[MeFi Site Update] May 11th May 11, 2022 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Hi there, Metafilter! Happy Wednesday! You’ll find some updates regarding the site below. I’m looking forward to your feedback and questions.

- Staff Changes
I’m working with cortex to transfer ownership/close the last accounts and tools we have. The most important ones have been transferred already. I'm also meeting with frimble every week to go over priorities, the main ones right now are the Flagging UX and refining the alert system for flags so that we can check them even during gap hours.


- Mod Coverage
We’ve had a new Mod schedule for the past 2 weeks, this new schedule ensures less gap hours, better coverage as well as on-call coverage. This also reduces the money we are spending in payroll, I will pass along these numbers to the Transition Team for review and share it with the wider community once they have reviewed it.


- Signup flow, Marketing efforts, Flagging (UX) Changes.
I’ll resume the changes to the signup flow and hand it over to frimble to make the necessary change. Frimble is already working on the flagging UX, as mentioned above. When it comes to the marketing part, I want to go over budget, revenue, and monthly expenses with the Transition team before moving forward with this.

- BIPOC Advisory Board
The last meeting was postponed due to scheduling conflicts with the Board Members, I'm waiting for thyme to reschedule it. We’re still waiting for the Board’s approval for the March minute, as soon as it is approved by them I will share it.

- Fun Projects/Posts/Newsletter
This includes Metatalk Tails, Newsletters, open threads in the blue. I’m working with the team to have a more formal schedule for these.

- Technical Changes
Changes to the flagging UX are underway.
frimble has changed the notifications we get for flags so that we act faster during gap hours.
Members can now make Special Event and arbitrary show posts on FanFare directly.
A few fixes to our RSS feeds have been made.

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 1:12 PM (113 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Members can now make Special Event and arbitrary show posts on FanFare directly.

Many thanks to loup and frimble for implementing this!
posted by the primroses were over at 1:23 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the update loup.
Now that accounts have been transferred I think that in the interests of transparency that this community should now be informed who is paying out the money that they have donated.
The new owner(s) of Metafilter should step out from behind the curtain.
posted by adamvasco at 1:37 PM on May 11 [11 favorites]


Mod note: The Site Ownership transfer is close but not quite there yet. As soon as that happens we'll make sure to notify everyone.
posted by loup (staff) at 2:02 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


I will pass along these numbers to the Transition Team for review and share it with the wider community once they have reviewed it

Is there any timeline for when this will happen?
posted by buntastic at 2:13 PM on May 11


The Site Ownership transfer is close but not quite there yet. As soon as that happens we'll make sure to notify everyone.

Oh, no, it's Elon Musk, isn't it.
posted by nobody at 2:18 PM on May 11 [26 favorites]


The Site Ownership transfer is close but not quite there yet. As soon as that happens we'll make sure to notify everyone.

Who is the Big Cheese of MetaFilter?
posted by Wordshore at 2:39 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]


Mod note: I just shared the expenses report to the Transition Team
posted by loup (staff) at 2:50 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Who is the Big Cheese of MetaFilter?

You will always be the biggest cheese of MetaFilter.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:55 PM on May 11 [22 favorites]


Who is the Big Cheese of MetaFilter?
All its members, no doubt about it.
posted by loup (staff) at 2:56 PM on May 11 [9 favorites]


Just to note, one of the things the Transition Team will be doing for our review of the expenses report will be to ask for more detail and clarification in any places required. We don’t have any desire to slow things down without reason!
posted by adrianhon at 3:05 PM on May 11

Who is the Big Cheese of MetaFilter?
Outside of America we have the metric system, so we call them the Royale with Cheese of Metafilter
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:27 PM on May 11 [17 favorites]


Oh, no, it's Elon Musk, isn't it.

Much as I’d like to see an infusion of cash into the site, there’s part of me that would like to see any future ownership transfers to be always conducted by a sale to the new owner for 20$.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:05 PM on May 11 [10 favorites]


Oh, no, it's Elon Musk, isn't it.

Much as I’d like to see an infusion of cash into the site, there’s part of me that would like to see any future ownership transfers to be always conducted by a sale to the new owner for 20$
.

....same as in assclown?
posted by lalochezia at 7:41 PM on May 11 [5 favorites]


I hope this doesn't come across as accusatory but out of genuine curiosity it has come a month and a half after cortex announced he was stepping down with an interested owner stepping in. Metafilter can't be that complex, in fact cortex mentioned the simplicity of the sole proprietorship model was a great asset. I know lawyers can be slow but not that slow.

So why is this so cryptic? Not a fair comparison, but Elon Musk managed to get $55 billion in financing in one of the largest takeovers ever, in less time than we come to find out who the owner is. If the owner wants to remain silent, that is well within their prerogative. And really it doesn't impact me who the new owner is but I can't imagine I'm the only one thing this is well -- weird. Even a "I am the new owner and barring any unforeseen complications will be taking over Metafilter by x date," is a bit more standard isn't it?

I'm half expecting the new owner to step forward to say, "I am not only the new owner I am ... Mathowie's son! And I, with Peter Thiel, plan on turning this into a forum to trade Cats Being Declawed NFTs!" Cue dramatic music to play with a voice over, "Is the new owner really Mathowie's son? Will he turn it into an NFT? Or perhaps the new owner is really ... quonsar! Tune in next Thursday for As the Filter Turns!"
posted by geoff. at 7:52 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


Closing a small business sale or transfer is a weeks to months timescale process. This isn't weird.
posted by michaelh at 8:11 PM on May 11 [44 favorites]


I believe Mathowie has a daughter, not a son.

I also want to know who the new owner(s) is/are. I hope when the answer is revealed it will either become clear or be revealed why the mystery was necessary.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:56 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Also may I make the suggestion that the two week updates stop unless someone is somehow getting a large benefit out of them?

I believe I was one of the people that suggested doing them to give transparency at a time when other members were demanding change and wanting to see the status of long running promised deliverables. I borrowed this obviously from software's two week delivery methodology. It is clear that Metafilter doesn't really have deliverables in the sameway an ongoing software effort might, and not surprisingly high priority items are internal for mods only and a lot of work that goes on here aren't new features or feature updates at all.

That's not a bad thing! Big things typically get their own posts anyway, so I don't think we'd lose out. Maybe a quarterly update thread? Like the BIPOC meeting minutes haven't been posted in over a year. The flagging UX change was brought up two years ago. That's completely fine but it doesn't make sense to be updating every two weeks if there's no real material updates.
posted by geoff. at 1:40 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]


So why is this so cryptic?

In fairness, we don't know the ambition of the new owner, which may be adding to the timeframe for the transfer. For example, if they are planning on immediately floating MetaFilter on the Nasdaq* then formalities would surely take a while and due diligence presumably occurs out of public view.

(* Unsure what the ticker symbol for MetaFilter, seen floating across the bottom of financial news screens, would be. META? MFTR? CIET? BEAN? SAIT?)
posted by Wordshore at 3:14 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]


I like the biweekly updates and think we should keep them. They’re helpful. Thank you, loup!
posted by mochapickle at 3:42 AM on May 12 [30 favorites]


I think the updates are valuable, even if certain projects are moving slowly. In this kind of communication, I think consistency is often seen as one of the most important things. Regular, scheduled updates show that the site values keeping users informed. The frequency could be changed, maybe evaluated annually. To me, weekly would probably be unnecessary and monthly is probably the minimum, since that would also mean an update thread is always open for comments. But I think biweekly was a good choice. Knowing there is an update on the way also probably means users are less inclined to post threads asking for updates on individual things, so it can be a more efficient way to communicate even if there aren’t major status changes in each post.
posted by snofoam at 3:50 AM on May 12 [19 favorites]


Yes, regular updates, please. Large or small, but regular. The absence of updates for certain periods was ... unsettling. Whatever the schedule is--monthly, or every two weeks--just checking in with an update is valuable. Thank you.
posted by Gotanda at 5:37 AM on May 12 [8 favorites]


the true owners are the favorites we gave along the way
posted by chavenet at 6:22 AM on May 12 [21 favorites]


Could someone with the knowledge please update
https://mefiwiki.com/wiki/Moderators
Quite a bit has changed since lst update 17 June 2019.
posted by adamvasco at 6:29 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


https://mefiwiki.com/wiki/Moderators
The Moderators were the subject of the first major MetaFilter schism, leading to two main sects.

Unitarian MeFites believe that the various mods represent different aspects of one unified Modhood. Trinitarian MeFites believe each individual mod is a separate Modhood, ruling their own domain semi-independently of the others. Despite the name, the latter sect recognizes more than three mods in the pantheon; "Trinitarian" refers to an earlier iteration of the pantheon that was widely accepted at the time of the schism.
posted by solotoro at 8:00 AM on May 12 [21 favorites]

The Moderators were the subject of the first major MetaFilter schism, leading to two main sects.
Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?? (slyt)
posted by kristi at 12:47 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


For anyone not following the transition team thread from last month, there was also a big update posted there today.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:22 PM on May 12 [11 favorites]


New owner was going to pay in stablecoins.
posted by Mid at 3:44 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Will the option to button and remove/delete our comment history remain intact under the new owner?

Asking for a friend.
posted by spitbull at 5:58 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Should we all be chucking our accounts now or later?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:07 PM on May 12


I hope we're all ready for the mandatory white background.

(/s and love to all)
posted by skynxnex at 9:18 PM on May 12


mandatory white background

Nah, that’s only if the new owner is actually Elon Musk. :ba-dum tiss:
posted by Ryvar at 2:17 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I wasn't joking, and Loup, I'd like an answer, please, or I'll have to assume that the time has come to button and delete right now, before the new owner is announced. The price of secrecy around this matter is suspicion of what's coming up. I'm totally not following or down with all this steering committee stuff, and I'm mostly not hanging out here anymore.

When I felt like the ownership was transparent and ideologically sympathetic with my desire not to see my comment history (which includes nearly 60K favorites) monetized for anything other than platform traffic and ad revenues, this wouldn't have occurred to me. But now I can't shake it given my general dissatisfaction with almost everything about MeFi in recent years.

Basically, like a lot of old timers (2005 under prior user name) here I have diminished trust and affection for this place compared to years past. I keep seeing my favorites/favorited number go down in big chunks almost every few days, which means people whose contributions I liked and vice versa are both buttoning and deleting their histories.

If you don't want to hollow out even more of the site's content archive (or seize it by ending the button and delete option), you should proactively assure us (or me, anyway, but I don't think I'm alone) that the current policy will remain in place.

Sorry to be harsh but I didn't mean my question as a joke despite the "asking for a friend punchline". The friend is me.
posted by spitbull at 3:50 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


It’s wise not to announce a thing before the thing is certain. I’m honestly baffled at how many people are experiencing this as AT ALL unusual.
posted by thoroughburro at 4:45 AM on May 13 [19 favorites]


In any case, you asked a site struggling to maintain a fulltime presence a tricky question (one without a current answer) less than 12 hours ago. Maybe wait a full 24 before the ultimatum?
posted by thoroughburro at 4:47 AM on May 13 [11 favorites]


which means people whose contributions I liked and vice versa are both buttoning and deleting their histories

Which means they're deleting other people's contributions.
posted by Grangousier at 5:43 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


I think it’s a mistake to think of Metafilter as primarily an archive of past conversation. How Metafilter will encourage and facilitate new conversations is far more important than how it will maintain its archive. To think otherwise is to have already given up on the future.

I hope and expect the policy of allowing users extreme control over their contributions will continue and that its UI will improve, as originally planned. I also hope the refreshed Metafilter will be a place for conversation, foremost, and not a shrine to its past.

And now I need to start on a front page post, per my self-enforced MetaTalk participation rule. One front page post per MetaTalk thread I step into.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:52 AM on May 13 [22 favorites]


Don't worry, if our archival commentary had any value we wouldn't be in this situation. I'd be truly shocked if someone is buying this for any reason other than altruism.
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:09 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


[Thank you everyone confirming that you see value in the site updates. We'll keep doing them for as long as they are helpful.

> Will the option to button and remove/delete our comment history remain intact under the new owner?
Yes, this is part of our Privacy Policy and will not change.

Also, when it comes to Site Ownership transfer, it has not been announced just because it makes no sense to announce something that has not happened yet. However, who the site owner will be isn't going to change anything drastically, most of the day-to-day decisions will be taken by the current staff, with the help and guidance o the transition team and the feedback from the community. The goal is to move towards a more community driven site.]

posted by loup (staff) at 8:23 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


That's really not a great explanation. It's a non-explanation. Lots of things get announced before they actually happen. And at least some people here have made it pretty clear that they're interested in having the chance to make decisions about their participation on the site before ownership is transferred over to a new person.

If there are legal, financial or PR risks to going ahead with an announcement before the legal ownership transfer is finalized then that's understandable, but people would probably just appreciate knowing roughly what they are. If the only reason to not tell people who will own this site in the future is that "it doesn't make sense", then you're giving people the heebie-jeebies for no good reason, and to my mind, THAT doesn't make sense.

I personally have not, to this point, cared much one way or the other who is going to end up owning the site since I assume it will just end up being one of the other mods, but the lack of either an answer or a credible explanation of why not to provide one is starting to give me the heebie-jeebies.

Does the transition team know who the individual is?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:31 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Personally, I can easily understand why the new owner does not want their name to be made public before everything is final. Who knows, maybe they are reading some of these threads and reconsidering their decision?
posted by rpfields at 8:41 AM on May 13 [11 favorites]


jacquilynne: No, we do not.
posted by adrianhon at 8:47 AM on May 13


Personally, I can easily understand why the new owner does not want their name to be made public before everything is final. Who knows, maybe they are reading some of these threads and reconsidering their decision?

And that would make sense to me if that was the explanation given. I can see how someone might not want to face an onslaught of criticism and second-guessing before something was even a done deal, especially since I imagine that once the deal is done, a certain segment of the population will hold back on making judgements until they see how things go, whereas people might feel more free to jump on things with early BUT BUT BUT comments if they think they can sway a decision that isn't finalized yet.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:15 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


re: Bella Donna

Not what?

This place nearly killed Matt and now it's done the same thing to Josh. And people like spitbull (and they are legion) are part of of that. Truth frequently hurts, but that doesn't make it any less true.

And, the best part is: they could leave right now, and delete their precious accounts, and be done. But no, they stay here slagging on the people responsible for one of the best things that ever existed on the Intarwebs.

So, again - what exactly is it you want me to not do?
posted by Irontomv2 at 9:19 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


The reason this is taking awhile is because this is Metafilter and everything takes forever here. No judgment, just, we are not really known for our speed. I'm sure we will learn about who the new owner is soon and people can button then if they don't like it. It isn't mysterious to wait until the proverbial ink is on the paper before announcing something. I wouldn't tell my old job that I was leaving until my new contract was signed, for example. It's perfectly normal to wait until everything is legally squared away before making public announcements.
posted by twelve cent archie at 9:22 AM on May 13 [26 favorites]


posted by Irontomv2 at 12:19 on May 13 [+] [!]

whoever you are, you joined today, presumably to throw these bombs in this thread.
posted by lalochezia at 9:36 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


Personal response but with a Transition Team perspective - obviously, I'm just saying this, but I would like to share that all the discussions that we have had both among the team and with cortex and loup have all contained a commitment to maintaining user privacy at the current level. I mean, I am a current member.

From a content perspective - the MetaFilter archives are a resource and fun, but I don't think they are monetizable in any really radical way. I read this Galaxy Brain newsletter this morning which I think puts one of MetaFilter's strengths front and centre, which is essentially the 'filter' piece. It's the quality and the actual people filtering content.

Because the LACK of sort of poor-quality content is a core strength, I think that is much more about present discussion than past archives.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:38 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


"you joined today"

Because nobody ever made a new account, right? I've been here in one form or another since before 9-11.
posted by Irontomv2 at 9:41 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


what exactly is it you want me to not do?

Willfully stoop to the level of awfulness you ascribe to them.
posted by Etrigan at 9:43 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


"Willfully stoop"

That's pretty rich, coming from you.

"awfulness "

Metafilter is one of the greatest things on the web. Many members here have directly, negatively affected the mental health of both of the people who owned this place. My "awfulness" is saying so out loud.
posted by Irontomv2 at 9:52 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


at least some people here have made it pretty clear that they're interested in having the chance to make decisions about their participation on the site before ownership is transferred over to a new person.

I truly do not understand this. Let's say that in three weeks Josh announces "As of today, the new owners are Woody Allen and Henry Kissinger." And so you decide to delete your account and leave.

Is it much better if today he announces: "In three weeks, the new owners will be Woody Allen and Henry Kissinger" and you delete your account and leave right away?
posted by neroli at 9:53 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Ah man you guys are the best, best Metatalk ever.

Someone threatening to leave after their question wasn't answered immediately? Check. Vague moderator reply? Check. Attacking a member who just signed up today? Check. Said member revealing they were always here and it is a new account? Check. And you kids went all retro with a mathowie and 9/11 reference.

I really need to make a Metafilter Bingo card. We have yet to have someone threaten to leave the country!
posted by geoff. at 10:17 AM on May 13 [33 favorites]


Totally down for a metafilter bingo card, as long as the free space costs $20.
posted by 7segment at 10:43 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


Free quonsar?
posted by cmm at 10:43 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


All hail king quonsar!
posted by biffa at 10:48 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


The free space is a deleted comment!
posted by geoff. at 10:54 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Is it much better if today he announces: "In three weeks, the new owners will be Woody Allen and Henry Kissinger" and you delete your account and leave right away?

I don't care that much either way, but to me it seems that the answer clearly is yes, because you can take various actions in response to that information now via interaction with the current owner. In three weeks you would have to take those various actions (if they were available) via Woody Allen and Henry Kissinger.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:17 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


As a somewhat cautious person, I would definitely not want to be announced as the new owner of a business until the ink was actually dry. I mean, I think about all the restaurants that change hands and they usually just say “under new management” when it’s a done deal.

That there has been forewarning that this in the pipeline is a gesture of respect for the userbase. It’s a courtesy that I appreciate. Just because it leaves me curious doesn’t mean that I have a right to know business details before they happen.

I believe the phrase is: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
posted by Bottlecap at 12:23 PM on May 13 [13 favorites]


The mystery around the change in ownership seems totally normal to me in the context of transfers/sales of valuable property from one person to another, but I guess I do find it odd that after years of clamor for greater transparency and more communal governance, the site transfer is being treated as such. I mean, there's little doubt that the parties in question have the legal right to do so, but it doesn't feel like it bodes super well for people who had concerns about the general site model rather than a specific problem with cortex himself-- which I think is probably a lot of people.
posted by dusty potato at 1:20 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Not a good analogy. There is more than a slight difference regards restaurants under new management.
Restaurants do not ask me for donations to keep the door open and the staff paid.
posted by adamvasco at 1:24 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Because nobody ever made a new account, right? I've been here in one form or another since before 9-11.
posted by Irontomv2


So you literally created a sockpupppet specifically to attack fellow Mefites? I don’t think that’s quite the exoneration that you’re hoping it is.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:45 PM on May 13 [9 favorites]


Y’all are staking a claim on the privacy of a potential new owner before they’ve even stepped through the door. I hope and expect they intend to respect our privacy more than theirs has been.
posted by thoroughburro at 1:48 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Aaaaand this is the reason why cortex is burned out, folks.
posted by Melismata at 2:22 PM on May 13 [32 favorites]


Restaurants do not ask me for donations to keep the door open and the staff paid.

I mean this is essentially what tips are?
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:33 PM on May 13 [16 favorites]


I mean this is essentially what tips are? - Your culture not mine and a pretty vile one at that.

Aaaaand this is the reason why cortex is burned out, folks.
And I have to disagree with this as well. He burnt out because he is neither a good businessman nor a good manager; neither of which is important or necessary unless you are trying to run a business.
He is an artist who took on something for which he had much passion but not the ability to make financially viable and further burdened himself with site policy and moderation which all added up to unfortunately being detrimental to himself.
posted by adamvasco at 2:52 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


adamvasco: Speaking of vile, you are being cruel. You are also evidently too lazy to update the Mefi wiki with the current mod list yourself, which you could discover by asking or researching the Metatalk posts you have no doubt already read.
posted by adrianhon at 2:56 PM on May 13 [21 favorites]


I would be in favor of a total ban on speculation about the mental health of fellow users and staff. I know cortex and EM brought it up in MetaTalk themselves, but that was an acknowledged mistake. It’s gross to continue and robs cortex of agency.

And he isn’t really in power anymore, or at least not for long, so it’s no longer punching up (if it ever was).
posted by thoroughburro at 3:10 PM on May 13 [31 favorites]


"In three weeks, the new owners will be Woody Allen[1] and Henry Kissinger[2]"

I don't think either of those are a MeFite (or, are they?) and I've kinda assumed that the new owner is an existing MeFite. Of the ones I can think of who have a few dollars in the bank, I'm hoping it's Steve Wozniak, but also hoping it's not the Dilbert guy.

Although, as a curveball, a MeFite owner from e.g. Europe who deemed US politics to be a forbidden topic on the site from now on, would be an interesting move.

[1] Imagining what kinds of questions he would post in AskMeFi, and how quickly he would leave MetaFilter when the answers rain down like poisoned arrows.
[2] Surely forthcoming (he's 99 in two weeks time): the most negative obituary thread in the history of MetaFilter obituary threads.

posted by Wordshore at 3:11 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


adamvasco, I have to confess I've kind of written you off as someone who is not acting in good faith. You seem to come into these metatalks making administrative demands and spitting out the most disappointed and least charitable opinions possible but I never see you making an effort to bridge any gaps. I've personally taken time in recent threads to try to see your point of view and respond as thoughtfully as I can, and I see others have as well, without even a vague acknowledgement from you in response.

There are a lot of questions it's fair to ask, and that we as a community have a right to know: When will we know who the new owner is? Can we depend on our personal information being secure? Will we be able to control the privacy and availability of our posting history after the transition? We should absolutely be asking these questions (and more) so we can individually decide whether we want to remain here as the site changes hands.

Look, you don't have to be a Mary Sue saying everything is great and wonderful -- we all agree there's work to be done here -- but why the need to drag every conversation down so conspicuously? Are you aware that that's what you're doing?

And hey, I don't expect an answer. I shouldn't expect one. I think you're a smart dude and you could genuinely make a constructive difference here by shifting your angle a little and not assuming superiority. But yeah, your comments and general approach as presented, well, they're kind of a bummer. If that's your intention, then congratulations, I guess?
posted by mochapickle at 3:30 PM on May 13 [22 favorites]


Restaurants do not ask me for donations to keep the door open and the staff paid

There’s a very valid discussion to be had about revenue and fundraising for sure. But one trend I’ve been noting with various newsletters and newsletters-attached-to-Discords is that it is actually becoming a thing to contribute via something like Substack or Patreon in order to join a well-run community. To be SUPER clear, I’m just sharing some market observations, not laying out a course. I do think the underlying reasons for that trend, especially the decline in ad revenue for everyone, are ones that impact MetaFilter.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:54 PM on May 13 [15 favorites]


It doesn't make sense to announce a thing that hasn't happened isn't the transparency I'm hoping for. It's not horrible, but it makes me wonder if the lack of trust between staff and members will continue. I encourage the new owner and the staff to pursue openness vigorously. I think it makes the site and the community much stronger.

If there's a weekend MetaTalkTails, I think we should try to pick user names for Elon, Kissinger, Allen, other potential new owners, though, c'mon, Kissinger is El Jefe.
posted by theora55 at 8:45 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]


If all my demands aren't met immediately, I'll be forced to cut off my hand. Don't test me!
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:02 PM on May 13 [14 favorites]


Henry: "Woody, look, I'm in it for Askme, the collective brains alone could form an intelligence agency"

Woody: "Right, a metafilter agency, just the thing for you. an, an, an, wisdom which I can see you overlooked..."

Henry: "We can do wisdom, I have wisdom..

Woody: Right, tell that to the other half of the world"

Henry: "Look, woody, stick to fanfare and I'll moderate MetaTalk"

Woody: "are we in a spacecraft...."

Elon: "3.2.1...don't worry guys, I won't delete you account"

Hey iron Tom 2. hail Qounsar. love another.
posted by clavdivs at 11:03 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


The impatience and vitriol in here is embarrassing. I’m embarrassed for us.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:35 AM on May 14 [53 favorites]


it makes me wonder if the lack of trust between staff and members will continue

It will be interesting to see whether the survey reveals that this "lack of trust" really exists among a large group of members or just the vocal group who keep writing about it on MetaTalk (though if the latter is the case, I expect to see lots of claims that the reason is all of these mysterious people who've buttoned and whose views coincidentally are exactly the same as the views of the poster).
posted by FencingGal at 5:17 AM on May 14 [21 favorites]


Restaurants do not ask me for donations to keep the door open and the staff paid

They also don't let you eat for free in perpetuity because you gave them $5 15 years ago.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:12 AM on May 14 [29 favorites]


Mod note: The reason this is taking awhile is because this is Metafilter and everything takes forever here.

This isn't wrong. Neither are the folks noting that this sort of thing taking a while is pretty normal. But maybe more to the point, one of the things that has made things take a long time in the last few years is me. Which is a significant part of why I'm getting out of the way, which is almost completely done at this point; crossing the t's and dotting the i's on the ownership transfer is the last major task for me to sort out. And it's taking a while for the same pile of frustrating mental health reasons as a lot of other things have, and I'm sympathetic to and apologetic toward everyone feeling antsy about that. I am who I am, shit's harder than it needs to be for me sometimes. I made myself send an email a half hour ago to nudge things along on my end a little closer to being done.

So, soon. Nobody wants it done more than me. The news isn't gonna be shocking, there are no big twists coming, but I'm respecting the request to not say things are done before they're done even if that's frustrating for folks waiting for news. I have a hard time imagining even the folks with the biggest issues with me really believing that outcome here, after everything I've said in the last couple months or over the last many years, is gonna be something other than a pretty straightforward and ethical transfer of power within the community. I'm a pretty boring person that way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:26 AM on May 14 [65 favorites]


I'm very happy to be a Metafilter participant. I really like it here. I think the people running it are generally trying their best. I think most participants are happy with this space. I really look forward to reading and interacting with Metafilter pretty much every day. I find out interesting things here. I receive help here and get questions answered. I am happy to be a monthly supporter. I think the mods have a hard job. I am looking forward to seeing who the new owner is. I am interested in the work of the BIPOC committee (though I am not BIPOC myself). I am interested in the work of the Transition Team.

I think there are a lot of members who are like me -- maybe even the majority -- and our voices aren't heard because we rarely speak up. But yes, I really like it here.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:33 AM on May 14 [49 favorites]


Thanks for the update cortex.

Do yourself a favor, as you nudge things along: be good to yourself and forgive yourself.

Then go do something enjoyable for yourself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:46 AM on May 14 [14 favorites]


Go easy on yourself, cortex.

I'm an attorney who works in a transactional practice and the time frame does not seem crazy, overly long, drawn out, or anything. Things take as long as they take. Making a gazillion tiny decisions takes a long time for anyone who cares about the outcome of those decisions. Transferring a ton of varied IP along with all the things it takes to onboard/manage the transition of employees, along with transitioning actual management jobs and tools, takes a while. Figuring out all of the tax and regulatory stuff appropriately with employees in multiple jurisdictions (even US jurisdictions)--yowza. Diligence, even if it's not adversarial, can take a while, particularly for a functioning business, because people have things to do besides diligence gathering.

On top of that, anyone with an ounce of feeling will sometimes take a few days to process something when it comes to the transition of something they've spent a ton of their life on.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:03 AM on May 14 [16 favorites]


Like, look. I'm not someone who has always agreed with cortex, but if you're in here poking at him because he's taking too long (based on your ignorant opinion) at doing something that he has no obligation to do, something that will keep the site going, when he could just say "fuck it" and walk off -- and oh by the way the delay affects you in absolutely no way -- then you're being a jerk.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:07 AM on May 14 [32 favorites]


Many people seem to think donating gives them a right to make demands of the site's owners, and demands of the community itself. I assert that if you think that way, you don't understand the nature of a gift. (If you think your donation is not a gift, then you may need a new dictionary.)
posted by buxtonbluecat at 2:08 PM on May 14 [12 favorites]


Some of you are acting like Disney Park Adults and it’s distasteful. I hope the new owner takes zero of this shit.
posted by kimberussell at 3:38 PM on May 14 [19 favorites]


[2] Surely forthcoming (he's 99 in two weeks time): the most negative obituary thread in the history of MetaFilter obituary threads.

Not to contribute too much to this derail, but I can’t stress how mistaken this assumption is. It will almost certainly be one the most positive obit threads this site has ever seen. I can’t think of a figure whose death would silence the hall monitor impulse to type out and post inane pleas for decorum and reverence more than his (hopefully imminent) death. Hell, maybe we could ask frimble to build something so that, in the thread, it looks like there’s confetti falling? Just an idea.

But seriously, and maybe I’ve missed something in the bylaws, but isn’t building a sockpuppet with the sole purpose of directly attacking other members, then announcing that you’ve done so at least grounds for a healthy timeout, if not an outright ban? Jesus, that’s repulsive.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:54 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


yes-ish
9. No sockpuppetry bullshit.
subsections, 1-3. November 12, 2012.
posted by clavdivs at 5:46 PM on May 14


Many people seem to think donating gives them a right to make demands of the site's owners, and demands of the community itself. I assert that if you think that way, you don't understand the nature of a gift.

This is not directed at you but the donations are not donations nor gifts. This is a for-profit entity. In fact I believe there's a fine line in even calling them donations or gifts from a legal perspective. If I use patreon to give money to someone who does a great podcast, then they stop doing the podcast or start doing it once every 6 months, I'd be pissed. If I was on a weekly contribution and then it was announced the owner was changing well, do I want to still contribute to that via patreon? These are all valid.

The owner of the site has been historically, over the last 20 years, the cultural voice of the site and having a large influence in the direction of dialogue and the type of discourse the site brings. I have no doubt that cortex has the best intentions. In fact his best intentions of making guarantees is almost a fault (he himself has admitted). It is a hard thing to do, so a lot of the poor communication, as has been explained, is a result of that. This is not a criticism of cortex and I have not agreed with every decision his made but my respect of him having admitted this has really increased my admiration of him.

This falls upon exactly what is known in management consulting as "creating organizational transformation that can succeed through disruption while creating an operating model that creates steps to make lasting changes." This is what I do for a living, except I leverage software to a large degree to achieve this. I can and have written large white papers on this but that's a different discussion.

In any case it is expensive, requires a lot of overpaid paid consultants, upper management to be behind it, and has a high rate of failure. A lot of it is over communication, and reems of documentation and processes in place that address nearly every contingency. It also blunty means getting rid of people talent who act against it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this is hard, people involved could be doing better, but I've seen F500 companies do way worse. I'm not going to shit on Cortex as the profile on Mathowie exposed similar issues. Running a business is hard, communication is hard, etc.

I don't know where I'm going with this but from someone who has seen "organizational transformations" first hand this is all normal things. The difference is that when I ask questions or roll my eyes I try to be you know human when I ask a question and treat them decently and not like a CFO for a large telco who can't put his pants on if I didn't tell him how to because unlike those places the mods here aren't looking at $500k parachutes for fucking up.

posted by geoff. at 6:03 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


This is not directed at you but the donations are not donations nor gifts.

RT if you consider your monthly donation to be a donation that entitles you to absolutely nothing.
posted by bondcliff at 6:19 PM on May 14 [15 favorites]


geoff., I'm genuinely grateful for your comment. I couldn't possibly disagree with you more, but I'm glad you made it because it made me finally realize just how differently people can see monthly donations/contributions. I'm now actively wondering what the plot line of those collected opinions might look like all graphed out.

For what it's worth, I see my monthly contribution as a subscription fee for my being able to access the metafilter platform, learn stuff, and hang out with all you lovely people for this particular month, just as I would pay and have gladly paid for a monthly streaming subscription to huluflixmax or whatever. In my mind, my donation creates no obligation for metafilter to sustain any sort of service or promise beyond this particular month. A parallel: Netflix decided to go all in on Adam Sandler several years ago, and I don't love Adam Sandler, so I no longer subscribe to Netflix, but it doesn't at all take away from the enjoyment I cheerfully paid for before everything went wall-to-wall Sandler.

I pay what I can according to my budget (which has long been fixed income) and based on the value that access to metafilter is worth to me. It's also important to me that others who are currently unable to contribute due to [Reasons] are still able to access the site and be assured they are just as welcome here. A donation should not equal a vote.

If cortex decided to take my contribution this month and create a luxurious champagne jacuzzi for his cats, I would likely think twice about contributing next month. Then again, I might send an extra $20 so they can upgrade for better bubbles. Hard to know for sure. I've certainly spent money on worse. And I've watched CEOs of respected corporations spend lots more money on worse.

To repeat bondcliff's point above, I believe my monthly donation to be a donation that entitles me to absolutely nothing. There are zero strings attached. I send it with the hope that whoever's in charge (Matt, Josh, new mystery owner) uses it as they need it, and so far, that's generally been the case.
posted by mochapickle at 6:45 PM on May 14 [22 favorites]


a luxurious champagne jacuzzi for his cats

I am officially interested in this idea, but need to know what sort of snacks would served.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:00 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


Brandon, I don’t know what your game is but stop trying to make it sound you haven’t spent the last three decades hosting fancy champagne jacuzzi parties for pets.
posted by mochapickle at 7:22 PM on May 14 [14 favorites]


but stop trying to make it sound you haven’t spent the last three decades hosting fancy champagne jacuzzi parties for pets.

If that’s what he’ll do for pets, imagine what he does for tummy rubs or head scritches!

Oh, wait.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:40 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


RT if you consider your monthly donation to be a donation that entitles you to absolutely nothing.

I was perhaps not clear and I agree completely with this statement and mochapickle! If the mods want to have a cocaine fueled orgy in Mexico more power to them, hell I'd help pay and join them. What I was trying to say is that

(1) Donations and calling them donations are actually a regulated legal area. Not to bring up the not-for-profit thing (another bingo square!) but I've been taught a lot of language used around fundraising or donations, specifically here, could potentially run afoul of IRS regulations. This is to keep outright scammers from saying they're saving the whales please donate, then going on cocaine fueled orgies. In reality we can be promised the new owners are great (I agree that will happen on Metafilter!) but legally they can say that then throw away the privacy policy and sell to Peter Thiel, it is how business operate. Seriously if they sold to Woody Allen and Kissinger the site would be like way better, I mean come on that'd be interesting, and solve all the money problems. No offense to the current staff but you're not an iconic director that defined film making for a generation, nor did you leave your glasses in Mr. Burns' toilet.

(2) Donation or not, people are emotionally invested in the site and feel that they are owed something when they give money. This is not a logical or legal argument! Yes, you're paying for the right now but there's an implication you're paying for the continued "right now." The cliche is of a Karen-type demanding better treatment for their $10 purchase. In a contrived but more realistic example and one that maybe abstracts this a bit and is more in my league: A large global Big Oil Exploration company is going through leadership. No one knows who the leader is. Oklahoma Oil Drilling has relied on this company for 40 years but for a variety legal and fiduciary reasons is not contractually obligated to continue working with them. Big Oil Exploration goes through a huge, carefully orchestrated organizational transformation so their clients like Oklahoma Oil Drilling don't leave. They expected or paid a premium expecting previous business meaning future business will continue, this happens all the time. If every time you expected a supplier or partner to not be there it would send prices for everything skyrocketing and business would cease to function. So even in situations that don't seem like Metafilter at all there's a huge component to exchanging money with some intrinsic value of that money being valued as the future cost of ensured business. People mathematically model these things!

I gave money before you got the little sticker. In fact I remember specifically when I gave money, it was when I also spent $20 for weed that was all stomped on and we spent like 20 minutes getting rid of the seeds and stems. So that dates me. In any case I always saw it as throwing money at a band playing and supporting them.

So when I say that viewing it just as donations/gifts might make sense to a lot of us but for a good majority they're paying to see the site (calling it donation or not) and expect the implicit contract to continue.
posted by geoff. at 7:51 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


> building a sockpuppet with

I logged out of my old account almost a decade ago, and no longer have access to the domain or the email address associated with it. Making a new account was the only way for me to comment. And I am very tired of the way people treat the owner(s) and operators of one of the best things that has ever existed on the web.

>directly attacking other members

Did you see the actual comment I made? I am guessing not - it was removed pretty quickly. I said essentially "People who brag about their favorite totals and then threaten to leave because they didn't get an immediate answer to their entitled demand should just leave. They're part of the reason why this place has been so poisonous for the owners."

We got along just fine for a long time without favorites. I thought they were a bad idea when they were announced, and nonsense like this convinces me was right.

> Jesus, that’s repulsive.

What's repulsive is the way some users have inflicted serious mental harm to the owners and operators of this site.
posted by Irontomv2 at 8:19 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


> 9. No sockpuppetry bullshit. The above scenarios, as defined, are pretty much the only contexts in which it's okay to operate more than one account (whether serially or in parallel) on the site. Anything else is likely to be taken as abuse of the site and can be grounds for a quick banning. Among other problematic things:

> - Do not use a spare account to have two voices in a thread.
> - Do not use a spare account to promote your business/projects/whatever on the sly.
> - Do not use an account to pretend to be a disinterested third party about something you have a stake in.

I haven't posted under the irontom account since 2013, I didn't claim to be 2 different people (I announced who I was in response to someone shitting on me because I was a newb), I didnt try to promote anything I'm doing and I am not pretending to be a disinterested 3rd party. I am pissed off that people don't care about the colossal harm some users have inflicted on the owners and operators of one of the best things that ever existed on the web.

I'll quit soon enough, and ya'll can go back to your endless knife-fights in an ever-shrinking shoebox. Remind me, how many active users do we have now? How does that compare to 5 years ago? 10? 20?
posted by Irontomv2 at 8:38 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


So when I say that viewing it just as donations/gifts might make sense to a lot of us but for a good majority they're paying to see the site (calling it donation or not) and expect the implicit contract to continue.

Thanks for the reply and for taking the time, geoff. I’m curious about the assertion of a good majority. Is that something we know for sure? I mean, we’ve all certainly seen this perspective stated here in metatalk, but admittedly, metatalk is a bit of a funhouse mirror in that it represents a small, vocal subset of users, and it’s never been the perfect cross-section of overall sentiment.
posted by mochapickle at 8:49 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


jacquilynne: No, we do not

18 months. That's what I give the site.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 8:56 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


By majority I guess I was extrapolating a bit. There's a lot of academic studies on this, like when you go in and buy a luxury car you expect them to wash it, etc. and do things beyond simply delivering the car even if its not stipulated in the exchange. There's a whole theory of economics/psychology on this,

For Metafilter in particular I have no data but in this very thread and any thread where donations come up people threaten to stop donating or won't donate if x, y, z happens. It happens quite a bit but I may be sensitive to it and a bias, or we may be talking about different things. If it were truly a "give because you like Metafilter" you wouldn't get questions as to where the money is going when it is sold, etc. Majority might be an overstatement it is hard to measure people who donated and stopped but there's definitely vocal members.
posted by geoff. at 9:27 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I am pissed off that people don't care about the colossal harm some users have inflicted on the owners and operators of one of the best things that ever existed on the web.
I tend to agree as to the puppet thing, not Intended for you but I did give you a "hey" upthread like welcome back. Next to the hail Qounsar? Suffice it to say if your new account was malious you'd done heared about by now.

So, everything new is bad?
posted to MetaFilter by Irontom at 1:34 PM on July 2, 2008

Don't quit, Look, in the annals I had a secondary account and someone said just go back to the old user name. So forgive the forwardness but go back to your original username. or not.
posted by clavdivs at 11:30 PM on May 14


To be fair, it’s supposed to be I, Clavdivs. Two accounts would have made you We, Clavdivs. So you were in fact steered correctly.
posted by mochapickle at 12:58 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


"I am pissed off that people don't care about the colossal harm some users have inflicted on the owners and operators of one of the best things that ever existed on the web."

I do, and I'm glad that people are talking about it here. But I also don't think it sends a great message to the bullies that their two biggest targets — Cortex and EM — resigned the following week. The message going forward needs to be no ad hominem attacks (no speculating about someone's mental health, no public listing of their faults, no name-calling). And it needs to apply to all: No bullying of the mods and site leadership, no bullying of other members, no bullying of anyone. The point of bullying is to shut people up, which is antithetical to cultivating conversation. It might also make it easier to moderate more evenly if no bullying were an explicit site value.

I hope the Transition Team @ Brandon Blatcher et al. and whoever succeeds them takes this issue seriously.
posted by Violet Blue at 12:09 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


"No bullying" on Metafilter is a good idea that quickly turns into whatever it is someone disagrees with happens to be bullying. Then users are afraid to comment, or afraid to post about it and 99% of them don't make a Metatalk thread about it. Reddit, Hacker News and the rest half 1000x the membership of this site and seem to do alright.

I guess the question is do we want to be a de facto country club where you get the same people with the same opinions and you know the hoi polloi won't come in or do you want a pickup softball league where you have a lot of diversity, everyone is more relaxed and you have the one jerk who blames the lack of baby formula on Biden but everyone kind of laughs at them so it is not a big deal.
posted by geoff. at 12:35 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


"No bullying" on Metafilter is a good idea that quickly turns into whatever it is someone disagrees with happens to be bullying."

I don't agree because I'm talking about reasonably objective definitions of bullying: No ad hominem attacks (no speculating about someone's mental health, no public listing of their faults, no name-calling). Sticking to the subject, rather than sticking it to the person, as it were.

Will some people abuse this? Sure. But I think it's a reasonable starting point because what I'm talking about is just so basic. Whereas your fear is based on something more nuanced and subjective.
posted by Violet Blue at 12:53 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Sticking to the subject, rather than sticking it to the person, as it were.

However, one of the things that many former members have said contributed to their decision to leave is exactly this sort of officially mandated institutional amnesia, where only mods are allowed to say “Stop doing that gross thing you always do, [user].” while the rest of us are expressly not allowed to “dig through comment histories” when someone is a frequent or long-standing microaggressor.
posted by Etrigan at 1:03 PM on May 15 [9 favorites]


Mochapickle, I nearly dropped the phone of my deck, it's good to laugh. I remember forgotting about it and contacted cortex to close that guy down. literally gone in 60 seconds. it was cathartic.

Bullying. It's an operative term that I believe is much more complicated in a moderated environ then before. I think fear to confront or speaking up is a real issue, one being addressed.

Then users are afraid to comment
.

I've thought about that. A few folks over the year have emailed me and I try to give the same advice giving to me, be yourself, make the point, keep posting.


mochapickles' retort is what, to me is healthy, ribbing, or joking, response because it caused no harm. Like self-actualized humor (I think) and I think it's a glue to community that were human and perhaps know another in the mefi...groove...way thing. Like I'm glad Irontom2 back, Geoff's posting and we can confront another, even if there's that anger, dust kicked up. I would like to think it's an evolving community, I mean, 2005-9. Forgot about open threads or fun metatlktails without a bunch of negativity, today, it's a thing, a community thing.
posted by clavdivs at 1:18 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


"But I also don't think it sends a great message to the bullies that their two biggest targets — Cortex and EM — resigned the following week."


I want to reiterate that my decision had been in the works since Thanksgiving, dictated by my family's changing needs and my own career goals, and staff had known I was working towards that since about then. The timing of my public announcement was dictated by when I accepted a job offer, but the staff slack was cheering me on throughout the application and interview process.

While I have long been an advocate for stronger action towards users who act in ways towards staff that would make a McDonald's call the police to remove them (rare, and usually over email), that had literally nothing to do with my decision!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:01 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


the Transition Team @ Brandon Blatcher et al.

Oh hey, I'm not understanding what's meant (and don't think it's anything negative) but just want to clarify that I am on the Transition Team. It's not different things, groups, or what have you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:10 PM on May 15


@Etrigan
officially mandated institutional amnesia, where only mods are allowed to say “Stop doing that gross thing you always do, [user].” while the rest of us are expressly not allowed to “dig through comment histories” when someone is a frequent or long-standing microaggressor.
At a big-picture level, isn't that a situation where a user would go to a mod or the BIPOC board for advocacy or help?

@ Eyebrows McGee
I'm sorry. I should have been clearer. I certainly wasn't second-guessing anyone's stated reasons for leaving, only possible interpretations.

@Brandon Blatcher
I referenced you as a member of the Transition Team because I recognized your (very catchy) name, and because the Transition Team is planning a site-wide survey. I was hoping you could report back to the team that folks were talking about the issue of bullying in this thread because I think it deserves more consideration.
posted by Violet Blue at 5:46 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Mod note: As promised, you can find the minute for the BIPOC Advisory Board's March meeting here.
posted by loup (staff) at 10:21 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


I do agree that questioning someone's mental health is problematic, but for everything else I think you have a different definition of bullying than mine, VB. From my perspective bullying is about taking advantage of a power differential: popularity, systemic privilege, physical size, legal authority, etc, to be cruel or to intimidate another. Your definition seems to be about methods?

It may well be impolite or even impolitic to attack someone's character or motivations, or to list their faults. Still, I find that politeness often serves quietly to support the existing circumstances and maintain the status quo, even if that status quo is inequitable.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 11:07 PM on May 17 [7 favorites]


From my perspective bullying is about taking advantage of a power differential: popularity, systemic privilege, physical size, legal authority, etc, to be cruel or to intimidate another.
Metafilter's bullies usually rely on nasty put-downs and popularity to make the object of their derision feel bad. The goal is to intimidate them into shutting up. The tactics typically involve an ad hominem attack, which is nearly always quickly followed by a bunch of likes for the bully's comment by their little group of supporters.

It's this two-step I think the site administration should make a point of shutting down.
posted by Violet Blue at 10:12 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


like a lot of old timers (2005 under prior user name) here I have diminished trust and affection for this place compared to years past

Counterpoint: I'm an old-timer, too (since 2001 under the same username; pre-9/11: drink!) and I don't feel this way at all. I don't post or comment as much as I did before my 10yo daughter was born, but I still visit daily and appreciate the contributions of old- and new-timers.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:25 PM on May 18 [7 favorites]


So I actually agree with a fair bit of what Violet Blue says, but I disagree with her reasons completely.

I just don't believe there is a group of bullies like VB claims. I don't believe there is any sort of group or cabal of users who can "target" mods and the site owner with impunity. Even if there was, I don't understand how they will be supposedly brought to heel by rules against ad hominem attacks. Cortex and EM both can caution and ban people who behave inappropriately, so a bully group somehow bullying them doesn't really make sense to me, to be honest. To be clear I don't think VB is lying or anything, I expect she believes what she says about there being such a group, I just don't take the same conclusions she has from what she's seen, or at least I don't think I do from the limited statements she's made, though I again invite her to create a meta post about the issue.

It also seems wrong to represent criticism or demands by those who lack power of those who have power as bullying. The whole idea that users can "bully" the site owner doesn't make sense to me because of the power difference. I mean would we say MLK bullied Montgomery with a bus boycott? Did women bully men into giving them the right to vote in the US?

She points to that group to say there shouldn't be Ad hominem attacks. I think that needs to be delved into on it's own merits though.

Ad hominem arguments question the character and motivations of the person making an argument, rather than the substance of the argument themselves. I think that can indeed be problematic, but only you don't engage with the substance. I think sometimes not engaging with the character and motivations of the person making the argument can itself be problematic though.

Like the media restricting themselves to the subject or the arguments rather than addressing the individual's characters and motivations would imply that one should call out every one of Trump's falsehoods, but never say that Trump is a liar. It suggests that one should point out everything wrong with the great replacement theory, or calling BLM thugs, but never connect Tucker Carlson talking about those ideas to white nationalism or racism.

I feel strongly that, if a person makes multiple problematic arguments or false statements, as long as you address the substance of the arguments, it's also perfectly appropriate to talk about the ways those arguments or statements can be interrelated or correlated or imply a continuity of intent or thought as representing an internal nature.

Nevertheless, I actually agree to some extent with VB's point about name-calling. Not because it's an ad hominem attack. I think calling someone on here a name tends to have low information content compared to describing the issues and one's reasoning. It doesn't allow for the possibility of someone challenging your viewpoint or facts, or changing their behavior or apologizing for a mistake. It also implies that someone is all one thing or another, and that feeds into simplistic notions of essence that perpetuate prejudice and injustice. Of course placing the responsibility to always explain the errors of those with privilege on those of us who are marginalized already adds to the existing burden... it's not as simple as treating everyone equally, when we exist in a world that isn't equitable.

Likewise I think listing someone's faults needs to be carefully balanced by the benefit of the doubt, and the idea that anyone can change and grow. None of us should be defined only by the worst stuff we ever said or did on here. That said if someone keeps making the same exact mistake, one shouldn't have to deal with each one like it's brand new. Again I do think there's a basic level of competence, self-education, and respect we should be able to expect from other site members though.

And I honestly think people generally need to STFU about other folk's mental health and stop assuming other folks are neurotypical to boot, so I'm right there with VB (I think).

My apologies, this is longer than I thought it would be when I started.

TLDR, There's no cabal of bullies, bullying is about power not methodology, name calling doesn't say much, equality isn't equity, substance and motivation both matter, people should be able to change, we should have basic expectations of members, and marginalized people are not here for the benefit of those with privilege.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 9:16 PM on May 18 [19 favorites]


Cortex and EM both can caution and ban people who behave inappropriately, so a bully group somehow bullying them doesn't really make sense to me, to be honest.

The power of moderation extends only to Metafilter. I could not say whatever I want about any member on this site while on this site.

However I can say whatever I want about them on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:56 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


All we have collective control over is what happens here on this site. It’s the only place we can establish norms and make agreements that guide participation on MeFi. And power here does work in a meaningful structural way.
posted by Miko at 9:30 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


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