Snark Less, Post More January 14, 2021 4:08 PM   Subscribe

We’d all benefit if there was more posting on Metafilter, even if it wasn’t perfect. It’d help if it wasn’t often so discouraging to submit posts, though. Here are some thoughts on how we could achieve this.

Following the departure of members renowned for their excellent posting habits (e.g. Fizz) last year, I committed to posting to Metafilter a lot more. Beyond donating, it felt like one of the most direct ways I could give back to the community that I’ve learned so much from.

But damn me if it isn’t hard. Not the process of putting together the posts, which is not that hard when you get into it, but rather how commenters are often unaware how their hostile or snarky comments put me, and I think others, off.

Clearly any post on Metafilter is open to criticism, and I don’t expect praise or agreement from commenters. Some of the my favourite posts are where people bring their own, better experiences and opinions to the comments. Still, it’s hard not to take criticisms of linked articles personally. Obviously I didn’t write the articles but I thought they were interesting enough to post, and at the very least it’s feels a criticism of my judgment. It’s also fair to say that I’m unconsciously avoiding certain topics where I feel I might get criticised, maybe fairly, for not providing good enough links or wide enough balance.

So here’s my request: if you think you’re just criticising a professional writer or paid blogger and they deserve it, just remember you’re also criticising the Mefi user who posted it for free. If you dismiss a link as trash, that user may never post again, and I think that’s a loss. I’ve made hundreds of posts now and it still stings badly. It’s even more frustrating when I discover users tearing apart posts who have never posted themselves.

Also, please consider posting more (or at all!). Metafilter is nothing without a fresh flow of posts. With so few new posts each day, you should absolutely post about “obvious” topics like film trailers, game announcements, headlines, pop culture, etc. Usually there’s something fruitful in the discussion and I think it’s important for a community as diverse as Metafilter, that disagrees on so many things, to see what it has in common.

So, as much as I brace myself after submitting a post, it’s a pleasure to see them spark discussion. Snark less, post more!
posted by adrianhon to Etiquette/Policy at 4:08 PM (143 comments total) 136 users marked this as a favorite

Thumbs up from me (speaking just as a user not as some sort of mod-pronouncement). I've really appreciate your contributions here adarianhon, and I, too, sometimes feel jabbed when someone just has some sort of drive-by snark about my post's topic, especially if they haven't even read the link. It's been a super rough year which means I've tried to be tolerant of the snarkers even as I do sometimes feel kinda of upbraided by them, but never a bad idea to have a reminder that people are often invested in their posts in large and small ways.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:38 PM on January 14 [37 favorites]


Also, mash that 'add to favourite' button to give the poster the shot of dopamine they're after
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:19 PM on January 14 [62 favorites]


I’m not on the blue much anymore, but one thing that’s bitten me before is when I post something I found thought-provoking and commenters interpret the article as my personal views, which isn’t always the case. That might turn some people off.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:21 PM on January 14 [10 favorites]


Sucks to read the snarky comments even if you're not the poster. Maybe it can be on us to be a little protective of our posters, and gently do a little course correction when this happens. I mean I know this often happens already, but let's try to elevate it to a community norm. Because it well and truly sucks when it happens and deters would-be posters from taking the risk.
posted by HotToddy at 5:37 PM on January 14 [6 favorites]


Wait… Fizz is gone? I'll miss his posts indeed.
posted by Alensin at 5:46 PM on January 14 [17 favorites]


Just chiming in to say how discouraging it is to me to see it happen to OTHER people, aside from my own posts.

A post to MetaFilter is a gift from one of us to all of us. It's fine if that gift is not to any individual's liking, and indeed if an individual has a gift of their own to share with us in the form of thoughtful criticism, that's valuable too; but to just drop drive-by snark is not merely rude, it's actually harmful to the sharing that makes this community unique.

Thank you for bringing this up on MetaTalk, adrianhon - and for all the terrific gifts you've offered to us.
posted by kristi at 5:49 PM on January 14 [53 favorites]


A post to MetaFilter is a gift from one of us to all of us. It's fine if that gift is not to any individual's liking, and indeed if an individual has a gift of their own to share with us in the form of thoughtful criticism, that's valuable too; but to just drop drive-by snark is not merely rude, it's actually harmful to the sharing that makes this community unique.

This should be the boilerplate we paste in whenever someone does this.
posted by HotToddy at 6:42 PM on January 14 [12 favorites]


Your title reminds me that I haven’t posted much since the 2016 election (probably some cause and effect there) but I didn’t mind snark as much as disengagement. If you appreciate a post but have nothing to add, a ‘thanks’ and/or favorite is always welcome.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:00 PM on January 14 [10 favorites]


I finally got up the nerve to make a post to the blue last year after more than a decade on this site and couldn't believe that a few of the comments were basically like "who cares" - on a topic that I found both quite interesting and underexposed and worked hard to make an interesting post on. Can't say that make me that keen to post again, really, so yeah.

Some commenters' main interest is to be the cleverest commenter, adding nothing to the discussion other than pithy snark and it certainly doesn't make this place a more interesting place to visit. I try to flag the more egregious snark and dismissive comments but it's tough that some people still have to see them until the mods get to removing them.
posted by urbanlenny at 7:17 PM on January 14 [75 favorites]


Yeah, snark belongs back in 1999 if it ever belonged at all. We've all grown over the years since then, I hope. In any case, my lens is nearly everyone is under an unprecedented amount of stress right now. Kindness, curiosity and gratitude is always a healthy default but never more than now. I'd like to be contributing more, but at least I can still read, find new ideas, and quietly applaud all of you wonderful humans.
posted by vers at 7:44 PM on January 14 [8 favorites]


On the one hand, some of the criticism is intended to keep high standards. However, I agree with not snarking. Maybe it's okay to think twice if we're making the post as good as we can, but it shouldn't so much make us think three times if we should post at all. Another thing that really bothers me is if the link is interesting and important but perhaps the framing could have been a bit better, that shouldn't immediately derail the discussion and keep derailing it. Also seconding that thank yous and favorites go a long way. It's really disheartening to put a lot of effort into putting up something you think is really good to share...and hardly anyone seems to care (keeping in mind different cups of tea for different folks obviously, but this is for when you know something is good and it just gets ignored for I don't know what reasons - you see it in other posts as well).
posted by blue shadows at 9:09 PM on January 14 [5 favorites]


I don’t post often, but when I do I hope for a little snark. I mean, serious discussions about copyright are all very well, but that’s not why I posted an article about squabbles over wolf erotica.

I do think there’s an issue with drive-by hate, which is not the same as snark—seriously, some people need to learn to scroll past the stuff they think is stupid or boring instead of clicking the link and then complaining. For example, if you don’t like YouTube, don’t click on YouTube links! Is it really necessary to tell everyone you don’t like video essays? If you think someone should be posting about X instead of Y, go make your own post about X.

My own reasons for not posting have nothing to do with MeFites being MeFites, it’s (1) I’m usually on my phone where it’s hard to make links and (2) the internet is boring.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:14 PM on January 14 [26 favorites]


As someone who used to post a couple times a week I agree that snark is a comment killer. It really can shut down a thread. But I feel like derails and criticism are sometimes good indicators that I've missed something important and maybe shouldn't have posted or should have framed something differently. I've asked mods to take down my posts when commenters have pointed out problematic details in things I've linked to, usually something that I was completely oblivious to when I was putting the post together. Snark for the sake of shitting on someone's post has no place on the blue but not all negativity is bad.
posted by not_the_water at 9:40 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I think one of the problems on both blue and green is that folks don't always think before chiming in, but instead comment off the cuff. Spontaneity is good, and you don't want to load folks up with rules, but often I think if people just paused a few minutes before writing the negativity might well go away by itself because they would have given themselves enough time to see the OP in a more nuanced way.
posted by Violet Blue at 12:10 AM on January 15 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't want anyone to unnaturally hold back from criticising links, or even posting well-crafted snark (it's often really funny!), but ultimately this comes from the observation that at least for me, the one thing that really holds me back from posting more is when people come into a thread and basically say "lol this is trash, what a fucking moron" and I'm like, "fuck it, why do I bother?"

That's never the majority of comments, most people are far nicer, but as with all criticism, it's the negative ones you remember. I agree with urbanlenny's point in that some users feel comments are a competition to be the cleverest, most popular contrarian in a thread, which is really tiring.

As an aside, also tiring is some users' reluctance to actually engage in a real conversation. Now that I've been posting more and reading comments more consistently, there are a few who will drop into threads, confidentally post something outrageously wrong, get called out on it – and then never reappear to admit they were wrong or retract. It's irritating when it happens once or twice, but after a dozen times, you realise these are just toxic people. It never rises to the level of outright trolling or abuse, but these are people I would refuse to talk to in real life.
posted by adrianhon at 2:11 AM on January 15 [30 favorites]


I just looked and I've only made 6 FPPs in over 17 years on this site. Feeble! Maybe this will encourage me to do some more.

I think my reluctance in the past has been a lack of time to devote to crafting the perfect post, which is silly, so let's see if I can post something tolerable soon!
posted by knapah at 2:58 AM on January 15 [8 favorites]


I'm a reader with eclectic tastes. My reluctance to posting is that often I, as a layperson, read something extremely interesting. But then I don't know the context - is this thing actually well written and true or am I just ignorant? Does everyone know this already? Is it worth posting?

Will I rightly get a barrage of meh, if I post?

I really don't want to boost the signal for something more knowledgable people might consider problematic. And everything is political these days (not a criticism - everything is and needs to be a political statement). So you need to be even more careful what you're actually saying and if it aligns with your values.

If it's an American thing there's an extra layer of complication. I read this super interesting take on how QAnon works from a game designer, but I have no idea which thread to post it in or whether it merits a fresh fpp. (Didn't check whether it's been posted yet - decided that between home office and home schooling I have too little time to sit down and make a post this site deserves.)
posted by Omnomnom at 4:30 AM on January 15 [13 favorites]


I think this is a great reminder, thank you.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:09 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


As an infrequent poster to the blue, I have found positive comments-- and indications that people get why I posted-- very encouraging. I'm going to try harder to make those kinds of positive comments myself. We cannot completely prevent negative comments but I think they will be less prohibitive if they are balanced out.
posted by BibiRose at 6:04 AM on January 15 [8 favorites]


some people need to learn to scroll past the stuff they think is stupid or boring instead of clicking the link and then complaining.

This is easier if you accurately describe what they’re linking to, and why people might find it interesting. It’s tempting to go with a catchy pullquote or a mystery meat cold open, hoping that folks will be delighted with the thrill of discovery, but it’s also possible that they’ll be disappointed. Giving them enough information to make the choice for themselves sets the post up for success.
posted by zamboni at 7:46 AM on January 15 [21 favorites]


Yeah, I learned my lesson back in the 2000s about posting on the Blue, and on the rare occasions I do post tend to keep it to things people won't jump down my throat about like obit posts. Looking at my stats, I have not posted on the Blue since October of 2019, and only twice that entire year. MetaFilter was an extremely harsh place for a very long time, and while the positivity has gone up in the last 3-4 years, that legacy lingers like the insistence on "SLYT" and other in-crowd markers.
posted by briank at 7:48 AM on January 15 [9 favorites]


I haven't posted on the Blue in almost a year and it's largely because every time I go to post something, it's already been posted. So you all are just doing TOO good a job at posting great content!
posted by capricorn at 7:49 AM on January 15


Right, gang. I bit the bullet and made a brief post about an article I really liked. Expecting lots of ardent support from you all!

I have another one in mind when I have a bit more time.
posted by knapah at 10:28 AM on January 15 [10 favorites]


After this exact same discussion several years ago, it did seem like everyone generally agreed to not do drive-by threadshitting in particular on brand new posts where conversation had not had any time to develop momentum. It's fallen off again, and probably many people have lost the habit (as I have) of flagging them as noise.

I don't have a problem with early legitimate pushback on problematic content - particularly in the case where the "star" link of the post is platforming bad people and their bad opinions about people who aren't like them - and nobody should hesitate to come in with "this is problematic and here's why" et cetera, but yes the zingy one-liners and tangential joke comments can wait to see if the discussion takes off or after it has died down.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:28 AM on January 15 [6 favorites]


I had a comment deleted the other day, probably seen as drive-by threadshitting. I then saw another comment on the same post disappear. I was a little annoyed because my intent wasn't to threadshit, but I also wasn't bothered enough to complain about the deletion. But yeah, there's an FPP that's problematic. The FPP can be true while my 100% factual, but now deleted, comment can also be true; people change, and acknowledging positive change is worthwhile. I'm just not following that FPP now.
posted by fedward at 2:23 PM on January 15


We can speak to that more specifically if you want to fedward, feel free to hit us up on the contact form.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:26 PM on January 15


Just to validate you, adrianhon, I have noticed this on your recent posts too and it aggravated me as well. Please don't get too discouraged because your posts are great contributions and Metafilter users can be a really tough crowd--I appreciate people bringing to bear a critical lens but some people take it way too far and it comes across as really dismissive and nasty.
posted by zeusianfog at 3:53 PM on January 15 [17 favorites]


It seems like when a thread like this comes up, several people agree that the snarky and dismissive comments are a problem, but I feel like the people making them don't see these threads, or don't see themselves as making snarky comments, or don't care. And then posters who are being discouraged or driven away just end up feeling like things aren't ever going to change.

What can we, as a community, do to make MetaFilter more like the community we want it to be? Policy changes or clarifications? Better flagging guidance?
posted by kristi at 5:19 PM on January 15 [3 favorites]


I've averaged a post every 10 days for the last 16 years though not in a regular manner.
I like my posts which garner input from those with more knowledge and which generate a thoughtful discussion. I also like my posts which are noticed but not commented on because I think I have offered something which others enjoy even though they don't say much or even anything at all.
Then there are those which seem to draw little to no reaction. Such is life.
As I have said many times I would like to see people ''Post Moar Global" but that is something that may or may not happen.
posted by adamvasco at 5:56 PM on January 15 [5 favorites]


Wow, spurred by your comment, adamvasco, I just realized that I've posted about once every 12 days since I joined. There are still particular posts that piss me off when I think about their reception, but I think I've gotten more comfortable with pushing back or redirecting the conversation in my own post if it's not something egregious.

In general, posting things to the blue has been a good way to share internet things I think are cool or interesting with other people. My dad and my boyfriend are probably both tired of me sending them links, so it's good sort of spread things around!
posted by ChuraChura at 6:13 PM on January 15 [4 favorites]


I've always viewed the idea of making an Actual Post as terrifying. Dunno why, but it just seems inappropriate to, y'know, say things in that way. Commenting, sure you betcha, low-risk it's all good (hi my precious deletions, I love you all!), but Posts are oddly scary. As witnessed by the fact that I genuinely feel compelled to capitalize, and my total absence of Post history.

...which is possibly just my thing, but I do occasionally wonder if I'm not the only one, and that there might be some sort of way to make it less scary.

...which is I guess a long-way-round approach to saying you are correct, and I say that as a snarky idiot (I don't think I have ever commented purely to dismiss the post, I hope not anyway. I may despise the topic of the post, but that's not the same as dismissing the post itself; I can hate Trump without hating a Post about something he did).

Maybe we need a way to say "nifty!" so that zero-comment threads aren't seen as failures, and one random negative person can be outweighed by the fifty people who thought the link was interesting but had nothing specific to say about it and therefore passed silently in the night. Like "I salute your effort but have no substantive remarks to make, and as nobody has commented in a fashion I can bounce a comment off of I shall remain silent but please understand this was appreciated on some level"?

I reserve Favorites for items I specifically intend to return to for links at some point in the future -- if I merely want to monitor the discussion I Add To Activity instead, and neither is very good at communicating appreciation.

A drive-by compliment, or a salute, if you will. I guess a comment just saying "nice" might suffice, but that seems like clutter.
posted by aramaic at 6:45 PM on January 15 [12 favorites]


There are a couple of topics that I like and would engage with when I see them get posted, but when I read the thread, I see it's mostly people shitting on it. When there's that many turds in the pool, I'm not jumping in.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:37 PM on January 15 [17 favorites]


There are a couple of topics that I like and would engage with when I see them get posted, but when I read the thread, I see it's mostly people shitting on it. When there's that many turds in the pool, I'm not jumping in.

Absolutely this. I have never posted around my specialist subjects/interests for exactly this reason, as historically they tend to be subjects that the Blue doesn't do particularly well, even though I wouldn't say they are particularly contentious (though that may just be me and my own sensitivity around these things getting in my way).

It took me literally YEARS to get up the courage to make an FPP, and I have only made a handful in the time I've been here. I guess part of that infrequency is me avoiding things that I am too heavily invested in, and also feeling that there's (rightly in my view) a pretty high bar in terms of what might be considered interesting. I will try to post moar better things!
posted by Chairboy at 1:20 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]


In my experience, aramaic, those drive-by "nice" comments and brief thank-yous make a real difference to how I perceive a post's reception. It would be very difficult for there to be too many such comments. It might not even be possible!
posted by cgc373 at 1:22 AM on January 16 [11 favorites]


Thanks for this discussion. It pushed me to post a small crafts post I'd been sitting on. Agreeing that thanks make a huge difference - I was really pleased when people in "my" post thanked me. Made me feel a bit stupid for going backwards and forwards about whether fabric ants could really add anything to MetaFilter.
posted by paduasoy at 3:19 AM on January 16 [8 favorites]


Adding that the mods have been helpful to me on a couple of occasions when I wasn't sure if a post was "good enough" for MF. Would recommend that if others are wanting to post but feel diffident about it, that can be helpful.
posted by paduasoy at 3:25 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Came back (again) to say, I get the impression sometimes that readers are seeing a post in the light of "is this the best post it could be and the most relevant to me", rather than "is there something I can get out of, or contribute to, this post and discussion as it is". I posted a while ago about paper models of old computers, and several of the comments were along the lines of "they don't have the one I remember from my childhood" (probably because it focussed on UK computers). I appreciated a couple of people who pointed out that there was some interest in the models despite this. So I think there's something about responding to the post in front of you, rather than comparing it to an ideal post.
posted by paduasoy at 4:41 AM on January 16 [13 favorites]


(1) I’m usually on my phone where it’s hard to make links

Metafilter makes this easy, in my opinion, with the lovely chain link button below on comments and places to copy paste a link on a post.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:45 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


drive-by threadshitting in particular on brand new posts

Lyn Never brings up a point I wanted to make: early dismissive comments--even if not pure snark--really set the tone for the thread.

I think a lot of people have pet topics that can trigger this. I'm almost always tempted to jump in on "scientists discover . . . " threads (which are often PR and not novel). My guideline has become no dismissive stuff until after 10 comments or 10 hours from the initial post.
posted by mark k at 9:49 AM on January 16 [14 favorites]


Maybe we need a way to say "nifty!"

In the olden days:

[This is good]
posted by Rumple at 10:08 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]


I do really wish you could post from your phone in the classic layout.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:42 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Came back (again) to say, I get the impression sometimes that readers are seeing a post in the light of "is this the best post it could be and the most relevant to me", rather than "is there something I can get out of, or contribute to, this post and discussion as it is". I posted a while ago about paper models of old computers, and several of the comments were along the lines of "they don't have the one I remember from my childhood" (probably because it focussed on UK computers).

I can see how that might be discouraging, but I'd urge you to consider that the posters mean "These are neat, and I wish they had one that was of particular interest to me!" I don't think those comments are meant as snark or even criticism.

It's worth commenters trying to remember that a whole thread of 'this is what is missing' isn't that fun. They could be more explicit about the 'this is neat' part and they could also leave those comments for later in the discussion (add threads to 'my activity' so you don't forget to comment later if you want to make a comment that maybe isn't right for the start of the thread) but I hope posters will also not read them as criticism, because I think they usually aren't.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:35 AM on January 16


some of the criticism is intended to keep high standards.

(I recognize your next statement says don't be snarky, so this is me taking the above statement as a launching point, not constructing a straw man that you're advocating for being snarky.)

Over the past 4 years as the site's contracted due to various factors (politics being an unavoidable one), I've thought of how Everything2 (IMO) choked itself out with pride in high standards (and being snarky about it). They thought it was a badge of honor that a lot of people had content they'd worked hard on deleted until the poster learned how to meet the high community standards but in reality they bullied enough of the incoming members that they just left for someplace less hostile, particularly as social media flourished and the barrier to entry of creating your OwnSpace, as it were, dropped so people were less dependent on a central site.

Metafilter (again, IMO) doesn't have a problem with low standards of posting, it has a problem with not enough posting and not enough community engagement. The volume of posts isn't so high that if a FPP doesn't meet one's standards that quality content is getting pushed off the front page. If one doesn't like it, don't engage with it. If it's really bad, flag it for a moderator. If one thinks they can write a better FPP about something, do it; lead by example.

But don't snark. If you want to engage with the poster, offer constructive criticism - there's a world of difference between, "this sucks, why did you post it?" and "I'm not getting enough context from the framing to understand the issue OP, could you explain some more about why you're drawn to this topic?"

The thing that makes Metafilter different than reading a design/art/news blog/site/Twitter/etc. is the community engagement in the comments, particularly over time. Snark just tends to shut that conversation down or turn it from the actual subject to either flaming each other or the poster. Particularly as Metafilter tries to draw in a more diverse set of users, what people post may not fit the orthodoxy of what a "good" FPP is and that's OK. Having more than one definition of "good" is a benefit, having diverse views (within reason, I'm not advocating for Nazi FPPs) is a benefit. Things like what happened with jj's.mama is not.
posted by Candleman at 10:47 PM on January 16 [37 favorites]


As an aside, also tiring is some users' reluctance to actually engage in a real conversation. Now that I've been posting more and reading comments more consistently, there are a few who will drop into threads, confidentally post something outrageously wrong, get called out on it – and then never reappear to admit they were wrong or retract

In cases where the type of comment you are referencing is either full of unmitigated bullshit or is otherwise actively problematic, I get your point. However, when it's really just a difference in opinion, I feel that it's in some way kinder to the post and the community as a whole to not make it an ongoing thing, especially if there is other discussion going on.
posted by wierdo at 4:24 AM on January 17 [7 favorites]


I'd love to see the month-long return of Post From Your Bookmarks. It's permission for posts to be imperfect from the get-go! They can be single-link for these attention-trying times! They can encourage new/infrequent posters! PFYB posts here.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:13 PM on January 17 [15 favorites]


I've already posted today, but today Betty White, James Earl Jones, and Michelle Obama share a birthday. That's a posting opportunity for someone who wants something low stakes to post!
posted by hippybear at 3:37 PM on January 17 [5 favorites]


I do not post on the blue very much compared to how much I read it because when I do comment, I often find a lot of people "WELL ACTUALLY" me in follow up responses. This is typically in response to a mildly woo statement or leftist positions that are maybe a few steps to the left of MeFi's leftism. I'm always pretty surprised by the tone of these comments, because I don't think I embody MeFi fighty tendencies that would normally invite such a response. It's just so wildly stressful and obnoxious to deal with that most of the time I lurk instead of comment.
posted by mostly vowels at 6:22 PM on January 17 [22 favorites]


I've become increasingly aware that Metafilter brings out the worst in me. I'm meaner and more argumentative here than I am in any other online environment.

It feels like the culture here encourages snarkiness and attacking other posters. It's not a question of moderation, nor of posters being nasty people. It's more an amorphous fog of irritation that seeps in and out of threads.

I'm afraid I have no solutions, only my own musings. I do like this community though- otherwise I would have quit long ago.
posted by daybeforetheday at 3:08 AM on January 18 [11 favorites]


Thank you for writing this, adrianhon.

Doing a FPP here... it can be daunting.
On the one hand, I feel some confidence posting about topics I know well, especially professional ones.

On the other, when I find something nifty or intriguing that I'd like to share, and I'm not a diehard about it? I'm quite skittish. Either the post might sink without much notice, or the snark comes out in force.

Posting (FPP, not comments) reminds me of nothing so much as academia. Contributing within one's field is what you're trained to do. You can anticipate responses and learn from what results. But exploring another discipline? Much as we say we like interdisciplinarity, academics still generally live within their fields and police their boundaries quite energetically.
posted by doctornemo at 11:07 AM on January 18 [11 favorites]


A drive-by compliment, or a salute, if you will. I guess a comment just saying "nice" might suffice, but that seems like clutter.

I have that feeling often - I try to pull a good little bit out of the linked whatever, something that surprised me or extends on the post framing, and post it in quote marks even without comment. At least the poster can tell I read it!
posted by clew at 1:08 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


We could have Post From Your Bookmarks the first week of every month, or every quarter day, or something? Or a banner if posting rate is lower than usual and there’s no other banner up? Automatic stabilizers!
posted by clew at 1:10 PM on January 18 [5 favorites]


Doing a FPP here... it can be daunting.

No, no it really isn't, just post.

Finding something that has not been linked before can be a challenge. I guess a huge controversial topic, but there is so much more in the world. (I do remember my first post, was assuming it went to a queue for expert review or something, quite the surprise to find it was instantly on the front page, whoah). I'm not at all prolific, and it's a bit of work to construct a post but, ya know, just a bit, like a whole 10-15 minutes.

Do highly recommend stepping away for a few hours and let it go it's way.
posted by sammyo at 8:08 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Yes to the general sentiment, mea culpa to my having done so myself in the past. One possible solution is for readers of threads not to reward snarky comments just because they're usually short and snappy. I'm a big boy now and should be beyond caring about karma upvotes Whuffie favorites, but it hasn't escaped my attention that my shorter comments tend to get favorited a lot more than the longer, more thoughtful comments that seem to be tl;dred.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:48 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


This is great. I just created my 29th post (after 10 years of having an account here) and made a comment in the post about how I was worried it wasn't going to be seen as post-worthy, but everyone there was very nice in supporting me and I want to say that I really appreciated it, everyone.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:52 AM on January 19 [7 favorites]


it hasn't escaped my attention that my shorter comments tend to get favorited a lot more than the longer, more thoughtful comments that seem to be

Well, I've liked your longer comments Halloween Jack, but, in general, I think shorter comments often tend to have a stronger emotional hook or concept behind them, while longer comments often lean towards the "little bit of this, a little bit of that" variety, which often isn't as immediately rewarding, and sometimes gets misunderstood by not clearly lining up to some understood "side".
posted by gusottertrout at 9:16 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Every time I make the mistake of reading the comments on the blue, I can only make it a page or two before I see someone going off in the thread about how "all those people look the same to me" and "they" should all be boiled in acid or something (not an exaggeration). Flagging these comments does nothing, as it's clear that the mods won't do anything about attacks against others when they agree with them. Why on Earth would I bother posting anything to try and start a discussion when the deck is stacked against me from the start and I know the mods will not do anything to prevent users trying to bully people with other views out of being able to speak?
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 9:37 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]


I read this and thought “I should post more”.
I posted something happy and cute.
It got deleted.
FML.
posted by scruss at 11:02 AM on January 19 [12 favorites]


I understand the sentiment behind “just step away” but I don’t think it’s terribly helpful for a lot of users. It’s not a great situation if we’re recommending people grow a tough skin and step away from a few hours from Metafilter after posting.
posted by adrianhon at 11:11 AM on January 19 [13 favorites]


One person's happy and cute is another person's "i would really like it if people asked before "hey can i paste a link to your personal twitter account to thousands of strangers" and it doesn't feel like the biggest ask", I think there's something to be said for extending grace to the subject of posts as well.
Sometimes a flood of viewers can be taken as kicking someone when they're down, even when intending well.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:24 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Yeah, scruss, I don't think you did anything wrong there, it's just one of those things that's inevitable with the weird blending of private and public that is modern social media. It was a good post, just poorly timed for reasons beyond your control.
posted by biogeo at 11:32 AM on January 19 [7 favorites]


Yep, that'll teach me to post more often than once every 5½ months, my average since 2004. I am sad and sorry that I've caused distress to someone on the internet whose work I like. Should there be a checkbox for “The person who owns these links has been contacted and is okay with this post going here” before a post goes up?
posted by scruss at 11:49 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Yeah scruss, that was a fine post but it just hit the person whose account it was in a weird sideways way. Sometimes things just get deleted even when there's nothing wrong with them because of timing or other reasons.

"they" should all be boiled in acid

If you'd like to talk about the specifics of the two comments you flagged and why they weren't deleted you are welcome to hit us up on the Contact Form, which goes for anyone else who has a question about a mod action or inaction.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:50 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]


Doing a FPP here... it can be daunting.

No, no it really isn't, just post.... Do highly recommend stepping away for a few hours and let it go it's way.


Perhaps I'm misreading, but nothing in your comment makes me rethink my feelings, experience, or reflection. This thread is full of people sharing their similar experiences about feeling attacked, dismissed, disdained, or otherwise just plain bad after making an FPP. Is your solution really just to 1) search better and 2) step away for a spell, then return?

adrianhon responded to your comment with "It’s not a great situation if we’re recommending people grow a tough skin and step away from a few hours from Metafilter after posting." That is precisely my experience on the blue. I have taught myself to grow a thicker skin here, which helps sometimes. As the logical result, I do not in any way view MeFi as a comfortable place.

You add:
Finding something that has not been linked before can be a challenge.
Interesting thought, but personally, that's not too much of a problem. I always search links and keywords, and that has always clarified things.
posted by doctornemo at 12:03 PM on January 19 [11 favorites]


Reading further into this thread, I tabbed to one of today's posts. It's about a new development in launching craft into space.

First comment:
I will probably get shot down in flames here but I find Richard Branson's wankfest like that of Elon Musk and the others to be completely unpalatable at a time when so many are struggling to survive. Space tourism isn't really what humanity needs right now. YVMD

Is that a good example of what this thread is discussing, or am I reading too much into it?
posted by doctornemo at 12:05 PM on January 19 [13 favorites]


I see it as a pretty good example of unwelcome snark, especially considering the post doesn't mention Richard Branson at all, much less Elon Musk. Like, sure, they're both gigantic rich douchebags with more dollars than sense, but that's at best very tangentially related to a successful rocket launch performed in a new unique way by a hard-working team of scientists and engineers.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:38 PM on January 19 [13 favorites]


Hi doctornemo. I have no problem with sammyo's post. What I do have a problem with is more with Billionaires and their vanity projects. It was kindly pointed out that Virgin Orbit and Virgin Galactic although both part of Branson's groups are in fact different projects.
For instance I see no mention anywhere of any vaccine initiative by Branson or offer to move vaccine for free to aid and overcome logistical problems; something where he is well placed to assist.
I don't consider my post snark, just a statement with which I am sure a lot of people may disagree, but it's not a hill I'm going to die on.
posted by adamvasco at 12:47 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


Endorsing what adrianhon posted here, pretty much word for word. Drive-by snark can be genuinely funny and kick start a thread; but some just kill it, especially if it's the first comment. Though the mods are recently better at dealing with thread-killers than in previous times (example), it's still draining and I've given up in making new posts.

UK ones, for example, get derailed almost every time by non-UK irrelevant stuff. Fun and/or food ones just attract too much negative heat. Either pushback from MeFites because the posts aren't serious enough for their individual liking - discussed this previously [1][2], or some kind of sanctimonious/virtue signal comment which (if not mod-deleted) also derails. One example being the first comment here - the mods deleted several further derails about 'racist cakes' later that day thanks to that (inaccurate) first comment. Another being the light-hearted chocolate FPP which quickly attracted several drive-by sanctimonious derail comments about modern slavery.

The more annoying thing about those is ... did the commentors ever bother to make a post focused on modern slavery, if they were genuinely concerned about the topic? No. Because that would take far more effort than the ten seconds of a drive-by negative derail.

Anyway; it's not worth putting in the time for most posts I'd otherwise do; I gave up on cricket ones years ago. And the last time I did one on cheese a MeFite sent me a long screed about how it made him feel excluded because of his lactose intolerance.

Now I've built up a locked twitter account of trusted and good people - quite a lot of them MeFites, including several who no longer build FPPs on here - that's become much more fun and personally rewarding. I do check in here on MetaFilter every now and then, and if the culture/moderation change in a positive way I might come back and resume building posts. At the moment that's a hard no, and I've just realised it's been quite a while since I recommended MetaFilter to any potential new member.
posted by Wordshore at 12:49 PM on January 19 [36 favorites]


Hi doctornemo. I have no problem with sammyo's post. What I do have a problem with is more with Billionaires and their vanity projects. It was kindly pointed out that Virgin Orbit and Virgin Galactic although both part of Branson's groups are in fact different projects.
For instance I see no mention anywhere of any vaccine initiative by Branson or offer to move vaccine for free to aid and overcome logistical problems; something where he is well placed to assist.
I don't consider my post snark, just a statement with which I am sure a lot of people may disagree, but it's not a hill I'm going to die on.


It is, however, a hill I’m ready to die on.

The entire content of your justification ignores, and even reinforces, the elephant in the room, which is that your objections have nothing to do with the post topic. In fact, your comment and your justification in this thread are practically the definition of “here is a topic that I believe must be discussed by MetaFilter, irrespective of context”.

You shoehorned your pet hobbyhorse into an unrelated topic, aggressively so, using loaded language, and, when you got called on it, justified it by hauling in yet another unrelated topic, vaccines.

This is the essence of being a poor Metafilter participant, and this kind of behavior is well-known enough and egregious enough that it’s the first entry on the wiki about what makes a good post.

You’ve been here long enough and participated here long enough to know this. Do better.
posted by scrump at 1:12 PM on January 19 [42 favorites]


Metafilter: You shoehorned your pet hobbyhorse into an unrelated topic, aggressively so, using loaded language, and, when you got called on it, justified it by hauling in yet another unrelated topic
(oh wait)
posted by CrystalDave at 1:29 PM on January 19 [7 favorites]


♥️&🚀
posted by clavdivs at 1:59 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


It’s not a great situation if we’re recommending people grow a tough skin and step away from a few hours from Metafilter after posting.

The more compelling reason for stepping away for a bit after posting is that it cuts down on the amount of threadsitting on the website.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:46 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


I have no problem with sammyo's post.

Good to know. But your comment - especially being the first one out of the gate - shouts PROBLEM! PROBLEM! right at the thread's start.

At least that's how I read it. Knowing your context here, it's less so to me.
posted by doctornemo at 2:47 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


In case you are thinking "what makes a good short post?" one option is linking to a good short story. I would love for more people to post links to short fiction they've enjoyed as front page posts to MetaFilter. Here are some sources of recommendations in case that's helpful.

I agree with various people who have spoken in this thread so far: thoughtful criticism of the articles/stories/videos/etc. that we link to in our posts is, like, 1% as discouraging as dismissiveness, or somewhat generic snide comments about the general topic that seem not to engage with the specific post.

When I was making a series of front-page posts linking to interesting short fiction available on the web, I enjoyed short "I liked this" and "thanks for this!" comments. They were not clutter. They made me feel more like what I was doing was interesting or helpful to others.
I try to pull a good little bit out of the linked whatever, something that surprised me or extends on the post framing, and post it in quote marks even without comment. At least the poster can tell I read it!
posted by clew
This is a great technique, in my opinion.
posted by brainwane at 3:05 PM on January 19 [13 favorites]


The only thing that angers me is when commenters assume that you wrote the article or are posting it because you agree with it. I'm not going to comb over something like it is a research article to make sure I 100% agree with it, or my framing of a post isn't going to be perfect either. Just don't assume the worst about people's intentions. Maybe they saw an interesting link.

I also do the same with moderation on the site. I've had stuff deleted where I didn't mean anything bad but I could see in the context of the larger Metafilter thread it could derail, so I just assume the mods are just doing the best jobs they can to keep discussion civil.

I mean it could be worse, I just usually read and don't comment on Reddit. The downvote feature there is way worse than the snark here. I've posted some really good, lengthy well thought out comments and instead of a healthy discussion just get downvoted into oblivion.
posted by geoff. at 3:32 PM on January 19 [8 favorites]


And the last time I did one on cheese a MeFite sent me a long screed about how it made him feel excluded because of his lactose intolerance

Oh, you have got to be kidding me. Wow. Wow. This is a huge part of MeFi culture that really frustrates me, and it shows up every time that a group of people tries to do a Thing: if it's not For absolutely everyone, someone always comes out of the woodwork to complain about imperfections instead of trying to make a different thing that does caters to their own desires that can be out there, too.

I don't make many FPPs anymore, either, and the drive by dismissive snark is a huge part of that. So is the 24h cooldown--when I get motivated to make FPPs, I usually do it by queuing up a number of topics I think are cool in a row, and being unable to load something into the posting box and slowly losing control over when I get to post new things fucks with my momentum. Mind, every time I have commented about this, the discussion immediately fills up with people fretting about whether removing that limit would *gasp* lead to Certain Users spamming the front page. It's funny, but every time we have that particular go-round, one of the most reliable front page posters leaves or stops writing altogether, and fewer things go up. We still have people here fretting that maybe people will put up a *bad* FPP, and we get what, maybe a dozen per day now? This place is incredibly focused on being as perfect as possible, but being perfect is the enemy of being good. There is a ton of paralysis around perfectionism in the site culture here. Maybe the next attempt to teach people to make FPPs can be Deliberately Bad Posting Month.

Also, though, everyone I want to have conversations with is fucked up and scared right now. I don't have a lot of bandwidth left for being deliberately vulnerable, especially not in public. When I do bring things here, if they're not tightly linked into the US political zeitgeist, there's not a lot of interaction. When I go looking for things to wave around, I do that because I want to see the excitement and the reactions from doing so. I want to have a conversation! And people are so invested in the drive by snarks and the hot takes and so tired from, I assume, every other thing in this wretched world that I don't actually blame people for not participating.

I'm tired. Everything feels so high stakes. And there feels like there's less and less going on at the same time.
posted by sciatrix at 3:33 PM on January 19 [50 favorites]


Endorsing what adrianhon posted here, pretty much word for word. Drive-by snark can be genuinely funny and kick start a thread; but some just kill it, especially if it's the first comment.

Yeah, this whole discussion is a good reminder about "Do I really need to say that right now...or at all?"

"Pulling a quote from the thing you're commenting about" rather than just directing comments generally is a pretty good practice though.

The more annoying thing about those is ... did the commentors ever bother to make a post focused on modern slavery, if they were genuinely concerned about the topic? No. Because that would take far more effort than the ten seconds of a drive-by negative derail.

This seems to be a common feature of the worst snark that's directed (or appears to be directed) at the poster/post rather than the content of the links in the post; even then, stuff that's down to "Pfft, this is stupid" (and which usually gets deleted right away) tends to come from people who've not put much (or any) effort into posting.

And the last time I did one on cheese a MeFite sent me a long screed about how it made him feel excluded because of his lactose intolerance.

As with the previous examples of this that you cited, WHAT THE FUCK.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:17 PM on January 19 [9 favorites]


My last two FPPs were a piece from Taffy Brodesser-Akner about women's MMA, which got dragged for bodyshaming and because, apparently, not liking energy drinks is classist and she's sneering down her nose at the lady fighters because she thinks energy drinks taste weird. Which...sure, Jan. A recent FPP by her said something about how everyone here loved her and I was like "But I thought she hated poor people that love energy drinks?" And then a piece about a weird neighborhood in New York that got dragged for being poverty tourism and laughing at poor people.

tbh it's not worth the emotional labor to post an interesting story or link and then carefully read it for class signifiers or Marxist theory or, as with the space post, because a rich person might tangentially be involved and posting the article must mean we're endorsing rich people and hate poor people or whatever.

As in the constant discussions of whether this should be a site for interesting things to read or Important Things We Must All Be Angry About, it's one of those things where making everything a high-stakes political statement is exhausting.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:18 PM on January 19 [45 favorites]


Politics is both interesting and tiring, for obvious reasons. I'm glad we have those discussions, or at least most of those discussions. I would also like to see other interesting things, whether regarding art or tech or history or whatever, but every topic touches on politics in at least some way. Still, it would be nice if we could, if not leave politics aside entirely, keep it to a minimum in discussions about posts that are only indirectly related to politics. There is plenty of space on this site for both kinds of conversation.

I'll use the Bell System as a concrete example. There is certainly interesting discussion to be had about natural monopolies, subsidizing local service with long distance revenue, and the consequences of the breakup and deregulation on telecommunications. There is also interesting discussion to be had about the technology behind the system, the research involved in that technology, and the design decisions that took the research in the directions it went. However, mixing the two would not be such a great conversation.

A lot of that can be headed off with careful framing, but I personally haven't had it in me to come up with that kind of careful framing of late. I get the sense that others are in the same boat.
posted by wierdo at 7:29 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


UK ones, for example, get derailed almost every time by non-UK irrelevant stuff

This is also often the case with any Australian posts.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:17 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


I think the emphasis on framing, like many of the other suggestions, puts a disproportionate burden on the poster. Of course some posts are badly framed, but I think a lot of snark and dismissiveness comes up even in perfectly well-framed posts.

I'm not convinced the posts are the problem. I think the problematic comments - whether snarky, dismissive, ax-grinding, or whatever - are the problem.

Is there anything we can do about THAT?
posted by kristi at 10:03 PM on January 19 [12 favorites]


If you're referring to my comment on framing, I'm sorry that I expressed it poorly. While I do think framing can make a difference, I completely agree that it shouldn't be necessary to craft an FPP nearly perfectly to avoid negativity and noise.

That said, we as commenters who don't appreciate those kinds of comments can also do what we can to drown them out with better comments. More aggressive moderation of (especially) early negativity and commenters redirecting the discussion to a more positive/productive place would both be helpful in my view.
posted by wierdo at 10:57 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is one of only two chronological order discussion sites I still read because the layout inherently leads to muddled discussions and requires strong community norms and moderation.

Services like tiktok and facebook groups order comments based on a mix of total individual comment score and individual comment score from users who are statistically similar to yourself.

I don't know if something like that will ever be feasible for a site like metafilter but it just dunks on both the chronological style and the reddit style of formatting discussions.
posted by zymil at 11:27 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]

This is also often the case with any Australian posts
I've noticed this, and tend to put it down to time delay in prime drinking hours, which also explains Australians' behaviour on American-timed threads. But also [throws up hands] Australians
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:57 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


But also [throws up hands] Australians

Fair.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:57 AM on January 20


I'm not convinced the posts are the problem. I think the problematic comments - whether snarky, dismissive, ax-grinding, or whatever - are the problem.

Is there anything we can do about THAT?


Silently, we can flag it and move on. Or you could drown out that noise with a comment related to the topic.

I don't comment much so I flag and hope.
posted by Braeburn at 5:14 AM on January 20 [3 favorites]


...move on

To another thread, also choked with sneering, pedantic, sarcastic putdowns from people who like to tell themselves they aren't assholes, they are "snarky".
posted by thelonius at 5:54 AM on January 20 [11 favorites]


It is certainly very disheartening to comment with a little pushback on the sneering and then, while you are trying to build a conversation, get sneered at again immediately.

Which just happened to me, and now I'm irritated and furious and rather want to shake people. I'm going to go walk it off and take a break from this site for a while.
posted by sciatrix at 5:58 AM on January 20 [9 favorites]


Sciatrix - please don't go. Some of us (speaking only for myself) got pissy that someone (who wasn't you) had posted a marketing link, and we (see above) overreacted.

Please stay, and if Newton's Third Law applies, I will take the break instead.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 6:56 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Did some comments get deleted? I'm confused.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:37 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


The thread sciatrix is mentioning.
posted by brainwane at 9:33 AM on January 20


Like Braeburn said, I try to flag and/or try to redirect the conversations.

I flagged the first comment in the spacecraft post, leaving a note mentioning this MetaTalk. It stayed. Maybe I came in too late (2 hours), maybe I was the only one who flagged it and you need more than one person? In any case, what's done is done.

I have been a member since 2010 (while lurking long beforehand) and I swear to God somedays I still don't feel like I understand what the tone of this community is supposed to be.

There are mixed messages here about what we want this community to be in theory and what happens in practice. This post was released out of the queue for a reason, right? Is it just to once again about being more encouraging of conversation for yet another time or do we really mean it this time?
posted by kimberussell at 9:41 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]


when I get motivated to make FPPs, I usually do it by queuing up a number of topics I think are cool in a row, and being unable to load something into the posting box and slowly losing control over when I get to post new things fucks with my momentum.

This has also been my experience. (To me, one of the most impressive things about brainwane's very impressive string of posts was how she was able to keep the momentum going despite that.) I feel like reducing the cooldown to, say, 12 hours could help a lot with this particular sub-issue (so that it would be feasible to post around the same time each day without a lot of extra effort).

More generally, I feel like there are quite a few policies and practices at MeFi that hark back to a time when the site was a significantly higher-value target for bad-faith contributions. I may be wrong about how much has changed, but -- while there will always be a need for some defenses against low-effort spamming and the like -- it seems like the days of somebody going to great lengths to sneak in a little bit of clickbait or consultancy fluff onto MeFi are mostly over. It seems like a substantial portion of the negative comments come from habits of guarding against those kinds of contributions. Those habits arguably served an important function at one time but I'm not sure they are so constructive any more.
posted by Not A Thing at 10:19 AM on January 20 [9 favorites]


More generally, I feel like there are quite a few policies and practices at MeFi that hark back to a time when the site was a significantly higher-value target for bad-faith contributions. I may be wrong about how much has changed, but -- while there will always be a need for some defenses against low-effort spamming and the like -- it seems like the days of somebody going to great lengths to sneak in a little bit of clickbait or consultancy fluff onto MeFi are mostly over. It seems like a substantial portion of the negative comments come from habits of guarding against those kinds of contributions. Those habits arguably served an important function at one time but I'm not sure they are so constructive any more.

I think this is a really good point, and for me that provides something of a rationale for what daybeforetheday's earlier comment seemed to be alluding to:

It feels like the culture here encourages snarkiness and attacking other posters. It's not a question of moderation, nor of posters being nasty people. It's more an amorphous fog of irritation that seeps in and out of threads.

I wonder if those two things at least partially explain why things are the way they are?
posted by Chairboy at 11:07 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


Not A Thing, you are very kind to say that any aspect of that series was impressive. But I liked the one-per-day limit; it did not break momentum for me. The externally imposed one-per-day limit was soothing, in an interesting way; once I had posted, I knew that I could not possibly post again for 24 hours, which meant that I was [temporarily] done. This external constraint can reduce, for me, the nagging feeling that I could be doing more, and that, thus, I ought to do more.

Logistically: I literally made a bunch of individual text files that I saved in a folder on my computer, named things like mefi-post-2020-aug-30.html, where I prewrote:

* title
* first paragraph of post
* any additional paragraphs of post
* tags

and I set a reminder on my phone to make a noise and remind me when I could next make a front-page post. When the alarm went off, I copied and pasted stuff into the posting form, and made last adjustments (dealing with, for instance, duplications/links found in previous threads).

I got used to it and it was not particularly onerous for me. People with different computing configurations, people whose schedules are harder to deal with or predict, etc., probably have different experiences!
posted by brainwane at 11:09 AM on January 20 [12 favorites]


Yeah, this whole discussion is a good reminder about "Do I really need to say that right now...or at all?"

A drive-by compliment, or a salute, if you will. I guess a comment just saying "nice" might suffice, but that seems like clutter.

Now that it's said, I do realize I tend to write up a broadly meandering "yay, I've noticed this too!" or a "hey neat" but that doesn't really add anything to the conversation sort of response in blue threads and fail to post it with the usual Twitter rule of "does it need to be said (by me?), or does it not really matter _that_ much after all?"

But it shows the OP that their post had engagement, and it's worth it just for that. I'll try to be more mindful about that in the future.
posted by Kyol at 1:59 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


I may be wrong about how much has changed, but -- while there will always be a need for some defenses against low-effort spamming and the like -- it seems like the days of somebody going to great lengths to sneak in a little bit of clickbait or consultancy fluff onto MeFi are mostly over.

The 24 hour cool down on front page posts [intro meta] wasn't a response to commercial spamming but rather to specific users posting multiple times a day, day after day. General agreement at the time was seeing 20-30 posts from a single user a week [times a handful of users] wasn't good for the front page and IMO that hasn't changed.

2-4 posts a day from 6-10 users would greatly increase front page posts but it would also IMO tend to discourage new users from posting to a front page that was dominated by only a few voices. I think we are best served by a variety of viewpoints on the front page and not pure volume and a limiter of some sort is still a good idea.

However an easing of the restriction similar to AskMe might be in order. Either 7 posts a week or even a bump to 8-10 per week. That way if the stars align and you happen to come across three posts in a day after a month of no activity you can still post them. It would also make doing "A Month Of Daily Posts" projects easier to manage.

PS: I know best of the web has been depreciated but I still think there is a culture of interestingness for non political/news posts that isn't served by dozens of posts a week from single users.
posted by Mitheral at 2:48 PM on January 20 [6 favorites]


About "hey, nice post" comments, and whether they are necessary or valuable:

I believe they ARE valuable and are NOT clutter. If we imagine MetaFilter as a multi-person conversation (as I do), posting can be seen, as I said above, as a gift. Even just saying "Hey, community, I thought you might be interested in seeing this thing and maybe talking about it" is a gift, just like when my mom sees an article about cool old architecture and sends it to me because she knows I like cool old architecture.

Sometimes she misses the mark, and I'm not actually all that interested in the article she's sent me, but it was still nice of her to want to share it with me.

Posting to MetaFilter is a conversation, something we do to interact with other members of our community. If we didn't want it to be an interaction - a gift - we would just bookmark it for our own personal enjoyment.

With a conversation, with a gift, it is always appropriate to say "thank you," or "hey, that's really cool!" or "wow, I didn't know about that before and I'm glad I do now." I think most people, in most circumstances, like hearing "thank you" and "that's cool".

We have testimony in this thread that comments like that absolutely do affect the community conversation in positive ways, and just as drive-by snark is destructive and exhausting, brief thanks, acknowledgement, praise are all beneficial and restorative.

My personal answer to "does it need to be said?" is a resounding "YES."
posted by kristi at 3:23 PM on January 20 [16 favorites]


The 24 hour cool down on front page posts [intro meta] wasn't a response to commercial spamming but rather to specific users posting multiple times a day, day after day. General agreement at the time was seeing 20-30 posts from a single user a week [times a handful of users] wasn't good for the front page and IMO that hasn't changed.

I see your point, but on the other hand that was 20 years ago and a lot has changed since then.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:54 PM on January 20 [2 favorites]


I still would prefer that we don't see multiple FPPs in a row by the same person, and I even dislike multiple comments in a row by the same person too. (Thread-squatting hurts the opportunity for everybody to participate by pushing the open conversation towards one person's axe to grind.)

I try not to treat a web discussion board as a chat room. I think about what I want to say, write it up, and go back over it to edit and add stuff before I click Post Comment. And then regret every stupid word of it in self-recriminating embarrassment -- why didn't I just shut up?!?
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 4:20 PM on January 20 [9 favorites]


I like the snark, personally, I consider it to be a hallmark of the Web 1.0 experience.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 7:47 PM on January 20 [4 favorites]


Please stay sciatrix- you are one of my favourite posters and bring a lot of insight, thoughtfulness and kindness to this place.
posted by daybeforetheday at 1:27 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


I'm not actually planning to leave long term; I was pissed off and cranky so I walked away for a day or so. That's all! Getting frustrated about something and stepping away for a while is, after all, the kind of behavior we always talk about wanting people to engage in here, right? I don't have any hard feelings long term, I just... when stuff gets frustrating, I walk on.

I got used to it and it was not particularly onerous for me. People with different computing configurations, people whose schedules are harder to deal with or predict, etc., probably have different experiences!

Yeah, for me it has always been a function of the fact that a) my schedule is often not predictable and b) the fact that my brain isn't neurotypical means I sometimes have a fair bit of trouble with keeping tightly to a schedule like that. I have tried to maintain similar things, and I inevitably keep losing an hour here and a few minutes there and the granularity of it builds up and I get frustrated and stop.

But I mean, whatever. The labor that it takes to be one of the people who reliably, on a daily basis, finds links and curates FPPs like that is just absolutely taken for granted here every time the topic comes up. Because "what if one person drowns the whole front page in links?" Even if you don't do that, if you hew to the current limits but you do your best to reliably bring posts in over and over, it still doesn't matter--someone will complain that you say too much, or you're part of some in-group cabal and you're Oppressing them by speaking too loudly. (There is no in-group and I still think that thought process leads to so much unnecessary conflict).

I find the repeated emphasis of "oh, people should just talk less" in this space to be incredibly disheartening, as someone who has a lot of problems with self-regulation and is frequently told I'm either Too Much or Not Enough. Like, Harvey, the way you're describing an ideal participation in this site--thinking about what you say, writing it up, going back over to edit it, and then regretting everything you wrote in shame--man, that's really a lot of effort, and a lot of us are going to bounce off it and say nothing at all because someone might find flaw with it, and you know it's funny but it's hard to have a conversation when everyone is too scared of looking foolish to say anything at all!

That's not to say I don't think about what I say here. I do, and I think hard about what I want to say. I've been thinking about this comment all day. But at the end of the day... I'm a recovering perfectionist and a really anxious person, at baseline, and when I participate here I'm doing it because I believe in my bones that everyone has something potentially interesting and cool to share that will widen my world. I am terminally sincere and I want to see what gifts everyone might bring. And I think the barriers to posting and the emphasis on perfect or even good framing and the pushback from the userbase if it's not perfect really kill that vibe which is an important part of what I love bringing to this table.

I want to see more posts like that marketing thing, which bring in perspectives that are badly warped from one perspective but can spark conversations. I want to talk to you fuckers. I want people to feel like they can come in and say stuff that makes me think about things even when I'm mad. I want people to not be that anxious about whether or not their contributions are okay to see. I want to take some of those barriers down so we can see what shows up in their absence. I want to have a culture that takes the best things out of something that's imperfect, walks off with them, and makes something better with the good bits instead of something that looks at an imperfect thing and drives it into the sea. I want a coalition culture.

That's not a majority view, and I get it. We're all tired and traumatized and we're all running along under threat, me included. It's been a long half-decade. But that's where I'm coming from, as coherently as I can set it all down.
posted by sciatrix at 11:47 AM on January 21 [30 favorites]


I think it's true that in principle there could be an issue with some individuals dominating the front page too much, and if too many FPPs were being created by a small number of posters, that itself could end up discouraging less-frequent posters from engaging more. But in practice it does seem that we're currently too far in the other direction, and removing barriers to posting at all is going to do more to encourage engagement.

Currently we address the problem of too much of the front page being dominated by too few posters with the technical solution of limiting posts to one per day. I propose that we, for a trial period at least, change from this technical approach to a moderation approach, and if there are some individuals who end up soaking up too much oxygen on the front page, the moderation team discusses slowing things down a bit with those people, much as they do for comments in some threads. I predict this will only end up requiring occasional input from moderators to keep things under control, but if it turns out to require significant moderator effort to keep people in check then we can go back to the technical approach and discuss other solutions (e.g., increasing the number of posts permitted per person per day, or implementing some sort of saved-draft or queued-post system) to help facilitate more posts from people who occasionally want to post in bursts while balancing against how much the front page might be dominated by overly-prolific posters.
posted by biogeo at 1:48 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


It sounds like it would help some people if the counter was reduced from 24 hours to somewhere around 20 hours so that they could maintain a daily schedule without as much risk of it creeping later and later into the day.

That would presumably be a quick and easy change that could make some people more inclined to post while we hash out what the norms about FPPs should be going forward, whether it be a hard limit of x per week or simply guidance of "don't monopolize the front page" that has no technical enforcement behind it or somewhere in between.
posted by wierdo at 1:57 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Yeah, even going down to 22 or 23 hours a day would make it easier to maintain a regular daily schedule.

I committed to posting more because there were days that frequently had less than ten posts, unlike the days of yore that had 20-30. When I made this Metatalk post, I think there was only 4 or 5 posts a day. That is hardly the sign of a site at risk of too much traffic.
posted by adrianhon at 2:06 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Just noting: We'll discuss the 24-hour posting time limit as a team -- I don't think we've discussed it in a while -- but we currently have extremely limited dev time and a long wish list for when we're able to do more than "keep the site from breaking." Changing the one-week Ask limit was, as I recall, a relatively big programming lift, so even if we put it at the top of our priority list, it probably wouldn't be feasible until pandemic conditions change considerably.

I don't want to shoot the idea down; I think there's a lot of merit to it. But I don't want anyone to have false expectations; we have a big programming debt to catch up on when Covid eases and we have more dev time.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 2:29 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


Thanks for that note, Eyebrows McGee, and the point is very well taken. Obviously I can only speak for myself, but personally I don't expect any technical changes to the site, even minor ones like CSS tweaks that were mentioned in another thread, to happen any time soon. If this is the sort of thing that is decided is worth implementing but can't be done right away due to limited dev time, I'd just be very happy seeing it on the regular "state of the site" updates as a "yeah this is on the list" thing, even if it ends up lingering there for a while until things can get back to normal.
posted by biogeo at 2:48 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I would expect that changing to a per week limit would be a significant task. I'd be mildly surprised if the dev effort (separate from the testing and deployment effort, which is more likely to be substantial on a site as old as MeFi relative to a newer code base) was much at all.

Regardless, it is nice to know that it is at least being talked about. Hopefully it is as easy as I think it might be and a few hours/afternoon can be found to make it happen sooner rather than later.
posted by wierdo at 2:50 PM on January 21


I read this metatalk last week and largely agreed, like who wouldn't want less snark, but had a sarcastic and/or deraily comment deleted today, so now I'm starting to rethink this thing. In my example, if I had written that same comment on a leftist forum (say on a subreddit) it would've been considered acceptable and even appreciated as a funny joke. Whereas here on metafilter, the reference points and background perspectives are obviously quite different. Further, my feeling is that criticism about posts ought to be understood under a power relation before they are dismissed as unconstructive or snarky. It is easy to use a pejorative such as "hobby horse" to dismiss and minimize real people's conflicting perspectives. If a comment is gently critical of some issue (as distinguished from a personal attack, etc.), it doesn't make it okay to tone police that comment by saying it is snarking, and it doesn't make it okay to assert that the comment is objectively irrelevant or off-topic. So we should consider also the power dynamic and try to acknowledge that most people in this community are coming with good faith which explains why snark likely due to people not able to perform emotional labor to turn perceived negative criticism into constructive criticism.
posted by polymodus at 5:35 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Snark is an issue. On one hand, I do try to think of the "angles" of an FPP before I hit the Post button. On the other it does make me wonder if I'm self-censoring too much.

Another way to maybe address this is to find ways to accentuate the positive.

I know I get a lift when people thank me for posting, especially when they point out something specifically, but there doesn't seem to be a way to signal back to those folks that I read their appreciation and appreciate it!

Maybe that's why people don't do more of the thank-you stuff. People post thanks and it disappears into a black hole.

(Posting thanks to thank you's seems a bit clumsy, is there a better way?)

Also "favorites" give me a dopamine hit, but not oxytocin.
posted by storybored at 6:50 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Mods, there's a bad example of this in the musicology thread. It's a shame that people are being so nasty in response to a great FPP.
posted by daybeforetheday at 3:18 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Yeah. That one was nasty but it had some decent responses pointing out the nastiness, and sometimes in such circumstances I feel it's worth leaving up. It kept collecting flags however, and on reflection I've deleted it.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 5:03 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


just want to pop in and say that i agree with the spirit of this post and will work to keep these impulses in check in myself as well.

also want to add from personal experience that for some people like me who live with mental illness it is sometimes literally impossible to let someone else's snark roll off the back -- some comments just permanently lodge themselves in my brain instead, hanging around forever and fueling the anxiety / depression monster.

i used british slang for the word "friend" on this site years and years ago and a long time, well respected mefite said some hurtful things to me for it. it's been at least idk five years or more ? and i still think about that ~ once a month randomly when trying to go to sleep or standing in the shower. i know that's my thing to deal with not anyone else's, but it sucks and in case that isn't your experience it might help to know that it is someone else's, maybe.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:06 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


Mods, there's a bad example of this in the musicology thread.

People need to flag this stuff (which it looks like folks did). Mods aren't following MeTa threads to see where problems are, necessarily. Flags, especially of newish things that are a problem, really need to be flagged early and often. And specifically early snark in a thread that is pretty clearly not FOR that (some threads are, most aren't) usually need to be removed. I'm not only a "hey nice post thanks for making it" person but also someone who makes it clear that I've been reading along with the thread, or the links, in order to be part of the conversation. I think a lot of people just read a post, don't click the links and show up with facile drive-by comments on the larger topic and it's less helpful than engaging in some actual way.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:01 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I am grateful to any and all who make front page posts. Thank you!!
I read many of them but avoid the comments. If i do read them i invariably regret doing so. And the few times i have commented on the blue i immediately regretted it.
But i am truly grateful to anyone making FPPs, if you can keep doing it, but i do understand also if you just don't want to deal with the comments anymore.
posted by 15L06 at 11:05 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Some time around 2015-2016 my spouse (who locked her account not long before the election and has never been back) and I (who locked my account for a couple of years after the weird and unnecessary user+mod dogpile that ran Sara C. off the site) noticed a general shift in tone... I think there's always been drive-by snark (absolutely one of the reasons I never posted more than I did) but there was an increasing trend towards goat pox comments / worst-possible faith interpretations / people rushing to post the hottest possible take that made posting and commenting feel like a mine field. It felt like there was a weekly "now we're mad about this" memo that I just wasn't getting.
posted by usonian at 10:55 AM on January 24 [10 favorites]


On the one hand, I don't personally feel very motivated to post here anymore, and it doesn't have anything to do with the issues raised by OP. On the other hand, with this thread very much in mind, when I saw a human interest story in my local paper that (because Wisconsin) isn't already all over the internet, I thought "why not share this thing I enjoyed reading with MetaFilter?" and without thinking too much about whether it was a "worthwhile" post, posted it, my first FPP in must be a year. So thanks for that, adrianhon.
posted by escabeche at 1:57 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


As someone who tends to be too critical... I feel a little chagrined but also appreciate this reminder/call to action. It called to mind the food critic's insight at the end of Ratatouille:

“In many ways, the work of a critic is very easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”
posted by Emily's Fist at 5:41 PM on January 25 [7 favorites]


Today's post by a new member (August 2020) making only their 5th post, and just about every comment is "this article sucks," "pretentious," "why is this written so badly," etc.
posted by escabeche at 8:03 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Again, this thread is not where mods can do anything about it. So on the one hand, I realize you're just pointing out an example. On the other hand I feel like I need to point out that no one has flagged anything in that thread as of this typing. Mods do not read the whole site. Mods do respond to flagging.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:16 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Also three of those comments are by the same user who is known for being "that guy" a little bit and who we should probably have a friendly chat with.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:19 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


just about every comment is "this article sucks," "pretentious," "why is this written so badly," etc.

My first career had me traveling all the time and pretty much every day I'd be eating lunch and dinner with people I was meeting for the first (and probably last) time and the biggest thing I learned from it was how to engage and be social with people I had little in common with. There were a few exceptions, of course, but in general, I learned that if people were interested in dialogue and not overtly awful people, you could have an interesting and not awful lunch/dinner with just about everyone.

But if someone was interested in shitting on everything/everyone that didn't live up to their standards, it would be pretty miserable to everyone involved (and in almost all cases, those horribly negative people ended up with severely truncated careers because no one wanted to deal with them). The article linked to isn't perfect, but (as ever, IMO), there was enough of a core concept there that a real discussion could have been had, but the initial comments were dominated by people not interested in having an honest discussion, and so it wasn't.

Also three of those comments are by the same user who is known for being "that guy" a little bit and who we should probably have a friendly chat with.

Indeed. Like missing stair theory?

I need to point out that no one has flagged anything in that thread as of this typing.

I guess this is who we are now?

Either the powers that be draw a line in the sand, or we are.
posted by Candleman at 9:57 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


Some people have never flagged a comment and do not know how to do so or are afraid of doing it wrong. Here is a guide, with screenshots. I probably flag two to four comments every day (mostly as "noise/derail/other") and sometimes that results in comment deletion and/or a mod note. Also: cumulative flag totals (how many times you have flagged other people's comments and posts) are not kept on individual users.

If you want to write a comment complaining about other comments, then MetaTalk is a place you can blow off steam, yeah, but do that AND use the flagging functionality if you want your complaint to actually be acted upon by the mods.
posted by brainwane at 4:48 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


I have just logged in for the first time in forever. A friend sent me this going "I think you need to read this". Because this thread nails why I'm no longer active on MetaFilter despite really missing the community.

It's not the FPPs that made me give up; the comments made me give up. I think it was a post on scented candles - a nice, gentle thread - that turned into a "I hated scented candles" track which made me stop coming here. I mean, I am not into scented candles so whatever, but the whole underlying tone was just so .. exhausting. I could have flagged, sure, but at some stage you just give up on flagging because the snark just never stops. Particularly if the post deals with something that doesn't immediately scan as middle-aged white American dude.

I used to love visiting (mostly active on AskMeFi, but read tonnes and commented some) but it's not for me anymore. The snark and criticism really exhausted me.

Hopefully you'll sort things out. Having this MeTalk thread is a good first step.
posted by kariebookish at 6:49 AM on January 26 [16 favorites]


Today's post by a new member (August 2020) making only their 5th post, and just about every comment is "this article sucks," "pretentious," "why is this written so badly," etc.

I’m the one with three comments (now one). There’s a difference between easy snark or outright hostility and legitimate criticisms of the form and substance of the content of a post. In an attempt to avoid the former the mods risk losing the latter. A too-heavy hand here neuters conversation and stifles substantive debates. That’s to our detriment.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:41 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Not saying that all my deleted comments are the latter quality comments, btw. I’ve been here a long time, and sometimes default the old style quick snark that doesn’t add much of substance. I’ll work on that.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:47 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


Very late to this discussion, but wanted to thank both Adrian Hon for his work on posts here and the community for embracing the spirit of it. Metafilter has become a big bummer for me the past few years. I'm guilty myself, I'd guess 1/3 of my comments on things are negative. I do try to mediate that with some sort of extra insight or information. I will double down on my effort to de-emphasize the negative.

Also had to write here because this comment seemed remarkable coming six months after Fizz left. Then again it took me a few weeks to notice he was gone too, noticing someone's absence is harder than noticing their presence.

Wait… Fizz is gone? I'll miss his posts indeed.
posted by Nelson at 8:16 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


sometimes default the old style quick snark that doesn’t add much of substance. I’ll work on that.

I think the real issue is that you comment early and often. And hey, it's really good to have longtime members who care about the place and contribute to discussions! But sometimes you'll be the first in a thread with a negative comment that can "set a tone" for how the rest of the conversation goes, since the usual MO is "Have a conversation with the people in the room (thread)"

A post is a thing people are giving to the community and I think it's possible to both appreciate that someone went through that effort while also saying you don't care for some aspect of the content they shared. It's nuanced, certainly, but many people seem to do okay with it. And it gets complex because some posts are of the "Let's all hate read this together" variety, and I think sometimes people comment on post that are not intending to be a hate read as if they were a hate read. Or engage with the topic "Man I hate Doctorow!" without even engaging with whatever the post is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:56 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Dropped you a me-mail on this, but basically, though habits are tough to break, norms and standards change, and we all need to change with them. Metafilter 15 years ago was a pretty brutal place at times, and not a place we want to go back to. I’ll work to focus on the positive.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:17 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Appreciate it. I just think everyone's working with much thinner skin than usual because we've all been living through this pandemic and many of us have been living (directly) through this terrible and scary US administration. And it's been a lot. A little more gentleness just in general can go a long way.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:49 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]


A too-heavy hand here neuters conversation and stifles substantive debates

Strunk and White...Guilty on all fronts. But I won't use know better, it's the times, frail politics for myself. usually in hightened times, taking time off is a great tonic. Or, contribute something, it may be small or ancillary but NTL, contribution. This is the only way I know of to reverse the Thread Hopping effect.
posted by clavdivs at 12:01 PM on January 26


Thanks for posting this and having this conversation! I have posted only a couple of times and the response has been, not snarky, but an overwhelming meh, which has encouraged me to not post because my posts clearly aren't too interesting. :-D

But I have one I've been sitting on for a while that I feel more encouraged to actually post now. I mean, I myself am not interested in all the FPPs and I don't engage with all of them, that's just how it is. Some posts I'm really interested in get only a few comments. It's okay.
posted by Occula at 1:11 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Again, this thread is not where mods can do anything about it. So on the one hand, I realize you're just pointing out an example. On the other hand I feel like I need to point out that no one has flagged anything in that thread as of this typing. Mods do not read the whole site. Mods do respond to flagging.

To be clear, I wasn't asking the mods to do anything about it and I didn't see anything in that thread that needed deleting! We are not going to delete our way out of a bad atmosphere; I take the point of the OP to be that there are lots of posts that are not deleteworthy but also not conducive of good conversation nor encouraging of future posting, and asking us to reflect on our practices.
posted by escabeche at 6:04 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


I have posted only a couple of times and the response has been, not snarky, but an overwhelming meh, which has encouraged me to not post because my posts clearly aren't too interesting. :-D

Yeah I tried to step up and thought that I couldn't go wrong with videos of baby bears, but in fact I could go wrong. Oh well.
posted by medusa at 6:00 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


You did nothing wrong, that post was lovely. People are just stuck in a bad place, I figure.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:44 PM on February 1


I'm trying again. Not sure why the dancing robots post was deleted. Hopefully acapella jingles will go over better.
posted by kathrynm at 5:41 PM on February 4


The dancing robots post was just a double; the same video was posted just about a month ago. Otherwise I'm sure it would have been fine.

Though I also feel that that thread, and in fact pretty much every single thread we've had on a new Boston Dynamics video for years now, is also a pretty good example of the phenomenon discussed here. I think the jokes about the coming robot uprising are funny, but the people hating in apparent sincerity on the robots, the company, and the videos because, they say, these robots are inevitably going to be used to kill people, destroys a lot of my enjoyment, and makes having any substantive discussion about the technology and its realistic potential positive and negative impacts on society, or even just a more lighthearted discussion of the videos, almost impossible. There are some topics where I can usually predict how an entire Metafilter discussion thread will go before even reading it, and Boston Dynamics videos are among them.
posted by biogeo at 10:50 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


That's a fair point, and as someone who posted some pushback to the video, my issue was that those videos are essentially PR intended to inoculate the public into thinking robots are fun and harmless. The initial pleasure of the videos after the novelty wears off starts to feel questionable and that framing itself then shapes the discussion, making it difficult to talk about the issue substantively because the post is "cute", which is, I'd argue, why they release the videos, to shift from something of substance to being around personal pleasure.

That, well, dynamic, I think, informs a lot of the issues we run into here, where the framing of a post becomes a subject of contention as much as the subject of the post itself. Any post that presents an argument is rightly going to be argued about, as that is engaging with the post, but too often the argument presented is read from the most contentious possible angle rather than a more nuanced take developed over the length of the piece. While "fun" posts aren't going to be seen as fun by everyone for various, often good, reasons. A video of funny animal reactions, for example, will definitely be called out if there is the belief some of the "funny" is abuse. The want for pleasure from the site is perfectly reasonable, but a desire for that pleasure to come without question maybe isn't as that is asserting a value of its own which we won't all agree on. How a line is drawn around those competing issues is something I'm not sure how to answer.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:00 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


Gusottertrout, I have to say my instinct on Boston Dynamics stuff is completely the opposite. I understand what you're saying but this is exactly the kind of situation where I (usually) suppress my urge to tell people what's "really" important to be talking about. And so of course get more annoyed when topics I like get hijacked in this way by early, not-really-on-topic comments.

Basically if it's a cute, fun video I don't see why one is actually obligated to push back right there. There's plenty of opportunity to discussing the downsides of technology on the blue, in between more substantial posts on technology and openness to new ones. Going into a cute video to change the topic from cuteness to weighty societal challenges seems unnecessary. If you don't like BD, don't find the videos cute anymore, and are tired of "robot overlord" jokes, it's an easy post to just skip.

I would not compare this to seeing a video of animal abuse called "funny" and calling it out. That's fine. But this is be more like seeing the link to the bears at Katmai Falls and going off on the many, many issues with the Department of the Interior and Forestry Service. Which are worth discussing. But why on that thread?
posted by mark k at 10:49 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


My complaint in the Boston Dynamic thread wasn't about what people should be talking about, but a complaint about how the is PR designed to draw an emotional response as if the robots were living creatures, which I find seriously questionable. I didn't, and don't, expect everyone to agree with that, but noting it I feel is important for the type of manipulation it works with and does address the post as it is.

Other conversations had already gone on in the thread about other aspects of what robot use might imply for the society, which I also didn't find objectionable because PR releases shouldn't get to set the agenda for how the thing being shown is discussed as a general rule. But that thread was only a concrete example of the larger phenomenon around how posts get "derailed" from pleasure to something else. I have personal guidelines on when that is reasonable to do and when it isn't.

If my reaction is just a personal one of aesthetic dislike for something, like a song or some other work a person here liked enough to post to the front page, I don't say anything since I know that bothers some people and discourages posting, but when the subject starts to involve a larger set of issues or come from something like a corporate viewpoint or some other perspective that may have a larger set of associated values being sold beyond the immediate subject of the post, then there are times when some pushback noting that has some purpose beyond "Yucking" for the sake of it.

Of course I know when that is deemed reasonable or appropriate won't be felt the same way by everyone and even I find it difficult to decide on for myself sometimes. The fairly recent post on ProZD's memorized Peter Pan, for example, was a video I greatly enjoyed, but some of the posts in the discussion were about the movie itself, which I have some real problems with for reasons beyond just personal taste.

I decided in that case not to make an issue of it then because the post itself didn't warrant that disruption and the movie talk was short lived, but if in a similar post there was a more involved discussion about something I felt troubling, then I might feel a sense of obligation to speak out, even if I knew some others wouldn't see it the same way as me because if the issue is believed to be important enough, then speaking out is necessary even in the face of disagreement, and that is apparently how others often respond as well to different things, but the boundaries around that simply will never be understood the same way by everyone.
posted by gusottertrout at 4:38 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I think it's kind of tough because comments on a post are the 'currency' in which posts are paid, but the 'payment' (sorry tortured metaphor) is not relative to post quality, but rather to post divisiveness/comment-able interest/community discussion/intangibles.

So people can make an excellent post but if there is not much to comment on, it passes by. I'm not sure 'positive but banal (ie: great post!) ' comments are valuable as currency, and I'm not sure how you change that. People are going to comment as they do, and I'm not sure moderators driving conversation, much moreso than they do now, or simply asking people to be nice, is a sustainable answer.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:41 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Just want to mention - there are some great posts lately!
posted by rebent at 12:50 PM on February 12


I've noticed that too. I find myself actively looking for things to post.
posted by kathrynm at 4:37 PM on February 12


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