Idea: Require including TFA's author(s)/creator(s) in MeFi posts January 26, 2024 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Currently the posting guidelines don't mention including the author/creator in the FPP. This is not currently in the posting guidelines, but I think this could be really helpful for users make good decisions about which threads to participate in for a variety of reasons. Thoughts?

With the understanding that not all items have a by-line or a legal name attached (although including social media account handles would suffice), I think this would be helpful because I know there are some people in the world that I will not be able to have a cogent discussion about, and I've read enough MeFi and MeTa threads to know I'm not the only one. I certainly don't want to generate revenue and clicks for people whose work I find abhorrent.

I understand there are technical ways to investigate a link's source prior to clicking, but that feels like that's putting the work in the wrong place as including the source/authorship seems like metadata which should be included in the FPP.
posted by smirkette to Etiquette/Policy at 10:21 AM (67 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

"SLYglesias."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:22 AM on January 26 [21 favorites]


In my posts I try to put up a link (and a previously, where it exists) about an author, if the post focuses on one mail URL.
posted by doctornemo at 10:33 AM on January 26


Like all things guideline, I support this as a suggestion but not a requirement. Were you thinking of having it spelled out on the compose a post page or on the guidelines that are linked from that page? Or, is it one of those soft unspoken guidelines like "mention NYT/WaPo/etc"?
posted by donnagirl at 10:54 AM on January 26 [10 favorites]


that feels like that's putting the work in the wrong place

I tend to agree with mstokes650 even for just soft unspoken guidelines – the problem is that even adding those adds more barriers to posting which are unhelpful to the site as a whole:

...too little responsibility on the listener creates real problems as well. It cripples the ability to have conversations; in a situation like that many people (frequently the most empathetic, most considerate people) who would otherwise have something to say will default to silence, rather than risk upsetting someone else and being blamed for it. Posters who are brave enough to post anyways will front-load posts with disclaimers and warnings and often feel like they're walking on eggshells even so. That heightened sense that you'll be blamed for any misstep means people go into conversations feeling defensive already. There are people in this very thread pointing out that the long list of informal demands on posters already makes them too uncomfortable to post. Surely their feelings - whether you see them as rational or not - are just as valid as the OP's feelings - rational or not - aren't they? But you seem to have pre-decided that a listener who says "hearing about X makes me uncomfortable, can we not do that" is inherently more valid than a speaker who says "being expected to jump through hoop Y makes me uncomfortable, can we not do that", because you've already accepted that a speaker carries the responsibility for both their own and their listeners' feelings.

Me? I think that attitude is killing discussion. I think there's a straightforward correlation between the growth of that perspective on this website, and the decline in posting and commenting on this website. I think if you want to have lively discussions, the balance needs to shift back the other way a few steps; people need to take some responsibility for how the thing they read/saw/interacted with made them feel, and not try to make their bad reaction into the poster's or community's problem. I think that if we must make a choice between privileging the feelings of people who think adding one more thing for posters to consider is perfectly good and reasonable, or privileging the feelings of people who think the number of things they have to consider before posting already makes it simply too daunting to post, then while we'll inevitably be unfair to someone's feelings, one choice we can make leads to more posts being made on this website, and one choice leads to less posts being made on this website.


To be clear, I'm not saying your request is unreasonable, just that on balance, there's a good reason to avoid adding informal expectations.

If not comfortable with clicking on something without knowing who wrote it, which again is perfectly fine as an individual matter, perhaps you could ask in the thread and someone might be happy to oblige.
posted by lookoutbelow at 11:26 AM on January 26 [23 favorites]


...too little responsibility on the listener creates real problems as well. It cripples the ability to have conversations;

Maybe I'm an outlier, but I don't think I should have to participate in conversations about people or topics I don't want to engage in. All FPPs have selective engagement—this is just giving people more information about which conversations they want to participate in. I—and no one else here—owes participation to anyone else on every topic or author. Frankly, I get enough people insisting that I owe them my attention IRL, and if that's the vibe that Metafilter really wants, then that's helpful information.

Not everyone has the spoons to engage in topics or rhetorics that they find distressing/exhausting/otherwise personally unfun and unproductive, and I think the balance of asking people to name the author/creator isn't too much to ask. Given the lack of user-side experience moderation tools here (not a dig at the mods or devs! I know this is a small operation!), this seems like a pretty light ask.
posted by smirkette at 11:44 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


donnagirl, even just a strong suggestion (i.e., articulating it on the create-a-post page) would be helpful. I understand a strong requirement (reworking the form to include a required author/creator field) would be both a longer conversation and have technical implications that might not be straightforward to implement.
posted by smirkette at 11:48 AM on January 26


Oh! Huh. When I just saw the title of this post, I thought this suggestion was going to be about giving explicit credit to creators of cool stuff posted as FPPs (which I'm all for), rather than about letting people know up front that the link is by a creator they may have strong opinions about. I actually kind of think the second problem solves itself. Usually bylines are right under the title on articles, so if it's by someone I don't want to have a conversation about or whose work I don't consider worth reading I'll figure that out within seconds of opening the link.

I suppose I see the point about generating revenue and clicks but I'm skeptical that the amount of traffic MetaFilter is driving is going to really make a dent. For me the cost-benefit equation comes down on the side of "occasionally send $0.00003 to some asshole I can't stand" rather than the extra effort on our community and mods.
posted by capricorn at 12:17 PM on January 26 [24 favorites]


Maybe I'm an outlier, but I don't think I should have to participate in conversations about people or topics I don't want to engage in.

No one is requiring that. I would appreciate not strawmanning the counter argument, which happens a lot here and makes discussion unnecessarily heated. People are not forced to participate in threads. If you opened a link and realized you did not want to talk about that person or topic, you can close the link without participating in the thread. You can choose to skip the thread without reading the linked article/post/site.
posted by lapis at 12:44 PM on January 26 [60 favorites]


capricorn: "When I just saw the title of this post, I thought this suggestion was going to be about giving explicit credit to creators of cool stuff posted as FPPs"

In execution, this is what would tip it over into useful for me, though I still tend to favor this as a helpful suggestion rather than a rule.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:48 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]


I would also add that I usually don't know whether any given content creator has done other, objectionable stuff (gosh, how exhausting it would be to have to keep track of every asshole in the world when I could be doing better things like making a nice cup of tea or going for a walk) and MetaFilter is usually pretty good at flagging this within the first few comments because there's usually at least one person who follows a specific field closely enough to know who in that field sucks. I learn a lot from those threads.
posted by capricorn at 1:00 PM on January 26 [12 favorites]


Just going to leave this here for anyone (like me) who had no idea what TFA means.

MetaTalk: Have-you-read-TFA

posted by tiamat at 1:52 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


While I don't know nearly enough journalists, bloggers, etc., for it to be useful information when I'm reading a post ("Oh, you posted something from HIM, did you?!"), I do like it when people post the source, at least, as that can help give an idea of just how long it'll take to read, or will contextualize the tone a bit. ("Oh, you posted something from the Baffler, well...I guess I better clear my calendar...") It's good information! And from the posting side, I've tried to be better about this, as it does seem like a good thing to give that information, and credit whoever's on the byline. So I think there's a positive aspect to this, if people are flinching away from the request a little because of the 'abhorrence' factor?
posted by mittens at 2:13 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


smirkette, it's funny you posted this, because I drafted and deleted this morning a MeTa that was essentially the inverse of this -- a "y'all, we need to talk about not coming into every thread and saying 'I won't read this for WaPo/Twitter/Substack/Guardian/Yglesias reasons, and neither should you, and you are all bad people for reading this'." I think it's hurting the site and engagement when posts show up that feature 50-75% of people coming in to say they won't read something. Maybe your suggestion would help with this!

I don't think MetaFilter should be a place to post links for other people to demonstrate their seriousness/purity/politics/whatever by stating publicly that they won't read it. (I am not calling out any specific user for this.) I agree that there are very good reasons not to read some publications and some authors, but I feel like the aggregate vibe around here lately is that people are even more ready than usual to jump on "bad" content.

I do think there would be merit to posters listing the author of a work, but (a) that gets harder for posts that are massive linkfests, and (b) the corollary would be that I think we'd need some reasonable expectation that MeFites would not then continue driving by to snark every single time something shows up that they don't agree with. Like, if the poster took the effort to include this information, the civil response would be for folks to say "oh, that's an essay written by Woody Allen? nope, I'm going to close the thread and walk away." (This is not me endorsing Woody Allen, but using him as an example of a notable problematic person.) I don't know how likely it is for that to happen, maybe a fool's dream, but I think it would contribute to a healthier culture.

(ETA: I deleted my draft because I didn't feel the phrasing was right and wanted to sit on it for a bit. So, thanks for putting this up, smirkette.)
posted by cupcakeninja at 2:18 PM on January 26 [47 favorites]


Not sure I agree with the above comment
posted by Notable Problematic Person at 3:04 PM on January 26 [11 favorites]


If this is required, please do the same for YouTube videos.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:38 PM on January 26


Seems to me that the MetaFilter design philosophy is almost exactly opposed to this. The MetaFilter page layout places the comment text first, then the name of the commenter. Thus when you start reading a comment, you don't know who wrote it. This gives you an opportunity to judge the comment on its own merits.

(That said, I'll typically include a tag with the name of the author, to support searchability.)
posted by russilwvong at 5:30 PM on January 26 [8 favorites]


Not sure I agree with the above comment

Next time, work a little longer on your user name.
posted by y2karl at 1:42 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I would also add that I usually don't know whether any given content creator has done other, objectionable stuff ... and MetaFilter is usually pretty good at flagging this within the first few comments because there's usually at least one person who follows a specific field closely enough to know who in that field sucks. I learn a lot from those threads.

I do too.
posted by Rash at 8:10 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


In general, I'm in favour of giving as much information up front as possible about the content and context of a post, including the author/source, so that people can easily determine whether or not they want to engage with it. Personally, I find it kind of demoralizing when the first few comments on any thread are along the lines of "oh I clicked and it's that person/that blog/whatever, you made me waste my time." It must be extremely deflating to make the effort to do a post and get that reaction, so anything that helps stop those spirals is good.

That said, I've been on Metafilter now for 11+ years, and I've never done an FPP, partly because of the risk of that reaction, but also because of what seems like an ever-increasing list of requirements for putting anything up. So, while I agree that it would be good practice and should be encouraged, I don't think it should be a(nother) formal requirement.
posted by rpfields at 12:00 PM on January 27 [13 favorites]


Mod note: One comment removed. While MetaTalk is less moderated than the other subsites, please be careful with jokes about another user's name. You may intend humor, but others may take offense and flag it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 12:24 PM on January 27


lol. That account was created immediately after the comment prior to their first comment as an obvious stunt. Pretty sure the deleted response also recognized that. Gotta defend the feelings of sockpuppet accounts, though!
posted by sagc at 12:29 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Mod note: D'oh, totally missed that, thanks for pointing out! Comment restored and apologies for the derail!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 12:47 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


      

posted by y2karl at 1:53 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


WaPo/Twitter/Substack/Guardian/Yglesias and separately Youtube

One of these is not like the others. IMHO only one is an author/creator. All others can be thought of as platforms hosting authors/creators. And some of those platforms are more responsible for the content on their sites than others.

I'm personally curious why Substack links are getting such a pass on Metafilter these days even while its problems are recognized here. It seems the MF zestiest really soured on Twitter/X, but Substack authors get a pass.

So maybe the question, generalized, would include both site and author. The author part isn't useful to me personally, and I don't really need site as I browse with the ability to hover and see that.
posted by achrise at 2:10 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I'm personally curious why Substack links are getting such a pass on Metafilter these days even while its problems are recognized here. It seems the MF zestiest really soured on Twitter/X, but Substack authors get a pass.

As one of metafilter's zestiest I would argue that both Twitter and Substack continue to be pretty substantially represented here even if both get immediately deluged by comments arguing that they should not.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:40 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I think I've said this before, but I think the esoteric rules on not linking to sites is a significant barrier to posting, as well as continuing the focus on we are a decent site because we DON'T do a zillion things, as opposed to being a decent site because we do do things.

I recognize the issue at times - for example, linking to the NYT on trans stories - but I cannot imagine new people being able to contribute here without ending up feeling like shit. The list of interdicted sites, a small number actual and a large number driven through mores, is just ridiculous.

I have news for everyone that many, many publishing platforms are either problematic or have published bad things. Penguin Random House has Henry Kissinger's memoirs on their best seller list. Yes, some new media platforms like Spotify and Substack can be different and I'm happy to engage with actual content and discourse about it.

But there is a huge difference between discussing that in threads and trying to police other people. The idea that your click sullies your reputation or that people should be condemned for linking to these sites is really...grandiose. In practical terms, even accidentally clicking on a XBadThing link is not even remotely financially close to say, ordering a case of Nestle baby formula.

It's starting to feel around here like everyone is walking around commenting on what's in people's grocery carts like "OH MY GOD YOU HAVE NESTLE QUICK IN THERE don't you know about the formula."

My opinion is there should be two categories:

1. Things that the community has decided are banned, and that therefore can be flagged and removed.
2. Everything else.

I also think it is fine for someone to comment, hopefully relatively politely and not just like "I'm not reading Nazi shit," "hey this is problematic because of XYZ." I appreciate knowing from subject matter experts on this. But I appreciate knowing once, and with some information, not just some fly by statement designed for Moral Purity.

I often don't even read the comments any more on posts with substantive issues in them, ones I love to read about and would love to discuss, or would have loved to in the past, because I know there are going to be so many doom statements that it's just like

first!
second!
Newsflash: X sucks! Substack sucks! the NYT sucks!
Capitalism kills all good!
The planet is dying!

I can only believe that people really believe that if they shut everyone else down, the world will be better. Or somehow, that repeatedly posting broad generic statements about capitalism or rich people in every. thread. about money, jobs, events that involve jobs or money, movies that involve anything, artists being paid, cars, etc. etc. etc. is somehow contributing.

To me it's making the site increasingly unreadable. I pray that one day I will be able to block the people that only post those things in threads.

I don't know what you/they think they are accomplishing. I wish we could have a thread for those comments and ban them everywhere else, or like a weekly reminder list of what things suck so that we can stop drowning out everything else.

(I think there should be some moderation if there are like, a dozen comments (again via flagging) that only engage ion "X is run by Elon Musk" or "Substack is a Nazi platform" because that also ruins conversation around here.)
posted by warriorqueen at 2:42 PM on January 27 [70 favorites]


It is often helpful to give context in a post, but it would be impractical and undesirable to require posters give author/creator info in all posts. I’m fine with policies that don’t allow linking to stormfront or whatever awful hateful garbage sites, but other than that (and other content guidelines), posters should post how they want and the rest of the community can decide whether or how to participate in threads. The vast majority of posts are already fine. If there’s a mysterious post or something that might be triggering, skip it! It ain’t broke and this idea wouldn’t fix it. Posters are already quite good about noting sources and giving content warnings, and we know many are already declining to post because it is too complex and intimidating. All of this is my opinion, of course.
posted by snofoam at 4:25 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


OP’s buttoned, so this might be a moot pony at this point.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 5:52 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I’m sorry to see it, and I hope smirkette comes back sooner or later. A long time MeFite who offered a lot here over the years.
posted by cupcakeninja at 7:45 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


gosh, how exhausting it would be to have to keep track of every asshole in the world when I could be doing better things like making a nice cup of tea or going for a walk

This reminds me of the anecdote about the "spycraft 101" training for employees in the wake of attacks on US embassies.
According to the story, the response from women employees was "OK, but is there anyhting new we're supposed to be doing"
posted by tigrrrlily at 10:34 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


I don't know if MeFi has been particularly good for me, lately, mental health wise.

Perhaps it's time I post a MeTa about something fairly small that the Metafilter community could do to make my use of the site a lot more comfortable and a lot less stressful.
posted by tigrrrlily at 10:47 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


I think it would be amazing if eeyore style 'meh why bother, didn't read' posts in the first ten comments of each thread got routinely deleted.

I guess there's some value to 'this poster/topic/platform is terribly problematic do not engage' posts to some people, though I agree with the posters in this thread who consider that overall they make this place worse as a discussion venue.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:05 PM on January 28 [19 favorites]


Perhaps it's time I post a MeTa about something fairly small that the Metafilter community could do to make my use of the site a lot more comfortable and a lot less stressful.

omar: oh indeed
posted by Sebmojo at 1:06 PM on January 28


I can't speak for others, but when I see content from a shitty or shittified source (Yglesias, GPT, X, etc) it's hard to separate my frustrations that (1) what I'm currently looking at might be shitty, (2) I've vaguely supported the shitty source by clicking on their content, and (3) so many things are shitty now and things I once liked turned out to have been shitty all along, I'm sick of it, and it puts me in a bad mood to be reminded of that.

So with some of those posts I really do want to launch into the thread and wave my hands and warn people who might not be aware about (for example) Yglesias' complicity in anti-trans and anti-CRT media narratives, so that if they see an article like this one that seems nuanced and sourced, they'll approach it with more skepticism and/or avoid giving him undue broad credibility in the future.

But I'll acknowledge that that'd be pretty axe-grindy of me. It'd set a combative tone and distract the thread from more substantive discussion of that piece, it'd likely make the OP feel kinda hurt or embarrassed and less inclined to post, and therefore it would generally make MetaFilter less valuable for new and existing users alike. To the extent that Yglesias is shitty in ways that make that article itself bad, that's on-topic for the thread. It's not the venue to explore every concern about him.

This comment from another MeTa thread linked above seems notable (though I don't think it's awesome that someone made an FPP as a social experiment, and it's obviously a limited dataset even in that experimental context). I find its conclusion very plausible: highlighting a problematic source in the post text could bias the discussion towards talking about those problems, rather than the actual topic at hand.

If the OP knows enough about the source to consider a warning flag, presumably they already decided the link was worthwhile despite those problems or they wouldn't be making the post in the first place. To a reasonable degree I think we need to trust other users' curation instincts, or else what are we really doing here?

Where I do sign on with the OP's suggestion is when the source itself is specifically relevant to the topic. For example, marking a link to the NYT's analysis of anti-DEI campaigns as "[NYT]" is particularly relevant if your post is also referencing criticism of the NYT's own role in those campaigns.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:35 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]


If the OP knows enough about the source to consider a warning flag, presumably they already decided the link was worthwhile despite those problems or they wouldn't be making the post in the first place.

I agree. My suggestion would be that people should consider including the source/author as a matter of course, not just when they know something might cause concern. It's become clear over the years that there can be all kinds of issues, depending on someone's particular POV, that others might not be aware of.
posted by rpfields at 3:30 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Perhaps Metafilter should make a list of approved sources, writers, etc. who past some test. I’d hate for anyone to have to be read something that disagrees with the accepted POV. New ideas might scare the reader.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:24 AM on January 30 [11 favorites]


Making a MeTa post these days can have a bit of "Why don't you use my psyche as a battlefield for your various grievances?" to it.

I hope smirkette gets a break and comes back.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:34 AM on January 30 [11 favorites]


I would be happy to see more room to add metadata like creator to posts from both the 'some people want to avoid problematic creators' and 'some people would like to see more credit given to creators' perspectives. Making a field available and visible if filled out but not mandatory seems like it could work, but at the same time, we have heard that people already find the MeFi posting interface confusing because of the title / link / link title / description / more inside structure of it and I'm not sure that adding more details to it will help.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:23 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Maybe there could be a source encyclopedia, where creator/author/publisher metadata can link to an immortal thread where all its problematic aspects may be discussed.

Perhaps a reputation score based on user votes can provide an indication of worthiness at a glance on posts that are tagged with sources.

This is probably way too complex an undertaking, but something ought to be done to minimize the psychic warfare that attends grievance-posting about sources in the comments.
posted by otsebyatina at 9:40 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


> I’d hate for anyone to have to be read something that disagrees with the accepted POV.

Eponysterical.
posted by automatronic at 10:44 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


From this discussion I've learned that if I were to ask "Please include the name of the source so that I personally don't have to read the carefully-considered thinkpiece about the validity of my existence by a well-known transphobe that you found so terribly compelling"

Metafilter's answer would be "No, we reserve the right to sneak material under your defenses that we've decided you should be exposed to"

And, I mean, that's an ethos I guess.
You want smirkette to come back? Why? What value does her participation here have to you, personally? One more member for your captive audience? Guess what, the price for that is not making her feel like utter shit.
posted by tigrrrlily at 2:00 PM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Again, no one said that. Everyone is free not to read things, for whatever reason they want. Everyone is free to skip discussions, for whatever reason they want. You can open a link, see the author's name, and close the article. No one is trying to sneak anything in; we're not arguing that all author names should be redacted.
posted by lapis at 6:06 PM on January 30 [10 favorites]


This is a really tough thread to parse: sarcasm, lightweight comments, strong anger, unexplained subtext, joking. I know, it's the usual fare but maybe not? I mean, other than the OP which is easy to understand, what the hell is going on in here?
posted by ashbury at 7:26 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Commenters picking up the conversation from where they left off the last dozen times someone posted a MeTa asking for a minor but potentially beneficial adjustment to the FPP-writing rules/norms/guidelines, then got shouted down by people Very Concerned that such a change would lead to no-one posting FPPs out of fear of getting shouted down by rule-enthusiasts.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 10:03 PM on January 30


It's already the case that a significant number of users are hesitant to post out of fear of getting shouted down.

Here's an excerpt from the 2022 user survey results:
Question 4: What is the biggest non-technical challenge you face when participating on MetaFilter?

Primary reviewer(s): kimberussell

868 responses evaluated

93 responses said no non-technical challenges to participating.
~500 responses had something to do with comment negativity
~75 responses had something to do with feeling politically unwelcome (responder typically self-identifying as a “moderate” or “unpopular” in some way)
36 responses about being USA-centric
A number of responses about anxiety, shyness, or feeling like there was a very high bar for both posting and commenting.
Remaining responses could also fall under the negativity banner but were typically about very specific demographics issues
posted by otsebyatina at 5:32 AM on January 31 [26 favorites]


I regret that I have but one favorite to give you, otsebyatina. These discussions in MetaTalk frequently involve MeFites who disagree with those sorts of sentiments minimizing them, or loudly voicing their contempt for these sentiments, or saying that those sentiments do not matter because [reasons]. In view of that, this data is good to see again.

I, too, did not post much for many years for all of the “a post must be perfect” reasons. As such, I support MeFites who want to engage as posters, commenters, or lurkers. I would also gently suggest that MeFites who think we should be doing X or Y in posts lead the way by making those kinds of posts, and thereby helping to make MetaFilter the place they want it to be. I know that many folks already are doing that, but, you know, “be the MeFite you want to see on the site” isn’t a bad philosophy.
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:01 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


"No, we reserve the right to sneak material under your defenses that we've decided you should be exposed to"

This is also what I'm hearing in this thread


Yeah, MetaFilter's problem is definitely that there's deficient representation for already-well-known-dispshits-and-bigots.

Jesse Singal has 153,000 followers, just think of what it could do for the usage stats if even 1% of them felt comfortable posting here about his very reasonable questions /s
posted by Audreynachrome at 6:41 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Yeah, MetaFilter's problem is definitely that there's deficient representation for already-well-known-dispshits-and-bigots.

Literally nobody has said this. These kind of strawman, least-charitable interpretations of other people's words are the number one thing making the site unwelcoming.
posted by automatronic at 8:55 AM on January 31 [16 favorites]


Perhaps Jesse Singal is a low blow.

Would you care to name someone who is unfairly denigrated here and it's essential that we consume their content without knowing whose it is beforehand?
posted by Audreynachrome at 9:22 AM on January 31


You know that articles tend to have a byline on them, towards the top, right? You don't have to read an article just because you clicked a link.
posted by bowbeacon at 9:28 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


Would you care to name someone who is unfairly denigrated here and it's essential that we consume their content without knowing whose it is beforehand?

I'm really not following this point--and it could have to do with me not understanding who is on the 'abhorrent' list people are keeping in the back of their minds. While I continue to agree bylines can be useful, has there actually been a spate of FPPs platforming people on that list, such that people are worried about clicking on links about them? Like...Jesse Singal's probably one of the better-known examples of people who would go on that list, but we don't have FPPs about him. But who are we even talking about here? (And just because I feel like there's too much poorly-focused irony in this thread, let me be clear that I'm not talking about some "official list" of authors who would make for bad FPPs, just this general sense that some authors are a bad fit for a variety of reasons.)
posted by mittens at 9:37 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


I place value on a space where I can feel confident that clicking a link without hovering first won't make me a scab or support, no matter how minutely, someone who thinks I am less than human.
posted by Audreynachrome at 10:13 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


I am really sympathetic to that, Audreynachrome (see my comment above). And from your phrasing I'm inferring that those sources' continued prominence is a greater existential threat for you than it is for me, and I really do take that seriously.

Is there actually a way to experience that level of protection in this world, though? Where you're surrounded by people so considerate, and so knowledgeable about the various shitty and shittified things, that they can and will shield you from following an unclear link and accidentally generating $0.0001 for someone awful before you can click away? And multiplying that effort by the number of other readers here, and the wide variety of ways in which a link might generate $0.0001 for someone that threatens them in a similar way?

I wish there was a way for that to be practical, that didn't lift the bar for posting to impossible heights and wouldn't risk starting off the threads with fights about the source instead of the topic.

As much as this individually feels like a small ask, there's been plenty of discussion above about how it's a small addition to a growing set of informal guidelines that discourage good content. When the NYT does legitimately great journalism, how much should we be flagging that they do a lot of awful op-eds and talking about that instead?

And as much as people are presenting the original suggestion as optional and therefore not a big deal, I don't think that's actually compatible with the very real concerns Audreynachrome and others have laid out. If our conversation is about how clicking on these links advances a personal danger to the reader or other MeFites, then we can't also be talking about the request as simply a "polite" thing to do. That approach would mean that failure to mark the source is actually harmful, and if you accept that characterization then we can't also be okay with people omitting the source.

I don't know where the line is between this, or [nsfw] or [slyt] notes, or content warnings about topics that might trigger folks' PTSD. I don't begrudge anyone who is frustrated when they find themselves back inside the seedy parts of the media world out there. I just literally don't see how we can expand the aids and protections we already have into something that solves this particular request in a useful way.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:24 PM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Yeah it's genuinely really tough to balance these things! Like I said, I like the comments that explain why the source is problematic and I also have seen posts successfully flagged and deleted for being by people that have a problematic relationship with the topic or who also are just enormous assholes who suck the most. It is for sure hard to get tone across in writing and successfully communicate "I am giving some helpful context to process the article in the link" vs. "I want the person who posted the link by the shitty guy to feel ashamed".

I thought about it some more and my thinking is now this:
-"I have some context about the problematic source of this article that I'm not sure OP or other readers are aware of" is usually a good comment for the thread because I learn things from these comments. The less flippant and the more context, the better. This obviously takes energy and I don't think anyone should feel obligated to expend energy/effort on this. Only if you feel like it.
-"I do not think articles by this source are okay on MetaFilter because of how problematic this source is" is usually a good thing to communicate to the mods, using the flag with note option or the contact form.
posted by capricorn at 1:32 PM on January 31 [6 favorites]


Riki tiki: I wish there was a way for that to be practical, that didn't lift the bar for posting to impossible heights and wouldn't risk starting off the threads with fights about the source instead of the topic.

And yeah, I agree with this. I wish so too. But right now I don't know what it would be. Other than more rules that make it even harder or more intimidating to make a post here.
posted by capricorn at 1:33 PM on January 31


I place value on a space where I can feel confident that clicking a link without hovering first won't make me a scab or support, no matter how minutely, someone who thinks I am less than human.

Serious question: why is the hovering part an issue, exactly? Maybe it's just because 3000 corporate trainings have drilled into me never to click a link, ever ever, EVER, EVER, unless I am 100% confident in the link, but it seems like just good practice.

Back to the practicality of this: It's not like it's hard to include some kind of identifying info in a post and from a flip through the past several pages of posts, people generally do. To me it seems like asking people to do this is likely to make a lot of people think "oh, gosh, okay, is it OK to list this source? Is everyone going to jump on me, what don't I know about this person? Maybe I just shouldn't." But to some extent I'd imagine this is already how people feel and this couldn't make it much worse. I personally would absolutely not create a post on MeFi for love or money.

(Given the ubiquity of AWS and the anti-union stance of Amazon we're all scabs every second we're online, but that leads me down a whole rabbit hole of my feelings about how "scab" is used online nowadays and nobody wants that.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:06 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


why is the hovering part an issue, exactly?

I'm guessing, because it doesn't work when web-browsing on a tablet or cell phone.
posted by Rash at 3:26 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


it doesn't work when web-browsing on a tablet or cell phone.

Long-click will work, though.
posted by bowbeacon at 5:23 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


Yeah, long-click has worked just fine for over a decade now. If there’s something I’m missing about “it doesn’t work”, I’d love some clarification. Not knowing how web browsers work isn’t a reason for the policy changes being discussed.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 5:56 PM on February 1


Since the post is asking for "author/creator" to be disclosed, I'm sure you know of a way that you could have that information appear without clicking the link. Or maybe you just love condescendingly dismissing people's concerns like one of those people who love to do that.
posted by tigrrrlily at 7:14 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Could use a service like archive.is or wayback machine to deny the publisher that fraction of a cent a click through to the actual article might provide.

Then again, those services preserve some problematic content themselves. Might even be a worse value depending on your personal ethical calculus.
posted by otsebyatina at 4:31 AM on February 2


Hovering was explicitly called out as a bridge too far, and the responses directly and respectfully addressed that issue.
posted by bowbeacon at 4:45 AM on February 2


and for heaven's sake please put a warning on a pdf download.
posted by clavdivs at 1:19 PM on February 2


especially if its larger than the known universe
posted by Klipspringer at 1:23 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


I came by to see what was new with this thread, saw the temp of the room, and am leaving now.

That is a thing you can do, friends.

I hope you are having a a nice day.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:29 PM on February 2


Or maybe you just love condescendingly dismissing people's concerns like one of those people who love to do that.

Sorry, tigrrrlily, but I was responding to the discussion around “hovering”, not specifically the OP. Long thread, multiple aspects to the conversation, it would be really nice if you could consider the context before making snippy comments about how much I love being a condescending jerk. Glass houses and all that.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 5:26 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


I have trouble getting behind the notion that who wrote the article is more important than what the article says. That's just me. Sigoth is of the other opinion, and she isn't shy about telling me so. I gravitate toward writers whose work is familiar to me, Yet I am curious (from time to time) to know what some idiot I dislike has to say about X or Y.

I understand the desire for content warnings because I understand triggers. However, I have a built-in resistance to the notion that MetaFites should avoid posting topics that may make some people uncomfortable. That's on the reader. Nobody is wasting anybody's time here. You may move on if you aren't interested in the lead line or first paragraph. Yet, I struggle with requests of this nature. Why should I keep reminding people that they are free to move on if they find something I wrote (for example) objectionable? Oh. Wait. I don't have to do that because of agency.
posted by mule98J at 8:07 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


« Older Help me find this long-ago post on the blue about...   |   MeFi Nonprofit Update Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments