It can be terrifying to make a Front Page post. Please be kind. December 27, 2021 3:02 PM   Subscribe

I have noticed something lately, certainly not a new thing, but maybe it's time for a reminder: Someone makes a post on the blue about a thing, probably because they think that thing is pretty good and worth sharing, and the comments are all along the lines of "this thing sucks." Remember: It's ok to move on without commenting.

Just one example would be the George Harrison video that was posted about recently. I see the same thing happening with the Dave Barry post that was made today. So many comments not saying much beyond some version of "this thing sucks."

Posting on the front page can be terrifying. I've been here 21 (!) years and I've made fewer than 100 posts. I live in mortal fear of posting something only to have 1000 comments telling me the thing I thought was good enough to share is, in fact, bad. I know from past discussions here and from talking to other MeFites that I'm not alone in feeling this way.

As we all know, traffic on Metafilter has been declining. Discouraging people from making front page posts is not going to help that situation.

It's ok to not like something. It's ok to think maybe the new George Harrison video isn't very good. It's ok to not like Dave Barry. It's also perfectly ok to just not comment and to move on to a post about something you do like. Or, at the very least, be a bit more thoughtful in your criticism.

Just, ya know, try to be a bit more kind.
posted by bondcliff to Etiquette/Policy at 3:02 PM (318 comments total) 114 users marked this as a favorite

As somebody who did what you describe in the Barry post, point taken, will try to do better.
posted by signal at 3:45 PM on December 27, 2021 [13 favorites]


A very hard agree to all you've said. I would add that it only takes a few turds in the punchbowl like that to turn off some (okay, me) who would otherwise be inclined to engage in the thread positively.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 3:55 PM on December 27, 2021 [15 favorites]


Thank you for posting this, bondcliff. I agree with you 100%.
posted by Kangaroo at 3:56 PM on December 27, 2021 [4 favorites]


Attention. Attention. Torches and pitchforks to Aisle 29567.
posted by y2karl at 4:13 PM on December 27, 2021 [5 favorites]


if i dont get my recommended daily allowance of vitamin snark my tweeting hand withers and dies

hope me mefi
posted by lalochezia at 4:27 PM on December 27, 2021 [2 favorites]


These days if I do have something negative to say about a post, waiting for other comments to be made is more my jam. This allows for a more thoughtful comment and for those who are enjoying to the post to have there fun. I don't try to be snarky or cute, because this isn't open mic night.

But yeah, Hawaiian pizza is overrated. Pineapples goes much better with pepperoni.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:38 PM on December 27, 2021 [8 favorites]


Hawaiian pizza is overrated?

How dare you, sir!
posted by COD at 4:56 PM on December 27, 2021 [4 favorites]


I’ve read Metafilter and AskMe daily for 15 years (under a previous username), and can’t ever see myself posting an FPP. I’m pretty thick-skinned in my professional and offline lives, but I don’t want to put myself out there in a place I really like and be told my favourite band sucks.
posted by third word on a random page at 5:27 PM on December 27, 2021 [45 favorites]


I have never, ever posted on the blue. I love you all, but you are terrifying.
posted by mochapickle at 5:27 PM on December 27, 2021 [110 favorites]


Thank you for saying this, bondcliff.

After having largely abandoned posting to the Blue since February, I made 3 FPPs in the past month and a half. Each time, I wondered whether my post (about something I thought was cool) was going to result in a bunch of "this sucks" comments. Fortunately, none of them did - they all went fine - but that is my reflexive reaction now when I post.

I really wish there were some way to reward people for stopping themselves from posting a snarky hot take. Positive reinforcement can be such a powerful tool.

(Daydreaming: any way we could add a button below the comment box - "Post Comment", "Preview", and "Never mind, I was just going to snark", with a big congratulatory confetti display for those who click that last one?)

Seriously - thanks, bondcliff. Choosing not to be thoughtlessly dismissive of a FPP makes a huge difference in building the community.
posted by kristi at 5:37 PM on December 27, 2021 [51 favorites]


Hawaiian pizza is overrated?

Yes, unless there is double extra anchovies under the cheese.
posted by sammyo at 7:01 PM on December 27, 2021 [4 favorites]


Although I agree that people should be nicer in their comments, I don't know if the Dave Berry post is the best example of people not being nice. This is the post:

"Dave Barry's 2021 Year in Review MeFi's least-favorite Pulitzer Prize winner (previously) (but probably not our least-favorite celebrity libertarian) is back with another year in review. "

Mentioning the fact that he's "MeFi's least-favorite Pulitzer Prize winner" is sort of setting things up for people to talk about how much they dislike Dave Berry and this article in particular. Although I don't like straight up editorializing in FPPs, I do like some context, and this one has that. "Here's that guy you love to hate. Get to it!"
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:05 PM on December 27, 2021 [29 favorites]


That's a fair point, jonathanhughes, but I could have easily found several other examples as of late. Perhaps I should have.

"let's all hate on this thing" I suppose is a topic for another MeTa, though I won't be making it.
posted by bondcliff at 7:10 PM on December 27, 2021 [2 favorites]


"Never mind, I was just going to snark"

This may sound snarky but it's actually serious, on the post submission there should be a "Snark Encouraged" flag. There are, and have been recently, posts that are intentionally snark humor bait. I'm very bad at digging up examples but you know them, they are great. And now the touchy part of the comment, a percentage of our wonderful mifi-citizens have a challenge differentiating certain shades of humor. The smilie was originally intended as that sort of flag but has been corrupted by Facebook and company, it's not a good flag. So an indicator of - go ahead and yolk it up gang - could help clear the intention.
posted by sammyo at 7:10 PM on December 27, 2021 [7 favorites]


TITANIC TUBA!
someone add "Snark pile Encouraged" tag. please.
revisiting self censorship, recent construction on a post about Frederick Seidel was halted, actually balanced but his stuff would just draw ire, IMO.
posted by clavdivs at 7:44 PM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


For a while I was going to propose people play this little game... roll a d20 and take that many of the newest FPPs, then roll another d20 to pick a comment limit. If in those few posts and those few comments you find some "hate this thing/person you should be ashamed for not hating like I do" comment.... you score a point. Sadly gave up on the idea, it was too damn easy. There's just too much institutionally approved ways to hate on things.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:20 PM on December 27, 2021 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but there's a big difference between not liking a song from a particular musician, and taking a stand against the status quo-defending, smirking both-siderism of someone like Dave Barry. Equating "both sides" is especially noxious in a year when one side tried to foment a violent coup d'etat. Barry's brand of faux-centrist both-siderism is a cancer infecting American society, and people need to speak out against it, not stay silent out of a misplaced sense of politeness.
posted by Umami Dearest at 8:49 PM on December 27, 2021 [16 favorites]


Ok, so write an email to Dave Barry. What difference do you make by yelling at him in the comments on a completely different site?
posted by sagc at 9:00 PM on December 27, 2021 [28 favorites]


Also, saying that anodyne humour is the cancer that's killing society is exactly the sort of thing that makes this site so exhausting.
posted by sagc at 9:03 PM on December 27, 2021 [101 favorites]


I'm actually not afraid people would tell me the thing I like sucks, my little fear is that the thing I might post gets no attention because nobody cares.

But the basic reason I don't post (other than it takes too much effort!! waah!) is there's nothing on the internet that I can think of that is worthy. The internet these days is awash with either political clickbait or low-grade content rapidly shared across social media platforms. Just look at reddit, a site that is growing but the quality is declining. It's actually hard to find a good web page nowadays that other people don't already know about. The internet itself has changed.
posted by polymodus at 9:43 PM on December 27, 2021 [15 favorites]


What difference do you make by yelling at him in the comments on a completely different site?

What difference do you make by saying nice things? Or discussing the article? Or commenting at all?

Commenting is a discussion between users here on Metafilter, and for some people that means sharing that they hate something.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:14 PM on December 27, 2021 [9 favorites]


There's a difference between positivity and negativity and their effect on this site? I feel like we have these threads every six months or so; this isn't new ground to cover.
posted by sagc at 10:52 PM on December 27, 2021 [8 favorites]


*This* is seriously a great post. Also, were all the music posts today coordinated? Loved 'em.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 1:03 AM on December 28, 2021


Commenting is a discussion between users here on Metafilter, and for some people that means sharing that they hate something.

Hate is easier to engage with than love, or appreciation. Social media has made bank on this fact.

Obviously there is room for a detailed critique of the post, and I understand this is part of the value of MetaFilter for some, but just going 'uh, this is bad because blank' is not that! It's low-effort posting. Sometimes that "detailed critique" is just a long rationalisation for how the post hurt your feelings, so you pick it apart and in some cases willfully misread it so that you can judge it the way your feelings want it to be judged. I'd argue this isn't all that valuable either!

I think maybe the productive approach for commenting is much like the productive approach for asking questions: in what spirit are you asking this question? Curiosity? Inspiration? Anger? Some of those make for good conversations, and some of those make for messes that mods have to clean up.
posted by Merus at 3:01 AM on December 28, 2021 [15 favorites]


Previously.
posted by brainwane at 3:25 AM on December 28, 2021 [3 favorites]


"there's nothing on the internet that I can think of that is worthy. The internet these days is awash with either political clickbait or low-grade content rapidly shared across social media platforms....It's actually hard to find a good web page nowadays that other people don't already know about."

polymodus, I disagree - or, perhaps I should say, I respect your own experience but it is very different from my own.

I continue, very consistently, to find stuff worth posting to the front page of MetaFilter and that has not already been posted. People continue to write and publish fiction and personal essays, make new games and music and tools and art projects, investigate corners of linguistics and history, create new charitable efforts, and so on. In any given niche, if I find a personal blog or an interesting news article or a subject-specific magazine and poke around for about fifteen minutes, I can find something interesting that a few others might too, and that hasn't already made our front page. And this gets particularly easy if I subscribe to the RSS/Atom feeds of relevant blogs or publications, which is why in my last sf/f short story recommendation post I encouraged MeFites to subscribe to some magazine feeds and post good stories to our front page.

I am not on Facebook or Instagram so I don't know how much the stuff I see via MetaFilter front page posts duplicates what I would see via those media. But the overlap between links I find via MetaFilter and links I find via Twitter or Mastodon or Dreamwidth is pretty low. And when I search Twitter for links to the short stories I have signal-boosted via MetaFilter front page posts, a really substantial proportion of the time I find no one discussing them - perhaps a third of the time. And it's very rare to see a story get a lot of buzz and resharing.

Maybe your and my criteria for what makes something good or worth posting differ substantially. But if you are having trouble finding *anything* that fits those criteria, I can tell you empirically that this is a subjective and not an objective condition.
posted by brainwane at 3:57 AM on December 28, 2021 [43 favorites]


(previously, by me! thanks brainwane)

This is such an important thing to remember. FPPs are the lifeblood of Metafilter and the site doesn't just need more, it needs a greater diversity, and that likely means coming from people who haven't posted before or much at all. Every time this gets discussed, people will say "eh, doesn't bother me if someone is snarky on my FPP". Good for you! But not good for those who are bothered.

And remember, this is not the same as saying you can never be critical of the subject of an FPP. You certainly can. But drive-by snark can be fatal to discussion and to the chances of the poster ever bothering again. At least consider waiting for others to post before criticising.
posted by adrianhon at 4:02 AM on December 28, 2021 [22 favorites]


I made my first FPP since April 2019 today. I am constantly nervous about making posts. The first one I ever made got a snarky response because it wasn’t what the commenter was expecting it to be, I think? And there has never been particularly much engagement in any of my FPPs. I do pick things that are decidedly non-controversial, and I always get way more favorites than comments. I wish people would leave comments if they favorite a post saying why they have done so, even though I also firmly feel favorites are a personal thing here and don’t really communicate anything standard.

I think I would be okay if someone came in and was a bit negative or pedantic about something as long as it additionally engaged with other commenters. Like, you can say in a frictionless world where we’re all perfect spheres that negative engagement is still discussion, but we aren’t in that perfect bubble world and negativity puts a damper on things. The least someone could do is pull the other participants into a conversation or ask questions or something, if they feel they also must be unkind about the content of a link.

Like, there are plenty of posts that specifically call for hot takes and a sort of jovial negativity that makes me feel like I’m on a forum in 2005, and I’m certainly someone who has participated in those threads. But the vast majority are not and it would be great if there was a way to take some of that negative energy and convert it into positive or at least neutral engagement with less commented upon posts.

Just like it’s okay to not make a comment, it’s also okay to make a comment that isn’t a pristine diamond of online discourse about something you are an expert in. I am of course a hypocrite because I rarely comment on the blue and am pretty much only on askme and meta. I do worry about seeming foolish on the front page. I suspect that if the culture were less inclined towards what bondcliff describes that I would be more active there, perhaps even being a bit of a fool but at least not as concerned about it.
posted by Mizu at 4:27 AM on December 28, 2021 [17 favorites]


I have been trying to make more FPPs, but I do hesitate sometimes when it's something I really care about because y'all are just fucking vicious about some things while also completely ignoring other posts, and as others have said above, I'm not sure which is worse. A few folks have encouraged me to make detailed posts about my areas of professional expertise, but that's just a lot of trouble to go to when I don't know if anyone will even read the links. Most of my recent FPPs have just been a cool thing I saw on the web, like it's 2005, because then I don't have much invested if it either goes south or is just ignored.

I try hard to be the change and show up just to say "Thank you! I loved this!".
posted by hydropsyche at 4:36 AM on December 28, 2021 [25 favorites]


Agreed on this, bondcliff.

When I sometimes show metafilter to non mefite friends, a very common reaction is basically "oof, yeah, no" at a lot of the 'sailing in to flatly say something is bad' crowd, who seem to be in a rush to get in there first.
posted by theatro at 5:26 AM on December 28, 2021 [19 favorites]


Most of my recent FPPs have just been a cool thing I saw on the web, like it's 2005

I do not see this as a problem. Not every post has to be performance art.
posted by JanetLand at 6:16 AM on December 28, 2021 [15 favorites]


I wasn't talking about "performance art". Just about making a more detailed scientific content post, which several people have suggested I do, but which would take time to put together.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:28 AM on December 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


I'm averaging one post a year in the 19 years I've been a member. It'd be nice to post more my somehow my internal criteria of what I'd want to post here is fairly hard to meet. I've had some posts with more reactions and some with less but it's still fairly nerve racking.

I've probably sometimes commented overly negative on a few FPP (not that I comment here a lot). I've been trying to be more overall positive everywhere since it just seems nicer. Unless it's something really bad I guess. Thank you for the reminder bondcliff and I'll try to post something soon that seems nice.
posted by skynxnex at 6:33 AM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


This is such a real thing. I am hoping that everyone (especially anyone who feels a sense of ownership about this community) can sit for a second with the fact that a large number of people in this community are afraid to engage. We are missing out on so much good stuff because of this issue.

Seriously. There is at least one user who commented above (I won't name them specifically in case they might not like to be singled out) about never making an FPP. This user is an amazing, inspiring person. They have worked very very hard to create joy and foster real bonds between users on the Grey and the Green. I am personally sitting here thinking of all of the joyful, inspiring posts we all missed out on because of the nastiness on the Blue.

I totally understand why people are scared. One comment on one of my FPPs could be read as saying that my post was a waste of everyone's time and an insult to the community. I was really surprised (and felt insulted myself lol).

So I want to say to all the lovely folks who are nervous that there are a couple of things that have really helped me feel more confident and comfortable making an FPP:

1. Spend some time reading old MeTa threads by clicking the Random button. You will soon come across this same conversation. People have been rude and snarky and dismissive here since "sometime in 1999". This is to say, old habits seem to die hard. The snark is not personal. It bothers a lot of users.

2. Ask yourself if you think the posts that get piled on deserve it? They don't. The OP is never wrong for posting or their post would be deleted. The people snarking know this, or they would..

3. FLAG IT AND MOVE ON. Anyone who has a real actual literal problem with a post you make has this option. The snarky comments are just a bunch of noise. As many people have already said above, "This is dumb/not funny", "I don't have time for this" and the like do not add anything to the conversation.

4. I remind myself again that shitty comments don't reflect on the value of the post itself. Snark begets snark so this is petty of me but I always imagine that people making shitty comments actually need to take a physical shit so I send them to the bathroom in my mind. Like "off you go, take that poo in there and try not to strain so hard". Always makes me feel better.

Clearly I could go on about this all day. Thanks for this post, I love it!
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 6:39 AM on December 28, 2021 [32 favorites]


Thanks for this. I'm not ever going to post a "this thing is cool" because I don't want to have to read the snark.

Honestly, it reminds me very much of being a kid and having an older sibling or the cool kids prove how cool they are by being unimpressed with whatever impresses you. There are lots of things posted as hilarious or impressive or wonderful that just aren't for me, and I don't comment when that happens.

I also learned something valuable from Chris Rock when he was talking about people who don't like rap and said, "It's not for you." It's helpful for me to remember that some things just aren't for me. So I walk away from them and let the people who do like those things have their moment of joy without me standing in the background suggesting there's something wrong with them for (gasp) liking things I don't like.

Everybody is going through such a hard time right now. Why do anything to take away whatever little bit of happiness people can find?

I am trying to be better at expressing appreciation for the posts that I do like - that's the flip side of this and is also important.
posted by FencingGal at 6:41 AM on December 28, 2021 [27 favorites]


I'm fine with snarky comments; they have a long history here and especially in Dave Barry posts. At least snark is engagement; what I'm most afraid of is seeing more and more posts with few or no comments at all. The Bishop Tutu obituary post has all of fifty comments on it while the Nelson Mandela obituary post from eight years ago has 356.
posted by octothorpe at 6:49 AM on December 28, 2021 [10 favorites]


Brainwane, I think I said and if I didn't I apologize but your post series was awesome and that last post was great and helpful, thank you.

I'm fine with snarky comments; they have a long history here and especially in Dave Barry posts. At least snark is engagement; what I'm most afraid of is seeing more and more posts with few or no comments at all. The Bishop Tutu obituary post has all of fifty comments on it while the Nelson Mandela obituary post from eight years ago has 356.

But what if people stopped engaging (&/or posting) because of the snark?
posted by warriorqueen at 6:51 AM on December 28, 2021 [12 favorites]


The only thing scarier than making a FPP on the blue is making a Metatalk post.

To be clear, the majority of posts here result in thoughtful, interesting discussion. Most people do not come into threads just to poop on them. There is also room for some snark and humor. But when someone makes a post it's usually because they like and care about whatever it is they posted about. Crapping all over that thing because you didn't like it is only going to discourage them from posting again.

That all said, I encourage people to post about whatever silly, dumb thing it is they may have seen and enjoyed. Hell, I once made a FPP for a video of a guy jamming with a washing machine. It resulted in a fun thread. Embrace the things you love and to hell with the haters. Don't let 'em win.
posted by bondcliff at 7:06 AM on December 28, 2021 [13 favorites]


I'm not sure where I come down on this. I think the word "snark" may be overloaded with enough different meanings by different people that it obscures more than it communicates. There's one sense of it's meaning where it refers to an element of the site culture that I would hate to lose; I love a well-crafted smartass remark. Love 'em!

But on the other hand, reading the 15th person in a thread saying that they don't like something, or that they'd rather be talking about something else, or that everyone else should be talking about something else, is fucking boring. It's just deadly, deadly boring and self-centered and tedious to read, here or anywhere else.

I do think I can agree with the idea that a certain level of rhetorical heat is inappropriately matched to the content here, a lot. Like, even if one is convinced that political centrists are the largest danger to our way of life...Dave Barry of all people is not a political commentator, except occasionally and only by happenstance. Referring to his work as "a cancer" is a frankly absurd overreaction. Point that gun at a better target!

And I say that as someone who...really doesn't care for the man's work.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:10 AM on December 28, 2021 [19 favorites]


I always thought that the flagging reasons needed an overhaul, and for one, noise/derail/other should instead be something like "pointless snark/off-topic/nonsense."

Noise? I know what that means, but does everyone? Derail is a little obtuse as well. Other...uh why not use the freeform field and let the mods know what you're complaining about?
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:17 AM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


I do think I can agree with the idea that a certain level of rhetorical heat is inappropriately matched to the content here, a lot.

Everyone wants to find the reason why everything is terrible and awful and never getting better, and everyone is secretly hoping that the reason is something simple and extinguishable, like Dave Barry, and not something complex and insurmountable, like...actually all of us, in all of our actions, every day of our lives.

If only we can scrub the WaPo of anodyne grandpa jokes, then the climate will heal itself, our democracy will grow robust in the sweet light of justice, &etc. If we can only make sure people who drive to the grocery store know that they are the worst monsters to walk the Earth. If we can only make sure that the Michelin-star chefs of the world serve foam in plaster casts of their mouths uncriticized. If we can only name and shame every person who wore the wrong kind of mask and let it fog up their glasses because they obviously are callous murderers on purpose and not just dopes like the rest of us, doing their best.

We're all broken, sad, warped, and desperate to feel for a moment like anything at all is within our grasp.

And, I can't believe she fuckin' buttered Jorts.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:23 AM on December 28, 2021 [32 favorites]


To build on what Ipsifendus said:

I'm a fairly new user here, but rarely comment on the Blue.

It's less the snarkiness, but more the pervasive aura of gloom.

If content is posted, it's not enough for one person to say that the entire planet is doomed, my country is an irredeemable fascist hellscape and must be escaped immediately (nevermind that not everyone can do that), that everything is just horrible and will stay horrible because absolutely no one good is left in the world who might try to make things even a little better.

Nope, twenty more, thirty more, forty more people have to join the pile-on.

I focus my energy on Ask, where there's a sense of kindness and encouragement.
posted by champers at 7:45 AM on December 28, 2021 [92 favorites]


I'm not sure where I come down on this. I think the word "snark" may be overloaded with enough different meanings by different people that it obscures more than it communicates.

It pretty much means "I've decided it's OK to be an asshole here".
posted by thelonius at 8:08 AM on December 28, 2021 [12 favorites]


But what if people stopped engaging (&/or posting) because of the snark?

That is me. I read the majority of posts on the blue and grey but I rarely post or comment because of the negativity. I've stopped reading comments on a lot of the posts also except when it's something I want to learn more about outside of the post itself. I just don't have the space in my head for negativity.

I really liked the George Harrison video mentioned in this post so I intentionally did not come to MeFi to see what other people thought.

To the idea of there being nothing good left to post here: I am not on Reddit, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. and I am probably not alone. A lot of the stuff on MeFi that I am sure others have seen already is new to me. Post away! The worst thing that can happen is people will have already seen the thing. That doesn't seem like much of a problem to me. We are nowhere near the level of posting where the signal gets lost in the noise. Of course I should take my own advice and post a lot more but it is oddly exhausting trying to put a post (or even a comment) together for the reasons already mentioned.

I'm sure I've commented with negative snark here also and I apologize for my part.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:34 AM on December 28, 2021 [15 favorites]


I wasn't talking about "performance art". Just about making a more detailed scientific content post, which several people have suggested I do, but which would take time to put together.

It has been a long time since I brought something here that took effort along the lines of a "something in my field I think is cool and want to frame to share with people," or even "a cool thing I just learned about--look!" A long time. It feels to me rather as if my choices for engagement are criticism--and often criticism that is wholeheartedly "throw the entire thing out" rather than "this piece is problematic, this piece is good"; not the kind of thing that can start a conversation--or crickets. It looks like the last time I tried that, actually, was last February, and it went pretty awful. I took a break from the site over it. I think someone else buttoned. I feel bad about the whole thing.

It's been a long pandemic. We are all tired and reactive and frightened and bouncing off one another's pain-frighten-rejection spots. We are frayed and disappointed and sorrowing and lonely. Our leadership is exhausted and limping along like the rest of us. We are all trying, but it's a hard road.

Yesterday I saw a really cute post about words for describing nice emotions totally derailed into overwhelmed despair about the state of things in the US generally, and reacting to the post about words as if it had been written something to the effect of "we can think our way out of this hole if we only change our language" rather than "I am hoping for a better year than the last, and as a lexicographer, here are some rather nice words to use about hoping for others to experience good things."

I dunno, man. I understand the overwhelmed fury and exhaustion and why is no one doing anything and the need for a space to vent despair sometimes. I get that. I threw the Jean and Jorts post up because it seemed like the kind of absolutely silly comedic valve that a lot of us need right now, and even there someone saw threat and reacted defensively at one point. I don't actually know what to do about that because we've all been fucking terrified and exhausted and angry for five fucking years now, and no one seems to know how or why or whether we can actually build a safer world for one another. And my own resilience is damn near threadbare, and of course I react much more strongly to places I perceive threat too these days.

Fuck if I know what to do about it. I'm terminally earnest and I try to be kind and I am, like many of us, generally an anxious sort of person, but I react a lot harder to criticism than I used to because I am exhausted. I saw this community described the other day by a friend of a friend looking for a source of neat links as containing every other comment being "you may think X thing is perfectly adorable and inoffensive, but actually X is directly destroying the entire universe" or "we are all going to die, the world is ending, and no one can do anything and no one cares." Paraphrased, because it seems unkind to direct upset and offended people to this acquaintance's internet home to go looking. And I couldn't really fucking argue about it!

and fuck knows I'm no more part of the solution than I am part of the problem, and I am tired and exhausted and depressed and reactive just like everyone bloody else, and I have absolutely no idea what any of us can do about any of this either. It is frustrating and it makes me sad, because this place is very important to me. And yet.
posted by sciatrix at 9:27 AM on December 28, 2021 [70 favorites]


This is such an important thing to remember. FPPs are the lifeblood of Metafilter and the site doesn't just need more, it needs a greater diversity, and that likely means coming from people who haven't posted before or much at all.

There is a surprising spread posters. Or at least surprising to me. Definitely not the small dedicated core I was expecting.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:40 AM on December 28, 2021 [3 favorites]


I dunno, the Dave Barry post was...at least above the fold was not all that positive towards Dave himself.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 9:59 AM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


Complaining that Dave Barry isn't funny is a MetaFilter tradition that goes back nearly two decades. In fact, if MetaFilter, Dave Barry, and I are all still in this world next December, I will post the Dave Barry Year in Review and everyone can jump and say it's not funny or reminisce about that time in 1992 when they picked up a Dave Barry book in the airport and were surprised to find it contained an actual joke.

Stopping by just to say something sucks isn't snark, that's just asshole behaviour. As are doomer drive-bys in posts that are clearly supposed to be lighthearted and where people are enjoying themselves. (recent example) And, of course, there's the age-old problem of people arguing with an article they haven't read.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:04 AM on December 28, 2021 [12 favorites]


I’ve often thought of applying some machine learning to the site in order to determine how content has shifted over the years. It would be interesting to see how snark emerges and at what levels during various eras of the site. For that matter it would be interesting to identify various eras of the site.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:44 AM on December 28, 2021 [3 favorites]


Thank you for this post, bondcliff.

It can indeed be daunting to post here. The likelihood of negative comments piling on is a strong disincentive. So is the chance of no comments or other reactions. Every week, it seems, I start to write up a post, then kill it. Either MeFites would piss all over it or just ignore the thing.

So I've learned to open the MeFi post box rarely, and to do so by donning mental armor, expecting to be shot at.
posted by doctornemo at 10:54 AM on December 28, 2021 [5 favorites]


As are doomer drive-bys in posts that are clearly supposed to be lighthearted and where people are enjoying themselves. (recent example)

Ugh, I hadn't seen that. Yikes.

Does it help people when there are more semi-regular venting threads on MeTa? It seems like those create a healthy valve to help keep some of the collective existential angst from sloshing over into the metafilter 1.0ish hey-this-thing-is-neat posts. We haven't had one in long time.
posted by mochapickle at 11:14 AM on December 28, 2021 [6 favorites]


Well, I posted, bondcliff. For better or worse, there's a new point of departure for discussion and community, which is what I come here for. What I stay here for, really. Thanks for the prompt. (Also? Adia Victoria's podcast just breaks my heart open with the quality of conversations, and I want it to remind MeFites of what that kind of connection can mean.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:16 AM on December 28, 2021 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: it's okay to move on without commenting.
posted by parmanparman at 11:31 AM on December 28, 2021 [5 favorites]


I also just hit 'go' on one of the many things I have in my 'This is neat' folder that I've thought about posting to MeFi. A lot of the things I find fun are probably not going to get many comments but it's better to be part of the solution than just wring my hands in MeTa I suppose. I'll try to keep actually hitting post instead of writing and deleting.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 11:54 AM on December 28, 2021 [12 favorites]


It reminds me of the best advice I’ve heard I a long time-don’t yuck on other people’s yum. I use it most often for food-tastes are different, I hate blue cheese but if you’re eating something amazing that has blue cheese that’s wonderful! I’m so happy you’re happy! What would telling you it’s gross do for you, for me, for the world?

Metafilter is full of yucking on yum. I don’t mean when something is genuinely problematic-“hey this thing you posted is racist in a way that you might not have recognized”, but in a “this thing you love is stupid”.
posted by purenitrous at 12:01 PM on December 28, 2021 [9 favorites]


*cue people coming in to say 'don't yuck on other people's yum' is incredibly problematic and how very dare you for not realizing this*

(this happened to me and i was pilloried for it and it felt really, really shitty)
posted by cooker girl at 1:17 PM on December 28, 2021 [31 favorites]


Both please be kind and don't derail, maybe. The post on gun violence on the front page at the moment had as its second comment "now do cars". It's gone now but has left its shadow behind in the remaining comments, and another poster asking, with a reason given at least, "now do knives". Neither poster has ever been active on MetaTalk though so are we just talking to the converted - do we need to find a way to get the message to the green, in the sidebar if nothing else?
posted by paduasoy at 2:16 PM on December 28, 2021 [5 favorites]


While I'm delighted by the possibility of the James Webb Space Telescope and the shelves it unleashes, and the investment in the journey to the launchpad and on to Sun-Earth L2 was a treat on Christmas Day ... while all of that is a positive, I wanted to point at the engineering management and finance as being ante-diluvian in the face of lean problem-solving exemplified by SpaceX.

I priced-in snark among the things people might say -- regardless of the yum of JWST's huge science mission -- about military-industrial artesanal documentation and auditable sign-off being inpediments that amplify costs and delay results.
posted by k3ninho at 2:28 PM on December 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


I think one thing that's perhaps not articulated enough in these discussions is that users are going to see their political values reflected in all sorts of social media. So it's natural for a kind of disagreement that arises where people who identify with the content don't realize that to others the same, innocuous and fun link, has a different meaning to others.

On a meta level what this does mean is the norm of being kind is flipped around in the shoes of the other person. If the article/author/art was not kind in the first place, according to that person's values, so naturally the thought process is, why should they be "kind" in turn? And so trying to reinforce this social norm of kindness is construed as kind of hypocrisy. The demand for kindness, or civility, etc., in that context is construed as tone policing and other soft tactics that are socially oppressive. The inability to have a norm around snark versus criticism, constructive vs destructive comments, etc., is due to this conflict between political values.

One cannot assume that a given piece of content is universally anodyne. One should ask if the content itself exemplifies kindness to others in the first place. If you are a leftist then this is obvious.
posted by polymodus at 2:36 PM on December 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


Fine as long as we remember:

1) Your standards for what is "normal" or "anodyne" or "harmless" are not universal; if you find yourself saying something is "obviously" any of those things, consider whether you are exerting social privilege to determine the scope of conversation rather than actually reflecting a fact about the world. Just consider it!

2) For example, something like this: "Also, saying that anodyne humour is the cancer that's killing society is exactly the sort of thing that makes this site so exhausting." How do you know it's anodyne? Why do you think it's anodyne? What makes you the authority on what is anodyne? Serious questions (that no one is obligated to answer). To me, someone who has studied (lightly) the role mass media in fascist movements, it's not at all clear whether this kind of both-sides humor is "anodyne" or not.

3) Being dismissive of people who are freaked out by the fact that super popular media people are downplaying the dangerous political situation in the US is also quite unkind, even if you think they should not be freaked out. This goes x100000 if you're not in a group that is directly being attacked by violent fascists on a regular basis and thereby have a much easier time ignoring it.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:46 PM on December 28, 2021 [10 favorites]


Isn't that an argument for banning anything that leads to fascism? Why not just delete the post, rather than platforming these articles? Is it just so that we've got something to talk about?
posted by sagc at 2:54 PM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


Rock 'em Sock 'em: Your standards for what is "normal" or "anodyne" or "harmless" are not universal

Trufax, and also: standards for what is a leftist aren't, either.

(Basically I'm clumsily trying to point out this site's US-centrism. It is a simple thing that needs to be done from time to time, because it's easy to forget.)
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:54 PM on December 28, 2021 [15 favorites]


Well thank god the battle against the fascist Dave Barry and the possibility of positive linguistic terms is being waged here on Metafilter.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:21 PM on December 28, 2021 [37 favorites]


Isn't that an argument for banning anything that leads to fascism? Why not just delete the post, rather than platforming these articles? Is it just so that we've got something to talk about?

Maybe, although we don't know what leads to fascism and what doesn't. It's more an argument for being appropriately humble about what we do and don't know, and about what we do and don't perceive. So, for example, if someone does not find something to be anodyne, it's worth considering that they may have a point rather than simply declaring it to be clearly or obviously anodyne.

I trust that generally this community is able to understand that being open to the possibility that something they think is harmless might not actually be harmless is not, itself, a requirement that you find the thing harmful. In other words, "do we know whether this is anodyne?" and "is this anodyne?" are two distinct questions, and the distinction is important in communities where you have a wide variety of experiences and expertises to draw from.

So, for example, you might say "I find this to be really anodyne" rather than assuming an unwarranted voice of authority and declaring it anodyne. Or you might not. But I think it's worth thinking about whether you might be wrong and attempt appropriate humility when it comes to issues that are really important.

Why not just delete the post, rather than platforming these articles?

Great question. I can't say what the answer is, but I can say what the answer isn't -- or more properly, shouldn't be in our current political circumstance. The answer to the problem laid out in this Metatalk Post shouldn't be that political or social commentary can only be met with approbation or supportive words; that risks this site functioning as a mouthpiece for harmful propaganda. Since I don't think this is at all likely to become a policy of the site, I'm not that worried about it or anything, but in the context, I think it's worth pointing it out as a potential approach that may drive some who comment on this kind of thing. Dave Berry may be fine, but the idea that commenting on political stuff with politically-related critiques is leading to people being "terrified" or in "mortal fear" is what people who react strongly may be reacting to.

Is it just so that we've got something to talk about?

Maybe; I happen to think political critique is a valid and interesting exercise, and so did the author of the Dave Berry FPP! For that reason, I find the Dave Berry post to be a particularly inapt example for this kind of "be nice" post (apologies to the OP).
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:43 PM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


>*cue people coming in to say 'don't yuck on other people's yum' is incredibly problematic and how very dare you for not realizing this*
It wouldn't be meta without some of this, and it sucks that it's done in a way that craps on you. The Overton Window of what's appropriate or unthinkable needs a nod, but not at human cost.

Maybe we also need to accommodate thoughts about the Matrix of Domination, using the example (and I'm not saying you're experience was reported in bad faith, here's where "problematic yum" might come from) of bad-faith actors crying that their feelings are hurt in order to stifle reasonable interactions: you don't get to say your feelings are hurt when you're getting told of the consequences of your actions. The Matrix of Domination points out that a claim to hurt feelings is in the Interpersonal Domain of Power and claims a lived experience bolstered by exploiting rules of the game in the Disciplinary Domain of Power that's backed up by expecting back-up from organisations and institutions in the Structural Domain of Power. This layer cake is being used for domination.
posted by k3ninho at 3:44 PM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


Reddit has its multiple downsides, but its commenting structure allows snarky comments to be downvoted. But even better than that, it allows the snark to be contained in its own subthread. That means that I as a poster (not to mention the readers) can choose to just skip the subthread. Here in MeFi, I have no choice, I have to read/skim all the comments, snark and non-snark, derail, etc, etc.
posted by storybored at 4:24 PM on December 28, 2021 [14 favorites]


I really enjoyed both hippybear's Stephen Sondheim series, and brainwave's sci-fi story series. Even though few people commented on the stories brainwave posted, I think they were really valuable for the smallish number of people who clicked with them. I know I really enjoyed reading the stories brainwave posted—I'd decided some time ago I didn't care for short fiction, but I had forgotten that what I didn't like was short literary fiction. Short sci-fi stories, especially those of Theodore Sturgeon, were very important to me as a young person 40+ years ago, and brainwave's curated collection introduced me to many things I genuinely enjoyed.

Anybody else who wants to take up a series for a few days, a week, a few months—that is a very cool thing to do and I promise to show up and tell you so.

I get frustrated, too, when people are so quick to be negative. "I couldn't keep reading after the author failed to use an oxford comma/spoke positively about a person I despise/failed to provide a complete summary of the negative political context behind a thing that was mentioned" is one of my least favorite forms of negativity. Sometimes I think people are looking for an excuse not to engage with something that might be challenging to them; other times I think they're just being petty; and sometimes I recognize that impulse as something I myself have given into in the past.

I don't believe in the old adage that you should say nothing if you can't say something nice. But I do believe we should be respectful of the people who take a chance by posting something here. And I hope some of us can be more fearless about posting—myself included. I've been here a long time (under other usernames) and have rarely posted on the front page. I might think a little bit about what I can bring there that's unique, or I might just start posting articles and things I see and am interested in, that are then posted by someone else.
posted by Well I never at 4:30 PM on December 28, 2021 [14 favorites]


I think this is a good idea. I know it's hard to be positive or just curb your own negative feelings when things are like they are. For me, the effort has been worthwhile, but I should probably post more.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:31 PM on December 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


I don’t understand why making an FPP is “terrifying.” Does anyone really worry about what random strangers think of their prose style?
posted by Ideefixe at 4:33 PM on December 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


I don’t understand why making an FPP is “terrifying.” Does anyone really worry about what random strangers think of their prose style?

Obviously people worry about it, if you scroll up you might see people saying exactly that. It's really great that you don't personally worry about such things. As most of us have learned on Metafilter by now, we all experience things differently. We all have different fears. Different anxieties. A lot of us have taken steps to be more respectful of the things that might not personally affect us, knowing that someone else might be affected by them.

Have you never had anyone shit on something you love? Now imagine 100 people doing it. Yes, it can be terrifying to make a post about something you find enjoyable knowing there's a good chance the first comment might be nothing more constructive than "I hated this" with ten similar comments to follow.

Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. I've made at least three posts about Phish.
posted by bondcliff at 4:41 PM on December 28, 2021 [63 favorites]


Omg, Ideefixe, of course? Do you doubt that people are worried about an open mic night? Now imagine it’s open mic night in a place on your block and a lot of people whose opinions and interests you respect and like are in the audience even though you’ve never spoken to them directly. Now imagine that your open mic performance is just a show and tell of “here is a thing I think is cool” and the rest of the performance depends on audience engagement. Worried yet??
posted by Mizu at 4:56 PM on December 28, 2021 [9 favorites]


And your words/post will exist for possibly decades. It's a bit intimidating. That said, the faster the front page moves, the less scary it can be. I am thinking of trying to post at least once a month.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:11 PM on December 28, 2021 [3 favorites]


I think there is a simple solution, which is the people that think we should only talk about Important Things and Advancing The Leftist Escutcheon could post more things on those topics for us to discuss rather than hollering about people posting insufficiently worthy things.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:11 PM on December 28, 2021 [16 favorites]


The me in meta filter stands for mean. That’s the sort of place it. It’s celebrated and beloved. Assuming the right people are flinging and the right people are receiving.
posted by Wood at 5:12 PM on December 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


As someone who has been away from the site for quite a while, the slow-down in posts is startling, but I definitely don't see any increase in snarkiness or bad-faith commenting. If anything, the level of mutual respect is much higher than a few years ago. That's not to say that people couldn't be more thoughtful in responding to something they think is not great.

I think it's OK to say you don't like something that gets posted, as long as it's not done in a way that suggests it shouldn't have been posted or, even more so, directing snark at the person posting the thing. It's OK for us to have different views on what is 'good', but we do need to be careful about not directing criticism at someone for putting themselves in the spotlight by sharing something they think is worthy of sharing/discussion. I think the site is much better at this than it used to be, in general.
posted by dg at 5:27 PM on December 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


I was one of the people who said that I don't like Dave Barry.

As jonathanhughes pointed out, that specific post was pretty much framed as an invitation for commenters to share their dislike of Dave Barry.

It's tricky. Is an FPP an invitation to discuss our thoughts and feelings about a thing (regardless of what those thoughts are)? Or is it more of a semi-private fan-club meetup for people who like the thing? If the FPP itself includes editorial framing (as with the Barry post), are we supposed to go along with that framing?

I don't know. It probably depends mostly on context. But sometimes that context is ambiguous, and different people can have different assumptions about it.

I do think that more substantive and well rounded posts are probably less likely to get piled on. Are you a fan of $BAND_THAT_SUCKS? An FPP that's just a link to a music video, or just an article about their latest album, is probably gonna bring out the haters. But if you can flesh that out a bit with some context – the social and musical context they emerged from; a couple of tracks that show a lesser-known side of the band; an article that helps to explain how they fit into broader musical history – that gives people a way to participate even if they don't like the band's music.

I mean, we've honestly had some pretty thoughtful and respectful threads about Insane Clown Posse.

At any rate, I don't think anyone should be afraid to post.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:46 PM on December 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


I've been considering doing a post on someone today that I've made FPP's about before, (some of you can guess who) because I feel like she said some important things about the state of the world today. But I'm not going to, because the person already said her life ended from being shit on on the Internet, and my posting it for discussion would only make it worse when she just wants to disappear from the world forever.

I will do FPP's, but usually I try to stick to fun stuff, which is less likely to explode. I've had a few threads go not how I expected, but since I can't remember off the top of my head which those were, that's probably fine. sciatrix, I enjoyed the hell out of Jean and Jorts. That really helped to lighten the mood the other day when I was going down that cat hole, thank you.

I do concur that if you're not into Dave Barry/can't stand him, why read about it if you know how it's going to go, though. Not every thread is for everybody and I probably only read 40-50% of them because sometimes it's a giant "heck if I know." That's fine.

I second that another venting thread would be nice, I'd like one. I've been feeling like shit today.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:51 PM on December 28, 2021 [5 favorites]


I don’t understand why making an FPP is “terrifying.”

Well this post gave me the courage to post today and I got "you have all been trolled
(doesn't anyone who reads wikipedia follow the links at the bottom?)
" which I'm still not completely understanding. I wasn't trying to troll anyone. I've read all the links from Wikipedia several times. I've looked for a few months at various links, which all seem to agree about it. I came to the subject by reading a biography that also talked about it the creepy doll, why it was built, and when it was used.

So I am not sure how I got trolled and then managed to re-troll everyone, but THAT is why it is terrifying for me.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 6:24 PM on December 28, 2021 [20 favorites]


I only started looking at MeTa in the last year or so, despite reading and contributing off and on for years on MeFi and AskMe. As such, I missed the earlier posts about how stressful it can be to post to the Blue, but I wholeheartedly agree.
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:39 PM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


Clinging to the Wreckage, your post is fine.

Maybe Stooky Bill hacked someone's account because it's best for his plans that we forget him. Seriously, the existence of a piece of art based on the life of a real person isn't trolling. Such a strange response.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:48 PM on December 28, 2021 [3 favorites]


Ugh Clinging to the Wreckage, that comment really torched my butthairs especially in light of this thread. There was no reason whatsoever to accuse you of trolling because you posted an article that contained a misidentified video.

And the lack of reason for it is evidenced by the comment RIGHT BEFORE, which very kindly and informatively explained what was up without slinging bad faith accusations at you.

Just...seriously, y'all. What the fuck. If we are just going to spend our days thinking everyone else here is a fool and a fascist and a monster and a troll, then why does this site even hang around? Plenty of other places to go where we hate everyone.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:52 PM on December 28, 2021 [21 favorites]


And the lack of reason for it is evidenced by the comment RIGHT BEFORE, which very kindly and informatively explained what was up without slinging bad faith accusations at you.

Yup, If I were to try and interpret PT's comment charitably, the only trolling that they could conceivably be referring to is the youtube video embedded in the first article from the post. That video incorrectly represents the footage from the art piece as the original Baird footage. It's possible that PT was directing their ire at the original youtube poster, but if so, it was imperfectly phrased.
posted by zamboni at 8:00 PM on December 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


Thanks kind people of MeFi! I get it now. To me it was obvious that it was a recreation because I'm more of a reader than a video person. The article says the Stooky Bill transmissions were in 1925 and the first TV with audio was in 1927 but I suppose people don't read the whole article. Seriously thank you for saying it was fine. I'm re-energized to post again!
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:06 PM on December 28, 2021 [20 favorites]


the only trolling that they could conceivably be referring to is the youtube video yt embedded in the first article. That video incorrectly represents the footage from the art piece as the original Baird footage.

It seems so much more likely, even now that I've read "all the links at the bottom of the wikipedia entry" (as is my duty to humanity, apparently), that there's no trolling whatsoever, only a bog-standard youtube poster who doesn't do their research, a blogger who made an error in interpretation* and an FPP poster who took that writer at face value, which should be fine, because it's a fucking blog post about early TV technology, and not a master's thesis.

*Simple enough to do because real talk, that source on the art piece is just short of word salad.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:08 PM on December 28, 2021 [8 favorites]


(And now that I see the follow up, it looks even simpler--the original article writer did a somewhat poor job of putting the video clip in context and literally that is it, that was the only thing wrong, a thing someone who is possibly a teenager did for free was less than perfect, my god, NEFARIOUSNESS is afoot.)

(where's that venting thread I am cranky as all fuckout.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:12 PM on December 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


Well thank god the battle against the fascist Dave Barry and the possibility of positive linguistic terms is being waged here on Metafilter.

Why was my comment responding to this deleted? If people want to make snarky comments like the above people may just make snarky comments back. Or I guess this thread is open season for the persistent strawman mockery of people who maybe, just maybe give a shit about fascism? Because, and i'm yelling for a reason, THIS KIND OF DISMISSIVE SHIT IS ALSO REALLY UNKIND AND CRUEL AND HURTFUL TO MEMBERS HERE
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:33 PM on December 28, 2021 [9 favorites]


Remember this
post about a house for sale? So kind.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:33 PM on December 28, 2021


I think with that house post -- we've had several funny houses, remember that Poseidon house from that dentist in like Minnesota? -- and with several others, it's all good fun because the OP is totally in on the joke. The snark is the point and purpose of the post, and it's been put there so we can all have fun riffing about something objectively weird or horrible and seeing how clever and funny the thread can get. With the Dave Barry thread and with other threads that go south, the reaction is out of alignment with the poster's intention.

At any rate, that house is beautiful now and all the pictures are perfectly lovely.
posted by mochapickle at 9:01 PM on December 28, 2021 [9 favorites]


A few things I do to reduce the likelihood or derail potential of dismissive/contemptuous comments on front page posts I make:

* Sometimes I prepare (ahead of time) a framing comment and then add it immediately once my post goes live. Here's an example: "It would be nice if most of the comments in this thread were from people who struggle with executive function, as people with ADHD do. If you have contempt for any/all self-help blogging, or scorn Cain for being a white Canadian male who blogs about self-help, please skip this thread." In another one I explicitly linked to and reminded people of the guidelines.
* Without threadsitting, I might try to respond enthusiastically to commenters who are engaging with the substance of the post & links, and do my part in creating engaging conversation. One way I do this is by waiting till multiple commenters have spoken and then replying in a single comment.

Some things I do to deal with dismissive/contemptuous comments if/when they happen on threads I start:

* flag particularly offputting comments so the mods can take a look and possibly address them
* respond to a criticism-making commenter by name, maybe thank them for their comment, and ask them which part of the [thing] had led them to their conclusion, or ask them to clarify/expand on a very short comment
posted by brainwane at 9:07 PM on December 28, 2021 [20 favorites]


I wish I was artist enough to commission WW2 style propaganda posters for the War on Fascism: Metafilter Front.

"When you chuckle at a dated Boomer joke, you chuckle with Hitler."
"Bad links sink ships."
"HE didn't take a minute to look at artwork" *picture of Bestial German soldier*
"When you forget about climate change for a minute, you forget about OUR TROOPS" *picture of distressed ServiceMember about to be overrun*
Soviet-style, realism, the troop at the front line boldly charging forward, behind them the factory worker making the rifle, behind them the internet poster writing a sick burn on a new post. Cyrillic text: Posting is Praxis.

Actually make them rare posters and sell them with a membership drive, call them war bonds, make it a whole thing.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:15 PM on December 28, 2021 [31 favorites]


Remember this
oh yeah, the mannequin bowlful of S̶h̶a̶r̶k̶s̶ snark. thats a thing, one can snark on the masion du' Mannequin as it is different. for example my grandmother Smith, At 84, went to Arizona to live and drove with a mannequin in the passenger seat with her extra wig whom she lovenly called George. on the last leg of her Arizona drive she left George in the hotel room. I mean damn
it's tricky, I suppose it's imagination over-riding circumstance. That house had sangfroid though.
posted by clavdivs at 9:20 PM on December 28, 2021 [2 favorites]


"Cyrillic text: Posting is Praxis."
"Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks?”
posted by clavdivs at 9:29 PM on December 28, 2021


"When you chuckle at a dated Boomer joke, you chuckle with Hitler."

LOL, I'm amazed it took this long for somebody to actually type out that name... now I'm waiting for someone to chastise all of us for laughing at that comment as well as the original dated Boomer joke.

In all seriousness, I've been on Metafilter for 9 years, and lurked for a few years before that. I've yet to make an FPP because of the disproportionate snark I've seen. it's not the norm, thank goodness, but it happens often enough to be a deterrent.
posted by rpfields at 9:36 PM on December 28, 2021 [4 favorites]


Or I guess this thread is open season for the persistent strawman mockery of people who maybe, just maybe give a shit about fascism?

See, this is what upset me. I work teaching people, particularly marginalized people, self-defence. I took a 40% pay cut to do that. I have personally, physically, confronted a candidate from the Christian Heritage Party when he was placing an election sign on a city-owned strip on my street. (And I got it removed as he put it too close to the road.) I’ve also stepped physically between someone making racist comments about to hit someone of First Nations background because a) I’m a middle aged white woman so I knew I would get the support of the TTC conductor and b) I know how to block a badly thrown punch. These are real moments of giving a shit. There are definitely people on the site more active than I am and I am not a saint. I’m actually annoyed I have to post bona fides.

But the idea that asking people not to turn every thread into a referendum on fascism y/n is sympathizing with the enemy is just unreal.

I find the constant thread in so. many. posts. — that language post!! — that we must centre American Fascist Threats above all things as vastly toxic.

I’m sorry for my tone. But I’m not sorry for my point: what are you (and others) hoping to accomplish when you come into this MetaTalk to chide people to “attempt appropriate humility when it comes to issues that are really important” over people saying let’s engage with light hearted or joyful posts in that spirit using the examples of a George Harrison/Dave Barry/lexicon post. Do you think that’s actually fighting fascism?

I agree so hard that it’s the constant doom and gloom that makes it hard to engage here on any level /but/ cranky. And for me, it’s the constant claiming of the high moral ground Because Fascism that makes it horrible. Yes, I skewered the moral high ground there. No, that wasn’t my finest post. But I suspect it hurt (not my intention) because you understood the thrust of it, which is that tearing everyone down who fails to condemn Dave Barry isn’t really addressing fascism, it’s just tearing people down.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:14 PM on December 28, 2021 [97 favorites]


Anything which does not specifically address my individual circumstances in detail is a thing which is intentionally engineered to attack me personally.
posted by aramaic at 10:45 PM on December 28, 2021 [20 favorites]


This is basically just a chunk of mean-spirited snark, though? Like, maybe you think the commenter cares too much, or in the wrong way, or misplaces their focus, but this seems a particularly nasty way to make any of those points, particularly given the context of the thread.
posted by Dysk at 1:10 AM on December 29, 2021


I was gonna write a long and pretentious sounding comment making myself seem like the only righteous voice on metafilter but I see that's already been done.
posted by some loser at 4:10 AM on December 29, 2021 [12 favorites]


When I mentioned the pervasive gloom here, a big part of it is the "anyone who isn't shouting at length about my issue all the time on Metafilter is personally trying to destroy me" *thing*.

I don't doubt that people are scared, I am too.

And it doesn't help that posts can quickly veer into, "If you don't leave the US right this second you are completely screwed," which doesn't take into account that the vast majority of humans living in my country don't have that option and don't have anywhere to go. (Like, cool y'all, tell me which countries are taking a middle aged disabled lady, her toddler, and the spouse she's economically dependent on, who has a location specific job and won't leave.)

But I can take a breath and see that it's one person venting, not an attack on me.

It's not a personal attack if an entire website isn't talking about your personal exact circumstances every minute of every day.

Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?
posted by champers at 4:24 AM on December 29, 2021 [20 favorites]


Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?

I've been here since 2009. Lemme tell you some upsides.

* Sometimes I make a front page post about a cool thing and the thread is really positive and people share experiences and tips.
* Sometimes people write comments with incredible domain expertise (professional, life experience, etc.) and explain stuff I never knew I wanted to understand, or that articulate our shared experiences in a way that makes new lightbulbs go on over my head.
* Making a front page post can be an effective way to signal-boost something I think is great, not just to the commentators, not just to the people who consistently read the front page, but also to Google and other search engines. Like, if a person mostly does their awesome work on harder-to-index social media platforms and doesn't have a website where they talk about it, I can write a front page post surveying that work that becomes a useful first-page search result for "name of person + [keyword]".
* Ask MetaFilter is a tremendous resource when I have problems, and a lovely opportunity to share tips I've learned.
* Posting to MeFi Projects has helped get attention for stuff I've made. Posting on Jobs has helped me attract candidates for jobs, and I've worked with multiple people I found via Jobs (either because they responded to an opening or because I responded to someone signalling availability). And I've had lovely in-person and virtual times with people I met via the IRL subsite.
* If you see someone being a jerk in comments anywhere on MetaFilter, you can flag for moderator attention and move on knowing that the mods will take a look and may act. So many times I've flagged and moved on, and then come back to the thread hours or even minutes later and the flagged comment has disappeared. This is something non-members can't do! You have to be a member to flag!
posted by brainwane at 4:46 AM on December 29, 2021 [45 favorites]


I haven't read this whole thread, so apologies if I missed something.

I agree with the OP that striving for less snark and more kindness is good. I also think that it's important to point out when things being linked to are espousing harmful ideologies. It's generally possible to do both of those things at the same time.

There was a FPP a few days ago linking to some software that was written by someone who is, from all appearances, an actual Nazi. I left a comment pointing that out, and the poster (who hadn't realized that until I mentioned it) asked the mods to delete the post. While that was an extreme case, I think it was a pretty good outcome on the whole, and I'm glad I left that comment, even though it was basically just saying the thing they thought was good enough to share was, in fact, bad.

There's a difference, though, between things that are actively harmful, and things that you just personally don't like. There's plenty of stuff I see on here that's just not the thing for me that I don't feel any need to comment on.

Just because something is harmful, that's also not a good reason to be rude or mean to the person who posted it. For the most part, I think everyone here is engaging in good faith, and being kinder when you're saying that something is bad for important reasons can make a huge difference in how that message is received. Just writing "this is bad and i don't like it" is not likely to be useful, whereas "here's a concrete way that this is causing harm" is.
posted by wesleyac at 4:59 AM on December 29, 2021 [12 favorites]


champers: Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?

As one of the last of the sub-17K members (really a meaningless number, but I've been a member for nearly two decades now) I owe a lot to this community, and not just for answering my dumb questions. I'm not the same person I was two decades ago. Jobs and living arrangements and friends and romantic partners have all come and gone, but Metafilter has been a constant through all of it. YMMV, as they say, but there have been a lot of upsides for me.
posted by emelenjr at 5:13 AM on December 29, 2021 [11 favorites]


Thank you, brainwane and emelenjr.

I was expressing frustration more than I was requesting homework, but I very much appreciate the replies.

I did post an Ask and received many helpful replies. I was able to think about my situation from new perspectives, and come up with a solution.

And I guess that's why I joined - I wanted intelligent perspectives, in good faith, from a variety of perspectives, to consider.

But a lot of times it feels like there's gloom, crankiness, judginess, bad faith and accusations of bad faith, and boy howdy life is enough of a miserable slog as it is, you know?

One example I can think of is the shopping cart thread, where a poster announced that because they're a disabled parent who always returns the cart, anyone who says that's not always a workable solution for them isn't being truthful.

My state is among those that will literally prosecute you if you leave your child alone in a vehicle, which had already been pointed out. It didn't exactly ruin my day, but I'm not especially interested in being told reality isn't real. Like, yikes.
posted by champers at 5:20 AM on December 29, 2021 [9 favorites]


champers: But a lot of times it feels like there's gloom, crankiness, judginess, bad faith and accusations of bad faith, and boy howdy life is enough of a miserable slog as it is, you know?

Well, let's be fair... during a pandemic it's a lot easier to be gloomy and cranky, and the others can certainly flow from that. Many people are having a difficult time, and it shows, and it does not always bring out the best in us.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:32 AM on December 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


For the most part, I think everyone here is engaging in good faith, and being kinder when you're saying that something is bad for important reasons can make a huge difference in how that message is received
---
But a lot of times it feels like there's gloom, crankiness, judginess, bad faith and accusations of bad faith, and boy howdy life is enough of a miserable slog as it is, you know?

I dropped in basically to make these comments. The accusations of bad faith, in particular, have really dragged down comment sections for me. When so many missteps are met with vitriol and snark rather than "I think you could do better," it's just exhausting. It seems like half the FPPs have comments that have devolved into bickering about semi-related minutiae by the time I get there, so I've largely noped out. And it makes me a little bummed.

I'm not trying to tone police, and I'm not saying it's marginalized people's job to educate anyone, because fuck that noise fiercely, but if we could assume good faith here -- just here! the internet-at-large is shitty and, frankly, most people are bad actors! -- it might make comment sections less fighty and more discussy.

(I recognize that this is a losing battle.)
posted by uncleozzy at 5:48 AM on December 29, 2021 [11 favorites]


As one of the last of the sub-17K members (really a meaningless number, but I've been a member for nearly two decades now) I owe a lot to this community, and not just for answering my dumb questions. I'm not the same person I was two decades ago. Jobs and living arrangements and friends and romantic partners have all come and gone, but Metafilter has been a constant through all of it. YMMV, as they say, but there have been a lot of upsides for me.

I cosign the experiences of this n00b.
posted by LionIndex at 5:48 AM on December 29, 2021 [8 favorites]


And I just realized I passed 2 decades on Sunday. D:
posted by LionIndex at 5:50 AM on December 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


But I can take a breath and see that it's one person venting, not an attack on me.

Sometimes I wonder at the effects that one person venting in an inappropriate thread has on other people, though. Look, we are all pretty reactive and frightened these days; if there isn't anywhere we can go to relax and pause from The Struggle without being asked to suddenly dwell on terror and doom and the descent of the world into fascism, how can we ever find places to take a breath and rebuild our fortitude to keep trying? When we are, collectively, pretty reactive to threats, what is the overall impact of finding everywhere in this space a potential place for descending info ruminations on fear?

Is it even possible to build an atmosphere of trust and a collective belief that we care about one another, we care about the world, but we need to be able to set our burdens down and seek pleasure, connection, and enjoyment sometimes too?

One of the most powerful memories I have that I associate with this community is attending the DC Women's March with a passel of other MeFites, and listening to nonasuch earnestly explain that it was important to them that at some point we sing the labor song "Bread and Roses," which we did do as we poured out of the Mall that day. I had a portable speaker along with me, and we played a bunch of things that folks knew well enough to sing to loudly enough that we could sing along and still hear. The big knot of us walked and sang and other people saw us, delighted, and sang as well. It is a precious moment to me because it was a moment of acknowledgement that, yes: we live in a frightening time; yes, there is a struggle, but also yes: we are not alone; yes: there are other people here who care about us; and yes: it is important to strive not only for bread, for survival, but also for roses, for joy and for beauty.

We need spaces to dwell on roses, and not only to talk about the blood that drips from piercing thorns. When every place to talk about roses becomes a rumination about the need for bread and the desire to soothe someone's reactive panic that no one else cares about bread at all, in effect we lose our collective ability to have, enjoy, and appreciate roses in community. I do a lot of trying to soothe people's fears here, and frankly, it is emotionally exhausting to always be in the practice of trying to manage someone else's response.

We do the best work, as humans and as organizers, when we each find a different thing to care particularly deeply about, spend a significant part of our time working on making that thing better, and trust each other to each pick on a cause that needs us so we can make sustained progress on that cause. When we each try to do everything, the scope of the total work becomes overwhelming, and we collapse into anxious fretting that prioritizing one thing or another means that the third thing isn't making any headway. On the other hand, if I can trust, say, that warriorqueen is focused on teaching self defense for marginalized people, is an expert on that, and cares deeply about that issue... then I can allow myself to release my focus on that issue and help only when I am needed. Releasing my focus on that does not mean I do not care. It means I can direct more focus to the things I am better placed to work on, like bringing accessibility to the academic community and helping to promote autistic voices in autism research. In kind, I do not need to assume that warriorqueen does not care about the injustices of that struggle; she can trust me to focus on it, think deeply about the problem, and develop the tools necessary to cause sustainable change. When each of us talk about the work we do professionally in these directions, we can trust that bringing insights about one struggle does not mean that we think that the world would be better if everyone dropped everything to focus on this; just that it's useful to know about the insights you develop when you think deeply about a social problem and try to fix it as best you can.

I do not know, however, how to develop that kind of trust here globally. I do know that accusations that any requests to try developing that kind of trust will derail us permanently into racism, fascism, and the destruction of our community as a net force for good are absolutely and completely corrosive to that goal. We cannot simultaneously scrutinize one another for constant signs of threat and also create an atmosphere of general trust and good faith that we are all trying to build a safer world as best we can. These are wholly incompatible goals. So: which approach is more aligned to our values as a community?
posted by sciatrix at 6:04 AM on December 29, 2021 [56 favorites]


Too-Ticky, sure, but my jurisdiction is one of those in the US where disability alone can be used as legal justification for removing a child from a parent's custody.

No abuse, no neglect, just disability. It casts a certain level of stress over my life.

So the miasma of "you're a bad person if you don't do X because I can do it even if you might catch attention and risk your kid" stuck in my craw.

I responded, probably crankily, but not with the level of anger I felt. I decided that person probably had their own stuff.

I'm not asking people to never have a tough time. I'm asking them to realize others exist and we have a tough time, too.

But you can have a tough time without punishing other people.

And if you slip, because we all do, a simple, "hey, I didn't think of it that way and I'm sorry," goes a lot further than an accusation of bad faith.
posted by champers at 6:15 AM on December 29, 2021 [5 favorites]


Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?

Hell yes. Metafilter has changed me in so many ways. I wouldn't be a member here if it wasn't still a mostly positive experience. As for doom and gloom and snark, it's really no worse than the rest of the Internet, and I think due to moderation and the signup fee, members in general are smarter on average than most other forums.
posted by bondcliff at 6:31 AM on December 29, 2021 [10 favorites]


Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?

I joined in 2015, so I don't know if that's as long as you're looking for.

Ask was the main reason I joined, and I still mostly love it. I love that people are mostly good at sticking to the questions asked and not clogging the thread with irrelevant stuff. I love that so many people put real thought and effort into answering questions. I love that chatfilter is mostly minimized to pet-naming posts (though if that ever changes, I can just not read those posts). I have learned so much from Ask.

The Blue is more complicated, and over time, I've learned some ways to make it better for me personally. There are some topics I just stay away from - either because I'm in disagreement with the majority of MeFites or because those posts are more likely to turn into "if you don't leave the US you're screwed" and "if you don't fight fascism by posting about how horrible everything is on MetaFilter, you don't care." Ageism and general boomer hate are very acceptable to many people here - I flag it and once in a while the mods even delete blatantly ageist posts. That's probably the thing that bothers me the most. And over time you get to know the secret rules. For instance, if someone says something is too hard and lays out the requirements for disagreeing (e.g., being a financially unstable disabled single mom), even if you completely meet those requirements, it's still not OK to say it wasn't hard for you personally because then you're saying reality isn't real.

But I've learned some cool things and engaged in some interesting discussions and rethought a few things, and that's mostly worth it to me. I'm on a cancer support board that is very lightly moderated, and MetaFilter is way better than that. It's also very OK to decide you need a break and then decide to come back later if you want to - I've done that too.
posted by FencingGal at 6:40 AM on December 29, 2021 [13 favorites]


Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?

I've been here under various names for about 15 years, so I have watched the Blue evolve from a place that was frustrating and depressing because of a largely unchecked bro culture to a place that was frustrating and depressing because of a stubborn inability to treat its trans users well to a place that is frustrating and depressing for the current reasons. And throughout all of it I feel I have had to constantly wage a small campaign to remind Mefites that not everyone is either a software developer or a librarian.

I've taken lots of breaks. Moreso, there have been entire years where I never clicked on the Blue.

This place is full of a lot of incredible people. It's still a place that is full of people, and people are...mostly frustrating. Myself especially! I wish it weren't so, I wish even the best of us weren't ultimately hapless monkeys in shoes. But it is still so much less violent, so much less misogynist, so much less ignorant/hateful/hostile than...basically anywhere else on the planet, at this point.

I am once again contemplating a break, but for the first time I am kind of doubtful that I'll come back. It's not actually because of any specific interaction or post or anything, just an increasing sense that this place is Not For Me anymore. I'm not an activist, I probably wouldn't match anyone's definition of a leftist here (though in my real meatspace life I am viewed as a rabid communist), and my COVID risk budget is ample. And that's fine! The place it is now, and the people it is for now, are better for the world than the place I liked or the person I am.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:16 AM on December 29, 2021 [26 favorites]


Blast Hardcheese, for what it's worth I get a lot of value from your posts.

Your replies to my Ask were incredibly helpful. Your life experience shone a light on the issue I'm trying to solve, and it reinforced the need for a medical evaluation. We're going to work on that once it's feasible.

So, thank you.

More generally, y'all, I vented. I don't actually think things here are completely horrible and frustrating and depressing.

I apologize for speaking out of turn. It was unkind and unfair.
posted by champers at 7:36 AM on December 29, 2021 [15 favorites]


I--ah, hell, insofar as I was responding to you, because I quoted you and then went a-rambling, I was mostly trying to go "yes and." If it's me making you feel like you fucked up and ruined the party in this thread, champers, please don't. There's not a party here, I'm just talking about things I find exhausting and frustrating, and you aren't doing anything wrong that I see in this thread. I'm not mad at you or trying to say you said the wrong thing or even arguing that you hurt me, just using what you were saying as a launch point to articulate my thoughts.
posted by sciatrix at 8:13 AM on December 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


champers: I apologize for speaking out of turn. It was unkind and unfair.

Nah. You, too, get to be gloomy and cranky now and then. I'd make you a cup of tea now if I could.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:15 AM on December 29, 2021 [18 favorites]


And to be clear, because I'm human and other people's distress also distresses me--I think this discussion is a hard one to get right for a bunch of reasons. It's hard specifically because we are by and large well meaning people who want to do right by one another, right? So seeing one another in distress also distresses us. And there's a lot of distress right now because the world is, shall we say, fucking distressing, and we are collectively so much more aware of injustices than we have ever been before, and there is a lot of fear that not enough other people in society with us care about those injustices to keep them from continuing to happen indefinitely.

I'm trying to hold that dialectic: sometimes, people are gonna have an outburst, and sometimes, we're gonna be the people having the big-feelings reaction and sometimes we're going to be in the position of the bystander going "what the fuck I was just talking about cute words!" I know this because I have some similar knee jerk fury points over, say, mindfulness that mean I can easily see myself having a big emotional frustrated outburst over something as equally harmless as the nice words post. I know this because I bristle and get frustrated and knee jerk angery every time my workplace sends me one of those fucking mental health care emails, because I have had big tangible real life problems that were not addressable by an exhortation to be mindful. I know it because I can't listen to a talk about mindfulness and meditation without being reminded of the time I tried to seek mental health care and wound up trying to reassure the therapist for making me cry.

But. The dialectic I'm trying to hold is: I can have that autonomic reaction to mindfulness as a concept, I can truly believe mindfulness is oversold because it is cheap, and at the same time mindfulness can genuinely be a useful cognitive technique for many people to use to grapple with the ongoing stresses and traumas of everyday life. And more people should know about those tools and how to use them, even if I have to personally do it by using different words and different frameworks because the term "mindfulness" is emotionally poisoned specifically for me.

The conversation I want to have is... how, as a community, do we want to cope with those conflicting truths? What do we want to do structurally about big emotions that can increase the collective amount of cope?
posted by sciatrix at 8:31 AM on December 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


Or, you know, what Two-Ticky just said in two lines there. *wry grin* Let's put the kettle on.
posted by sciatrix at 8:32 AM on December 29, 2021 [8 favorites]


*makes tea*
*tries desperately to keep tea away from restless cranky clambering toddler who has been watching way too much TV because I have felt like 19 kinds of ass lately because every last one of my conditions have gotten worse, plus I've got mystery health problems I get to endlessly argue with doctors about*
*debates replying because I want to be gracious and acknowledge everyone's kindness, but I also don't want to be threadsitting or sucking the air out of the room or making things all about me*

I dunno.

When I have something to say, I say it, and I try to do so kindly, clearly and well. Sometimes it doesn't work.

But I wonder if someone, somewhere is going to find fault and pounce, or use anything I say as a jumping-off point for dooming or declaring that because I discussed X I must not care about Y.

I suppose the answer is to just take it in stride when it happens, and regard that person with kindness and an open mind.

They could have valid input. I can hear it and change.

They could also just be acting out, in which case I can calmly set a boundary. The rise of fascism doesn't obligate me to be an all-purpose drive-by punching bag. I've got my own shit.

Thank you for listening. I think appreciation is always important.
posted by champers at 8:34 AM on December 29, 2021 [10 favorites]


I'm not the same person I was two decades ago. Jobs and living arrangements and friends and romantic partners have all come and gone

The aging nature of the user base may be an important factor here. The site is very heavy on people who have been here a long time and the lack of new users makes that imbalance more and more stark each day.

If you’ve been around for a long time you’ve seen the same topics come up again and again. Maybe the first few times you wrote heartfelt messages about them, but at this point you’re just dropping the shorthand “I hate this topic“ into threads.

You’re also aware of the extremely long list of Things That Metafilter Hates. Newer people can walk straight into the trap of posting about something that was added 10 years ago and they have no idea about.

And last but not least, since joining Metafilter you’ve had lovers and jobs and living arrangements. For a lot of people experience comes with a growing annoyance with people wasting time and energy on things that you’ve discovered just aren’t important. You can show up in threads and say “This isn’t important and you’ll understand why when you’re older“ or you can just dismiss the whole thing and get on with your day.

So yeah, I think as the demographic gets older there’s a lot more dismissiveness, particularly on topics that have been done again and again. People have long-ago carefully expressed their opinion and at this point they’re just ready for the topic to be done.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:47 AM on December 29, 2021 [16 favorites]


omg no don't leave don't leave don't leave...

...guh...

...hurgh...

I am not feeling so articulate today.

But this is an okay place that changes enough to be interesting and maybe just kind of poke your head in now and then to see what's new, just now and then, no pressure but please stick around. Even if you just lurk, I bet I'll feel it somehow and it will brighten my dismal days.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:49 AM on December 29, 2021 [10 favorites]


sometimes, people are gonna have an outburst, and sometimes, we're gonna be the people having the big-feelings reaction and sometimes we're going to be in the position of the bystander going "what the fuck I was just talking about cute words!"

This seems to suggest the same sort of scaling issue everything else hits. If, on any given day/topic/etc. there's a 1/100 chance that someone's overwhelmed & their usual defenses are worn raw & there's a topic about goats *right there* and why are people acting like the goats are so cute when they've clearly got goat-pox...

We're not so small yet that someone's not going to dead-goat the thread (to borrow a past thread's neologism).

I'm not sure what the numerical odds are; but even from what I've seen trying to help gently tend the garden for a much smaller virtual community in the past, the more people feel otherwise-safe/open with a community, the smaller that denominator gets.

If people didn't care about Metafilter, I don't think we'd see quite this same amount of this. It'd be more drive-by trollishness. But, as people have noted above, even as complicated and messy as everyone's relationship to the site/community has been it's still special to a good number of people. There's something that goes on here that I haven't been able to find anywhere else.
So people dump out a bit more here than they might elsewhere, because when everything's dire, this feels a bit safer. And as the world outside constricts more, there's more feelings-dump to be had.

We can't fix the trends of the age; but we can at least try to build a better community response that recognizes what's going on & attempts to keep threads from getting too doom-seeded.
posted by CrystalDave at 8:53 AM on December 29, 2021 [6 favorites]


I don't think the core thesis-question, "what are the upsides of membership here?" is at all unkind or unfair. It arguably isn't nice, but "nice" and "kind" ain't the same thing (and one of the dead horses I find very satisfyingly percussive is that conflating the two leads to varyingly-bad outcomes on every level from individual to societal. Take THAT, horse!)

To zoom out into a more...meta...frame, it's a question whose essence the moderation team--as representing and implementing the goals and processes of metafilter-as-business-entity, especially to the extent those goals are to further and enable metafilter-as-community(ies)--should really keep in mind. From last site updates, there's plans afoot for marketing and growth, on account of the site overall having the dwindles: it's a question that needs to be running in mind alongside those efforts. Because marketing the community to fresh eyes has got to also think about what the first impressions are going to be to those eyes. Ultimately any pursuit of reversing the dwindles isn't about "this is a place that exists" but more about "here's what the benefits are." And first impressions factor into the selling of that very strongly.
posted by Drastic at 8:56 AM on December 29, 2021 [5 favorites]


See, this is what upset me. I work teaching people, particularly marginalized people, self-defence. I took a 40% pay cut to do that. I have personally, physically, confronted a candidate from the Christian Heritage Party when he was placing an election sign on a city-owned strip on my street. (And I got it removed as he put it too close to the road.) I’ve also stepped physically between someone making racist comments about to hit someone of First Nations background because a) I’m a middle aged white woman so I knew I would get the support of the TTC conductor and b) I know how to block a badly thrown punch. These are real moments of giving a shit. There are definitely people on the site more active than I am and I am not a saint. I’m actually annoyed I have to post bona fides.


You don't have to post bona fides. You just have to not be snarky to people who are talking about things you think are beneath you. No one made you do anything. All you had to do is just not make an unnecessarily snide comment to me. It's a conversation, not a game, and no one is making you play a certain card or prove anything to win.

But the idea that asking people not to turn every thread into a referendum on fascism y/n is sympathizing with the enemy is just unreal.

No one said this.

I find the constant thread in so. many. posts. — that language post!! — that we must centre American Fascist Threats above all things as vastly toxic.

I have no idea what you're talking about, honestly, I wasn't in that thread.

I’m sorry for my tone. But I’m not sorry for my point: what are you (and others) hoping to accomplish when you come into this MetaTalk to chide people to “attempt appropriate humility when it comes to issues that are really important” over people saying let’s engage with light hearted or joyful posts in that spirit using the examples of a George Harrison/Dave Barry/lexicon post. Do you think that’s actually fighting fascism?


I appreciate it, I found your tone quite shitty and unnecessary and appreciate the apology. Dave Berry is a political-adjacent columnist who is read by a lot of people. Why not just give Umami Dearest the benefit of the doubt and be chill about their opinion rather than mocking them? Ignore it if you don't want to talk about it? Why make snide snarky comments about antifascism? Particularly in the alleged service of "kindness"? What is that in the service of? I don't claim to be acting in an antifascist capacity here, as much as I am feeling protective of those who are doing their best and being met with some really shitty dunking about a fairly serious topic. I think that sucks for the community. What do you think? Do you think you mocking me was helpful for the community being a more kind and welcoming place?

I agree so hard that it’s the constant doom and gloom that makes it hard to engage here on any level /but/ cranky. And for me, it’s the constant claiming of the high moral ground Because Fascism that makes it horrible. Yes, I skewered the moral high ground there. No, that wasn’t my finest post. But I suspect it hurt (not my intention) because you understood the thrust of it, which is that tearing everyone down who fails to condemn Dave Barry isn’t really addressing fascism, it’s just tearing people down.

No one was tearing anyone down for anything. I suspect my comment in response to yours was deleted because it hurt, quite frankly. I take back my appreciation of your apology as it was obviously a rhetorical move and you clearly seem glad and proud of having hurt me. (And it wasn't clever at all; for the record, it made you sound like one of those people who mocks anything they don't understand.)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:38 AM on December 29, 2021 [8 favorites]


Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?

I stick around here because I am pretty much permanently associated with the site (like in a news-y way). There are a lot of decent people here. The structure of the community and a few recent upheavals have led to a lot of people leaving or becoming disillusioned with the site. It's also become a bit of an echo chamber for people who think, though they would never stoop to say these words, that cancel culture has gone too far on the site. I think that trend is bad. Overall, it's a good way to connect with and discuss things with reasonable people but if you find it frustrating and depressing, I don't see that changing any time soon. Also, it's less frustrating if you find someone else also on the site to complain to!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:46 AM on December 29, 2021 [3 favorites]


People tend to underestimate how harshly their snarky rendering of a point will hit others. I want to really suggest that this will be better if it doesn't turn into "how can I, an intelligent person, make my point in a way that will really sting"... because you're all smart enough to do that, and you succeed, and it stings for the people on the receiving end, and that is how we end up in this "everyone feels hurt and stung" situation which doesn't lead to people wanting to be here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:52 AM on December 29, 2021 [28 favorites]


See, once again the conversation is getting shifted so some people can feel good putting down others. I agree my comment was snarky and I’m not proud of it. But I wish the underlying toxicity that started this post off would be taken equally seriously. As I posted above, I really appreciate the lighter posts. My comment history on the Blue makes it clear, I think.

I see you’re not interested in the larger discussion so I’m out.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:46 AM on December 29, 2021 [6 favorites]


What is snark except an attempt to look good putting someone down? Snark is toxic as hell and we'd all do well to avoid it, me included.
posted by tiny frying pan at 10:49 AM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]


See, once again the conversation is getting shifted so some people can feel good putting down others. I agree my comment was snarky and I’m not proud of it. But I wish the underlying toxicity that started this post off would be taken equally seriously. As I posted above, I really appreciate the lighter posts. My comment history on the Blue makes it clear, I think.

You started by putting me down. You then went on to say that I felt hurt by your snarky comment because I was doing something wrong, thereby blaming me. All of this was done in the alleged defense of kindness. I am happy to have the broader discussion (which I did, at length, peacefully, which you characterized as "chiding".) I am not happy to be snarked at, have my words mischaracterized repeatedly, and be personally insulted in lieu of discussion.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:57 AM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]


Well in my case I would like to put a pin in the idea that patrolling people’s responses to things like new words for connection or a lighthearted look at a bad year for moral purity is Fighting American Fascism. I wasn’t interest in putting the individuals down but I am interested in stopping the purity patrol. The idea that if you are taking a lighthearted piece lightly you are contributing to evil. Totally agree that sarcasm misses the mark but I find when I post more vulnerably, I just get more patrolling of whether my waking moments are sufficiently to the good. Not like, personally, I mean, it’s just the Internet. But in the way sciatrix expressed.

This is not the same as issues of racism, etc.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:57 AM on December 29, 2021 [21 favorites]


Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?

AskMe can be a good place to get answers, and I have occasionally been able to give a useful response to someone. That feels pretty good.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:07 AM on December 29, 2021 [7 favorites]


Well, what I would say is pretty much what I said upthread: I think it's a worthwhile exercise to think twice before deciding that someone is "purity patrol" or whatever and considering whether they might have a point. It does suck to feel like you aren't able to escape the shitty political situation even for a second. That is completely valid. However, I think that there is a consistent tendency here to shoot the messenger. What I am suggesting is to think about it, and if you don't have the capacity to think about it (reasonable!) then I suggest to just walk around the messenger and leave them alone and if you're confident that you're not doing anything wrong, enjoy what you enjoy. Rather than dunking on them and making a comment about how they are shitting on something that is "obviously" anodyne, rather than giving them a name like "purity police," just leave them alone and let them be. That is my suggestion, which no one has to take, but which seems germane and appropriate in a thread about kindness.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:09 AM on December 29, 2021 [6 favorites]


bigger tent, more assholes
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:53 AM on December 29, 2021


No, pandemic isolation slow boils us all in perpetual frustration and anger. We can and do say things to each other online that we can't and shouldn't say to friends or strangers in real life lest we be severely injured or killed.
posted by y2karl at 12:18 PM on December 29, 2021 [6 favorites]


I think it's a worthwhile exercise to think twice before deciding that someone is "purity patrol" or whatever and considering whether they might have a point.

I don't think you can know people aren't doing that. It's pretty clear from the replies here that a fair number of us are annoyed by the purity patrol - I don't think we're all thoughtless about it.

And I'm not sure it always makes sense to ignore it. Knowing you might get jumped on can discourage people from posting - it discourages me. Maybe it's good for newer people to know that not everyone is on the same page.
posted by FencingGal at 12:25 PM on December 29, 2021 [24 favorites]


Well, purity patrol is certainly catchy but also quite insulting. I honestly tried to avoid harping on it because I assumed it was the reflection of a not-great moment, but if it is to be adopted, I want to point out that if the argument is that the site is not welcoming due to the people who you've rather insultingly named the "purity patrol," well, that's pretty insulting and snarky. It's going to be hard for me to have a conversation in which everyone assumes good faith when people are being labeled that way. It does not strike me as thoughtful or as something that contributes to a welcoming atmosphere.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:39 PM on December 29, 2021 [3 favorites]


"Purity patrol" is "cancel culture" under another name, right? I do not think people asking for respect between users are canceling anything.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:43 PM on December 29, 2021 [5 favorites]


I don't presume to speak for all new users, but
I find it encouraging to know that not everyone welcomes a thing that I DON'T think of as "purity patrol."

I think of it as a free-range cloud of picky-pouncing-vengescold.

Like I've said, I consider whether each individual has a point, and I aim for kindness.

I look for accountability and growth, and I want different perspectives.

Assuming another person hasn't thought about whether you have a point, just because they decided you don't have a point, is itself an accusation of bad faith, no? And unfair?

It feels a bit compulsory, like, "if you'd REALLY thought it through, you'd understand and agree with me."

But, anyway.

Feeling like anything I say is going to be jumped on with a noisy fart, met with accusations of bad faith, and engaging will become some sort of spiral where I'm bad and can't win and will be flogged forever no matter what because I've failed some invisible test, is fucking *miserable.*

Fuck tone policing. Agreed.

But also, there needs to be some sort of line where human beings aren't being poked and shamed, just because we're all feeling a bit reactive and threatened and those feelings found a target of the day.

So where's the line? What's the solution?
posted by champers at 12:49 PM on December 29, 2021 [18 favorites]


Assuming another person hasn't thought about whether you have a point, just because they decided you don't have a point, is itself an accusation of bad faith, no? And unfair?

I think I'm being read as though I assume people aren't doing this, when I am actually making a really, really basic suggestion that people do it. If you're doing it, great! If you think I'm full of it, fine by me! If you feel defensive about this, understandable! It is actually a really mild request and one made in good faith as a member of this community, in the space dedicated to making such requests.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:03 PM on December 29, 2021 [3 favorites]


Oh, and a pithy little throwaway comment like "bigger tent, more assholes" is one of those "what on earth does that even MEAN?" moments for me.

Inside joke I don't get? Admonishment that maybe new users are a bad idea because we're more likely to be assholes?

It's not something that ruins my day, I don't expend a lot of energy on it, and I certainly don't need reassurance.

But, like...it's a bit of a head scratcher.
posted by champers at 1:04 PM on December 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


I think of it as a free-range cloud of picky-pouncing-vengescold.

This is probably the way I perceive it as well. The gift-giving thread and the cart-pushing thread are maybe the strongest examples. Sure, sure, nothing in this world is actually anodyne but "I don't like gifts because I'm busy caring about climate change and fascism" is...it's a lot. Someone can care about climate change and fascism and still be happy about a christmas present.

I mean, come on. You cannot pretend that statement is fully a neutral expression of preference and not an implicit judgment on people who were previously sharing tales of ugly sweaters and good intentions.

But again, I'm not sure this is a case of "here's a thing people do wrong and should stop"--just more, ok, i guess if that's how y'all want your sandbox, cool, but I will probably find another one.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:24 PM on December 29, 2021 [35 favorites]


TBH I think much of the problem here is that we're focusing a lot of Dave Barry; he's an awful example for this for various reasons, and people doubling down as though it's absurd to think that his schtick may be legitimately harmful is just kind of bizarro-world to me. He's a famous columnist who comments on politics, it's not exactly a stretch to think there may be issues there. But since giving a shit about that is what people were mocking...

Generally, I think people should try to avoid making comments that are just vaguely related doom comments where people are trying to think about other things.

If you're at the point where you want people to talk about people who talk about politics without being critical at all, then that is an actually bad policy that metafilter should avoid. Perhaps we should move on from Dave Berry, but I would hope that we would be moving on because people see the difference between criticizing a columnist who talks about politics on the one hand and dropping a comment in a thread about christmas gifting to talk about how climate change will kill us all on the other.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:45 PM on December 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


...because people see the difference between criticizing a columnist who talks about politics on the one hand and dropping a comment in a thread about christmas gifting to talk about how climate change will kill us all on the other.

They do? Here? Where am I?
posted by y2karl at 2:03 PM on December 29, 2021 [4 favorites]


Oh, and a pithy little throwaway comment like "bigger tent, more assholes" is one of those "what on earth does that even MEAN?" moments for me.

I believe the user was expressing their belief that any large group of people will contain assholes and that therefore a discussion of how to reduce their numbers is futile.

In doing so they managed to provide a very on-the-nose example of the sort of drive-by dismissiveness being lamented in this thread, so technically they have contributed to the conversation.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:41 PM on December 29, 2021 [16 favorites]


Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?
Well, I most likely wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for this place, to start with.

I've met so many wonderful people here over the 19 Years, 6 Months and 5 Days I've been here (with a few breaks here and there), almost none of whom I've met in person but many of whom I consider real friends and whose lives we have each followed virtually as they fall in love, get married, have kids, sometimes fall out of love etc etc. When the Bali bombing happened, I was able to help someone here find their friend who had been airlifted to a hospital in my country. So many great people that I would never have met if not for this place. Of course, there have been more than a few raging arseholes along the way. Such is life.

I've learned so much about almost everything you can imagine and some things I never even knew existed, mostly from things I see here directly, but also from things I've found by starting from something else here. So, yeah, there are more upsides than down, in my view.

I apologize for speaking out of turn. It was unkind and unfair.
You didn't speak out of turn. You spoke your mind and that's perfectly OK. Some people don't like that but, given you didn't speak unkindly about anyone in a personal way, that's their problem, not yours.
posted by dg at 2:49 PM on December 29, 2021 [9 favorites]


See, I agree with you, Rock 'em Sock 'em! I think there's certainly many good reasons and good ways to criticise something like that Barry column, whether you think he specifically is killing America or just isn't that funny or both, and I think coming in to do this sort of humblebrag (doombrag?) about how Christmas presents are killing America is a bit much. But that's exactly because I don't actually believe that Christmas presents are killing America! And the biggest problem here is where each individual Mefite draws the line between a justified criticism and inappropriate goat-poxing, because if you do believe Christmas presents are part of the problem, you probably think I'm being very glib about a very serious issue right now. I don't even think it's necessarily about everyone's stress levels or their tolerance for "purity". Everyone has a slightly different line, and our lines are important to us. I don't know if there's a way to fix this! I find sciatrix's emphasis on letting other people have their own focus appealing, but you have to have some kind of trust that the people around you have lines that are at least vaguely in the same realm as yours. For this site and this community, I have that trust on some topics and not others, and other people will have different ones. I genuinely have no idea how to build that trust if it's not there.

ok brb going back to lurking for another decade
posted by goblin-bee at 2:51 PM on December 29, 2021 [12 favorites]


cue people coming in to say 'don't yuck on other people's yum' is incredibly problematic and how very dare you for not realizing this

Haha, so true, cooker girl. Not everyone can relate to your exclusionary "yumminess" metaphor. I, personally, have no taste buds, so I guess according to you people like me don't exist. Yet another microaggression from someone with privilege they don't even realize they have.

Edit: I feel compelled to edit to make clear that this is a joke, in case it was not obvious, because this is Metafilter and for all I know someone already responded with something like this but not as a joke.
posted by Squalor Victoria at 2:51 PM on December 29, 2021 [9 favorites]


In conclusion, let people be a land of contrasts
posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:54 PM on December 29, 2021 [7 favorites]


And the biggest problem here is where each individual Mefite draws the line between a justified criticism and inappropriate goat-poxing, because if you do believe Christmas presents are part of the problem, you probably think I'm being very glib about a very serious issue right now.

This is the crux of the problem. And very often, both sides refuse to recognise their contribution to the issues. "Purity patrol" isn't much kinder than "fascist sympathiser" as an accusation. Less serious, sure, but no kinder, no more in the spirit of "live and let live".

It goes both ways - they don't get to decide what is important or too problematic for you, and you don't get to decide what isn't important, or not problematic for them.
posted by Dysk at 3:07 PM on December 29, 2021 [5 favorites]


I find myself thinking of something I've been seeing frequently on Twitter these days, a message that the site itself puts at the head of threads about potentially divisive topics:

"Don't forget the human behind the screen."

That's something that applies to the whole entire Internet, I feel.

Weirdly, I can see both sides of this - the people getting upset at the accusations of "tone policing" over the comments in the Dave Barry thread are probably - nay, likely - fed up at how the rest of the country dismissed even more egregious examples of fascism or bigotry or misogyny or sexism or what have you in the rest of the country at large. And - also on occasion right here. (I've been around long enough to remember the "boyzone" days.) It can indeed be frustrating to be told again and again and again and again that the thing that is obviously and blatantly a problem isn't a problem, and you can only explain things calmly and rationally so much and get ignored before you start getting really cynical and frustrated, and dismissive.

On the other hand - I don't know who's familiar with the "b**ch eating crackers" syndrome, but sometimes I feel like there's some of that going on, only towards authors or topics or what have you. And sometimes that can lead to an unfair lashing-out against other mefites - who aren't in your head and most likely do not have the same reaction to that person/topic/etc.

I personally try to check myself to see if I'm actually Speaking My Mind About A Problem or if I'm having a "Jerk Eating Crackers" reaction. There's a recent FPP about an essay by someone about whom I do indeed have such a reaction - and I fortunately was able to stop myself from snarking. Because - my beef against this author is of a uniquely personal nature, and all y'all weren't also in the same boat so that's my baggage and it's not fair to ask you to carry it with me.

I do also sometimes feel like some of the activists in the site are sometimes a bit vocal in their zeal, and this can lead to a sometimes unspoken implication that the rest of us Aren't Doing Enough or Don't Really Care. However - I find this to be the case with some activists in meatspace as well, and I don't think Metafilter has done anything above and beyond creating an instance where I encounter someone with that view. But if I didn't run into that here, I'd run into it at the supermarket or at a bar or on the street, so eh.

And truth be told, there was a time when I was a little bit zealous like that myself -and if we're talking about "what's something that this site is good for", it's giving me enough experience with hearing the other side of a lot of my HobbyHorse Issues for me to realize that "yo, the other perspective sometimes is okay." I mean, I'm not that way about things like trans rights or bigotry or fascism (trans rights are human rights, and bigotry and fascism can bite my shiny metal ass), but more about things like home cooking. There are very few hills upon which I will die, but most of the time it's performative umbrage on my part (to wit: "birbs" is a damn silly word, Manhattan Clam Chowder is NOT chowder, and the New York Yankees suck).

And I got that way because of lots of conversations with the humans on the other side of the screens over the years. Hammering this stuff out is hard and takes time and is bumpy and can suck like crazy sometimes, but it's worth it, and that's why I'm here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:09 PM on December 29, 2021 [9 favorites]


I think I will just quote what I said last time I bothered to show up in one of these threads. Ellipses added only to remove the bits where I was talking about that thread and not this one.
Snark, clapbacks, "wrecking" your opponent and various other forms of flashy but ultimately thought-terminating and discourse-dousing forms of "communication" are valued out of proportion to their utility because, bluntly, they're fun. They get you likes and hits, if you make them, and reinforce your worldview, if you consume them. And most people do both, or at least try to, resulting in a truly spectacular feedback loop. ... What I am advocating for is asking yourself, before you post here: Have I said this in a way that fosters discussion, or a way that shuts it down? If someone wanted to disagree with my post, would there be actual arguments to parse and respond to?

MeFi is a community, not a soapbox, and it's a community that has a long history of Doing Its Best. And you can say: that's not enough, and even be right, but it's what we have. It is appropriate to extend good faith to members of this community by communicating with them as people, not mechanisms in a pinball machine to bounce your wit [or outrage] off for internet points.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 3:16 PM on December 29, 2021 [20 favorites]


It's going to be hard for me to have a conversation in which everyone assumes good faith when people are being labeled that way. It does not strike me as thoughtful or as something that contributes to a welcoming atmosphere.

Okay. Can I bite for a minute then, without doing that? Rock 'em, sometimes in these threads I think people can get very quick to frame things as either Someone Is Just Being Secretly Pro Fascist (or some other axis) and toss that out quickly as a fairly low threshold thing. When I'm doing a lot of work trying to hold a bunch of things at once and encourage de-escalation in a discussion--and often de-escalate myself!--it feels very bad to have someone come in, say "you're acting in a way that [deliberately or not] actively makes the world worse, Change Or Agree You're Really In Favor Of Bad Shit/Enabling A Regressive System/Making the Kyriarchy Happy."

One of the reasons I keep taking breaks is because when that happens to me here, I have had a bad pattern of going from trying to carefully de-escalate and keep calm and set everyone to rights and snapping into frustrated, furious tirades. I put a lot of energy into discussions like this and think very carefully about trying to take structured breaks and encourage other folks and say something if I notice someone is upset and frustrated; I have noticed a pattern of overextending myself trying to do all of this and then abruptly running out of the cognitive and emotional energy to be that self controlled, at which point I snap all over everything. I find that it is usually those very emphatic, insistent, "you're being Xist by [not anticipating the worst possible interpretation of what I could say and figuring out how to hedge around it]" moments that hurt the worst for me and are most likely to trigger that kind of explosion if I don't leave the space quickly. Once I'm out of that kind of energy to hold the space for conflict, it's very, very hard for me to continue to be my best self and continue trying to de-escalate, and it is certainly very hard to be careful with the exact words I craft to hedge off every potential bad interpretation I can think of. I would like to spend less of my time here doing that, but it seems to me that this is becoming a bigger feature of my time here, which means I take longer and longer breaks.

I see you here trying to not do that now and I appreciate that. That said: for better or worse, you're one of the people I most strongly associate with this experience right now, and I want to say that in the interests of trying to figure out where this is coming from and understand it so we can defuse that experience. How do you think of this? How do you think about conflict on the site? What is your expectation for how people should react to assessments like "X is fundamentally pro-fascist"? One of the things I grapple with, when acknowledging that many things which are deeply important to me are racist (boy howdy, Terry Pratchett, fantasy China was a mistake), or sexist, etc, is that we fundamentally exist in a world where power is distributed among unequal hierarchies, and we're all living in a soup where we have internalized a whole lot of bad shit that we're trying to work through as best we can. If you agree with that idea, how do you feel about explicitly noting something to that effect more often, as a general reminder?

One of the things I would generally appreciate in this space from everyone is more clarifying questions, more language that makes room for intent to be varied, and more careful "how can we understand XYZ?" rather than bald "I'm just calling what's there!" digging.

It takes more effort to do that. I am very well aware of this. Sometimes people are hiding ugly ideas beneath a veneer from you, the observer, or even from themselves. I am well aware of that too. But I think one of the big divides here is between people who think it's important to try to proactively de-escalate when they're tense and people who think it's important to say immediately when they're tense so that everyone can see. I could very much be wrong about that, and I'm open to hearing that. What do we, collectively, think is our responsibility to other posters?
posted by sciatrix at 5:15 PM on December 29, 2021 [33 favorites]


Open-mic night involves people in the flesh. FFPs and Metafilter involve user names, not SNNs.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:16 PM on December 29, 2021


Behind these usernames are people in the flesh. With feelings.
posted by kimberussell at 5:48 PM on December 29, 2021 [16 favorites]


Yes, I agree there's definitely seems to be more snarkiness on Metafilter. I'm not sure if it's worse than other places online or if it's because I'm just looking at the "old" Metafilter through the nostalgic eyes. And as mentioned above by many other comments, there's a lot of people feeling distressed right now due to everything which does increase snarkiness/negativity. And I would add at the same time, that same distress is felt by me which decreases my own ability to tolerate snarkiness and negativity.

So with all that in mind, here's my suggestion for those who also are a little tired of the snark:

"Don't read the comments."

Yes, it makes me a little sad, but I have started to avoid Metafilter comments like I did with online articles from my local paper. I mean, I don't do it with every topic on the Blue, but there's some of them I just scroll past because I know the kinds of comments that are going to be inside.

I know this is not an ideal solution or even much of a solution, but I also don't think the snarkiness/negativity will ever stop. And it's not like I own the comment section either, so other people have the right to do what they wish.

Finally, for those that are making FPP's here's some actionable advice based on what I just wrote:

Please try to put the main points and links of your FPP in the description. That way if someone (like me) decides not to click to go into a topic, they will not be missing much.
posted by FJT at 5:54 PM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]


Yes, I agree there's definitely seems to be more snarkiness on Metafilter.

Naaah, we're mostly the same as we've always been when it comes to snark. As I said in the post, it's not a new thing, we just need an occasional reminder to not poop on some harmless thing that someone might have thought was neat. I wasn't really talking about fascism. Go ahead and poop all over that.
posted by bondcliff at 6:04 PM on December 29, 2021 [7 favorites]


Just posted. I appreciate this push and I especially appreciate the advice someone made above to immediately follow-up your post with a comment that provides some gentle guidance/thoughts about why you posted. I felt better about posting knowing I could do that.
posted by CMcG at 6:27 PM on December 29, 2021 [12 favorites]


Naaah, we're mostly the same as we've always been when it comes to snark.

Yeah, nah, I think things have definitely improved on that front. To be honest, I'd hate the see the Death of Snark here, because it makes up so much of the character of the place and, done well (with good intent), it's funny and harmless. Too many, though, use it as a weapon instead of a vehicle for comedy.
posted by dg at 7:08 PM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]


FFPs and Metafilter involve user names, not SNNs.

Don't forget the human behind the user name.

(Can we make "you have forgotten the human behind the user name" a thing, kind of like in Stephen King's Gunslinger books where they used the phrase "forgetting the face of your father" as a sort of diss?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 PM on December 29, 2021 [1 favorite]


What an excellent idea, but it's a bit long - how about 'forgetting the user has a face'?
posted by dg at 7:43 PM on December 29, 2021


More like "you have forgotten the person behind the name". Something epic-sounding like in King's work. (It also got used as an apology too - "I have forgotten the face of my father", so we could use "I forgot the person behind the username" or whatever).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 PM on December 29, 2021 [5 favorites]


Works for me :-). Let's add it to the list of inexplicable things Mefites say all the time that only three people understand.
posted by dg at 7:51 PM on December 29, 2021 [8 favorites]


I....I literally do not know if you are kidding or sincere.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:12 PM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]


Sorry - I'm being sincere but perhaps too opaque. I was thinking of terms like '/hamburger' that probably almost nobody here now understands and kind of ran with that without any explanation :-(
posted by dg at 8:45 PM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]


"Burgul-Burgul"
posted by clavdivs at 9:19 PM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]


Paphnuty forgot the faces of the people behind the names.
posted by cgc373 at 9:24 PM on December 29, 2021 [5 favorites]


What do we, collectively, think is our responsibility to other posters?

Some suggestions based on years of arguing with people (hopefully expressing respectful disagreement), on MetaFilter and elsewhere:

A friend says that when she was younger, she could be pretty obnoxious. In her first year of university, her roommate had to sit her down and tell her, "Look, other people matter. Other people's feelings matter."

When you're communicating through text, with no access to the usual emotional cues, it's pretty easy to inadvertently hurt someone else's feelings.

I think the old FidoNet guidelines for avoiding flamewars are pretty good: (1) Don't be offensive. (2) Don't be easily offended.

Another problem besides lack of emotional cues is that language is inherently ambiguous. It's possible to interpret a comment in many different ways, especially when the person making the comment is someone you don't know and have never met. There's a lot of blanks that you fill in. In some ways you're responding to a persona that you've constructed in your head, based on extremely limited evidence. My personal approach is to assume that the other person is reasonable and well-intentioned, even when I disagree with what they're saying (rather than assuming that they're being unreasonable, or trolling, or lying).

(In my experience, when I'm feeling angry and self-righteous, this is much harder to do. In this frame of mind, it's extremely easy to pick an uncharitable interpretation, putting the other person in the wrong, and respond to that instead. To counteract excessive self-righteousness, I like to remind myself of a quote from Lucius Shepard's Life During Wartime: "He had not become a very nice man. Not even average.")

There's also room to rewrite what the other person is saying (in a respectful way, of course). A trivial example is that if someone makes a spelling or grammatical error, I'll respond as if they hadn't made the error. If their comment included gratuitous insults, I'll respond as if they hadn't, ignoring the insults and focusing on their actual point.
posted by russilwvong at 12:08 AM on December 30, 2021 [11 favorites]


Metafilter: Let's add it to the list of inexplicable things Mefites say all the time that only three people understand.

posted by From Bklyn at 1:05 AM on December 30, 2021 [7 favorites]


For me, the pressure to make a post good came from the fear that no one would care enough to leave a good comment. Cleaning up snark can't help with that. Not angling for any policy with this comment; just curious if others feel similarly.
posted by michaelh at 1:27 AM on December 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


michaelh, I feel differently. An overload of snark can stop people from posting nonsnarky comments. It seems to set the atmosphere in a way that would potentially keep me from commenting to say 'Well actually I kind of like this'.
Who wants to feel like they're naive enough to enjoy the thing in a room full of people who are being cleverly negative about the thing? Not me, that's who.

And it can get worse than that if you think the thing you kinda like can be seen as problematic in some way. And these days, what can't? And not being from the dominant culture on this site, how can I ever be sure?
'You like this... what are you, some kind of fascist?!'
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:40 AM on December 30, 2021 [20 favorites]


WWRFD

What would Red Foreman Do?
posted by y2karl at 6:21 AM on December 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


Here's something which is going to sound snarky but that I'm saying in earnest: it has always been my impression that there is a good bit of Metafilter which exists because a lot of Americans* can't afford therapy.

Again, this is not meant as a joke: I agree with sciatrix and others that a lot of the intense fightiness and doominess we've seen in the last 5 years or so is directly related to real and profound distress, because this seems to be a lot of folks' only outlet for trying to express and process their grief. I posit that this is damaging the site not because those feelings are unjustified--they emphatically are not--but because that kind of processing/catharsis is not what Metafilter is built for, and not something it can effectively do for us, hence our endless collective spiralling on the "doomerism" topic.

Concerning FPPs, I have wanted a couple times to share articles about people and orgs who ARE "doing something" productive about the dire state of the world, but refrained for fear of providing a platform for the inevitable internecine US-electoral-politics smackdown of the sort we're seeing in yesterday's FPP on the American economy.

I don't feel right telling other people how or what to post, beyond the basic "no personal attacks/stay on-topic/please RTFA before sounding off" already covered by the site guidelines. (And if we could get 80% of posters to do even this, i think we'd see a marked improvement.)

When I'm feeling especially cranky, or realize a nascent comment is suddenly three paragraphs long with lots of cursing and no page breaks, I ask myself whether this ought to be a MeFi comment or a diary entry, and frequently realize I should do the latter instead.

*I say "Americans" because for better or worse that's who dominates discussion on MeFi, and because comments of the kind I'm talking about are very, very often focused on the US--even in posts about other countries/regions!--and coming from US-American posters. For understandable reasons, but yeah.
posted by peakes at 6:33 AM on December 30, 2021 [32 favorites]


"Purity patrol" is "cancel culture" under another name, right? I do not think people asking for respect between users are canceling anything.

No, it's not, but that's a great example of how everything becomes the American LW/RW Discourse and any disagreement is framed as someone allying themselves with like, I'm not sure who - I think Tucker Carlson? I only really get American TV clips on Twitter.

The language thread about confelicity is what kind of shattered my calm about it, although I have to admit the cancer comment came a close second.

I do think picky-pouncing-vengescold is more accurate though, will use that going forward if I choose to engage.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:56 AM on December 30, 2021 [21 favorites]


Picky-pouncing-vengescold is definitely pretty great. It captures much more of the inherently disorganized and inconsistent nature of the phenomenon, plus the kind of bouncy joyfulness-behind-the-growling it can involve, when targets aren't so much alleged-anodyne as they are squeaky-toy-being-tossed-around.
posted by Drastic at 8:11 AM on December 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


*curtsies*

I think the root of picky-pouncing-vengescold is feeling powerless.

We can't go after the ones who could make things better, because they don't care, won't care, or are actively out to hurt us. They aren't going to listen.

So it has to go somewhere.

And hello, here it is.
posted by champers at 8:18 AM on December 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


Mod note: Couple comments deleted. Rock em Sock em: please stop, don't do the hyper-personalizing "you personally obviously know nothing" thing, it makes it hard to have an actual conversation about broader site dynamics rather than devolving to hurt feelings and reactive sniping, which sucks. In this thread a bunch of people have been at some pains to try to be more nuanced.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:35 AM on December 30, 2021 [16 favorites]


Rock em Sock em: please stop, don't do the hyper-personalizing "you personally obviously know nothing" thing,

Don't characterize my comments like this. It's one thing to delete them, it's another thing to take my argument out of context and make it out to be something it's not. The commenter was literally saying they can't be expected to know certain things about American politics. My point is that if that is indeed the case, they are not really in a place to be namecalling and calling people vengescolds for having an opinion about American politics. It's quite a different point from just saying "lol ur dumb."
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:43 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


The commenter was literally saying they can't be expected to know certain things about American politics.

No, I was talking about being sure I got The Most Evil Right Wing TV personality on the cancel cuture front to compare myself with. I read plenty about American culture, because I'm a Canadian in the world and also American-born. But I don't watch American TV, especially FoxNews-type stuff.

But please do continue to explain why I have NO RIGHT TO AN OPINION THEN, because you are demonstrating why MetaFilter is becoming unusable for me, and why I have to think really hard before I click into the comments on anything. Is Lois Lowry fascist now? Will confelicity be a discourse of the lack of American social net? Will I be called a fascist if I find a humorous recap funny?

I actually haven't participated in any of those threads, I was participating in this thread discussing why creating FPPs can be hard and asking people to take them in the spirit in which they are posted.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:49 AM on December 30, 2021 [14 favorites]


No, I was talking about being sure I got The Most Evil Right Wing TV personality on the cancel cuture front to compare myself with. I read plenty about American culture, because I'm a Canadian in the world and also American-born. But I don't watch American TV, especially FoxNews-type stuff.

I don't think you need to do that if you know that "cancel culture" is a thing, but it was not clear to me from your comments that you did. Purity police is reminiscent of "cancel culture" even if you don't watch a ton of Fox News, in my opinion. I don't think pointing that similarity out is making things about American L/R politics at all and for that reason, your comment convinced me that you didn't really understand that cancel culture was a thing. If that was mistaken, mea culpa.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:56 AM on December 30, 2021


Will I be called a fascist if I find a humorous recap funny?

No one did this or said that you were a fascist. It is so wildly frustrating to have to deal with this at the same time that I'm getting comments deleted for being unnuanced or mean or whatever. No one said this! No one even got close! People just want to be able to say that a humorous recapper is a shit who's had a shit effect on US politics without being namecalled!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:57 AM on December 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


People just want to be able to say that a humorous recapper is a shit who's had a shit effect on US politics without being namecalled!

Right, and what other people are saying, very clearly and repeatedly, is that they do not want every post on the Blue to become another front in the war. They want the post about language to remain a post about language, not about how some people might -- in complete earnestness! -- receive it as an accusation that their thoughts on The State Of The World should be changed by word choice. They want the post about the humor writer's article to not get derailed into a referendum on whether that writer is hurting The Cause.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened to this site if the Other Guy had won the 2020 election... Would this site have taken a greater political swing? Would it have transformed into a "wartime" footing? Would every day's front page have a post about organizing, protesting, or even sabotaging? But that didn't come to pass, and people who -- in good faith -- still have the good fight on their minds every day have to share this space with people who might not.

I say this as someone who also often has similar feelings of "But isn't this all connected? Shouldn't we be talking about it?", and I intend no disrespect: MetaFilter is not your front line. The battle you're talking about isn't here, and it's not against the other people in this thread.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 9:16 AM on December 30, 2021 [63 favorites]


I guess I have literally no idea what "purity patrol" is supposed to mean then, like, at all. I thought I knew what the argument but all I see now is anger, at what, well, that is murky. Please do not explain further.
posted by tiny frying pan at 9:16 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


Can't people just move on though instead of responding? I feel like this is a room like a party in real life. I know it's hard but ignoring a comment you don't like has WAY more effect than engaging with it and saying oh man don't do that here, or arguing back, or saying god every time you have to say ____.

There will always be comments that irk ALL of us, for different reasons. The fighting about it is what sucks. The name-calling sucks. The rudeness sucks.
posted by tiny frying pan at 9:20 AM on December 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


People just want to be able to say that a humorous recapper is a shit who's had a shit effect on US politics without being namecalled!

That's not all you're saying, though, and I think it might be a good idea to step back and consider why you're getting so much pushback -- beyond "people are mean."

You seem so certain you're the wronged party that you might be unaware how condescending and self-righteous a lot of your comments here have come across. You have referred to " people who maybe, just maybe give a shit about fascism" -- implying you do and others don't. You've said those others "think, though they would never stoop to say these words, that cancel culture has gone too far on the site" -- that is, you believe that many people here are replicating conservative arguments but are too dishonest or too stupid to admit it.

You're complaining that people are being cruel to you, but it seems clear that you hold a lot of the membership in disdain. People shouldn't be snarking at you -- or anyone! -- but it's not exactly surprising that they are.
posted by neroli at 9:34 AM on December 30, 2021 [33 favorites]


people who maybe, just maybe give a shit about fascism"

Yes, that is the precise purity test I was referencing. But I like vengescold.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:38 AM on December 30, 2021 [13 favorites]


I'm crossing into "ugh this isn't worth it, fuck this site" levels.

Rock 'em Sock 'em, I'm American, too.

Start speaking for yourself and yourself alone, because you don't speak for me.

I do not care if warriorqueen meets your standards of Sufficient Knowledge of US or Sufficient Antifascist Bona Fides or whatever other gatekeeping you've decided on.

I want perspectives from abroad, on whatever subjects they choose, and they don't need to be perfect by your personal standards.
posted by champers at 9:46 AM on December 30, 2021 [18 favorites]


I swear to god if someone buttons in my thread about kindness I'm gonna be mad.
posted by bondcliff at 9:56 AM on December 30, 2021 [72 favorites]


Rock em Sock em: please stop, don't do the hyper-personalizing "you personally obviously know nothing" thing,

I'm not at all for the mods perma-disabling people's accounts in general but whatever happened to temporary time outs?
posted by y2karl at 10:20 AM on December 30, 2021 [8 favorites]


Ok jeez. Fine. I'll give it a minute.

I want a global perspective. That's a big plus for me.

And it's interesting to hear about what other people think about the US, because this place is honking bizarre.

I can't fucking experience that if someone's going to come in all, "Well, you shouldn't talk unless you meet my personal standards! Now present your qualifications! Let's argue about credentials! Begone, imperfect Canadian!"

In general, it feels like things that aren't competitions become competitions for reasons that make no damn sense.

And I'm not sure how one poster became the self-appointed arbiter of who cares about fascism, or why there's so much browbeating on the subject.
posted by champers at 10:27 AM on December 30, 2021 [11 favorites]


You're complaining that people are being cruel to you, but it seems clear that you hold a lot of the membership in disdain. People shouldn't be snarking at you -- or anyone! -- but it's not exactly surprising that they are.

Fair enough, you're probably right.

I can't fucking experience that if someone's going to come in all, "Well, you shouldn't talk unless you meet my personal standards! Now present your qualifications! Let's argue about credentials! Begone, imperfect Canadian!"

I get why you think that's what's happened, and it's partly why I'm so frustrated about my comment being deleted. If I'm an asshole, which I sometimes am, fair enough, but this is not at all what I said or intended.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:29 AM on December 30, 2021 [2 favorites]


I swear to god if someone buttons in my thread about kindness I'm gonna be mad.

I have considered it several times but as people are already calling for timeouts for me, not sure I will be too missed!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:30 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


[nb I've been writing this thing for like. an hour.]

Okay, that's not a bad point, tiny frying pan. It's definitely easy to feel threatened by a comment and get drawn into a really unproductive round of "is this place safe for me or for you?", especially again when everything is frustrating. I have no idea what was in the deleted comment, but it doesn't sound super productive. So can I circle back to a couple of points I thought were really good that we've sort of passed over?

One is this point by Tell Me No Lies, looking at the actual spread of FPPs as a function of unique users in the dataset over approximately the past three years. If you haven't clicked through to look at the graph, it is extremely unequivocal: getting more posts is a function of getting more people to make front page posts, period. All the variation in the number of posts per day, or almost all of it, is being driven by the number of unique users who took the time to make a post. It occurs to me that this is a little bit opaque because we have that cap where any given person can post only once in a day, so of course "more unique posters" means "more posts." That said, I think it's a really important point to make and I want to signpost it.

A lot of people believe that the solution to this site's long standing financial problems is to increase the size of the user base and encourage a larger userbase to financially support our distinctive, valuable, and important moderation services. I am among them. As CrystalDave pointed out, a lot of this conflict is not because of drive-by trolling but because many of the users here are highly invested in this site and community. In light of all of that, and of the point about increasing FPPs being a frequency of increasing the number of people who feel comfortable posting here, what is the most important thing we can do to change site-wide behavior to encourage new people to engage here?

Tell Me No Lies pointed out also that we have a very high proportion of very long term users, who can get bored and dismissive when someone newer brings up a "done to death" topic. We need to structurally make a habit of curbing that. I don't think it's entirely about the aging userbase, either: I'm thirty, but one of the things I think is strongest about Metafilter's structure as a community is that we all get mixed together evenly. That means that there's the potential for a lot of mixing of people with different perspectives at all times and it's hard to curate one's experience, which is sometimes a weakness--it's a big reason for the level of conflict the site sees--but also a powerful potential strength.

Speaking of age, this is actually one of the places in my personal social network that can be specifically valuable for me because it encourages me to interact with people of a wide range of ages, especially older than myself. Right now, especially with the, ah, deterioration of Facebook and the deliberate choice of that platform to increase aggression, there are not a lot of places for talking to other adults at different life stages in my life in a context in which we are seeking to better understand each other and connect with one another.

I think this is also true for folks outside of my life stage: I had an interaction the other day with a college student I was giving some feedback on a presentation to in which she very tentatively asked me how old I was and how my career had gone. I felt extremely old--she would be perhaps 21 or 22--and explained that I was 31, and talked about how my PhD had gone. She expressed surprise, noticed she was accidentally being a little rude, and then apologized and thanked me--she said that there weren't many people around her who weren't either her own age or much older than herself to talk to, and she had some questions about how I'd gotten to where I was and what that was looking like. Me, I'm not in touch with my family of origin, the politics is a big reason why, but MeFi is still one of the few places in my life where I can come and talk to people older and wiser than myself and learn from them as peers. I think that's so incredibly valuable, and I wonder if that sort of attitude might help the "oh my god, I've seen this a thousand times"-style frustration and dismissiveness.

I also think peakes has an uncomfortable but important point: Metafilter cannot be a replacement for individual therapy. Period. Not only does that not scale--there are not enough mods in the world to handle that kind of thing--but we're not qualified to do it as users. We don't have the right information to take on that kind of authority. There is a need for peer support for a lot of us who are struggling right now, but I also think we need to have clear boundaries about what kinds of things are above the site's pay grade before we wind up hitting the point of explosive burnout more generally.
posted by sciatrix at 10:31 AM on December 30, 2021 [34 favorites]


You've said those others "think, though they would never stoop to say these words, that cancel culture has gone too far on the site" -- that is, you believe that many people here are replicating conservative arguments

I do want to say though that, while I appreciate the comments on my tone, I very much think this is true. I will not back down from this point. If it bothers people, I will have to take my lumps, but I have an obligation on the behalf of other people reading to say that I 100% think that this is the case.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:35 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


Right now, especially with the, ah, deterioration of Facebook and the deliberate choice of that platform to increase aggression, there are not a lot of places for talking to other adults at different life stages in my life in a context in which we are seeking to better understand each other and connect with one another.

I feel like this is the only discussion area left that isn't social media. I do not feel that it is safe to have conversations on Facebook or anywhere else really otherwise. So if we can preserve this one, that'd be great.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:39 AM on December 30, 2021 [26 favorites]


I'm so frustrated about my comment being deleted

I want to also point this out: that's always an incredibly frustrating experience when it happens to me, no matter how much in retrospect I have to admit the decision was probably the right one. It's even more frustrating, actually, when I get so wound up that the comment which gets deleted really... probably... needed deleting. I did not see this deleted comment, so I don't know how it was phrased or what it said, but I am still interested in hearing your answers to the questions I asked upthread.

I also gotta say... if you're agreeing that you do hold large swathes of the membership here in disdain, and it is not clear to me whether you are saying this which is why I'm asking, I have to wonder why you're here. You answered that question upthread starting with declaring that you are "pretty much permanently associated with the site (like in a news-y way)." I have that status, too--I very literally have my current job because of a stunt I pulled here, and it's one of the reasons I am really attached to this place. But... if this wasn't a place I thought could still be a home for me and the things I care about, I could leave it. I could take that gift and walk away with it; I am not required to be here, and I can still do the great works I think are important enough to dedicate my life to in other places speaking with the people I think are doing good work. If I didn't respect many of the people here, including you, enough to think they were worth listening to as well as speaking to... I would do that. The lure of the audience is powerful, but not as powerful as the feeling of being trapped and unhappy.

I do not know if that is the case for you or whether I am projecting. I'm talking here because I am, as gently as I can, asking these things and trying to figure out whether they are the case. I don't know who you think is a crypto-conservative parroting secret conservative talking points dressed up in fancy leftist language, so glumly I am rather convinced I'm among them, but I'm doing my best to speak honestly to you about what I think and to be vulnerable to make myself as non-threatening and honest as possible in the hopes of making enough connection to figure out the problem and see if there can't be common ground. I'm gonna pause and take a break from the thread after this to try and head off the over-stretched-and-then-explosive thing, though; fuck knows that can't be easy to deal with.
posted by sciatrix at 10:46 AM on December 30, 2021 [14 favorites]


...I will not back down from this point. If it bothers people, I will have to take my lumps, but I have an obligation on the behalf of other people reading to say that I 100% think that this is the case.

Most people here are fast learners about taking on all comers Horatio on the bridge style. There is a vast difference between persuading other people to your point of view and making yourself right by making everyone else wrong over and over and over and over ad infinitum. You've made this all about you you you. Read the room for God's sake and get a clue.
posted by y2karl at 10:55 AM on December 30, 2021 [26 favorites]


f I'm an asshole, which I sometimes am, fair enough, but this is not at all what I said or intended.

It may not be what you intended. However, it seems like it is how you SOUNDED, and it may behoove you to reflect on why that might be the case and how you might have made your point clearer and whoso many people took it that way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:05 AM on December 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


The thing is, asshole isn't something you are, it's something you do. You don't really get to choose what you are,* but you do get to choose what you do.

(*I suspect there's heated debate about this, but it would spoil the aphorism.)
posted by Grangousier at 11:08 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


"I won't take you at your word, I've decided what all of you secretly think, it's quite terrible, and I'll defend it to the death to prove some sort of point" is no way to go through life.

It's also no way to have a conversation.
posted by champers at 11:09 AM on December 30, 2021 [14 favorites]


I will not back down from this point. If it bothers people, I will have to take my lumps, but I have an obligation on the behalf of other people reading to say that I 100% think that this is the case.

Speaking as a person reading the thread: I release you from this obligation! No need to keep stating this opinion on our behalf! You're free!
posted by buntastic at 11:26 AM on December 30, 2021 [30 favorites]


An overload of snark can stop people from posting nonsnarky comments. It seems to set the atmosphere in a way that would potentially keep me from commenting to say 'Well actually I kind of like this'.
Who wants to feel like they're naive enough to enjoy the thing in a room full of people who are being cleverly negative about the thing? Not me, that's who.

And it can get worse than that if you think the thing you kinda like can be seen as problematic in some way. And these days, what can't? And not being from the dominant culture on this site, how can I ever be sure?
'You like this... what are you, some kind of fascist?!'


I just want to second this. I've been making more of an effort this year to just say "this is awesome" on FPPs that I like, even if that's all I say, just because I see how many great threads get few responses, while the fighty ones can get to three digits. But when things get fighty, I just don't have the spoons to engage anymore. I had a response in the bad-gift thread, and I deleted it without posting, and another in the shopping cart thread. I was actively interested in both topics (especially about how my family deals with gifts), but hell if I wanted to cross some unseen line. To jump back to Dave Barry - since it's a low hanging fruit right now - every year someone posts his year in review, and every year people fall all over themselves trying to hate him the most, and it's just baffling to me. Like people hating on Minions, or Billy Joel. I'm not a huge fan of Barry's anymore, but I used to be. And in the last few years his work has felt lazy or tired (to me), but some of the jokes in that piece landed, and some didn't, and I just can't understand how someone who plays to the middle is more of an enemy of the people than people who think it's funny to say we should shoot people like me. He's not a political satirist. He writes about politics sometimes, but most of his pieces that he does are about dogs, or home appliances blowing up. But the atmosphere in that thread was so off-putting that I wasn't going to stick my neck out over it - I even hesitated to click the favorite button on a couple of comments that I agreed with, in case anyone was policing those as well. And not only that, I'm right this minute debating whether or not to post this, and invite what seems like an inevitable attack about how wrong I am.

I almost never post in MetaTalk threads, and especially not in these state-of-the-site ones, because I've almost always regretted it when I do. And I've watched as a lot of the people here who generally shared my opinions here have buttoned in these threads, making it feel less and less welcoming at a time when I think community building and finding common ground should be one of the most important things a site like this should work towards -- especially if people are worried about the world getting existentially worse. But maybe that means I'm being a both-sides-er now.

One more reason why we can't have nice things, I guess.
posted by Mchelly at 11:27 AM on December 30, 2021 [26 favorites]


Mchelly, I think the issue boils down to boundaries.

If a person doesn't like something, great. If they think it's a wrecking ball across the tits of democracy, fine.

I want to hear it.

It's when a person appoints themselves the sole arbiter of what is right and good, decides they care about the state of the world and everyone else doesn't, starts browbeating people, starts putting words in their mouths, etc that shit goes sideways.
posted by champers at 11:36 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


I will not back down from this point. If it bothers people, I will have to take my lumps, but I have an obligation on the behalf of other people reading to say that I 100% think that this is the case.

The intended tone of the following statement is one of gentle humor.

Do you truly have such an obligation? Was there an election somewhere, or a memo I missed?
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 11:47 AM on December 30, 2021 [5 favorites]


folklore724 has been knocking it out of the park with posting FPPs steadily, on a wide variety of topics, regardless of the comments that follow.

Thank you folklore724 - much appreciated!
posted by cynical pinnacle at 12:07 PM on December 30, 2021 [27 favorites]


It's when a person appoints themselves the sole arbiter of what is right and good, decides they care about the state of the world and everyone else doesn't, starts browbeating people, starts putting words in their mouths, etc that shit goes sideways.

This really bothers me, given that your last several comments were made-up quotes that Rock 'em Sock 'em didn't say. Disagree with someone's point or whatever, fine. But doing that thing where you put your own spin on something someone said and then putting scare quotes around it is gross.
posted by chococat at 12:15 PM on December 30, 2021 [6 favorites]


Seconding thanks to folklore724, and adding Bella Donna as someone I've noticed has posted lots of good stuff recently. I mean, she's always posted lots of good stuff, but I've particularly noticed it recently.
posted by paduasoy at 12:24 PM on December 30, 2021 [17 favorites]


Seconding thanks to folklore724, and adding Bella Donna as someone I've noticed has posted lots of good stuff recently.

I can't be the only one who has noticed that Monkeytoes has been absolutely killing it with the front page posts.
posted by bondcliff at 12:37 PM on December 30, 2021 [21 favorites]


I've noticed that the volume and quality of FPPs over the past month or so has been great, and I just want to take a moment to express my appreciation to everyone who's contributed to that. You're all what makes this site good.
posted by biogeo at 12:47 PM on December 30, 2021 [14 favorites]


Monkeytoes
Agreed! I especially liked Rewild Your Attention and the discussion about the internet, finding and creating content and some comments on MF.
posted by paduasoy at 1:05 PM on December 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


Added a post with a couple short videos on movie special effects. My usual practice when posting something is to not participate in the comments at all. If people don't like it, fine.

that thing where you put your own spin on something someone said and then putting scare quotes around it is gross.

I disagree, it's clear that in each case champers is giving their interpretation of what the other person is saying, not quoting them directly.
posted by russilwvong at 1:34 PM on December 30, 2021 [6 favorites]


peakes said:

Here's something which is going to sound snarky but that I'm saying in earnest: it has always been my impression that there is a good bit of Metafilter which exists because a lot of Americans* can't afford therapy. ... I posit that this is damaging the site not because those feelings are unjustified--they emphatically are not--but because that kind of processing/catharsis is not what Metafilter is built for, and not something it can effectively do for us

I think you're right. I've made similar observations in a couple of previous MetaTalks which devolved into the familiar pattern of acrimony and entrenchment.

There's no pretty way to say it: I do think that some users have an unhealthy relationship with MetaFilter. As I put it in one of those previous MetaTalks:
I see a lot of people implicitly assuming that the purpose of MetaFilter (or, at least, a purpose) is to provide comfort and emotional support during difficult times. And therefore, if the mods fail to immediately meet the users' emotional needs, they are somehow betraying the site's purpose.

And, like...MeFi certainly can be that, and has been that, at various times. But I don't think that "emotional comfort" is MeFi's primary mission. MeFi exists to facilitate discussion about interesting stuff on the web. Sometimes those things happen to be sad, and MeFi happens to have a great community of thoughtful people, who can lend comfort at those moments.

But that emotional support is a happy bonus. Coming to MeFi and finding that the site isn't meeting your exact emotional needs at that exact moment doesn't mean that something has gone wrong. Maybe it just means that you're over-reliant on a message board for your therapeutic needs.
(Note that I'm quoting from another thread, with a different tone and context. I might put that a little more gently, if I were writing it specifically for this thread. But I think the basic idea holds up.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:33 PM on December 30, 2021 [22 favorites]


Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?

I've been here since 2002, and from the connections made on this site, I've made lifelong real-life friends and been to several Metafilter weddings. You get to see from the comments who 'your' people are on here, and look out for them. It's always interesting when I talk about MeFi to other MeFites that we will all mention particular members that we resonate with and the others will go "Huh? Never heard of them!"

This site does some things very, very well indeed from my perspective in the UK - I've learned a lot about US politics, particularly at local level, although I consider myself a feminist the emotional labor thread was a lightbulb moment for me and AskMe is a constant source of interest and education to me. The introduction of FanFare lets me indulge my love of trashy TV with others who like the same things. When my boyfriend died, members of this site rallied round me in so many ways that I will never forget their kindness after I reached out for help.

I will also never forget that courageous members of this site literally saved two young women from sex traffickers.

As others have said upthread, there are some incredibly knowledgeable and intelligent people on this site, and when I first found MetaFilter in 2002 - when I was very new to the internet - it was such a relief to find that there were other people as oddly nerdy as I am. Some people (even if I disagreed with their point of view) write beautifully - remember the long, winding narratives paulsc used to write in response to AskMe or MeFi posts?

I skip the negativity, and, to be fair, I've not been subjected to any nastiness - other than one person I had to block after we met IRL and they showed an unhealthy and angry obsession with a relationship/friendship I was in with another member.

It's easy to skip the snark when I'm reading a thread - and I know it's easy for me to say that if it's not directed at me. There are people behind the usernames. In my job I get abuse directed towards me by the public and so I know how this hurts. But it is true to say that the snark and fear of harsh judgement has limited my desire to post on the Blue.

I'm in a WhatsApp group with my book club members, and from time to time someone will post a meme or video. There's one women who - every single time - says "I've already seen that". I don't know why she has to say that, and it makes me think less of her. Because I spend so much time online, 99% of the time I've already seen it too, but I just reply with a laughing emoji or a "That's great!". I know some people thrive on conflict and argument but, honestly, life's too short.
posted by essexjan at 2:47 PM on December 30, 2021 [27 favorites]


I've been trying to be more proactive about posting "Thanks, this is cool!" when someone posts something I appreciate. However, I'd like to consider that it's possible that the two posts alluded to in the OP here became targets of 'snark' because there's not much there there. One is a new music video from one of the most famous musicians in the world and the other is a Washington Post article. I don't have any grievance with the individuals who posted them, but if folks are feeling personally hurt/invested when the community has negative things to say about this kind of low-effort, dominant-culture stuff, I guess I have a little trouble finding a lot of sympathy there.
posted by dusty potato at 3:30 PM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]


Metafilter being used as therapy - I can see people doing it. In a similar situation, I'm in a Discord channel where a user posts about how their life is awful and lousy and how it's not getting any better, every few months. This is the only thing they contribute. People try to be supportive, but this person doesn't actually respond to what anyone says, not a single acknowledgement or reaction. I didn't like it but I eventually blocked this person so I won't see what they post or get any notifications about it. Is that the correct way to handle it? I didn't sign up for this.

I hope they get some help, but I don't feel particularly responsible if they don't.
posted by meowzilla at 4:04 PM on December 30, 2021 [3 favorites]


if folks are feeling personally hurt/invested when the community has negative things to say about this kind of low-effort, dominant-culture stuff, I guess I have a little trouble finding a lot of sympathy there.

Of course you're right, but tone still matters, and asking for people to be kind is not the same as asking for Polyanna positivity. These posts are made by members here, not editors, some of whom have never done this before. The thing that you find low-effort and dominant-culture enough to have no problem with negativity over, are also precisely low-effort and dominant-culture enough to not feel obligated to say more negative things about it once someone already has. Someone liked the thing enough to post it. If you hate everything about it, add another favorite onto the pile of the person who snarked on it first, and move on.

Pointing out specific things about the posted article/video/underwater basket that you don't like is still engaging with it as something worth talking about. Joining a chorus to imply that the person who created the thing shouldn't be allowed to have any audience, or the thing shouldn't even exist, and anyone who likes it is wrong - especially when the person being critical can't be bothered to watch the video / read the article / spell the creator's name right - that's a different kind of negativity.
posted by Mchelly at 4:39 PM on December 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


if folks are feeling personally hurt/invested when the community has negative things to say about this kind of low-effort, dominant-culture stuff, I guess I have a little trouble finding a lot of sympathy there.

Are you aware of the adage "if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:49 PM on December 30, 2021 [4 favorites]


essexjan, thank you for linking to the article about the sex trafficking thread. I read the article, then went back and read the thread, and OMG. That was incredible.

On a less striking but still meaningful note, I have gotten amazing help and offers of help from MeFites, including one who offered to do my laundry when my washer broke in the early days of the pandemic and another who sent me my favorite planner from the UK when I posted an Ask looking for substitutes available in the US. And that doesn't even count the words of kindness and emotional support I've been on the receiving end of here.

Sometimes it's easy to forget how absolutely wonderful people on this site can be. I'm embarrassed that I needed that reminder, but I did.
posted by FencingGal at 4:52 PM on December 30, 2021 [11 favorites]


I will not back down from this point. If it bothers people, I will have to take my lumps, but I have an obligation on the behalf of other people reading to say that I 100% think that this is the case.

I genuinely support you not backing down on something that is important to you (I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it etc), but please don't claim you have an obligation or have permission to do so on my behalf. You speak here only on your own behalf.
posted by dg at 5:28 PM on December 30, 2021 [14 favorites]


Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?

There was that time when several other mefites and I put together an actual magazine, MeFi Mag

Or the time I was part of an effort to help another Mefite get some medical help.

And that time Mefi put together

or all the comment fables

or the interactive fiction contests!

or the collaborative book some Mefites wrote, Vistor's Day.

Or back in the day when the wife and I got kicked off Facebook for a really dumb reason, so I posted an AskMe asking for advice and someone got the accounts magically restored

Plus, I've managed to get a lot spouses

All this, plus the various great conversations I've, some that have literally changed my life, all the stuff I've learned about myself (being an introvert is ok) and others. The struggles of women, the disabled, how other black people in America feel and react about things, how foreign people see America. I could go on and on, but there's a huge amount of knowledge, both personal and worldly that I've gained from being a longtime member here.

That doesn't mean it's been a non-stop good time. i've left the site a few times. Others have asked me to leave the site at times. It's sometimes been depressing, maddening, frustrating, and worst of all, boring. But if you stick around, focus on the good parts, and maybe try to add to the goodness, its totally gonna be worth it.

The big secret is that Metafilter is this ever changing mob, composed of ever changing smaller mobs. Sometimes that's a great thing, sometimes it really sucks. Take what you like and learn to ignore the rest.

For instance, I usually ignore political threads or just skim them for information. I hang out mostly on Fanfare, talking about tv and movies, skim Mefi, AskMe, and MeTa and then I most on to another site. Part of that was learning what aspects of the site annoy me and to stop interacting with this aspects.

So yeah, come on in the water is fine, just remember to get out every now and then, or you'll turn into a prune
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:32 PM on December 30, 2021 [29 favorites]


Mod note: A couple deleted; please don't use this post to shit on other people's FPPs.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:40 PM on December 30, 2021 [10 favorites]


For the reducing snarky comments side of thing, I have discovered the therapeutic catharsis of writing out snarky comments and then not posting them. I do it quite a bit on MF but it's helped me on youtube, twitter, pretty much any place with a comment box. It requires some impulse control to not just hit post, but I don't think there's ever been an instance where I've regretted not posting a comment I wrote this way. I think it helps to go in with the expectation that you won't post it since it's low effort, off the cuff writing that you'll spend all of 5 minutes on anyway, and you can always re-evaluate afterwards if you decide it's worth exposing the idea to the keen gaze of the internet at large.
posted by Aleyn at 8:01 PM on December 30, 2021 [12 favorites]


Longtime users, are there upsides to being a member here? Or is it just going to be frustrating and depressing?

"Many forms of website have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that Metafilter is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that Metafilter is the worst of all websites-- except for every other website..."

Anyway, I kind of grew up in this place. I've seen so many other online communities come and go, implode, explode, fizzle, burn to the ground. Somehow Metafilter survives. It's got good bones.
posted by gwint at 11:09 PM on December 30, 2021 [9 favorites]


A small and non-political example, but it illustrates the point too. I posted yesterday (for the first time in ages) about some popular podcasts about spooky stuff, which are a fun listen. A lot of people participated in live listen-alongs on twitter, and they've had fun doing it too. You don't need to believe in ghosts to have fun listening, in the same way you don't have to believe in aliens to watch the X-Files or Father Christmas to watch Miracle on 34th Street. It's just fun, and some of the comments are from people who have started listening and are having fun too.

Then along comes the inevitable roomba mood-hoover comment, posting the Sagan quote about "lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance."

I mean, really? It's just a fun podcast for people to enjoy, not a post about supernatural belief in society or anything like that. But hey, no, it's celebrating ignorance for the credulous. (insert 'I am very intelligent' comic here).

This kind of tedious shit puts people off posting, I'm sure. It does me.
posted by reynir at 3:13 AM on December 31, 2021 [56 favorites]


I consider an FPP successful if I get at least one "thanks", it feels like I made somebody's day a little bit better.
posted by signal at 4:02 AM on December 31, 2021 [12 favorites]


Reynard I flagged that one in the spooky thread. Totally rude and unnecessary.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:06 AM on December 31, 2021 [3 favorites]


That spooky thread comment ticks both the tone-deaf doomy and tone-deaf "everything centers around USA" boxes.
posted by Zumbador at 5:39 AM on December 31, 2021 [5 favorites]


Reynir my autocorrect totally screwed up your name, I'm sorry!
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:51 AM on December 31, 2021 [1 favorite]


reynir, I sure hope that one comment won't put you off posting more things if you want to! And while I understand, since we're in this long, partly combative(?!) thread about being kinder on the blue, it may seem like this is an example of that. And it is! But it also isn't. Because one person is just one person, and the majority of the comments appreciated the post. So, try not to let that one person ruin the whole thing for you. That one poster is not necessarily indicative of a larger problem. In this case I think it's really only indicative of one grump.

I think that happens a lot. (I also think I say this same thing a lot.) Sometimes it's just one grumpy person (not always! Sometimes it's a whole series of grumpy snarky, having-a-bad-day or who-knows what, people having their jerky moment[s]). I just mean, let's all of us try not to take one single comment in a sea of otherwise nice or appreciative comments, to heart too much. (Also, it's gone now!)
posted by Glinn at 6:09 AM on December 31, 2021 [7 favorites]


Rejnir, I'm sorry that happened. What a shitty thing for someone to do. Who knew you could RUIN AMERICA by listening to a podcast about spooky stuff? I wonder if that's the same person who responded to my Ask about buying crystals for a friend having a hysterectomy with an anti-woo rant, which the mods thankfully deleted after I flagged it. BTW, the crystals were beautiful and my friend loved them. Neither of us considered them a replacement for medical care, but they brought her some beauty and happiness during a tough time.

When I was a kid, I read an interview with Mike Nesmith in a Monkees magazine (!), and he quoted his grandmother as saying that some people can only make themselves look taller by digging a hole under someone else.
posted by FencingGal at 6:10 AM on December 31, 2021 [23 favorites]


Fortunately that comment from the spooky thread seems to be gone.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:35 AM on December 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


I think we may have talked about this before - but is there any way we could collectively be informed when someone posts for the first time? The tags firsttimeposter and newposter don't seem ever to have been used. I'm wondering about a mod action to add a tag like that when someone posts so that those of us who would like to see more new posters can check the tag, have a look at the post and, if we want to, post something encouraging or keep an eye out for snark.

I'm not suggesting of course that any of us should go out of our way to be positive if we don't feel a post is good or if it's just not something we're interested in.

I realise that this would be an additional task for the mods (though I have a feeling cortex said once that posts by new users are automatically highlighted to them so it might not be too much work?). I also realise that this could highlight posts to users who might actively want to snark at new posters, though I hope there aren't people in this discussion who'd want to do that. If it's a tag that users can look at rather than any kind of more obvious announcement, that might work for a loose group of encouragers to follow.

Also, is it time for another month of themed posts? Even if it's something simple like Januaryfrombookmarks.
posted by paduasoy at 7:23 AM on December 31, 2021 [10 favorites]


Glinn: I just mean, let's all of us try not to take one single comment in a sea of otherwise nice or appreciative comments, to heart too much.

That would be really good.
I see this a lot, and not just here. I'm a moderator on a technical forum and I notice this pattern more than once a week: someone asks a question, gets answers from, say, five to seven people of which one is using a tone that's perceived as harsh or rude, and that is the one post they reply to. Even if some of the others give the answers they were looking for!

It seems people tend to ignore the positive, even if it's what they have asked for, if there is something negative to catch their attention. It's very human, I'm sure... but it does not reward all the nice people who have taken time out of their day to be helpful and friendly. Only the gruff ones.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:54 AM on December 31, 2021 [6 favorites]


Themed month[s,even] PLEASE! I know I would find it encouraging. cortex once also mentioned a "double post jubilee" where we could repost from the archives and I still think that is a really fun idea.
posted by youarenothere at 7:54 AM on December 31, 2021 [9 favorites]


Themed month[s,even] PLEASE!

YES. Post from your bookmarks , double-post jubilee, July By Women, art--the existence of a prompt, and the support of those promoting/participating in it nudges me to make something. And I appreciate that nudge.

P.S. Are we doing an underappreciated comments post next week?
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:38 AM on December 31, 2021 [9 favorites]


If we're not, we should! I fucking love those threads and I love reading all the things that didn't get as many favorites when they were posted as someone else sincerely thinks they deserve. I wonder if I could find a little script to pull out comment IDs for "things I favorited with less than 20 favorites" or something ala the InfoDumpster.
posted by sciatrix at 8:56 AM on December 31, 2021 [3 favorites]


You don't need to believe in ghosts to have fun listening, in the same way you don't have to believe in aliens to watch the X-Files or Father Christmas to watch Miracle on 34th Street. It's just fun

Exactly. I mean seriously: do you think I like ghost stories because I believe in ghosts? Maybe the reason I devoted weeks of my life as a child to reading Stephen King is that I believed in my soul that one day, if I was very very good, I, too, could be doused in pig blood while menstruating and burn down my senior prom? Do people go to community theater productions at the Yuletide because they believe that a miser became a better boss because his dead business partner came back to life as a doorknocker? Sorry human beings have evolved the capacity to make up fun scary stuff and suspend disbelief long enough to divert themselves for a few hours now and then. Sorry that makes you mad.

Also! You don't get to co-opt Carl Sagan to make your ungenerous point. He was talking about organized religion, not campfire tales. There is no evidence in the record that Carl Sagan was a ghoststory spoilsport.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:47 AM on December 31, 2021 [10 favorites]


I swear to god if someone buttons in my thread about kindness I'm gonna be mad.

Not buttoning, but I’m kind of hyperventilating.

A couple of my rules for commenting that (I hope) help me be a better site member:

1. RtFA, even just skimming. I get that sitting through a two hour video might be a pain, but, then, commenting is not compulsory.

2. Read the whole thread. I find that my righteous hot reaction has often been made by the time I get to the end, which often saves me the work. Or made in a way that makes me glad I didn’t, because I’d feel bad about it later.

3. If I have something negative to say on a topic, I try to let people enthuse about it for a bit before bringing it up. Even then, I try to be light about it — “well I have this issue, but…”*

4. I give myself two chances to reply and/or clarify, and then I stop. I don’t think taking on all comers is great, either, and I usually leave a thread or take it to memail when I find that happening.

5. I favorite posts a lot more than I used to, and I try to remember the fantastic post flag.

It mostly works for me, you may get different results.

* I felt really bad after reading my comment in reynir’s recent FPP, because, while it was honest, it sounded kind of… dismissive, so I came back with a follow up that I hope made it better. Sorry about that! I have lots of opinions on podcasts!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:57 AM on December 31, 2021 [18 favorites]


My rules for FPPs are simpler:

1. Listen to an excessive number of horror/weird audio drama podcasts.

2. Make a list of them, trying really hard to not editorialize.

3. Try to encourage people to power through work by younger creators that might be less polished.

4. Keep the bad ones to myself.

Then I hope people tell me what podcasts they like. I am still waiting for taz to debut “Very Early Morning Hairball Incident,” as promised.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:08 AM on December 31, 2021 [8 favorites]


5. I favorite posts a lot more than I used to, and I try to remember the fantastic post flag.

There was a particular member here who hasn't been active lately but who was fully awesome, and they'd just drop favorites around like johnny planting apples, and I started doing that more because of them. If I agree? favorite! If it's a good point I hadn't thought of? favorite! If it's a point I fully disagree with and now I'm squinting at my screen for a very long time in abject confusion and mild horror but you gave me some really important perspective? hey, I hear you, here's a favorite! If I know you, a favorite often means I'm just saying hey there, friend. If you're a name that's new or that I don't see often, why hello, welcome back, here's a favorite.

IT'S SO FUN. It makes me feel magical in a mildly powerful way, kinda like the tooth fairy.
posted by mochapickle at 11:29 AM on December 31, 2021 [50 favorites]


It makes me feel magical in a mildly powerful way, kinda like the tooth fairy.
AGREED! I love favouriting comments, posts, and people who comment because they say something interesting or clever.

This kind of tedious shit puts people off posting, I'm sure. It does me.
I remember a few months ago when someone commented on a post thusly (approximate, not verbatim): "Why would anyone post about this?" I quickly responded with some version of, "Some of us are interested in X. If it's not your jam, no need to stick around." Happily, that commenter stopped. Mind you, not all the comments were uncritical; there was a fairly lively discussion. But nobody continued with "this is stupid" type of comments.

Bondcliff, thank you for this post. I wondered why a popular and usually active member had not posted in a bit. Turns out their account was disabled. When I contacted them to ask why, I was told they got tired of the trolls, as they characterized it. They were tired of making fairly laborious FPPs that were not intended to be political or serious and feeling like some folks dropped by just to shit on their post.

I posted the recent language FPP and I was taken aback by the unexpected turn it took. I have sympathy for the person who made a lengthy comment about how miserable it is to live in the US, and could understand the commenter's perspective about positive language even as I disagreed with it.

What made the thread bearable for me as the poster was the other members who immediately took exception to the derail. I suspect that the thread would have been longer and more fun for a lot of us without that derail but derails are human. That derail wasn't snark, either.

It's the "this is stupid" or "I hate X" type of comments that wear down so many posters. The person who disabled their account? It was super maddening to them that the commenters shitting on their posts were often folks who had never posted an FPP themselves.

Way way above someone said or suggested that the venting threads might have made it easier to be less snarky or unhelpful in comments. Honestly, I love the venting threads. MetaFilter may not be a substitute for therapy but I would love to see a return of venting threads. As a single person, I found them a simple and powerful way to feel less alone, especially during a time when so many people are spending more time alone than ever.

This place will always be imperfect because it is very human. Even so I love it greatly, and I love the people who are active here (including lurkers, who actively lurk!) very much. Every time a formerly active MeFite buttons, it feels like our collective light has dimmed. Let us reach for the light. Let us be kind; one can be critical without being cutting.

Sorry if this is disjointed. It's a bit after midnight here in Sweden and I am tired. May 2022 be much less sucky than its predecessor.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:28 PM on December 31, 2021 [39 favorites]


Gott nytt år, Bella Donna!
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:41 PM on December 31, 2021 [8 favorites]


You don't need to believe in ghosts to have fun listening, in the same way you don't have to believe in aliens to watch the X-Files or Father Christmas to watch Miracle on 34th Street. It's just fun

Yup, I liked that one. So, in spirit of the old year.

"Humans must take care in teaching AI... or one day, we will be the ones deleted.
Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum. Success. Yum. Yum. Door closing."

-Rm9sbG93ZXJz
posted by clavdivs at 4:23 PM on December 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


Gott slut, Too-Ticky!
posted by Bella Donna at 4:23 PM on December 31, 2021 [3 favorites]


Gott slut

This cannot mean what I think it does….
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:53 PM on December 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


.. happy ending.
posted by clavdivs at 4:55 PM on December 31, 2021 [2 favorites]


Happy new year everyone.
posted by dmh at 8:04 PM on December 31, 2021 [5 favorites]


A few quick comments of encouragement:

Someone's been posting serious commentary about literature from time to time. Be still my heart. Keep doing what you're doing whenever you're inspired, whoever you are. (Sorry, I somehow never attached a name to the good taste I'm praising here.)
@tooticky — (Basically I'm clumsily trying to point out this site's US-centrism. It is a simple thing that needs to be done from time to time, because it's easy to forget.)
The site is US-centric because it was born and raised in the U.S. and has lots of U.S. users. BUT. I've said once before on mefi and I'm happy to say it agin: I would welcome it if anyone who lives in another country or knows a lot about someplace that's not the U.S. would post from time to time. The amount of foreign news coverage we get in the States has been shrinking for years, and what we do hear is largely confined to disaster coverage, sometimes U.S. caused disaster coverage, so that's not what I'm suggesting. Just whatever interests you that might interest others.
posted by Violet Blue at 8:23 PM on December 31, 2021 [6 favorites]


I remember a few months ago when someone commented on a post thusly (approximate, not verbatim): "Why would anyone post about this?" I quickly responded with some version of, "Some of us are interested in X. If it's not your jam, no need to stick around." Happily, that commenter stopped. Mind you, not all the comments were uncritical; there was a fairly lively discussion. But nobody continued with "this is stupid" type of comments.

Oh hey, this was me! Actually, this could be a really good case study for how not to respond to a post on MetaFilter.

It was this post about Finland's 36 Year old female Prime Minister and COVID from 3 weeks ago (and omg Bella Donna my time sense is absolutely as twisted as yours lol) and and my (now deleted, though preserved without my handle in your kind reply) was

Honestly what is the point of this post?


which was a shitty thing to write, and was rightfully deleted.*

To me, the pushback to the PM seemed like misogynistic click bait. But that was fully addressed by the first few comments in the thread! Also, it was the topic and the reaction to it that I had an issue with, and not the poster or the post. Framing it as a lazy "What is the point of this post [the discussion for which seems destined only to stir up misogynistic garbage]" meant that the part in brackets could just as easily be interpreted as "What is the point of this post [your post is bad, OP, and you should feel bad for posting it]" which is a shitty thing to imply.

In truth, my little sister who is an essential worker down in Asheville, NC, had been confronted with some COVID-related misogynistic bullshit the day prior and I was still fuming about it.

So I:
  • ignored that other commenters had already sort of made the point I was ham-fistedly attempting to make.
  • ignored Appropriate Feedback Routes Nos. 1 and 2 and didn't flag it and move on or (god forbid) post to the Grey about it.
  • let my pre-existing site-unrelated anger about my sister's harasser cloud my judgement.
That whole chain of mistakes led me to typing out that one sentence and leaving it like a stink bomb in the thread. Not my best day.**

I'm grateful to Bella Donna for calling it out, and for anyone else that flagged it, and especially to the mod who deleted it. And I'll try even harder to follow the process I know I should, especially on days where circumstances conspire to convince me to circumvent them.

Be better than me! Be a bondclif!

*from MetaFilter, though not my brain. Fun thing about my ND brain is I'll just remember every time I was an unreasonable asshole here (GOD I'm sorry I can be such a dick sometimes) and every time any of you were an unreasonable asshole here (lookin' at you, jonmc from like 15 years ago) even though you all have your own days of struggle too. I hate my brain sometimes.

** Perhaps doing this post-mortem will be enough to release it from an intrusive rumination cycle?

posted by lazaruslong at 12:14 AM on January 1 [35 favorites]


We all screw up some times, and in an ideal world that's what the mods are for: having your screwup comments deleted should be a favor not only to the thread but to you. We're all a lot better off if we can manage to extend a little grace to one another for our failings -- including for when sometimes someone just doesn't have those reserves of grace to tap from.

Happy new year, everyone.
posted by biogeo at 12:33 AM on January 1 [9 favorites]


Violet Blue: I would welcome it if anyone who lives in another country or knows a lot about someplace that's not the U.S. would post from time to time.

There is no 'if'. We are here, and we do that. Glad to hear that you would welcome it; it's happening, and has been happening for years.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:34 AM on January 1 [15 favorites]


It would happen more often if US commenters didn't steer those threads back to the US so much.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 1:41 AM on January 1 [33 favorites]


I’m late to this thread, but in the first hundred pages I didn’t see anyone talking about using flags the way I use flags to stop meanness here, so I may as well throw a penny into the ring.

I use custom flags to write short pleas to the mods that they step in and interfere, for the good of the site. If it’s more than a short plea, I use the footer Contact link which tells them what page I’m contacting about, and occasionally write a few hundred words in support of “can you please step in and stop this?”. I do one of those two every time I see some comment that clearly isn’t healthy for the discussion or the site, and often something happens in reply.

Is everyone else doing this, when they see these harmful-to-community behaviors?

In a social setting, when someone brings up their issues with camels, everyone groans and the old-timers apologize to the newcomers and distract them from the camel rant. We’re a forum, so flags for mods work well for comments like “Do we seriously need to derail into The Guardian again here?” or “Maybe the first comment shouldn’t be hateful ranting about she-who-shall-not-be-named and instead we can give space to trans voices?”, and the Contact form handles the essay-length “Please interrupt this tendril and curb it”. I know it leaves ripples in the threads, but it’s the only way I can shine a spotlight on community-harming behavior, and so I do and I let them study it and consider my pleas and sometimes they do (and sometimes they don’t, and if I used Contact I might get a nice reply talking about it).

I see in this post a hundred instances of “I saw a harmful direction in a discussion” referenced and linked and festering in the minds of others, and so I really just want to make sure that everyone is taking those to the mods — no matter how scary it may seem. They seem fine with “I wish this would stop, because this really hurts us” and they will use their own judgment anyways, so if anyone isn’t flagging because of uncertainty about whether something is egregious enough, that’s an excellent confirmation that it’s time to flag and let the mods hash it out amongst themselves.

This helped repair at least one really derailed-instantly transgender thread on the blue. It might not help every time, but it’ll also help them accumulate concerns for specific users, and guide their level of intervention in certain areas.

I’m deathly afraid to post on the blue, because I’m not sure if anyone cares what I think; but the mods have shown repeatedly that they do care what I think about comments and flags and concerns, and so I am no longer afraid of them. One step at a time for me, I suppose.
posted by Callisto Prime at 1:52 AM on January 1 [13 favorites]


lazaruslong, thank you for that - as someone who has the fear of FPPing, it's helpful to have your thoughts to help re-frame negative comments along the "someone having a bad day, not necessarily a reflection on the post" way.

And I'm sorry about the hassle your sister had had.
posted by paduasoy at 2:29 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Callisto Prime, I generally keep my flagging to AskMe where I am also most active, but I absolutely do what you’re talking about there. I love the new(ish) flag with note option. I used to flag noise or guideline break just to get a mod eyeball in there. Now I almost always leave a note.

Just the other day on a question where everyone was being really harsh towards the asker, they popped in after an especially blunt answer to publicly flagellate a little and demonstrate that they got the idea and everyone could stop already. Before I went to bed I flagged the especially blunt preceding comment with a note to the affect of “hey this is harsh and OP sounds like they could really use someone to reach out right now?” When I woke up later a mod note popped up on the thread though the comment I flagged remains, so I’m hoping things were nudged along a little via mod intervention.

I’ll try to remember I can do the same type of thing on the rest of the site. The norms for askme vs the blue are pretty different so it often doesn’t even occur to me to interact with comments there the same way.
posted by Mizu at 2:48 AM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Is everyone else doing this, when they see these harmful-to-community behaviors?

I mean, I definitely flag more now that we have the "with note" option, because it lets me note when a comment is maybe a little off or a potential flash point while not being firmly in "DELETE THIS" territory.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:25 AM on January 1 [4 favorites]


Be better than me! Be a bondclif!

Please, no. I have pooped on many a thread and even on my best days I can't seem to help sully most threads with a stupid dad joke. Like you though, I'm trying to be better.
posted by bondcliff at 8:05 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]


Soviet-style, realism, .....
Actually make them rare posters and sell them with a membership drive, call them war bonds, make it a whole thing.



Fund MiFi with Classic Soviet Socialist NFT's

 
posted by sammyo at 8:48 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]


I do the “flag with note” thing as well. My most common comments are along the lines of “unnecessary and discouraging to the poster and the discussion.” Sometimes the mods have agreed with me, sometimes it, but I feel like it is often a better option than calling out a particular comment in the thread itself.

A few people have noted that we are all more inclined to focus on negative or critical information than positive, and I think this is important. The figure I have heard most often in my leadership work is that it takes 7-9 positive points to outweigh one negative, so when I see the ratio tip away from 8/1, I pause and think seriously about whether what I want to say is necessary.
posted by rpfields at 10:02 AM on January 1 [8 favorites]


lookin' at you, ------from like 15 years ago
Did that once and he fucking tour into me. just saying but the great thing is, later he turned me unto the gem.
posted by clavdivs at 1:07 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


Is everyone else doing this, when they see these harmful-to-community behaviors?

Absolutely. Sometimes my note is as simple as, "This can't be okay."
posted by cooker girl at 9:02 AM on January 2 [9 favorites]


Callisto Prime, thank you very much for taking the time to flag harmful and disruptive comments, and also for talking about it here, reminding all of us that we can all help make the site more welcoming by flagging.

When bondcliff posted this thread, I went and re-read the guidelines - or, possibly, read them for the first time! in my 14 (!) years on the site - and was a little surprised to note that the guidelines actually cover most or all of the behaviors that are driving people away from the site.

The guidelines say, "Be considerate and respectful." Most (maybe all) snarky or dismissive comments are disrespectful.

It's great to use Flag With Note or the contact form to give the mods clear info on problematic comments - but even when there's no time or energy to do that, flagging with "Breaks the guidelines" actually does cover a whole lot of the problematic comments.

Thanks to everyone who helps make MetaFilter better and more welcoming!
posted by kristi at 11:12 AM on January 2 [3 favorites]


The guidelines say, "Be considerate and respectful." Most (maybe all) snarky or dismissive comments are disrespectful.


I don't agree. Saying something mean about a person is not respectful. Saying something mean about something they like is not disrespectful, unless you're criticizing them for liking it.
posted by bootlegpop at 5:35 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


May 2022 be much less sucky than its predecessor.

Bella Donna, this sentence can be read as a prediction, and I believe you!

(And this reading maybe even comports with the theme of your language post.)
(I read it as a month + AAVE "be")

posted by sylvanshine at 9:11 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Re kindness whilst being negative about the post - I liked the way BlueBlueElectricBlue framed it in the discussion about Johann Hari's article on attention. Whilst being clear that Hari can be "dangerously inaccurate", BlueBlueElectricBlue added "(Quick note - I absolutely in no way want to project any negativity on to the OP here! It's not their fault! It's an interesting topic! I'm sorry the guy turned out to be a wanker!)".
posted by paduasoy at 4:06 PM on January 3 [11 favorites]


I just posted a FPP about cheery things and nearly also including a warning along the lines of, "Please do not shit on this post." The third comment was a snarky downer. I did not handle it well. If a member thinks something I post is misguided, fine. But why mock it? I am just so bummed.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:10 AM on January 4 [11 favorites]


I flagged that; the fact that it's still there is why I think "flag more" is an insufficient answer to this problem. That sort of thing has to be deleted quickly, otherwise the entire tone of the thread becomes, at best, about defending the right to be happy about things.
posted by sagc at 11:13 AM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Thanks, sagc! I considered flagging it but honestly, it felt more satisfying for me to simply respond directly. I think the other commenters have done a good job of ignoring it and/or responding briefly. I agree that folks shouldn't have to defend the right to enjoy things, celebrate them, etc. Sigh.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:28 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


I did not handle it well.

Yes, you did. You handled it perfectly. (The comment is gone, but your response is still there.)
posted by FencingGal at 11:41 AM on January 4 [16 favorites]


Yeah, I literally cheered out loud at your response.
posted by bondcliff at 11:46 AM on January 4 [5 favorites]


I flagged that comment too, and am happy to see that it is gone. I also loved your response. I think replying directly is very appropriate, especially when you are the OP, but I'm heartened to see that the mods are taking flags seriously as well.

There are plenty of places to talk about 1939, but that post is not one of them.
posted by rpfields at 12:25 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Bella Donna, I flagged it too, and I thought about posting a reply to that terrible comment but then I didn't - but your reply was perfect.

I'm so sorry that happened to you and your great post, and I hope all the genuine appreciation and delight from the rest of us in that thread makes up for some of the hurt.
posted by kristi at 12:25 PM on January 4 [6 favorites]


So I made a post today following up on the fascinating case of someone phishing unpublished manuscripts. The first comment complains that the article is too thin. Contrast this to a Discord where the poster of the link (not me) was thanked for sharing it.

I realise this isn’t the worst instance here but if you’re wondering why people don’t feel energised in posting here, this is it: sometimes it feels you just aren’t good enough for the exalted Metafilter commenters. I suppose I should have not posted at all and waited until there was a more detailed article, right?
posted by adrianhon at 3:23 PM on January 5 [14 favorites]


I was just going to comment this as well on the post but decided against it. Instead I’ll put it here:
I realise this NYT piece is a bit thin on information – I thought the followup would be interesting to people here. If it’s not enough (as some people have made quite clear here) the mods can delete this post and someone else can post when there is more information.
posted by adrianhon at 3:25 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


[flipping Safari just ate my almost-ready-to-post draft. the previous version was better, k?]

IME how things are phrased makes a difference. "This sounds dubious, does anyone have more in-depth links?" or "no, the article is wrong, and here are some sources for why" feel different from a dismissive "this is thin".

I think commenters often perceive that their comments/criticism are directed at the author/creator of the linked material, but for an OP it can feel like personal criticism: "Why are you wasting our time with this?"

Because I read it and thought it was interesting, okay? I'm not claiming to be an expert about it. I was likely hoping that the discussion might lead to more information.

Also, I would like to encourage folks to use the "flag with note" option on early comments that seem to be derailing/threadshitty. (I mean, use it on any comment like that, but especially on the early-thread ones that have a tendency to set the tone of the discussion.) Like Bella Donna, I've posted FPPs with a clear tone of "this is about happiness, this is about how the author of the linked piece found some joy" and had the discussion get seriously derailed by early bad comments.
posted by Lexica at 6:18 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


Yes, I flagged with note, to no avail. To be honest I felt it was borderline so I don't blame the mods for not acting.

The problem is that it feels like there is very little way to provide feedback on these comments that isn't either a deletion (extreme) or replying to the comment (derail/escalation). Sadly I expect most Mefi commenters are unlikely to read this thread or others like it, so I'm not sure what the answer is.
posted by adrianhon at 2:12 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I've noticed some relatively active mod intervention/ soft-redirection in some of the more active threads (all covid related), at least. So even if response time is necessarily slower due to limited capacity, I think requests like this are helpful in letting mods know what we as a community would like to see more of.
posted by Think_Long at 9:06 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


I also think there are ways you can have a gentle re-railing comment without making it a derailly mess, most of the time anyhow. I definitely had a weird set of comments in one of my recent threads and made a short comment that seemed to make them stop. But wow, I was not happy about having to do that, but it wasn't really something I expected the mods to do much about (though I did flag with angry notes, sometimes it feels good just to mention that a thing makes you grumpy, even if the mods will just say "I know that feel" and move on).

As I mentioned in the anxiety thread, a lot of people have different internal regulators for how much of their crabby inside-the-head voice is also part of their public-communication voice, and also different internal barometers about what that balance is supposed to be. So I think we're all operating at a bit more crabby-outside levels, and I also think we're also mostly operating at different tolerance-to-crabby levels. So a comment that was maybe just saying "This makes me cranky because I am a cranky person generally and oh it's all been a lot hasn't it?" is perceived as being more "This post kinda sucks and I am specifically calling you out as the one who made it"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:14 AM on January 6 [10 favorites]


Where are the people being kind in this post? The comments are incredibly harsh, even after the trans connection is pointed out repeatedly.

Are we only being "kind" about certain topics that don't gore our particular ox or what?
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:08 PM on January 19 [3 favorites]


That's that difficult line between "mean" and "misogyny."
posted by warriorqueen at 2:11 PM on January 19 [8 favorites]


I really didn't mean to sound like I was threadshitting. I hope I didn't. It's just that I think the piece was a misfire purely because the title character was a generic mom and not a specific kind of mom.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:15 PM on January 19 [5 favorites]


Rock 'em Sock 'em - yeah, as a trans dude with a mom who mourned "the death of her daughter" weepily and enthusiastically, the piece being discussed there really resonated with me. But I sure as hell am not going to post in a thread that is so loudly ignoring the trans context in favor of defending real and imagined middle-class white women moms.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 4:04 PM on January 19 [22 favorites]


Like, it's the dude's personal blog, not a NYT thinkpiece. Of course it should be read in the context of his relationship with his mother.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 4:06 PM on January 19 [9 favorites]


It's funny, in a way that isn't funny at all, how this is a microcosm of the lived experience of trans folks, and especially trans men. Even in spaces about art that's created by us, for us and about us, we're ignored and invisible. We're only ever used as examples to prop up the righteousness of cis women who deign to notice us (especially in discourse about reproductive rights). When it comes to our own struggles or stories, we're invisible.

Oh well. Solidarity and strength to you, The demon that lives in the air.
posted by fight or flight at 5:04 PM on January 19 [20 favorites]


Mod note: Noting for clarity: a short string of comments deleted based on original commenter's request after an unfortunate choice of words.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:19 PM on January 19 [1 favorite]


I really didn't mean to sound like I was threadshitting. I hope I didn't. It's just that I think the piece was a misfire purely because the title character was a generic mom and not a specific kind of mom.

FWIW, I thought your comment was a good example of engaging with the material on its own terms in a respectful way, even if you had some criticisms.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:44 PM on January 19


Well that thread was depressing.

I used to think - to argue, even - that there wasn't a culture that was inherently hostile to trans people here.
posted by Dysk at 9:21 PM on January 19 [12 favorites]


standard metafilter skim-reading for outrage fodder is inherently hostile to everyone, including the commenters themselves
posted by thedaniel at 5:30 AM on January 20 [1 favorite]


That thread is outright embarrassing. It’s appalling that we’ve let so many TERF-y comments remain in that thread.
posted by schmod at 6:03 AM on January 20 [2 favorites]


That thread is outright embarrassing. It’s appalling that we’ve let so many TERF-y comments remain in that thread.

I have to stop reading that thread because 1) I honestly don't think I've ever been so completely astonished by the disconnect between FPP and most of the comments (I genuinely cannot figure how snarking on TERF-y Boomer moms who read "Reviving Ophelia" counts as bigotry, but YMMV, I guess) and 2) I actually seriously thought about leaving Metafilter for the first time in, I dunno, 18 years because it felt so weird in there.
posted by thivaia at 10:28 AM on January 20 [12 favorites]


You're not alone in that thought, thivaia.
posted by fight or flight at 10:48 AM on January 20 [8 favorites]


OMG folks, I value your contributions so much. Yes, that thread sucks. If you decide you need to button, please drop me a line first if you can spare the time. I won't try to talk you out of it, I will just want to say goodbye.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:01 PM on January 20 [5 favorites]


As the originator of the thread, I am aghast at how it played (continues to play) out. I really treasured some of the comments there (Ivan Fyodorovich, Chrysopoeia) and admired some analyses, but honestly, I am horrified by most of it. After the earlier FPP about a lovely piece of queer fiction, I thought... it might have been okay. It was, is not okay. I am sad for the dignity of everyone involved and especially for my queer siblings who deserve better (even those who didn't like the article or found it mean). We all deserve better than occurred.

I'll know better next time, and to type that grieves me.
posted by snerson at 12:17 PM on January 20 [12 favorites]


Mods, I hope you are having an urgent, all-hands meeting to discuss how this post should have, could have been moderated. It’s a massive failure as is.
posted by JenMarie at 12:28 PM on January 20 [13 favorites]


That thread... it's not good. Sending a little extra love to all of you.
posted by mochapickle at 12:32 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


snerson, it was a good post, please don't blame yourself. I do agree that Danny's writing can be difficult to grok when you're coming in cold like many people have done.

For what it's worth, I think it could have been worse (is that a bad thing to believe?) and that the problem isn't just the overriding of marginalised voices, but also when (to go back to the point of this MetaTalk post) "be kind" has to intersect with "be willing to be challenged". Not everyone is good at that, or particularly interested in doing the work to get there (which is fair enough, god knows things are So Much right now).

If there's any suggestion I can make for the mod team about the Lavery post, it's that I think a calm comment from a mod to steer discussion away from outragefilter and back to the context of the piece would have been useful and might have headed off some of the more frustrating discussion.
posted by fight or flight at 12:44 PM on January 20 [9 favorites]


I'll know better next time, and to type that grieves me.

So not your fault. You are not responsible for the behaviour of others.


I think a calm comment from a mod to steer discussion away from outragefilter and back to the context of the piece would have been useful

Instead we had a mod making some of the most outraged and inflammatory comments.
posted by Dysk at 2:25 PM on January 20 [13 favorites]


No shame on snerson, but that thread punched a lot of people in their trauma. I wish the mods had stepped in earlier and that we lived in a world where "assuming good intentions" wasn't a recipe for getting punched repeatedly.

I've tried to rerail a lot of threads, but I am utterly at a loss as to how that thread could be refocused on something less damaging.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:19 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


.... Aww, fuck, I bookmarked the article for that thread because it looked really cool and then immediately got sucked into ongoing work tire fires. (My gloss boils down to: the only reason the original piece doesn't resonate with me is that I genuinely don't know what, if anything, my mother bothers to read. But the narrative of thoughts and pressures.... hooooooo boy. Yeah, that's fuckin familiar, ain't it.)

*rubs forehead* the thing is, I legitimately cannot think of a single writer more clearly marked as trans in the context of Metafilter, a writer for whom gender is often front and center and who is frequently linked here, than Danny Lavery. I'm going to go look at the thread now, but... How hard does contextualizing have to go here? The strength and weakness of this community is the same: we mix everyone together evenly, so that people of wildly different backgrounds have in theory a chance to talk to one another and maybe expand worlds. But when you have a piece as blatantly "hey maybe consider this lens before kneejerky" as a queer trans adult child reflecting on one's parents... Did that get missed entirely? Did this get turned into the Middle Aged Women Are Defensive About Literary Choices hour?!
posted by sciatrix at 6:26 PM on January 20 [12 favorites]


I want to just note for visibility's sake that I'm giving that thread a closer look start to finish (because of work schedule I'm coming pretty late to it) and we've got it on our agenda for our weekly meeting on Sunday to talk about what additional mod presence/interventions could have helped in there, for future threads. We've all been pretty strapped starting the year off and that's come into not being more hands-on with this, and I'm sorry that's made for a bumpier-than-necessary thread. I'm keeping an eye on that discussion and this one this evening.

the thing is, I legitimately cannot think of a single writer more clearly marked as trans in the context of Metafilter, a writer for whom gender is often front and center and who is frequently linked here, than Danny Lavery.

I think that's totally true, but also that despite the fact that we've had a lot of posts about Lavery's work over the years, most folks on the site aren't going to be particularly familiar with him or his story. So we end up with a sort of crossing of streams—folks on the site who are very familiar with Lavery and reading the piece with an eye towards his ugly family history and his transition, and folks who are coming to the piece pretty much at face value and reacting to the surface content of it.

I thought restless_nomad's take on it hit the dilemma of the piece pretty well as far as that goes: how it lands when the target reader is Danny Lavery's specific core audience/blog context vs. how it lands if it's taken as a general piece by a wider audience makes a difference, and I think that's where a lot of the loggerheads of different takes came from in there. It's definitely frustrating; context collapse is one of the hard problems of spotlighting stuff on the internet, and it feels like that's a big part of this dynamic unfortunately.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:57 PM on January 20 [7 favorites]


Yeah, and I mean... like I said, this site is valuable because it erases silos of community and thought, gives people a chance to talk to one another and share new ideas they might otherwise not run into.

Which is to say, by existing, Metafilter in a lot of ways acts by obliterating or at least eroding context.

I guess... for me, part of what I am struggling with is, what level of context do we expect people to carry with them? Setting the context is a ton of work for people who make threads because you're trying to anticipate the knowledge and interest levels of a theoretically infinite group of people. You have to balance a lot of things together to get good at it, which is intimidating and means folks don't post. That contributes to few posts existing, which shrinks our community.

Part of the reason I'm going "yeah, but the context of Danny Lavery is more than I can imagine Metafilter having for any other trans writer, full stop" is that I'm asking: how much explaining the apparently obvious stuff are we expecting certain groups of folks here to do? How much contextual introduction would be best practices, and how much do we expect people to tolerate and de-escalate and ask questions when they read a post and feel cranky and defensive? Because like, to be clear, I'm often in the latter category too. Can mods signpost that context earlier? How much depends on a single user contacting mods within a given time span to raise concerns?

IDK, man. I'm just spitballing. The context of Lavery's piece felt immediately familiar and obvious to me, but I'm also a butch daughter of a mother whose big feelings about my gender were a big factor (though, I think crucially not the only factor) that eventually led to the dissolution of our relationship... and my relationship with pretty much the entire rest of my family of origin. I'm married to a nonbinary person with two mothers who were each varying kinds of horrible, both in a very specifically gendered way. Their awful stepmother died a couple of days ago and we've been talking about how they constantly experience pressure to have heartwarming, positive stories about mothers in their pink collar profession, so the death has been highlighting that experience lately. I have a lot of context to pick up on what Lavery's talking about, so certain things seem really obvious to me.

Bully for me! Those things aren't obvious to other people. In my comment, I mentioned that I thought the context of do you have a shitty mom is maybe even a bigger piece of that context than the specifics of your own gender. I know a number of trans masc folks (and trans fem folks, for that matter) whose mothers were really lovely and supportive and never made them feel like shit even a little bit for letting down the side. Generally, those mothers also have lovely relationships with their cis kids. I would not necessarily expect transmasc folks with that kind of experience to come in primed to see the patterns that feel really obvious to me.

So it's really hard to anticipate this kind of context dropping, especially because it requires us to estimate who knows what and when on a really deeply emotional level. It's a really thorny problem: how can we wrangle it anyway?
posted by sciatrix at 7:23 PM on January 20 [10 favorites]


Oh snerson, that's really nice to say.

We all deserve better. I don't think the answer is to avoid topics that are hard if that's what you mean. That's just papering over the door to a bathroom where the toilet is broken.

That's only fine if you are okay with the status quo on here, which I am not. And I'm not alone in wanting something better.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 8:21 PM on January 20 [3 favorites]


Can mods signpost that context earlier?

I think when we can see a context problem early and signpost it or offer a sort of speedbump of guidance that works well, yeah. This weekend we'll look over the thread and the timing of stuff as it went down and figure if and when there were good opportunities we missed (from flagging, from email if any) to get in there early, and try and plan based off that.

It can also be really effective for individual users to do some of that signposting; I know it's a matter of available spoons and I'm not saying that's anyone's responsibility, just want to support the notion that it's okay and often helpful to do that if anybody's unsure about it. Sometimes the right "hey, I think there's a connection being missed here" at the right time can do wonders and it's great when that happens spontaneously within the userbase. MeFi members do that really well sometimes, which I appreciate a lot.

How much depends on a single user contacting mods within a given time span to raise concerns?

It's a hard question, right? Especially since we're operating on a more limited schedule these days than we used to, so whether or not any mod is right there at the moment isn't a given and inter-shift communication is a little more complicated. Early heads up certainly help for us to intervene, on the whole, though there's always some chance and variability involved. When folks can talk it out—smoothly or with bumps—independent of mod presence that's pretty much always a good thing, and can help fill in the gaps.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:40 PM on January 20 [1 favorite]


so much depends
upon

a single
user

contacting
the mods

to raise timely
concerns

posted by lazaruslong at 2:53 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Sometimes the right "hey, I think there's a connection being missed here" at the right time can do wonders and it's great when that happens spontaneously within the userbase.

I know you're speaking generally here, but in the context of the thread in question: this happened, and those signposts were ignored, talked over, or argued with. It's all very well to ask the community to moderate itself, but if it's not visibly backed up and supported by the moderators, then it rapidly becomes useless, as we saw.

When folks can talk it out—smoothly or with bumps—independent of mod presence that's pretty much always a good thing, and can help fill in the gaps.

The thing with this thread is there was a mod presence, and said mod ended up contributing to the "bumps", even instigating some of the worst ones. It's understandable that moderators get pissed off sometimes, you're all human, it's a hard fucking time out there in the world right now and sometimes that filters down into online spaces, but when it's multiple comments, directly in the face of the sort of community intervention you're advocating for -- how is that not a failure? This might be a case for "who moderates the moderators", because in that thread it really seemed like the answer is "nobody".

So it's really hard to anticipate this kind of context dropping, especially because it requires us to estimate who knows what and when on a really deeply emotional level.

With respect and in the context of the post in question, I'm sorry but this is flat out wrong. It's not hard to anticipate that many users on this site might not have a working knowledge of the trans experience. Many of us do, of course, but historically speaking, this site has not been great on trans issues. It's a known issue.

Additionally, there were users in that post willingly to provide that necessary (and in some cases personally painful) context. I myself posted a link to Lavery talking about his mother fairly early in the thread. The context was there, outlined multiple times from multiple angles. The problem wasn't that users didn't have it, it's that it was ignored. Talked over. Argued with as "only one possible interpretation".

Saying "this is hard to anticipate" and "it's tough to deal with" is cowardly. It's not hard. It's not difficult. Those are, I'm sorry, weak excuses. All it requires is a moderator willing to be visible and stand up and say "hey guys, please can you remember the guidelines in terms of being aware of context, privilege, and microaggressions, and let trans users speak to the context of this piece".
posted by fight or flight at 4:04 AM on January 21 [26 favorites]


Okay, I walked away and made coffee and came back and have some other thoughts:

On the subject of necessary context, I think it's important to remember that, regardless of anything else, marginalised users should not have to perform Trauma 101 in order to educate others. If the context of a post is that the author/article/creator is from a marginalised background and, for instance, speaking about their lived experience, in an ideal world it should be possible to trust readers and commenters to understand that and not react defensively. If someone chooses to disclose their trauma or their lived experience, that's up to them, but it should not be the answer here.

In reflecting on this I'm reminded of how Twitter introduced a prompt to ask you if you've read an article before you RT it. Perhaps a moderator comment in a troublesome thread could serve a similar function. "Please try to familiarise yourself with the context before contributing", kind of thing. It's not difficult, in this day and age, to Google someone's name and do 5 minutes of research before wading in. I think it's pretty rare for there to be an instance where the context of a piece is genuinely hard to find.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to a matter of respect. Respecting other users, respecting the OP (as acknowledged in the subject of this MetaTalk post), respecting your own possible lack of knowledge, or maybe your own ability to contribute in ways you didn't know you could. And about knowing when to step away. Knowing when to say "I'm sorry, I wasn't aware, but now I am". Knowing when to put aside your own initial knee-jerk reaction and think critically about what you're being asked to do. Knowing when your contribution isn't necessary, but your ability to listen and appreciate is. All of these things are captured in the already existing guidelines, which is why it's troubling when they're ignored, especially by users who should know better.
posted by fight or flight at 4:45 AM on January 21 [8 favorites]


Hey, thank you for bringing those points up explicitly: they were questions I was trying to raise, and maybe I'm being too soft about it. A lot of these flash points are about contexts in which heading off and defusing conflicts is really energy intensive, and like... fuck, how and where do we sit with conflicts and think about them in order to have conversations that aren't just rolling reactivity fights? Conflict feels bad! It's really exhausting to put a ton of energy into defusing and heading off conflicts and trying to manage defensiveness and have it still happen anyway.

fuck, I resonate with your point about Trauma 101. It's so tiring to always have to point out that, like. Yeah, here's my pain, here's my validity points, here's why no I DO get to be a little complicated, a little messy, because I'm a human being and my life isn't packaged into a series of easy conflict free narratives, and sometimes I'm gonna be one person with three opinions but no single one of any of those opinions is going to be acceptable to everyone.

And. Like I said. this one, this feels like a really easy, really clear contextual thing with respect to gender shit. Partly I'm asking, what can and should users expect here, should I lower my expectations for this community? Should I just make peace with the amount of effort it will take here and adjust expectations accordingly? I don't know; that's why I'm asking. Sometimes is and should have different answers.
posted by sciatrix at 5:08 AM on January 21 [6 favorites]


I don't want to derail from this specific context, but want to point out that the mod comments in question were highly questionable in their approach to race. As in, I would expect in a functioning modded antiracist community, that the comments would get deleted or there would be some other mod action in response to those comments.

I really don't have the energy or desire to explain why in more detail here given that I don't anticipate much of an open-minded audience, but since I'm here, I feel obligated to mention it.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:06 AM on January 21 [12 favorites]


i'd also like to point out that that particular mod has had questionable approaches to race in their comments for quite a while now.
posted by i used to be someone else at 10:11 AM on January 21 [8 favorites]


"be kind" also never seems to be applied to certain types of people, and it's a pattern that recurs regularly on this site.
posted by i used to be someone else at 10:12 AM on January 21 [10 favorites]


This happened to me, and I wished I could take it down. It's information, that's all.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 10:46 AM on January 21


After the earlier FPP about a lovely piece of queer fiction, I thought... it might have been okay.

I had a lot of anxiety about posting that story and I was shocked by how well it went. I also felt like, wow, this is why I'm here on Metafilter and I want to do more of this. And then... this. So yeah, your reaction and attempt to bring more trans content to MeFi is totally understandable and it's absolutely not your fault.

I think MeFi can handle trans stuff as long as it doesn't challenge anyone. As soon as there's the even passing suggestion that x might be transphobic, the knives come out.
posted by brook horse at 4:13 PM on January 21 [8 favorites]


I would be interested to know what if anything has come from the fallout of that post in terms of moderator actions or discussion.
posted by fight or flight at 7:20 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


The bulk of our team meeting yesterday was focused on sifting through the situation with that thread, where the points of conflict were and what signals we were getting mod-side vs. available mod hours, looking at both what we could have done better in the moment and at what tools/communication within the team could help us be more responsive to similar situations in the future. Some stuff we took away from that:

- there wasn't a lot of flagging early in the thread, but there was one comment in the first couple hours—which is where the thread first got mentioned in here as well—that got a couple flags-with-notes. I think those flags are where we missed an early opportunity to come in and guide things a bit with a moderation note; they were helpful notes and just didn't get the action I think they should have, and we talked about putting more emphasis on both immediate in-thread moderation response and behind-the-scenes communication in the mod team to make sure something like that is visible across moderator shifts and doesn't slip through the cracks.

- I think the specific ideal outcome there would have been a note underscoring a bit the context of Lavery's writing and suggesting folks focus more on it in that context and less on the nominal surface-level "here's wry commentary on the reading habits of middle-aged moms" content. In this case, as discussed throughout the thread, I think Lavery's thesis landed less clearly than a lot of his stuff and made for a more fractured set of reactions from people taking it as the personal reflection blog post it was intended to be at its heart vs. a quippy listicle thing consistent with a lot of his past work. Which is not a problem in its own right, writers gonna write and Lavery using that past context in a different way is interesting as someone familiar with his oeuvre, but it's part of why this was bumpier than it would have been with more straightforward framing when presented to a general audience.

- EM's comment a few hours later ended up being a flashpoint; my feeling is that as a moderator call it's the kind of comment to just skip, because the impact of a mod expressing personal frustrations about topic is prone to be different and stronger than from any other user. We talked about that as a problem, and about focusing on keeping a firmer boundary there. There's a lot of stuff that I just end up sitting on my feelings about, and it sucks but it's part of the job. I think that's what EM should have done in this case too.

- On the specific content of that comment, I both recognize the possible reading of EM's comment that made it feel like a weird dismissive dunk on Lavery—the reading that the "you, a dude...adopted it as a way to belittle women, U R SO FEMINIST" bit was aimed bizarrely at Lavery rather than the rando local Dem/Progressive meeting dudes EM been talking about earlier in the paragraph"—and think that given the context of MetaFilter's past discussion of Lavery's work and how much mods have been involved in it that that interpretation doesn't feel very plausible and definitely pretty uncharitable, so it's frustrating that it played out as more of a "i can't believe you'd say that" thing than a "i'm not sure you meant x but your comment's confusing, can you clarify that?" thing. The latter tends to work out a lot better in general in MeFi discussions; if someone's actually being an asshole they'll be real clear about that, and if not there's a lot less heat and it's easier for folks to sort stuff out and get back to the discussion. That said, again, I can see having that initial read of her comment and get why that would land so poorly, so I can understand the initial high-intensity reaction. It feels like there was more frustration—with the thread, with past threads on MeFi, with site dynamics, with the shit state of discussions elsewhere on the internet—coming into that than just the actual exchange, but, well, shit's hard out there and people are frustrated. Ultimately there was some clarifying back and forth that was bumpy but seemed to resolve the confusion, and discussion carried of from there back on the topic of the article itself. Okay.

- There were a couple comments later in that thread that were just someone pretty intentionally being an asshole and those got flagged quickly and deleted promptly, I left a mod note addressing a bit of that. System working well in that case. The rest of the thread seems to have proceeded in an okay way for a MetaFilter discussion about a complicated topic, with people engaging with the link itself and some of the framing and metadiscussion things branching off that.

- Coming out of our team discussion, we're looking at having frimble put together a little integration tool for flag notes getting made visible in the team Slack channels we use for tracking moderation stuff. The flag notes are useful when we can see them and use them, but the nature of the flag queue as mods have always used it means they can end up being out of sight for the next mod by the time there's a shift change, and this situation with those early flags in the threads illustrated the problem with that. So having better continuity from shift to shift should help avoid those situations -- it'll be easier to track something slow-moving without requiring manual highlighting of every flag by every mod for future shifts, which means less stuff sneaking through the cracks. Which is important in part because of our move last year to staggered shifts with gaps between them; there used to be a direct "here's what's up" handoff in person at every shift change and losing that has created some new challenges for us as a mod team that we're still figuring out how to adjust to. Being spread thin is going to continue to be a challenge no matter what—there are by definition going to be gaps in response and fewer mod eyes available for both immediate action and intra-team discussion than we've been used to—but hopefully we can adjust our tools and practice to make it work more consistently over time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:55 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


On the specific content of that comment, I both recognize the possible reading of EM's comment that made it feel like a weird dismissive dunk on Lavery—the reading that the "you, a dude...adopted it as a way to belittle women, U R SO FEMINIST" bit was aimed bizarrely at Lavery rather than the rando local Dem/Progressive meeting dudes EM been talking about earlier in the paragraph"—and think that given the context of MetaFilter's past discussion of Lavery's work and how much mods have been involved in it that that interpretation doesn't feel very plausible and definitely pretty uncharitable, so it's frustrating that it played out as more of a "i can't believe you'd say that" thing than a "i'm not sure you meant x but your comment's confusing, can you clarify that?" thing.

I can't speak for trans members of the site, but I don't think that reading was the only issue people had with the comment, and I don't think anyone who disagreed or was critical of that comment was being uncharitable.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:11 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


I read EM’s comment “correctly” the first time. My sick feeling came from a white woman calling herself an intersectional feminist but being too fragile to walk back HER misread of the article and needing to yell “but what about white moms!!!!” At great length. After it had already been explained *in depth* why that was a misread.

There was no miscommunication when I read her comments. She just very obviously still thinks that any white woman who is doing a veneer of trying should be above all reproach and should never be made to feel uncomfortable, even by tangential association.

She is an unfit moderator.
posted by Bottlecap at 1:35 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


As a cis white middle aged woman, I felt that comment was unacceptable not because of a weird grammar quirk that made it unclear who was being referred to, but because it was an extensive derailing of a conversation about a trans writer’s experience and writing, into a barely-related tirade about how hard and thankless it is to be a middle aged cis white woman. Sometimes it is! But I cannot imagine getting to that point in that thread and thinking that was the appropriate contribution.

I’m concerned that the mod takeaway from that discussion was “should have been clearer about pronoun referents” and not “cis mods (and members) need to learn when to stop centering their own experience and feelings.”

(Yes, I recognize the irony here in this comment centering my experience. But I am also working on learning when to speak up so trans people aren’t carrying all the burden of pointing out bad moderating or bad site culture. Attempting to get the balance right here, my apologies if I have failed.)
posted by Stacey at 2:24 PM on January 24 [24 favorites]


What I intended as a snarky but semi-informative response to another comment on that thread now feels threadshitty. Apologies for not helping and firing off the cuff. There was certainly a better way to say the same thing without raising the temperature.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:51 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


I only just discovered this thread and was thinking, halfway through, that it's such a perfect microcosm of why I happily walked away from this site for five years but then I kept scrolling and wow did we take an eleventh hour turn at the last minute.
posted by rorgy at 5:06 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


something i've been trying out recently is: when a post is interesting to me and is also new, i am dropping comments in early that say something to the effect of "great post, bookmarking for future close perusal, here's why this is so interesting to me, etc".

i figure one big problem is early snark from folks who didn't RTFA can influence the discussion from the start, so my theory is that early praise may help counteract or prevent that, even if i haven't had time to RTFA myself.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:36 AM on January 26 [11 favorites]


I think that there's another thing that happens a lot on MetaFilter, which I don't have a name for but would describe as something like "negativity context collapse." Basically, I think that different subcultures have different ideas of what's appropriate to shit on and what isn't.

I have some groups of friends that will shit on Taylor Swift and similar mainstream musicians but can't stand Marvel criticism, and then I have some friends for whom insulting Taylor Swift is inherently offensive but casual jokes about how shitty cishet men are is A-OK. More seriously, I think there's a huge difference between what people think is okay to talk about politically and what isn't: in some socialist lefty circles, it's de rigueur to hate on Elizabeth Warren or Stacey Abrams, but inappropriate to take Russiagate seriously or talk about American democracy like it's threatened, whereas in more center-left circles fascism and climate change are often the major issues of the day, and intersectional perspective is sacrosanct. (I'm painting with a broad and hopefully-neutral brush here; I'm not trying to opine on any of these stances, I just think that they exist.)

All this gives rise to different ideas about what's "okay" to be dismissive of, in part because that dismissal reinforces focus on "the main things," whatever they are. Center-right circles dismiss a lot of talk about racism or sexism because it's less important, in their mind, than cancel culture or academic elitism or what-have-you. If your perspective is that democracy is ending literally now, then it makes sense that your idea of solidarity means sticking to one party line and getting really nasty towards criticism of anything else. And if you're further left and think of the Democrats as a bottleneck holding everything back, you're going to dismiss the opposite of all that, and reaffirm all the things that the center-left is dismissing, and also maybe you wind up a little bit more loosey-goosey about intersectionality and cancel culture and what-have-you, which is the slippery slope that leads to stuff like Glenn Greenwald unironically becoming best friends with Tucker Carlson.

(From afar, it seems like very similar happens when the Lib Dems and Labour folks in the UK get into tussles, but I'll admit that I have only a limited perspective on that.)

I think that, on MetaFilter, there is this unspoken idea that the most interesting part of the comments section is people speaking up and sharing their opinions. That is, it's considered totally appropriate and even encouraged to just flat-out say what you think about whatever's been shared, positive or negative. You see something you don't like, you say it. The idealistic view of this is, people share whatever they feel and there is no consensus, but that never winds up being the case. Peer pressure is always a factor, and in MetaFilter there's a pretty strong in-group feeling, which is reinforced by the constant conversation about how MetaFilter is the one good community on the Internet, the only place to talk about XYZ, the place where everyone is smart and informed and has the right politics and has excellent taste and is sparklingly funny etc etc etc etc etc.

It can get pretty dicey when even a handful of people pop into a thread and go "Wow, this sucks." But it gets even worse when some of those people don't just say it once, but stick around to whoever comes in afterwards to go "Hey, I actually disagree with that, here's how I felt." Especially since Person B often quotes Person A's comment to be like, "I hear you, but that's not how I see things," which makes it look like Person B is inviting a debate when maybe they were just hoping to share a second perspective.

Personally, I wonder how much of this has to do with the unconscious ways we try to push our subcultural mores onto the spaces we're in, and how difficult it can be to accept that not everyone shares those same mores. It's that blithe sense that I feel we all get sometimes of Oh, if you only understood what I understand, you would agree entirely with me. The idea that opinions aren't rooted in anything deeper is a bit facile, but it's just as facile to assume that a person's worldview can be entirely shifted by offering 2 or 3 new surface-level points that this other person maybe just never heard about. And a lot of the MetaFilter Negative-Offs really feel to me like one or two people getting frustrated that the other person just isn't hearing the point they're making, when oftentimes the other person hears them just fine, but they happen to have a different perspective on things.

In a lot of cases, I think the difference between empathy and harassment is the difference between saying "this frustrates me" or "this doesn't do it for me" and "I hate this" or "this sucks". The former is a contextualized emotional response, where the latter is a condemnation—and I think that "I hate this" does qualify as the latter, for all it's an "I" statement, because you're not describing a feeling, you're describing an opposition, as if it's now a part of your identity that this thing is bad to you.

And in general, I think that the idea that all posts start out "neutral", as if they're simply a gallery exhibit for us to stand by and opine on with our friends, is highly misleading. The act of making an FPP is an act of constructing something, creating a space for something; negativity can, if handled carefully, build onto that FPP, but I think that ideally it makes room for the possibility that other people don't want that conversation to be rooted in one person's negative take, or even five people's negative takes. And I get the sense sometimes that people who decide they hate an FPP don't really want to hear people say nice things about it, and don't want to leave room for people whose mileages vary. That seems true of some of the worse Dave Barry comments (though not all), and it feels like it's at least partly true of the Daniel Lavery thread.

Also, my unpopular opinion is that after things do get fighty there is often a lot of nuance and complication to why different people are feeling what, especially in intersectional snafus like the Lavery convo but also in discussions where people's arguments come down to political weltanschauung like the Dave Barry bickering up above. I find that, in any given discussion, I wind up caring less about who I do and don't agree with and more about which person just refuses to look for a way of understanding where other people might be coming from.

(And my very very gentle take on the mod discussion, which I otherwise don't want to get into because it's Exhibit A for nobody wanting any nuance, is that I love when mods talk about things and think that many of them are extremely engaging, but do think that a mod-as-commenter should be out to foster precisely the kind of "give everyone space for their own perspective" that ideally pushes away from the very strong sense this place gives people that they are not, in fact, welcome here. But also, I think we should all do that.)
posted by rorgy at 6:25 AM on January 26 [15 favorites]


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