[MeFi Site Update] March 16th March 16, 2022 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Hi there, Metafilter! It's good to be back! Please find more details on the state of the site below. I was out attending a technology conference last week and I still have a lot of catching up to do, so this week’s update will be a bit high-level; but I hope to update it as the week progresses. Reminder: I will be the only mod actively monitoring this thread so please be patient as I reply to your feedback and questions.

- Brand & Marketing Deck and and overall Marketing Strategy
Final edits to the Brand & Marketing Deck due next week. I’m planning to review with the mods in our weekly meeting next week and then report back next steps in the next update.

- BIPOC Advisory Board
Next meeting scheduled for March 19th. I’ll Let you know how it goes and the next steps soon.

- Improvements to the Signup flow
I’ll share the final with cortex and frimble this week. Most changes include, shortening all the copy and aligning it with the new about page, removing the “Waiting Periods for Posting” section as it is outdated, and removing all the unnecessary links. Also, as you might know already, the Signup Waiver has already been added to the flow.

- Flagging (UX) Changes
This is still ongoing.

- Upcoming Changes
There have been some conversations about how/when we (the mod team) speak for ourselves as members and when we speak on behalf of the team and we all agree that we need to make this clearer and more streamlined to improve the communication with the community. This also ties into general communication and internal moderation guidelines that we have been working on for a while and we feel this needs to be prioritized again.

Here’s a comment from cortex related to that:

“I want to apologize to the community for the commenting decision I made in a previous site update thread recently, and likewise for a comment from Eyebrows McGee later in the same thread in defense of me. We both let a bad day and long-simmering frustrations override our moderation team standards for restraint when engaging with the site's membership, and the resulting comments were inappropriate. It's important to me that the mod team be approachable by and available to our community members, and I know that the power dynamic of a mod unloading on an individual user seemingly out of nowhere works against that goal. There's productive ways for us to approach site and user issues and this wasn't remotely one of them.

It was a shitty way to be, and that's on us and in particular on me for instigating that situation instead of letting it be. I've specifically been trying to avoid getting into confrontational discussions in MetaTalk for a while now, and this was a stark reminder that I need to stick by that consistently. I don't want to make my frustrations or bad days the community's problem, or to undercut the work the team in general has been doing around here.”


In addition to that, there have been discussions about redefining the team’s roles and responsibilities as well as coverage hours. The goal of this is to ensure that the community receives the proper support while we also have the bandwidth to move forward with the current projects we are working on.

Part of what the team has been discussing is high-level changes in how the site is run and managed, to address burnout issues affecting both the team and the community. That’s something cortex will talk about soon in a separate post.

If you have any questions or feedback not related to this particular update, please Contact Us instead. If you want to discuss a particular subject not covered here with the community, you’re welcome to open a separate MetaTalk thread for it.
posted by loup (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 7:17 AM (275 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

You've all been doing pretty well on the Ukraine threads. I hope they aren't taking too much of your energy.
posted by Think_Long at 8:05 AM on March 16, 2022 [12 favorites]


As a member of long standing, and from what I understand of the mod team size and strictures, I'm satisfied with what's currently being undertaken and the general pace of change. These seem like incremental but important and actionable steps that focus on some key site goals.

If the marketing deck is publicly available I'd love to see it; not to weigh in or offer "improvements", but just because it seems like it'd be an interesting read.
posted by Shepherd at 9:21 AM on March 16, 2022 [4 favorites]


"Seemingly," eh?
posted by knucklebones at 9:29 AM on March 16, 2022 [4 favorites]


"Seemingly," eh?

Look, it's perfectly okay to accept or not to accept an apology, and it's perfectly okay to consider what's being said and weigh it into future interactions here.

But responding with immediate kneejerky snideness to an apology -- regardless of whether you find all terms of that apology fully satisfied -- isn't going to solve anything for anyone. Thanks.
posted by mochapickle at 9:49 AM on March 16, 2022 [52 favorites]


The free thread link in the banner at the top of the site currently links to the old free thread, not the current one.
posted by Klipspringer at 10:59 AM on March 16, 2022


I'm interested in/curious the deck as well. I promise not to say anything but "thanks!" and "looks nice!"
posted by michaelh at 11:27 AM on March 16, 2022


Mod note: Yes, the deck will be shared once I have feedback from the mod Team. And, to be honest, member feedback will always be welcome.
posted by loup (staff) at 11:41 AM on March 16, 2022 [3 favorites]


Welcome back, loup. Thank you for the work you're doing.
posted by kimberussell at 12:03 PM on March 16, 2022 [4 favorites]


It's good to see mistakes addressed, but I'm not sure that the community was the entity that was owed an apology.
posted by bootlegpop at 3:45 PM on March 16, 2022 [21 favorites]


There does not seem to be a setting in preferences for maintaining font size for mod comments. It would be much more accessible to have those the same size rather than slightly smaller. Any chance of making that the standard?
posted by Bottlecap at 9:13 PM on March 16, 2022 [1 favorite]


I've found all your rewrites of the guidelines to be extremely well done! My only suggestion on the"About" page is that you consider combining the two "About Metafilters," (at the top and bottom of the page) to make a single strong "About" description.
posted by Violet Blue at 9:57 PM on March 16, 2022 [1 favorite]


[Oops, clicked too early]/

Beyond that, both your update and Cortex's good will commentary are appreciated. Also do all try to take some sort of vacation or time off. We work too much in America, and the burn-out takes years off our lives.

posted by Violet Blue at 10:01 PM on March 16, 2022 [1 favorite]


When you next write about the brand and marketing deck, can you please briefly explain what a 'deck' is? I'm unfamiliar with this term (perhaps it's specific to certain countries or workplaces or professions?), and I'd love to better appreciate the work that you're doing.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 3:14 AM on March 17, 2022 [5 favorites]


In this context, "deck" generally means a collection of presentation slides (a deck of slides) used to make presentations/pitches to investors, advertisers, and other interest groups that might want to know more about MetaFilter and why they might want to be involved. These days, the slides are most often made in PowerPoint or some similar computer application, but originally referred to an actual collection of photo slides (a good exaample in pop culture is in the TV series "Mad Men") stacked in a deck (like a deck of cards).
posted by briank at 5:09 AM on March 17, 2022 [5 favorites]


There have been some conversations about how/when we (the mod team) speak for ourselves as members and when we speak on behalf of the team and we all agree that we need to make this clearer and more streamlined to improve the communication with the community.

Making the distinction between mods speaking as mods and mods speaking as members clearer to users will not actually help anything if mods speaking as members are ever rude, aggressive, angry, etc. It's a good idea to draw that distinction anyway, but it won't allow mods any additional freedom to express negative emotions on the site without other members feeling exceptionally hurt by having that come from a mod. Everyone knows who they are, so mods are always speaking as mods, even when they're specifically not speaking as mods.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:53 AM on March 17, 2022 [20 favorites]


Understood, Rock 'em. I don't want a back and forth here either -- my point was that regardless of where you find yourself standing in your reaction, this situation and this thread and this community all deserve better than the low-hanging snark of the comment I was responding to, so it felt necessary to say something to that effect. We're thoughtful people here. We can do better.

Stepping back out now. Thanks, Rock 'em.
posted by mochapickle at 8:34 AM on March 17, 2022 [3 favorites]


loup, I truly appreciate your work here. Welcome back! I try to stay out of these discussions but I really need to say this: in my experience, both cortex and eyebrows appear to take things personally at times in a way that is not helpful. Calling out a member of this site by name in the way occurred was unacceptable. I’m glad that has been acknowledged. The problem is that the apology is owed to the member called out much more than to the membership as a whole.

I love the contributions that cortex and eyebrows make to the site overall. But that was horrifying. I am horrified. And cortex, this is not a good apology. Mental health is important so please take care of whatever needs to be taken care of. But then Jesus Christ folks, pull yourselves together. Therapy, a vacation, attending adult children of alcoholics and dysfunctional family meetings, please do whatever it takes to chill the fuck down and get some distance between the roles y’all have here on MF and the inevitable criticism from members that are a part of the job.

I used to work at a progressive publication that pretended to be democratically structured. It was not democratically structured. A union was eventually organized at that publication because the staff felt lied to. We had all worked up places with a conventional top down structure. We all eventually ended up at places like that again. We were not upset that the structure was conventional. We were upset because we were told the structure was one thing but it was absolutely another thing.

Personally, I am a big fan of both cortex and eyebrows. as someone with mental illness, I am not a big fan of stress, mental health crises, depression, etc. I very much want cortex and everyone who works here to be as healthy as possible. I’m also clear that this is a privately owned service. I contribute my time and energy to it voluntarily. I get a lot out of it.

If attempting to incorporate community feedback into ownership decisions is impractical, unwise, or a pain in the ass that cortex does not want to deal with anymore, then I hope that is the decision that gets made and we just stop with an exercise that feels so fraught.

I am not saying this to suggest that there has not been progress, because I see progress in the status reports. But I have also been seeing people buttoning from MetaFilter, including active and positive members of the community because they felt patronized or ignored.

I don’t know what the solution is. But clearly feedback from some members at sometimes appears to make at least one mod and certainly the owner feel defensive and attacked. And the way that they have responded makes this place feel emotionally unsafe to me. That is not a new feeling to marginalized members of this group, but it’s a completely new feeling for me.

In an ideal world, I want all of us to feel emotionally safe here including and especially cortex and the mods. I think that would help the rest of us also feel safer. Apologies if this outburst is inappropriate. I am sad and worried about my online home. Be well, folks.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:53 AM on March 17, 2022 [31 favorites]


Mod note: Whoa! Every single comment in this thread is very helpful. I mean. Every. Single. One.

Thank you all. We need to have space for honest conversations and for us to get feedback from you, the community. You are what makes MeFi amazing and why we show up to work every day, honestly.

Let me address a couple things, the apology extended to the MeFi Community in general is, to my eyes, necessary in many levels. I talked about this with the Team and while it doesn't replace specific apologies to individuals, those should probably take place directly with the members in question. When it comes to the site update itself, yes, the entire MeFi Community deserved an apology for what happened and it had to go here.

You are right when you say that mods are always speaking as mods, however, sometimes mods will speak for themselves and sometimes mods will speak on behalf of the team. That doesn't mean that mods can speak without being accountable for their words and the position they hold, that just means the distinction needs to be clearer so that there is no doubt when a message is coming from the team. I hope this makes sense.

The site updates serve 3 main purposes:
1. Keeping the community up to date on what is being worked on and what is coming.
2. Gathering feedback so that we can improve.
3. Opening up a space to speak respectfully and find the best path forward collectively.

I feel like we are getting there, slowly but steadily, and that is thanks to all of you.
posted by loup (staff) at 10:31 AM on March 17, 2022 [19 favorites]


I was about to write a whole Thing here about how I've been a Mefite for a decade (most of it under a different username) and came on board shortly before the financial troubles started and blah blah blah how this place is valuable to me but aside from Ask I've taken a step back and didn't know why but honestly I don't think my trying to process why I don't come here as often as a free-association comment word vomit excersize would be particularly helpful here.

I do want to say this: I am grateful that the cap on questions in Ask has been lifted, as I've been going through some really bad shit mental health-wise in the last few months and really needed some guidance while I have been trying to work through it and find a new therapist. I finally found one, she's a good fit. After three sessions the knot of anxiety in my stomach has loosened considerably and I don't feel myself sinking as much. Only better from here.

And I bring that up because, though I haven't been participating in these site update posts at all till now, I have been following them, and the debacle of the last one was really upsetting to watch. I agree with Bella Donna above completely. I am literally in the shit right now dealing with some bad mental health stuff, and it was so clear to me how much cortex in particular is suffering right now, and Eyebrows too. I value you both even if we haven't interacted a lot and I want you to take care of yourselves. I want you to be safe. I felt like I was seeing a version of my own recent anxiety/rage meltdowns from you both in that thread and I am not being hyperbolic here: it scared me. Maybe because I'm in the shit right now too and I could empathize even while being upset by what you were posting.

So I guess all I can say is, I don't know what the answer is to the overall continuing problem of Metafilter's financial troubles. But I don't think anything actionable can be done if the site owner and the long-timer mods are not in a healthy place mentally. Please take care of yourselves first and then we can go from there?

And thank you, loup, for what you do. I really appreciate your contributions here and am glad you are on the mod team.

That's all, I guess.
posted by nayantara at 12:35 PM on March 17, 2022 [16 favorites]


+1000% to what nayantara said about lifting the AskMe limit. That is a wonderful change that I much appreciate. Thank you all so much for that!
posted by Bella Donna at 1:16 PM on March 17, 2022 [4 favorites]


I really don't want to get into a prolonged back and forth here, but surely step one of an apology is to stop engaging in the behavior (meaning, stop smearing the member in question.)

A couple of honest and for real personal apologies to that real person would be good.

The thought often comes that we could use our own Magna Carta.

Composed, written, agreed to and signed off on by all or at least a significant percentage of the people who care about this place.

In an ideal world, that is.

So, I have been told that lalex made a comment in the firestorm of February 9th
saying why they were buttoning before they did do and that got deleted. Is this true? Why? Not a good look? And did this happen a lot in that thread? Many people I know say it did.

Having the ability to say and do bad shit to members and hide the evidence thereafter is not a trust building exercise.

Beady eyed grudge holding, the all too human thing which we all too share, is never a good look when it's backed up with the power to threaten, delete, disable and CYoAs by stealth all in the same invisible quivers. That could be called bullying.

Before turning the cameras on oneselves' suffering think for a second about how not owning ones' own actions have helped to create this pot of simmering rancor. I can't even imagine the pressure you are under and my heart goes out to you but, all the same, are We are All in this Together or what? Or has that been dropped entirely?

After all, do we not now share the same seat while the now twin Swords of Damocles fka Covid-19 and Ukraine hang by a thin thread above us? And if so, might the collective mental duress of the not management add up to at least a half of a dollhouse set coffee cup saucer of beans for us, too? Do not we the minions suffer greatly in hidden silence, too? From all I have seen we do -- even if we don't go on MetaOprah, MetaEllen or, god forbid, MetaDr.Phil about it here.

Think about what you have been doing to other people while pruning thread after thread into decorative bonsai hung with ornaments of open threats. Some might even call it bullying. Well, actually, lots do.

Power tends to corrupt, and petty power corrupts pettily. And it's not like it has gone unnoticed. It's like one has to take a screen shot every ten seconds anymore to keep track.

How about no more cya self-serving sneak deletions?

And stop threatening people with disabling them. Talk about not a good look to audiences in or out. You might even make a moratorium on disabling people against their permission period until we all or at least a healthy percentage thereof sign on the hows-and-whys-to's? I so hate how many top down disablings have been done already. Imagine the future as a mod note stamping in a face until whatever. Are we at all a community or are we just owner, employees and product in that order?

And as for finances, there's plenty of people here who could afford to pony up an extra $50, $100 or $150 every now and then. There is my positive suggestion.

*insert Nike slogan here*
posted by y2karl at 1:41 AM on March 18, 2022 [26 favorites]


You are right when you say that mods are always speaking as mods, however, sometimes mods will speak for themselves and sometimes mods will speak on behalf of the team. That doesn't mean that mods can speak without being accountable for their words and the position they hold, that just means the distinction needs to be clearer so that there is no doubt when a message is coming from the team. I hope this makes sense.

I think that makes things either worse or at least less clear. Are you saying "mods can say mod-related things but they may only be speaking for themselves and not for the team" (worse -- mod actions are taken by individuals and while they may be reversed later, in any given moment, the mod on duty IS the team) or are you saying "we recognize that mods always have to hold themselves to a high standard of discourse because they are mods and no one will forget that, but sometimes, they are really just participating in a thread not deliberately acting as mods" (less clear because that's what I was saying already, so then I'm not sure what you're clarifying)?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:44 AM on March 18, 2022


[Leslie Nielsen voice]
"We're all counting on you."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:01 AM on March 18, 2022


I read it the same as Rock 'em Sock 'em, but while I think that would be good in general I'm not sure how effective that could be in MetaTalk when we're talking about the progress and future of Metafilter. In various thread, I have seen eg Cortex or EM talk about their own personal view on something connected to the site future and they've explicitly made clear that they haven't discussed it (or made up their mind in Cortex's case) and it's not official policy. That already seems fine - they use their actual words to say that it's not official, it's just spitballing. The problem seems to be when we're not talking about relaxed comments made in unheated moments, but challenging comments in fraught moments. I question whether those challenging comments in fraught moments need to be made in a non-official capacity.
posted by plonkee at 9:44 AM on March 18, 2022 [1 favorite]


I think each Mod should use a sock puppet if they aren't already. However there would then be the theoretical possible eventuality of a Mod deleting a Mod sock puppet comment.
posted by adamvasco at 10:48 AM on March 18, 2022 [1 favorite]


I think each Mod should use a sock puppet if they aren't already.

I hope you're being facetious, but I can't tell.
posted by zamboni at 11:17 AM on March 18, 2022


I don't really want to start a fight and I'm not interested in arguing about it, but I'm shocked at how diametrically opposite the apparent majority of this community seems to be with regards to my own moral compass regarding this incident. I've been spending a lot of time trying to think through what I'm missing and I just don't get it. I'm not really looking for anyone to enlighten me: everyone's made their views quite clear. But there seems to be a consensus here, and I dissent.
posted by biogeo at 2:18 PM on March 18, 2022 [33 favorites]


You're not alone, biogeo.
posted by FritoKAL at 4:33 PM on March 18, 2022 [8 favorites]


I'm shocked at how diametrically opposite the apparent majority of this community seems to be with regards to my own moral compass regarding this incident.

Did you see the gross comment by Eyebrows before it was conveniently flushed down the memory hole?
posted by grouse at 5:32 PM on March 18, 2022 [10 favorites]


I'm shocked at how diametrically opposite the apparent majority of this community seems to be with regards to my own moral compass regarding this incident.

I'm not sure I feel diametrically opposed, I just have a hard time understanding why some users get so upset about the mods having bad days and shooting from the hip. I mean, I'm not saying users shouldn't get upset, I just personally don't get it.

They generally seem like a swell group of people, but obviously they all have their own blind spots? I've had some of my own comments deleted over the years in ways I felt mixed about, but I'm happy to defer to their judgement? The whole concept of analyzing power differentials for a small group of managers of a small website seems... excessive?

I'm not saying people shouldn't be upset. Please go ahead, and I hope the mods can address your concerns. But, I like you, mods, and I like MetaFilter. I hope it provides you with some of the joy and understanding that it provides me.
posted by Alex404 at 5:56 PM on March 18, 2022 [12 favorites]


Some mods sure seem to have a lot of "bad days". Others have none.
posted by grouse at 5:59 PM on March 18, 2022 [6 favorites]


having bad days and shooting from the hip

For Pete’s sake, it was just locker room moderation!

Seriously, though, the whole proposition here is a community based on respectful discourse, and the mods are the standard bearers/enablers/enforcers that should be fostering this. I think it is reasonable to have a pretty high bar for this, and I think messing this up undermines trust really quickly. Mods could gripe all day long to each other about which users they hate the most and I don’t think it would matter, but doing it on the site is a huge mistake. A simple and sincere apology would have helped, and if that required having someone else write it, that would have been better than what was posted here. Regardless about how anyone feels about it morally, on a practical level there has to be a higher standard to avoid further hurting the site.
posted by snofoam at 6:28 PM on March 18, 2022 [13 favorites]


There are a lot of people whose voices aren't in this thread. And I don't want to put words in their mouths, but my sense is that their general feelings are not "screw the mods", but "wow, the way I've been treated by the mods here really hurt, and I wish Metafilter lived out its values better, but I've been shut down whenever I've tried to help."

I certainly feel that way, not so much for myself particularly but on behalf of friends of mine who are feeling like that.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:50 PM on March 18, 2022 [21 favorites]


I think it's a good practice to make apologies that are as public as the harm was.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:55 PM on March 18, 2022 [14 favorites]


>Did you see the gross comment by Eyebrows before it was conveniently flushed down the memory hole?

There's a "bad day" type post, where emotions run high and hurtful things are written in anger in the moment. We can say, OK, that was bad, but it was a bad day, we all have those, it's understandable, a one-off thing we can move past. What made it shocking, is that it clearly represented a single vocalization of very long standing upset and hostility.

To be clear, the post accused a popular user who most of us believe to be illuminating contributor with the best of intentions, to be a bad faith actor deliberately harassing the mods for their own ends, in a long term pattern of behaviour stretching back years.

So evidence of either:

1. Years' long persecution of the mods by one particular (malevolent) user, with no ability for them to adequately manage this behaviour or expose this user's true nature, which reveals a real instutional dysfunction;

2. Years' long paranoia built amonst the mods uncomfortably focused on one (at worst irritating) user, with a destructive cognitive distortion that turned that inconvenient user into an existential enemy, which reveals an even more troubling form of institutional dysfuction.

"Seemingly" (in what is otherwise a good apology) - is there to signify (to those of us who saw the deleted post) that Cortex stands by their assessment of the situtation and the justification behind it.

I'm just some long time semi-lurker, but I love MetaFilter and really want it to survive, which is why I pop up in these threads, because I feel like I have some professional insights that might help improve things. But Eyebrows' explosive post was actually a direct response to me, so I guess I fucked up, and I'm sorry for my making the situation worse - I'm genuinely trying to help by identify the challenges and suggesting paths forward where I can.
posted by iivix at 2:40 AM on March 19, 2022 [17 favorites]


Yes, "seemingly." I would like to put forth that no one commenting here knows what goes on behind the scenes here and it isn't really anything users here can demand to know. I appreciate the admission that it was inappropriate.
posted by tiny frying pan at 2:54 AM on March 19, 2022 [9 favorites]


actually, we know quite a lot
1. a long-time user made a suggestion x number of times.
2.IN RESPONSE the owner of the site attacked the user's character.
3. IN RESPONSE a moderator accused the user of engaging in harassment that led to medical harms
4. After users insisted, an apology was made to the site, not the user, with the intimation that the user was a problem

What's really interesting here if the user was as described the user could still have been treated professionally. No, we're not doing that, here's a link to the answer why. Here's the link to the answer again. Here's the link a third time. And keep it to that. Not calling people liars, untrustworthy, harassers responsible for putting the site owner in the hospital.

Instead, we got this shit rodeo.

I do get why quite a few people are going 'huh what?' here because EM's comment was wiped away, which brings us to:

5. there is no to little transparency.

I know I made maybe three posts in my tenure here and my contributions have mostly been attempts at wisecracks. But I also valued this community a lot (it got me through the Trump years), and one reason I did was I believed the above-described shit rodeo would not happen.

I would not recommend this community to a friend, now. What if they made a suggestion one too many times and were accused of being responsible for somebody else's mental breakdown?
posted by angrycat at 4:48 AM on March 19, 2022 [22 favorites]


No, we're not doing that, here's a link to the answer why. Here's the link to the answer again. Here's the link a third time.

That's been the strategy for a very long time, and it's been considerably more than three times.

I guess I'm in biogeo's boat. It's probably not going to be useful to argue about it, and I'm not trying to change anyone's mind, but it's clear that there's a consensus forming in this thread, and it's not one that I share.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:37 AM on March 19, 2022 [17 favorites]


There are a lot of people whose voices aren't in this thread. And I don't want to put words in their mouths, but my sense is that their general feelings are not "screw the mods", but "wow, the way I've been treated by the mods here really hurt, and I wish Metafilter lived out its values better, but I've been shut down whenever I've tried to help."

My voice so far has not been heard in this thread, but it's not the mods that keep me from posting much in MetaTalk. In fact, my primary issue with the mods is that they let so much general meanness slide. I've been viciously attacked by non-mod users on this site, and I don't want to ever go through that again.

So it's with some trepidation that I'll say I'm in with biogeo as well. If a licensed attorney uses the term "harassment," maybe there's a lot going on that we just don't know about. (I did not see Eyebrows' post - I'm just going by people's comments on it here.)
posted by FencingGal at 7:10 AM on March 19, 2022 [27 favorites]


Wow, I missed that other thread blowing up.

I guess I would like to contribute to the record that I am one of the users who has offered help and Cortex and I did connect a couple of times, and then I honestly don't remember whose court the communication ball was in, but it was probably mine. Around that time I was going through a cancer "scare," (in quotes because I'm waiting for a biopsy which may cast a different light on it, oh the joys of midlife) and then the pandemic hit, so I definitely dropped multiple balls in my life.

But for sure I was not ignored, and I feel positively about it and about Cortex, except for my own feelings about me having dropped the ball.

I imagine there have been a lot of mes, where the mod team isn't sure they should say "hey still out there" and the me is like "oh damn, because that was like my 4th volunteer moment of the month I now feel embarassed" or whatever. I just deleted a paragraph on why I've observed this kind of thing happen in any environment where there's a mix of pro and volunteer resources and the organization is too small to have professional volunteer coordination, because too wordy, but I do think it's an understandable thing.

ANYways, just stating for The Record, whatever that is, that the mods definitely don't ignore everyone.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:15 AM on March 19, 2022 [14 favorites]


I don't really want to start a fight and I'm not interested in arguing about it, but I'm shocked at how diametrically opposite the apparent majority of this community seems to be with regards to my own moral compass regarding this incident. I've been spending a lot of time trying to think through what I'm missing and I just don't get it. I'm not really looking for anyone to enlighten me: everyone's made their views quite clear. But there seems to be a consensus here, and I dissent.

That's in large part because the record isn't complete, due to a combination of comment deletions and community members requesting that their account be deleted and wiped. Like I said upthread, there are a lot of voices of long-time MeFites (especially people of color and LGBTQ people) that are not here any more.

And speaking particularly for myself, as a longtime MeFite who is a person of color and a gay man, it really fucking sucks to see a space that was formative for me and within which I've learned a lot and grown a lot look like this. The anger comes out of sorrow and frustration.

The solution is for Josh Millard, as the owner of this site, to work with the community that remains and figure out how to share decision-making power so that Metafilter can be a space where everyone has a real say in policy, not just an occasional space to vent in a MeTa thread or some toothless BIPOC committee that meets once every two years. Josh has to decide whether Metafilter is a living community or a passive ad revenue income stream -- and if he keeps delaying that decision, that's a decision too.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:21 AM on March 19, 2022 [10 favorites]


...speculating that someone deserved a ton of verbal abuse is not cool. It's not a moderating tool. It's, at best, an understandable fuckup. It doesn't warrant further piling onto that person

It should go without saying that an informed opinion beats an uninformed opinion. Look at the comment.
posted by y2karl at 8:52 AM on March 19, 2022 [2 favorites]


It's entirely possible to feel that a valued member's continued conduct in addressing this particular issue was inappropriate AND that the mod response was both shocking and 100% unquestionably wrong.

To be fully clear: Nothing a member does here should ever deserve that response. It absolutely cannot happen again. It sounds like the mods understand this, have considered why it came to this point, and are taking measures to address it. It's a positive and important step, and I'm supportive. As y2karl said above, we're at a particularly stressful and sustained moment and it's rough for everyone. We could all benefit by allowing each other a little grace.

For what it's worth, I'm not sure what's been discussed between the parties directly involved in the intervening weeks, but the member in question is still participating on the site, so it does seem like there's been some sort of understanding created between them. I hope there is. They're not active in this thread so it feels unfair to speculate further.
posted by mochapickle at 9:44 AM on March 19, 2022 [18 favorites]


I see a small group of umbrage-takers, making sweeping paranoid generalizations based on the evidence of a word, phrase, or a plentitude of deleted text. They frequently claim to speak on behalf of mysterious others whom have either fled the site or appear mysteriously unable to speak for themselves. They use claims of victimhood for either themselves or those people as a means to bully …

  • "Did you see the gross comment by Eyebrows before it was conveniently flushed down the memory hole?"
  • "There are a lot of people whose voices aren't in this thread. And I don't want to put words in their mouths, but my sense is that their general feelings are not "screw the mods", but "wow, the way I've been treated by the mods here really hurt, and I wish Metafilter lived out its values better, but I've been shut down whenever I've tried to help."
  • "I certainly feel that way, not so much for myself particularly but on behalf of friends of mine who are feeling like that."
  • "That's in large part because the record isn't complete, due to a combination of comment deletions and community members requesting that their account be deleted and wiped. Like I said upthread, there are a lot of voices of long-time MeFites (especially people of color and LGBTQ people) that are not here any more."

… and gain control.

  • "The solution is for Josh Millard, as the owner of this site, to work with the community that remains and figure out how to share decision-making power so that Metafilter can be a space where everyone has a real say in policy, not just an occasional space to vent in a MeTa thread or some toothless BIPOC committee that meets once every two years. Josh has to decide whether Metafilter is a living community or a passive ad revenue income stream -- and if he keeps delaying that decision, that's a decision too."

posted by Violet Blue at 9:54 AM on March 19, 2022 [26 favorites]


One thing well worth mentioning about Eyebrows's outburst at Miko is that Miko had not posted in the thread in which she was accused — baselessly — of harassment.
posted by ambrosen at 10:01 AM on March 19, 2022 [7 favorites]


If making the same suggestion over and over was not allowed, MetaTalk would probably not exist. Miko’s comments always seemed thoughtful, respectful and sincere to me. Owner and mod publicly excoriating them is a huge misstep. I don’t want to take control of the site and I don’t think most of the people who agree that Miko was mistreated do, either.
posted by snofoam at 10:39 AM on March 19, 2022 [11 favorites]


They frequently claim to speak on behalf of mysterious others whom have either fled the site or appear mysteriously unable to speak for themselves. They use claims of victimhood for either themselves or those people as a means to bully …

these "mysterious others" aren't mysterious or non-existent. and to say that statements such as - "That's in large part because the record isn't complete, due to a combination of comment deletions and community members requesting that their account be deleted and wiped. Like I said upthread, there are a lot of voices of long-time MeFites (especially people of color and LGBTQ people) that are not here any more." - are merely "claims of victimhood"... I have no words.

I've been in the midst of trying to prepare for the upcoming BIPOC board meeting in my own personal capacity, trying to compile a timeline and record of BIPOC-related suggestions and issues with their corresponding posts/threads/comments, and one thing that has really, really struck me is how much content, how much precious wisdom is now missing (that i absolutely know was there before, because i participated in those threads/discussions myself, and those posts/comments were made by BIPOC friends and acquaintances that are no longer here). It's not a "small group of umbrage-takers". These are real people, real members of the Metafilter community, that were undermined, hurt, gaslit, marginalized. That left after years of trying, and feeling like they were hitting brick wall after brick wall. A good number of them spent huge amounts of time, effort, energy trying to help educate, advocate - to make things better here. The very fact that we have a more diverse staff, and a BIPOC board (yes, it has not been active for sometime, but I am glad it and its accompanying possibilities exist, still) is due to years' worth of efforts of many of these people whose existence you seem to doubt.

There is much more I wish I could say, but I'm not sure I have the capacity/mental space to do so at this moment.
posted by aielen at 10:42 AM on March 19, 2022 [51 favorites]


Miko had not posted in the thread

I mean this is is just trivially easy to confirm as not true. Not even a matter of interpretation.
posted by biogeo at 10:43 AM on March 19, 2022 [9 favorites]


I see a small group of umbrage-takers, making sweeping paranoid generalizations based on the evidence of a word, phrase, or a plentitude of deleted text...

tldr: la! la! la! I can't hear you!

Get informed. The deleted text is a MeMail away.
posted by y2karl at 10:44 AM on March 19, 2022 [4 favorites]


More generally, and not just responding to you, speculating that someone deserved a ton of verbal abuse is not cool. Verbal abuse is not a moderating tool. It's, at best, an understandable fuckup by the mods. Verbal abuse having happened doesn't warrant further piling onto that person

I agree with this. However, I do want to say that my comment was not intended as a pile on, and I'm sorry if it sounded like that. I only meant to say that we don't know what led to Eyebrows' comment - we don't know what was characterized as harassment. Some other comments seem to assume that the claim of harassment was baseless - that is no more appropriate than assuming that it was deserved. I haven't seen Eyebrows' comment, but it does seem like it was, as you say, an understandable fuckup - we are on the same page there. However, it was also deleted at cortex's request.
posted by FencingGal at 10:44 AM on March 19, 2022 [3 favorites]


Isn’t it well worth mentioning that Miko thought Cortex should legally reorganize the site? Isn't that a form of control? Yet I’ve heard not a word about anyone other than Cortex putting any skin in the game. Were there any proposals to buy the whole damned site? Okay, what about offering to buy shares?

This is not a democracy so long as Cortex takes all the risk. It is his vision — not yours. I, for one, would call it a very democratic-minded vision inasmuch as he allows folks like you to repeatedly smear him and his staff in the name of free speech. Why aren’t those comments getting deleted?
posted by Violet Blue at 10:55 AM on March 19, 2022 [19 favorites]


I mean this is is just trivially easy to confirm as not true. Not even a matter of interpretation.

My apologies. I'd not looked back since the original occurrence, and had re-interpreted my (correct) memory of “hadn't raised the specific issue about which she was accused of harassing the mods” with “hadn't commented”.

Sorry. Emotions are running high and I should've done better.
posted by ambrosen at 10:57 AM on March 19, 2022 [5 favorites]


Mod note: I want to make a note here that loup works M-F and so likely won't be back in here for a couple days more yet; I'm absolutely staying out of the substance of the thread here but as the mod currently on duty I'd like to ask folks to consider taking a step back from what is feeling like an increasingly heated argument about folks not in the room, and try to refocus on specific site-update related stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:00 AM on March 19, 2022 [8 favorites]


Pointing out the unacceptable toxic behavior of a moderator is not "bullying".
posted by grouse at 11:22 AM on March 19, 2022 [17 favorites]


It feels as though we are going in circles a bit. It is Saturday. Perhaps we might consider taking a break from this particular thread until loup gets back on Monday.

It's clear that I and other commenters here are passionate about MetaFilter, the mods, the structure, and the site's future. As a fellow MeFite, I just want to say thanks to everyone for showing up and speaking up. If this place were meaningless, after all, no one would have strong opinions.

Be as well as you can be. Sending lots of hugs from Sweden for anyone who wants 'em.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:23 AM on March 19, 2022 [10 favorites]


cortex, you are here. presumably EM is somewhere. Given that the user was accused by a EM, a lawyer, of harassment leading to personal injury, it is sort of easy to see why that user would want to stay away. What is she supposed to say?

So we should take a break from this issue, say some--but why? Nobody's advocating for horrible consequences that should befall anybody. People are asking for accountability. Asking the mods to make a specific apology to a user--to accept accountability for their actions--is not really the request of a mob holding pitchforks. It is a basic, adult, humane request.

And in terms of taking a breath, this happened a little while ago.

Honestly, for me, I became upset when EM in another thread wrote a comment of pages and pages and pages about theological stuff. Very cool, to have this knowledge.

But where is the apology? I'll address this to EM specifically: do you perhaps have your priorities out of order?
posted by angrycat at 11:31 AM on March 19, 2022 [11 favorites]


I've been quiet throughout, and I've written and deleted multiple responses today.

To me, it boils down to this:

The team of humans who run this site have said a resolution is coming soon. They've been very clear that there are major coverage and burnout issues. It's a large undertaking. They're working on it.

Continuing to rehash, ruminate, demand and speculate feels like when a horrible argument is over, and then you start chasing the other person around the house instead of letting things cool off.

It also feels like not taking yes for an answer. Yes, they know there's a problem, yes, they're on it.

I'm content to take yes for an answer, and wait and see what that resolution is.

If I don't like what's on offer, and I have constructive ideas, that's the time to speak up.

In the meantime, it's a lovely day.

I'm making jambalaya for dinner, or maybe roasted chicken thighs in an Old Bay marinade.
posted by champers at 11:41 AM on March 19, 2022 [17 favorites]


When you next write about the brand and marketing deck, can you please briefly explain what a 'deck' is?

I was curious about this too. Was it ever described what the brand and marketing deck is and the process that led up to it? In my head it was an internal-facing marketing strategy document with things like a positioning statement, a long list of potential marketing tactics with some prioritization, maybe supported by some primary market research. Focused on driving new user growth rather than increasing engagement from the existing user base (where there's already been a bunch of things done recently - although fully documenting all those ideas somewhere would be good too).

briank described it as an external-facing pitch deck (for whom..investors? advertisers? potential strategic partners?), so thought I'd ask.
posted by casaubon at 11:53 AM on March 19, 2022 [5 favorites]


Mod note: Hi Everyone!

I'm catching up slowly as we go through the first BIPOC Board Meeting for this year. Thyme and I will share details about how it went and the meeting minute as well soon.

So far, I can tell that both the meeting and the development of this thread are very aligned with the discussions we have been having internally about redefining the team’s roles and responsibilities

I'll share more details later after the Board meeting.
posted by loup (staff) at 12:02 PM on March 19, 2022 [6 favorites]


Mod note: So, first of all, my apologies if this message comes across as vague at this point, I'll work on communicating more details as they are made available and things take shape. As of now I can report that moving the BIPOC Board Meetings to Zoom calls made them way more productive and our goal is to start meeting monthly to start. Thyme and I will share the meeting minute in the next few days.

As for the high-level changes in how the site is run and managed, you will be having more details about this as well soon. That being said, I think all of us (members, mods, the Board) agree that changes need to happen and we all care about the future4 of both the site and the community. We'll address this and give it more shape and you'll know more soon, but I want you all to know that, to my eyes, we're very much aligned and I'm hopeful about how the future looks like.
posted by loup (staff) at 1:10 PM on March 19, 2022 [11 favorites]


Apropos of nothing
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:59 PM on March 19, 2022 [14 favorites]


Greetings everyone. I’ve waited a long time to post about this, but I think that it’s important to do so now. My silence up until this moment should not be taken as acceptance or agreement. I was dramatically taken aback by both the content and the emotional tenor of cortex’ and EM’s comments directed at me in the 2/9/22 thread. I wanted to avoid any direct reply until I could think carefully, process what’s happened and respond calmly. Also, I was offered the good advice that when someone has accused you of harassment it is best not to try to further engage them. But at this point it’s essential that I respond, since it’s clear from both private and public discussion that what happened left a lot of MeFites deeply confused and wanting to better understand what has happened; this may help to prevent misconceptions.

First, I don’t accept what was presented above as an apology. As it happens, I recently completed a project that had to do with making amends, and learned that psychologists have studied apology and found there are six components to an effective apology: Expression of regret, explanation of what went wrong, acknowledgment of responsibility. declaration of repentance, offer of repair, and request for forgiveness. We have some of those components here, but not all of them. Further, I have not received any personal apology, through any channel. When I saw this post, I immediately checked my email and MeMail, thinking that surely this public apology would be accompanied by a more personal apology. It was not. I have heard nothing from any of the mods in any way since the original incident. It was not “the community” that was called frustrating and untrustworthy, and not “the community” that was directly accused of harassment. It was me. It hurt and was unfair, and I would have liked that acknowledged and to have had the opportunity to come to a rapprochement. Those steps toward healing have not been made available.

Second, cortex used the pointed phrase “seemingly out of nowhere” in the statement, as others have noted. A phrase like that certainly does suggest that there were precipitating events that happened out of view of users. I want to be very, very clear: There were no such precipitating events. The last time I had any sort of exchange of any kind with cortex was in 2017. That discussion was an exchange of 2 or 3 rounds of email, and it was sparked by deletions that restless nomad made to comments of mine. I wrote to cortex with concern about the overall harsh and dismissive tone of the deletion reasons r_n sent. He replied a few times, finally with an longish email explaining that he found my attempts to work out an understanding “really tiring,” saying “I don’t have the spoons” to deal with it, and adding “I do get a little bit of a "shit, here we go" feeling sometimes” when he saw my name pop up. He mentioned also that I had gone from, in his POV, a “long term solid MeFite” to a person essentially viewed by the staff as a recurring problem. That was more than four years ago. It was disturbing to me at the time. In immediate response to that, I started pulling way, wayyyy back on my participation here. I do understand that I can engage intensely at times when I care about a topic, sometimes overly so. That is something I have worked a lot on over the years. But while I took the constructive grain in that feedback, I really did not like the view into moderation management that the interchange provided.

The only other interactions I have had with any mods out of view of the main site were in fall 2020: one was EM telling me to stop stubbornly re-posting a comment in the RBG obit thread (entirely fair; I was emotional, worried and frustrated) and the other was r_n providing some matter-of-fact answers to two questions I asked about the BIPOC board. That’s all. That’s it. There have been no other discussions about my site interactions in at least the past five years - not in MeMail, not in my email, not on any other platform. So please understand there was no discussion going on behind the scenes to ask me to dial down talking about site planning and governance, or to convey that it was becoming a painful discussion for the mods, or in any other way at all about any aspect of my participation, for the past five years. What you saw here is all there is to see. It wasn’t “seemingly” out of nowhere for me as a user. It was out of nowhere.

Third, I’d like acknowledgement that the negative behavior I was accused of is not something I have even done for more than a year. The mods (and some others) seem to perceive me as relentlessly advocating for MeFi to move to a 501(c)3 status; in her deleted comment, EM called it my “determination.” That is incorrect, and unfair. I had floated the idea now and then for years, and in the site crisis threads of summer 2019, it came up in a detailed way. I initially proceeded with those discussions on the premise that the mods were seeking solutions for future site structure and management, and I had some ideas to offer. For a time I worked to break down some misperceptions of what that would mean, and offered help a number of times. Over time, it became clear that the mods were not interested in moving in that direction. Even when I was offering it as a possible route, I made a strong effort to say consistently that it was not the only solution, but that some of its values and approaches - community leadership, transparency, structured fundraising - could have a home in the future of MetaFilter, no matter how it was incorporated. I said that here on July 14, 2019. I said it again here on July 15, 2019. By July 21, 2021, I was saying that I “used to argue” for nonprofit status and no longer did. On October 4, 2021, I continued acknowledging it as a “non-starter.” On October 14, 2021, while trying to make amends for pushing back on EM, I said: “I want to make it abundantly clear that I no longer advocate for MeFi to become a nonprofit, and have not done for a long time.” That’s almost the entire list of times I’ve even mentioned the topic in the past three years, and half of those times were to recognize it wasn’t a desired solution but to either (a) encourage the adoption of some of the values and practices of community-led organizations or (b) respond to someone else to correct some misstatement about nonprofits. I am not on a campaign to make MeFi a nonprofit. I have not harassed anyone about it. As far as I can see, what I seem to have done wrong is to speak up fairly continuously about the need for transformative thinking to adapt the business model, and to express upset that solutions were not being pursued in a visible manner. So, if any apology is forthcoming, I’d like it to be acknowledged, especially by Eyebrows McGee, that I have not been relentlessly pushing this idea, as her now-deleted comment mischaracterized me as doing.

Moving beyond this recent incident, there are a few other issues connected to all this that are important.

Systemic Relationship Issues. Even my short review of past emails with the mods shows that, more than a “bad day,” there is a systemic issue in the relationships between users and mods. Many of our fellow users have experienced this kind of interaction, especially around issues affecting trans, Jewish, and BIPOC users, but rarely in full view in the way it occurred in this recent incident. So I just want to say: I see you. Nobody deserves this treatment, and too many people have been receiving it.

There seems to be a framework at play in which there are two kinds of users: a “solid MeFite” who contributes but does not make trouble, voice disagreement with mods, or raise recurring issues they don’t want to hear about any more; and a “problem MeFite” who is noted as such in the back end, and considered eligible to receive curt, personal, mean-spirited and even abusive comments in private and public communications. Many have called this attitude toward users a “siege mentality” or “bunker mentality,” us against the users. In this frame, users are the problem to be managed, the unruly students that require the heavy-handed principal with the baseball bat to keep order.

Shifting this framework is something that should be part of the institutional work of MeFi. Admittedly, community management is very hard. It can be thankless. It takes a lot of time and people skills. It’s draining and requires self-reflection and compromise as well as firmness and difficult decisions at times. Not an easy balance for anyone. At the same time, it is absolutely essential for a place such as this, devoted as it is to a long, good-quality conversation between people of consistent identity. It is user contributions, desires, and feedback that have built the community and user activity that maintains its functioning. When users of any kind, but especially long-time users of goodwill, are subject to dismissal and negative characterization by the mods, it is going to be very hard to maintain the trust and support of the community as a whole. That is why there have been a great many people who have left over the past few years - a great many “solid” MeFites who have suddenly found themselves treated in ways that made them feel very unwelcome here, despite their friendships, contributions, longtime loyalty, work toward understanding, and community investments. That’s kind of a tragedy for a place with such a history of successful relationship building. The operating model for moderation does not seem to be “foster a sense of community and mutual respect,” and the kinds of mod interactions we’ve witnessed often do not promote that ideal. I feel this does not respect the origin and culture of MetaFilter.

The mods are brittle and irritable and feel burnt out. I recognize that. They are burnt out because their job structure isn't working well. That is a problem that must be solved. Even the five-year-old emails I was reading in preparation for writing this plead burnout and “16-hour days.” We continuously see the citing of long hours, unpaid or underpaid work, difficulty organizing coverage, etc, as reasons for inaction or delay or irritability. This isn’t a sustainable way to operate, and the erosion of relationships and self-regulation are symptomatic. This is where things connect to a need for the business model to be addressed. This should not be anyone’s workplace reality.

Transparency: In addition to my belief that financial transparency is appropriate, I also see some patterns of lack of transparency in this recent incident that are inimical to healthy communities. One of them is playing the public against the private in ways that disadvantage users. As we saw above, in public a mod might say something like “seemingly out of nowhere,” leaving open an implication that there was a long history of interchange behind the scenes that users would just have to trust him about. But that’s not necessarily the case, and even if it is, the characterization the mod is giving it may only reflect their perspective, not the user’s as well. The fact that some exchanges are conducted in private, and also that there is an obvious information asymmetry between mods and users, means that it’s not really possible to know when and whether an action was justified or could have been handled in an alternative, and restorative, way. Many users have suffered as a result of this - we’ve witnessed it, and I’m hearing more of those stories come out now as people say “this is what happened to me, but not in public.”

We’ve also reached a point where it’s become nearly impossible to parse the site’s history of losing, banning, or even cautioning and coaching users, especially for issues of disagreement, because of the vastly increased use of total deletion. I have seen screenshots of a number of deleted comments in the February 9 thread in which users used their voices to make important points about the state of the community. Those - like some of those users - are now gone. It would be impossible to know they ever existed, and the remaining read of the thread begins to reflect a lopsided, manufactured consensus.

Community Care: I have worked sincerely over the years to be a good contributor to MeFi, tried to talk only about stuff I know reasonably about and offer helpful info and answers when I can. I certainly know I have flaws and certain tendencies that can be annoying to others, and these are also things I constantly work on. Over my 20 years of participation I have had moments where I was definitely out of line, or misinformed, or uneducated on particular topics, or just needed to let something drop. There are plenty of comments and interactions I regret and would manage differently now. At the same time, I am a decent human and a member of goodwill. I try to act in ways that care for this community. Good leadership is recognizing when people are present with a positive motivation and desire to be in the community, and providing whatever feedback will help them stay in that mode. We sometimes work on hard issues here of communication and cultural interaction, issues our wider culture has not yet even solved; there are going to be people on different pages, and fostering some healthy tugging at communications practices is something to be expected in a site devoted to the discussion of cultural material and current issues. Having the resilience to manage that conversation, having guardrails, but putting some soft bumpers on those guardrails, is something that was once a reasonable expectation on this site. I feel like we’ve gotten a long, long way from that.

Not all disagreement is an attack. Much of the disagreement I’ve voiced is genuinely intended to be, and in fact in another context would be, constructive. Yes, I’ve been pretty consistent in urging the site managers to find a new gear and get this once very valuable and meaningful community on a sustainable track for the future. It’s been frustrating not to have that goodwill acknowledged, and frustrating not to see things get into motion after years of such urging. Thanks to experience, I can see problems coming a long way down the track, and have tried to raise the alarm - and the sense of urgency really seemed to be missing. If I’ve repeated myself, that’s why.

I recall the famous words scody often repeated in AskMe: “When someone tells you who you are, believe them.” This was a horrid moment for me of wondering: Ok, is this who MetaFilter is? I would really like to think not. I think there are many people who have been alienated from the community who would like to be reached out to again and re-engaged on a more positive platform. There are ways to address bad blood and have reparative conversations that forgive.

Can that happen? I would hope so. But it’s is clear that beyond all the business issues are some deep human challenges for the mods here. This incident starkly revealed that we are not all in right relationship as a community. The mods have resorted to seeing many of us as the problem rather than part of a solution, and eroding goodwill is draining the mods and challenging their capacities. And as more people cross the line from “solid” MeFite to “problem” MeFite, the community’s window of tolerance grows narrower and narrower. It becomes a clubhouse of only those who agree that everything is great and getting better all the time - leaving out those who left because they felt rudely treated, discriminated against, or subject to implicit bias, and painting those who are saying “but wait, there’s some work to do here” as disloyal and problematic. It’s not a way to practice inclusion and build community. I'd like to believe we can do a lot better.

Finally, before any additional mod responses, I just want to plead one more time for them to be aware of the power differential in play. You have tools we don’t have. You have knowledge we don’t have. You have shared perspectives and traditions we don’t have. You are the final arbiter of what appears in pixels on this site. Also, you have cultural power; you focus more on what happens here across the full range than anyone, people respect you and mostly listen to what you have to say. Anything you say, whether in official capacity or personal capacity, whether with a mod tag on or as a known sock, carries a weight that is different than anything another user says. Also, you have fully asymmetrical power to act here, to disappear comments and ban people. I don’t object to that; some person or group has to have authority in a healthy system. But it seems that there is not enough considerate recognition of that role. When you take these responsibilities on you have to change the way you view yourself. You’re not another user that happens to have more buttons. You are laying down laws, and should try to be consistent about following them yourselves. The kinds of interactions you’ve been having with users would likely get yourself banned by yourself if they came from the users themselves.

We have fallen out of right relationship on this site, and it has hurt a lot of good people, probably including the mods. Isn’t there a way to reframe these relationships and interactions? We are not your squabbling siblings. We are not your roommates who leave the bathroom a mess.We are not you unruly children and you are not the exasperated parents. We are your peers and partners in creating a space for interesting discourse online, and for many, our hope has been creating a space with more human consideration for individuals and recognition of the value of everyone’s input, within the bounds of respect for their humanity.

Making some personal and structural changes could be helpful all around, and bring some needed healing. It seems a long time since mods were connected to their “why” about this place. It is possible to rethink these roles, get out of the us/them rut, and open up the realm of possible approaches here.
posted by Miko at 2:34 PM on March 19, 2022 [146 favorites]


...We’ve also reached a point where it’s become nearly impossible to parse the site’s history of losing, banning, or even cautioning and coaching users, especially for issues of disagreement, because of the vastly increased use of total deletion. I have seen screenshots of a number of deleted comments in the February 9 thread in which users used their voices to make important points about the state of the community. Those - like some of those users - are now gone. It would be impossible to know they ever existed, and the remaining read of the thread begins to reflect a lopsided, manufactured consensus.

Word. Oh, word, oh, word.
posted by y2karl at 3:53 PM on March 19, 2022 [16 favorites]


loup: Reminder: I will be the only mod actively monitoring this thread so please be patient as I reply to your feedback and questions.

cortex: I want to make a note here that loup works M-F and so likely won't be back in here for a couple days more yet


The last thread, after it went mute for a week, needed a similar note, and I asked then, and am asking now, that in the regular updates about transparency and clarity, that the mods make some effort to be transparent and clear.

We don’t know the mods’ schedules, we don’t know your workload (and I’m not saying that we should, please understand that) unless it’s being told in a thread where we are told a mod will be actively monitoring it (unless that turns out to be not the case) or when we are told how exhausted you are because of having to deal with a megathread, understaffing, or whatever the crisis of the week is, in a vaguely guilt trip sort of way that implies we should all just stop making so much a fuss and let the mods get some rest.

These threads are, again, about transparency, yet require notes, again, that let us know that the post above isn’t entirely accurate, and again (and honestly, for the last time, as I’m realizing that the only really healthy way for me to keep being here at all is to stay the hell out of Metatalk), I ask that posts like this be written in a way that provides at least some clarity towards that end. No one here is expecting loup to be on the thread 24/7, and maybe it’s time to change things a little so that, while loup is the mod running these, there’s at least a second mod available to check in on loupe’s days off?

Speaking as someone directly affected by the lack of clarity about how much these threads are monitored, it’s incredibly alienating to feel like a sucker for having believed what you were told by people you feel you should trust, just like posting something in a thread you thought was actively monitored and only hearing silence, trying to figure out if it’s worth tapping the mic to find out if it’s on, or if anyone is out there actually listening can make you wonder if you should even keep trying.

Past that, on a site where there’s been several threads over the years about effective apologies or the lack there of, and careful discussion of what does and does not make a good one, or even the direct discussions had on Meta about them, I was surprised by how far from the mark that was. I get that we’re not supposed to “gang up” on the mods, but damn, apologies need to go out to the one directly hurt, and that’s 101 level. Miko deserves an apology, but it can’t, or shouldn’t, only happen if the mods feel it’s been bullied out of them, or else it won’t mean anything.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:49 PM on March 19, 2022 [20 favorites]


For delivering a fairly frank and brutal assessment, she was gentle, gracious, and all things considered, magnanimous. She rose to the occasion.Now we will see if they can too.
posted by y2karl at 5:40 PM on March 19, 2022 [19 favorites]


For historical context, I feel like it is worth noting that the site has been struggling and shrinking for years. Ownership has acknowledged this and asked members for financial support, but literally went many years without revealing any significant plan to change things. During this time many people suggested ideas. Often they were repeated because there wasn’t necessarily any response while the site’s struggles continued and worsened. I feel like the site has also had a bit of an identity crisis, being a business while speaking about itself as a community. Eventually it was clear that being a non-profit was not being considered, and that being a 501c3 specifically was not possible for Metafilter, but for a long time, the idea of being a nonprofit didn’t seem like a bad or impossible idea. As far as I can remember, most of the time Miko was suggested it there was no response, or no clear or definitive response from the management. If you can’t or don’t communicate what is going on with the site for years, don’t blow up at people who repeat a constructive suggestion. And, sweet jeebus, don’t accuse them of harassment.
posted by snofoam at 6:05 PM on March 19, 2022 [17 favorites]


As far as I can remember, most of the time Miko was suggested it there was no response, or no clear or definitive response from the management.

Since I don't think people are going back to read it, I'll provide Eyebrows' previous comment on this:
And honestly, as a personal matter, I find it pretty upsetting to have you repeatedly tell me that I'm just lying instead of giving you an honest answer, because the honest answer isn't the one you want to hear.
posted by FencingGal at 6:42 PM on March 19, 2022 [5 favorites]


Miko, thank you for a measured, thorough, calm and clear-headed response. I have not been active in Metatalk for a while, but I am always following along with great interest and concern. I’m very glad you’re still here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:13 PM on March 19, 2022 [12 favorites]


We don’t know the mods’ schedules, we don’t know your workload (…)

Loup: here’s a thought. Perhaps there could be a publicly available (to logged in members?) schedule of moderator’s shifts on a calendar or table of some sort, so members could easily determine who was on duty at any given time? It might be too much overhead, but I and the other department head at my small business place of work maintain a digital doc like this (it became necessary with the shift to remote work due to the pandemic) on a weekly basis and once it was in place, editing has been minimally intrusive on my schedule.

To my thinking, it would be beneficial to people concerned with understanding mod availability.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:25 PM on March 19, 2022


> Perhaps there could be a publicly available (to logged in members?) schedule of moderator’s shifts on a calendar or table of some sort, so members could easily determine who was on duty at any given time?

Oof, no. Would you want your work schedule posted on the Internet for all to see?
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:27 PM on March 19, 2022 [20 favorites]


Eh, that’s why I don’t offer up ideas much - they’re not always that great.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:29 PM on March 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

And honestly, as a personal matter, I find it pretty upsetting to have you repeatedly tell me that I'm just lying instead of giving you an honest answer, because the honest answer isn't the one you want to hear.
Yes, I remember seeing this. I also remember seeing a quite detailed post from EM prior to this explaining why Miko's idea wasn't legally feasible. Why is it so terrible that EM followed up by saying she was upset that it didn't seem like Miko was taking her seriously?
posted by Violet Blue at 7:49 PM on March 19, 2022 [12 favorites]


So disingenuous, and a wilfully blind reading.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 7:57 PM on March 19, 2022 [11 favorites]


In the last thread, I urged an official thorough apology because you need to realize that the next time Metafilter goes hat in hand to ask for more money, you're going to be asking people to support a community that exists in a space secured by a social contract, except you've now revealed what you really think about that social contract by trashing it to take cheap shots at a long time member. This apology basically says you'll do it again if someone riles the wrong mod enough on the wrong day. It's hard to even know what to do with that.
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:57 PM on March 19, 2022 [19 favorites]


I'm not sure who's supposed to be disingenuous here, but have you ever considered that EM might have just felt second-guessed, and her feelings were hurt?
posted by Violet Blue at 8:08 PM on March 19, 2022 [1 favorite]


While closing the thread for the Feb. 9th update, LobsterMitten wrote:

"Also on a personal note, I want to let you know now that I am going to need to leave soon for family reasons, this has been in the works for months and it doesn't have to do with any of this."

LM has been a moderator since 2012. This departure is not mentioned in the last site updates (Feb. 23, this current one), and perhaps plans have changed?

LobsterMitten, thank you so much for your work here. If you hang up your mod monocle, I hope you'll stick around as a member, and I wish you all the best.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:18 PM on March 19, 2022 [21 favorites]


I read Eyebrow's McGee's comment. It was a rant. I have followed the contentious issue and I found the rant fairly bizarre. The accusation of harassment has no foundation. The previous MeTa reveals a seriously adversarial relationship between the site owner, at least 1 moderator, and members.

Cortex, that's a poor excuse for an apology, and you got loup to post it; it's not even in your name. You attacked a member of the site severely, and you say you were having a bad day. This is bad faith. This is very damaging to community.

For years, I've been hearing/reading about how difficult it is to be a moderator, and I accepted that at face value. But this is meant to be a community. It can't be any sort of community when the site owner does not accept responsibility for their actions and when a moderator whines about a deleted rant. There's been no apology from EM; there won't be one.

This site has been the 1st place I visit on the Web every day for over 20 years. I've come to Metatalk with good faith many times. The site relies on members for the contributions that populate the site, and for donations to support the site. Given [waves] all this, and absent real changes that I don't see happening, I can't see how this can be a successful community. There have been a lot of turning points in MeFi history; this is a major one. What a fucking mess.
posted by theora55 at 8:39 PM on March 19, 2022 [50 favorites]


Another 20-year mefite here, under different names. (yikes!). I don’t stay on top of MetaTalk anymore, so I was kind of astonished to see that it was Miko of all people who bore the brunt of this! Miko is absolutely one of the few backbone legacies still on this site.

This is all kind of impressionistic, but my sense is that things have become far too personalized on this site. Back in the day, moderation was both more blunt and less heavy-handed. Rules were easier to understand and therefore accepted. I realize we had to change a lot to root out racist, sexist & transphobic content, but I actually think the over-heavy modding developed in parallel to that. I don’t really have an answer. I just wish we could go back to the world where mods were like refs - if you got a foul called you usually understood why even if you felt pissed off at the time.
posted by haptic_avenger at 8:13 AM on March 20, 2022 [5 favorites]


Part of is that the idea of "moderating" became synonymous with "deleting comments," without any of the community-shaping and conversation-steering tools. It became about enforcement rather than development. If the only tool you have is a hammer, etc. Rather than shaping the community norms through public discussion, it's just about staying in line -- with the added problem that content disappears and so it's functionally impossible to follow any bit of discussion that is happening.
posted by lapis at 9:25 AM on March 20, 2022 [14 favorites]


...If the only tool you have is a hammer, etc.

Except in this case the tool is a cordless handheld reciprocating saw. With a hammer, you can actually build something.
posted by y2karl at 9:50 AM on March 20, 2022 [5 favorites]


I don't usually comment in MetaTalk threads but I just want to say as another longtime user I always remember Miko's contributions as thoughtful and it surprised me to see them accused of harassment by a mod. It also surprises me to see the suggestion that because said mod is a licensed attorney then the accusation of harassment must carry some weight and there must be something we don't know. How about judging just what we know instead? including that deleted comment by said mod which I had the misfortune to see before it was deleted. It wasn't very cool. Hence the deletion I guess... But really, mods should model the behavior they want to see from the users and I totally agree with what Miko said about that. I like this website and I hope it can continue to exist, and maybe addressing more kindly contributions from thoughtful users about that would work better than accusing them of harassment and threatening to ban them. Miko deserves a personal apology and the mods need to take a deep breath before they post.
posted by bitteschoen at 10:18 AM on March 20, 2022 [14 favorites]


Violet Blue, your comment is serious erasure of the years of struggle that POC and queer folks have done on this website, and is actually ahistorical. If you want to defend the mod team, at least use facts.

Miko has been amazing for being consistently vocal while several of the rest of us have basically left the website or scaled back our participation. The fact that she is getting personally targeted, to me, shows that the mod team is extremely defensive. This overall tension has been going on for years -- is any of this actually going to improve? Please don't wait and rely on a committee to get things done...
posted by yueliang at 10:24 AM on March 20, 2022 [22 favorites]


The comment also said that Miko's "harassment" had led to a breakdown in cortex's mental health. Given what I find to be plausible explanations of what objectively occurred, I really doubt that Miko's actions alone could have been responsible for that, but even setting that aside: The message is conveyed to other users that we have to stay within invisible lines (because no public discussion happened) and if we stray outside of them, we will literally harm the moderators, who then apparently have the right to yell at us in public.

That is abuser logic, and it's toxic when it's the moderators' mindset. (I'm reminded of the downfall of Shakesville.) I'm glad to hear loup say they're rethinking roles and responsibilities, and that mindset is absolutely something that needs to be addressed. It's unacceptable.
posted by lapis at 10:27 AM on March 20, 2022 [37 favorites]


And deleting the evidence that the outburst happened and then pretending as if a very vague apology makes it all ok is also similarly part of that toxic logic. (I realized that it may have been cortex's comment that blamed Miko for his mental health problems, but I can't remember and I have no way of checking.)
posted by lapis at 10:33 AM on March 20, 2022 [11 favorites]


No, it was the deleted EM comment.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:45 AM on March 20, 2022


I am a long time user whose experience dealing with the mods is very similar to Miko's. I should add that I am well aware I am not nearly as thoughtful as she is and am certainly an asshole from time to time. I also do not have the patience or the willingness to do the same detailed and thoughtful accounting of mod interactions that she has. But when I read her comment here I was certain that it happened exactly as she said, because that is how things have been for me as well.

My main hobby horse has been "let's have fewer deletions of comments, less mod shaping and directing of conversation" and that is clearly not the way that cortex and the mod team have been operating, and not something that seems up for discussion. But anyways, yeah, I have been minimally active onsite for a few years now after an email exchange with cortex that included a wall of text reply to my request for less heavy-handed moderation, with an analysis of what sort of user I was and how if I did not like things this was maybe not the place for me. This after many many years of much reduced activity on my part, but it felt like there was a thick dossier somewhere that had me branded as a net liability to the site, and on thin ice.

I have been here 20 or so years. It would be great to carry on without a huge pile of baggage of being "that guy the site owner wishes would leave".
posted by Meatbomb at 11:54 AM on March 20, 2022 [37 favorites]


It feels a little weird that the two most recent MetaTalk posts are this one from March 16 and the one from March 18 which is literally just Eyebrows McGee saying "I've gotten an unusual amount of good news this week, and it just has me in the best, best mood" but I guess they are saying that as a user and not as a mod who says shitty things and then deletes them. I don't know.
posted by kate blank at 2:11 PM on March 20, 2022 [16 favorites]


Kate blank, that is part of the diversion. After each one of these threads there is a mod thread (sometime more than one) trying to push the difficult discussion off the homepage.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 3:38 PM on March 20, 2022 [2 favorites]


No.
posted by biogeo at 3:40 PM on March 20, 2022 [5 favorites]


I had mixed feelings about asking to see EM’s deleted comment, but I read Miko’s response and wanted to understand what had set EM off, so wanted to see her response.

So, thanks to Rock'em Sock'em for sharing it.

That EM’s comment was deleted indicates there was a realization that it was inappropriate and unprofessional (from Cortex’s point of view, EM seemed to feel otherwise). I do think Cortex’s comment (“Miko I don’t trust you, you grandstand, etc.”), was just as inappropriate.

Miko’s response does acknowledge a persistence in bringing up the topic. And maybe it minimizes the persistence. For Cortex and EM, it was clearly grinding their gears. But, even is Miko is the most annoying mosquito on Meta, is moderation and leadership so inept they don’t know how to manage a troublesome and frustrating person? (I am not saying Miko is one.)

Cortex--In what world does someone get to say “I’m a fragile, and emotionally unwell” so I get a pass and can complain to the internet about how this person is stressing me out? Take care of yourself, and get help! But stop using mental health as an excuse for unprofessional behavior. Your responses are like journal entries-valuable to the writer, but better kept private.

EM—Your lack of self-governance (deleted post) was bad enough, but then a replacement comment where you say like a spoiled teenager “this is all I’m allowed to say,” linking to a 2021 post regarding the “hard no” about becoming a 501cs....A simple, “here is the answer to that,” would have sufficed.

That EM felt compelled to defend weak, broken-down Cortex reinforces the perception that he is in over his head and is in no place to lead.

Mods needs to take the high road and not act like they don’t have power. Am sorry it is bothersome because someone is complaining about something you have long ago dealt with, but it is part of your job.

I do wish everyone peace and have compassion for the hardships of life, but if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
posted by rhonzo at 3:56 PM on March 20, 2022 [15 favorites]


@yueliang
I'm not defending the mod team. I made a couple of observations and asked some questions. If you want to persuade others, perhaps you could dial down rhetoric meant to either shame me or shut me up.
posted by Violet Blue at 4:02 PM on March 20, 2022 [3 favorites]


If yueliang was trying to either shame or shut you up, he'd be on a fool's errand. It's obvious whose team you are on. If you wanted to persuade others, you could have omitted the back handed throwing of impersonal personal shade.
posted by y2karl at 4:23 PM on March 20, 2022 [11 favorites]


Cortex: A real apology might do some good, but at this point, very few people will consider it sufficient. Numerous longtime members have been telling you for years that this community is no longer functional or healthy. Dozens of those longtime members are conspicuously absent from more recent MeTa threads because they've buttoned after realizing that Metafilter, which they'd poured so much of their energy and spirit into, had become a place insistent on failing them. Others have been banned for alleged behind-the-scenes misbehavior that, in light of EM gaslighting Miko, is worth a fresh look at. Instead of defaulting to a defensive panic you need to trust that the members who are still here are speaking from a place of experience, and out of care. If you want Metafilter to be something more than, I dunno, an increasingly monocultural groupchat of people comfortable with retrograde status quo, stop posting in adjacent chatfilter-y MeTa threads about video games while Rome burns. You're getting one wake-up call after another, including from many of the members whose prolific posting history made this site what it once was, and whose longtime donations kept the site afloat. (I was one of them under a different username until I recognized how toxic the site had become to members of color in 2020.) We all understand that these threads are stressful for you, cortex, but it's for a reason: you're failing the community and you know it. Burying your head in the sand and attempting to ignore the parts of Metafilter that cause you stress won't solve it. You have the power to turn things around rather than continue letting a community you love—that many, many of us once loved, where people made lifelong friendships, met partners, shared their lives and expertise and knowledge about the world—get ground into ashes through your fear of change.
posted by knucklebones at 4:40 PM on March 20, 2022 [16 favorites]


This is getting a bit ridiculous. You know there was a bar that I lived across from and went for a good 10 years. Every Friday I'd go down and get a beer and a burger. Then suddenly there was flip cup and shot specials, and a quiet Friday night with regulars turned into a college bar overnight. So I knew the owner well and I talked to him about it and in a similarly evasive way said it was just the way things were going to be. So I stopped going, I didn't stomp my foot and say I'll never go there again, I just one Friday went to checkout another place that was more adult and stuck there. It wasn't a big deal.

To me Metafilter is like that. Cortex owns it and we can make suggestions but at the end of the day the place is his. This is not an activist group that meets up every Saturday, this isn't a collective. I disagree with the heavy moderation, with the deletions and the fact we can't discuss anything not on the approved list (look at the latest Ukraine thread where we seemingly can discuss anything but the actual war in Ukraine). I'd like to discuss things, and I'd like to have an open discussion with dissenting opinions where if they're an opposing viewpoint they aren't accused of harming marginalized communities. I feel as if there's a certain vocal minority that's waiting to play "gotcha!"

I really have no good advice other than maybe the mods can encourage more freewheeling threads, do less deletions and maybe politely ask people to tone down their rhetoric and not assume everyone who does not carry the Metafilter view for lack of a better term. There used to be a time where if I found a cool link I'd post it and not spend all day researching it, but now I feel as if I don't turn a thread into something worthy of a PBS Special I'll get called out so I simply post it elsewhere.

I also find the self-appointed moderation, the power grab from people to control the site as creepy at best and incredibly off-putting to anyone stumbling upon the site. It saddens me to say this but I wouldn't recommend the site anymore except perhaps for AskMetafilter. The same reason I don't like golfing at fancy country clubs: I like to put on a t-shirt and shorts and golf, not dress up and pay someone to carry my clubs and adhere to unspoken decorum.
posted by geoff. at 4:56 PM on March 20, 2022 [38 favorites]


your solution is "go to a different golf club?" well for one, fuck that. but also dozens and dozens and dozens of valuable community members DID decide to go to a different golf club and things are noticeably worse because of that. it's frankly disrespectful to reframe the meaningful problems people have with metafilter as a "power grab." literally no one here has any power except for cortex, and at this point no one is naive enough to think he's going to share it.
posted by JimBennett at 6:15 PM on March 20, 2022 [11 favorites]


geoff., I'll pipe up as a new user.

Yes, this is SO VERY OFF-PUTTING.

It's been, what, a month or more of people talking in circles, ignoring boundaries, whipping one another up, dogpiling, leaving screeds, and getting their licks in...all to prove they love the site the most, I guess? And anointing themselves as the person who can save it?

People who love something don't behave like this.

This is about wanting to win.
posted by champers at 6:19 PM on March 20, 2022 [21 favorites]


this has been going in circles for years actually, not just a "month or more". no one who is still involved in this discussion thinks they're going to win anything.
posted by JimBennett at 6:24 PM on March 20, 2022 [16 favorites]


What power grab? Im sorry, but if anyone is using hyperbole, then this is it. The only person here who has any power is the owner. Along the years, a lot of accusations have been thrown his way on any number of topics, some more, some less serious (and he and the mod team have also had a lot of defendants); this discussion though is about a specific incident, even if it is also come to symbolise a lot of other issues, too.

The incident under discussion on its own was at best a major slip of judgement. We can all slip up like that. What tips this over the line for me is the fact that it was not instantly walked back and everything else noted in this thread around this specific issue involving a highly respected user of the site.

For me, the incident is one thing, but everything else around it tilts this into outright abuse of a user and by extension all the people who identify with that user. and let's remember what this is about - people throwing out ideas about how to help the site succeed in the face of regular drives for support. This isn't someone randomly attacking the mods!

At this point, this looks to me indistinguishable from abuse. I'm dismayed to see so many people colluding with this ugliness. I can't believe what I am seeing here from some users. Really, 'paranoid', 'victimhood', 'bullying', and 'power grab'? Is this how you see fit to talk to other people seeking to defend another member of this community against unwarranted attack? Telling people off because they are too engaged?

Honestly I truly regret that at this point this is the only place I can stomach getting Ukraine news from - this is openly not a respectful place anymore, if it ever was, at the point when mods themselves have declared open season on undesirabe members.
posted by doggod at 6:50 PM on March 20, 2022 [16 favorites]


Another 20+ year user here, driving by from self-imposed exile solely to show support for Miko. People like her (intelligent, caring, and good-hearted) are why I feel so fondly about this place, even after so many years. I admire the strength, grace, and desire to contribute which she demonstrated in this thread.
posted by gd779 at 7:15 PM on March 20, 2022 [23 favorites]


Back in the day, moderation was both more blunt and less heavy-handed. Rules were easier to understand and therefore accepted. I realize we had to change a lot to root out racist, sexist & transphobic content, but I actually think the over-heavy modding developed in parallel to that. I don’t really have an answer. I just wish we could go back to the world where mods were like refs - if you got a foul called you usually understood why even if you felt pissed off at the time.

As a fellow long-time-Mefite-but-under-different-names-previously, this is a good insight, which probably explains much broader issues than recent individual events. As the 'right way' to be a Mefite becomes ever narrower and narrower, the fewer people can participate.
posted by the mad poster! at 7:22 PM on March 20, 2022 [8 favorites]


another voice in defense of miko, who has always seemed fairly even-handed and well-intentioned, whatever the actual rightness of her opinions might be

it's one thing to reject her opinions - it's one thing to reject my opinions - no big deal, but it seems like everyone's opinions are being rejected and that's a problem

who do you want here and how are you going to keep them happy enough to stay?

it seems to me that the tactic being used by the site mods and so many other people these days, is just to sweep the conflicts under the rug and pretend they're not there, no matter how lumpy the rug starts looking - it's not going to work, it never does - and deleting one thing after another just makes things murkier, not more clear
posted by pyramid termite at 8:05 PM on March 20, 2022 [5 favorites]


I left under the username most people would recognize and had everything deleted. It was because I could tell that I too was considered a problem member by the mods. Unlike Miko, I didn’t have the fortitude for it and left without even a goodbye, since I had everything wiped. I appreciate greatly the work that went in to laying out a clear timeline of events and a willingness to take responsibility *where appropriate.* It’s a damn shame that behavior isn’t coming from the people being paid to be more levelheaded than us hoi polloi. Miko is a fucking treasure, and I continue to be horrified by the enabling of incredibly bullying behavior by EM. I am personal friends with many people who have left the site because of her, and it’s incredibly disheartening to see that she will not be held accountable no matter how poorly she behaves. It’s not surprising to me in the least that cortex offered this mealy mouthed apology, because a genuine one would require accountability for continuing to have someone in power who trans, POC and other minority members have expressed deep discomfort with. When I was a more active member, I made an effort not to participate when she was on duty because of the noticeably disproportionate number of my comments she deleted.

So from one problem member to another, all respect Miko. You are a treasured and valuable voice and you should not have been treated this way.
posted by Bottlecap at 8:10 PM on March 20, 2022 [26 favorites]


One thing I don't understand about Metafilter is that the keystone of its operational model is a professionalized mod staff, yet I've never worked anywhere where employees dealt with the public with as little tact as is sometimes shown here. It's often implied that dealing with site members is a uniquely difficult role, but to be frank, I think most people who have had a job have experienced what it's like to deal with frustrated stakeholders, whether they're a waiter or a lawyer or a farmer.

If people kept going to the pizzeria in town and asking them to add fried pickles to the menu, how do you think it would go over if the restaurant posted on social media "EVERYONE STOP ASKING FOR FUCKING PICKLES. IT'S A HARD NO. ESPECIALLY YOU, MELISSA, STOP COMING IN AND ASKING ABOUT THE PICKLES." If it were a functional operation, they would probably either add the dang pickles to the menu, or yeah, politely tell people for the rest of eternity "Thanks for the idea, actually we sort of just do pizza here :)"
posted by dusty potato at 8:43 PM on March 20, 2022 [52 favorites]


Like, having to be able to frequently tell people the same thing that you find annoying without flying off the handle... isn't that just a basic aspect of almost any job?? Am I nuts here?
posted by dusty potato at 8:56 PM on March 20, 2022 [30 favorites]


No, not nuts. It’s kinda the whole dill.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:09 PM on March 20, 2022 [25 favorites]


Like, having to be able to frequently tell people the same thing that you find annoying without flying off the handle... isn't that just a basic aspect of almost any job?? Am I nuts here?


Well you've obviously never worked in the service industry or read Yelp reviews :) but yes I've had to fire clients before because they were taking up more time than I was billing. The difference in all these scenarios is that it doesn't happen it public.

The mods do have a job I would never want: if they deal with someone they see as a problem in private, not in public but the comment remains then they are seeing as tacitly agreeing to the comment. When I fire a client it is not seen by all the other clients and all the potential clients. The model other communities run by are either like reddit where they have a strict set of rules and are run by anonymous professional moderators that stick to strict rules with no real discretion (doxxing, etc.) or old school bbedit style communities which have one maybe two moderators but those are usually niche subjects, like a sports team or a hobby. I'm sure there's drama but not a lot of diversity of opinion.

If I were spitballing I'd say it might be worth exploring the idea of making mod notes in threads anonymous as it appears, to no surprise, mods are taking things personally since it is directed at them. This would require less personal interaction with the users and more formal notes as to why something was removed or when responding to something. Just a guess, I'm throwing random ideas at the wall.
posted by geoff. at 9:11 PM on March 20, 2022 [7 favorites]


Thank you everyone who's spoken up to reiterate that there have been problems and that there remain problems. Thank you also for persisting in loving this site and keeping on participating.

Moderation is an effort, and today I hate the idea that my participating in threads here takes more spoons than the team has. I don't think it's fair on you-plural that my interactions here are part of a collective burden that's too much. I don't think that funding the site (at 'one new sockpuppet per month' tier) can buy that; if it's the deal, it also looks like you've made a deal that keeps hurting you.

Put me* on the list for leaning toward "I hope things can get better soon, but if not I won't prolong your suffering."

*: plus all teh sockpuppets.
posted by k3ninho at 12:34 AM on March 21, 2022 [1 favorite]


I have a fair bit of history in the service industry and experience managing a support staff. In my opinion, a blurring of boundaries is the root of some or most of the problems we're having here.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:44 AM on March 21, 2022 [10 favorites]

Violet Blue, your comment is serious erasure of the years of struggle that POC and queer folks have done on this website, and is actually ahistorical.
Sorry, having read all of VB's comments in this thread, what are you talking about?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:19 AM on March 21, 2022 [12 favorites]


as a perhaps relevant data point. Of my one hundred contacts accrued via no set strategy or system over the past thirteen plus years, twenty-four of those accounts are now disabled. I have pretty much zero idea of whether they were "POC or queer folks" as that's not the kind of thing I generally pay much attention to. It's more just A. I like that person's POV on stuff or, B. I may not agree that person's POV but I really respect how they present it; I have something to learn from them.

Anyway, my point being, based on my contacts anyway, the only conclusion I can quickly come to is that A Lot Of People Have Disabled Their Accounts over the years ... for reasons. Maybe they just can't stand me.
posted by philip-random at 11:00 AM on March 21, 2022


I love this site so much, it's been a part of my life for 20 years. Even if I don't post that often, I read it every day. It's heartbreaking to see so many conflicts in MetaTalk, even as other areas of the site seem to be seeing more initiatives and more activity.

If I have one suggestion for the moderation team, it's this: Nothing sensitive goes out in writing until at least two moderators have seen it. Not just stuff that's posted in public on the site - all communications such as email, MeMail, etc.

This will be more work in the short run, and will lengthen response times. But you can look back at previous threads and see how many blowups it might have prevented. The time to delete a problematic comment from a moderator is before it's posted, not after.
posted by expialidocious at 11:15 AM on March 21, 2022 [20 favorites]


Sorry, having read all of VB's comments in this thread, what are you talking about?

yueliang (and I, in my other comment) were referring to this Violet Blue comment.
posted by aielen at 12:01 PM on March 21, 2022 [2 favorites]


I have been here long enough to remember when MetaTalk was mostly toxic personal callouts and expressions of long-time pointless feuds. This is worse. I read EM's deleted comment. The gaslighting inherent in posting something like that screed and then presenting as the "fun mod" in the chatty metas is mind boggling. It's kind of like saying "hey let us know how to make this place better for marginalized folks", ignoring every suggestion those folks make, watching them leave in droves, and claiming victory because there's less fighting now. Oh wait, we did that too. Something has to change, this is fucking heartbreaking.
posted by donnagirl at 12:47 PM on March 21, 2022 [51 favorites]


I've been scarce around MeFi the last few years, and a big reason has been how utterly toxic this community has become. To be completely honest, I'm not sure it's worth saving. I mean, some of the people on here have made the same arguments for years. Some of them have made their intentions clear about wanting to seize control of the site. And some... it's like they live for this roiling, never ending OutrageFilter. No one ever really leaves.

I keep poking in every few months to see if the arguing is finally over, and it's only gotten nastier and more puerile. What was real criticism has turned into a never-ending recitation of past grievances.

I would love to see a space that was LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC friendly (especially as a Native father of a trans kid). But the people with the loudest voices sure don't seem welcoming as much as controlling.

I couldn't imagine trying to moderate this toxic soup of a community, much less own it.
posted by dw at 8:03 PM on March 21, 2022 [35 favorites]


I've been here for about as long as MetaFilter has existed.

I've gone from being an enthusiastic member of the boyzone to being a bystander, at a certain point it became clear that site norms had changed and I was a little slow on the uptake. That isn't to say that I haven't learned a lot in twenty some years or that MeFi hasn't had a huge impact on my thinking, I just decided that I, and the community as a whole, was better served by my listening. So I've listened. For better than a decade.

We used to be self-policing and the group ethos defined discourse -- yeah, that sucked and we were jerks. Not a great group. As a result, a top heavy moderation style was implemented. Outright deletions became common, mod posts get memory holed and we can't even bitch in MetaTalk without mod approval.

We are allowed to talk about whatever cortex thinks we should talk about.

Never have I seen corporate employees complain so much about doing their jobs. If I ran around telling my customers how horrible my job was I wouldn't have a job long. Many of us have jobs that are stressful, we suck it up or find another job. The last thing we do is whine for mercy from the people who are paying us.

Get real, 'community moderator' doesn't quite have the same ring as first responder or educator. For fucks sake, it's embarrassing to read about mod burnout -- there are no lives on the line -- you are not doctors, firefighters or journalists. Nobody is making you do this and I'm sorry your boss has no idea how to run a business and doesn't have the wherewithal to accept help.

There is no joy here and it is primarily because everyone in management hates their job and should really be doing something else. You guys just aren't very good at this.
posted by cedar at 8:19 PM on March 21, 2022 [15 favorites]


Kate blank, that is part of the diversion. After each one of these threads there is a mod thread (sometime more than one) trying to push the difficult discussion off the homepage.

Yep, I first pointed it out two years ago.

It’s literally been years of specific, egregious mod behavior, circling the wagons, and then a super-enthusiastic distraction thread.
posted by kate blank at 8:34 PM on March 21, 2022 [11 favorites]


Part of the issue here is discernment. Which members are you going to listen to, how are you going to listen to yourself (and which parts of yourself are you going to listen to)? I agree that there are various stances here, but it's not that any one of them is mercilessly beating its drum; it's that site leadership has never issued any sort of definitive statement of "This is where this site is going and the principles by which we're managing it." And when site members have asked for that sort of leadership (not just putting-out-fires daily management, but actual "what we believe" leadership), we're ignored. If y'all declare a stance and take accountability for it, even if it's just "whatever cortex decides he can handle for the day" and "yes, we know it's arbitrary," it's easier for people to decide, "OK, not for me, I'll move on." Which is a good thing! The continual years-long "maybe we'll figure out what we stand for" is what's excruciating.

I personally think there needs to be a moral reckoning within leadership, and it seems like there's always promises that maybe it will happen (the BIPOC board, this vague promise of restructuring). If it's not going to happen, just say that. If you do want it to happen and need help guiding it, say that. If you want it to happen and you have a plan, say that. The constant "we're talking about vague things" is just prolonging the discontentment.
posted by lapis at 8:38 PM on March 21, 2022 [16 favorites]


This all stems, in my view, from matthowie burning out but wanting a payday to move on. The obvious person this site should have gone to was jessamyn, full stop, but either she didn't want it (our collective loss), didn't want to pay matthowie's asking price, or was never considered by matthowie for ownership (I so hope this latter possibility was not the case, for many many reasons).

That said, dear Lord does Miko deserve a full public apology, no ifs ands nor buts. Dignity and common sense dictate as much. Her contributions are one of the things that have made this site itself the best of the web, full stop.

The callout by EM of Miko reminded me of a very similar callout years ago by EM of the user Michele in California. When I went to review that painful EM diatribe I found that, like the screed against Miko, it had similarly been deleted. This mod's Jeckyll and Hyde approach to and presence on metafilter is not and has not been ok. It's fine and dandy for us to learn from EM about ecclesiastic and legal matters and minutia, but not when accompanied by withering personal attacks on users. Let alone Miko, who is an all-time metafilter star not just some "solid mefite." How is EM still a mod?? Not a BND user??

The other driving factor here is cortex' interminable wishy-washyness on committing to any course but that of inaction. This has directly led to people, like Miko, repeating themselves because they have never been given clear, direct answers to their questions nor offers. Nor clear rejections of offers of help.

Vague hyperbole upon airy verbiage is not how moderation is done. I feel like the absolute greatness of jessamyn covered for a multitude of sins, and her neither running the site nor being appreciably involved has let the ineffectual blathering of ownership (along with an inexplicably cruel personal attack) and aggressive viciousness of EM shape the modding and very tenor of the site.

Aaand ... all this can be healed with a public apology to Miko and to the user base that had to be caught up in the ugliness, along with a complete rework of the site's modding--what we thought was best-in-class modding was really jessamyn (and lobstermitten, taz, restlessnomad, vacapinta) overperforming all along. Perhaps a rotation system is needed, where no mod ever works more than x months in a row without the sane amount of time away.

I won't hold out for the apology to Michele in California. I will presume to no longer be, if I ever was, a "solid mefite".

Too bad, because I love this community like family. I feel deeply for the people modding through the last eight years of Putin's war on the western Internet, that must've been awful. Still, no excuse for attacking our community.

Please do the right thing and apologize. We love you and are counting on you.
posted by riverlife at 10:14 PM on March 21, 2022 [42 favorites]


I suspect I am (or have been) a problem user to some of the mod team as well. I've certainly been made to feel that way in the past. No doubt my behaviour has not always been great, but I'm pretty certain it hasn't always been awful, either. I'm actually kinda glad of this thread - it takes some of the "am I just going mad?" ambiguity away.

I still visit the site all the time, though I comment far less. I still care about this community, and I am still committed to it. But there is a very long list of users whose contributions were among the reasons I read this site who are no longer here because of issues like this.
posted by Dysk at 2:54 AM on March 22, 2022 [17 favorites]


I've been an admin in other communities and have seen discussions just like this. Usually if you feel like you're being treated like a problematic member of a community by a mod you're done something to earn that status. Mods don't want to have to moderate. It's a bunch of busy work and judgement calls and trying to be gentle with egos that may or may not deserve such care. It's exhausting so I've always looked for the lightest touch I felt that I could get away with and not allow harm to the community.

I've mostly had very cordial messages from mods about any moderating that has to do with my comments and it's only gotten more curt when I've misunderstood what the mod was asking or just didn't realize I was being an asshole (IE: I deserved a curt response and when I got that curt response I took it as a sign that I was continuing in the wrong direction.

Sometimes I'd disagreed about an action but it's usually A right thing to do I just disagree about it the most right thing and that's fine, I get over it as well I should.

I've been an official member since 2010, I lurked a lot without an account for a long time before that. My wife as been a member for almost ten years longer than me and neither of us feel like the site is all that different or the mods doing anything differently.

I still like the site, I like the community, I like the mods, and I like all of you.

I just wanted my voice out there so you know I love you all. I cared enough to write about it and I assume that means there are others that feel the same way, just not quite strongly enough to write about it.

:)
posted by VTX at 9:03 AM on March 22, 2022 [12 favorites]


Hi all, I've been reading Metafilter since before 9/11 but for various complicated personal reasons never signed up and commented until recently. I truly do appreciate the role this site plays in the broader internet and as similar sites have bit the dust or transformed into mass social platforms (eg Reddit), I appreciate that the Metafilter experience has not changed much. Obviously, the turmoil of the Trump years and COVID has taken a real toll on this website and the moderating team, and there is a profound dysfunction in how they engage with the community. I'm not going to rehash every comment above but watching the last couple of threads has been immensely disappointing.

I want to address one point in particular, which is comment deletion; Rock'em sock'em was kind enough to send me the deleted comment from the mod in the previous site update thread, which I had not seen. My day job is in relationship management, which means I spend my days negotiating and managing with clients and client representatives. Because of the specific industry focus, many of these individuals are rough around the edges, to put it lightly, and I have had many challenging and demanding requests from them. I can handle it, partly because I get paid a salary that is sufficient to compensate for the demands of the job, and also because you learn how to handle these personalities.

From my job, I have learned two principles for relationship management (which is a core part of a moderator's job) which are (1) be radically transparent and present with your customer base unless doing so exposes confidential / private information and (2) you never know who is watching your response.

The handling of this situation with Miko fell short on both counts. I certainly knew nothing of the debate over whether Metafilter should be a nonprofit; I'm not even American and it's not my specialty so I am totally agnostic on the subject. And at the end of the day, that's an ownership decision and if they decide not to do it for whatever reason, that's that. But take it from this relatively objective observer: nothing Miko said in any way struck me as unreasonable or out of line. Instead, you see a fairly innocuous comment responded to in a really vicious way by the site's owner and one of their most prominent moderators. If they had said "you've now raised that issue in X public comment thread and X private messages over the past X years, thank you but it's not happening, here's a link to our professional assessment of the issue, now drop it, we have bigger and more important fish to fry"*, then we probably all would have moved on. (*of course, now it appears that her interactions with the mods on this topic have been pretty limited, which makes their response even worse).

But by choosing to attack Miko in a comment that attacked her character and motives, then deleting that comment and refusing to forthrightly address it, the mod team only eroded their own trust and credibility. What's even worse for them is that Miko's initial request in that other thread and now her comment above were couched in very reasonable, very professional terms and she has demonstrated that she has not pestered the site's ownership multiple times on this - I'm honestly impressed that she is still here and still willing to explain and engage her position. Many people would have just left.

In particular, deleting that comment was the absolute wrong move; I would have left it up and edited in at the bottom an profound apology from both cortex and EM first to Miko and then to the broader community. Perhaps it should have even been stickied or attention drawn to it by the moderators themselves as an example of how not to engage with the users. Would it be embarassing to read? Sure, I'd cringe a little. But then nobody could accuse the mods of having something to hide, and when you raise that perception in people's minds, it is very hard to regain trust.

Anyway, that's my piece; I'm going to continue to participate in this community, but I'm going to be very careful on what I say and how I interact with others, particularly any mods; I think they are just not capable of managing this community effectively. I hope you guys are able to get the help you need, because this is clearly draining and embittering you, which is such a shame to see.
posted by fortitude25 at 10:27 AM on March 22, 2022 [41 favorites]


I keep poking in every few months to see if the arguing is finally over, and it's only gotten nastier and more puerile.

I joined MetaFilter in 2001. You, dw, joined in 2004. In my memory, the puerility and nastiness came far more often in doses much larger and stronger in comparison to today. It was like the Wild West -- people got away with writing shit that would get them 86'd in a hummingbird's heartbeat now. Your memories of that Golden Age are dramatically different from mine.
posted by y2karl at 11:39 AM on March 22, 2022 [22 favorites]

[…] high-level changes […] cortex will talk about soon in a separate post […]
What are the changes and when will they take effect?

I know that big changes aren't easy, and they take time and effort (especially when coordinating with a semi-asynchronous team). I'm not even asking for a summary of what the changes will be, but just letting people know when to expect an update. Tomorrow? Next Wednesday? Letting people know when they'll hear back can help temper their impatience, and re-assure them that "soon" doesn't mean "maybe next year".
posted by JiBB at 11:52 AM on March 22, 2022 [2 favorites]


It's very horrible to see this exact conversation happening on a regular basis for... years.

I think Suedehead hit the nail on the head with this comment from the time we did this in September 2021, it's worth revisiting.
posted by Balthamos at 11:55 AM on March 22, 2022 [8 favorites]


And in the interests of balance and not indulging too much of a negativity bias, the mods here have also been incredibly supportive of me through some difficult times, and made efforts to reach out to me and make sure I was alright, despite not knowing me any better than any other member here. Obviously the mods is a group of people, but there is also a meaningful overlap between the venn diagram of mods in my previous comment and this one.

(I guess this is where I make the classic 'land of contrasts' joke?)

I may moan, but there is also a reason why I'm still committed to this community even as more and more of the people whose comments I looked out for aren't active anymore.

(Not that the rest of you are chopped liver, like.)
posted by Dysk at 2:17 PM on March 22, 2022 [11 favorites]


I think there's a couple things going on.

I said several years ago that Metafilter was going to have to decide whether it wanted to be a more progressive/liberal "safe space" or an internet forum where the mods basically police a limited array of offenses. The choice is and has been for a lefty-leaning safe space, which is fine, but it takes a lot more mental and emotional overhead to curate an activist-leaning space, enforce rules on that level, and shape discussions rather than just keeping people from swearing and tearing each other to shreds and letting things flow as they go. I think a lot of the exhaustion is coming from that, in that it's not just digging through reports and going "that's fine, that's fine, nope that's a ban, that's fine," it's trying to read and follow and comprehend and then steer 5-10 threads a day towards advancing the escutcheon, for lack of a better term. That takes a lot of emotional intelligence and energy and on a bad day, you can cause a lot of harm.

Some of the tension is the lack of transparency. This might've flown many years ago, but most sites have some kind of mechanism for seeing a post was removed and perhaps even why. It's easy to let the imagination fill in the gaps even for an innocuous removal, but doubly so when you have no idea a removal occurred until you can kinda tell when you squint at the discussion just so. There are a variety of technical means to do this. Even off the top of my head, there are things like:

Something Awful tracks bans with which mod/admin did it, whatever their reason is, and a link to the post.
Reddit uses upvotes and downvotes and shows when a post was removed
Slashdot has karma up and down.

I can already hear the protests that none of these are possible due to ColdFusion, etc., but frankly, it's not the users' problem that the site administration insists on keeping things running on a rickety and obscure platform that doesn't provide even basic functionality. Many of the sites I mentioned are also pretty old, this isn't some whizbang solution The Kids Today use. Again, off the top of my head, offer users a choice or gradient of choices, something like a "Show flagged posts" toggle so flagged posts disappear unless people elect to see those kinds of posts.

I can already hear the "But people will use that as upvoting/downvoting!", which is another problem, which is that the perfect always seems the enemy of the good or even the enemy of the "let's give it a try", I think partly because of limited resources but also partly because the user base *loves* finding edgecases and technicalities and "Okay but what if there is a BOMB on the server and someone has to type in a slur to deactivate it but we put a filter on? Maybe a 'There is a bomb on the server, I HAVE to say this' toggle???"

But I think the overarching problem is, frankly, a lot of the admin staff seems to dislike or even hate the posters and their jobs, because the overarching reaction to these threads for many years has been a collective "Oh god, it's those assholes whining again." It's moved into contempt, which is fatal for any relationship.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:20 PM on March 22, 2022 [21 favorites]


To be fair, the mods have to deal with plenty of contempt directed their way as well.
posted by sagc at 4:43 PM on March 22, 2022 [12 favorites]


I can already hear the protests that none of these are possible due to ColdFusion, etc.

Great, if inadvertent, example of the pernicious effect of this situation. This is something I've mentioned over the years: there's a solution to these "we can't do 'X' because of our tech stack" excuses and it's to open source the site. Now, I have to wonder if this issue is to the mods what reorganizing around non-profits is. Did this issue get caught up in some weird tangential legal drama, too?

If you have an issue you're familiar with that you've brought up here many times, maybe you too were included in those smears? Who even knows the full cast of this 'gripey shitshow?'
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:03 PM on March 22, 2022


How many times does the answer to “nonprofit!?!?!?” Have to be no before people stop bringing it up? “If we just got an answer” omg you have on that point... you have gotten an answer a million times over... that answer is no...

So many other valid things to bring up can we leave that ONE thing to die
posted by one4themoment at 5:30 PM on March 22, 2022 [10 favorites]


Most disheartening to me is learning that no attempt has been made by the site to contact Miko directly for the purposes of apology, explanation, or mediation: any direct effort to possibly resolve or even move forward on a issue that has proven contentious for a wide swath of the user base. One need not be in an unduly uncharitable mood to read that silence as a tacit endorsement of the original problematic comments.

I don’t want to believe that about the people who run the only place that feels like home to me on the web. But jeez, the lack of any personal action on the part of moderation/management has a whiff of entrenchment. If I’m overly cynical, I’d love to be proven wrong. But at this point, I’m not sure how they could accomplish that.
posted by barrett caulk at 5:34 PM on March 22, 2022 [9 favorites]


To be fair, the mods have to deal with plenty of contempt directed their way as well.

It's a pretty direct virtuous/vicious cycle: you tend to treat people better when you feel they're at least trying to treat you well, and you tend to treat people badly when you believe they don't care about treating you well. And you feel more license to attack people who've shown they feel a license to attack you.

Breaking that cycle, actively, consistently, again and again, should be seen as the core part of being a mod. It's hard, I acknowledge. Very. But that doesn't make it optional.

Earn the trust that you want. Please.
posted by trig at 6:00 PM on March 22, 2022 [9 favorites]


Really? Because I’ve seen it brought up A LOT in this discussion and referenced in previous discussions... are we reading the same thread? It was brought up in the comment right before mine.
posted by one4themoment at 6:01 PM on March 22, 2022 [2 favorites]


one4themoment, look over that comment again. feloniousmonk wasn't calling for metafilter to be a non-profit. They were calling for it to be open-sourced, and wondering if that was an idea non grata like the non-profit idea.

(The reason people have been talking about the latter in this thread is because of what happened in the site update before last, where cortex and EM went off on Miko and accused her of obsessing to the point of harrassment about non-profits. Miko had commented twice previously in that thread. Both of her comments specifically avoided mentioning the idea. The fact that it's once again part of the conversation is a self-fulfilling prophecy type thing on the part of the mods.)
posted by trig at 6:15 PM on March 22, 2022 [12 favorites]


“Now, I have to wonder if this issue is to the mods what reorganizing around non-profits is. Did this issue get caught up in some weird tangential legal drama, too? ” The answer to nonprofit is no... has been no... please do not act like I suddenly injectected this into the conversation.
posted by one4themoment at 6:17 PM on March 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


I’m specifically asking that this one thing stop being a point of conversation and not saying that any other thing is right or wrong
posted by one4themoment at 6:19 PM on March 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


I also ditched a longtime username, partly for my own reasons bc I felt like my old profile had amassed too many identifying details - but I also took a long break from contributing at all and changed handles due to repeated heavyhanded mod deletions when I complained about racism on the site.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:29 PM on March 22, 2022 [8 favorites]


You’re so eager to go off on someone you can’t even take the time to read what you’re angrily quoting.
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:48 PM on March 22, 2022 [21 favorites]


I apologize to anyone who I went off on, my quote was just the most recent comment to mine. I did not mean to call any one person out.
posted by one4themoment at 6:54 PM on March 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


Not that the rest of you are chopped liver, like

If I'm honest, I consider myself to be more of a pâte.
posted by thivaia at 7:55 PM on March 22, 2022 [5 favorites]


The quoted statement is making a comparison to the non-profit issue, not relitigating it.

"Now, I have to wonder if

this issue
(open-sourcing the site code)

is to the mods what reorganizing around non-profits is. (comparison)

Did this issue (open-sourcing the site code)

get caught up in some weird tangential legal drama,

too? ” (comparison)
posted by murphy slaw at 7:57 PM on March 22, 2022 [16 favorites]


one4themoment, In the MeTa thread of 2/9, miko did not suggest non-profit status, though, as she states, she has done so in the past. Eyebrows McGee commented about it at length on 2/9 and that comment was deleted. If you want to read it, people have captured the deleted comment and have offered to share it.
posted by theora55 at 8:58 PM on March 22, 2022 [2 favorites]


"In my memory, the puerility and nastiness came far more often in doses much larger and stronger in comparison to today. It was like the Wild West -- people got away with writing shit that would get them 86'd in a hummingbird's heartbeat now. Your memories of that Golden Age are dramatically different from mine."

Of course you're correct, but I think the quality of conflict then and now is quite different. There were several ways in which it was super-toxic back then that it isn't now, and vice-versa.

If you were weren't white, straight, male, cisgender, educated, techy, middle-class, and coastal, it was a generally (but familiarly) hostile environment and it drove most such folk off right away . . . or at least into a self-protective lurkerdom.

If you did feel comfortable here and entered the fray, it could still be absolutely brutal — though when it was brutal, it mostly was only brutal to those at whom some particular ire was directed. Also, it was a faux pas to care too much, to be invested. Otherwise, though, if the neckbeard miasma wasn't too off-putting and you didn't find yourself with a target on your back, things could seem pretty chill.

I think that perception was myopic, of course, but I don't disagree that many mefites were comfortable here back then. I also don't disagree that MetaTalk could be ugly as fuck . . . or that, in this respect, it's much better now.

On the other hand, after MetaFilter started being more inclusive, started to really emphasize earnest engagement, started to allow people to reveal more of themselves and stopped insisting on ironic detachment, it for better and worse cultivated an environment with strong personal stakes combined with strong personal vulnerabilities in which the pain of conflict was much more widely distributed.

In that first era, the aughts, MetaFilter came to excel at the whole filtering thing plus a big dose of smart community commentary and discussion.

In the second era, the teens, MetaFilter came to excel at being a very engaging, educational, and thoughtful community with progressive values and a desire to be more inclusive.

This is partly why MetaFilter was arguably at its best during the period when it transformed from the former to the latter — it had some of the virtues of each but with fewer of the vices of each. And it benefited from The Algorithm and thus was flush in both members and revenue.

The way in which the site in general, and MetaTalk in particular, is much worse today is that it has far fewer of the virtues of the earlier era, far greater vices of the present era, and it is in decline with regard to membership and revenue. Its biggest strength — emotional investment and a sense of community — greatly magnifies the intensity of the pain and conflict when dealing with these issues.

As a direct result, MetaTalk in particular is now a kind of cancer that is killing the site — or, at least, it's hastening its demise. I'm not happy with this diagnosis, but I stand by it.

I'm unhappy with it because some of the best things about MetaFilter were created, strengthened, and protected here in MetaTalk. But, especially in the last four or five years, it's MetaTalk threads like this one which are just almost unbearably painful for most of us. (Well, I guess it is actually unbearable, as demonstrated by how many people have quit as a direct result.)

Part of my argument here is that we should be clear that our virtues have now also become our vices. They're still virtues — but they're also vices. And it seems to me that the potency of the vice aspect has come to sadly outweigh the potency of the virtue aspect.

Unfortunately, there's not an easy answer to this.

The other part of my argument is that history is against us. Web group discussion blogs are archaic. We're not attracting younger people and we won't ever again. Times have changed. That happens; it's part of life. As a consequence of this, MetaFilter will never again have revenue enough to pay for the kind of moderation that is required for the kind of site it's become. Informed and engaged moderation has always been required, but the emotional investment and intensity of the community it's become mean that this is doubly true and even more expensive.

I can envision a management structure with a professional moderation staff using best practices that could sustain this site indefinitely (all things being equal) — but I don't see how there could be sufficient revenue to do so.

In my opinion, it's possible that there are ways the site, its management, and operations could be restructured to maintain its viability as long as possible. Alternatively, there are ways in which it could be eased into an extended and relatively painless demise.

But, either way, the one thing that must change first, the one thing that should take priority over everything else, is that this extremely difficult, soul-sucking conflict that involves too many of us, too often — it has to end. It must end. Because it's poison.

And the first step of that first step is to eliminate it starting from the top down.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:40 AM on March 23, 2022 [27 favorites]


I used to happily give suggestions on features that would make the site better by modernizing it just enough to bring it in line with out of the box forum solutions.

After the unjust and cruel way Miko was treated there is going to have to be a whack of serious attitude and modding changes before I raise my voice to try and help again.
posted by kimberussell at 4:04 AM on March 23, 2022 [9 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if this whole Miko fiasco isn't just a PSYOP engineered to distract key parts for the userbase from focusing on the REAL problem underlying it all.
posted by some loser at 4:44 AM on March 23, 2022 [1 favorite]


Uh, are comments being deleted from this thread? I see new comments are available, click to update but there aren't any. I suggest stealthily removing comments from this thread is a very bad idea for obvious reasons.
posted by iivix at 9:01 AM on March 23, 2022 [8 favorites]


I find it a little troubling that this thread is being actively monitored inasmuch as comments are being deleted but none of the concerns being raised are otherwise being addressed.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:01 AM on March 23, 2022 [10 favorites]


Something Awful tracks bans with which mod/admin did it, whatever their reason is, and a link to the post.
Reddit uses upvotes and downvotes and shows when a post was removed
Slashdot has karma up and down.


And can I add to that pile, in terms of sites that are visually similar to Metafilter and possibly have a greater percentage-wise overlap in userbase:

Lobste.rs has a MODERATION LOG

Look at it. Look how clear it is. Look how simple to understand. Every edit made by a user or by a mod is there. You can sort by whether the edit was done to a tag, a comment or a full story. YOU CAN TRACK CHANGES BASED ON WHICH MOD DID THEM. And, based on my very simple experimentation with the URL, I can confirm that the log goes back to the site's beginning in 2012.

Isn't that amazing. Accountability and openness, turns out to be simple if the site designers wish it to be.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 9:12 AM on March 23, 2022 [7 favorites]


I don't mean to harp on Lobste.rs specifically, but I just went fishing through the moderation log a bit and found this excellent exchange from about three weeks ago.

A user has concern about a comment that has disappeared from a post. It wasn't showing up in the moderation log, and they were concerned because a) that's not supposed to happen and b) there's an implication that the user is concerned that this violates the unspoken promise of the mod log.

There's an answer, an explanation for the problem, and even a proposal to fix it, soliciting user input. Such a simple interaction, done in plain sight before all the users, showing an understanding of what the user's concerns are and how they might be addressed. I've been on this site since 2007 and I don't know if I've ever seen a similar problem handled so easily.

Also, Lobste.rs has threaded comments, which this site has needed for a long long time but is outside the scope of this MeTa.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 9:43 AM on March 23, 2022 [3 favorites]


if the focal point is wide enough, things do start to look somewhat slapstick
posted by philip-random at 10:44 AM on March 23, 2022 [4 favorites]


That thread really lives up to the usual Reddit clichés, very tiresome.
posted by iivix at 10:48 AM on March 23, 2022 [3 favorites]


That thread really lives up to the usual Reddit clichés, very tiresome.

And this thread is living up to the usual MeTa cliches.

I thought the Reddit summary of this discussion was pretty spot on:
Nobody has made any new points, it's just, "cortex is bad, the mods are mean, this site is falling apart, I love this site, where's the apology, but an apology isn't good enough anyway."

The dissenters, of which I am one, have pretty much bowed out by now.
posted by FencingGal at 11:19 AM on March 23, 2022 [36 favorites]


Perhaps they will start commenting about the fact that this thread has noticed that thread and there will be some strange, passive aggressive back-and-forth across the internet.

Is that what threaded comments looks like? I don't like it, it makes time go weird.
posted by Grangousier at 11:36 AM on March 23, 2022 [10 favorites]


That thread really lives up to the usual Reddit clichés, very tiresome.

Meh, that's a strong MeTa c.2008 vibe. Don't disagree with a lot of their points, but people there should have to use their MeFi handles so I can dismiss the opinions of anyone I had a one-sided grudge against 15 years ago.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:40 AM on March 23, 2022 [10 favorites]


I'm also wondering who's in that thread that's also in this thread
posted by philip-random at 12:17 PM on March 23, 2022 [2 favorites]


> The dissenters, of which I am one, have pretty much bowed out by now.

What is the "dissenter" position?

Everything is going great? Because that's not accurate - engagement is falling, revenue is collapsing, mods' livelihoods are threatened, and morale on both sides is low.

Or is it, everything would be great if all the complainers shut up? How does that work to increase user acquisition / retention / engagement / revenue? What is the mechanism here?

If a "dissenter" has tangible ideas to renew the business, I'm genuinely keen to hear positive suggestions here.
posted by iivix at 12:41 PM on March 23, 2022 [8 favorites]


iivix, the position seems to be that it's OK to abuse Miko because she is annoying, one of the people who at least reddit-participating Mefites rightfully hate at a minimum because bringing up something more than once to people who are asking you for money is an awful thing to do. People supporting Miko are also awful and contemptible.

Good luck ever getting any input on anything here again.
posted by doggod at 1:02 PM on March 23, 2022 [5 favorites]


When does the bowing out start? Anyway it feels like there are legitimate concerns and issues here waiting for mod(s) to weigh in on, unless we agree it’s helpful to talk in circles and then everything is forgotten until the next new Meta.
posted by JenMarie at 1:18 PM on March 23, 2022 [4 favorites]


I thought the Reddit summary of this discussion was pretty spot on:
Nobody has made any new points, it's just, "cortex is bad, the mods are mean, this site is falling apart, I love this site, where's the apology, but an apology isn't good enough anyway."


it's actually cool to pin the complete and utter failure of the leadership of this site to do fucking anything on the few people here who still give a shit. awesome discourse. why would anyone make any new points? nothing ever got done about the last few hundred problems. like it's fine that y'all like cortex more than the people he's ran off the site but just say that instead of trying to pin motivations on people. i don't want a "takeover" i want somebody to cut the dead wood out since the whole fucking tree has been rotting for years.
posted by JimBennett at 1:22 PM on March 23, 2022 [9 favorites]


After many years here, I sighed and logged out of MetaFilter a while ago. I have continued to scan the RSS feed of front page posts, since this is still the best place I know where a wonderful range of interesting minds, ahem, filter the web. But the community and management aspects of MetaFilter have grown increasingly disappointing, so it felt time for me to leave. A few days ago I took a quick scan of MeTa and saw this post and the ensuing conversation, and I was curious how others felt. In response to iivis' query above, let me offer a few brief thoughts.

1. Why is any mod allowed to also be a community member? For example, I have had run-ins with EM as a mod, and also as a fellow participant in other threads, and it is impossible to avoid the impression that EM's behavior and comments in one role affect the other. (That's just human nature!) But this is larger than any one individual. There are no sports leagues where referees or umpires also play in some of the games. Why is that permitted here?

2. A narrower range of views means narrower range of participants. As Ghostride The Whip pointed out above, over the years MetaFilter management purposefully moved the model from more open conversation to a narrower range of views & values. What had once seemed like a debating society came to be more like a cafe with regulars, and eventually to being more of a private club. I am making no value judgments, merely describing what I have seen and how it feels. However the challenge with a narrower range of viewpoints is that by definition this diminishes the number of potential participants. As analogy, The Nation and Mother Jones and Jacobin have fewer readers (and revenue) than NYT or WaPo. It's hard to keep a media company going when it appeals to a smaller and smaller bunch of people.

3. "HOW DARE YOU!" is the tone and subtext of far too many MeFite comments (even right here in this thread). That's what finally led me to step away from the conversation threads here. As has been lamented in several earlier MeTa threads, too often the first comment after a new post is GRAWR, I HATE THIS. I don't understand why the humans who visit here can't stay just away from threads on topics they disdain. (I'm not referring to shitty posts and comments re: LGBTQ or BIPOC or other identity issues, which are vital to moderate properly.) And far too many commenters scream at each other (hey - take a look above!) and accuse each other of "bad faith" and other sins. Maybe one problem with user anonymity (which otherwise has many benefits and is essential for MetaFilter) is that it permits the kind of snarling behavior that I'm pretty sure no one here would display if we were having a conversation in real life... On occasions when I have sent a MeFi link to a friend, almost invariably I hear back something like "Thanks, interesting stuff. But that's a pretty, um, intense bunch of commenters. Not a place I'd want to hang out."

To oversimplify, I think this place needs more tone policing and less view policing, by moderators who are more objective. But this isn't my cafe or club, and that's not going to happen, which is why I have stepped away. I am not making any statements about particular situations nor criticizing on specifics Cortex or EM or anyone else who runs this joint. I don't have the same sense of "ownership" as many others here, and I get to make my own choice about which cafes and clubs I hang out at.

Because I have gotten such wonderful benefits from MetaFilter I will continue to scan the front page, and I am sure I'll occasionally dip in and read threads like this, in hopes that management - and users - make meaningful changes in their behavior so this would be a better place to participate in as a community member. But that's not up to me. Just my $0.02.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:43 PM on March 23, 2022 [27 favorites]


it's actually cool to pin the complete and utter failure of the leadership of this site to do fucking anything on the few people here who still give a shit.

My gut tells me there are many people here at Metafilter who still give a shit but are either A. unaware that this thread exists or B. are choosing not to wade in ... for reasons.
posted by philip-random at 2:05 PM on March 23, 2022 [15 favorites]


What if I don't think the leadership has failed?
posted by VTX at 2:07 PM on March 23, 2022 [11 favorites]


Mod note: Hello Everyone!

Thank you for your patience as I caught up with the thread, the past few days have been busy on all fronts (moderation work, planning, training, drafting a decent response in this thread...).

I very much agree that not all disagreement is an attack, actually I very much think that disagreement is necessary for growth.

As aielen mentioned during the weekend, seeing " how much content, how much precious wisdom is now missing" is one of the biggest things I have in my mind right now. That, to me, is one of the signs of the issues we're discussing here.

This means it is critical for us for us to prioritize our work and to put our effort where it best serves the community and it also means we need to communicate better.

Several changes are necessary, we need to address mod burnout, we need to address member burnout, and we need to map out the best path forward.

All of this ties directly into the high-level changes I mentioned above. You'll see changes in how the site is run as well as the overall roles and responsibilities. I wish I could provide more details right now, but the reality of it is that we're going over several much needed changes at once. This is not to say "please wait, we'll communicate eventually" this is to say, this is a very active work in progress as we speak and we're doing our best to nail down the main changes so that they can be communicated properly.

What can you expect as of right now? You can expect 1. Changes (big changes) 2. Openness from us to receive feedback and act upon it.

I'll keep working with the team on these changes and make sure to communicate them as promptly as we can. In the meantime, please rest assured that I'm still monitoring the thread and taking the feedback into account as the conversation progresses.
posted by loup (staff) at 2:13 PM on March 23, 2022 [42 favorites]


What if I don't think the leadership has failed?

That’s fine, everyone can have their own opinion. That said, I think even site leadership have recognized that they are struggling, financially, membership-wise, etc. Maybe not failing, but certainly not triumphing, either.
posted by snofoam at 3:09 PM on March 23, 2022 [2 favorites]


Thank you loup. Please be so kind as to put a timeline as to what can be expected and when.
Many people I believe, including myself have been waiting it seems eternally for some sort of action to happen. A defined timeline is needed to ease the very visible frustration and ill feeling here.
posted by adamvasco at 3:16 PM on March 23, 2022 [3 favorites]


I'm repeating myself here, as we all are, but I really believe there's an alternative to continued decline. It's not as if online text-based communication is going away, the growth of Reddit and newsletters shows the opposite is true, if anything. There is a gap for discussion forums that aren't as chaotic as Reddit or as closed as Facebook, and at its best, in its subsites and in its good threads, Metafilter serves as a great model.

There are massive technical challenges – I think you'd need to relaunch the entire site on something like Discourse – but also huge opportunities to increase shareability, discoverability, and accessibility. Metafilter has a lot of well-heeled members, both active and departed, and they could be convinced to chip in significant amounts if there were a plan. The site is obviously starving for money and is in a bit of a vicious cycle but there are ways out. God knows if I wasn't already running a company I would throw my hat in the ring.
posted by adrianhon at 3:30 PM on March 23, 2022 [16 favorites]


Mod note: Re: Timeline for changes to be communicated.

Yes, I know, that is a tough one. But let me put is this way: We're all hands on deck working to get the critical changes defined and finalized and they will be communicated as soon as we are able to. Expect updated on that on next week's update and a subsequent announcement will come a soon as it is finalized.

For the next, smaller-but-not-less-important changes, the idea is to communicate them at a faster pace.

Hope this helps. Trust me, we're working to make things happen as promptly as we can.
posted by loup (staff) at 4:39 PM on March 23, 2022 [3 favorites]


loup, thank you for your comment, and frankly, for the speed of your response to being asked about the timeline. I hope you can understand, at this point, that “Trust me, we're working to make things happen as promptly as we can.” is a pretty hard ask at the moment. This thread is very specifically talking about how the ability of a large number of users to trust the moderation of the site has deeply eroded.

If nothing else, given the amount of time and effort put into directly addressing the matter at hand, and the utter lack of response from the mods, it would help, I think, if it were made more explicit that we shouldn’t be expecting any answers to our questions in this thread. A lot of us, myself included, seem to be waiting to hear back to what we’ve said, and without any clear indication that responses will not be forthcoming in this thread, it’s not hard to feel as if we are being ignored. We aren’t privy (nor should we be? Maybe? Is there room for an ombudsperson? Is that a suggestion that won’t ever get an answer?) to mod discussions, so we don’t know if anything we say here has any effect at all, or if anyone is actually listening until you post an update telling us to, again, wait for an update.

The lack of interaction, the lack of back and forth, which I understand to be an attempt to make things better, seems to honestly, from the user side, be making things worse. I think it’s creating, or at least exacerbating a feeling of helplessness, of pointlessness in commenting, which is really the only thing we have here. This is a community, and a community lives through participation of the members, and this detached style with delayed, if thoughtful notes that promise updates “soon” without ever seeming to respond, seems to be making more and more members question if the time and effort they have put into participating here is really worth it.

Yes, I understand that the reason for the pull back was the fighting in threads. Since the pull back, though, these threads just spiral until we exhaust ourselves. As some have posited, when our comments and questions seem to be ignored for so long, and people just give up an button, it’s easy to give in to nagging doubts and wonder if this is the new moderation plan, to let “annoying” or “problem” members just tire themselves out. I can’t lie and say this doesn’t feel at least a little like unruly kids being put into a timeout until they exhaust themselves. I hope (again, that word, like trust, which seems more and more to be based on very little) that isn’t the case, but if that’s even a tiny bit in the hearts of anyone on the mod team, that would be an incredibly hurtful, demeaning stance towards users of the site.

I’m not saying that I believe that to be the case. What I am saying is that the “prolonged silence” plan only allows doubts like this to pop up, and once they are there, and still no response comes, they bounce around, and the doubts get magnified. That, when a response does come, it comes with a by now standard “we’re working on it” and a plea for trust does very little to alleviate doubts, or to make anyone who’s in the question if anything they’ve said, anything they’ve written was worth that time and that effort.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:09 PM on March 23, 2022 [8 favorites]


Mod note: I hope you can understand, at this point, that “Trust me, we're working to make things happen as promptly as we can.” is a pretty hard ask at the moment.

Yes, I totally understand that and I wish I was able to provide more details sooner.

posted by loup (staff) at 8:02 PM on March 23, 2022 [4 favorites]


I've read this thread and its predecessor (which I missed) with a heavy heart; and have wanted to say something but haven't been sure what to say.

So, I'm just going to offer these limited reactions, for what they're worth:

1. The style of interaction by EMG people are troubled by is familiar to me as a litigator. Running down multiple tracks with different affects (i.e. the cocktail threads vs....all this); characterizing persistent contact about an issue that has been laid to rest (with or without satisfaction) as harassment. But that doesn't mean it's well suited to modding here; or unobjectionable in the wider context. I'm a child of two lawyers and suffice to say that that lawyerly norms can produce toxicity, and can make people feel gaslighted whatever is intended.

That said, EMG is not the only mod who I've experienced to be less...measured, objective or pacifying than used to be the norm here.

2. I have said more than once in the past that I felt one of the things that has distinguished MeFi is the quality of its moderation. When I said that, the norms of moderation culture were being set -- so far as I could tell -- by Mathowie and Jessamyn. Maybe this isn't the greatest instinct (for the site, for the current mods, for them, for all of us) but I would like to know how much their 'emeritus' input is sought and valued. (And this is an even worse instinct, but does Mathowie have some time on his hands at the moment?)

3. The norm has always been that MeTa is more unvarnished and with fewer holds barred than the blue. And that has applied to mods, at least in my experience. But maybe that needs a hard look -- just how close do we want MeTa to get to an 'encounter group' ?

At the end of the day, Metafilter is pretty important to me. Maybe that speaks to the the weak ties that characterize my social life as much as anything else, but I'd be pretty shook if it went away.

Heaven help me if I'm reduced to Twitch to find 'community.'
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:53 PM on March 23, 2022 [7 favorites]


And this is an even worse instinct, but does Mathowie have some time on his hands at the moment?

To be very clear, I would not had given this voice if Cortex (who I am also personally grateful to for stepping up to bear the ring) had not elected to say he's laboring under circumstances that maybe could be temporarily eased if folks are available and inclined.

posted by snuffleupagus at 9:26 PM on March 23, 2022 [1 favorite]


I don’t get a helpless feeling at all from this. Something different is in the process of being planned and the communication from Loup about it has been clear and reasonable. Seems promising.
posted by michaelh at 10:44 PM on March 23, 2022 [5 favorites]


Snuffleupagus, I also read the comment in question, and I agree that the tenor is a bit "lawyer at wits end, trying to subdue an extremely cantankerous opposing counsel who creates a lot of busywork." (I've worked for lawyers.)

It wasn't professional in a mod context, but it wasn't "cruel" or "abusive."

Watching people carry on about it for six weeks now, however, rending garments, writing lectures and talking in circles, is just beyond.

Say you're unhappy, then wait for a resolution. If you don't like the resolution, or the resolution doesn't come quickly enough, take your business elsewhere.

Since so many people here have declared themselves experts in all manner of things, it should be easy to start their own business if they are so inclined.

My view is that if you're just repeating yourself, then you enjoy conflict for the sake of conflict. And it's not the responsibility of site management to placate that desire.
posted by champers at 2:49 AM on March 24, 2022 [26 favorites]


I responded to a new insight (that the source of disconnect could be difficulty switching between lawyer hats and mod hats), mentioned that I had read the EM comment, and discussed my impressions.

That's not rehashing.

However, it did mean I was singled out for attack, nearly immediately.

This exact sort of snarling drama drives people out of the room, until only the snarling remains.

And, yes, these are new points, if anyone is keeping score. Also, it's not dinnertime where I live.
posted by champers at 4:20 AM on March 24, 2022 [8 favorites]


Perhaps "attack" was too strong a word.

But going to the effort of scrutinizing my post activity, copy-pasting whatever you can find, and speculating about where I might otherwise spend time on the Internet, with toss-offs like "you do you" is certainly...something.

As for me, I'm hanging fine.

My feelings are not hurt, so let's not twist things on that point.

Rather, I'm saying that snarling at people who speak up chills the room.
posted by champers at 4:39 AM on March 24, 2022 [8 favorites]


Rather, I'm saying that snarling at people who speak up chills the room.

That is kinda how your first comment came across, even if it was at a group rather than an individual.
posted by Dysk at 4:42 AM on March 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


Honestly champers, you are accusing others of all sorts of things and defending a truly not OK interaction because it's OK with lawyers? To me that sounds like a non-argument/ Like, if in my job it's OK with colleagues am I allowed to start swearing at people here?

We've heard a lot about people leaving because of the moderation, and also for the opposite reasons - because people are too vocally upset about some of the moderation here. At this point, it seems that people are leaving for opposite reasons (it has always been so here and everywhere, regardless of what is at stake).

Also want to note that while for some people here the discussion is much more wide-ranging, for those of us upset with the mod apology it is about the treatment of Miko. I've been present for all discussions, and Miko's idea has 100% not been presented more insistently than others. I thought she had more interaction with the mods behind the scenes, but it appears not. It's just that she was singled out (and on a previous topic it was another poster). Both Miko and the other poster whose name I forget happen to be women - I wonder if that contributed to the situation? I notice men who were equally engaged were not treated as viciously...
posted by doggod at 4:47 AM on March 24, 2022 [4 favorites]


I thought she had more interaction with the mods behind the scenes, but it appears not.

Per Miko, she hadn't. Per cortex and EM's deleted post, she had.

I know I risk getting the MeFi favorite "both-sidesism" thrown at me here, but most of those pontificating do not have personal experience of what happened. We only have the words of the people involved in the dispute, and they aren't saying the same thing.
posted by FencingGal at 5:47 AM on March 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


FencingGal, even if she had - she either was so way over the line that she needs banning, or she didn't, in which case why the aggression?

Also, I would like to point out that where the mods were vague enough for plausible deniability when they mentioned their communication with Miko, Miko was very exact and specific. If Miko wasn't right in what she was saying, she is an outright liar, while the mods are merely imprecise. So your last paragraph essentially accuses Miko of maybe lying - who knows, right, after all none of us was there?

Honestly, like champers but for the exact opposite reasons, at this point I am most disappointed by some of the membership here. I don't understand why you who leap to the mods defense can't tolerate others saying 'hey that was majorly uncalled for and this person deserves a proper apology'. It calls some very unsavory situations to mind where victim blaming is being practiced.

Honestly, at this point I think Metafileter would be more tolerable if it gave you the option to hide members, like Reddit.
posted by doggod at 5:59 AM on March 24, 2022 [5 favorites]


I use Mute a Filter for Firefox on my phone, and it's been SO helpful. I had trouble getting it to work initially and had to use Firefox Night. Wish all of MeFi could use it...it only "ghosts" comments to remind you not to read comments from someone you've chosen to ghost out...but then you lose no context if you need to read them to see what people are responding to. Hope it can help some others.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:11 AM on March 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


don't understand why you who leap to the mods defense can't tolerate others saying 'hey that was majorly uncalled for and this person deserves a proper apology'

This is the defining line between ‘solid mefite’ and ‘problematic’.
posted by hwyengr at 8:27 AM on March 24, 2022 [2 favorites]


Per cortex and EM's deleted post, she had.

And that is categorically false.
posted by Miko at 8:49 AM on March 24, 2022 [26 favorites]


I'm not even sure EM's deleted post said that there had been more communication behind the scenes than Miko asserts, but one would be forgiven for getting that impression. Not the first time she and cortex have egregiously mischaracterized private communication between mods and members.
posted by 2019 at 9:42 AM on March 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


The mods ARE mefites too! So yeah, I'm inclined to leap to the defense of a fellow mefite that I feel is under attack. The extent to which some of these comments attribute these detailed motivations to the mods seem insane.

Maintaining a list of problem users? Of course! If if it's just user names they recognize a lot because other users flag their comments a lot. The principle is often on a first name basis with the trouble makers at their school. That label may or may not be deserved but from the mod's perspective, the evidence seems clear.

Beyond that, they simply don't have enough time to think about it any deeper than that. There is no conspiracy among the mods beyond communicating among themselves to ensure they're treating all uses consistently.

If a mod is using a harsh tone it's probably because you've either screwed up or they're dealing with hundreds of flagged comments and users while you're dealing with just one mod. You have a TON more time and energy to stew over the language of a comment than the mod took when writing it. They might just not have time to have written a polite nuanced message so they wrote a blunt one instead. When a mod keeps telling someone to do stop causing a problem and they continue causing a problem they're going get increasingly harsh. At some point it's not even about who is right or wrong but about challenging a mod's authority. No user will win that fight.

If you really want to challenge the mod's authority, you do it by founding your own site and doing better.

Side note: I'm way late to all of this but you can have my favorites when you pry them from my cold dead hands. I've been a member here since 2010 and lurked for a LONG time before that. My wife has been a member since 2001 (who exposed to me to the site and I credit this community, mods included, with helping me become a person more worthy of her). Favorites are intrinsic to the culture of Metafilter. It's how everyone lovingly tracked Tehund's progress reading the catch all politics threads. Favorites only, no downvotes. I will not stand for anything else and I will die on this hill.
posted by VTX at 9:57 AM on March 24, 2022 [12 favorites]


If you really want to challenge the mod's authority, you do it by founding your own site and doing better.

and don't call it a community - because that's not how a community works

this is the basic problem - you have one guy and his deputies running things at an expense that is not currently sustainable - that's not a community, it's a capitalist structure

if there's no other options, then so be it

it's been pretty clear to me that it's not going to change, but somehow people are going to keep calling this place a community when it's not run like one
posted by pyramid termite at 10:33 AM on March 24, 2022 [2 favorites]


If you really want to challenge the mod's authority, you do it by founding your own site and doing better.


I'm just going to tap the sign right now: "Metafilter: Community Weblog".

Metafilter is a community and and all of its content is generated by us, the members of that community; so in a real sense, this is our own site. The front page posts, the comments, the questions, the answers, the reviews in FanFare, that's all us. Without the users making up this community, there would be nothing here at all. So given that the site is completely generated for free for the monetary benefit of the owner and the mods, you would think that they would try to treat the users with a modicum of respect and not attack long-time users for the crime of wanting to help the site avoid extinction.
posted by octothorpe at 10:41 AM on March 24, 2022 [35 favorites]


The mods ARE mefites too! So yeah, I'm inclined to leap to the defense of a fellow mefite that I feel is under attack. The extent to which some of these comments attribute these detailed motivations to the mods seem insane.

Maintaining a list of problem users? Of course! If if it's just user names they recognize a lot because other users flag their comments a lot.


Hypothetically: since "the mods are mefites too", this presumably means that there are some users they just plain don't get on with. This is very human, it happens to all of us. But - what if a given mod has one of their "I just don't like them" people on their "list of problem users"?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:46 AM on March 24, 2022 [10 favorites]


If you really want to challenge the mod's authority, you do it by founding your own site and doing better.

Eh, no, that's a bit of an absurd proposition there. On top of what octothorpe already wrote about this being a "community weblog" and what that entails for users and mods, I would like to remind you that the heart of the current discussion is not so much about some sort of "challenge" to "the authority" of the mods (what choice of language there, where are we, in prison?), but about some specific criticism of specific behavior by specific mods towards a specific user... and, as a consequence, the related experiences and disappointment felt by others about how the community is being managed. Whether more or less valid, more or less thoughtfully expressed, specific criticism and specific complaints can't be waved away with a suggestion that people abandon this community and that's that... Really, do you think Metafilter needs yet more people to button?
posted by bitteschoen at 11:14 AM on March 24, 2022 [8 favorites]


> The extent to which some of these comments attribute these detailed motivations to the mods seem insane.

I think people are trying to make sense of something that was quite shocking - Cortex and EM saying that Miko is untrustworthy and a harasser. Even with Cortex's apology, that accusation has been allowed to stand, and we are asked to take it on faith with no evidence presented.

So here we are - there are two mutually incompatible narratives, two opposing views of mod behaviour, and people are picking sides. Whichever side you're on, you're forced to speculate about processes and intentions, because there's no transparency or accountability in what takes place. Like at the moment we can't even agree facts on the ground, let alone discuss what the best action is given those facts.

Hopefully whatever is in the proposals loup has mentioned will go some way to fixing this.
posted by iivix at 11:45 AM on March 24, 2022 [4 favorites]


that's not a community, it's a capitalist structure

There's a difference between a community and a commune.

there are two mutually incompatible narratives, two opposing views of mod behaviour, and people are picking sides.

It's not quite that dichotomous and it doesn't help things to paint it so.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:03 PM on March 24, 2022 [11 favorites]


I separate my personal feelings from my professional judgement all the time in my job and I'm very well practiced at it. Being ruthlessly objective is a necessary part of my job. I see no reason why our mods can't do the same.

RE: Community. The mods moderate the community. If you're asking to wholesale replace the mods you're asking for a coup and that doesn't seem very community like. It feels like you're attacking my community.

Just understand that there are perspectives other than your own and those perspectives are not any more or less wrong than yours. If you want to change my perspective you need to understand it first. I've been doing a lot of reading about some very hostile perspectives and then sharing my less hostile perspective. It still feels like a community to me, I don't see any unwarranted attacks by the mods or overly harsh tones.

So uh...NO, YOU'RE wrong!

People care a lot about this place so they get impassioned. I am too. I don't want to go calling out individuals and getting hackles up. But like, the mods are good people, members of the community, and trying they're best in a difficult situation. Let's tone it down with the attacks on people that are genuinely trying to do better so they can have the space to do better. I'm trying my best too, so is everyone else (at least, that's my assumption of every human being and they need to work to disprove it to me).

If you're too frustrated with that to continue to participate in a productive way, then stop participating. If that means the site and the community is unsustainable it'll break my heart. I'll mourn and I'll get over it. Things die, that's life, Metafilter wouldn't be the first thing in my life to die and it wouldn't be the last.

Have a good day and be kind, everyone.
posted by VTX at 12:07 PM on March 24, 2022 [9 favorites]


(carefully-worded acknowledgement of everyone's exhaustion) + (gentlest of admonishments), (affectionate term for group of people):

I think whatever's coming next is related to the fundraising update from six months ago (which specifically mentions Jeff Atwood and Discourse).
Three months before that, this post announced the reduction in moderation coverage for the site.

(FWIW, I'm an admirer, not an acquaintance, of jessamyn, and noticed that she didn't comment in either of those threads, nor in this one. IF it develops that she's decided to contribute even more of her time, energy, and money to MetaFilter, please, be gracious during the transition.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:16 PM on March 24, 2022 [2 favorites]


If you're asking to wholesale replace the mods you're asking for a coup

Good lord, with all that's going on in the world right now do we really need this kind of supercharged language?

Besides, I'm not sure who's talking about wholesale replacing of the entire mod team? I thought we were talking about, again, specific behavior that many have took pains to specifically refer to as an issue. That can be addressed, or ignored but please let's maybe avoid this kind of straw man rhetoric? Cheers!

If you're too frustrated with that to continue to participate in a productive way, then stop participating.

Well that sure sounds great as the motto for the next fundraiser...
posted by bitteschoen at 1:42 PM on March 24, 2022 [8 favorites]


But - what if a given mod has one of their "I just don't like them" people on their "list of problem users"? I think I might resemble that remark.
posted by adamvasco at 2:00 PM on March 24, 2022 [2 favorites]


Hey I just noticed something. (Forgive me if this is obvious to everyone else, but perhaps worth noting even so.) But often when someone marks their claim for their side in this particular incident, they make sure you know it is in opposition to (the worst possible reading/most extreme example) of the other side. Isn't it more likely it's a nuanced situation with a lot of history, possibly some misunderstandings, probably some miscommunications, and oh yes, in the middle of a pandemic and its attendant isolation, extreme stress and occasional terror. Who is in their right mind right now?

This excuses nobody anywhere, for anything. But, it adds context. And since we're all adding our $.02 (though let's be honest, some of us are over $1.00 at this point), I would just like to say I believe that Miko, cortex and EM are, all of them, actually very nice, above-average kind people as a rule. I don't actually know any of them, but that is my opinion as a person for whom this place is really the only place I can rely on these days.

Could we stop with the shouty for now? I do understand Miko and her vocal supporters feel she has a genuine grievance. She does! Hurtful things were said. But I think some of the mod support comes from the fact that a lot (not all!) of the reaction, continuous insults and over-heated rhetoric directed at the mods may be unfair (and ugly. and mean).
posted by Glinn at 2:47 PM on March 24, 2022 [23 favorites]


The principle is often on a first name basis with the trouble makers at their school.

And then:

I don't want to go calling out individuals and getting hackles up.

I mean? Maybe don't compare users to naughty children?
posted by angrycat at 3:03 PM on March 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


The principle is often on a first name basis with the trouble makers at their school.

In principal, perhaps...
posted by y2karl at 3:10 PM on March 24, 2022 [12 favorites]


IF it develops that [jessamyn has] decided to contribute even more of her time, energy, and money to MetaFilter, please, be gracious during the transition.

Gracious? I'll be fucking overjoyed.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:58 PM on March 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


I think Jessamyn is awesome, but I'm extremely uncomfortable with the way people here project things on her and publicly speculate about her thoughts and feelings and intentions in a way that, if I were in her position, I'd really fucking hate.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:14 PM on March 24, 2022 [37 favorites]


(Gracious to cortex, Johnny Wallflower.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:19 PM on March 24, 2022 [1 favorite]


in the middle of a pandemic and its attendant isolation, extreme stress and occasional terror.

Glinn, you just put my ongoing pandemic experience into words so true that I just got teary-eyed. Thanks for articulating this. 2020-2022: Extreme Stress and Occasional Terror.
posted by rogerroger at 7:25 PM on March 24, 2022 [7 favorites]


But - what if a given mod has one of their "I just don't like them" people on their "list of problem users"?
I think I might resemble that remark.

Do you arm wrestle, Adam. The thing about lists, they tell you aLOT about who makes them. If in jest...but if you feel this way it is indeed wrong IMO and breaks my heart, half this thread breaks my heart but that adds little. Sure, alot of us have gotten the on-line note/warning. Doesn't make BAD, makes you human. In a thread the other day the filter fatigue hit me, just AAHH...having totally misread the comment, I immediately thanked the user, apologized to the rest and stopped posting in that thread and took a walk. That's all I can do, it's only right if a member hurts another member and or thread, to do so.

As to Miko and Em. I understand this involves a deleted comment which has been passed around. I remember reading the comment and then it was disappeared. To digress, during the metatalk threads about user safety and various features that could cause serious disruption to the database and memory, I believe Miko said if the database was lost, in the long run, it really wouldn't mean that much. No one really wants to hear that but essentially it's true and that's what I like is when truth outweighs the emotional impact of something lost. But I do find it ironic that something from the database that's been deleted has been central to a situation that requires deleted aspects from the database itself.

I hear a lot of 20-plus year members offering a type of perspective. It has always been my belief that someone could enter from day one and just totally hit it out of the ballpark from someone that's been here for 10 years and no snark or what not. I've always believed that we're Members first mods, all of us. But this situation does seem unique and has to have some sort of resolution for community. furthermore, I think it's important that Loup primarily replys to these threads and not other mods unless you know there's like a fire or something or whatever going on or some additional clarification on a point. My reasoning is that someone mentioned that Metafilter should have a ombudsperson. I could not disagree more as this is usually an independent body that has access to all aspects of an organization in this case metaflter proprietary info, code etc in order to perform their function with full disclosure and transparency. I'm not really keen on an independent outside body sticking their nose in every aspect of metafilter.
I think what is implied is an arbitrator. it's not necessarily a bad idea and for sensitive matters and important disagreement but that person would have to be a non-member of metafilter.
about the 20-year plus deal, the only thing I can add for full disclosure, I have never received an memail from a mod to correct my behavior, an inline note perhaps and deletions but those have become far and few in the last five years.
I know, right.
posted by clavdivs at 10:14 PM on March 24, 2022 [3 favorites]


I mean? Maybe don't compare users to naughty children?

I'm suggesting that the people who feel like they're being treated like misbehaving children consider that it may be because they are, in fact, acting like misbehaving children. The comparison was made with exactly that intent.

The mods are smart, kind, caring people and judging by their actions that's the assessment they have made. Obviously the natural inclination is to automatically refute that by reflex if that's what you're boing told. But in this case I'm more inclined to believe the mods cool headed judgement than I am the gut reactions of my own and anyone else's ego.

And I want to be loud and clear here that this is ALSO my assumption when the mods delete a comment of MINE whether it comes with a DM or not.

I'm also not going to name individuals because 1. I am NOT the principal here and 2. The principal is on a first name basis with troublemakers but they don't go broadcasting those names out to the whole student body.
posted by VTX at 7:00 AM on March 25, 2022 [5 favorites]


In other words, Cortex's and Eyebrow McGee's smart, caring, kind and oh so cool headed comments to Miko are fine by you.

Check.
posted by y2karl at 7:31 AM on March 25, 2022 [10 favorites]


There's nothing like a good old-fashion MeTa pile-on!
posted by banshee at 8:20 AM on March 25, 2022 [3 favorites]


I think Jessamyn is awesome, but I'm extremely uncomfortable with the way people here project things on her

There's a little of this above wrt mathowie too. Matt burned out running Metafilter; he has fully moved on; suggesting that he might come back to save the day feels like pure fantasy casting.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:57 AM on March 25, 2022 [15 favorites]


Believe it or not, not everyone thinks that there's something wrong with a comment that was in fact focused on specific behaviors, did not personally attack or smear the person's character, and was limited in scope to the specific topic raised by the person it was directed at. If I were Miko, I would have been very hurt to discover that cortex does not trust me, but hurt is not harm, and to quote one of Metafilter's often-cited book titles, conflict is not abuse.

On the other hand, abuse is abuse, and I see a lot of abusive behavior in this thread.
posted by biogeo at 9:06 AM on March 25, 2022 [17 favorites]


There's a little of this above wrt mathowie too. Matt burned out running Metafilter; he has fully moved on; suggesting that he might come back to save the day feels like pure fantasy casting.

To be clear, I wasn't suggesting that Matt (or Jessamyn) come back in some permanent role. Matt announced his departure from Slack fairly recently (on Twitter), and Cortex has said publicly he needs a break. Matt would be a familiar face, if he felt like pitching in. But I get that this is the sort of situation that a former mod might be the least interested in getting involved with again. (Or maybe my time sense is warped from never going anywhere and it wasn't that recently at all.)

That's separate from wondering if they're consulted on site culture and moderation policy and etc, especially around tensions that presumably go back to their tenure. And to wonder is not to demand an answer.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:21 AM on March 25, 2022


You have a non-standard definition of “abuse” if you don’t think the two Miko-directed comments qualify, biogeo.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:11 AM on March 25, 2022 [7 favorites]


My opinion is likewise for those of you that think they do, Johnny Wallflower.
posted by biogeo at 10:17 AM on March 25, 2022 [7 favorites]


To be clear: If someone had a problem with my behavior, I would hope they would be as polite about it as cortex was with Miko.
posted by biogeo at 10:19 AM on March 25, 2022 [3 favorites]


sorry but I would describe EM's comment, which repeatedly accused Miko of "harassing the site owner into a nervous breakdown" based on the flat lie of Miko's "continued insistence" on 501c3 structure (and the very strong, and false, implication that there had been behind-the-scenes communication about this "harassment" between Miko and mods), to be abusive and close to gaslighting. This behavior is part of a mod pattern.

Accusing someone of causing a mental health crisis is not OK and actually deeply disturbing. It is completely egregious in 99% of cases and this is not one of the 1%. If you believe it is, it really seems like an appropriate mod response would be to, idk, send an email to the offending user describing this harm and asking them to stop?
posted by 2019 at 10:23 AM on March 25, 2022 [16 favorites]


Generally when one is told "no" by people, we expect that "no" is a complete sentence and that it is rude to continually bring up the thing that you have been told "no" about and furthermore, that saying "I'm not asking about this anymore" or "I'm not talking about this anymore" is a passive-aggressive way of actually saying "But what about X."

Miko's claim that they have not pushed on the non-profit suggestion since Oct 2021 is true, however, even their comment from Oct 4 is accusatory of the mod's decisions and dismissive of Cortex and Eyebrow's research -at best-

Miko was told no, Miko was given reasons, and then Miko came back with a "they just don't want to even though it would have all these great benefits!"

That's shitty. That's shitty behavior, it's sea-lioning, and it shouldn't be tolerated and I can see why it would drive cortex and Eyebrows into frustrated responses.

Yes, I've seen the response from Eyebrows, it's publicly available on that reddit thread. It's laughable to call that abusive.
posted by FritoKAL at 10:35 AM on March 25, 2022 [21 favorites]


Why is anyone still arguing over whether this is a thing after a mod came in here and said they are taking it seriously and will have some big changes soon? If you’re so motivated to go on the defensive why don’t you pause to listen to the people you’re defending? Maybe you could talk them out of caring and that’ll help?
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:54 AM on March 25, 2022 [7 favorites]


If this was happening at my workplace I'd be suggesting a facilitated conversation between Miko, cortex and EM, but something like that should really have happened long ago. The toxic soup may have been simmering for too long by now.

Also people here calling for mathowie returning to help may have forgotten that his way of running the site caused a fair few problems itself.
posted by knapah at 11:42 AM on March 25, 2022 [7 favorites]


Miko wrote a 3,000+ word post on the subject. It would seem to me they are capable of working out their own issues.
posted by Violet Blue at 12:26 PM on March 25, 2022 [4 favorites]


I'm leery of labeling the comments towards Miko "abuse", but I don't think that makes them any less unacceptable. To me they were just super rude, defensive, and personalized, and I think it's reasonable to expect professionalized staff at an organization not to treat anyone that way.
posted by dusty potato at 12:30 PM on March 25, 2022 [13 favorites]


The reason I keep harping on the fact of the mods as professionalized is because for me, the whole thing would be very different if we were simply talking about community volunteers. It wouldn't make the comments any kinder, but it would certainly cast the situation in a quite different light. But so much of the structural decision-making about this community seems to be tied to the foundational tenet of having real staff as a mod team. So it's deeply odd that the site dynamic is organized around and bound by maintaining paid staff, yet continuously suffers from the same staff acting wildly unprofessionally towards members.
posted by dusty potato at 12:42 PM on March 25, 2022 [8 favorites]


That's shitty. That's shitty behavior, it's sea-lioning, and it shouldn't be tolerated and I can see why it would drive cortex and Eyebrows into frustrated responses.

I mean look, I disagree with that. When someone's actively seeking advice, repeatedly, I think it's o.k. to give advice, repeatedly. But hey that might be a "reasonable people can disagree" issue. What I don't get, is then why didn't they just say "Miko if you continue to bring this up, we'll give you a day off" and then progress from there, which I've seen them do before. They've even gone so far as to tell individual users that they weren't allowed to talk about certain subjects anymore, ever. Like there's systems in place for how to deal with "problem" users, and none of them involve what happened in the other thread.

I've had tons and tons of public facing jobs, and like if someone's that big of an issue as a customer, you just refuse to have them as a customer. And, by design this site has that in the toolbox of how to deal with problems. What they did is simply not how any organization that interacts with the public as a primary part of their business model deals with the public. Like, I get that the mods are people, but they're people with a specific job, and part of that specific job is dealing with users causing disruptions, and following the established procedures in place for dealing with users who are causing repeated disruptions. As dusty potato said I don't think it's super unreasonable to expect them to act like payed professionals, because they are.

Like, I've been someone who's literally been in the trapped in a room with a drunk person yelling threats and obscenities at me, and was expected to react with politeness and de-escalating behavior in the moment. So I just have a hard time with any excuse that they, with an asynchronous form of communication, not in any sort of physical danger, were somehow prevented from taking the time to figure out the best and most professional response to the comment that caused their reaction.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:58 PM on March 25, 2022 [13 favorites]


I'm leery of labeling the comments towards Miko "abuse", but I don't think that makes them any less unacceptable.

Are they so unacceptable that it justifies the month and a half of people refusing to let this go, topped with what is basically the airing of years of grievances on top of this?

The thing this entire situation reminds of most is the worst parts of Twitter discourse, where if a person has done a wrong thing it must never be forgiven. It is classic overstatement of harm, and weaponization of presumption of having been harmed, and dogpiling on people in a way that lets you believe that you're not the one being a bully, you're just voicing concerns.

At some point, it doesn't matter how valid your concerns are -- you don't get to pretend that you're just one drop of water and not part of the flood of completely disproportionate response.
posted by a faithful sock at 1:07 PM on March 25, 2022 [13 favorites]


you say "years of grievances", I say "a longstanding pattern of never-addressed behaviors that are driving members off the site and contributing to the downward spiral of a community people loved and put deep investment in."
posted by 2019 at 1:34 PM on March 25, 2022 [14 favorites]


Are they so unacceptable that it justifies the month and a half of people refusing to let this go, topped with what is basically the airing of years of grievances on top of this?

"A month and a half of people refusing to let this go" sounds like people have been giving up their life to go picket outside Metafilter headquarters for the past 45 days... folks are just asynchronously discussing an unresolved situation in the part of the site that's designated for discussing situations, so sure, I do find that appropriately 'justified'.
posted by dusty potato at 1:44 PM on March 25, 2022 [10 favorites]


folks are just asynchronously discussing an unresolved situation

We're literally in a thread where loup asked people to hold off for news and in less than 30 minutes received a 500+ word comment explaining how disappointing that is and how really the mods needs to respond. In this same thread, a person straight up said cortex needs to stop posting about videogames on the blue, implying that him not spending 24/7 in this thread and on this topic means he does not care.

To claim people are treating this like an asynchronous communication and are totally not demanding the mods give them all the attention now now now now now is laughable.
posted by a faithful sock at 1:57 PM on March 25, 2022 [16 favorites]


To be fair, the mods have been posting variations on "we can't disclose what they are, but big changes are coming soon!" for the past two years! Meanwhile: crickets, even re the much-vaunted flag button redesign, also "coming soon," which is uncontroversial & could literally be implemented by swapping that exclamation mark for a slightly larger letter. It's not as if people requesting more responsivity, transparency, & accountability of the mods just thought up the idea last Tuesday, and if people advancing this weren't so bent on arguing in bad faith they'd acknowledge that.
posted by knucklebones at 2:14 PM on March 25, 2022 [7 favorites]


Gygesringtone, your comment reiterates the same idea that many of the people upset about cortex's and Eyebrows' comments seem to have, which is that they were upset at Miko for bringing up the same idea of incorporating as a nonprofit too many times. That is not the problem, and they were pretty clear about that. The problem is that Miko repeatedly claimed that the fact that their advice was not, apparently, being taken was evidence that the mods were lying about having looked into it, had done so incompetently, were lying about their willingness to look into it, or all three. When in fact the mod team had reported on more than one occasion that they had taken the advice to investigate the matter and found, on the basis of legal advice, that trying to incorporate as a nonprofit would be essentially impossible for Metafilter. And a significant fraction of the userbase has been perfectly happy to join in and attack the mods for failing to respond, on the basis of Miko's repeated false assertions that they had not done so. I've been reading these threads for years, I've been here, I've watched it happen repeatedly. Sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy, like maybe I'm wrong and the mods didn't actually respond to this point. But no, they did! Maybe Miko didn't like or agree with their response, but to keep insisting that the mods are actually refusing to engage with the idea is straight up dishonest.

The problem isn't the repeated offering of advice, and never has been. I'd encourage anyone who still thinks so to take another look at what cortex and Eyebrows McGee actually wrote. While you're at it, see if you can identify where they supposedly suggested that there had been private communications to Miko on the topic, as people have accused them of claiming. I've looked and I can't find it, but maybe I'm missing something.
posted by biogeo at 2:22 PM on March 25, 2022 [16 favorites]


Rock 'em Sock 'em, to be clear, I am not going to engage with you because over quite a long time of interacting with and observing you, I have no trust that you are actually engaging in good faith in any MetaTalk thread. And generally I find your behavior very triggering on the basis of some very unpleasant interactions I've had with people in my life otherwise. Sorry.
posted by biogeo at 2:28 PM on March 25, 2022 [8 favorites]


Are they so unacceptable that it justifies the month and a half of people refusing to let this go, topped with what is basically the airing of years of grievances on top of this?

As far as Im concerned, absolutely not. Particularly because from my perspective the mods are doing a good job on the whole (with some blind spots). But what IS making this, for me personally, something that will change my whole stance towards the site going forward is a. the lack of a genuine apology - in fact, that ATTITUDE around the incident is much worse, for me, than the incident itself, and b. what it reveals about a good chunk of the members here.

Thanks to the user above who shared the blocking mechanism - the site is for me more patchy, but less adrenaline-producing.
posted by doggod at 2:30 PM on March 25, 2022 [3 favorites]


It does make things more William S. Burroughsy in a Rod McKuenesque way.
posted by y2karl at 2:37 PM on March 25, 2022 [2 favorites]


Anyone knowledgeable about nonprofits immediately recognized that the reason the mods gave for not pursuing non-profit status was not true. A quick Google search will corroborate this; here's a reasonably decent explanation I found at the top of my search results. If they'd said "We just don't want to," that would have been a reasonable answer. Sure, there probably would've been pushback, but it would have been to a clear, direct response. By instead providing a verifiably inaccurate reasoning, then not responding (a pattern at this point) when this was pointed out to them, they created a situation in which plenty of people (reasonably!) assumed the mods were acting in good faith but were severely misinformed. That is why people kept bringing it up.
posted by knucklebones at 2:45 PM on March 25, 2022 [6 favorites]


Gygesringtone, your comment reiterates the same idea that many of the people upset about cortex's and Eyebrows' comments seem to have, which is that they were upset at Miko for bringing up the same idea of incorporating as a nonprofit too many times. That is not the problem, and they were pretty clear about that. The problem is that Miko repeatedly claimed that the fact that their advice was not, apparently, being taken was evidence that the mods were lying about having looked into it, had done so incompetently, were lying about their willingness to look into it, or all three.

We're probably not going to agree on the content of Miko's posts. So let's say I'm wrong, and Miko did act in the way you describe. Her behavior in no way, shape, or form excuses Cortex and the other mods from having to act professionally, and he didn't (I can't speak to Eyebrow's comment, having not seen it). That's the disconnect here: If Miko's behavior was bad enough to warrant that response, in public, then it was also bad enough to warrant the usual escalating procedure of warning, temporary ban, permanent ban. That didn't happen.

IF Miko was behaving so egregiously and disruptively, they have procedures to deal with that in the same way they've dealt with far worse than what you describe. If that was called for, and that didn't happen, it's entirely on the mod team. Period. They have the power and the responsibility (as the business providing the service of hosting and moderating this website) to deal with disruptive members in a way that limits the disruption to the community, they very clearly didn't do that. Even if we set aside the rightness or wrongness of either side's opinions and interpretations of what caused it, the response in that thread was unprofessional, and a failure on their part to properly do their job.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:54 PM on March 25, 2022 [10 favorites]


Omit needless bold italicizing, please.

It's getting too Thanksgiving dinner in here.
posted by y2karl at 2:54 PM on March 25, 2022 [3 favorites]


What caused this thread to flare back to life and turn into a free-for-all brawl? Yes, there are unresolved issues, but the frustration about that has been clearly expressed and surely all the arguments raised in this new flare-up are restatements of things already said? This seems more destructive than constructive to me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:56 PM on March 25, 2022 [6 favorites]


Dibs on throwing the gravy boat.
posted by Drastic at 2:59 PM on March 25, 2022 [5 favorites]


A quick Google search will corroborate this; here's a reasonably decent explanation I found at the top of my search results.

The most miserable cases I've been involved in have been a product of people operating on this kind of legal "knowledge." Especially after they've received actual fact-specific legal counsel to the contrary that they didn't like. Those are the clients you wind up having to fire, before you learn not to take them.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:01 PM on March 25, 2022 [24 favorites]


If the mods had responded with details pertinent to Mefi's fact-specific situation, rather than just letting other posters (who were also not privy to those Mefi-specific details) keep advancing the clearly incorrect overarching claim, we wouldn't be here now.

But what fun would that be?
posted by knucklebones at 3:28 PM on March 25, 2022


Gygesringtone, I appreciate you articulating your position in those terms, and I think it helpfully points to a fundamental disagreement that is irreconcilable. I can flip your scenario around to illustrate. Suppose I accept that Miko has done nothing wrong, and cortex's reasoning for not wanting their help was baseless. I would still think that cortex's message was a perfectly polite and acceptable way to explain why he is not willing to accept their help. Again, you and others seem to feel that this message was abusive, or engaging in personal attacks. I do not. Others have characterized his message as calling Miko "untrustworthy", which would be a personal attack. But that is not what he said: he said that he does not trust Miko to help with this issue. Those are very much not the same thing. Regardless of whether his feelings are well-founded, in my opinion that is a perfectly polite way to explain why you are not accepting someone's offer of help. It may be a hurtful message to receive, and that would be an understandable and valid response, but that doesn't make it abusive, impolite, or a personal attack. I could go on with many more points, but it wouldn't really matter. This is clearly a point on which we will not agree.
posted by biogeo at 3:43 PM on March 25, 2022 [10 favorites]


If the mods had responded with details pertinent to Mefi's fact-specific situation

If they didn't, then how have you 'verified' anything to be 'inaccurate?'

Law isn't medicine, but still -- imagine so confidently disagreeing with a related medical opinion, without sufficient fact and based on summarized search results.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:47 PM on March 25, 2022 [6 favorites]


I dropped in to this thread again to see if there was any new factual information or insights. What I find here, instead, is an example of why I and so many others have stepped away from the discussions on MetaFilter. To paraphrase Shakespeare, and offered with goodwill and a kind smile, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our mods / But in ourselves."
posted by PhineasGage at 4:26 PM on March 25, 2022 [11 favorites]


"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our mods / But in ourselves."

Then I saw myself - my reflection in the monitor - and I thought, "I wonder who that mod is?" And then I saw it was me. Now look at me. I'm a mod. Look at me! Look at you. You're a mod! Look at you. And look at us. Look at us. C'mon look at us! See? A couple of mods.
posted by geoff. at 4:35 PM on March 25, 2022 [9 favorites]


To paraphrase Shakespeare, and offered with goodwill and a kind smile, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our mods / But in ourselves."

Not true. The fault is clearly theirs. It's just that they will never personally own their own shit. Not when there is a sycophantic chorus to reinforce their being Never Wrong. Make real personal attacks, apologize vaguely, diaphanously. In theory. That's the best we will get.
posted by y2karl at 6:24 PM on March 25, 2022 [4 favorites]


"sycophantic chorus", eh? I see we've moved on to simple name calling. You've made it clear you believe strongly in apologizing for making personal attacks, so I'll await yours with bated breath.
posted by biogeo at 7:13 PM on March 25, 2022 [4 favorites]


...so I'll await yours with bated breath.

Oh, please. I display a roll of cloth. You claim it is a fitted garment. Sometimes an apt description is an apt description.
posted by y2karl at 7:36 PM on March 25, 2022


"Violet Blue, your comment is serious erasure of the years of struggle that POC and queer folks have done on this website, and is actually ahistorical."

But it wasn't an erasure at all, it was merely pointing out what has been apparent all along. Over the last few years a small group of people weaponized the concept of marginalized identities to repeatedly take advantage of the good will of others who didn't want them to feel bad. The group started fights, they name called, they just wouldn't let go. It's on Cortex if he takes anyone's business advice. It's between EM and Miko whether any apologies are exchanged. It's on you to stop trolling everyone else.
posted by Violet Blue at 8:08 PM on March 25, 2022 [22 favorites]


Violet Blue - you say you are "merely pointing out what has been apparent all along". Unfortunately, your assertions aren't apparent to me (and maybe some others in this thread). Would you be able to cite the specific threads and specific people you are referring to?

I'm also not sure I understand what you mean by "a small group of people weaponized the concept of marginalized identities" - were these people actually people who belonged to marginalized groups (e.g. BIPOC and/or queer, as yueliang mentioned), or are you saying this small group of people were actually people not from these groups, that masqueraded under marginalized identities? I think some clarification would be helpful here, to avoid misunderstanding.
posted by aielen at 8:53 PM on March 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

"Violet Blue - you say you are "merely pointing out what has been apparent all along". Unfortunately, your assertions aren't apparent to me (and maybe some others in this thread). Would you be able to cite the specific threads and specific people you are referring to?"
That's disingenuous. Just look at this thread. This time I was the one told I was erasing the struggle of marginalized people. Other times, it's been other people. It nearly always shuts people up, doesn't it?
I'm also not sure I understand what you mean by "a small group of people weaponized the concept of marginalized identities" - were these people actually people who belonged to marginalized groups (e.g. BIPOC and/or queer, as yueliang mentioned), or are you saying this small group of people were actually people not from these groups, that masqueraded under marginalized identities? I think some clarification would be helpful here, to avoid misunderstanding.
I have no idea. Just like the folks accusing others of being somehow against marginalized people don't stop to ask themselves if the people they're talking to are marginalized too, or have marginalized friends or family. That's pretty presumptuous, don't you think?
Oh well. I don't want to think too hard about it, really, when I could just play the race card instead and have endless power and good times :) :) :) :)
There is power in making people feel bad for you, for sure. That power is misused when you make others feel bad just because you can. To put that another way, most bullies were once victims, and at some point they got older and felt they deserved to bully others too. I think many folks would argue that's the wrong lesson.
posted by Violet Blue at 9:13 PM on March 25, 2022 [6 favorites]


That's disingenuous. Just look at this thread. This time I was the one told I was erasing the struggle of marginalized people. Other times, it's been other people. It nearly always shuts people up, doesn't it?

Ok - so does that mean you're saying the "small group of people [who] weaponized the concept of marginalized identities" are here in this thread? I am trying to understand what you mean when you said "Over the last few years a small group of people weaponized the concept of marginalized identities to repeatedly take advantage of the good will of others who didn't want them to feel bad." - so it would be helpful if you could point to specific threads and specific users, in making these statements.
I'm saying this because I actually genuinely want to understand which threads and which users you're referring to - since I've also been trying to look over the site history, site archives, and user activity over time.

I have no idea. Just like the folks accusing others of being somehow against marginalized people don't stop to ask themselves if the people they're talking to are marginalized too, or have marginalized friends or family. That's pretty presumptuous, don't you think?

When you say you have no idea - does that mean you're not actually sure who this "small group of people [who] weaponized the concept of marginalized identities" are?

Regarding what you said about "folks accusing others of being somehow against marginalized people don't stop to ask themselves if the people they're talking to are marginalized too, or have marginalized friends or family" - I think it's important to understand and acknowledge that yes, it is possible for marginalized people to hurt other marginalized people. Being from a certain marginalized group doesn't preclude one from having the capacity to inflict harm against people from other marginalized groups, or even people within the same marginalized group.
There are hierarchies and intersections of marginalization, and there are many meaningful conversations that can (and should) be explored in this respect. I am not sure if Metafilter is currently the space to have conversations of this depth/extent though.
posted by aielen at 9:32 PM on March 25, 2022 [6 favorites]


Oh, for fuck's sake, I'm saying we are not your enemies here, and this is how the left eats its own.

You're clever both of you. You wouldn't be here if you didn't like to read and write, and weren't attracted to other clever people. Mefites are on your side, but not if you keep spewing so much fucking vitriol at them. Even then their distaste for you won't be about your marginalized identities. It will be about your characters — and how you treat others who don't intend you any harm.

If you want to have nuanced conversations about marginalization, find an article and discuss it in Metafilter. That's what it's for. If you have a favorite movie on that topic or similar issues of diversity and inclusion, there's a place to talk about it in Fanfare. Cortex, whether you like him or not, makes both things possible. But rather than constructively engaging with what Metafilter has to offer, you seem to spend most of your time trolling Ask and Meta.
posted by Violet Blue at 9:45 PM on March 25, 2022 [10 favorites]


A troll is a troll is a troll.
posted by Violet Blue at 10:08 PM on March 25, 2022 [2 favorites]


man, we really went from "miko deserves a real apology" to "why do minorities keep slappin' me in the face with their identities" in less than 12 hours, huh.
posted by murphy slaw at 10:33 PM on March 25, 2022 [30 favorites]


And to think how much vitriol could've been saved by a simple, frank, apology.

I guess metafilter really does never change.
posted by coriolisdave at 10:56 PM on March 25, 2022 [3 favorites]


"So, in our secretive, sly, way,
we are proud and chary

of companionship with you others,
our betters, who seem to imply

that we will soon be swept aside,
crumpled rags, no good for banner stuff,

no fit length for a bandage;
but when the shingles hissed

in the rain of incendiary,
other values were revealed to us,

other standards hallowed us;
strange texture, a wing covered us,

and though there was whirr and roar in the high air,
there was a Voice louder,

though its speech was lower
than a whisper."

-H.D. The Walls Do Not Fall.
posted by clavdivs at 11:26 PM on March 25, 2022 [3 favorites]


I have no idea. Just like the folks accusing others of being somehow against marginalized people don't stop to ask themselves if the people they're talking to are marginalized too, or have marginalized friends or family.

Just for posterity want to note that, along with aielen's points about marginalised people being more than capable of participating in discrimination against each other, it is absolutely not at all the same to be marginalised, and have marginalised friends or family. Not one bit. My partner or parents get no special leeway on trans issues, are no less capable of saying and doing transphobic things, because I am trans. The same applies to any other marginalised identity.

This exact idea has come up many times in the past, with lots of people being intensely transphobic, and then being all "but my kid/sibling/spouse is trans, so I should be treated as a member of that community".

No you shouldn't. Because you're not.

Maybe people should stop to check if you're a member of a marginalised group, maybe they shouldn't. But they should not stop to check if you're related to any as if that mattered in the same way.

If that logic worked, how could sexism exist? Everyone has a mother. Guess we can't point out when anyone is being a misogynistic ass, then!
posted by Dysk at 11:53 PM on March 25, 2022 [18 favorites]


Violet Blue,

Mefites are on your side, but not if you keep spewing so much fucking vitriol at them. Even then their distaste for you won't be about your marginalized identities.

Please let me know where in this thread (or in the history of this site, if you're referring to any past comments/posts) I have "[spewed] so much fucking vitriol" at Mefites.
You also said: But rather than constructively engaging with what Metafilter has to offer, you seem to spend most of your time trolling Ask and Meta. - could you cite where you feel I've trolled Ask and Meta?

----

My earlier questions - on who and which threads you were referring to, when you said "Over the last few years a small group of people weaponized the concept of marginalized identities to repeatedly take advantage of the good will of others who didn't want them to feel bad" - remain.

And I did ask that genuinely wanting answers from you, since you made those statements.


----

From surveying the 2019-2020 BIPOC-only MeTas (i.e. the threads, sparked by the "outragefilter" MeTa, that specifically invited BIPOC to post and share their thoughts, while non-BIPOC were welcome to read but not comment), I found there were 134 BIPOC participants across all 5 threads.
(I'd say this was not a small group - and it seems to be the best indication of the active BIPOC Mefites at that time that identified as BIPOC on the site. There was also a banner across all Metafilter subsites notifying members of the existence of those threads, so participation was not just restricted to Mefites that were usually already active on Metatalk.)

Currently, 73 of those 134 participants (54%) are still active on Metafilter (with 'Active' being somewhat generously defined as having made at least one post or one comment within the past year.)
61 of those original 134 participants (46%) have left Metafilter (with 'Left' being defined as all those who are not 'Active'; this encompasses a number of different statuses such as disabled accounts, accounts that have been inactive past x number of years, etc).

347 of the 991 (35%) comments were made by BIPOC participants still active on Metafilter.
644 of the 991 (65%) comments were made by BIPOC participants who have left Metafilter.
Of the 61 who left, 11 requested account wipes. In total, 345 comments of the original 991 comments (35%) have been wiped.

46% of self-identified BIPOC participants on Metafilter is not a small proportion to have left. 644 comments, out of 991 comments, is not a small proportion of content/input/insight lost.

This is just what I have found, from going back to old BIPOC-related threads, tallying, counting, doing the legwork. I suspect that similar figures will apply to threads related to other marginalized groups (and just from surveying the information/threads I have, I do see overlap).

My overall picture thus far doesn't add up to what you've been saying about a "small group of people weaponized the concept of marginalized identities to repeatedly take advantage of the good will of others who didn't want them to feel bad". I asked you to back up the statements you made, to better understand where exactly you're coming from and why specifically you made those statements.

You said I'm saying we are not your enemies here - and I appreciate that. That's why I have been asking you those questions in good faith. I'm trying to understand exactly why you made those claims, and which threads and which users prompted you to make those claims.
posted by aielen at 12:18 AM on March 26, 2022 [45 favorites]


Gosh, it's just the pure, sparkling essence of unconsidered white supremacy in here, isn't it?

Oh, for fuck's sake, I'm saying we are not your enemies here, and this is how the left eats its own.

Who is "we"?

Just as a thought experiment, spend a few days truly considering what it might mean if the groups of people who claim marginalization--here on metafilter & in society more broadly--are actually telling the truth about their everyday lived experiences and how those experiences don't just exist in a vacuum but fit into and leverage their impact from a broader pattern of generations-old systems of power & oppression of these same marginalized groups. Why is it more comforting for you to allege some massive POC/queer/trans conspiracy than acknowledge what these claims, if they're true, mean about our society and the foundational structures it's built on?

You're so close to having a profound, paradigm-shifting revelation about how power works in society writ large!
posted by knucklebones at 2:24 AM on March 26, 2022 [18 favorites]


Gosh, it's just the pure, sparkling essence of unconsidered white supremacy in here, isn't it?

This is the sort of thing that is immensely counterproductive. As is lecturing people on the very basics of structural inequality, as though MeFi somehow reproduces every element of it. (Plus the notion that anything that goes on in these threads remains unconsidered....)

I don't have a goddamn clue what Miko's identity is (and I generally like it that way), or what that has to do with the current brouhaha and what the fuck are we arguing about now?
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:28 AM on March 26, 2022 [12 favorites]


Violet Blue, reading through your provocative comments, it's hard to restrain my desire to take issue with them. You have derailed more substantial conversations about the site's state, and refocused a lot of attention on your words.

I assume that you didn't intend to provoke that response. My guess would be that you are upset, frustrated maybe pissed off. I felt similarly when I read what you wrote, among other feelings. I imagine you just think you are calling it as you see it, but it's hard to know your mind and your heart. Regardless of how you see it or your intent, I would describe several of your statements as having the effect of trolling, and I think several things you said do go against the site guidelines. Reading what you said, I'd also guess that you aren't interested in engaging substantially on the provocations in your words here.

If you do want to engage now, or at some future point and explain yourself better or try to listen more, I suggest a meta or perhaps an ask focused on that conversation. I don't plan to further engage with you here in this thread, but my Mefi Mailbox is open if you feel you have something to say you'd like a response to.

I'd like to respectfully suggest that other people interested in a constructive conversation also stop engaging with VB regarding her provocative comments and return to a substantial discussion regarding the site in this thread, and what might improve things here. I suggest you also flag it and move on, as I did. Or take it to a separate meta, if you must?
posted by Chrysopoeia at 6:13 AM on March 26, 2022 [22 favorites]


I personally feel it’s fine for people to identify and name bigotry. Seeing that shit is like reverse-gaslighting, it’s essential. I was never a fan of metafilter’s insistence on being a space where polite bigotry is allowed to stand but impolite criticism of bigotry is characterized as “counterproductive,” not “constructive,” and not “substantial.”

Anyway, back to not posting for a year.
posted by i like crows very much at 6:33 AM on March 26, 2022 [10 favorites]


I was never a fan of metafilter’s insistence on being a space where polite bigotry is allowed to stand but impolite criticism of bigotry is characterized as “counterproductive,” not “constructive,” and not “substantial.”

Hey, now we get impolite bigotry for a new flavour!
posted by doggod at 6:35 AM on March 26, 2022 [3 favorites]


I personally feel it’s fine for people to identify and name bigotry.

Complaining of a "the pure sparkling essence of white supremacism in here " (implying 'by everyone, as always') followed by a wikipedia level rehearsal of 'bodies in spaces' is not "identifying and naming bigotry." It's bomb-tossing. It is indeed not productive or constructive and it lacks substance. Scare quotes don't change that. (And it's also a problem to ignore that MeFi does not itself involve bodies in spaces.)

Anyway, back to not posting for a year.

There is perhaps another discussion to be had on levels of participation generally vs. popping up for divisive metatalk threads.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:42 AM on March 26, 2022 [4 favorites]


OK, unpack what "in here" means then. if 'in here' wasn't meant to be 'the general atmosphere.' Are you really going to engage in the same semantic bullshit you're purporting to criticize? [and is knucklebones your sock or something?]


oh god this "you don't participate right" thing is even more insufferable the second time

Not "right," at all. This is a thread about the state of the site, levels of investment are pertinent.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:01 AM on March 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


ha ha what? assuming that "in here" means "located here" is "semantic bullshit," and I need to further "unpack it," meanwhile Violet Blue is dogwhistling so hard that my downstairs neighbor's dachshund is barking and you're just skating on by those comments

I'm not endorsing what Violet Blue said, or how they said it. I'm objecting to going from an interaction between two mefites to a blanket characterization of what's going on "in here" and which is pretty plainly tied to a historical complaint, in context. Plus the "pure sparkling essence" bit is pretty loaded, but that's tone so whatever.

For your part, do you really think a fair reading of my use of "everybody" extends to people who have taken a different position, like yourself? That's a step away from just calling me stupid.

I am not obliged to engage with you (although I usually enjoy your views, fwiw) and I see nothing good coming from continuing, so I'm going to stop now.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:17 AM on March 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


I want to go back to aielen's excellent comment and thank you for doing the emotional labor of going through those threads and making receipts. It's really shocking to see, in hard numbers, how many longtime, valued BIPOC (and I would add also LGBTQ+) MeFites have left or drastically reduced our engagement. One person, a handful of persons -- that can be written off; but when nearly half of the BIPOC who cared enough to jump into a painful and frustrating conversation that's been going on for years and years are no longer in this space, that indicates a structural and systemic failure of this site to live up to its values as an open, democratic and progressive space for intelligent and compassionate conversation.

I know that many of those people, and allies thereof, still follow these threads with real concern, frustration and sorrow. I see you. You are seen, and you are loved and missed.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:24 AM on March 26, 2022 [38 favorites]


aielen, those numbers are indeed distressing, and the loss of those voices on Metafilter is significant. However, I don't know exactly how to interpret that without also knowing what the turnover rate of active MeFites is generally. Are BIPOC members leaving the site more than would be expected, or would roughly 50% of any group of active members 2019-2020 be expected to have left the site by now? I know some people in this thread, like y2karl, are already convinced of my bad faith, but I assure you I'm not trying to score any particular rhetorical points here. Since you've taken the time to observe actual data, I think you'll recognize that this additional information is important for understanding the nature and scale of the problem, and perhaps you have the tools to answer this question as well.
posted by biogeo at 7:52 AM on March 26, 2022 [8 favorites]


Note also that without knowing what fraction of the general Metafilter membership identifies as BIPOC, it may be hard to interpret how large a difference between general participation decline and BIPOC-specific participation decline would actually be specific. I would therefore assume even a relatively small relative increase in BIPOC departure compared to the overall turnover figure to represent a meaningful indicator, but having some kind of point of comparison is still important to understand the problem.
posted by biogeo at 7:58 AM on March 26, 2022 [4 favorites]


I think you'll recognize that this additional information is important for understanding the nature and scale of the problem, and perhaps you have the tools to answer this question as well.

This seems like something the site could probably provide without aielen having to do more labor (as now we're asking about all accounts across the back-end, without having to drill into participation).

Maybe even something that's tracked already? I don't know what stats are expected in a 'marketing deck.'
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:09 AM on March 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


Biogeo, Miko did not bring up non-profit status on 2/9, full stop. Can you say why you characterize her comments that way? I'm sincerely trying to understand your viewpoint.

Have you read Eyebrows McGee's deleted comment? Have you carefully read cortex's comment?

You say cortex was polite, and that a comment that was in fact focused on specific behaviors, did not personally attack or smear the person's character, and was limited in scope to the specific topic raised by the person it was directed at and I think you are applying weirdly different standards to the site owner/ moderator, moderator, and members.

You are accusing others of bad faith, and have been quite active in this thread.

This discussion is pretty far off the rails. With LobsterMitten moving away form mod duties, there might be budget for hiring, or not, but that's really up to cortex. This has reached mudlsinging level, and I can't see much benefit. Would anyone who wants to comment please take a breath, and work on civility and respect?

I brought up my length of membership way above as a marker of what the site/ community has meant to me. Seeing this ugly fiasco and unprofessional, uncivil behavior from staff makes me question my participation here. Without basic civility, the financial and meaningful future of the site is sketchy. Anybody can read the archives and learns any member's posting/ commenting history, excepting deletions. New members have just as much voice as long-time members. Civility and respect should be a baseline for staff and membership.
posted by theora55 at 8:45 AM on March 26, 2022 [10 favorites]


Thank you aielen for doing that, I truly am.

@biogeo: if you're literally using numbers to diminish the issue of turn-over rate, you're basically going into sea lioning territory at this point, and that's not how one actually uses data analysis, because now you're overly focusing on survivorship bias, a common fallacy when it comes to 'being objective' about data.

If a group of marginalized folks that already have suffered disproportional bias and behavior, that have put so much organizing energy into the website, and a significant amount of those people have left, it not only has a reflection due to the level of their involvement, but it also is a commentary on what is or isn't present in the data, which is that it is undeniable that this has an impact on the overall site culture and that there are probably many other users who left because of how it is an unsafe environment. They left because they lost faith in the organization of the website.

Your active defense and engagement of the moderation team (and you are the not the only user on this thread who have done that) and the continuous dismissal despite the fact that many of us who are discussing this have explained this over and over again, shows that you have a specific perception and dismissal of those marginalized folks involved as well, and it makes me question whether you and others who share your position are more interested in the health of the website and its community, or more that you are more committed to misunderstanding the information and the history that is present of engagement on this website.

I am literally a marginalized person who has incredibly scaled back my involvement with this website. At this point, I only check the Metatalk threads to see if there has been any progress (of which there has not been from the moderation team.)
posted by yueliang at 9:25 AM on March 26, 2022 [20 favorites]


theora55, I never said that Miko did bring up nonprofit status on 2/9, can you point me to what I wrote that gave you that idea? I wasn't going to comment any more in this thread, but I have a great deal of respect for you and I trust that your questions are sincere.

I have read both comments in question, quite carefully, several times. I have done this because I am astounded at some of the claims being made here about what they wrote, which I am unable to find any evidence for in their actual words. If I believed that cortex and Eyebrows McGee had said some of the things that some other members of the community think they have said, I would also be quite upset with them. But I simply cannot find it in their words. In some cases this is clearly just a matter of interpretation. For example, angrycat, Miko, and iivix have all said that cortex called Miko "untrustworthy." If you read his comment carefully, you'll see that he never uses that word. Rather, he says "I do not trust you, specifically, to help." and that Miko's past pattern of behavior has "eroded any ability to trust and work with" them, and "a long time ago I did trust you." I can imagine that some people, including angrycat, Miko, and iivix, interpret these statements as amounting to calling Miko untrustworthy. Perhaps you agree, and you find it implausible that anyone else could interpret them differently. However, I assure you, I do not, and cannot, interpret those as the same thing. "I do not trust you" is a very different statement, to me, from "you are untrustworthy." The latter is an attack on a person's character, the former is a statement of one's personal ability or willingness to extend trust. Perhaps some people will find this to be splitting hairs, and even assume I must be lying about interpreting these as different. But I assure you, to me this is an obvious and essential distinction, and I am as surprised that others see them as equivalent as you may be that I see them as different. If someone told me, "I don't trust you," this would make me feel sad but not attacked: people are entitled to their feelings about me. If someone told me "You're untrustworthy," I'd be angry at the personal attack.

In other cases, I don't think there's a difference of interpretation, but people are simply finding things that I cannot find. For example, several people have referred to cortex and/or Eyebrows McGee of referring to private communications with Miko that Miko says simply didn't happen. This would mean they are lying or distorting the nature of their interactions with Miko in order to make Miko look bad, which would be very upsetting. However, I'm unable to find anywhere they actually said that. This makes me feel the same way as I felt when you, just now, accused me of claiming that Miko brought up nonprofit status on 2/9. I know I didn't make that claim, because I wrote those comments. And yet because you confidently assert that I did, I can't help but think, "Well maybe, did I say that? Or did I write something that could be misread that way?" And so I spend the time to go and reread my own comments to see if I can find what you're referring to. And I can't find it. I'm a pretty easy person to gaslight, because I'm always ready to consider I might be wrong. I certainly don't think you're intentionally gaslighting me or anything, but to be honest, when someone accuses me of saying something I didn't say, it feels that way a bit. And when people claim that comments that I just read say something that I'm pretty sure they didn't say, I also feel like perhaps I'm losing my grip. And so I've reread those two comments many times just to be sure I didn't miss something.

As far as whether I've been "quite active," I have commented a total of 13 times in a thread with, at present, just over 300 comments. The first other username I searched has commented 30 times. I don't know what you mean to suggest with that observation. I've certainly participated here more than I really intended or wanted to, but I don't think I've been exactly monopolizing the conversation. Regardless, I take your suggestion that my further participation here is unwanted, and if anyone is sincerely interested in trying to understand the point of view of someone who reads this whole interaction very differently from them, they are welcome to MeMail me.
posted by biogeo at 10:35 AM on March 26, 2022 [8 favorites]


biogeo, I hear your questions re the numbers and I have wanted to investigate this as well (currently on my to-do list, but further down - I'm trying to summarize and synthesize quite a lot of other information in the BIPOC-related threads as it is).

To do this, I'd need to look at the initial and current activity/engagement of all those who participated in a sample of Metatalk threads (around the same time period) that were not exclusive to BIPOC (meaning, threads in which both non-BIPOC and BIPOC users participated).
I don't have those exact user-specific figures now (and to get them I'd have to manually check each user account in those threads), but I do have figures for initial vs current thread comment count, for a number of threads in which both non-BIPOC users and BIPOC users participated during the same time period.

The threads I've focused on are those that mentioned, however briefly, race/BIPOC issues - and this includes Metatalk threads like "State of the Site" threads, Metafilter's 20th anniversary thread, certain feature request threads (e.g. instagram links, fanfare-related) etc alongside more explicitly BIPOC-related threads (e.g. the "racial slurs" thread).
Using the figures for initial vs current thread comment count, I was able to get an idea of the amount of content that had been wiped (through user-requested wipes, for users that both disabled their accounts and requested wipes).

This is a screenshot of the list of each thread's % of initial comments remaining, from that sample group of threads (from the same approximate time period). Rows in purple are the BIPOC-only threads I mentioned earlier. The two green rows are, respectively, the "#poctakeover" thread (in which a group of BIPOC users announced an initiative to post a group of BIPOC-related FPPs) and the "Let's start a Mefi BIPOC advisory board" thread (in which just BIPOC users were invited to participate*, to specifically discuss starting the BIPOC board). The rest of the rows are threads that were open to all Mefites (both non-BIPOC and BIPOC).
Date range in the screenshot is approximately July 2019 - July 2020.

Surveying this sample of threads (that all took place within the same period), I think it's possible to see, just from glancing through the %s, that the BIPOC-only threads currently have noticeably less comments remaining than threads that were open to all Mefites. (Thread #4 has the highest % of comments intact - 81.58%, but it also had the smallest number (38) of initial comments to begin with, out of all the threads listed in that time period. The average number of initial comments per thread, for that set of threads listed, is 266.)
I know that % of content wiped/remaining doesn't fully capture the extent of actual account disabling/leaving, since wipes are a subset of disabled accounts, but it does give some indication that BIPOC users and BIPOC activity have been disproportionately affected relative to users and user activity in general.

*this thread was also BIPOC-only in terms of participation, but I didn't include it in the group of 5 BIPOC-threads I mentioned because this thread had a more specific focus/purpose as opposed to being a general space for sharing/hearing BIPOC voices. I intend to include it with the 5 BIPOC threads in a separate analysis (also on the to-do list..)


----

I won't be checking this thread again for awhile, so I think I should also clarify/state a few additional misc things:

- Violet Blue, others have suggested that our conversation might be derailing the thread, so if you'd still like to continue the conversation I think it should be through DM/Memail (assuming you want to).

- yueliang's experience and their stated level of activity/engagement is representative of a sizeable subset of BIPOC users I have still categorized as "Active" in my dataset (despite their described relative inactivity). They are not alone or an outlier.

- I do not want the work I've done to set/reinforce a precedent/expectation of more uncompensated BIPOC labor on this site. (Metafilter's history of uncompensated BIPOC labor has been discussed in MeTa in previous years, and I know the staff and board have made an effort to do better more recently. I hope what I've done will not reverse these efforts or set similar expectations of BIPOC users in having to educate or "prove" fundamental aspects of their experiences.)

- Much of this discussion seems to have been sparked by specific behavior of specific mods towards a user, and I think it's important to make a distinction between issues of moderation/behavior demonstrated by the mods in general vs issues of moderation/behavior demonstrated by specific mods. I do not think all the mods should necessarily be criticized as one entity, and I think it's possible to acknowledge the mods who have been consistently professional, accountable and relatively effective in their role while questioning the individual problematic behavior of a mod(s) in a specific incident, and asking whether this specific incident feels like part of a consistent pattern of similar problematic behavior over multiple years rather than a one-off isolated incident.
Not to say there aren't wider pressing issues wrt the moderation team, moderation policy and site as whole - I believe there are - but for now I'm also hopeful for loup's update (while hoping my hope won't be misplaced).
posted by aielen at 11:13 AM on March 26, 2022 [20 favorites]


It might help if people who are commenting on the basis of the last two threads go back and read this Oct. 2021 exchange between EMG and Miko (and others commenting now) . Purely in the interest of not rehashing the technical feasibility of a non-profit, and being on the same page as to how it was left the last time the specifics were engaged with.

EMG made it plain that it's her legal opinion, shared by outside counsel -- not just the staff's preference. You can choose to respect those legal opinions or not -- in your mind, or to EMG's face -- but it's there in black and white.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:21 AM on March 26, 2022 [12 favorites]


Thanks again aielen. It should not be necessary, but often is necessary, for women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, and other marginalized people to bring an overwhelming amount of objective data into a conversation to back up our lived experiences and perspectives; information that people with relatively more power do not have to provide in order to be believed.
posted by tivalasvegas at 11:55 AM on March 26, 2022 [8 favorites]

For example, angrycat, Miko, and iivix have all said that cortex called Miko "untrustworthy." If you read his comment carefully, you'll see that he never uses that word. Rather, he says "I do not trust you, specifically, to help." and that Miko's past pattern of behavior has "eroded any ability to trust and work with" them, and "a long time ago I did trust you." I can imagine that some people, including angrycat, Miko, and iivix, interpret these statements as amounting to calling Miko untrustworthy. Perhaps you agree, and you find it implausible that anyone else could interpret them differently. However, I assure you, I do not, and cannot, interpret those as the same thing. "I do not trust you" is a very different statement, to me, from "you are untrustworthy."
I said that "I don't like your face". I said that "your makeup makes you look like a deranged clown". I said "I don't know what happened to you, you used to be kind of cute".

I never called you "ugly".
posted by murphy slaw at 11:58 AM on March 26, 2022 [16 favorites]


a comment that was in fact focused on specific behaviors

the specific topic raised by the person it was directed at.

upset at Miko for bringing up the same idea of incorporating as a nonprofit too many times.

You have commented quite a bit in this thread. Stated as fact, typically an indication that someone feels strongly, sometimes an indication that a person is responding very quickly and might want to consider their responses more carefully.

I am genuinely puzzled by your response. If you aren't saying Miko raised the nonprofit topic, which I can't find, then your meaning is very unclear to me.
posted by theora55 at 12:10 PM on March 26, 2022 [1 favorite]


Why is this thread still open? This doesn't seem like a productive conversation and it doesn't appear that anyone is benefitting.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:48 PM on March 26, 2022 [5 favorites]


I agree. I respectfully ask that this thread be closed, it's only tearing at open wounds on all sides.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:01 PM on March 26, 2022 [6 favorites]


Mod note: I’ve been personally really hesitant to make a call on this, but I’m the one around today and I agree we’re well outside “this is helping anything” territory at this point so I’m going to close this up. We’ll have a new biweekly site update thread this week as usual and I’ll share site news as soon as I’m able, ideally this week. For now let’s all take a break. Take care of yourselves.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:01 PM on March 26, 2022 [32 favorites]


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