the disagreements civil.

Also, remind ourselves (as best we can) that these won't be megathreads, but structured and focused around a central topic.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:46 PM on August 18 [3 favorites]


I participated in the megathreads a lot but I'm glad that they're gone. Unfortunately I find it hard to participate in non-political threads right now because everything else seems so trivial in comparison.
posted by octothorpe at 7:50 PM on August 18 [2 favorites]


Post made, LET'S DANCE!

Post made while watching the original Young Guns movie, 'cause the wife was looking for something "different to watch", but I KNOW it was for a young Kiefer Sutherland.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 PM on August 18 [17 favorites]


Is it because of the underwhelming virtual nature of this convention?

There is no earthly way in which a convention which features Billy Porter in a velvet cape jamming to "For What It's Worth" with Stephen Stills could be described as "underwhelming".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:58 PM on August 18 [18 favorites]


It really is worth being aware of 'declinism'—the cognitive bias that overrates the goodness of the past relating to the present. Whether things are 'objectively' worse now (whether in the politics of the United States or the administration of metafilter) is separate to the way we actually experience that betterness or worseness. Declinism is fundamental to political cultures in the US and UK, and is a powerful lens to view any kind of aspect of the present, so it is appropriate to discuss in a politics-meta-megathread. But the thing is this: the sense that one's environment is in inevitable decline compared to the past, that things are going to the dogs, that it isn't like it used to be, that we can't go on like this, or even that a group should be Made Great Again, happens in cultures that are both old, which are experiencing change, and which have powerful mythologies of themselves, like the US, like Britain, and like metafilter. It's neither bad nor good, or true or false, it's just an intellectual lens.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:25 PM on August 18 [45 favorites]


For what it's worth: I don't think I've ever created a major politics FPP, but when I half-noticed there was nothing yet about the convention or the Harris nomination, part of my brain went, "Well, we're not really supposed to be doing megathreads anymore." If I had thought a little harder, I certainly would have realized that it would be perfectly possible to create a post that would stand - as Brandon Blatcher has just done! yay Brandon! - but I do have this little sense that politics threads are frowned on.

The (completely understandable) policy against megathreads doesn't prevent us from making posts, but - for me, at least - it does introduce a little friction.
posted by kristi at 8:45 PM on August 18 [4 favorites]


Just to be clear regarding my perspective: I don't think Metafilter is dying, or in "decline" broadly stated. I do think we're not in a great place right now, for a variety of reasons, and some of those probably contribute to why people might be hesitating to make certain kinds of posts about politics. I also don't think that Metafilter taking a pass on making a thread about Harris or the DNC is necessarily a bad thing. If someone does want to make one, that would be great, and maybe it could go really well, which would be awesome. But if collectively we're just not feeling up to it right now, well, maybe that's just a sign of where we are at the moment. There's still some relevant current events being discussed in other threads, with nice news links being provided by some of the usual folks like katra, and those discussions seem to be going fine.
posted by biogeo at 8:50 PM on August 18 [6 favorites]


There is no earthly way in which a convention which features Billy Porter in a velvet cape jamming to "For What It's Worth" with Stephen Stills yt could be described as "underwhelming".


That was camp, and showed up in my Twitter feed where it was jabbed at in a good natured way by journalists and literati. Unfortunately I don't think that's something that would go well here now as a single link thread and part of the reason I think people are saying the site is downhill.
posted by geoff. at 8:58 PM on August 18


I think that it's 2020, and we're all exhausted and overwhelmed, and arguing about politics seems like about the least appealing thing in the world right now. At least, it does for me. And honestly, is anyone going to say anything that hasn't been said a million times before? I'm not really up to arguing about anything right now, but if I'm going to argue about something, I'd at least like to hear a new argument that makes me view things a little differently. But honestly, I'd be ok with no arguing about anything, and maybe we can just share podcast recommendations and bread recipes for a while.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:59 PM on August 18 [28 favorites]


Trivia is one of the few luxuries.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:06 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]


I think it was well put above; I'm tired, and posting in the other thread can only go poorly. If I mention my own complicated thoughts, it'll be seen as raining on the parade of people cheering on the events and picking a "do you want Trump to win?" fight for anything less than full-throated enthusiasm.
If I avoid that for the sake of comity though, then... what is there left to say? "Good job picking your candidate, and your speakers. I hope the gambit you have chosen succeeds."

It's not enough to be allies-of-convenience, there must be enthusiasm for what is being cheered on.

But hey, if it allows for a cheerful thread that some people can enjoy; I don't know that I'd enjoy a thread that I felt I could be comfortable in.
posted by CrystalDave at 9:19 PM on August 18 [4 favorites]


I mean, as a mod-centric thing, the main thing I'd like to see is people avoiding outright contentless threadshitting. I think it's part of the deal that there's room for criticism and complicated feelings. But that's a guidelines question, not a "how folks will feel individually" analysis, and I totally get feeling more gunshy about digging in with even substantial critical stuff at a time when everybody's raw and a lot of us have been ten rounds on a lot of the angles already here or elsewhere.

From a strictly personal user-level perspective, I was a little surprised there wasn't a Harris thread sooner but also not, because, like folks have said variously: it's 2020, it's been a shit four years, and I'm tired and I think everyone else is too. I hope that DNC/Harris thread goes well, I appreciate Brandon taking the bull by the horns and just making a post since there's some interest, and I also understand the feelings of every MeFite who contemplated the idea of making a post and then was just too stressed or busy or reluctant or tired to go for it.

It's a long way to November and whatever it brings and everybody's been portioning themselves out already; the willingness to put effort into something you're not sure will even go well is understandably a bit thinly and unevenly distributed at this point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:32 PM on August 18 [16 favorites]


I don' t know, maybe we're just following the example the Biden campaign has set and being a little more low-key and quiet. Is that such a bad thing right now?
posted by FJT at 11:13 PM on August 18 [8 favorites]


MetaFilter used to be my safe and interesting place where I could go to feel closeness and community with a room full of strangers. And this was during my 20s and 30s, while I had energy and the world outdoors was offering endless possibilities of things to do.

Nowadays I’m indoors for nearly two uncharacteristically sunny seasons, experiencing a world of lockdown and reflection and boredom and change. Past me would have thought that I’d be closer than ever to MeFites and the site would be absolutely thriving in 2020.

It’s not the conversation I’m seeking from the megathreads per se. It’s the chance to experience this all with you during these unbelievable times. By relating to your comments, learning new things, favouriting interesting perspectives and generally feeling that community vibe.

I don’t know if MetaFilter will actually make it through this long dormant phase to thrive again, but I do hope so.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:19 PM on August 18 [41 favorites]


My feelings are similar to iamkimiam's. Even if I don't personally have the energy to participate in a given discussion, it feels good to know that things I think are important are also important to other people, that they're being discussed, that there's still a strong presence and visibility of left-wing/progressive discussion and caring in the places I spend time in. Not seeing any discussion of the events of the last few days had me feeling kind of worried. Does everyone just not care? Is this a sign of massive social apathy? Or was the site itself trying to minimize politics posts? I didn't know, I felt alone, and it didn't feel great.

And I disagree that politics threads are all rehashing and fighting. I feel like I also learn from them, get exposed to viewpoints from lots of different news sources all in one place, and get a sense of the range of reactions that people in this community and on my side of the political spectrum are having. And while they might sometimes lead to fights, I also really appreciate comments insisting that people think about issues from many specific marginalized viewpoints, because it's all too easy for me to not have some of those perspectives at the top of my mind and I think it's vital for pushback like that to exist.

(And count me as another person who misses the megathreads, even though I can see how it's better for the site not to have them. But as much as the last four years have been an intentional firehose of enraging and distracting offenses to democracy and humanity, and as much as it was exhausting trying to keep up with it all, it feels worse to give up and let it all go on in the background unacknowledged and undiscussed. I dipped in and out of the megathreads as personal health allowed, but it felt good to know that that resource was there and that people I knew were paying attention and I could pay attention with them.)
posted by trig at 1:18 AM on August 19 [18 favorites]


The majority of people whose thoughts and opinions I would like to know about Harris and the DNC have been driven away or banned from the site.
posted by Mizu at 1:54 AM on August 19 [28 favorites]


I enjoy the politics threads because they give me a broader sense of what is happening on the ground in America in a way that news coverage doesn't.
posted by freethefeet at 2:03 AM on August 19 [7 favorites]


Even if I don't personally have the energy to participate in a given discussion

I think a lot of people don’t have the energy right now.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:30 AM on August 19 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of people don’t have the energy right now.

Absolutely. But there's also a current of thought that says political threads have little to contribute, and that's what I'm responding to.
posted by trig at 2:36 AM on August 19 [1 favorite]


I've very much noticed the decrease in new Metafilter posts lately, and it's at least partly linked to the departure (hopefully temporary) of consistent posters like Fizz. I've intentionally started posting as often as I can to make up for the shortfall and, frankly, years of laziness expecting other people to make posts for me.

I've also tried to start commenting more. It has been a mixed bag. I participated in the Epic vs. Apple thread quite heavily and basically got out-commented by people who disagreed with me. No-one was being rude but it was completely exhausting, especially with some people who refused to acknowledge basic errors of fact, so I just gave up after a day. I didn't feel like I was in a real conversation.

I don't think Metafilter is actually any worse than any other forum in that regard though – I've had similarly exhausting experiences on private Slacks...
posted by adrianhon at 3:14 AM on August 19 [25 favorites]


I am really enjoying the DNC convention thread, thank you Brandon for posting it. I’m in Australia and hadn’t seen the roll call or the anthem, and this finally got me to watch them (as well as Michelle Obama’s speech)

I’ve never made a post on the blue, but am a constant reader of the green, the blue and the grey.

Two reasons why I don’t participate more: afraid of getting shouted down, and the commenting interface on mobile (where I do 95% of my browsing) is really challenging. That extra bit of friction stops me from commenting or answering questions the way I do on, say, Discourse or Reddit.
posted by third word on a random page at 3:29 AM on August 19 [10 favorites]


Like adrianhon I've tried to pick up the slack a little and comment more, but most things I want to discuss leave me very worried that I'm just going to talked over by people who demonstrably know less about a subject than I do, are reading my comments in the worst way possible, and are smug in how their chosen solution will fix everything. Or WORSE that I'm going to do that to someone else and ruin their day.

(Also, Adrian, I saw some of your tweets about Epic v Apple and they were very interesting. Thanks!)
posted by Braeburn at 3:53 AM on August 19 [6 favorites]


It's been such a hard fucking three+ years. I am terrified (*terrified* and I'm a tough mo-fo. Or at least I think of myself as a tough mo-fo.) terrified that Trump will 'win' again - I am terrified that Trump will pull a G.W.Bush Jr., circa 2000 times one thousand - that is, pretty clearly lose except for a few counties that would tilt the electoral college his way... and then Biden (like Gore) doesn't really show up to fight it.

Trump's talk about serving four more years after... I can't say it. Trump being elected the first time was bad enough,

Like so many others have said upthread - I'm freaked out and exhausted.

On the idea/topic of Metafilter 'dying' - meh. ; ) (Things change, ebb, flow. I read here daily, interact less, but there's more good here than you can shake a stick at.)
posted by From Bklyn at 4:17 AM on August 19 [18 favorites]


In the 2016 saga, weirdly (being an English person with an obsession with US presidential election) I constructed a lot of the political and election MegaThread posts. Looking back at a few, I have some regrets at the thing they evolved into, and have to put my hand up for my part in that (sorry). I won't be doing any this time round as comfort food is more, well, comforting.

One of several reasons was to try and highlight, in most of them, voter suppression news. But as someone else upthread noted, the links were largely ignored and it became a space for hot takes, angst, rage, some constructive debate, and the destructively epic distraction of Bernie vs Hillary (that I do no miss; 'know thy real enemy for he is the mango Mussolini' etc).

I still remember the words of Michelle Obama which became the title of this post, though am not sure I miss those MegaThreads overall. Others will.

It would be very good if the community did perhaps debate and clarify the position on election postings and comments (before, election day, after election day) as it's, what, two and a half months away now. Not having a post about Kamala until a few hours ago does seem to have gone from one extreme (2016) to another.
posted by Wordshore at 5:07 AM on August 19 [6 favorites]

Not seeing any discussion of the events of the last few days had me feeling kind of worried. Does everyone just not care? Is this a sign of massive social apathy?
I mean, I'm trying to spend my time demonstrating that I care by working to get Trump out of office, rather than by debating whether this work makes me a neoliberal trash person. I don't care any less, and I'm still volunteering to try to elect Democrats. I'm just a lot less enthusiastic about arguing about it on the internet.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:25 AM on August 19 [59 favorites]


If the user base were not constantly shrinking, someone would have made the post you seek.

Or they want to make the post but are uncomfortable doing so. I flirted with the idea of making the VP post, but then I thought "Why do you want to invite that sort of pain and anguish into your life?"
posted by terrapin at 6:01 AM on August 19 [15 favorites]


The DNC thread is working for me, and I've enjoyed the narrow focus on this particular time-bound event. Thank you to Brandon Blatcher for posting and to the folks over there who've kept it decidedly non-horrible, especially when compared to the phone-breaking pace of the megathreads.

I'm glad we haven't had as much political activity as in 2016, primarily because I am exhausted right now, especially by political life where I live and by political news stories around the world that seem to just illustrate the horror of political life everywhere. So much I thought I could trust about the place I live and other places I might live is just...gone. It's hard to do much at all, really, other than just get through the day kind of numbed.

I don't mean to sound apathetic - I love politics, I did a degree in politics, I read about political ideas, I teach people about the political and social power of language all the time, I'm involved in charitable causes that are indirectly related to politics, I'm already registered to vote overseas - but I just can't engage in any meaningful way with political links and news stories. And for the first time in a long time, I'm reading more fiction than nonfiction for leisure.

That said: I found it useful to watch the DNC on the official YouTube stream and pause when I saw a name I didn't recognize. Perhaps folks craving a little more political activity could direct their digital time there?

If the person speaking is running for something, can you help them win? If they aren't running, can you support their work? This is why it took me four hours to watch day two today - the seventeen-person keynote led me to have like forty tabs open at once.

Stay the course, y'all. We're going to make it.
posted by mdonley at 6:33 AM on August 19 [4 favorites]


I flirted with the idea of making the VP post, but then I thought "Why do you want to invite that sort of pain and anguish into your life?"

After making the post, I climbed into bed to continue reading "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms". Not a huge fan of it so far, but will keep it up, still prefer Jemison's "Broken Earth" series, which I highly recommend.

The thread itself seems fine, people offering various thoughts and opinions. No need for me personally to follow it closely, but YMMV.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 AM on August 19 [4 favorites]


We all have limited amounts of energy, and mine, like many others, is at a particular deficit given the daily political and pandemic hellscape - with the stakes so high, i don't have the fucking energy anymore to engage in internet fights and armchair activism. The most insidious things about internet discussions here (and twitter, and reddit, and facebook) is that people think getting their daily rawr in and hot take translates to a meaningful contribution to avoiding a further acceleration into fascism.

I'm voting blue, and i'm putting whatever little energy I have left to conducting outreach with the dnc and listening in and working with mutual aid groups and dnc to turn out voters. I have zero, negative, spoons left to get triggered by someone on the internet telling me how they aren't excited about Biden or how Kamala is a cop or is thinking about protest voting to show dems we want real change, or how the DNC isn't exciting. Nope. I don't owe those people my energy and it's a complete waste of time for me to think I'm doing anything valuable by engaging with them.

I've already ratched back down my engagement with metafilter since the metatalks on race because I found the constant dithering and and stepping over of poc voices to be exhausting and my engagement started to feel sisphyean - I don't expect the mefi political threads to be much better.
posted by Karaage at 7:23 AM on August 19 [16 favorites]


I will say that I was shocked when there wasn't a post about Harris being named VP. I even went to the search function a couple of times in the first few days thinking that I certainly must have missed it.

Then I realized that I didn't actually want to see what I thought would inevitably become a shitshow thread full of microagressions and outright racism, and I was actually sort of relieved that there hadn't been one. Though I couldn't resist the DNC thread, I'm happier limiting my engagement on Metafilter (especially politically) much more strictly in the last year or so.
posted by TwoStride at 7:54 AM on August 19 [4 favorites]


I don’t think it’s just Metafilter. When the pick was announced, I posted in the #random channel of our company Slack. (It’s common for newsy stuff to be posted there.) This is a channel where discussions about gravel get 50 replies. I got two, plus a handful of emoji reactions. I have to admit, :female_police_officer: was funny, but it seems like nobody cared. Wasn’t a big thing on my Facebook feed, either, even though I have several active friends who are pretty involved in Democratic politics.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:06 AM on August 19 [1 favorite]


I'm not American, but the DNC thread is definitely a weird read. It seems like there are three types of comments: a Discussion of the event itself, extremely mild, accurate criticisms of Biden surrounded by caveats that they're still voting for him, and then comments taking the second category to task for not showing sufficient deference.

It's just round after round of "I see these problems with Biden" -> "How dare you imperil our democracy". From the outside, it's just... exhausting? I can't ever imagine this level of worship toward the chosen candidate, at least in comparison to Canada. Everyone I know thinks that Trudea is not great at being PM! Everyone I know thinks that he's better than any Conservative! The emphasis on supporting a certain candidate as a proxy for being a morally good person is tough to read.
posted by sagc at 9:20 AM on August 19 [46 favorites]


And I think the entire thread would be characterized more or less as the opposite by other people, with commenters nitpicking a fait-accompli decision and distracting from important get-out-the-vote work, since there's nothing that could possibly be a higher priority. And I don't really think that's wrong, either - but I'm not sure how you can have all the conversations people want to have in one space.
posted by sagc at 9:27 AM on August 19 [4 favorites]


It seems like there are three types of comments: a Discussion of the event itself, extremely mild, accurate criticisms of Biden surrounded by caveats that they're still voting for him, and then comments taking the second category to task for not showing sufficient deference.

I'm actually seeing the "taking the second category to task" pushback coming against a fourth category of comments - comments that seem unduly harsh towards the DNC for not having a particular degree of progressivism in its approach. And the pushback is precisely because focusing on the get-out-the-vote work is precisely that important.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:29 AM on August 19 [7 favorites]


I guess this is why I feel kind of hopeless about these kinds of conversations. What is "get out the vote work" when it comes to commenting on a Metafilter thread, and why is commenting a certain way a distraction from that?
posted by mittens at 9:35 AM on August 19 [9 favorites]


Each person who comments in a Metafilter thread that "Hmph, why didn't the DNC get Henry Kissinger as a speaker" may have friends, and if they speak that way to those friends, those are yet more people who may sit out that vote. And those friends may have more friends to whom they can speak that same way.

The upshot being: the more likely it is that people focus on ways that Biden doesn't measure up to their internal Platonian Ideal, instead of focusing on ways that he measures up to Trump, the less likely it is that they would be motivated to vote - which is especially concerning at a time when it is exponentially more difficult to vote than usual. We already have a piss-poor record of voter turnout in this country even when things aren't on fire.

Social Media and online discussions have an impact on people's opinions, like it or not. Using social media and online discussions to remind people that this election is not "Biden vs. The Candidate Of Your Dreams", but is rather "Biden vs. Trump", is indeed a step people can take.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:43 AM on August 19 [25 favorites]


It's kind of exhausting, but a different reason for me. I mean, it seems people agree we've had a fairly quiet summer in terms of posting activity on the Blue. I see posts stay up at the top of the page for days, because activity is a little slow. But that's an incentive to people who want their post seen, because that means their post stays on page one longer and gets more attention.

But does anyone critical of Biden, Harris, or the Democratic Party really make any posts during this time? Nope, not really. But! As soon as the DNC post appeared, it's like bat signal goes up and the critical comments start up again. It's like some folks just argue as a reaction rather than make a post about the thing they would like to argue about.
posted by FJT at 10:11 AM on August 19 [3 favorites]


I mean, it took me 20 minutes to work up the nerve to even *write* about talking about politics here.

I was nervous about writing that I missed the megathreads...

I spend a lot of time on Twitter now, and I think it's in part because it's got that non-stop random tumultuousness that reflects everyday life now--wave after wave, quickly replaced by something else.

For instance, Trump told everyone to stop buying Goodyear tires in a tweet this morning. Because they banned MAGA hats or something. I don't know if that's been mentioned on the blue, or even if there is a place for it. But I, personally, need to see people commenting on that stuff and going "that's batshit crazy, right?".

Or: "Did you see how many times Melania batted his hand away?"

Maybe because everything is so surreal, and we are so isolated. I need to feel connected to people who are wandering in a daze busting out occasionally with 'Are you fucking kidding me???' and making jokes and so on and for a brief second, the churn pauses.

I mean, I do stuff. But at some point I'm going to run out of things to can, knit, clean, paint, bake, cook, and refurbish.

I get that they were difficult or maybe impossible to manage, but the megathreads were valuable to me.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:17 AM on August 19 [23 favorites]


But does anyone critical of Biden, Harris, or the Democratic Party really make any posts during this time? Nope, not really. But! As soon as the DNC post appeared, it's like bat signal goes up and the critical comments start up again. It's like some folks just argue as a reaction rather than make a post about the thing they would like to argue about.

Wait so you're mad that people are posting about not liking Biden in the DNC thread, and you're also mad that those people didn't make a bunch of anti-Biden threads previously?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:52 AM on August 19 [10 favorites]


I read the US politics threads here, as far as I have time. Like freethefeet says, they offer a good perspective.

I usually don't comment or post because it doesn't seem useful. The American scene is incredibly contentious, as others have said. I'm not sure what I can contribute to MeFi on this topic.
posted by doctornemo at 10:53 AM on August 19


Wait so you're mad that people are posting about not liking Biden in the DNC thread, and you're also mad that those people didn't make a bunch of anti-Biden threads previously?

I'm not mad, just pointing out that it's driven more than just not liking Biden. They want to fight with other people about not liking Biden.
posted by FJT at 11:08 AM on August 19 [3 favorites]


For what it’s worth, as a non-American person who doesn’t participate much but reads everything avidly, I’d also like to echo what freethefeet above said so succinctly: I enjoy the politics threads because they give me a broader sense of what is happening on the ground in America in a way that news coverage doesn't.

I just find it interesting to read the direct opinion of as many commenters as possible, something that is at best filtered in the news coverage and at worst completely absent. Twitter with a well curated list of accounts to follow is a good source for a bit of that, of course, but there’s no substitute for the kind of wall-of-text looong threads that (used to) happen here. I miss that too, even as an outsider and not a voter. Or perhaps because of that... I understand people’s frustrations with the discussion, though. I just wish there was a way to still have those megathreads without all the frustrations they seem to have caused.
posted by bitteschoen at 11:10 AM on August 19 [3 favorites]


And it's not only a complaint against critics of Biden. It's everything and everyone. It's four years and people are still pretty much arguing about the same things and in the same ways. I think if you take a typical argument from 2016 and compared it to now, the only difference other than names and events would be the memes are more polished and the snark is sharper.
posted by FJT at 11:41 AM on August 19 [5 favorites]


Haha I thought I missed the politics megathreads, and I guess I am enjoying reading the DNC one, but it has already made me cry from stress thinking about the election and its stakes. Maybe I should stay away...
posted by ferret branca at 12:17 PM on August 19 [10 favorites]


I’m not seeing the DNC thread when I scroll through the Blue. I can access it through direct links though. I don’t think I have any filters in place that would hide it but maybe?
posted by delight at 12:22 PM on August 19


It's the last post on the 18th, so the most recent one from that day, on my view of the homepage.
posted by sagc at 12:25 PM on August 19


Another vote for "was confused by lack of a Harris and/or DNC post, thought to myself 'perhaps I should make a Harris and/or DNC post', immediately renounced this ambition because I would probably have done it wrong."

So yes, thank you Brandon Blatcher! A lot of the contributions in the DNC thread are great. I see we've already entered the ultimate-smackdown portion of the evening in some quarters, but that doesn't diminish the value of having started the thread.

I heartily wish we could find some ground rules we could all realistically stick to for avoiding the endless cycle of "I hate this/but how dare u/well clearly u dgaf about anyone on this Earth" acrimony folks have mentioned above, but at this point I guess it...is what it is. My personal rule is to keep in mind that unless it's literally about another poster's behaviour, the people we are mad at are not here. Figuratively hollering and getting in other Mefites' faces as either a form of emotional catharsis or a proxy for whatever knock-down-drag-out-five-alarm-barnburner asskicking we'd like to deliver to the ghouls who are actively burning the world down sometimes feels irresistible, but all it does is make a tiny corner of the Internet that much worse.

I have sometimes wondered about suggesting the creation of a separate thread in the US Politics sidebar specifically devoted to venting, to try to siphon off some of the--justified--free-floating rage and fear that keeps poisoning these posts. A sort of Fucking Fuck--Election 2020 Edition. Not least because this problem makes USpol threads that much less useful (or even usable) for folks like freethefeet, bitteschoen, and doctornemo who are actually trying to get a sense of what's happening "on the ground" in the US, as they put it. But a) that's ostensibly what we have normal FingF threads for b) it would no doubt quickly become absolutely impossible to moderate.

Much like ArbitraryAndCapricious and Karaage I found that once I started actually trying to engage within my pissant IRL sphere of influence--phonebanking, voter reg, marches, postcards-to-voters--my energy and inclincation to engage in those kinds of arguments decreased markedly. Not everyone can or believes it's worth their time to do that and that's also legit. At the end of the day we're all just a bunch of random fuckers trying to get by.
posted by peakes at 1:02 PM on August 19 [14 favorites]


For whatever reason, Metafilter is dying. Someone posted a series of charts on reddit(!) which shows that participation is down by most meaningful metrics. For example, Comments per Month, Posts and Questions per Month, Favourites per Month.

This issue is far bigger than just worrying about having fighty political threads.


im sure it has nothing to do mods deleting comments left and right without explanation

if i didn't still find AskMe to be useful, I would have closed my account by now, like most of the people i connected to in my mefi contacts (user since 2004, lurker even earlier)
posted by entropicamericana at 2:00 PM on August 19 [10 favorites]


Hey, I just want to say to those who have spoken up in this thread about anxiety over making political posts and the overall waking nightmare feeling around how high the stakes are: I feel you. Some of you have irreconcilably different political views than I do and I know my POV is seen by some as on its own contributing to the toxicity, but nonetheless I know exactly what you mean and I am right there with you on Team Stress Crying. Hang in there and take care of yourselves and each other as best you can.
posted by Lonnrot at 2:37 PM on August 19 [10 favorites]


Just speaking for myself, the reason I don't feel like participating in that thread/politically around here is I am going to get Yelled At with the exact same slogans and arguments I already get on Facebook or Twitter and why subject myself to more of that? Even on our "side", the battle lines are clear and everyone is entrenched, it's screaming just to scream.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:01 PM on August 19 [9 favorites]


For me it’s not just anxiety about making political posts. It’s anxiety about making posts at all. The bar for our the post is pretty high. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing; I’m sure a smaller number of high-quality posts is better than a ton of nothing posts.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:06 PM on August 19 [3 favorites]


I'm with rumple. I think some are tired of the site, and we've lost a few of those that would make such posts.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 3:23 PM on August 19


For whatever reason, Metafilter is dying.

Netcraft confirms it.

(i cant believe i didn't post this earlier.)
posted by entropicamericana at 3:29 PM on August 19 [16 favorites]


entropicamericana: "Netcraft confirms it."

What do you mean? Does Netcraft have an Alexa-style ranking history?
posted by crazy with stars at 3:45 PM on August 19


(Psst. "BSD is dying--Netcraft confirms it" is an ancient Slashdot meme from the Before Time.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:49 PM on August 19 [11 favorites]


Mr. Bad Example: "(Psst. "BSD is dying--Netcraft confirms it" is an ancient Slashdot meme from the Before Time.)"

thanks, lol. And I thought I remembered the Before Times well.
posted by crazy with stars at 3:59 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


To those who are worried about the high bar for posts, political or otherwise, it’s worth remembering that Mefi once regularly exceeded 40 posts/day. We’re at ~10/day right now so please don’t feel like we’re remotely close to any kind of cap!

Also, I have made posts that took me ages and others that took me a couple of minutes, and I can’t say there was any real correlation in terms of comments or how they were received.
posted by adrianhon at 4:09 PM on August 19 [10 favorites]


a fiery tornado of drama, anger, arguments, recriminations, derails, blocking, buttoning and an all-around bad time. But maybe I'm just a pessimist.

am I wrong to be disappointed that this comment didn't end with "... but maybe I'm just an optimist"?
posted by philip-random at 4:36 PM on August 19 [4 favorites]


I mean, really clearly “MetaFilter is dying” is both demonstrably true and the most responsive answer to the question of this post.

it's a bad answer, I think.

What's demonstrably true is that Metafilter has, to some degree, contracted since 2016 ... or whenever it is that the stats might point to activity etc dropping off. Leaping from this to certain death shows a lack of understanding of the concept of resilience -- the fact that in nature (and we're all "in nature") the species that have lasted the longest, proven the healthiest over time, are not the most stable, but those whose populations have managed to expand and contract (sometimes quite dramatically) in accord with changes (sometimes quite dramatic) in the environment. In other words, they've adapted.

What I've been seeing over the past while is this community making an increasingly conscious choice to adapt to various changes in the culture, the interwebs, the world in general. It's way too soon to pretend to know how it will play out.
posted by philip-random at 5:02 PM on August 19 [10 favorites]


What's demonstrably true is that Metafilter has, to some degree, contracted since 2016

Its appeal is becoming more selective.
posted by snofoam at 5:17 PM on August 19 [8 favorites]


just so tired
posted by lazaruslong at 5:29 PM on August 19 [7 favorites]


What's demonstrably true is that Metafilter has, to some degree, contracted since 2016

If someone has usage numbers for places like Slashdot, Everything2, and Something Awful, it would probably add some useful meat to the discussion and its tone.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:31 PM on August 19 [5 favorites]


> I mean, I'm trying to spend my time demonstrating that I care by working to get Trump out of office, rather than by debating whether this work makes me a neoliberal trash person. I don't care any less, and I'm still volunteering to try to elect Democrats. I'm just a lot less enthusiastic about arguing about it on the internet.

RE: The "death" of MetaFilter, I have the same explanation ArbitraryAndCapricious and others have mentioned. Someone (I wish I could remember who) accurately predicted what would become of MetaFilter if HRC didn't win after such a change in the site culture leading up to the 2016 US election. Not so much becoming "Resistance HQ", but certainly acting as a commonality, catalyst, or starting point for many people to spend their efforts elsewhere and not be as visible or participate as much as previously. I'd like to believe this same thing has happened on other parts of the internet (e.g., the "Project Chanology" version of Anonymous) but can't say for sure.

In that sense, the site isn't/wasn't dying as much as it's just transforming into something smaller and more inwardly focused. The above doesn't explain the entirety of why there wasn't the same level of visible enthusiasm on the site for the VP announcement and convention; there are several good reasons mentioned throughout this thread that all combine together. But this is a community weblog, and there are fewer members dedicated to producing content and hosting discussions than there were before. So, now when certain people leave or stop posting, they can have a much larger impact on the presence/absence of particular topics.

What those charts from Reddit don't show is who exactly left and who is still around, which may explain some of the hesitation about starting and participating in a political discussion. All the molehills look like landmines when you put on the Bad Faith lens (or just aren't sure who you're talking to).
posted by Arson Lupine at 5:40 PM on August 19 [5 favorites]


I was very excited and happy about Harris, but after seeing some truly AWFUL whyte people & mansplaining responses I would not have any energy at all to write a thread here. I'm glad someone did, and I'm reading along, but I just do not care to hear any more negativity from the left right now after 4 years of trump. And the idiotic third party thing is already starting too. I don't have the spoons. Vote blue, no matter who.

I am planning to do a FPP about Indonesia's 75th independence day later this weekend tho.
posted by frumiousb at 5:52 PM on August 19 [24 favorites]


Off topic, I would appreciate it if someone could do an FPP on the California fires. My friends a few towns away are evacuating (my crush has almost certainly lost his home and is already probably going to have to evacuate twice in a day) and I am freaking out, so am not coherent enough to put something together at the moment.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:08 PM on August 19 [3 favorites]


I miss the megathreads acutely. Among all the repetitive or predictable comments and crud, there was a ton of great information, thoughtful, insightful analysis, excellent links, pithy quips. The infighting was difficult, especially because the site is non-threaded and it can be hard to follow what people are replying to. But I was smarter or at least looked smarter because of the information in them. This year, things are so very bad, and I miss having the resources to try to make sense of it.

I'd like the site to survive. Opened a new sockpuppet account, gave an account to a friend to throw a little cash in. There's still a lot of great content, and, very importantly, a sense of community. It just feels a lot more fragile, and kind of less fun. I certainly spend less time here. It needs to be rewarding to be here, or people won't show up.
posted by theora55 at 7:32 PM on August 19 [19 favorites]


Oh PLEASE let's not let this thread become a series of discussions about whether the megathreads should come back to life or not. They can't. Mods literally could not endure the strain of it. It is not compatible with the way this site operates.

Can I suggest that this MeTa thread be closed right now? OP asked why no one made a post about the DNC or Kamala Harris, and now there is a thread about those topics.

(Currently, that post is doing a frankly awesome job of demonstrating why we should not have those posts: everyone's aggravating each other, people are accusing each other of not caring/caring too much/caring about the wrong things, everyone has to repeatedly affirm their vote for Biden/Harris, much heat, zero light)
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:01 PM on August 19 [13 favorites]


(Currently, that post is doing a frankly awesome job of demonstrating why we should not have those posts: everyone's aggravating each other, people are accusing each other of not caring/caring too much/caring about the wrong things, everyone has to repeatedly affirm their vote for Biden/Harris, much heat, zero light)

Heat is actually a decent way of catalyzing the community, I think. People do like proving that they are right when online, after all, and they like knowing that other people agree with them. It’s obvious that some members of the site like to scrap a bit and mix it up, or want to post an opinion about something with some stakes and know that others share it. I’m not saying that MetaFilter should do its best to avoid all potentially fighty threads, but I think that doing so would be a significant evolution - and possibly is one that’s already in progress.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:53 PM on August 19 [2 favorites]


> Oh PLEASE let's not let this thread become a series of discussions about whether the megathreads should come back to life or not. They can't. Mods literally could not endure the strain of it. It is not compatible with the way this site operates.

Saying "I miss the megathreads acutely" or "I just wish there was a way to still have those megathreads without all the frustrations they seem to have caused" is not even close to suggesting they can or should come back. It should be okay for members of the site who feel a sense of loss at a part of the site they engaged with to express those thoughts here without the implication that they're being insensitive toward the staff.

I'm certainly in the "former active megathread and pre-POTUS45 politics thread participant who doesn't engage with the site nearly as much now" category that seems so highly-represented in this MeTa, and many of the feelings folks have cited here resonate with me. Killing the megathreads was without question the right thing to do for the site, but that doesn't mean we need to spike a MeTa where people are speaking fondly of them.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:35 PM on August 19 [26 favorites]


We should spike the post because the problem is resolved. Nobody had made a post about the subject. Anybody could have made a post about the subject. Somebody did make a post about the subject. There is now a post about the subject. Everything after that is just the circular firing squad.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 10:00 PM on August 19 [3 favorites]


One of the things I like about Metafilter is participating in conversation, and while threads can go off the deep end (very sadly) they don't have to, and I don't get the sense that this Talk thread is doing that. I'm not sure why you are asking for this thread to be closed up? This is the kind of space where we get to hang out together, talking about stuff.
posted by freethefeet at 11:40 PM on August 19 [7 favorites]


Recipe stuff.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:42 PM on August 19 [3 favorites]


Big fan of St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake these days, NYT recipe is solid. Anybody used honey as a corn syrup substitute?
posted by Going To Maine at 12:13 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Did someone say "Cake"? #YouHaveMyAttention
posted by Wordshore at 1:16 AM on August 20 [5 favorites]


five apples (I'm gonna advocate for bitter, Granny Smith type)
110 grams butter
130 grams caster sugar
some pastry dough/mille-feuille stuff pre-made.

take a cast-iron (or oven-safe nonstick) pan (12inches/20 cm), smear the butter around the booth and up the sides. Lay the sugar around the bottom evenly. Peel (or not) and core the apple and cut into quarters. Leave one half of one apple to the side in the cutting frenzy. (With all the apples in a bowl, squirt them with lemon or lime juice - to keep them from going brown and also for the taste) Lay the apples artfully on top of the butter/sugar. Use enough apples to cover the whole pan. Dream about the mosaics in your favorite mosque as you do this. But the stove on medium-to-high and put the pan on that burner. Cook until the sugar starts to caramelize. Know that caramel gets stronger as it cooks, the pan will hold lots of heat and there is the chance that you take the pan off too late, the caramel will continue to cook and end up a tick too dark. When the sugar has done its thing, take the pan off the stove and let it cool down for ten minutes or so. Don't look at your phone during this time. After ten minutes put the pastry on top of the apples, tuck the sides down, between the apples and the pan at the edges.
Put this in the oven at 180celsius (pre-warmed, natch) for about 20 min, then turn the oven down to 160 for about ten. Or so. You know, what feels/looks right.
When it's all done, flip the apple thing into/onto a plate (hold the plate over the pan, then flip it over together.

Tastes best warm, but not hot, and with company. Also tastes good later, when you pull it out of the fridge and eat some standing up, over the sink, while simultaneously gawking at some dumb crap on your phone.

Don't forget, Love is more enduring than hate; Strive to be on the right side of history. Vanilla ice cream is an entirely appropriate addition to this Tart Tatin.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:03 AM on August 20 [14 favorites]


Sharing a link to a recipe and some notes instead of the recipe proper.

I have done the math and calculated out that if I cut this almond meal and fruit cake recipe in half, instead of using the 9-inch springform pan it calls for, I can use the three little 4-inch springform pans I have which will let me parcel out the portion sizes.

Also - it sounds very flexible as to which stone fruit you use in that cake. The peaches I got in the CSA this week are just now hitting the "perfectly ripe" stage, and I bet that this will take care of two or three peaches in one fell swoop. So I'll be mixing this up tonight, and making myself three baby peach cakes - two of which will be stored in the fridge for dessert over the weekend, and one of which will be consumed immediately.

(Oh, I also need some recipes that use up cantaloupe.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:47 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


> We should spike the post because the problem is resolved.

MetaTalk has never functioned like a software issue tracker where tickets are marked "resolved" immediately following the requested action. Most MeTas aren't closed before the 30-day window expires just because the original poster got what they wanted, and I'd be stunned if more than a handful of the most acrimonious ones have ever been closed within 36 hours of being posted. As far as I can tell, nobody has buttoned or even had a comment deleted in this one.

Meanwhile, having this one open as the DNC FPP unfolds has the potential to help us talk through the issues that are happening in there as a community and try to find where the line is between an exchange of ideas about the election and a quasi-megathread. I'm certainly not fond of the way thing are going in there, which is why I'm not participating, so if you're really interested in avoiding a circular firing squad, that's the post that should be closed, not this one.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:24 AM on August 20 [17 favorites]


The DNC thread on the blue is going horribly. Nobody is talking about the convention...but it’s also not a megathread so nobody is sharing other newsworthy information, either. It’s the worst of both worlds and the hostility in it is palpable.

I’m not saying it should be moderated any differently than it has been. I don’t think moderation is the crux of the issue there. But the discussion in that thread is a prime example of why I no longer talk about politics on this site... or talk about much at all. How that thread has gone is exactly why there wasn’t a thread until recently, and even then only posted as a sort of “favor.”

I don’t have solutions. Just wanted to say that the problem isn’t solved, because the problem wasn’t that there literally wasn’t a post about Harris as VP pick or about the DNC, the problem is WHY there wasn’t one — and that problem is still outstanding.
posted by rue72 at 7:13 AM on August 20 [24 favorites]


And then after all that work, 90% of people would ignore the links entirely and just jump in the discussion making all the same the same arguments as they had in the previous post.

I wrote this before Blandon's post and I think I predicted it exactly. No one is talking about the convention at all and they've all just brought their premade arguments that they've been making for the last five years at least. There's no discussion about the speeches or presentation or anything related to the convention itself and everyone is just yelling about the election as a whole and making horrible straw-man arguments just for the sake of being outraged.
posted by octothorpe at 7:26 AM on August 20 [13 favorites]


Blandon rules!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:59 AM on August 20 [55 favorites]


I used to appreciate political megathreads because they gave me a sense of belonging. I am not very politically active in real life for various reasons, so it was nice to be in what I considered a safe space where we could high five each other. Not that it was just a circle jerk all the time! I learned so much as well, from personal perspectives and takes on the events. I feel so much more educated about politics because of Metafilter.

But now... they tend to just quickly turn into a lot of lefty infighting between, as far as I can understand, "Lefts" and "Progressives"(??) There's some sort of line between the two and people get on each other's throats so quickly over it. Somehow Lefts are branded as essentially no different than a Conservative Republican (???) and Progressives are deluded and immature (???). Like, why can't I like AOC and Harris? I had always thought Metafilter was a place where I could like them both and believe in them both and praise and criticise both. But now it feels too scary to voice that kind of thing.

I am following the DNC thread though (Thanks, Brandon!)... but very warily. It's just really tiring and makes me feel pessimistic that we can't get our shit together to get the fucker out.
posted by like_neon at 8:09 AM on August 20 [11 favorites]


Blandon rules!

TEAM BLANDON 2020!
posted by thivaia at 8:20 AM on August 20 [5 favorites]


….I literally have just now had an epiphany that comforts me about the DNC thread, and how it could also be a sign about the DNC infighting in general and how it may NOT be a sign of "we can't get our shit together".

There's a thing I read about recently - "after school restraint collapse". Some school-age kids, when they come home after school, sometimes just have a major meltdown - temper tantrums and opposition to what the parents say, hyperactivity, or withdrawing into their room and not wanting to talk to anyone. Child psychologists say that this is actually okay - the kid has been spending the whole day with annoying grown-ups telling them what to do, and has been trying to keep their shit together, and finally now that they're home with the people they trust they can finally discharge all that accumulated emotional gak and get it out of their system. We grownups feel better when we decompress a little after work, right? This is the same thing, it's just a little more acute.

And, maybe that's what's happening here. If that conversation were happening in a more mixed crowd, with some MAGA-heads listening in, I bet the "progressives" and the "Leftists" would be closing ranks against them - but since it's just "us", in a place where there's some established sense of at least some trust? People may feel comfortable enough to be more open with what they feel.

I mean, I could be totally speculating. But something about that notion at least...seems like a possibility.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:23 AM on August 20 [21 favorites]


I would argue that Metafilter dying is inseparable from the politics posts.

Originally MeFi existed to fill much the same space Reddit currently does, it existed as part of a small ecosystem of sites that did internet aggregation some more specialized (like Slashdot) some more generalized.

Then the giant sites came along and have all but crushed that early internet ecosystem. reddit, has basically taken over the whole mindspace that used to be held shared by a variety of more specialized sites. If you want cute cat pictures, or the latest weird/nifty/cool/strange/whatever thing on the internet, you find it on reddit long before it reaches MeFi. Hell, several front page posts basically boil down to "there's a talk on reddit about [insert nifty thing here]".

The politics megathreads were exhausting for the mods, I totally get that. But they were also the single biggest draw MeFi has had in years.

Reddit devolves into memes and in jokes and snark in a nanosecond, MeFi tends towards more substantive discussion (perhaps due to the admission fee). But, honestly, there's not a lot of need for substantive discussion on the average "here's a nifty thing" type MeFi thread.

I check metafilter daily, and most of the time the stuff on the front page is stuff I've already seen, usually on reddit. The political discussions are pretty much the only thing I really take part in anymore because I've already had the talk on whatever else on reddit where it appeared several days before trickling down to MeFi.

I'm not sure Metafilter really has much future other than as a curated, semi-civil, political discussion board. The stuff us old timers used to come to MeFi for is being done elsewhere and faster. I am certain that whether its as a political salon or something else, Metafilter needs to be something other than a generalist nifty stuff aggregation site because I don't think there's space for anything but reddit to hold that position anymore.

And that sucks. It's like Wal-Mart (and now Amazon) displacing all the little mom n pop shops and it's all very corporatized and a bit bland (plus in the case of reddit with a large population of admin protected white supremacists, Nazis, and MAGA cultists who are allowed to periodically brigade all other communities to spread their hate).

But just as there's no saving the mom n pop shops, so too I don't think there's any way to save Metafilter as what it once was. It must change into something else to survive, and so far curated political argument is literally the only thing that it has been shown to attract a big audience for.

EmpressCallipygos Perhaps.

Also, possibly, that we're here among basically allies and those on the more lefty and progressive side see no point in trying to put up a display of a united front that they do in other contexts. I know I tend to be more anti-Biden here than I am on forums that I know are populated by more centrist and right wing types.

In a conversation out with the general public I definitely feel more of a need to present a united anti-Trump front, while here I tend to feel that it's safe to talk about the very real problems that exist but I'd rather not air out in front of the MAGA cultists.
posted by sotonohito at 8:59 AM on August 20 [24 favorites]


People need a place to argue on the internet. Be that place.
posted by banshee at 9:38 AM on August 20 [10 favorites]


No we don't. SHUT UP!!1!
posted by FJT at 9:45 AM on August 20 [11 favorites]


Oh look, this isn't an argument. It's just contradiction.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:54 AM on August 20 [9 favorites]


but since it's just "us", in a place where there's some established sense of at least some trust? People may feel comfortable enough to be more open with what they feel.

Maybe it's just my own experience, but isn't this also how abusive relationships can look like? People that are polite to strangers and acquaintances acting like assholes to their own family and friends?
posted by FJT at 10:27 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


Oh look the megathreads are back with exactly the same people saying exactly the same things they were saying in 2016.

Pretty sure that's why nobody wanted to be the first to open the floodgates.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:53 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


The megathreads are not back. This is just a standard political post, which the mods have been clear we are allowed to have.
posted by all about eevee at 10:55 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


In response to my own comment earlier:

BUT, I also remember the discussions on Meta before about how it's kind of privileged to tell people to act polite at a time like this, because lots of people are facing a pretty bad situation that stresses them out.

I've gone in circles with this before, and I don't have an answer to it.
posted by FJT at 10:59 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


But since it's just "us", in a place where there's some established sense of at least some trust? People may feel comfortable enough to be more open with what they feel.

Maybe it's just my own experience, but isn't this also how abusive relationships can look like? People that are polite to strangers and acquaintances acting like assholes to their own family and friends?


Well first off the phenomenon that poster referred to is about CHILDREN, so I'm not sure an abuse framework is the most appropriate one to apply there. Children who are acting defiant and assholish to their parents are not abusers.

Insofar as it applies to this community of (mostly) adults, there's a difference between expressing an angry, contrarian, unpleasant, or uncompromising opinion -- arguing, generally -- and being abusive. There's even a difference between being an asshole and being abusive.

Moderation on this site is responsible for eyeing that line but the existence of people who dislike [candidate or platform], even loudly, wrongly, or rudely, is certainly not on the wrong side of it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:59 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


MetaTalk has never functioned like a software issue tracker where tickets are marked "resolved" immediately following the requested action. Most MeTas aren't closed before the 30-day window expires just because the original poster got what they wanted, and I'd be stunned if more than a handful of the most acrimonious ones have ever been closed within 36 hours of being posted. As far as I can tell, nobody has buttoned or even had a comment deleted in this one.

This was discussed in the MetaTalk process changes post, where restless_nomad wrote:
We will be handling policy MetaTalks differently in order to improve responsiveness and effectiveness. I'm going to come in every weekday morning and read them, do my best to summarize the problems and proposed solutions, and then step back again. When it's clear that all the suggestions and discussions to be had are on the table, I'll close the thread with a summary of our takeaways and action items. Those will go on the to-do list, and you'll be able to track them on our regular updates. It's my ultimate goal to be able to reduce or eliminate the queue with this system.
The question then is this a policy discussion? Was the goal to identify the lack of a certain post or type of posts? There are then four more questions under the fold. But as with most MetaTalk posts, additional discussions spin off, too.

Meanwhile, having this one open as the DNC FPP unfolds has the potential to help us talk through the issues that are happening in there as a community and try to find where the line is between an exchange of ideas about the election and a quasi-megathread. I'm certainly not fond of the way thing are going in there, which is why I'm not participating, so if you're really interested in avoiding a circular firing squad, that's the post that should be closed, not this one.

This is another purpose for this thread, though not one stated explicitly in the beginning.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:39 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I think Brandon's post was well made, and I'm not denying the value in a place for people to discuss politics, but the most recent, say, 200 comments in the Kamala Harris / Democratic National Convention post could just as easily have been made if the post was simply the text
Biden?; fight!
In fact, they'd be more on topic there.
posted by Superilla at 11:40 AM on August 20 [14 favorites]


There’s more information on the content of the actual speeches in katra’s comments in the COVID thread than in the entirety of the DNC thread.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:53 AM on August 20 [9 favorites]


It seems like political discussions that stem from election-framed posts struggle to escape the gravity of the actual election.

Metafilter has always had this paradox where the best, most original, most thoughtful discussions come from well-framed posts about less-trafficked topics, but these posts also often produce the least discussion. So for every thread with 400 replies amounting to the complete-sentences equivalent of "NO U" there's another somewhere about a subject a little farther from the flames with members, hopefully, engaging with the content in a meaningful way.
posted by selfnoise at 11:53 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


I hide the MeFi politics posts, and have done since 2016 or early 2017. Every now and then I click that button and look at one, so I did that with the DNC post. It reminded me why I hid them in the first place. I find the idea that they are the future of this site, or that they are the only thing driving engagement, to be quite depressing (and they certainly don't drive my engagement, which tbh is mostly with Ask.)

Wordshore, thanks for the uptick in food-related posts, those have been nice to have back.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 11:54 AM on August 20 [12 favorites]


We've been doing weekly hikes in these Covid Times because we are seriously bored with seeing the same stuff on our daily walks. Getting the family out the door on time and in between various zoom obligations is a bit of a feat, so we don't always do the amount of research we should into the trail we're heading to. Seriously, if we remember to get directions to the trail we consider it a win! Usually at about 60% through the hike, one (or more) members of the party become DONE with the experience - it's too hot, too buggy, too many horse plops, too muddy, too crowded, etc - and they start to grouse.

The grousing helps no one. We all know it's too hot, too buggy, too muddy, and so on, but the only way to the promised land of the car AC and maybe ice cream is if we make it to the end. We can do nothing about the current situation but agree that it is less than ideal. Still, the complaining continues and it really, really drags down the rest of the group who are just trying to do their best to make it to the end.

This is not to say the complaints are unhelpful as a whole - that's how we learn what to pack, what else to consider when picking a trail, and how best to time the trip - but they are unhelpful given the moment. In the moment, they only succeed in increasing the general yelliness of the excursion and making us not want to do future hikes.

Of course, given that the usual complainer's main underlying complaint is "This is Not Minecraft." that might actually be the point. This tends to work against him in future hike planning, though, as it makes it easy for us to gloss over his issues and tends to limit his input towards future trail selection, which makes him feel unlistened to and increases the grousing all the more the next week.

When the hike is over, and perhaps with an ice cream cone in hand, it's easier to talk about what worked and what didn't. He might not have liked the hike and this is still Not Minecraft, but now we're not out in the sun and bugs and horse plops so everyone is more receptive to how to do it again, better, next time.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:00 PM on August 20 [23 favorites]


sotonhito: There’s an awful lot I agree with you there, and I’m spending increasing amounts of time on Reddit and other sites and Slacks. It’s absolutely true that Mefi no longer “breaks” news, which can detract from the appeal somewhat if you’re looking for people to discuss the latest hot topic.

I’m not Mefi ever was the place for news, but with more posts per day in the past, you probably didn’t need to wait quite as long for topics to appear. Perhaps easing up on the one post per day might help – I’ve run up against the boundaries of that when wanting to post news I know the community would find interesting.

So I come here for the discussion. For all its faults, I think Metafilter is unusual in at least trying to include people beyond specific interest areas. I like the fact that if there’s a post about a movie or a book or a hobby, you won’t just have die-hard fans commenting on it, but a more general audience who can bring different insights. It’s for that reason that Metafilter isn’t just a place for political talk – look at the number of posts and comments about non-political topics.

And Metafilter can still drive traffic. My blog post about QAnon and ARGs received almost 700 views via Mefi, which was only a little behind Hacker News – and way ahead of any other blog or site other than Twitter, Facebook, and Upworthy. So for the right subject, Metafilter matters, both to its own community and to the people and subjects it brings attention to.

I’ve made various suggestions about things I think would help bring more attention to Metafilter, including making it easier for people to share good comments and discussions here. I hope some of them happen eventually!
posted by adrianhon at 12:33 PM on August 20 [14 favorites]


Oh man I want some sun and bugs and horse plops.
posted by biogeo at 12:35 PM on August 20


Perhaps easing up on the one post per day might help – I’ve run up against the boundaries of that when wanting to post news I know the community would find interesting.

This is an interesting point. Maybe it would be worth raising this in a policy MeTa? I personally haven't ever run into it but it does seem self-defeating to discourage some of the folks who make good FPPs from making two or three in a single day if there's reasonable fodder for them, considering the overall slowdown in new posts right now. I certainly understand the desire to make sure the front page doesn't get totally dominated by only one or two members, but right now this doesn't seem like much of a problem, and if it becomes one it could probably be better handled by moderators just contacting those individuals and asking them to ease up a bit.
posted by biogeo at 12:40 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


all i know is a miss the days when mefi was self-policing, before it hired mods who very much resent doing the job they are hired for (e.g. moderating political threads)
posted by entropicamericana at 12:45 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


You'll always be Mr. Bratcher to me.
posted by theora55 at 1:23 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


all i know is a miss the days when mefi was self-policing, before it hired mods who very much resent doing the job they are hired for (e.g. moderating political threads)

I think you can still get that experience just fine on reddit, tho, if you want to hound people away from their accounts.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:33 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


I always found Blandon to be a bit too anodyne. Kind of like any post that isn't a Megathread.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:34 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


all i know is a miss the days when mefi was self-policing

Most available evidence shows some pretty horrifying ideas were expressed with impunity in those good ol' days.
posted by JenMarie at 2:16 PM on August 20 [30 favorites]


You shut your pineapple on pizza loving mouth.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:16 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


How does one shut a pineapple on a mouth?
posted by biogeo at 2:18 PM on August 20


I shit one pineapple a month.
posted by selfnoise at 2:24 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


I think the rare pony request to officially let you just block seeing any posts from another user would help save Metafilter. Maybe "see... less (of certain people)" really is the way to go.
posted by TwoStride at 2:33 PM on August 20 [7 favorites]


You shut your pineapple on pizza loving mouth.

I loved pinapple and canadian bacon pizza so much as a teenager, now I hate meat though. How to replicate this delicacy??
posted by JenMarie at 2:35 PM on August 20


I think the rare pony request to officially let you just block seeing any posts from another user would help save Metafilter.

It would make conversations a lot more confusing, right? Like you wouldn't see X person's comments, but see person Y commenting on X?

And, I'm just going to take a break from politics post. It seems to be the same people fighting over and over again.
posted by FJT at 2:39 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Mute A Filter extension for Firefox can be helpful. Long thought MeFi should offer something like it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 2:42 PM on August 20 [7 favorites]


I think the rare pony request to officially let you just block seeing any posts from another user would help save Metafilter.

It would make conversations a lot more confusing, right? Like you wouldn't see X person's comments, but see person Y commenting on X?

Collapsed comments, or indications of where comments have been removed, would probably be the best way to handle it. There needs to be a clear distinction between the comments you are choosing to filter and the comments that the mods have removed.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:52 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I do wish more folks like Glegrinof the Pig-Man or Ouverture were showing up in this thread to make the positive case for a fighty political thread. Sotonohito’s take is certainly a decent endorsement of a desire for a “smart” fighty space, and the difference between the very active folks there and the very active folks in this thread is quite stark.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:00 PM on August 20


all i know is a miss the days when mefi was self-policing, before it hired mods who very much resent doing the job they are hired for (e.g. moderating political threads)

. . . Have you actually gone back to those threads? I've been here for over 10 years and if jessamyn hadn't hauled our asses into the 21st century this place would be a crater.
posted by Think_Long at 3:06 PM on August 20 [40 favorites]


Sotonohito’s take is certainly a decent endorsement of a desire for a “smart” fighty space, and the difference between the very active folks there and the very active folks in this thread is quite stark.

Yeah, and before it used to be the folks that argued about politics were the same people that later talked about cup stacking or skincare products or what they liked about a TV show. That made users seem less one dimension and smoothed out any rough edges that would occur. I think that's gone, because that's just not how the internet is anymore. Both because people talk about politics way more online and also people tend to be a part of a number of different public and private discussion spaces where they talk about different things depending on where they are at.
posted by FJT at 3:15 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


JenMarie, you could try liquid smoke; it's optional in this recipe for Vegan Pepperoni.

I'd been adding DNC speech links, excerpts, and other convention-related stuff, and info about Harris, but had to nope out of that thread. In general, perhaps the site could use a glossary for political terms? Strict definitions and connotations can change, which leads to misunderstandings and talking past one another. Then again, the glossary's contents would be a source of contention, too.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:17 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


I shit one pineapple a month.

"Not tonight, honey, it's that time of month."
posted by pyramid termite at 3:50 PM on August 20 [11 favorites]


I do wish more folks like Glegrinof the Pig-Man or Ouverture were showing up in this thread to make the positive case for a fighty political thread. Sotonohito’s take is certainly a decent endorsement of a desire for a “smart” fighty space, and the difference between the very active folks there and the very active folks in this thread is quite stark.

Well, since you wished for it, I agree with Sotonohito's take that this site is at its best when people stake and back up their positions. I think the site is at its worst when it steps back and starts trying to investigate the activist resumes of others or unironically ask what is the point of having this discussion.

I also do not think accurately calling white supremacist positions as white supremacist is against civility or contributes to toxicity as some have said.

Otherwise, the site will fail people of color more than it already does.
posted by Ouverture at 3:52 PM on August 20 [14 favorites]


I too popped into MetaFilter to see a DNC/Harris nomination post and was sad but not surprised to see one didn't exist (I have since seen and read the new DNC post, thank you Brandon Blatcher for making it).

I said this in the end-of-megathreads posts and it still stands for me; even though I understood the reasons why it was necessary to shut down those threads, I suspected the loss of them meant I wouldn't spend as much time at MetaFilter. As I recall, Cortex was also really clear in that he understood the decision might result in a loss of membership but felt it necessary for the good of the mods, the community and the site. That decision was and is utterly his call to make.

Up until the megathreads closed, I was a daily reader who sometimes commented. Like many, I lurked for a few years before joining (2006); however delusional, I still managed to feel like a MetaFilter member. I tried to be a good and useful contributor, even if not a prolific one.

That's not really the case anymore. While I still appreciate the political posts and member contributions to them, this space is no longer comfortable and it is awkward to only want to engage the portion of the site that is openly disliked by other members, some of who apparently think every political post is a megathread trojan horse or that any disagreement is fighty. The timeliness and political discussion - good, bad, indifferent - was what made it work for me. Maybe I just have an unusual ability to flag, ignore, or skip the tiresome, repetitive arguments or useless info.

And then as I was composing, this:

"I do wish more folks like Glegrinof the Pig-Man or Ouverture were showing up in this thread to make the positive case for a fighty political thread. Sotonohito’s take is certainly a decent endorsement of a desire for a “smart” fighty space, and the difference between the very active folks there and the very active folks in this thread is quite stark."
posted by Going To Maine

Apparently now you also have to be -this- tall to get on this ride.

Good luck MetaFilter. Remember, if it doesn't work out, you can always go to reddit.
posted by faineant at 3:59 PM on August 20 [7 favorites]


Theora55, I prefer Lord Blandon, but the wife always snickers when I say that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:04 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Apparently now you also have to be -this- tall to get on this ride.

I don’t understand the critique? My main reason for wishing those folks show up in this thread is because I actually think that it’s really not great for the site for a thread that’s the sort-of subject of a metatalk has a very different base population from the thread itself. It creates this situation where, as you note, one block of users seem to be against something that another block enjoys, which is just a really bad way to have any sort of discussion. Anyway, glad to see people discussing the merits of spiky internet discussions and what that actually means.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:06 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I very much feel the You Have to be -This- Tall thing. It's one of the reasons my participation in the site has diminished over the years. I'd get more into it, but that's pretty much putting up the ARGUE ME signal which again, is not what I want or am looking for.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:22 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Woof. Well I’m sorry. I didn’t want to do that, and shouldn’t have said anything. Probably should have stopped talking in this thread long ago. Sorry y’all. MetaFilter should be for everyone, and they shouldn’t have to feel that that they need to explain themselves. I will quiet up now, as I’ve surely been following this thread too closely.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:42 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Between relitigating 2016, calling Obama a white supremacist, and weird angry intra-left arguments, that isn't a discussion that I find enticing, personally.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:46 PM on August 20 [15 favorites]


People don't take kindly to their favorites being pointed out as being problematic, but why should that sort of pointing out only be saved for conservatives and their favorites?
posted by Ouverture at 5:01 PM on August 20 [7 favorites]


Metafilter is full of highly technical people, with backgrounds in making things and places work, and it's an eternal mental habit of people like that to ascribe the unpleasantnesses of political threads to the technology and definable/alterable 'cultures' and the rules, rather than to politics itself being a fundamentally rule-less activity, and therefore, usually, unpleasant and dangerous in its own right. If politics—defined broadly—is meaningful as a contest of power and ideas, rather than a hobby for dilettantes and enthusiasts, someone is going to get hurt, someone has to get hurt. It's the mark of mature political cultures that allow for relatively graceful losing.

[Of course the corollary to this is that environments that look to be civilised and 'self-policing' are usually the ones where your side is winning...]
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:07 PM on August 20 [8 favorites]


Serious question that probably should be its own MeTa and is jumping off of the most recent conversation in the DNC thread but which I'm posting here so as not to get even further off-track over there: is there interest and room for organizing direct action on the site beyond donating to orgs (I do this, but I'm poor) and calling reps (I do this, but I work full time and have severe phone anxiety)? I don't know if this is even necessarily wise to do in this space, but a general open MeTa for people to talk about direct action initiatives they're involved in, share resources and help connect people to each other for Getting Things Done is something I'd be interested in. We've had similar threads in the past, and I've found them generally helpful to say the least.
posted by Lonnrot at 5:15 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


My main worry about such a thing is personal safety. I don't think it's a good idea at the current moment to do this without encouraging people to minimize identifying details, and that could make the whole thing sort of difficult since a lot of projects are locally-directed.
posted by Lonnrot at 5:16 PM on August 20


I very much feel like for some of these kinds of disagreements, Metafilter needs to get to a place where we can just... let each other disagree. It's clear that a lot of us approach politics from a place of irreconcilable differences, and those differences lead to very predictable (and unproductive) arguments. I don't find the current DNC thread very illuminating because I feel like I've seen all of these arguments before, often involving the same individuals. I know not only what opinions exist but who holds them, and the discussions play out the same way every time. What starts as a simple statement of disagreement rapidly turns into an ever-increasingly-abstract argument about political philosophy, with different people idiosyncratically using terms like "leftist" and "liberal" in apparently-specific but usually unstated ways that are incompatible with each other. The incompatibility of both ideas and terminology gradually turns up the heat of the discussion, sucking up all the oxygen and leaving no room for anything else. And yet at the end no one is convinced of anything, nor does anyone seem to even really understand each other's viewpoints better, because no one really seems interested in listening.

I think it's valuable for political discussions to include a variety of viewpoints that may be incompatible with each other. But I don't see much value in reenacting the exact same argument for the 200th time. I feel like these threads would go better if people would avoid feeling like they need to engage with every comment they disagree with every single time. Once the basic point you feel needs to be made has been made in the thread, either by you or by someone else, maybe it's okay to just let it go if someone else subsequently expresses a contradictory opinion. Let folks have their say, recognize that we may be approaching the topic from fundamentally different worldviews which aren't going to resolve right now, and until there's something genuinely new to add leave it there.

I want to be very clear that I'm not saying that we shouldn't have arguments about politics. I'm just saying that maybe we shouldn't keep having the same argument about politics.
posted by biogeo at 5:37 PM on August 20 [22 favorites]


is there interest and room for organizing direct action on the site

but

My main worry about such a thing is personal safety

so
I don't think it's a good idea at the current moment to do this without encouraging people to minimize identifying details,

really?
posted by clavdivs at 5:44 PM on August 20


Yeah, I'm sorry for questioning Ouverture, and I think it's good that they pointed out white supremacy.

Though, I think they would still consider me a class enemy.
posted by FJT at 6:13 PM on August 20


Large parts of that thread are more toxic than valuable imo. I don't mind pushback but I guess not only was I not performatively left enough for the thread, I was so not-performatively-left that I earned a bunch of hostility and baseless personal attacks. Might be the first time on this website that I genuinely felt other participants were more interested in venom than discussion. Fuck that, my life is stressful enough already. If that's what political discussion on MeFi is about now, I'm out.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 7:56 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


You came in super hot to that thread, as people pointed out.
posted by sagc at 7:59 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Two unicycles, you’ve already flounced out of that thread (twice!). Now this one??

Taking a break will probably be good for you.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:06 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


There is a dramatic difference between expressing an opinion, hot or not, and personally attacking someone. The latter has never been a part of political discussion on MeFi, apparently not until recently.

Box & string &c, I have not been back in the thread, will not be back in the thread, but maybe you'll note that this is a discussion *about* the thread? not the thread itself? and as someone who (tried to) participate in that thread and had thoughts about it, it seems fair to share them here? but if that's an imposition to you, geez I guess maybe I better not.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 8:11 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


I miss thinking of other members of the site as friends-by-default as opposed to possibly-hostile-dependent-on-shibboleth. Contentious and heated as the megathreads sometimes were, I felt like everyone I was participating with was friends-by-default.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 8:14 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


Saying leftists feel the way they do because they are privileged is not only a personal attack, but also quite inaccurate. When the first post goes that way, especially in such a cruel and mocking tone, one should not expect the correction to be a gentle or kind one.
posted by Ouverture at 8:23 PM on August 20 [13 favorites]


So glad we've got you here to correct people's tone, Ouverture.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 8:26 PM on August 20 [7 favorites]


I felt like everyone I was participating with was friends-by-default.

Well, that era is over. Not everyone is here to make friends anymore.
posted by FJT at 8:27 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


I have never felt like this site operated on the model of friends-by-default. Based on the hundreds of comments made by other people of color on MetaTalk, it doesn't seem like I'm alone in that.

Threads about politics are the most intense demonstration of that awful isolation, but only because they contain such powerful contradictions in terms of American politics and how bipartisanship is so deeply tied into ongoing legacies of white supremacy and capitalism.
posted by Ouverture at 8:38 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Well, that era is over. Not everyone is here to make friends anymore.

Been there, done that.

The worse is to garner "allies."
It plays on false consciousnes. It's pamphleteerism and exclusionary to the possibility of any change WHY there's some, a user admits to a bit of rik-roll, something most have done, and admits it. It just feels like knowing that end result, folks tend to dig in with wobbly anti-capitalist jackdaws that did ruin the megathreads.
posted by clavdivs at 10:06 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I wonder if an RNC thread will go better with everyone basically just hate-watching. Well not everyone. I can't stomach watching any of it so I'd be in the thread reading the hate-watchers dunk on them. The Metafilter community can deliver some nice dunks.

Remember when they had some guy yell at an empty chair? And that was in front of a live audience. I have my schadenfreude polished and ready to shine when they haul out... checks notes... Anthony Sabato Jr. and "that couple that pointed guns at protesters".
posted by like_neon at 1:29 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


biogeo: 100% agreed. This is where Mefi's unthreaded format is a negative, tbh. Flat conversations can provide a greater sense of coherence and community, but when you get a small number of people battling it out in threads for the nth time, it can overwhelm everyone else, whereas on Reddit or elsewhere, these arguments could happen in parallel with other conversations.

It wouldn't matter if it felt like there was some chance of people convincing each other, but often it ends up people restating their existing positions over and over again. I can understand why it happens – politics is so personal – but ultimately it feels futile. Even something comparatively low stakes as Apple's developer policies becomes incredibly heated and I don't feel like taking part in those conversations any more.
posted by adrianhon at 2:23 AM on August 21 [10 favorites]


rik-roll
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:19 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I very much feel like for some of these kinds of disagreements, Metafilter needs to get to a place where we can just... let each other disagree.

I've been thinking about this too. Sometimes you just gotta let it wash over you. NOT when someone is expressing things you find morally reprehensible, or which you know to be out-and-out lies, but I feel like a lot of the more interpersonally-flavored fightiness is springing from "how DARE they imply that I am a BAD person in front of the entire ELECTRIC INTERNET?!" Sometimes that's gonna happen, and the only way to keep it from getting totally out of control and into the weeds is to be confident enough in our own character and ideas that we don't have to take the bait every single time. Everybody is somebody else's clueless privileged POS, and sometimes you just gotta shrug ruefully and do you. OR alternatively, realize our discomfort has a deeper source, and examine it without flipping out in real time in the course of the conversation.

I'm sorry I've resisted for 24 hours and can no longer contain myself
Metafilter: 400 replies amounting to the complete-sentences equivalent of "NO U"

posted by peakes at 6:24 AM on August 21 [13 favorites]


The RNC with some guy yelling at a chair was Clint Eastwood "debating" Obama, except Obama was represented as an empty chair. Back when the GOP could pull in A-list celebrities, instead of whatever tier you'd call Stephen Baldwin and John Voight.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:29 AM on August 21


The grousing helps no one. ...We can do nothing about the current situation but agree that it is less than ideal. Still, the complaining continues and it really, really drags down the rest of the group who are just trying to do their best to make it to the end.

This is the precise issue at my job currently; however, much as with the current global situation, we have no reason to believe there's necessarily an end for us to make it to, or anyway not in a reasonable, perceptible timeframe. We know the complaining is unhelpful, we know it's dragging down the group. But we're on a buggy, hot, horse-plop of a hike possibly for the rest of our lives. We aren't promised an ice cream debrief.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:42 AM on August 21 [5 favorites]


It's really hard to talk to frightened people.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:02 AM on August 21 [14 favorites]


biogeo Keeping in theme with the meta part here, I would disagree that anyone is getting idiosyncratic with definitions. The problem is that we're dealing with a situation where there's academic and common use of the same terms but the terms often mean very different things in each usage and people are using their favored terminology without consideration for the potential for confusion.

In common use people say "left" when they mean "left compared to a hypothetical American average of political positions". By this definition Biden is on the left.

However, this is problematic because it basically defines out of existence the people who would fall under the academic usage of the term leftist, and IMO, the obfuscation of the difference between the (academic definition) left and the (defined by averages) left is absolutely essential to understanding why the Democratic Party is so unavoidably riven while the Republicans aren't.

Here's the actual, dictionary, definition of the political right, lifted straight from Wikipedia: Right-wing politics holds the view that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, or tradition.

And here's the political left: Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.

By those academic definitions the US Republican Party is a far right wing organization, and the US Democratic Party is a center right organization. I very explicitly am not saying this to mean the Democrats are bad, evil, or just because they're to the right of me. I'm saying it by the academic definitions. The center right admits the necessity/inevitability of hierarchy but wants to mitigate the harm done by hierarchy. The far right revels in hierarchy and sees the harm it does as a feature, not a bug.

For example, the leftist position is that there shouldn't be billionaires, while the center right Democratic, position is that we should have better, more diverse, billionaires.

As a center right Party the Democrats mostly take the view that hierarchy is not great, but is unavoidable, and therefore their job is to do harm mitigation on the hierarchies that inevitably must exist for society to operate. And there's the root of the big disagreement.

To a (common usage) liberal the (academic usage) left seems somewhere between foolhardy, revolutionary, violent, anarchistic, and childish in their ceaseless demands for utterly ridiculous and patently absurd nonsense like abolishing billionaires. I can understand the general liberal impatience with the left, to a liberal it would appear that nothing they ever do is good enough and the left is always attacking them with mean words like white supremacist and imperialist even though they're doing the best they can and have the laudable goal of helping the oppressed be less oppressed.

To the (academic usage) leftist the (common usage) liberal camp seems like people who are just one millimetre from getting it, they can see that people are suffering but for inscrutable reasons they refuse to just admit that the system is the problem and help tear down that intolerably harmful system instead of continuing the system while giving a few scraps to its worst victims? There's an almost palpable sense of frustration that leads to anger and suspicions of bad motives.

We saw it in the DNC thread and all the megathreads. The (academic definition) left says "we've got warmongering imperialists who are using force of arms to impose a system of white supremacy worldwide this is wrong and intolerably evil" and the (common usage) liberals are saying "WTF is wrong with you purity testing hardliners, Biden is doing the best he can and it isn't as if we can just tear apart the US military and calling him a white supremacist is both insulting and wrong!"

It's a disagreement in fundamental worldviews. Both the (academic definition) left and the (common usage) liberals share some surface level goals, we'd both like people to suffer less. The (common usage) liberals think the best way to do this is to keep the basic system intact and include anti-suffering programs. The (academic usage) left thinks that will leave the causes of suffering intact, and guarantee that some people fall through the cracks who will continue to suffer and that by leaving the oppressive systems of hierarchy intact those at the top will chip away at the protections in order to satisfy their desire to make those at the bottom suffer.

I think we should try to be more sympathetic to each other, but I can see why there's an inbuilt argument and why the Democratic Party is always tearing itself apart. Because on the level of ultimate ideological axioms the dominant center right liberal faction of the Democratic has more in common with the far right Republican Party than they do with the minority center left faction of the Democratic Party.

Not that the mainstream Democrats like the Republicans or think they're great people, I'm not saying that. Just that on a fundamental level they think hierarchies are either OK or inevitable and in this acceptance of hierarchies they have an unbridgeable rift with the left (center or far) and can see the Republicans as basically reality based but wrong while they see the left as detached from reality.

That's why the most common complaint from liberals about the left is that they're purists, or childish, or unrealistic.

I think that for the most part the bits about hierarchy are unexamined, taken as self evident truths rather than ideological positions that need to be discussed. It isn't as if the average (common use) liberal sits down and carefully thinks through hierarchy and its necessity and implications anymore than the average (academic use) leftist does. It's just that to each their kneejerk unexamined axioms on hierarchy seem as natural as gravity and all the conclusions that flow from those axioms seem equally inevitable. Which leads to a suspicion of bad faith acting from both.

like_neon I have a truly awful track record at prediction, but I'll predict that if an RNC post is made it'll have vastly less commentary and very little that is contentious. Because almost everyone on MeFi is in agreement that the Republicans suck.

Personally I'd like to see a RNC thread, because despite my frequent disagreements with some people here I do actually value their opinions and sometimes people here have more to say than "JFC the Republicans sure do suck!"

Going To Maine I think you raised an excellent point WRT MeFi vs. MeTa participation.

For me the simple explanation is that I have never been drawn to MeTa. I had no idea this thread even existed until someone over in the main MeFi thread linked it. It isn't that I lurk MeTa and just don't say much, it's that basically for me MeTa doesn't even exist until someone links to it. That's probably not a good way to go about my life, but it's true. I don't recall any time in my 16 years commenting here (sheesh, 16 years?!) that I've ever just loaded up MeTa for the sake of loading up MeTa.
posted by sotonohito at 10:06 AM on August 21 [88 favorites]


It's really hard to talk to frightened people.

It's also hard to talk to people who do what they can to not let you talk, or to talk over you.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:50 AM on August 21 [8 favorites]


My interest in political fpp's on the blue is zero these days.
posted by ouke at 11:25 AM on August 21 [8 favorites]


A+ comment, sotonohito. It's been clear for years that there are fundamentally opposed worldviews here that are probably irreconcilable, and the best we can do is try to lay out our own perspectives as clearly as possible and read/listen/reflect on what others have written about their perspectives. We're still gonna disagree. But disagreement and pushback and heat and contention aren't in themselves toxic qualities. It's when the threads hit a point where everyone is bitterly projecting and taking the absolute worst faith reading of each other's comments that things become toxic. On certain topics, that happens way too quickly and is basically unrecoverable. I don't think there's much that can be done beyond all of us saying our piece, stepping back, allowing conversations to happen organically and just noping the hell out when people start getting really mean.
posted by Lonnrot at 11:44 AM on August 21 [10 favorites]


sotonohito, thanks for that detailed and thoughtful comment. I think it's a really great explanation of some of the differences between what people often mean by "left" and "liberal" and how these terms are differentially used by some people on Metafilter. However I don't entirely agree that the senses of these terms that you've elaborated on encompass the full spectrum of how they're used: I think that there are a broader range of ideas and ideologies that get lumped into these (and other related terms) in different ways by different people, and it's not quite as simple as there being different "common" versus "academic" usages of both terms.

I think the definition you gave for the common usage of "left" in American political discourse is exactly correct for how both "left" and "liberal" are commonly meant. Another way of putting it might be that for most Americans, the terms "liberal" and "left-wing" both mean "more ideologically aligned with the policies and vision of government supported by the Democratic party than the average American," while "conservative" and "right-wing" both mean the same except for the Republican party. The terms are practically speaking anchored to the political reality of two-party electoral politics for most people, rather than to any fixed ideology. For most political discourse in the U.S., I don't think anything more than two poles of political alignment are recognized, and so there's no meaningful distinction drawn between "liberal" or "left" in most people's minds, hence everyone from Joe Biden to Barack Obama to Bernie Sanders to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being described as "liberal" in the popular media.

I do also agree that in academic usage, the term "liberal" refers to a pretty specific political, social, and economic ideology, which is only vaguely related to the way the term is commonly used in American public political discourse (which I think you nailed), and that some confusion is created on Metafilter by some people using the precise academic definition while others using the more vague common definition. I have seen this issue discussed on Metafilter before several times, with some very interesting FPP articles and threads on the technical academic definition of Liberalism, and what is meant by Neoliberalism, for example. So I think that while this difference causes a certain amount of confusion, there's also a certain level of awareness that people may be using the term "liberal" in different ways.

On the other hand, I don't agree that there is really a single precise academic definition of the term "left", or that people on Metafilter are using this term in a consistent, well-defined manner. I think there's a fairly well-defined broad-sense definition of Leftism in academic usage, which you've stated well. But this definition actually encompasses a huge range of political ideologies, including, I would argue, a significant fraction of what you term the common-usage liberals within the Democratic party. In fact I think that the main utility of the term "Leftism" is exactly that it is broad and slightly fuzzy: it helps academics to organize a loose taxonomy of political ideologies that share various features in common while lacking any single defining characteristic [1]. Within the spectrum of ideologies that fit within the broad-sense academic definition of Leftism, there are really significant disagreements about both priorities and methodologies. Socialists, anarchists, social democrats, communists, and progressives are all described as being part of the Left. Some people within this spectrum espouse the view that the power structures of American democracy are an inevitable barrier to achieving Leftist goals and must be dismantled, while others believe that with the right reforms they can be a more powerful tool of achieving those goals than any other system would be. Some people are willing to compromise on some of their goals in order to make incremental progress on others, while others argue that incrementalism will never succeed in achieving any of our goals. All of these fit within the range of ideas broadly described as Leftism.

In general my observation is that when people use the term "left" on Metafilter, they often seem to be using it in a much more narrow sense than the broad-sense academic usage, but the more narrow sense is inconsistent between different individuals, and possibly even used equivocally (intentionally or unintentionally capitalizing on the ambiguity in meaning) by some. Sometimes "left" is used to mean what I would think of as far-Left, which is still a fairly broad spectrum of ideas and methodologies, though narrower than Leftism generally. Sometimes it seems to be used to mean a very specific but not explicitly stated political ideology that clearly falls within the broad spectrum of Leftism but excludes other Leftist ideas; often reading between the lines it seems like people have in mind something like anarchism or communism, but it's usually not clear. This is what I mean by saying that I think people are using the term somewhat idiosyncratically.

As far as your analysis of the Republican party being a far-right political party while the Democratic party is center-right, according to the academic definitions of these terms, I think you're exactly correct, with the caveat that neither party occupies only a single point on the political spectrum but rather both encompass their own spectra as well. Since the Southern Strategy, the Republican party has not only moved Rightward but also grown increasingly narrow in terms of the ideologies that may be found within it. Conversely while the Democratic party has also moved rightward, it has grown increasingly broad, and part of its rightward movement has been driven by so-called moderates from the former Republican base joining the party as the Republican party became too extreme for them. So while I agree that it's accurate to describe the Democratic party as center-right in terms of its "median" member, it's important to note that the party encompasses a broad coalition of individuals and ideas, from fairly Right-wing to moderately Left-wing.

[1]: As a total, very academic aside, I see this as something like the value of the category "fish" as a taxonomic category. In modern biology, "fish" is a poorly-defined, fuzzy category, because under the cladistic approach to taxonomy it is a paraphyletic group. However clearly it's still quite useful to talk about "fish" both in everyday as well as academic usage. We can recognize that the term "fish" is not the kind of well-defined concept that we normally expect from our taxonomic categories while still finding it useful to use in some contexts. In my opinion, "Left" as a term of political taxonomy is a bit like that.
posted by biogeo at 3:10 PM on August 21 [21 favorites]


To contribute anecdata to the question of why political discussion here has seemingly lost steam... Personally (literally, just personally!), electoral politics is one of the last things I want to read about on this site. I learned that experientially here. My feeling of reading a political thread on Metafilter is that of being in a waiting room that has CNN or MSNBC playing, except that if you try to strike up a conversation with anyone in the room to dig in a little deeper, people get very upset at you. I don't like to upset people! When I'm in a browser window I have at my fingertips access to so many places where people are having powerful, imagination-expanding political conversations (god, the things I've learned from abolitionists on twitter!!!!) that I don't know why I'd scroll through an endless, surface-level rehash of the same analysis that every mainstream liberal news outlet pushes all day.
posted by dusty potato at 4:28 PM on August 21 [13 favorites]


It's also interesting how many people have spelled out pretty explicitly that their relationship to political threads here is "We are here to do the important work of advancing our political project. They are gadflies who get their kicks from arguing online and feeling right about things." What if... other people also understood their participation as being related to a political project? Just a thought to toy with! :)
posted by dusty potato at 4:51 PM on August 21 [8 favorites]

I felt like everyone I was participating with was friends-by-default.

Well, that era is over. Not everyone is here to make friends anymore.
posted by FJT at 8:27 PM on August 20
I just wanted to chime in and say that this statement makes me sad. I've always felt that the mood here on metafilter generally has been pretty friendly and communal: community web blog, the meetup question "are you a friend of Matt?", holiday gift swaps, check in threads. Even the disagreements had a friendly banter type feel at times. Maybe I'm naieve?

I think one of the reasons that personally I've found the racism and trans threads challenging has been the realisation that my behaviour has been hurting my friends, and that hurts, especially when I thought I was going OK. (I realise that this comment risks sounding like it's defending white/straight fragility or demanding that 'everyone be nice' - it's not that. I recognise that my feelings are just my feelings.)

Metafilter is a community. Sometimes we gripe at each other, but it's a place that I feel like I belong online, and I would like everyone who participates here to feel like they belong. Sure, we have to grow and change so that we properly include people without hurting them, but that isn't a bad thing!
posted by freethefeet at 6:48 PM on August 21 [17 favorites]


I feel given how I've complained about non-US exclusion I'd be a hypocrite if I contributed to the US Politics threads. Besides, it's not like I could add anything except "Trump sucks, the kangaroos outside my house would do a better job".
posted by daybeforetheday at 7:27 PM on August 21 [3 favorites]


"We are here to do the important work of advancing our political project. They are gadflies who get their kicks from arguing online and feeling right about things."

I have often felt there is a split between those who want to Discuss things and pick them apart in an almost detached and quasi-academic fashion and those who want to Let Us Rage Together About The Bad Thing, and they both irk each other tremendously.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:04 PM on August 21 [19 favorites]


"De l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace et la Patrie sera sauvée!"

-Georges Danton.
posted by clavdivs at 8:45 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I think "left" is fairly obvious from context which definition the commenter means. Notably, I doubt that left-wing (= left-right spectrum, half of Overton window) and leftist (= "radical left", sounds almost outdated now) are interchangeably used. There is a very real contest over ownership of these words, and it happens inside neoliberal-dominated academia as well. The fact is, contemporary scholarly discourse ranging from Piketty to Zizek all recognize a divide within the left. Either you attribute your ideology and methodology to Marx, or you don't. Anarchists, socialists, communists as a loose grouping basically do. The others, don't. However the labels change, this distinction remains objectively intelligible.
posted by polymodus at 10:15 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


Russia was reading the megathreads. By now the place is thick with operatives. Half the lot of ya are prolly putin-petters.
*squints, glares*
posted by pee tape at 10:32 PM on August 21 [6 favorites]


I think "left" is fairly obvious from context which definition the commenter means.

It certainly seems as though it ought to be. I have a tough time believing it’s not.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:01 AM on August 22


Thanks so much for your comment, sotonohito.

I agree with a lot of what you are saying.

One thing that I've found myself reacting to is that there are pundits, like Krystal Ball or Matt Taibbi, who seem to attack mostly Democrats and Trump. And then kind-of ape right-wing mannerisms, harping on "cancel culture" and "political correctness", and talking about the investigation into Russian collusion with the current administration as a "hoax". Which come across to me as helping the Republican project.

I'm not accusing any users on this site of this, but when a commentator has criticism mainly for Democrats, my emotional reaction is to conflate them with Ball or Taibbi. I know intellectually that this doesn't make sense, but I feel suspicious.

It's just the result of seeing criticism mainly for Democrats.

I think if we had more threads that do have solid critiques of conservative extremism, and I see all commentators participating, it would go a long way to actually creating solidarity on this site overall.
posted by ishmael at 8:46 AM on August 22 [7 favorites]


Russia was reading the megathreads

Da,Tovarishch Kinozvezda.
posted by clavdivs at 8:48 AM on August 22 [1 favorite]


biogeo I agree with virtually everything you wrote re: left and liberal.

Yes, both left and right are basically umbrella terms covering a multitude of ideologies. On the left you've got everything from Stalinism to anarchism to Nordic style social democracy. On the right you've got everything from Nazism to contemporary Democrats and Republicans to monarchists. Each separate ideology absolutely has it's own mores, beliefs, internal rifts, and internal spectrum of left and right.

I was trying to avoid being overly wordy and long winded, especially since this is basically a side issue to the main discussion. But yes, your clarification and expansion on what I wrote is spot on and I am in full agreement with almost all you wrote.

It's also definitely true that some leftist ideologies do try to define anyone except them as not really leftist and this is both extremely annoying and a violation of proper taxonomy.
posted by sotonohito at 9:25 AM on August 22 [3 favorites]


ishmael There's definitely been a really weird thing with some of the people I used to classify as valued leftist voices. I first noticed it with Glenn Greenwald, though doubtless there were others before him who I haven't noticed.

When it comes to Russia and Russia's attempts to influence America it's like a switch flipped and as soon as they started talking or thinking about it they underwent a polarity reversal and started using right wing language and attacking the left. I've heard people speculate that it may have been due to them having remnant cold war thinking, but that seems insufficient to me.

I suspect it's more that they never really were all that committed to, or had thought through, the idea of getting rid of hierarchy as applied to race, sex, gender, orientation, etc and now that women/LGBT people/Black people/immigrants/whatever are starting to demand a place at the table they're flipping out.

It's certainly a sad truth that many of the cis het white dudes who identify as leftist tend to go really right wing and start ranting about identity politics and political correctness as soon as we talk about anything but economic hierarchy. Doesn't fully apply to Greenwald, since he's gay, but maybe it's at least part of his thing?

For that matter, we've seen anti-feminism play out in real world leftist movements. Both the PRC and USSR basically declared that since the glorious revolution had happened that meant all class divisions were obliterated and therefore feminism was both unnecessary and counter revolutionary since feminism would imply that the glorious revolution had failed in some way. As a result feminism was suppressed in both the PRC and USSR and women were stuck in a deeply misogynist if officially leftist society.
posted by sotonohito at 9:32 AM on August 22 [7 favorites]


So now people in that thread are high-fiving themselves and thumping their chests saying that they "won" the thread like it was a competition? I assume that means that everyone else lost the thread and should just slink away in shame? Do we really want all our political threads dissolving into the kind of macho self-congratulating posturing that wouldn't be out of place in a lite-beer commercial.
posted by octothorpe at 9:53 AM on August 22 [13 favorites]


Yeah, looking at how that thread went I really feel like we all lost.
posted by biogeo at 9:55 AM on August 22 [4 favorites]


I have often felt there is a split between those who want to Discuss things and pick them apart in an almost detached and quasi-academic fashion and those who want to Let Us Rage Together About The Bad Thing, and they both irk each other tremendously.

I think is exactly correct, and I think this is a division that (like so many others) has been exacerbated by the Trump administration. The folks who want to Discuss things think, since one party is so clearly Evil with a capital E, they should be able to have their Discussions without having to preface every comment with a bunch of disclaimers since obviously everyone here is against the Evil. Meanwhile the Ragers see Trump as such an absolutely existential threat that they see even less room for discussion than normal since clearly everyone should be doing everything possible to bring down Trump and all other priorities should be secondary. And neither group is wrong, they just want completely different things out of this website. I don't know if there's a way to resolve this other than just tagging threads as [RAGE] or [DISCUSSION] right at the outset, though.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:59 AM on August 22 [4 favorites]


octothorpe, that's a very uncharitable reading of that comment, at least as opposed to how I took it - it was just a continuation of their approval of way Ouverture framed things.

Calling Ouverture's contributions sealioning, as happens later in the thread, is not a great look either, especially on a site that's allegedly trying to be better about diversity.
posted by sagc at 10:00 AM on August 22 [9 favorites]


It's possible to be justifiably ragey in ways that add more heat than light to the discussion and tend to flatten a multi-dimensional conversation into an us-vs-them mentality. And it's possible to be discussion-focused in ways that feel like point-scoring and lefter-than-thou gatekeeping and which also tend to flatten a multi-dimensional conversation into us-vs-them camps. Both of them (I presume) feel appropriate in the moment but neither does much beyond rallying the people who already agree, and in this case both ended up polarizing the discussion further and discouraging participation from people who just wanted to talk about the actual topic.

For my part I regret my participation in the thread. If I were to go back and do it again I would aim for less ragey, or at least less ragey in ways that foster division or could be seen as an attack on anyone participating in the thread. I'd hope that other folks might re-evaluate their approach as well. None of us add any value or advance our respective points of view by adopting adversarial narratives, especially not at a time when we need to be looking for ways to support and amplify rather than further divide one another.

I have some things going on that are causing me to be more on edge and emotionally labile than I'd like to be, so I'm going to try to lurk more and contribute less for a while. Considered buttoning just so I can avoid saying things I'd regret later but I'll try it this way for now. Love and solidarity to everyone on both sides of the same side here.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:05 AM on August 22 [14 favorites]


I for one thought the thread (which I did not participate in, but read in it's entirety) ended very well. We capped off the infighting with a series of very insightful comments that bridged the gap, some theology jokes to lighten the mood, and got back to a more on-topic place.

For me that was pretty much perfect, and cleared out the negatives from earlier in the thread. So it's interesting to hear from those who it didn't work for, and has me thinking about why parts of that shift resonated positively with me, how it was different from earlier in the thread, and why it would fail to reach others the same way.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:14 AM on August 22 [4 favorites]


I just want to go on the record that I, too, found the high-fiving and “OK my friend WON THIS thread now everybody can only talk about dogs” kind of gross. (Admittedly, I’m not a dog person. I realize that’s unAmerican of me.)

I’ve met a lot of people who thought they “were great at debating,” when really their tireless trolling and derailing just exhausted everybody else in the discussion, so those people tapped out to get on with their lives. Getting the last word and driving people away is not necessarily the same thing as being the smartest person in the room.

And that’s what happened here. I didn’t think it cleared out the negatives; I think it was merely a slow evolution from a big circular firing squad to a small circle jerk. I wish I could think of a classier metaphor, but again, I’m exhausted just from reading it.

I’ve appreciated some recent attempts to re-rail the conversation as of today. I’ve appreciated the mods’ discipline of other users who were only looking for a fight, and I wish it had been applied more consistently.
posted by armeowda at 11:31 AM on August 22 [23 favorites]


That's an interesting difference of perspective, and I appreciate hearing it. I will say I thought that the attempt to soften the mood with some silly humor was good, and I really appreciate that from those commenters who joined in.

I don't know but I suspect my different perspective on how the thread went (or should I say "has gone" since it's still open and active) is partially that I didn't personally find the comments towards the end to be particularly insightful nor to be bridging the gap. In the end it feels to me like the discussion "resolved" mostly by a number of participants walking away from it. (On preview: exactly what armeowda said.) This isn't an entirely bad thing: I think it's better for people to walk away from an unproductive fight than to just keep circling around it. But to me it doesn't feel like there was any meaningful attempt by anyone to reach out and try to understand others' points of view, but instead to simply restate their positions in increasingly hostile terms and misrepresent their "opponents" positions. Personally I learned almost nothing from that discussion, and it succeeded only in causing me to lose more trust that some individuals on this site are engaging in good faith.

If you're willing, in order to help me understand this difference in perspective, I'd be really interested to know some examples of what you consider comments that "bridged the gap". Perhaps I am taking an overly negative read of them and I'd appreciate an opportunity to reevaluate my perspective.
posted by biogeo at 11:41 AM on August 22 [3 favorites]


I think it was valid to bring up white supremacy in a topic about the Democratic Party.

However, from a conversation standpoint, it did create friction with those wanting to discuss the DNC itself when the conversation kept going on.

Going forward, if the active discussion isn't something I'm interested in talking about, I will probably either return later or just talk around it. I think that's probably the way that will generate less conflict and prevent the mods from having to try to disentangle a mess a later on.
posted by FJT at 11:45 AM on August 22 [3 favorites]


have found the miaphysite compromise between leftist monophysitism and liberal chalcedonianism
let’s do this thing.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:26

Forget the OED, I'm mining this one for the Asyndeton.
posted by clavdivs at 11:58 AM on August 22 [2 favorites]


I left the megathreads early on in 2016 because it got very draining very fast. After a while it felt like the political megathreads were sucking up all the oxygen, so it got even less fun to read MeFi. And honestly, I ran out of energy to deal with it all. I burned out on 24/7 outrage.

And now, between outrage burnout and the total cataclysmic failure to control the pandemic, I just can't even be arsed to post to MeFi anymore. I would LOVE to post something. But my heart's not in it, and it's not into whatever argument flares up over it. Especially with something like a Kamala post that would quickly descend into criticism of her career and criticism of that criticism at This Time In History. But I wouldn't even post about "look at this cute puppy" because, honestly? I'm too burned out to deal with even the possibility that someone might have a bone to pick with that puppy.
posted by dw at 12:56 PM on August 22 [5 favorites]


I feel like politics threads would be vastly improved if prolific posters would waaaay dial back their participation. I really feel like there are some users who camp these threads and it comes across as an almost compulsive need to comment. Like if you’ve made 10-20 comments, and you did that in the last politics thread, and the one before that, and the one before that...

Perhaps consider dialing it back and letting other voices be heard?
posted by supercrayon at 3:47 PM on August 22 [54 favorites]


I will say I thought that the attempt to soften the mood with some silly humor was good

Seriously, is that what that was supposed to be? It 100% came off as sneering and gloating to me.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:46 PM on August 22 [8 favorites]


have read about half the foregoing comments. before reading further, i just wanted to pop in to say:
hi, metafilter. i love you. i value you.

but i am very busy alienating my locked-away-from-me friends and family from the erstwhile corporeal world, usually by having and voicing (or declining to) views informed by parties here, and, as many others have noted above, am too tired and disheartened to do much of the same with you just now. (except in some of the many ongoing covid threads, which i follow as avidly as megathread).

it is not you; it's me. and the goddamn world.

thanks for being here: i depend on you. collectively. & continue reading with interest.
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:37 PM on August 22 [14 favorites]



some silly humor was good

Seriously, is that what that was supposed to be? It 100% came off as sneering and gloating to me.


I favorited it mainly because it seemed to release some tension. Sneering and gloating? I wouldn't go that far. But neither did I laugh.
posted by philip-random at 9:00 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


so I'm looking at Jupiter, my pop spilss because I just want to to make a banner:

it is not you; it's me. and the goddamn world.
I really love this and that's a hard thing to do.
posted by clavdivs at 9:18 PM on August 22 [5 favorites]


> I'd be really interested to know some examples of what you consider comments that "bridged the gap". Perhaps I am taking an overly negative read of them and I'd appreciate an opportunity to reevaluate my perspective.

I'm thinking here of some of the louder "left" voices in the thread making comments late in the thread that were, to my eyes, written to clarify their own positions with no hostility and trying very hard to prevent hostile readings from others.

Example being sotonohito's "I don't want people to feel bad about voting for Biden." comment.

I'm generally aligned with the left camp on goals and the liberal camp on immediate tactics in these discussions, so for me personally that comment worked very well.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:59 PM on August 22 [5 favorites]


I thought the tail end of the thread was good, too, with a few insightful longform comments, and took the jokey comments as intended to lessen the tensions. I didn't read any hostility in them.
posted by Lonnrot at 1:25 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]


Going To Maine: If someone has usage numbers for places like Slashdot, Everything2, and Something Awful, it would probably add some useful meat to the discussion and its tone.

For me it's Fark that feels like the closest match to Metafilter: Founded the same year, non-threaded discussion interface, started as a boyzone but later became more progressive (Fark a bit later and less completely than Metafilter, but still in the same direction).

I'd guess that Fark is at least 10 times busier than Metafilter for both posts and comments. The DNC thread has 1,400+ comments, and there are a dozen other US politics threads going right now with 100+ comments each.

It is much more lightly moderated, though, so the negatives that people have mentioned in this thread about Metafilter are also x10 on Fark. Lots of dumb+confident people yelling over everybody else, lots of fighting, lots of repeating the same arguments a hundred times.

I'm not sure that it tells us anything useful about where Metafilter could or should go, but it's a datapoint.
posted by clawsoon at 12:46 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


(It feels like we want an online discussion about politics to be something better than people arguing about politics. For the two decades I've been online, I'm not sure I've seen that happen more than a few minutes every couple of years. Maybe we're all habouring a quiet hope for something that's not possible?)
posted by clawsoon at 12:55 PM on August 23 [11 favorites]


(It feels like we want an online discussion about politics to be something better than people arguing about politics. For the two decades I've been online, I'm not sure I've seen that happen more than a few minutes every couple of years. Maybe we're all habouring a quiet hope for something that's not possible?)

Assuming the thesis is correct that there are liberals that don't want to hear bad things about Biden and instead want to discuss voter outreach or potential cabinet members or possible legislation or whatever AND there are leftists that want to talk shit about Biden or explore alternatives or talk about harm mitigation AND Never the twain shall meet, it would seem TO ME that we'd have two threads, one for the liberals and the other for the leftists, with an explicit warning against crossing over (or, at least, you better watch your ass if you do post in both).

Having given the mods a migraine even suggesting it, I don't think it's practicable with the current levels of resources/mod sanity, but it's an interesting thought experiment. Like, assuming nobody's going to change anyone's mind at this point, the value is more creating spaces for the discussion each side wants to have.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:33 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


The sibling site, MetaChat might be a preview of the future of Metafilter. Because the archives have monthly post counts, you can see clearly the decline from the peak in 2006 of over 1000 posts a month down to the current state of activity that's persisted over the last few years of less than 20 a month and as few as three. I don't really know why it declined; I assume that it just never attracted new users and the existing ones, like myself, just drifted away.
posted by octothorpe at 1:37 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Ghostride The Whip: it would seem TO ME that we'd have two threads, one for the liberals and the other for the leftists

I have a suspicion that the problem is more basic than that. I think that there was a hope a decade or so ago that if we moderated right-wing opinions off the site it would stop the constant left-right fights and make the website a more peaceful and supportive place. Once we did that, we discovered that the left-liberal split could be just as acrimonious. Now we're hoping that if we just split the leftists and liberals apart we'll achieve peace and supportiveness.

If Marshall McLuhan had seen the Internet he might've said, "The medium is the argument."
posted by clawsoon at 1:45 PM on August 23 [8 favorites]


...it would seem TO ME that we'd have two threads, one for the liberals and the other for the leftists, with an explicit warning against crossing over (or, at least, you better watch your ass if you do post in both).

I'm intrigued, go on...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:15 PM on August 23


I feel like politics threads would be vastly improved if prolific posters would waaaay dial back their participation

It would definitely improve things if some posters change their posting habits. I tried to state a point about a participant in the convention, and my comment got dragged into something that had nothing to do what what I wrote, sparking someone else's apparent need to relitigate the past, which seems to be a frequent thing in these threads. It definitely soured me on participation (again).
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:39 PM on August 23 [4 favorites]


it would seem TO ME that we'd have two threads, one for the liberals and the other for the leftists, with an explicit warning against crossing over (or, at least, you better watch your ass if you do post in both).

This is how this works everywhere I've actually seen it work. You have threads that are not for fighting and threads where, if people really must relitigate, they can go to do so. No talking shit about people in other threads, only fight in the designated threads. It makes the mod load much smaller, in fact, and would be an excellent thing to do in politicsfilter or similar.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:30 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


I feel like politics threads would be vastly improved if prolific posters would waaaay dial back their participation.

This. There were substantive things to say about the DNC this year. Several of the most frequent commenters on that thread both hadn't watched it and weren't actually interested in discussing it.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:44 PM on August 23 [34 favorites]


it would seem TO ME that we'd have two threads

I feel like we could divide them up in a far more granular way. While the megathreads were unsustainable, microthreads may be the solution. Or even individual nanothreads.
posted by snofoam at 7:14 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Maybe a time limit to these kinds of posts? 3 days?
posted by tiny frying pan at 8:10 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]


Wordshore, thanks for the uptick in food-related posts, those have been nice to have back.

Thanks. They are not to every MeFites liking; I get semi-regular messages from MeFites who are unhappy with them. Last night's said that food FPPs are "not serious enough for MetaFilter" (from a long-term MeFite who has never made a post so I have no idea what he considers to be a serious or worthy topic for FPP construction).

But enough MeFites like them, and others can simply ignore them, or construct posts on things which interest them more, or flag them if links to food pictures and delicious recipes are deeply distressing.

The latest one is about Mascarpone. There's links to some previous food FPPs over on my profile.
posted by Wordshore at 7:27 AM on August 24 [40 favorites]


Wordshore: Last night's said that food FPPs are "not serious enough for MetaFilter"

lol, wut?

Anyway, I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their scanners, or why.
posted by clawsoon at 7:31 AM on August 24 [19 favorites]


In all seriousness, I think it's super-important for Mefi to have non-serious FPPs that aren't about politics or hifalutin subjects. We've always had lighthearted posts, they're often very popular, and they provide places for both left AND liberal Mefites to join together in their mutual dislike for Kenneth Branagh versus David Suchet.
posted by adrianhon at 7:34 AM on August 24 [20 favorites]


Okay, whoever sent Wordshore a message that his posts were "not serious enough for MetaFilter" -

….Dude. Chill.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:42 AM on August 24 [25 favorites]


lol, wut?

{shrug} There's a demographic of MeFites who are primarily or solely here for the politics, grar and OutRageFilter posts; probably always has been. MetaFilter is a community of communities; that's fine. But a few seem to get super-annoyed if they have to spend 0.1 seconds scrolling past a trivial or lighthearted post to get to their next online textual combat venue.

I'm an old dog at this Internet lark and so find it (or their complaints or whines) just an annoyance to eyeroll and delete before I start building the next FPP.

I'm much more concerned that MeFites who are new to writing FPPs might also sometimes get complaints from the same, and subsequently stop constructing FPPs. This could be a contributory factor to the ongoing decline in posts on the blue.
posted by Wordshore at 7:51 AM on August 24 [32 favorites]


Kenneth Branagh versus David Suchet.

Art Malik would totally rule as Poirot.
posted by clavdivs at 8:00 AM on August 24 [4 favorites]


Last night's said that food FPPs are "not serious enough for MetaFilter"

Clearly it is time for us to have Poop Month again.
posted by biogeo at 8:15 AM on August 24 [24 favorites]


How about curbing the number of posts any one person can make per day in a thread? Like we do with AskMe posts, but with comments. If someone has to think about what they say in these posts and can't just turn it into their own chat room/forum, then those words may be chosen more carefully.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 8:26 AM on August 24 [8 favorites]


How about curbing the number of posts any one person can make per day in a thread?

This will encourage me to write five page screeds.
posted by clawsoon at 9:19 AM on August 24 [4 favorites]


Wow, yeah, that's ridiculous that anybody is anointing themselves the arbiter of what kind of posts are "serious" enough for Metafilter, and like you said, Wordshore, I would worry that this would be discouraging to the point of potentially scaring off a newer poster. Are the mods aware of this? Do they know who, specifically, is doing it? That shit really ought to be shut down.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:30 AM on August 24 [6 favorites]


How about curbing the number of posts any one person can make per day in a thread?

I've definitely wondered about this but I think clawsoon just murdered the idea rather succinctly.

This will encourage me to write five page screeds.

What we need are for threads to not be dominated by one or a few people who just can't let a certain idea go, who must continue to take on all comers (or just control things) to the detriment of the overall mood "in the room".

So how do we combat this? I guess flagging it when we see it and hopefully a mod will move in and either issue a timeout to the individual(s) in question or at least request that they step back a bit, concentrate on their breathing for a while.
posted by philip-random at 9:34 AM on August 24 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, the Canadian Conservative leadership race thread was pretty good despite the fact that it was mostly four or five of us talking to each other. I wouldn't want to lose that. Maybe a way to mark contentious threads as comment-limited?
posted by clawsoon at 9:40 AM on August 24 [5 favorites]


This will encourage me to write five page screeds.

USUALLY, five page screeds take time and thought, and that is better than the throw-away lines, and the propensity of folks to try and be inflammatory, snarky, and witty.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 9:41 AM on August 24 [5 favorites]


Sending a private message to chide someone for an insufficiently serious post sounds like the most destructive behavior described in this thread, as far as keeping the community healthy.

I've only ever made one FPP in 10+ years here, I'd like to do more, but if I thought that making more would invite scolds from random metafiltarians I would never.

Anyway, the criticism is inaccurate, Wordshare's posts are light-hearted, but they are pretty serious.
posted by skewed at 9:43 AM on August 24 [12 favorites]


I have never been privately scolded for any of my lighthearted and/or stupid posts, FWIW. Not even the Big Smo one.
posted by clawsoon at 9:50 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


I have made some very stupid posts that were rightfully ignored. I've never once been scolded and I'm sorry that happened, Wordshore.
posted by Think_Long at 9:58 AM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Are the mods aware of this?

I had a brief but quite productive conversation with the mods earlier this afternoon, and I'm more than happy with their approach to this issue.

In my case as a poster, I probably attract these (small minority of) whining unrequested feedbacks because I post a lot of food posts. Someone a few years ago openly commented that they hated them; always thought "hate" was a strong word perhaps reserved for other things.

This MetaTalk from five years ago, a sort-of complaint about an FPP by someone else about bread, has some points in the comments of relevance (and of relevance to several other issues MetaFilter is still grappling with).

Note that the large number of bread puns in the comments gave a pretty clear indicator of the general community feeling.

I've only ever made one FPP in 10+ years here, I'd like to do more, but if I thought that making more would invite scolds from random metafiltarians I would never.

Make them! It's very unlikely you'll get scolds, and far more likely you will get a bundle of comments, favourites and (these vastly predominate in my inbox) positive messages.

In that very unlikely event that a MeFite does, for some bizarre reason, send you a post-scold, definitely Memail the mods. While there may have been an expectation in previous times that "Hey, like, it's the Internet, just roll with it, man" that was then and this is a different now.

(And if you spot a post you like, especially by an unfamiliar poster because they are new or nearly new to posting, always good to favourite and/or send then a positive message)
posted by Wordshore at 10:18 AM on August 24 [8 favorites]


Getting back to the original question of this post, my perspective regarding why there was no FPP on the VP selection is that the root cause is due to the current priorities on three factors:

1) This site readership and participation are declining. As others mentioned, there are fewer people making posts in general.

2) This site is much further to the left than the general population. Most (if not all) progressives would have preferred a VP who is further on the left of the political spectrum and are ambivalent if not hostile to this selection.

3) This site is whiter than the general population. There are fewer people with Black or Indian heritage overall, and therefore fewer who view this VP pick positively as providing representation of their heritage in the second highest office in the US. Note: I’m not saying that all Black and Indian people support Kamala Harris. I know many do not. However, for many people representation is important.

This site community has identified that demographic factor #3 is a priority and taking steps to address it. Which is should be. My understanding is that it is not a focus area to address factors #1 and #2. In fact, my impression is that many users prefer keeping the community to a smaller number of people participating; and a smaller number of right and centrist leaning political viewpoints.

I am not going to rehash here why users are leaving this site. But, it is happening significantly as the data posted upthread supports. This appears to not be an issue for site management, ownership, and most importantly the community overall. So, I think in general you will continue to see fewer FPPs on topics which had more discussion in the past.
posted by Abacus Bean at 10:19 AM on August 24 [2 favorites]


(5+ years on and the comment/retort by poffin boffin still makes me laugh)
posted by Wordshore at 10:27 AM on August 24 [12 favorites]


Well put, Abacus Bean.

I wrote out a much longer comment, but don't have the time or energy to have to defend it like a thesis, and so will sit on my hands.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 10:30 AM on August 24


This MetaTalk from five years ago, a sort-of complaint about an FPP by someone else about bread, has some points in the comments of relevance (and of relevance to several other issues MetaFilter is still grappling with).

I had to do a quick control-F for myself to see if I complained in that thread - I've been cranky about 'thin' or 'themed' posts in the past, but these days we are all truly allies against the onslaught of serious posters only*.

*yes of course there are serious and important things to talk about and I don't want to discourage those either.
posted by Think_Long at 10:32 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


I just looked through that thread and learned a somewhat surprising etymological claim about the first-recorded use of the word "butthurt".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:44 AM on August 24


I have often felt there is a split between those who want to Discuss things and pick them apart in an almost detached and quasi-academic fashion and those who want to Let Us Rage Together About The Bad Thing, and they both irk each other tremendously.

Thing is, often talking about things in a "quasi-academic fashion" is the method by which you gain a) a better understanding of the thing you are talking about, and thus b) can plan better ways to deal with said thing, by stopping bad things and supporting good things.

It's really dismissive of actual academics to dismiss academic discourse as being "detatched" when really it means being analytical, which is not the same thing. Trying to analyse and think about problems doesn't mean you are detached; that's what a doctor treating your cancer is doing, and it's not like they are neutral in the cancer vs you debate.

People who study social phenomenon - like racism, patriarchy, ableism, politics, fascism - none of these people are "detached", but they are trying to be analytical, because "Grar, this is awful!" is satisfying, but doesn't solve the problem. To solve the actual problems, you have to think about why things happen the way they do - and to do that, you need to do "academic" things like make clear definitions, propose a model, test your hypotheses, etc. If you want, for example, to stop people voting for fascists, you need to think and talk about why people vote for fascists (and I don't mean those bad, "I talked to people and repeated what they said without interrogating whether they are lying and/or really not-self aware" journalist investigations).
posted by jb at 10:51 AM on August 24 [10 favorites]


That does it, I'm watching 'Zelig' tonight.


Trying to analyse and think about problems doesn't mean you are detached; that's what a doctor treating your cancer is doing, and it's not like they are neutral in the cancer vs you debate.
I agree but in a fish-eye lens it is a kin to as if Local Republicans descend upon Kalamazoo and confront the 'counter protesters'. Imagine that megathread but the problem, I'm afraid, is that the republicans cannot be the doctor in this scenario, sure it would make amazing optics and don't think history hasn't rabbit hat events asimilar. But a more fundamental question arises, like the original topic of this thread which I believe has taken on more question then answers, a bicameral system with one party, ashen but powerful, the other fractionally fighting over the matter of unity and both letting slip, for the most, what little trust* they have in their constituents.

*trust being way open for interpretation.
posted by clavdivs at 11:46 AM on August 24


Even now, I still get scared posting to Mefi. No-one has ever scolded me by private message, but they do leave comments saying the post is awful. And often the post is objectionable, but not in a way that’s always obvious to my layperson eyes when I write it. So I end up feeling bad that, if only through ignorance, I’m spreading bad ideas.

Clearly I should get over myself: it’s the internet and people will be mad at you for any reason, good or bad. But there’s something about Metafilter that makes the criticism sting more. When I fire off some random idiotic tweet, I can just ignore any criticism or quickly apologise, because there are plenty more tweets where that came from. And when I write a blog post, I usually spend more time on it and feel more confident in defending it.

A Metafilter post is different though – usually I’m not an expert in the subject, so there’s a higher chance I’ll have fucked up somehow by linking to a bad take or a bad person who I haven’t researched enough. And while a Mefi post is less work than a blog post, it’s more work than a tweet, so the loss feels greater.

I think this has gotten more acute over the years, partly because we are all more aware – in a good way – that microaggressions exist and that we should all try to elevate better posts and takes. And it’s also partly that there are way fewer posts on the blue than before, so more attention is focused on each, and they linger for longer.

I don’t want to exaggerate the problem. The vast majority of posts I make have had awesome and really encouraging comments. But like with any feedback, it’s the negative ones that cut, and people on Mefi are really good at being critical. And people shouldn’t stop being critical – Mefi would be worse if people weren’t free to criticise the subject of posts – but I would encourage everyone to be a touch kinder if they are criticising, if only because that will help keep the site alive and help people keep posting and improving.
posted by adrianhon at 12:29 PM on August 24 [24 favorites]


adrianhon: But like with any feedback, it’s the negative ones that cut, and people on Mefi are really good at being critical.

Metafilter has helped me learn to say, "Thanks, I learned a lot from all the other perspectives and contributions to my post that I hadn't realized before."

...sometimes.
posted by clawsoon at 1:00 PM on August 24 [4 favorites]


I just looked through that thread and learned a somewhat surprising etymological claim about the first-recorded use of the word "butthurt".

I know you're on the side of the angels with this word, but I'd just love to stop seeing that word on MeFi forever.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:18 PM on August 24 [5 favorites]


Fair cop, Lazarus - my apologies.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:37 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


What we need are for threads to not be dominated by one or a few people who just can't let a certain idea go, who must continue to take on all comers (or just control things) to the detriment of the overall mood "in the room".

Can’t like this hard enough.

I agree that a cap on comments-per-post by number would, as others have acknowledged, merely squeeze the balloon into fewer, longer comments. If you can’t monopolize the conversation by engaging with every other comment individually, you can always do it by raw square inches.

But if we keep letting one or two people Make a Thread All About Them, we’ll keep seeing the kind of attrition we’ve seen. It’s like a supper club; keep inviting the person who treats everyone else as their personal captive audience, and eventually everyone else will stop showing up.
posted by armeowda at 3:11 PM on August 24 [9 favorites]


I have been participating less over the past few years, and part of that was definitely shittiness from people who are able to spend all day controlling a thread and don't welcome other contributors to join them. If I only have an hour to spend online in a day, I don't really want to spend that trying to defend myself from an entire day's worth of attacks. Just exhausting.

I'm not sure what the solution is, though. Some of these folks simply seem to have nothing else to do with their time, so any rules the mods develop will just be gamed by people who have time to figure out how to game rules. I don't want the mods to have to deal with that either. It would be nice if folks considered the "Step Up/Step Back" approach to conversation and noticed if they were taking up all the room in a conversation and preventing other voices from being heard.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:29 PM on August 24 [24 favorites]


No-one has ever scolded me by private message, but they do leave comments saying the post is awful. And often the post is objectionable, but not in a way that’s always obvious to my layperson eyes when I write it. So I end up feeling bad that, if only through ignorance, I’m spreading bad ideas.

I made a post that, to my surprise, crashed into UK-vs-US difference of opinion about outdoor cats in a way that has left me reluctant to make a post about cats ever again.
posted by Lexica at 3:50 PM on August 24 [6 favorites]

What we need are for threads to not be dominated by one or a few people who just can't let a certain idea go, who must continue to take on all comers (or just control things) to the detriment of the overall mood "in the room".
Sometimes that happens because a group of posters on one side of an argument has used the weight of numbers to try to shout down anyone who disagrees with them, and only a few people on the other side are willing to put up with the abuse.

It's really frustrating to watch the mods step into a thread that's unfolding like that and start enforcing the groupthink. It can be like being back at school and watching a teacher take the side of the bullies.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:55 PM on August 24 [10 favorites]


If you can’t monopolize the conversation by engaging with every other comment individually, you can always do it by raw square inches.

I can't deal with the comments that are many paragraphs long, it feels like people are monologuing rather than engaging in conversation.

Sometimes that happens because a group of posters on one side of an argument has used the weight of numbers to try to shout down anyone who disagrees with them

This characterization doesn't really fit, in my opinion. It's an after the fact observation that feels right I guess but doesn't usually describe what is actually happening. Just because multiple people voice similar opinions doesn't mean they have colluded to "shout down" the opposing opinion. Sometimes the opinion they are disagreeing with is just extreme or egregious enough to make a lot of people feel like it merits a response.
posted by JenMarie at 4:19 PM on August 24 [7 favorites]


I was wondering if politics threads would be improved by some sort of rate limiter. For example, everybody has, say, four comments in a political thread with no limits, but then after that there's an hour wait for your fifth, two hours for your sixth, four hours for your seventh, eight for eight and 16 hours for every comment after that. Sure, some people would wait eight hours and post a long screed responding to everyone they disagreed with over the past 1/3 of a day, but there would have been a chance for new voices to have had a conversation about something else in that time without being drowned out by the 134th slight variation on one of the standard political arguments. Perhaps someone would have seen something happen at the convention and posted about that, for instance.

In the DNC/Harris thread as of earlier today, this specific formulation (which is arbitrary) would have only potantially affected 30 people, who collectively made 54% of the comments, and would have had no impact on 163 different people who collectively made the 46% minority of the comments. One could think of it as a tax of sorts, introducing a redistribution to benefit the many at the slight expense of the few.
posted by Superilla at 4:40 PM on August 24 [13 favorites]


The phenomenon hydropsyche describes is bleeding into more innocuous threads. Members can discuss and even largely agree with each other, but there's a subset of people who view just the presence of a discussion as "people being negative," and experiences that don't line up with their own as hostile, personal attacks. An extreme example: the amount of bad-faith reading here is bizarre. Many bra-wearers hate bras, so why are we yelling at each other again?

Things are shitty, and people are scared and angry. It's heartbreaking. I wish there was a message that could pop up, maybe a waterfall gif: "Couldn't help but notice you're angry at people on the internet about INSERT LOWER-STAKES TOPIC HERE. Are you OK?"
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 5:16 PM on August 24 [16 favorites]


2020 would be the year when Clippy rose again in some thread about cooking things I can't afford to become my personal therapist. Sigh. All right. Let's do this.
posted by Lonnrot at 7:55 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


Members can discuss and even largely agree with each other, but there's a subset of people who view just the presence of a discussion as "people being negative," and experiences that don't line up with their own as hostile, personal attacks.

I've noticed this as well. Perhaps some posts could be tagged "support/validation/affirmation only" or something to that effect, so that unsuspecting commenters don't inadvertently try to offer additional unwelcome perspectives?
posted by rpfields at 8:16 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


who must continue to take on all comers (or just control things) to the detriment of the overall mood "in the room".

So how do we combat this?


Step 1: annihilate the human race.

...Seriously, all kinds of people get riled up and take on all comers over all kinds of shit. We tend to think of this as perhaps more young male behavior - and maybe they do it slightly more, or the way they do it is more consistently annoying/cringeworthy/oblivious to privilege and thus stands out - but virtually every person on the planet has some topic or point of view that will turn them into a Keyboard Conan, roaring as they defend their current hill against the oncoming hordes.

That's an okay thing as long as it's relatively positive/punching up; there are a lot of legit things to get angry-passionate about, possibly moreso right now. But there's this big percentage of MetaTalk posters whose relationship with intense argumentation reminds me of nothing so much as my fundamentalist parents' attitude towards sex, that peculiar impulse to squelch even the faintest acknowledgement of what is not only normal and healthy but actually an essential aspect of being human. Society is objectively bettered by more people having more great sex, and I posit it is also bettered by more people caring enough to get passionate about something, and if sometimes it's all heat and no light that's really okay: this isn't Paris, we're not in a salon, and nobody can smoke opium over the Internet anyway.
posted by Ryvar at 8:27 PM on August 24 [9 favorites]


flag them if links to food pictures and delicious recipes are deeply distressing

I've never flagged, but I do find food pictures and delicious recipes deeply distressing. Because they make me want to eat ALL THE FOODS, and that does not end well.
posted by pianissimo at 11:28 PM on August 24 [3 favorites]


I'm all for vigorous debate and friendly argumentation, but there's a difference between that and someone taking on all-comers in a thread to the point where everyone gets fed up and leaves – not to a Paris salon but to another fun bar that isn't filled with angry bores. If that happens too often, you just stop visiting completely.
posted by adrianhon at 1:33 AM on August 25 [15 favorites]


I was wondering if politics threads would be improved by some sort of rate limiter. For example, everybody has, say, four comments in a political thread with no limits, but then after that there's an hour wait for your fifth, two hours for your sixth, four hours for your seventh, eight for eight and 16 hours for every comment after that.

Or an automatic flag for the mods when someone is commenting at a high volume in a given thread, and/or an automated message before you post for the nth time. And something in the guidelines about not hogging threads/taking on all comers.
posted by trig at 3:47 AM on August 25 [3 favorites]


I'd suggest that any set of rules being proposed also be tested against the emotional labour thread. It is surely one of the greatest things Metafilter has collectively created. If we put your proposed set of rules on it, what would it have become instead?
posted by clawsoon at 5:16 AM on August 25 [8 favorites]


With a site suffering a decline in engagement, I think we should tend to disfavor solutions that limit users' engagement with the site (e.g., comment limits). I get the idea that a small number of obnoxious people with high engagement can drive others away, but I think it is very hard, empirically, to identify which high-engagement users have a bad effect versus other high-engagement users who create energy/momentum in discussions. I think it is hard to avoid the subjective bias of thinking that a high-engagement user who annoys the hell out of me must also be driving other people away from the conversation.
posted by Mid at 7:10 AM on August 25 [12 favorites]


I'd suggest that any set of rules being proposed also be tested against the emotional labour thread. It is surely one of the greatest things Metafilter has collectively created. If we put your proposed set of rules on it, what would it have become instead?

Exactly the same. This is specifically a problem with politics threads, and I said as much explicitly. There are lots of great posts -- whether the emotional labour thread or just dumb jokey stuff like let's all make safety signs -- where frequent posting isn't problematic, and a limited type of post where people just dig in and drive out all other conversation. (It was as much a thought experiment as a practical suggestion, in any case.)

With a site suffering a decline in engagement, I think we should tend to disfavor solutions that limit users' engagement with the site (e.g., comment limits). I get the idea that a small number of obnoxious people with high engagement can drive others away, but I think it is very hard, empirically, to identify which high-engagement users have a bad effect versus other high-engagement users who create energy/momentum in discussions.

I agree we need more engagement. I disagree that posting frequency is the sole or most useful measure of engagement. Engagement might mean engaging with the subject of the post (the DNC and/or Kamala Harris) rather than more or less the same political arguments that have been going on for half a decade.

It's like saying I want to live in a community with kids playing, friends chatting, people sitting on a stoop strumming a guitar, so let's call that street vitality and measure that by the decibel level. And then saying that the guy driving his Harley up and down the street is now the number one contributor to decibels, and we therefore shouldn't do anything to discourage Harley users; never mind that the kids and friends and guitars have all been driven inside.
posted by Superilla at 9:06 AM on August 25 [16 favorites]


I agree that engagement should be more than posting frequently. In this case it would have involved a lot more posts about the convention. Not six dozen posts talking about how evil the Democrats and Biden are, how will we ever mitigate the evil they do, followed by "Oh but of course I don't want people to feel BAD about j hitting for Biden." Which is some of the most disingenuous bullshit I've ever seen on this site.

And I will say this flat out: the fact that the topic largely shifted from the convention, to long diatribes about how evil the Democrats are, is an utter failure on the part of the moderators. Either they were taking sides, or they were uninterested in keeping it on topic at the level of someone coming into the GoGos thread and doing 30 posts about how Rancid is the best punk band ever because there aren't any women punk bands.

Seriously. It was that bad.

I'm pissed off, I felt attacked in that thread, and I'm just really sad and angry that Metafilter is doing the same self-defeating shit that it did in 2016.

My vote is, since we obviously didn't learn a fucking thing in 4 years, that we just cancel all political threads. Seriously, ask yourself - are these threads really doing anything other that than the same divisive crap that we saw in 2016? I'm not asking "could they be better", but "are they better?" I think they aren't.
posted by happyroach at 9:56 AM on August 25 [30 favorites]


Yeah, moderator opinion bias resulting in inconsistency in how rules are applied is an issue that has been discussed here before. But I don't see it as significant issue for this community because most of the time the opinions and beliefs of the moderators are shared by such a large percentage of active users. So there is little incentive or desire to change so that the policies are applied consistently.
posted by Abacus Bean at 11:01 AM on August 25 [4 favorites]


I fear the new RNC thread is suffering the same warp: some of the same users monopolizing discussion, with the same arguments about What This Is Really All About.

I’m also noticing an abundance of pull-quotes, which further the goal of taking up as much eye-time/thumb-scroll-time as possible without the burdensome effort of writing one’s own hot takes.

I love a good pull quote when it’s applied thoughtfully (katra’s digests of coronavirus news come to mind)! But this isn’t that. It’s just drownout-bloat.
posted by armeowda at 12:06 PM on August 25 [4 favorites]


The DNC thread was so bad, no way am I going near the RNC thread.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:14 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Have you looked at the RNC thread? I'm actually enjoying it, even learning a few things. It's very civil, with some thoughtful discussions on why Trump voters voted the way they did; only a minimum of OMG WE'RE ALL DOOMED; and a reasonable amount of "Yes, they do indeed suck." The more we know our enemy, the less surprised we will be by it.
posted by Melismata at 1:01 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Without looking, I'd expect the RNC thread to be much better simply because there'll be 99% agreement that we don't want Trump again.

I think it was a comment by Miko in a Metatalk thread that introduced me to the black sheep effect in group dynamics, in which "people derogate socially undesirable (deviant) ingroup members relative to outgroup members", which helps explain why the DNC threads are so vicious and unpleasant. When the values of groups are being formed and enforced, the people who are treated worst are people in the group who disagree with parts of the group consensus.
posted by clawsoon at 1:02 PM on August 25 [5 favorites]


The RNC thread has more productive disagreement about the Democrats and the DNC than the DNC thread was allowed to.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:15 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


Criticizing the Democratic Party, for instance the choice of DNC speakers, is still valid and relevant, so I think it's worth distinguishing between rants about Democratic politics, versus leftist voices flatly commenting on, indeed, morally "unpleasant" aspects of left-wing politics. Another example, the couple of remarks I saw about post-election mitigation are part of an actual ongoing leftist discourse with each other (E.g., I mentioned a Jacobin piece in that thread that had the same kind of sentiment)—and so they made sense to me helping me understand the leftist position better as a conversation between leftists, whereas if that's not stuff you follow, maybe you wouldn't have that context and so maybe you'd perceive that as something disingenuous that leftists are saying at people who identify more closely with Democrats.
posted by polymodus at 4:25 PM on August 25 [1 favorite]


I’m one of the people who will die if the Republicans stay in power, and one of those who will die a bit more quickly but far more painfully if the nation collapses as many leftists say is their goal. As are the people closest and dearest to me in real life. So my tolerance for anyone discussing the election like they’re taking a picnic to Bull Run is remarkably low at the moment.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:41 PM on August 25 [22 favorites]


The Tulsi / Haley "mixup" in the RNC thread reflects poorly on us. Should've been flagged right away (maybe it was) but deletion would have simply swept it under the rug. Took a while for carrienation to correct it. Some of it is racism and some of it is people commenting on the convention without reading or watching any of it. Par for the course.

On the other hand, people apologized. I can see some discussions/places where people would have doubled down.
posted by Gotanda at 5:48 PM on August 25 [10 favorites]


I’m also noticing an abundance of pull-quotes

Again, just speaking personally, I'd love to see a far lower percentage of posts be links + 3 paragraphs from the exact same news stories as I see in Apple News or any newspaper front page. That isn't adding anything to my day other than additional scrolling time.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:59 PM on August 25 [10 favorites]


I'd love to see a far lower percentage of posts be links

Obviously, I mean "comments".
posted by Dip Flash at 8:08 PM on August 25 [3 favorites]


I’m one of the people who will die if the Republicans stay in power, and one of those who will die a bit more quickly but far more painfully if the nation collapses as many leftists say is their goal. As are the people closest and dearest to me in real life. So my tolerance for anyone discussing the election like they’re taking a picnic to Bull Run is remarkably low at the moment.

I resent the implication that I even have to argue and explain that accelerationists are not on this site as actual commenters, and that critiquing the DNC or leftists talking about what happens after Biden wins is equivalent to some callous, elitist piece of history. Connecting actual election discussion here to support/promulgating of extremist, problematic leftist viewpoints is itself an anti-left Democrat tactic, let's not do that please.
posted by polymodus at 1:13 AM on August 26 [3 favorites]



I resent the implication that I even have to argue and explain that accelerationists are not on this site as actual commenters


There was at least one comment about it in the DNC thread.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:29 AM on August 26 [10 favorites]


Yeah, moderator opinion bias resulting in inconsistency in how rules are applied is an issue that has been discussed here before. But I don't see it as significant issue for this community because most of the time the opinions and beliefs of the moderators are shared by such a large percentage of active users.

As a person who doesn't always share the opinions and beliefs of the moderators, I think this is a problem if you want to increase engagement with the site. And one reason those opinions and beliefs are shared by such a large percentage of active users is that moderator bias drives others away. I was self-censoring a lot, and I finally decided to quit participating in everything but Ask, which is still useful to me (I'm making an exception to that with this post because I couldn't stop thinking about this comment). It's a private site, so it can be whatever cortex and the mods want, but the site is going to lose people as long as not-unreasonable ideas are clearly not welcome here.
posted by FencingGal at 5:59 AM on August 26 [15 favorites]


I resent the implication that I even have to argue and explain that accelerationists are not on this site as actual commenters

There was at least one comment about it in the DNC thread.


Since we're being gasslit that there aren't any accellerationist comments here, here's an actual example from that thread.
posted by octothorpe at 6:38 AM on August 26 [15 favorites]


The Tulsi / Haley "mixup" in the RNC thread reflects poorly on us. Should've been flagged right away (maybe it was) but deletion would have simply swept it under the rug. Took a while for carrienation to correct it. Some of it is racism and some of it is people commenting on the convention without reading or watching any of it. Par for the course.

On the other hand, people apologized. I can see some discussions/places where people would have doubled down.


Yeah, that was depressing to read and while I am glad it wasn't quietly deleted, I would really love to understand why quite a few people confused Nikki Haley and Tulsi Gabbard of all people in that context.
posted by Ouverture at 8:16 AM on August 26 [5 favorites]


For me, it was just trust. There are way more moving parts to the convention than I can keep track of, so when someone mentions Gabbard at the RNC my only mental-check before engaging was “is this plausible”, and it sure was. This looks to have been the case for most people that engaged with the initial mix-up. (as the reclusive novelist mentioned in that thread, most of us actually aren’t watching the RNC)
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:25 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Again, just speaking personally, I'd love to see a far lower percentage of posts be links + 3 paragraphs from the exact same news stories as I see in Apple News or any newspaper front page. That isn't adding anything to my day other than additional scrolling time.

Second this, really hard. I really would love less cutting and pasting news stories in those threads, especially the ones from major outlets. I don't think they add anything other than clutter.
posted by holborne at 9:58 AM on August 26 [8 favorites]


Since we're being gasslit that there aren't any accellerationist comments here, here's an actual example from that thread.

The number one reason I stay away from politics threads (and from the blue most of the time) is this kind of overdramatic victim playing. Gaslit!

For a while there was a whole thing where people would argue seriously that various leftists were "abusive" and by that they mean that leftists are literally emotional/psychological domestic abusers.

It's the kind of overblown rhetoric that people use to justify actual violence against political "enemies" and it's creepy as fuck.

Oh also I hate the people who think they are the police of the politics threads ("people" lol it's one guy and he does it constantly) and the leftists who think that they are going to convince anyone here of anything.

I like overture's contributions a lot; but I don't feel entitled to claim that people having smart things to say about politics that I disagree with are literally trying to kill me, so... (see above point about overblown rhetoric).
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:15 AM on August 26 [11 favorites]


The number one reason I stay away from politics threads (and from the blue most of the time) is this kind of overdramatic victim playing.

…...dude.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:33 AM on August 26 [19 favorites]


Second this, really hard. I really would love less cutting and pasting news stories in those threads, especially the ones from major outlets. I don't think they add anything other than clutter.

I feel like if people can cut and paste some concise, especially important or interesting or some new revelation from the article they are posting, which explains why they are linking it, I appreciate that. Sometimes things linked to are very long-form and I don't want to dig through a bunch of paragraphs for whatever the main point is. Or I just don't feel like clicking through to something when I'm not sure why it was linked. But yeah, pasting several paragraphs from the article is overkill and probably clutters things up.
posted by JenMarie at 11:11 AM on August 26 [4 favorites]


...if the nation collapses as many leftists say is their goal.

uh. I am trying not to do the italicized-comment-quoting thing so much this go around because I think it often exacerbates hostilities even if it's not intended to be combative at all but uh. What. This isn't even the position of accelerationists, of which there was AFAIK one in that thread who got thoroughly talked-to about it (though some comments calling them out directly were removed; I do think sometimes pushback should be allowed to stand, even if it's harsh, but that's probably another topic). I can't even begin to read this as a good faith attempt at dialogue. Like, genuinely, if you sincerely believe what you wrote, I'm not even sure where to begin engaging you on it. It's so far off-track that it's just...

what. There is no cabal of leftists working to hasten the collapse of the US. I say this as someone in multiple anarchist and collapsenik circles (who thinks accelerationists are deluded fools, to be extra clear). I can't read this comment as anything other than needless fight-picking. If you had an actual point, you really need to explain what it was. There is a lot of contempt directed at the category of people who generally have the most, not least, skin in the game packed in there.

Also agree the Gabbard/Haley mixup was weird and uncomfortable and probably influenced by racial bias but I guess I'm glad it stayed up so that people could acknowledge it and apologize.
posted by Lonnrot at 11:43 AM on August 26 [15 favorites]


I'd add that in general in news threads, I'd also love to see fewer links to articles with long two- or three-paragraph pull quotes. For example, in the new Covid thread, a good chunk of the comments, maybe 20 percent, are just stuff pulled from mainstream sources like AP, WaPo, The Atlantic, CNN, etc. with looooooooong pull quotes. It's why I stopped reading that post, in fact; it just felt to me like I was reading a news aggregator and not much else. Maybe those could be reduced to a few informative links in a single comment, rather than one comment for each source?
posted by holborne at 1:40 PM on August 26 [7 favorites]


There was at least one comment about it in the DNC thread.

I find it very hard to construe otherwise your remark here: I’m one of the people who will die if the Republicans stay in power, and one of those who will die a bit more quickly but far more painfully if the nation collapses as many leftists say is their goal. As are the people closest and dearest to me in real life. So my tolerance for anyone discussing the election like they’re taking a picnic to Bull Run is remarkably low at the moment.

Which immediately followed my comment, as a remark partly or substantially in response to what I was saying. But my comment there was not about leftist extremists. My comment was about the valid ways in which leftists share perspectives, and can get construed differently by outgroups who don't follow certain leftist discourses. Your response to my comment was to bring up the spectre of extreme leftists. Do you see why that manipulation of context, intentional or not, diminishes my voice in favor of your interpretation of left extremism?
posted by polymodus at 10:47 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]


It's a private site, so it can be whatever cortex and the mods want, but the site is going to lose people as long as not-unreasonable ideas are clearly not welcome here.

FencingGal, I agree and think we are saying the same thing in different ways. My observations based on previous comments and ITT and general direction of this site in recent years is that the moderators, many active users, and ownership prefer to disallow not-unreasonable ideas that they do not agree with.

Most current users and ownership are not concerned about loss of active users since they value agreement and conformity over growing the user base and diversity of perspectives. Therefore, there is really no incentive to change.

The only way I see change happening is if the user base dwindles to the point that funding is impacted. I'm not clear on exactly how much of this place is funded by direct financial support from users vs advertising. It's reasonable to assume that those users who are providing funding agree with the site's current policies and moderation and will continue to fund.

Why would policies on this site change if those who are paying for it like the current approach not allowing reasonable differences in ideas to be shared? On the other hand, if viewership and participation continues to decline, then so will advertising dollars. This only matters in the bigger picture if advertising is a significant portion of overall funding, and I'm not sure that is the case.
posted by Abacus Bean at 7:49 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


and general direction of this site in recent years is that the moderators, many active users, and ownership prefer to disallow not-unreasonable ideas that they do not agree with.

I don't think it's this simple, this reductive. Though I can see how it might feel this way.

That is, I think there's a certain amount of underlying "this kind of thing has proven to not go well here" -- in other words, accrued wisdom. An obvious for instance would be Israel/Palestine stuff which, for almost as long as I've been here (over ten years), has been not necessarily a no-go area, but definitely discouraged. Because past results haven't been good. And when results aren't good, it becomes a drain on everything and everybody. Temperatures rise, mods get overworked, members bail -- and all with little positive outcome. So, as with any community anywhere, certain areas are marked "out of bounds" or "proceed with extreme caution" etc.

There are certainly topics I don't bother raising anymore around here, stands I won't take, because I know from experience, it won't go anywhere good. So I pursue that stuff outside of Metafilter.
posted by philip-random at 9:59 AM on August 27 [3 favorites]


Which immediately followed my comment, as a remark partly or substantially in response to what I was saying.

If you believe I have the ability to control which comment my comment appears after, you are seriously overestimating my eldritch powers. They appear in the order in which the commenter happens to press “Post Comment,” which is why we developed this custom of quoting a comment when that comment is what we’re responding to.

This SILENCED ALL MY LIFE conspiracy theory stuff is one of the things that made the DNC thread so toxic.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:16 AM on August 27 [7 favorites]


That is, I think there's a certain amount of underlying "this kind of thing has proven to not go well here" -- in other words, accrued wisdom.

I feel like, even if a post is new, Metafilter may have gone through a kind of group editing process on the topic it general. Certain comments may be like typos reappearing after they were already corrected. Of course, whether the editing process was good or bad has varied a lot. Some things are worth moving past, other things might be deeply ingrained problems. This progress/baggage maybe contributes to a lot of the conflict on the site, but also perhaps the dwindling of conversation. A lot of comments don’t need to be made again, a lot of jokes were funny the first time. There’s not always a lot to say that hasn’t been said before, especially in a group that isn’t growing.
posted by snofoam at 10:51 AM on August 27 [1 favorite]


There are certainly topics I don't bother raising anymore around here, stands I won't take, because I know from experience, it won't go anywhere good.

I think the phrase "it won't go anywhere good" and your post in general (unless I'm misunderstanding) implies that certain subjects, rather than certain opinions, are forbidden. What I've seen are some very vocal people who shout down ideas they disagree with, sometimes with misreadings so extreme they seem to be deliberate. So yes, that's bad for a thread - but it could be dealt with by insisting on civility rather than just deleting the opinions that anger people (and that the mods aren't fond of).

It's probably true that there isn't incentive to change, especially if it doesn't affect the site financially. For me, it makes Metafilter less a place where I want to hang out, though I won't pretend that's any great loss to the site. I just want to register that it reflects decisions by the folks in charge and isn't something that just kinda happened.
posted by FencingGal at 12:03 PM on August 27 [4 favorites]


When I started reading MeFi in mid-2001, one of the first things I noticed was that several topics were known as "things Metafilter doesn't do well". Israel/Palestine as phillip-random notes, but also things like declawing your cat or microsoft vs. apple. They always led to fights because there was little to no real discussion, just people shouting at each other. Any actual discussion of the issues got drowned out by the noise. It created bad feelings that carried over into other threads, so the subjects were discouraged. Never outright banned, but the bar for posting one was pretty high.

That has always been the goal of moderation here - minimize the fights as much as possible so real conversation can happen, without restricting what people can say. I've gone through periods where I thought it was based on opinion, or friendships, or other factors, but in the end I don't think that's what is happening.

It's a tough line to draw, and sometimes it means the person with an unpopular opinion is asked to step back and not respond to everyone who disagrees with them. But that doesn't mean the moderators necessarily disagree with them, just that MeFi is better with less fights.
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:44 PM on August 27 [6 favorites]


Mute A Filter extension for Firefox can be helpful. Long thought MeFi should offer something like it.
posted by tiny frying pan


And, with the new Firefox update, Mute A Filter no longer works on mobile, ruining everything.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:36 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


There was something AOC said about her slot nominating Sanders that seemed to be relevant to this slowly overheating conversation: disagreements don't have to be fights. What we see frequently in the politics threads are escalation of disagreements into fights - like describing someone saying 'there was no accelerationism in the DNC thread' as gaslighting rather than just mistaken, or claiming without evidence that a certain portion of the site believes in the destruction of the United States.

I agree that MetaFilter doesn't need a rule against posting too much. What we need is a rule against trying to escalate. This is going to frustrate people who can't just go at someone who is clearly wrong. This is intentional. This is not social media. If someone actually is outside the bounds of liberal discourse, the moderation here will actually remove them.

This interacts poorly with the need to keep the community safe for marginalised people, who should not be expected to calmly interact with (or be obligated to defend themselves against) people denying their experience or humanity. I would hope the moderation tools would be sufficient for this, assuming one trusts the mods to follow through; perhaps a self-moderation tool that is some kind of equivalent of "would you like to rephrase that?" through clenched teeth would be helpful here instead. I am sure marginalised people would have a better idea of what would suit their needs.
posted by Merus at 9:26 AM on August 30 [5 favorites]


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