Everybody v. That One Guy October 28, 2021 7:52 PM   Subscribe

As is not uncommon for threads regarding U.S. politics, the Dispatches from the Upside Down thread involves a debate between a leftist majority and a liberal minority. The thread seems fairly typical to me, in that about 10% of the comments are from a liberal perspective and about 90% are from a leftist perspective.

Some comments were deleted, and the following guidance was given to the poster with a liberal perspective: "good rule of thumb: if you can't get your point across in three comments -- one comment, two clarifications -- you're not going to be able to get it across. Once you go past that mark on a single topic, there's a fundamental disconnect in the communication one way or the other, and a better option is to step back and let someone else carry the point forward, or step back and try to understand where the communication has failed."


That is generally good advice. But I question whether it applies to U.S. political discussions, which tend to be pretty one-sided. The posters presenting the minority/liberal position review appear to be doing so in good faith. They do not appear to be trolling, and, in my opinion, these discussions would be much less interesting or informative without posters providing a liberal perspective.


Given this context, chiding the liberal poster in the Dispatches from the Upside Down thread seems off to me. If you've got 10 leftist voices for every liberal voice, the liberal can't really let someone else carry the point forward. Also, I don't know what was deleted, so maybe the liberal poster went on some unhinged rant with multiple comments that are now deleted. But when 9 or 10 out of 60 comments are from a single poster offering the majority/leftist perspective, suggesting that the liberal/minority poster limit themselves to 3 comments seems puzzling.


I may be totally off-base here, so I'm posting this to see what the community thinks. I rely heavily on MetaFilter for political insight, and the quality of discussion is important to me.
posted by lumpy to Etiquette/Policy at 7:52 PM (62 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Mod note: Apologies to lumpy -- we held this in the queue longer than intended, and I think I was the one who dropped the ball on that; I wanted to hold it until a weekday, since we have less weekend coverage, and I did a bad job communicating that at turnover to the next mod. Sorry!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:55 PM on October 28, 2021


"I don't know what was deleted" makes this a poor example to generalize from, I think. I also think this thread might devolve into debates about where the line between "leftist" and "liberal" is - it's going to colour attitudes toward the 90%/10% split you're seeing.
posted by sagc at 8:25 PM on October 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


If hundreds of previous MeFi politics threads and dozens of MeTas about them are to be believed then we're unlikely to arrive at a universally accepted definition of "liberal" vs. "leftist", but I can't think of any remotely plausible definition of "leftist" for which the average politics thread would rate as 90% leftist. Unless "we should raise some taxes to pay for some more spending when Democrats have political power" is suddenly a leftist position.

I will say that leftist attitudes are much more prominent on the site than they were even just a few years ago, but that to me is more about *gestures broadly at everything* pushing people in the direction of a larger role for the state, a lower tolerance for police misconduct, more skepticism toward Big Tech's influence on politics, etc. Despite this, my feeling is that the median participant in MeFi threads is still far more likely to have supported Biden or Warren in the 2020 primaries over Bernie, and Clinton or Edwards in 2008 over Kucinich or Gravel.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:34 PM on October 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


In general, I find that it is very common for people on both sides of any conflict over a space to attribute far more confidence and comfort in the space to the "other" group and perceive far less for whatever group they themselves identify as part of.

I would actually characterize that thread as "people who agree with Michael Hobbes that the moral panic over cancel culture is suspiciously lacking in actual consequences for reasonable beliefs, versus people who think there is maybe something there to the panic that isn't overblown attempts to seize power." I am in the former camp. I don't know that I would rush to identify myself as either a liberal or a leftist, if we are all rushing to stake out our political identities.
posted by sciatrix at 8:53 PM on October 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


Mod note: It was also my mod note, so I guess I'll speak to that. I don't think it's an unfair metatalk, and I'm curious to hear the community's views -- although I'm going to guess, based on four years of politics megathreads, that there will be a STRONG division among liberal users who think the site is "mostly leftist" and leftist users who think the site is "mostly liberal" and both feel quite silenced/unfairly characterized by the other. (But like, I very much do not want to start a fight about what MetaFilter "really is" so please don't take that as an invitation!)

From my mod perspective, there were several comments in a row where the back-and-forth between "everyone" and "that one guy" had gotten increasingly personal, with personal insults, and very understandable defensiveness (/insulting back) in response. It also seemed like everyone was staking out rhetorical positions not so much to forward a discussion but to set out their argumentation traps for the next thing they predicted someone would say as an attack. As the discussing dug in on both sides, it was starting to pick up flags from people who wanted to see the conversation continue in productive directions, and not dig in on one user/one point. As a general rule, readers get frustrated (and then start flagging) when a discussion runs into that kind of political cul-de-sac. I think for some of us (me often included!) that kind of political round-and-rounds are really fascinating and useful, but it's fairly clear that for the majority of the membership, it gets tedious fast and feels like a rehash of a debate they've heard a thousand times. (And after four years of megathreads, I kinda get it!)

The "three and out" is more a hard-won piece of wisdom I gained as a user, before I was a mod. I think Jessamyn may have first gently suggested it to me, that I was just repeating myself a lot and repeating the same thing over and over was not actually going to convince people who fundamentally disagreed with my opinion. This is, again, a problem I have in my meatspace life -- it's why I was a bad politician, I couldn't stop trying to convince people with Bad Opinions that they were wrong and I was right. And I have found it a super-useful life tip both online and in person, that I can state my position, clarify it a couple of times, but if someone is really adamantly refusing to hear me/not understanding me/opposed to my stance, continuing to argue about it is just going to waste my time and frustrate me. It's okay to let it stand and either accept that people are wrong, or accept that someone else can do a better job explaining than I can, because I'm not getting anywhere. I do like to suggest it, because over time I've seen that a lot of hyper-verbose, argumentative people who are JUST LIKE ME find it a useful rule of thumb for when it's time to just throw up their hands and say "OKAY I MADE MY POINT!" I truly deeply feel in my heart that I can just TALK people into agreeing with me if I talk long enough! And sometimes this is true! But sometimes I am horribly, horribly wrong and need to rest my case way earlier. :)

We all mod partly from established guidelines and rules, and partly from our personal experiences as human beings. (That's the small-batch, hand-made artisanal modding you can expect at MetaFilter!) The established guidelines and rules about personal insults and extended back-and-forths were me being an Impersonal Mod there; the three-and-out suggestion was me being a human person who moderates other human persons, and who likes politics threads, and who falls into conversational cul-de-sacs way too easily when I feel passionately about something. I may very well have been wrong with that suggestion! Maybe that was not the dynamic at all. But it's what I thought I saw, and it's a suggestion I thought might help.

Anyway, again, curious to see the community's take on it; I feel like it was a relatively low-stakes mod decision, and it was definitely more of a judgment call of "there are a bunch of flags here -- how can we redirect it in a more productive fashion?" and not a situation where it was like "OH SHIT PEOPLE ARE BEING MASSIVE ASSHOLES!" I'm very open to there being a different and/or better judgment call, and other ways to redirect the thread more productively.

And I see several people have commented while I've been typing this (WAY TOO LONG, I'M SO VERBOSE) comment, so I'll go read those now!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:54 PM on October 28, 2021 [15 favorites]


The thing is, this kind of dynamic is not unique to political discussions on Metafilter. We have a lot of situations where you have one or two very impassioned people on one side being up against a whole bunch of very impassioned people on the other side.

And speaking as someone who's been in both camps - I think "three and out" is a good thing to suggest to someone in the minority, but if it's a mod who is going to consider deleting comments on that basis that sets a dangerous precedent, because - and again, speaking only for my own motivation - part of what may be prompting the person in the minority to keep speaking is because of a fear that "stepping back to see where the communication has failed" will only leave room for the louder voices in the room to step in and mischaracterize what it is the minority is saying in the first place. I don't mind being a minority that people disagree with - but I do mind if they are disagreeing with things I never even said, because someone else incorrectly claimed that's what I said. Especially if it's something I'm passionate about.

Mind you, if someone gets passionate to the point that they're abusive or being a massive asshole, that's different - that's not a matter of what is being said, that's a matter of conduct and courtesy. But if it takes seven or eight comments for someone to finally cut through the noise and be heard, and then a mod came along and removed those comments because "it's time to give someone else a chance', well.....that doesn't quite sit right to my mind.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:07 PM on October 28, 2021 [25 favorites]


"but if it's a mod who is going to consider deleting comments on that basis that sets a dangerous precedent, because - and again, speaking only for my own motivation - part of what may be prompting the person in the minority to keep speaking is because of a fear that "stepping back to see where the communication has failed" will only leave room for the louder voices in the room to step in and mischaracterize what it is the minority is saying in the first place."

I guess I would say, first, that I deleted comments where users were insulting one another in violation of the rules as the posters got more impassioned, and offered the "three-and-out" suggestion as a way of expressing an impassioned opinion (and then stopping) without getting into rule-breaking territory.

But I would also ask, where have you felt like you are a minority whose voice is not being heard by the majority? Because that is always a situation we want to hear about and rectify if we can.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:49 PM on October 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


I was reading that thread in real time, and ended up flagging a comment that was then deleted. I can't claim any perfect recollection of what was said, but my impression is that I didn't flag based on the opinions being expressed, but on the direction of the conversation. I felt there were a few rapid-fire comments, not expounding on the ideas, or presenting an argument, but instead turning to the personal... you guys aren't getting me, you guys are misreading me, I'm gonna say it one last time... and then commenting again. I didn't flag until like the 7th comment. It wasn't ideological for me (I mean, yeah, everything is ideological, and all gut-reactions are just "don't interrupt the status quo"), but it was primarily that it was derailing the thread, not allowing for any expression separate from the interactions with one person.

I thought the advice to limit yourself to 3 comments to say what you want to say and then move on (as a person, not as a rule) was spot on. If you've said your piece and people just don't agree with you, you're not doing yourself or anybody else any favors by continuing with "No, listen, I'm really right about this!"
posted by team lowkey at 11:49 PM on October 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


But I would also ask, where have you felt like you are a minority whose voice is not being heard by the majority? Because that is always a situation we want to hear about and rectify if we can.

Nothing specific comes to mind now save for a general recollection of feeling that way in the past, but if I'm feeling that way going forward I will send a quiet note to the mods if you like.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:49 AM on October 29, 2021 [2 favorites]


I think deletions when things are getting personal are fine. There is a tendency right now for people who are overwhelmed with the ills of the 360 million person United States/capitalism to freak out and blame them on wrongthink by single individuals here (whether the “offenders” live in the US or not), and I find that incredibly toxic for discussion. I had that moment a while back, and had actually closed my account to breathe for a bit as I was really angry about how someone was going after me, and I appreciated the mod response when I returned to the thread a few days later.

Moral panics, as someone was abused ritually during the also-bogus Satanic Panic, are one of my things, but I know there’s very little hope of a real discussion here when it comes to US politics. There seem to be some people who feel like their job is to go into threads to shut down the discussion based on who they think is a bad person. I hate this, it’s making me reconsider my engagement with the site, and it makes me defensive in a way I don’t like.

I also think a vague reminder that rephrasing the same argument over and over, which I know I fall into at times, isn’t always productive.

However…as useful as the rule of three is as a guideline, that mod note also made me sad and also consider buttoning, especially when I saw the MetaTalk about technologically limiting comments. One of the things I value here is people really engaging with topics, and while I often skim past things I find repetitive or verbose, a lot of times I learn the most when someone is really sharing their thoughts or experience or insight in depth. And often that is across multiple comments, and multiple days, and responding to each other. Sometimes it is passionate, and I think it’s ok to care about things!

But having to stop responding at x point numerically… I don’t know. It just seems like an emphasis on number over quality is losing something. It seems to eliminate space to listen and like, interact.

I don’t mean screaming “anyone who votes for X is Y is a rotten egg” type comments. But thoughtful exploratory and yes, responsive ones.

The sudden establishment of a 3-comment limit as some kind of codified norm actually bothers me quite a bit. It’s a good personal rule (check in with yourself at 3 comments) but as an enforced norm I think it actually prevents the kind of time and space where real thinking can happen.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:10 AM on October 29, 2021 [16 favorites]


I read that thread, and thought "I will certainly not be advancing any heterodox views on metafilter anytime soon" - I don't know what the mods could have done about it, and it might be a totally fine outcome - I think a majority of MeFi posters might well prefer that there be broad homogeneity of views on political topics! But I'm surprised that the post explicitly calling That One Guy a conservative was allowed to stick around, and my impression (likely false! I didn't see what got deleted!) was that the mod note to some degree took sides against the underdog.
posted by wattle at 4:18 AM on October 29, 2021 [16 favorites]


And I have found it a super-useful life tip both online and in person, that I can state my position, clarify it a couple of times, but if someone is really adamantly refusing to hear me/not understanding me/opposed to my stance, continuing to argue about it is just going to waste my time and frustrate me.

Even if you're not going to convince the person you're arguing with, you might very well convince someone else who's reading both sides and trying to make up their mind. I suspect the possibility of this is why these back-and-forths tend to keep going long past the point where it's obvious that neither side is going to change the other's mind.

I think for some of us (me often included!) that kind of political round-and-rounds are really fascinating and useful, but it's fairly clear that for the majority of the membership, it gets tedious fast and feels like a rehash of a debate they've heard a thousand times.

Is there a particular reason for thinking that this is how the majority of members think, rather than just small numbers of users flagging comments that they strongly disagree with and focussing particularly on people who say things they don't like and refuse to back down? Unless there are really large numbers - in the hundreds - of flags on a particular comment, it seems unlikely that they are a good indication of actual majority opinion.

Also, consider how most users see the results of these kinds of interventions. Mods see the whole back-and-forth; anyone who comes along after the deletions sees one person getting piled-on for a few comments, then a mod coming along to provide back up to the pile-on and tell the target to take a hike.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:47 AM on October 29, 2021 [7 favorites]


I've learned the most from the long, detailed, one-or-two-people-really-going-at-it threads. Mainly that there is more than one way of looking at things! Even Israel/Palestine!

Hmmm. Be the change you want to see, right?
posted by Exercise Bike at 5:55 AM on October 29, 2021 [3 favorites]


To clarify, I definitely did not mean to start a debate about the definitions of liberal and leftist or about the precise breakdown of posters’ political leanings.

If I could have a do-over I would describe the majority position as “further left” and the minority position as “more centrist.”

And the 90/10 thing was based on a quick and likely inaccurate count of the comments in that particular thread.

The actual issue I thought worthy of discussion is whether That One Guy, who is arguing a minority political position in good faith, should be given a bit more leeway.
posted by lumpy at 6:41 AM on October 29, 2021 [7 favorites]


Even the "three and out" rule seems too much for me and I try for just one comment or maybe one followup. If my ideas are good I trust they will take root somewhere. If my ideas are bad well I can judge the criticisms myself, it's not the start of a fight that has to be won. Sometimes though I want to roll around in the mud I'm human ok.

But yeah, no one has to be here with all of their being.
posted by fleacircus at 7:05 AM on October 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


Valid and fair, and thank you for the clarification, lumpy! I was very much going "oh god we're going to have another "is Metafilter Too Liberal/Leftist smackdown wherein we Litigate Bernie/Hillary again" and I really really did not want to be there. I very much appreciate the redirections to where you actually meant to be (and where other folks are going) because I think y'all are onto something interesting that might bring us to a way more useful discussion than where I flinched and thought we were going. So: thank you.

I can say... hmmm. I have certainly been the wordy person versing a heterodox opinion here before, and I note that sometimes this is along what I would classify as marginalization lines, and sometimes it is not. The throughline is really more about my emotional state, I think, than about anything else. An example about a topic this sometimes happens to me about which isn't clearly tangled along marginalization lines is things to do with dog training and management. I get really frustrated sometimes because this is a topic I care very deeply about, have a number of heterodox opinions about (e.g.: sometimes deliberate crossbreeding is Good Actually, canine overpopulation narratives in North America are highly regional and we need to re evaluate emphasis on rescue vs breeding when we think about the overall supply of dogs, etc.), and have something like twenty years of deep investment in. Because I care deeply about the topic and have strong opinions, I can get pretty frustrated about it fairly easily.

For me the big case along marginalization that stands out is autism threads, and I think part of what causes that feeling for me is that I have a lot of painful experience trying to self advocate and advocate for other people like me--or often, just talking about my experiences as an adult!--and being immediately derailed by a focus on the emotional experiences, desires, and narratives of allistic parents of autistic children, in ways that often echo my own traumas. And to be clear, that long history is not specific to here. The trends here are pretty much the same ones I encounter in the rest of my life, but it informs my approach to the topic and my ability to relax and feel secure enough to really have a nuanced conversation. Can I trust that what I'm trying to say will be heard? It doesn't have to be heard by any specific person, but sometimes I get stuck on trying to articulate a concept and feeling like no one is seeing what I'm trying to say and pulling it out in the larger conversation. That's really frustrating but it tends not to make for the kind of really interesting and insightful conversations I really enjoy about this community.

One of the things I really like about the three comment rule of thumb Eyebrows lays out is that when I find myself rapid-fire repeating myself like that, it's usually a sign that I don't feel heard and that I am activated enough that I should consider trying to emotionally withdraw from the space a little while.

That's a very neutral thing to say though, because that's the only thing I can really personally control about the situation: my own activation level and investment in a community space. I'm not sure it's the best way for the community structurally to handle these moments, though. Where the activated, entrenched person is engaging in good faith and responding to attempts to de-escalate, often you can turn those moments around and bring the conversation in an interesting direction if you can intervene, offer a de-escalation point for everyone, and bring out the points that one or more parties don't seem to feel are getting heard so that everyone can see them.

What I would really like, having experienced this kind of thing before on pretty much all "sides" (e.g. Overwhelmed Frustrated Person, Person In Dialogue With OFP, Person Observing OFP In Dialogue) is for us as a community to try and intervene with those classifications when we see people getting frustrated and het up like that. I would like us to practice de-escalation more and offering the conversational equivalence of calming signals where possible. That doesn't necessarily mean, like, not having boundaries or expressing opinions so much as saying things like "hey, I'm trying to listen, do you mean X or Y? Because X is making me bristle but Y kind of makes sense, although I still feel funny about Y because...."

*throws hands in the air* Everyone needs a hug, I guess.
posted by sciatrix at 7:14 AM on October 29, 2021 [16 favorites]


And--sorry, I am also one of those Very Worsy People--to be clear, I would like it if we did that more as a community among both mods and members. Mod notes bring a certain amount of Authority that can make things tricky to navigate. Additionally, I think our mods generally try to follow these practices where possible without distorting the conversation according to their own judgements. But mods are tired and only able to handle so much right now, right? That said, often I have observed other community members intervening in heated discussions like this and re railing them by stepping in, demonstrating what they are hearing, and offering points of understanding. You don't have to be a mod to really help communities and conversations out this way, and I would love it very much if we collectively tried to do this for one another where we saw the pattern brewing.
posted by sciatrix at 7:20 AM on October 29, 2021 [6 favorites]


*very wordy people. why do you even have that as an option, autocorrect?!? wrong lever!
posted by sciatrix at 7:27 AM on October 29, 2021 [6 favorites]


I haven't read the thread linked yet but I certainly recognize this phenomenon and it sucks big time for whoever the minority voice. It also makes people who suspect they have a minority opinion on Metafilter less likely to want to share it, adding to the echo chamber effect.

It ends up being one person trying to argue point against several at once who are almost always given free reign to be as uncivil as they'd like and to escalate as much as they'd like and get as personal as they'd like. Meanwhile, the minority voice, no matter how well behaved they're being, will get the mod edit (they used to call people out for taking-all-comers, but I haven't seen that phrase used in a while).

I think the liberal/leftist things comes in because with regard to political topics both sides of the argument are almost always well within the realm of what in the real world would be considered a reasonable opinion for a Democratic voter in the U.S. at that point in time to have, but because Metafilter is, in general, ideologically very far into one particular corner of that room, the person with the reasonable opposing viewpoint who is choosing to stay in that same room with them is treated like a heretic.

Generally I think the three-and-out rule for oneself is a good one for the sake of the sanity of the person with the minority viewpoint, but I agree with EmpressCallipygos that it shouldn't be mandated by the mods.

I know this is going to be really unpopular here, but I'm going to say it: I think Metafilter would be more welcoming if the mods would concentrate some on moderating for *gasp* tone and civility especially when user in question is forwarding a very Metafilter-popular viewpoint.
posted by Jess the Mess at 7:40 AM on October 29, 2021 [23 favorites]


I'm fine with judicious deletions when things are getting personal and you have a single member taking on all comers type of situation, but the idea that that should translate into some kind of general rule against multiple comments over a small arbitrary count strikes me as very problematic. We keep talking about improving our inclusiveness issues here. So why establish a norm that codifies tyranny of the masses?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:59 AM on October 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


This was good life advice, but not great when written out as a deletion reason. I definitely get frustrated when threads get into back and forth exchanges that skim close enough to ad hominem that we are judging on rhetorical fine points to determine whether that border is actually crossed. In contrast, I enjoy threads where there is a back and forth which continually introduces new evidence and viewpoints. One benefit of Metafilter is the artisanal modding which can allow for both.
I dislike a post count limit on threads as any sort of technological solution. I do think most of us would benefit from slowing down our posting a bit, but I'm agnostic about any enforcement in regards to that.
I absolutely agree that there are topics I don't comment on at this point on Metafilter because while they are important to me and I am engaged about them, I also recognize my interest is mostly intellectual and I don't have confidence I can engage without causing harm or burden on those for whom the topics are personal. That's not a bad thing, and I still learn by lurking.
posted by meinvt at 8:02 AM on October 29, 2021 [3 favorites]


Now I have read a bit of the linked thread to the point of the first mod comment. Eyebrows shuts down russilwvong but the Pig Man is who is talking just as much gets crickets. That seems unfair to me.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:10 AM on October 29, 2021 [4 favorites]



But I would also ask, where have you felt like you are a minority whose voice is not being heard by the majority?

any number of threads where I've chosen simply to not engage, including the one we're discussing now. I tracked the discussion for a while, saw which way the wind was blowing, chose not to engage.

And to be clear, I'm generally on the "Moral Panics are foolish" side of things. But in the particular case of so-called wokeness, cancel culture, whatever, I can't take that position because I have too much immediate experience of it being a genuine thing (specifically three people who I've seen take serious and thus far irreparable hits to their reputations and careers for actions that, to me, just didn't begin to warrant such censure). So yeah, it's definitely my impression that something's out of whack here in the so-called progressive zone that wasn't say, ten years ago and I wish we could find a way to better acknowledge that hereabouts. Because it's not good for anyone ... except our genuine enemies.
posted by philip-random at 8:16 AM on October 29, 2021 [17 favorites]


And notice how after the dissenting side was told to chill out in the linked thread, it devolved into cutesy nonsense because when everyone allowed to talk about a subject agrees on everything, there's not much left to talk about!
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:14 AM on October 29, 2021 [9 favorites]


I have to agree with Jess the Mess - it does indeed feel like Glegrinof the Pig-Man is saying rather a bit and taking up a lot of the air in the room, and I'm not sure why russelwong's comments were pruned when his wasn't.

.....Then again, ironically the more Gleginrof talks the less I understand what he's actually saying, so maybe he's shooting himself in the foot, and that is why his words were allowed to stand?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on October 29, 2021


Democratically speaking, the act of cancelling, shunning, excommunication, or whatever it may be called, leads to internal division and loses trust among adherents, then elections. If liberals are worried, that's likely it. Ironically, the right-wing lost so many voters this last round from their macho brand of cancel culture and revolution, and the election was so close, that the timing is wrong for the left to be associated with purity tests that might turn off those independents. I understand why people like purity, because it substitutes for authority and truth, which don't exist in politics or religion. However, the passion on display in people who most confidently condemn and assert righteousness is very addictive and empowering. Disassociation from the past feels good as a start, but age bleeds the excitement from you after realizing that elections are a game to win or lose, and progress is a slow, polite road of incremental improvements. Someone already wrote this in these threads, which is that no revolution is going to trust the people who tear something down to build anything back, especially since so many established groups are waiting for the government to fail.
posted by Brian B. at 9:40 AM on October 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


Right, posted something. Probably too late for that thread. Ah, well, it's only $5 and I buttoned my proper account a while ago!
posted by Exercise Bike at 9:44 AM on October 29, 2021


EmpressCallipygos: "I'm not sure why russelwong's comments were pruned when his wasn't."

I don't have a good recollection of the content of the comments that were deleted, but I remember at least the last few weren't substantive. It wasn't a back-and-forth of ideas that were deleted, it was some rapid-fire sentence fragments.
posted by team lowkey at 9:54 AM on October 29, 2021


This comment seems like an odd place for the deletions to have stopped short of. It's directly personally at another poster. It's pretty clearly meant to place that poster in a Metafilter outgroup, "conservative", and it's also clear from context the poster does not identify in that group. It contributed nothing of substance to the topic. I know the mods have to stop pruning somewhere, but I don't get why it was the last one left standing.
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 9:58 AM on October 29, 2021 [15 favorites]


> I think Metafilter would be more welcoming if the mods would concentrate some on moderating for *gasp* tone and civility especially when user in question is forwarding a very Metafilter-popular viewpoint.

I couldn't agree with this more. I definitely don't feel welcome in sharing positions that I think will cut against what seems to be the consensus opinion on this site . "Unsafe" is too strong a word for this feeling, but it's ... close? More like, I worry I'll be shouted down by a loud majority who want to interpret any deviation from the consensus opinion as a threat, and just don't want to bother.

I was reading the specific thread that prompted this MeTa, and had this feeling there too, and so just nope out. I felt like any position other than "cancel culture doesn't exist" isn't welcome. So despite deviating from that position only very slightly, sharing that opinion doesn't seem worth the potential backlash.

I would love to see MeFi figure out a way to make more space for opinions that differ from the majority here. I recognize this is hard when so many on the internet try to hide truly repugnant ideas under the guise of "just my opinion, man" or "just asking questions". I love that MeFi doesn't tolerate that crap. But I do feel like moderation here has mostly thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
posted by dorothy hawk at 12:17 PM on October 29, 2021 [22 favorites]


I don't have a good recollection of the content of the comments that were deleted, but I remember at least the last few weren't substantive. It wasn't a back-and-forth of ideas that were deleted, it was some rapid-fire sentence fragments.

Verbosity doesn't necessarily mean substance, however. Sometimes a lengthy soapboxy comment can make others feel like they're being talked over.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:26 PM on October 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


My one thought about this is that when it's one person vs the world, the thread ends up being about them. And without threaded comments, there's no escape for anyone who's not interested in reading that argument.

Climate change threads always ended up revolving around a longtermist guy, killing every other discussion in the thread.
posted by simmering octagon at 2:23 PM on October 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


It's directly personally at another poster. It's pretty clearly meant to place that poster in a Metafilter outgroup, "conservative", and it's also clear from context the poster does not identify in that group.

Oh hey, it's my comment! And it was deleted.

No, it was not meant to put him into an "out group." It was meant to identify him as the conservative he is.

The United States has two conservative ruling parties. One is identified as "liberal," but that's only to contrast from what's become a "death cult fascist" party. US Democrats (and Canada Liberals) are absolutely conservative. They're beholden to capitalism, to market solutions, to not rocking the boat if it upsets their donors.

To be clear, I have no problem with people who are conservative. My objection was solely that a guy who consistently posts conservative policy on Metafilter is saying that conservatives aren't present. I have eyes, I can read. It's gaslighting to tell me that he is not a conservative.
posted by explosion at 6:57 PM on October 29, 2021 [10 favorites]


Unless there are really large numbers - in the hundreds - of flags on a particular comment

I think this overestimates how many flags even unambiguously-terrible comments get, from what has been mentioned here in MeTa over the years. I'm definitely not the one to speak authoritatively on this, but afaik something getting a dozen flags is Big Stuff, and the fight's pretty much always been getting people to get *any* flags on something, rather than either moving on and thinking "why are the mods letting this stand".
posted by CrystalDave at 7:20 PM on October 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


Oh hey, it's my comment! And it was deleted.

No, it was not meant to put him into an "out group." It was meant to identify him as the conservative he is.

The United States has two conservative ruling parties. One is identified as "liberal," but that's only to contrast from what's become a "death cult fascist" party. US Democrats (and Canada Liberals) are absolutely conservative. They're beholden to capitalism, to market solutions, to not rocking the boat if it upsets their donors.

To be clear, I have no problem with people who are conservative. My objection was solely that a guy who consistently posts conservative policy on Metafilter is saying that conservatives aren't present. I have eyes, I can read. It's gaslighting to tell me that he is not a conservative.


👎
posted by buntastic at 8:42 PM on October 29, 2021 [20 favorites]


No, it was not meant to put him into an "out group." It was meant to identify him as the conservative he is.


Curious why you thought you needed to identify him as a conservative in that particular thread? What benefit did you think you were providing to the rest of us reading this thread exactly?
posted by some loser at 5:01 AM on October 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


It was not only germane to the thread, but it was in fact a literal example of the phenomenon, writ small.

The whole "cancel culture" bit is that conservatives say "we can't say X anymore" while saying exactly X. They say "oh we're getting punished for our views" when the "punishment" is at most notoriety for having those views, and as often as not, a cushy second career espousing those views to an eager audience.

So here we have a conservative member of Metafilter saying "Metafilter's run out all of the conservatives. You can't say conservative things on Metafilter anymore." But he's right there. He makes frequent posts.

When someone is demonstrating quite literally the same deceptive slippery practice as what a thread's about, are we just supposed to ignore it?

This very MeTa is a demonstration of us continually failing by valuing "civility" over truth or justice. Someone lies to our face with kind words? It's just dandy. Someone calls them out for being a liar? Well that's just a bridge too far.
posted by explosion at 8:27 AM on October 30, 2021 [15 favorites]


You do realize that there are plenty of people who are not conservative who do believe cancel culture is a thing or who maybe differ slightly from you in other areas of opinion? That there is some room for debate around certain things - the existence or not of cancel culture being one of them - without people losing their leftist/progressive/socialist/liberal whatever card over it?
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:07 AM on October 30, 2021 [24 favorites]


He cancelled the word liberal. So there are only two conservatives because they are both beholden to capitalism and market solutions; so the political spectrum is viewed as basically good versus evil, no need for partisan democracy to determine public and private domains. Definitely a conservative echo of indignation there in that staunch absolutism, like a debate on abortion. It was only twenty years ago that Liberals were saying we weren't communists on a daily basis, to fans of Fox News. Now they're knocking on the back door. Jesus camps ruined America.
posted by Brian B. at 10:12 AM on October 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


He cancelled the word liberal.

Who did what now?
posted by Not A Thing at 12:17 PM on October 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


I agree with editing for tone and civility. But I also think letting negative comments stand sometimes while asking the person to "make a reasoned argument" rather than an "ad hominem attack" might be a much more helpful rejoinder to incivility site-wide than a three-and-you're-out policy.
posted by Violet Blue at 1:19 PM on October 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


It's gaslighting to tell me that he is not a conservative

It’s not gaslighting, it’s a disagreement over the definition of conservative.
posted by Pryde at 7:44 PM on October 30, 2021 [33 favorites]


I read that thread with interest, saw some of the comments that were deleted and the mod note go up. I found the decision to put the mod comment up right after the one calling 'that one guy' a conservative to reflect really poorly on the community.
posted by alphanerd at 8:16 PM on October 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


It's gaslighting to tell me that he is not a conservative that I might possibly have it wrong.
posted by philip-random at 10:16 PM on October 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


Well, my polite comment trying to argue back is gone, though I note the one calling me stupid is still there. Ah well!
posted by Exercise Bike at 1:01 AM on October 31, 2021


Well, my polite comment trying to argue back is gone, though I note the one calling me stupid is still there. Ah well!

Actually - this, here, is another thing I have noticed; there seems to be a weird sort of blind spot on the part of the mods sometimes, about how sometimes getting all the bits of a conversation can be often important. And there is an anecdote I can offer to the mods - this happened to me so long ago that Matthowie was the mod I was dealing with for this, but there was one instance where there was a back-and-forth exchange I had with another poster, and Matthowie had deleted one of my comments (i can't remember what or why, but I remember accepting it). However, he didn't delete the other person's comment where he quoted my deleted comment, and I had to write in and ask him why, and point out that it actually wasn't fair to me, and also was probably causing some confusion in the conversation. He realized "oh yeah, you're right" and deleted the other comment.

Granted, Matthowie had a lot going on, but...this is not the only time and he's not the only mod who are sometimes a little haphazard in this kind of situation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 AM on October 31, 2021


....However, I now notice that I can't find a comment in that thread where anyone calls ANYBODY stupid, so I may have spoken too soon - nevermind!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:02 AM on October 31, 2021


I'll give an example of a subject where I feel piled on for a heterodox opinion, as an example. I work in a small business. Sorry this got wordy but I feel like the context is important.

It's not evil - I just deleted like 100 words on this topic but I'll summarize it as my boss, the business owner, does not make more than 3X the earnings of the lowest FTE earner and two of my have-worked-only-for-us front line staff have bought houses in the greater Toronto area over the past 3 years and paid their mortgages (one is single.)

I'm fairly far to the left by American standards. I believe in socialized health care, day care, UBI, taxation for corporations and for the wealthy, public transit, and climate change. I have worked in a non-profit which provided housing, seniors care, employment, and immigrant supports. I believe a good business provides decent compensation for it employees, including benefits, sick time, good scheduling, good training, and a share in the profits.

As such I do think that I straddle some different perspectives that are at least interesting, maybe valuable - like how do you counter the really shitty financial sort of assumptions that business owners get about keeping their costs down, in real life.

How do you actually pay your staff in a 50-ish person organization really well, better than industry average, when you are surrounded by similar organizations offering maybe not as great services but close, to parents trying to keep their costs down? How do you balance something like adding more physio onto extended health benefits against hiring more people so when someone's sick you can both pay sick days and the person to cover - what's better, or can you do both?

How do you really create policies that don't just 'welcome' marginalized communities but create a place where access goes from even thinking you can come here to running one of our locations. What do you say to a parent who is upset that their hijab-wearing daughter is sharing a women's two-stall bathroom with a AMAB girl student? Should you make literacy a hiring requirement even if you have a few jobs where it might be possible to work around it?

These are things I work on for real.

Not on the internet, not as a thought experiment. With real people I care about who live down the street.

But almost every time I've posted here in labour or economic or even vax threads I've gotten what I would call kneejerk anti-capitalist/anti-right-wing statements. These include some things that are true in general but so broad as to be meaningless ("if you can't pay your staff well you don't have a business" - true, but define well where staff range from 15 year olds in their first jobs to people who have been teaching for 22 years? or how do I provide affordable afterschool care and still pay $13k/mo rent?) or "turn your business into a coop" (sure, even if I could as an employee myself, retirees who like driving the bus 2 hrs a day for both the money and the dental benefits will be super into arguing with the 17 year olds about our benefit packages.)

But it's also like "you're a bad person if you cannot fix this through your RightThinking right now."

And it's not that people are offering specific advice and perspective like "have you thought about working with a credit union" or a link to other fitness businesses that are coops or whatever.

It's just: you're bad, if your business cannot compensate for all evils in the US/capitalism, shut up.

The statements are not designed to illuminate the issue like "student minimum wage is an abomination, don't pay it" (we don't) or "can you raise prices by explaining that you pay your staff better?") (this is something we aren't yet prepared to do for various reasons but it is thoughtful.)

I'm not sure of the intent, but how they come across to me is that they are designed to shut down my perspective and establish the person talking as a RightThinker. It's about as helpful as being told to pray about it.

And it has that tone too! "If only you believed in the right things, the solution would be obvious." "Pray harder."

I still try to talk about things, but it's gotten harder and I'm slowly giving up. There have been a few threads lately I've avoided, which is probably not a net loss but if a lot of people feel like me, it very well may be.

I do think it's a pattern on this site that if you are shrieking about capitalism being bad/presenting a leftist view point you are permitted to sink to a different level of discourse than in other areas.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:56 AM on October 31, 2021 [60 favorites]


I didn't follow the thread and don't really care enough to try to figure out what happened. But, the idea that, among mefi comments, "about 90% are from a leftist perspective" is astonishing. It makes it hard to take anything else seriously. I love our just-barely-left-of-center community and mods, even if I am sometimes annoyed by their conservatism.
posted by eotvos at 8:47 AM on October 31, 2021 [6 favorites]


it devolved into cutesy nonsense because ...not much left to talk about

I've just now visited the originating post: the conversation later on in that thread, even before this MeTa went live, is mostly thoughtful, more directly addresses TFA, and though not done yet, I have already learned several things. FWIW
posted by to wound the autumnal city at 10:27 AM on October 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


Hey, it's russilwvong. Sorry, I missed this thread when it first went up! Having seen a lot of flamewars elsewhere on the Internet over the years, I think one of the most valuable aspects of MetaFilter is the moderation; I have a thick skin ("don't be offensive, don't be easily offended"); and I wasn't particularly distressed by Eyebrows's decision in this case. When threads are getting somewhat personal, it makes sense to cool them off.

I do think that when there's a tendency towards uniformity of thought, it's helpful to have a devil's advocate. (This was JFK's lesson from the Bay of Pigs debacle, applied later during the Cuban Missile Crisis.) But we're not going to settle the large issues of American politics here, so if the mods think I should back off from a thread, I'm happy to leave it to others.

I don't regard it as particularly insulting to be described as a conservative, just inaccurate. My view of politics is that you want to win elections and help people. If you can't do the former, you can't do the latter, so you need to pay a lot of attention to making sure people will vote for you. There's a lot of sayings along these lines - politics is the art of the possible, you want to go where the votes are, you don't want to get too far ahead of where people are. In political science there's the idea of appealing to the median voter. In Canadian politics this is usually described as "pragmatist." In the US, David Shor is a well-known proponent of this line of thinking, and it's called "popularism." Matthew Yglesias talks about "normie" politics and the need to hold together the Democratic coalition (which includes a lot of Black and Hispanic moderate and conservative voters, as they vote for Democrats in much greater numbers than white moderates and conservatives).

Of course this isn't the only way to do politics. Another line of thinking is that society faces multiple overlapping crises - inequality, climate change, Trump, racism - and that much bolder action is required to confront these crises head-on, rather than soft-pedalling one's messages in an effort to win elections.

Both of these views are represented on MetaFilter.

Personally I think you need both: you need to think hard about what's needed to meet the challenges we face, and you also need to think hard about popular support and winning elections. Hans Morgenthau, talking about the need to pay attention to popular support when pursuing foreign policy, while not surrendering to it:
Especially when foreign policy is conducted under conditions of democratic control and is inspired by the crusading zeal of a political religion, statesmen are always tempted to sacrifice the requirements of good foreign policy to the applause of the masses. On the other hand, the statesman who would defend the integrity of these requirements against even the slightest contamination with popular passion would seal his own doom as a political leader and, with it, the doom of his foreign policy, for he would lose the popular support which put and keeps him in power.

The statesman, then, is allowed neither to surrender to popular passions nor disregard them. He must strike a prudent balance between adapting himself to them and marshaling them to the support of his policies. In one word, he must lead. He must perform that highest feat of statesmanship: trimming his sails to the winds of popular passion while using them to carry the ship of state to the port of good foreign policy, on however roundabout and zigzag a course.
posted by russilwvong at 7:45 PM on November 1, 2021 [12 favorites]


there is a third position that thinks that making people's life better tends to win elections and build electoral support and that doing so is not a "bold" action at all but basic political survival (along with literal survival for many of the people affected) but you seem to be quite confident that your position is the only one that is oriented towards realpolitik and/or the only position that understands material power.

the number 1 thing that makes political threads irritating on mefi is, in my opinion, people who act like they have electoral crystal balls and/or all the solutions and/or are the only practical people in the room. there is often a strong, super-condescending, and often functionally derailing attitude at play in a lot of mefi threads where it's considered 100% cool to basically say "well you're just not practical and what's practical is something I know and you don't" and it makes discussion impossible because you've positioned yourself as the arbiter of electoral success in a way that is way way outside of your actual knowledge and expertise.

my humble suggestion is to embrace epistemological humility and consider whether you might be wrong about what is electorally successful. even if you've read a ton of political blogs and are way way on twitter.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:10 PM on November 2, 2021 [8 favorites]


METAFILTER: to embrace epistemological humility and consider whether you might be wrong
posted by philip-random at 9:26 AM on November 3, 2021


METAFILTER: a strong, super-condescending, and often functionally derailing attitude
posted by thatwhichfalls at 11:45 AM on November 3, 2021 [2 favorites]


there is a third position that thinks that making people's life better tends to win elections and build electoral support and that doing so is not a "bold" action at all but basic political survival (along with literal survival for many of the people affected) but you seem to be quite confident that your position is the only one that is oriented towards realpolitik and/or the only position that understands material power.

Lol so both positions 1 and 2, especially both of them but especially 2, need to get better at understanding that Position 3 is in fact the true one and they are wrong.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:13 PM on November 3, 2021 [6 favorites]


my humble suggestion is to embrace epistemological humility and consider whether you might be wrong about what is electorally successful.

Sure, I think epistemological humility is a good attitude to take, and that the real test is electoral success. (Orwell: "Sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.") In 2020 the Democrats held onto the House, took a bare majority in the Senate, and won the Presidency, but it was much closer than expected, so people are questioning their assumptions and trying to figure out how to do better next time.

the number 1 thing that makes political threads irritating on mefi is, in my opinion, people who act like they have electoral crystal balls and/or all the solutions and/or are the only practical people in the room.

Frankly, I think political threads will always be stressful because politics itself is immensely frustrating, especially right now. The stakes are super-high, the future is uncertain, there's suffering everywhere. People here are going to have a range of different opinions about what's going on and what to do about it - that is, we'll often disagree. If you find that condescending, my apologies. It's not personal: If I say something and you find it irritating, it's not because I'm trying to irritate you.

making people's lives better tends to win elections and build electoral support

Are you interested in the counter-argument?
posted by russilwvong at 2:12 PM on November 3, 2021 [7 favorites]


And I have found it a super-useful life tip both online and in person, that I can state my position, clarify it a couple of times, but if someone is really adamantly refusing to hear me/not understanding me/opposed to my stance, continuing to argue about it is just going to waste my time and frustrate me.

There is a third, often missed, reason to step back which is that people very rarely change their minds in the middle of an argument. It takes time measured in days or months to accept a new idea or rethink an old one that runs against your grain.

Speaking clearly and stepping back is a long term investment. It's frustrating in that you won't get to see the person wave the big white surrender flag, but when do you see that happen anyway?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:51 PM on November 3, 2021 [1 favorite]


Are you interested in the counter-argument?

I understand that the things that I say have counterarguments to the extent that they're arguments and am generally pro epistemological humility. The answer is definitely still "no, I am not interested." I don't really like having extended back and forths about super vague theoretical strategic political points (e.g. "how can the dems win" "why do people vote") particularly not with people who seem to be pretty set in their beliefs. It strikes me as unlikely to affect the opinion I have developed over many years of experience and education, and frankly, it's super super boring. The argument has been had approximately 5000000 times.

People here are going to have a range of different opinions about what's going on and what to do about it - that is, we'll often disagree. If you find that condescending, my apologies. It's not personal: If I say something and you find it irritating, it's not because I'm trying to irritate you.

Framing my point about the way people approach politics discussions as me having an issue with you disagreeing with me is again mischaracterizing other people's positions. That is not disagreeing, it's somewhere between strawmanning and general condescension, and it's irritating when that kind of behavior becomes the focus of a thread instead of the substantive discussion at hand.

Anyway, this whole rhetorical approach reminds me of the conservatives at my law school who, when you simply had your own formed opinion that disagreed with theirs and weren't interested in rehashing the "debate" would always be like "hmm well I guess you don't want to hear alternative opinions, disagreement is hard but necessary" like people who don't care much about your personal opinion inherently lack open-mindedness.

However, actually, sometimes people are not close-minded just because they don't want to play debate club. They sometimes just don't want to play debate club with you.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:48 PM on November 3, 2021 [5 favorites]


no, I am not interested.

No worries!

It takes time measured in days or months to accept a new idea or rethink an old one that runs against your grain.

For sure. William James in 1907, describing the difficulty of changing your mind, and what happens when you're presented with new information:
The observable process which Schiller and Dewey particularly singled out for generalization is the familiar one by which any individual settles into new opinions. The process here is always the same. The individual has a stock of old opinions already, but he meets a new experience that puts them to a strain. Somebody contradicts them; or in a reflective moment he discovers that they contradict each other; or he hears of facts with which they are incompatible; or desires arise in him which they cease to satisfy. The result is an inward trouble to which his mind till then had been a stranger, and from which he seeks to escape by modifying his previous mass of opinions. He saves as much of it as he can, for in this matter of belief we are all extreme conservatives. So he tries to change first this opinion, and then that (for they resist change very variously), until at last some new idea comes up which he can graft upon the ancient stock with a minimum of disturbance of the latter, some idea that mediates between the stock and the new experience and runs them into one another most felicitously and expediently.
I enjoy arguing with people on the Internet (not least because it helps to clarify the weaknesses in my own reasoning), but my goal isn't to change their mind - why would they change their mind in response to some random person on the Internet? Rather, it's to hopefully persuade other readers who haven't yet made up their minds.
posted by russilwvong at 11:33 PM on November 3, 2021 [4 favorites]


I’m generally terrified to comment more than once on any post, though I’ve made concessions to answer a direct question now and then. I am really poor at expressing thoughts with brevity. I think very deeply about things that I rarely get to talk about, and once in a while, at MeFi, I get to talk about them. I never say enough to convey the full depth of what I’m thinking, because sometimes my thoughts are an hour long, and involve tangents and branching thoughts and it’s just beyond this text box’s capability to bear and express.

The most pressing concern I have when I hit Post is whether I’ve conveyed enough to make clear my viewpoint, so that no one has to ask questions to get the gist of it. And that has gone very well, but I have specifically avoided commenting in politics posts, so I can’t say for sure what would happen there.

The desire of human beings to persuade scares me. Persuasion is such a tempting thing for me to consider, rhetoric is so easily constructed, and with enough replies, I can overwhelm anyone to the point that they would rather be persuaded than entertain further replies. But that harms people, without regard for the correctness or morality of the viewpoints I or they hold dear.

Persuasion, to me, is a sharpened sword. I might try to persuade a stranger of something once every few months, in total, across all venues where I interact. I do this knowing full well that a stranger may tire of speaking to me in the future, as I may tire of speaking to them. Once in a while, that’s a cost I can accept paying. Most of the time, it is not.

I do talk about politics-adjacent topics on another forum, where moderation is sparse and misbehavior is rampant, because it’s a safe space for me to practice at expressing a viewpoint without debating it. Because it’s a space where no one else cares who I am, or remembers me the next day. Metafilter is not that kind of space. I recognize many names above that I have seen in so many conversations. The last time I tried to persuade others here, I was so angry, and so ashamed, that I buttoned for years, and it was a long time and multiple e-mail conversations with mods before I could find a way to return. Not because I was ashamed of being wrong, but because I had taken up a sharpened sword against a community I hold dear.

I really miss the few close friends I’ve had over time that I could have persuasive discussion with. It’s a kind of verbal fencing that is so very rare in my life right now. But I also remember that our other friends would get bored and make us swap places with them so they could ignore us and carry on the friendly, non-persuasive, conversations that helped us all bond so closely.

So, I don’t participate in MeFi politics threads because I don’t trust myself. Everyone is trying to persuade everyone else, and I miss the swordplay. I was raised in my family to be very persuasive and capable with rhetoric and argument. And it’s just so very tempting. But an open thread, in time ascending order, is no place for that kind of back-and-forth riposte for me. It would do you all harm, it would drown out voices, and it would upset the mods.

If the politics threads were about comprehension of each other’s views, and filled with questions in service of comprehension alone, I would genuinely enjoy reading and participating in them. But they are most often venues of persuasion and rhetoric, of viewpoints expressed as rhetorical questions designed to change each other’s minds rather than help us comprehend each other, of insults from people who are cut by the sword of persuasion and lash out in pain.

My hometown dive bar was loved by both nerds and rednecks. We had to coexist with each other, because the sound system was the best in a hundred miles, the music and shows were amazing, and the restaurant next door would deliver food. The bar thrived on the grounds of one social policy: If you argued that you were right and a stranger was wrong, and you didn’t let it drop when the bartender asked you to let it go, you would be thrown out. Not because they cared what your viewpoint was, but because it created hostility in a social mixing venue that could I’ll afford it. And so that dive bar was the safest, most welcoming place, for anyone of any sort, no matter how weird and strange they were.

Metafilter is the most like that bar I’ve found anywhere on the internet. I don’t know any of you very well, but I recognize the regulars. I respect that this site is not that bar, and that politics discussions are not required to draw a line at persuasion, and that’s certainly a valid path for us to accept. But I don’t know how to avoid the hurt and insult and buttoning that accompanies it.

If the concept of “three and done” is meant to ask us to limit how hard we try to persuade others, then I fully endorse that. If it’s meant to limit how hard we try to comprehend others, I have serious reservations about it. The balance of those scales is in the hands of the mods and the community, and I hope that considering my views helps others understand their own more clearly.
posted by Callisto Prime at 2:21 AM on November 4, 2021 [5 favorites]


METAFILTER: We had to coexist with each other, because the sound system was the best in a hundred miles,


But seriously, I do like the notion that the feel of a certain environment is valued more than any one voice or opinion (or cliques thereof), that what mattered for that dive bar and its crowd was the music and the shows, the art, the expression, the poetic/aesthetic connection that was allowed to be shared, not any particular polemic or ideology, regardless of how rigorously presented. I guess I just feel that when it comes to arguing-debating politics, we can't help but be wrong on some level, because there simply isn't an entirely correct political position -- it's just messy (albeit necessary) human business. Whereas art, music, poetry, performance ... ... ... my words fail me here. Which I guess is the point. We love this stuff because it doesn't need to be rational and/or accurate to succeed -- it's beyond all that, the beautiful part of human business.

I do value this place's sound system.
posted by philip-random at 8:31 AM on November 4, 2021 [2 favorites]


I no longer share a minority opinion here, because discussion has been outlawed (no matter how rational). But that's sort of okay because Metafilter doesn't have to be a Space For All Topics.

I liked the university where all subjects were open, as long as you brought evidence (and logic, openness, the literature, etc.) -- but that's likely no longer true there, either.
posted by lathrop at 6:20 PM on November 9, 2021


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