Team Threaded Comments June 5, 2024 5:14 AM   Subscribe

As requested, this is a MeTa post to discuss the derail that happened in this other MeTa post.

A user claimed that his comments calling X "Twitter" are being deleted. Some back-and-forth comments later and he posts that he has "permission from the moderation team" to request that specific users be prevented from interacting with him on the site. This doesn't go over great and a bunch of people push back but most comments are deleted as they are a "derail". Mods invite the community to open another MeTa so that's what this is.
posted by Diskeater to Etiquette/Policy at 5:14 AM (849 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Mod note: Small note, per Diskeater's ok, the name of the user was switched out to "A user" to hopefully keep the focus off a specific user and instead on the general situation and the moderation actions that occurred.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 5:15 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I'll repeat the same immediate thought I had after the deletion fest yesterday morning, which is HOW was the mod comment in response not an immediate and unequivocal "no, of course we don't have a special secret deal with this user, that would be absurd."

Brandon, I don't care if you are the newest mod (really that's the excuse? surely it's been well over a year at this point??), you have been on metafilter longer than I have, and you should know that's so wildly out of norm for site culture to allow that idea to stand without an immediate mod shutdown that it was going to cause a problem. It was a Weird Call, especially with all the deletions of comments that were entirely fine.
posted by phunniemee at 5:26 AM on June 5 [34 favorites]


Is it a policy violation to say you are leaving the site? If not, why was schmod’s comment to that effect deleted?
posted by snofoam at 5:26 AM on June 5 [20 favorites]


Most of the questions in that tread were answered by mods, except (as far as I can see) the ambiguity in the guidelines referred to by brookhorse

Action: Reach out to mod about the fact that this person is contacting you despite being blocked via MeMail.

Result: Mod enforces outside of MeMail contact as well (as no contact via MeMail is already enforced via site coding of blocking, unless the the block button doesn’t actually do anything?).

Therefore mods enforce no contact requests outside of MeMail.

If this is not what is meant by the (to me quite clear) if-then statements provided, Loup or another mod may clarify.

posted by Zumbador at 5:28 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Also, "a user" appears to be going through something very weird right now (multiple frequent comments responding only to themselves, across multiple threads; using the Blue as their personal blog, lording over their comment threads like their own self appointed mod). It's also in my opinion a Weird Mod Call to not give them a time out right now for their own mental health. It's weird. WEIRD.
posted by phunniemee at 5:28 AM on June 5 [32 favorites]


well, schmod did make it a lil personal against the user so I get why that comment was deleted.

Speaking for myself, and only for myself, I was appalled that the user's vitriol towards another user was allowed to stand and anyone calling out that it was unwarranted vitriol had comments deleted. That does not feel like a level playing field for all of us. I also requested clarification about the outlandish claim that the user is allowed to block another user in ANY thread or post (this shit ain't Reddit where you can do that). And no, BB's comment nor loup's did NOT clarify that. It was elided over. I don't appreciate male users being shitty to female users and just leaving it there like a dog turd on the sidewalk.
posted by Kitteh at 5:33 AM on June 5 [41 favorites]


Why was a locked user interface instruction manual (which wasn’t even correct) given precedence over this one?
posted by bowbeacon at 5:35 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


Reading over it again, Kitteh, you are correct.
I was trying to follow the mod direction not to make this ask about that particular user, but I think that's not really possible while your questions remain unanswered.
posted by Zumbador at 5:36 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


It's also in my opinion a Weird Mod Call to not give them a time out right now for their own mental health. It's weird. WEIRD.

This, 100%. In light of the comments that A User was making in their self-deleted post from last night, specifically the one making what have the appearances of drunken demands/orders directed at the mod team, I for one don’t understand how A User can possibly not be on time-out right now. The fact that they aren’t really does require explanation from the mods.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 5:40 AM on June 5 [17 favorites]


It feels like I'm watching a very public mental health crisis in real time and instead of intervention, the cops are cordoning him off with tape saying, no no, leave him be, he'll tire himself out eventually.

It's not the move of this site I want to be a part of.
posted by phunniemee at 5:45 AM on June 5 [17 favorites]


Coming at this late and backreading, with no horse in the race, it feels like it would be useful to have some clarity as to whether brookhorse's observations are correct, not only to clear up this mess but also because it would be good to know for the future what a mod-involved intervention looks like between users at this stage.

It doesn't seem as though there's been a discussion about blocking policies for a while (correct me if I'm wrong) and I'm not aware if there has been a clarification, modwise, about why there isn't also a way to automatically block someone's posts/comments if you don't want to see them, or vice versa -- is this just a tech or coding issue, i.e. there's literally no way to do it? Or is it an ethical issue? Or something else?

On preview, maybe those of you involved in said mess overnight could take a step back and not sit in here making personal comments about the mental health of said user? Like, maybe that could be a line we don't cross just because someone's said some things you don't agree with on the internet? Feels like there needs to be a little grass touching and head cooling all round.
posted by fight or flight at 5:51 AM on June 5 [15 favorites]


Yes, let's not start faking concern for someone's mental health as a rhetorical weapon to try and get them timed out. It's classic clever-mean-deniable MetaTalk behaviour and it's grim.
posted by Klipspringer at 5:54 AM on June 5 [18 favorites]


There is a huge disconnect between the claims that the mods have notes and other tools to track problem users and bigots, and the years-long history of them letting those users continuing to be a problem while deleting comments from or even occasionally going after those who push back. This is not a new issue, people have been calling it out for a very long time, and mods continue to put on this befuddled "aw geez, how are we supposed to have known they would get this bad?" act when it inevitably blows up in their faces. "A user" is just one of many who has been able to get off with a bajillion "second chances" despite being a bigot and a bully across multiple threads.

So here we are.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 5:56 AM on June 5 [20 favorites]


Will there be a mod clarification of policy in this thread, or will it just be an ugly referendum on people's opinions of a particular user?
posted by mittens at 5:58 AM on June 5 [15 favorites]


More than ever I think that the absolute approach to confidentiality of mod actions that has evolved on this site is not helping anyone with anything. I'm not sure I even understand the whys of it, but it feels like someone has imported some kind of FERPA aesthetic here? I'm someone who has to legally obey FERPA and while I support it in its context, I can report extensive experience with how enforced non-transparency is a very double-edged sword, and there are so many situations where it could be better for everyone to be able to know what went wrong. I just don't believe users in an internet forum are owed this kind of confidentiality. Of course then a risk is that everyone might want to litigate what went wrong, but it is apparent that this still happens here, just with bad off-site screencaps and telephone games.

well, schmod did make it a lil personal against the user so I get why that comment was deleted.

I believe from screencaps I've seen (I didn't see it live) that there was one comment that was very much about A User, and one that was just a non-targeted buttoning comment, both deleted.
posted by advil at 6:03 AM on June 5 [15 favorites]


Going into a fpp made by the user in the blue to continue launching broadsides at them seems like an absolutely shitty thing to do and should result in a temporary time out for anyone involved. It is blatant harassment and against site policies.
posted by interogative mood at 6:04 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


interogative mood, are you entirely sure that's what happened? You seem to be responding to things in both this thread and the previous Metatalk that aren't exactly what's actually going on. It sounds like there's just as much possibility that it was hippybear flaming out in their own thread.
posted by sagc at 6:06 AM on June 5 [10 favorites]


It took the mod team hours to not actually clarify whether or not the claim of special privileges is something that exists. This seems like something that can be answered much more directly than "there may have been a misunderstanding." This is a yes or no question and it seems like an important standard to establish plainly.

Also, Brandon's actions at the time, in deleting all the pushback but not the comments of the user claiming the privileges, suggest that these special privileges are a thing. What's up with that?

If I was able to get my wishes, I'd like a clear statement about what went wrong here on the mod side and what changes are being made to prevent it from happening again. Or, y'know, a clarification about how one gains these special privileges.
posted by Alterscape at 6:07 AM on June 5 [15 favorites]


interogative mood, are you entirely sure that's what happened?

Judge for yourself.
posted by fight or flight at 6:08 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


Going into a fpp made by the user in the blue to continue launching broadsides at them seems like an absolutely shitty thing to do and should result in a temporary time out for anyone involved.

This is exactly making my point about litigation by telephone game, this is not remotely an accurate description of what seems to have happened.
posted by advil at 6:08 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Judge for yourself.

There are no visible posts in that thread.
posted by bowbeacon at 6:09 AM on June 5 [18 favorites]


Going into a fpp made by the user in the blue to continue launching broadsides at them seems like an absolutely shitty thing to do and should result in a temporary time out for anyone involved. It is blatant harassment and against site policies

1) the user didn't make the FPP in the Gray

2) anyone who insults another user should clearly get a time out, and yet those shitty comments still live in the previous MeTa

3) if you're gonna accuse people of doing this in the Blue at the current moment, you're gonna back that up - I stand corrected! And no, that is not cool either.

If you are cherry-picking how you view this issue, then you're not exactly part of the solution either. I mean, I feel pretty justified in asking for less Boyzone comments directed at female users. And those comments were off-piste. No matter how you feel about either party involved in this, I think we can agree that kind of behaviour is not acceptable on a community website.
posted by Kitteh at 6:10 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


well, schmod did make it a lil personal against the user so I get why that comment was deleted.

No, the comment where he buttoned did not include anything I can imagine was a violation of site policy.

So why was it deleted?
posted by snofoam at 6:12 AM on June 5 [13 favorites]


schmod's comment before buttoning was personal. He accused the user of bad behaviour and said they were sick of it.
posted by Kitteh at 6:14 AM on June 5


So why was it deleted?

My guess is an ill-judged attempt to make the whole new just go away. If schmod's comment stood but all context for it went away, people would be asking why.

The lack of any kind of clear communication from the mod team is - yet again - making problems worse, as well as just being frustrating as hell. There's still no statement at all on wtf went on yesterday even, still no simple "yeah that was dumb" or even "'a user' was out of line and does not have special privileges" (or god forbid, the opposite).
posted by Dysk at 6:17 AM on June 5 [13 favorites]


For the record, to the best of my knowledge I have interacted with a user three times in the last year. The ridiculous MetaTalk on the billionaire genocide, a question he posted on Ask about Southwest customer service, and the name calling MetaTalk. Someone else can go dig through my history to see if there's anything before that, I honestly have no idea. A user came at me in the name calling MetaTalk with very little provocation.

I was absolutely in no way involved with his doomed FPP yesterday night, except that someone sent me a link to it and I did take a screenshot of the thread prior to the night mod deletions. If anyone wants that they can memail me.

People can think whatever they want but I know if it was me having a public meltdown on this site I've contributed to my whole adult life I certainly hope that someone on the mod team would reach out and say wtf Jen, are you coping, you need a break.
posted by phunniemee at 6:17 AM on June 5 [32 favorites]


Schmod did make a comment about “a user” that clearly should have been deleted. But the comment he made about buttoning was not the same comment.
posted by snofoam at 6:17 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


The comments from the user yesterday should absolutely have been deleted as derails (even in MeTa) and attacking another user).

However, the deleted post linked by fight or flight above really cannot be read as anything except the ruins of an FPP where people decided to take the fight from MeTa into the user’s FPP. Which is also really bad.

The thing I’m most curious about is whether the text brook horse posted are current policy or not. They seem almost completely unenforceable.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:18 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I also have a screenshot of schmod's interstitial pre button comment.
posted by phunniemee at 6:18 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


The users replies to themself that people are referring to seems to be referring to seem to be a series of pleas to have the post deleted because of the harassment that they were getting based on this web archive. Hardly a mental health crisis or some drunken rager.

The question of “why did the mods respond immediately with hell no this doesn’t exist” was answered. Brandon Blatcher is the most junior mod and we don’t have multiple staff on duty at the same time. Eventually someone more senior came on.
posted by interogative mood at 6:20 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Ok, so just as a thought experiment, if A User were to post this:

C'mon Brandon. You love nothing more than doing moderation things to my posts or the things I say. Let's get you exercising that muscle and getting this post deleted. It's poisoned from the outset so there is no reason for it to be here.

and then not be rebuked for it in any way, we’d maybe give credence to the idea that there are some weird, weird dynamics going on between A User and the site in terms of moderation, no? Dynamics which might be detrimental to the community and require the mods to actually address them with the community, rather than the usual “discuss amongst yourselves” aloofness?
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 6:22 AM on June 5 [11 favorites]


Why was this metatalk posted specifically to discuss "the moderation actions that occurred" and then left with no moderators answering basic questions in the thread for an hour, while users fling allegations of unprovable and deleted things at each other? If you are going to have a queue to make coverage of these threads possible for mods, then maybe there should be mods covering them?
posted by bowbeacon at 6:23 AM on June 5 [21 favorites]


They're just waiting for a more senior mod to clock in.

Meanwhile, brook horse over here reconstructing mod policy from scraps.
posted by phunniemee at 6:25 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Mod note: A few answers and a request: please stop speculating about the mental health of another user, it ultimately isn't helpful and if there is anything going on with them, piling on them is not a great idea.

you have been on metafilter longer than I have, and you should know that's so wildly out of norm for site culture to allow that idea to stand without an immediate mod shutdown that it was going to cause a problem.

Yes, I fumbled the wording there, totally my fault for that and I apologize.

I should have written "That doesn't sound quite right, let me check with the other mods and see if something has occurred or changed, I've been off for the past two days."

Also, Brandon's actions at the time, in deleting all the pushback but not the comments of the user claiming the privileges, suggest that these special privileges are a thing. What's up with that?

Special privileges are absolutely not a thing, that user was severely mistaken in making those comments. Yes, that's an official statement.

My only goal with removing those comments was to leave the focus on the important issues in original MeTa and move the very valid concerns to a different thread.

MetaTalk is more loosely moderated and comments where people are being a more jumpy are generally allowed. That said, I definitely see the case for deleting the original comment, but believed and still do it was important to leave as example of where the problem started, so there would be no question of what was said, while removing others that were beginning on pile on, which we discourage on the site.

Why was this metatalk posted specifically to discuss "the moderation actions that occurred" and then left with no moderators answering basic questions in the thread for an hour

A. It's important that member get to air their concerns first and for mods to sit back and listen.
B. So, put the post through, then was catching up on things, fixed the MeTa post about US politics, put up the Best Of blog post, figuring that would give people time to comment and then I could respond, if there was a need.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:27 AM on June 5 [13 favorites]


Hardly a mental health crisis or some drunken rager.

yeah maybe not but the direct accusatory, belligerent, "silenced all my life" barb at the same mod that let the guy's comments' stand in the previous MeTa should at least be probationary

i mean i am super confused by all this. i've been on this site since 2008 and have never seen someone so consistently fighty, with the community and staff, who can spam replies with such impunity and it just sails on like what
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:28 AM on June 5 [25 favorites]


Interrogative mood, no matter how assuredly you state your opinions and conjectures, they mean absolutely nothing to me, and probably many more who are asking questions. We are not asking for answers from random users. We are not asking a self-selected priest to interpret the divine message.

We are asking the mods for answers. Clear and direct ones. The fact that a user feels compelled to come in and speak on their behalf only underscores the scope of the communication issues here.

Obviously, feel free to speak up. That’s what this place is for. Just don’t be surprised if others do take it on your word that their questions have been answered.
posted by snofoam at 6:28 AM on June 5 [14 favorites]


I shit in that thread after poster made three comments asking for it to be deleted. It's wild to me that I go into almost any FPP and it seems like they make easily five, six, whatever consecutive comments cluttering up the place and sucking air out of the room and yet they also appear to think they are being persecuted with deletions.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:31 AM on June 5 [22 favorites]


I, personally am still entirely entirely confused by how accurate the initial comment t hat kicked this off was. Loup seems to have left the option open that one can, in fact, request someone never speak to them in the comments again. If this *was* a misunderstanding, it was explained absurdly poorly.

The rationale for leaving the initial comment up while deleting any responses could use some more explicating, too - what guidelines did they break that weren't broken by the initial comment? Do those guidelines actually result in a better, more welcoming site? They don't seem to be!

Finally, is there any chance of any sort of mea culpa/explanation from the mods as to why the approval process for this MeTa was, apparently, delayed in order to protect the user who's the subject of the post? We're discussing whether mods have told Hippybear they can tell people never to talk to them again, and the perception of special treatment by the moderators of hippybear. Not sure how we can have the discussion without ever referencing the incident.

What, broadly, do the mods *think* they were achieving in the previous thread? Do the mods have any sense that they may not have actually had that impact? Or is this how things should be going, at this point?
posted by sagc at 6:31 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Metafilter policy: We cannot delete the [offensive thing] - otherwise, my later deletions of people taking offense at [offensive thing] won't make sense!

Seems backward to me, but what do I know?
posted by sagc at 6:33 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


Special privileges are absolutely not a thing, that user was severely mistaken in making those comments. Yes, that's an official statement.

That fact that this took twenty-four hours to be said and that the apparently mistaken claim of Very Special Privileges Indeed is allowed to stand borders on farcical.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:34 AM on June 5 [20 favorites]


Thanks for the update, Brandon Blatcher.

The topic of cooling off MeTa discussions is not a new one, and it seems to me like the 6/3 thread just never sufficiently cooled off, as witness the buttoning, etc. MetaFilter posts have been deleted before for (IMHO) less reason, though I know MeTa posts are generally treated more loosely.

I don't know whether MeTas appear based on the order of request, or community need, or if it's just mod judgment. But, again, to be clear, I am a user who made a request for a post like the one about #USPolitics that appeared yesterday, and I am grateful for it, and that it was given a little time to be at the top of the page. I am glad that (if this is what happened) the mods listened to my request, made via the contact form, and responded. I think banal posts about site operation should be part of the standard flow of MeTa, and I think we should think carefully about whether unlimited on-demand grievance/frustration posts (however justified) are good for MetaFilter. Some weeks, it feels like that's all MeTa would be, given we do try to keep discussions somewhat focused.
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:35 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]

Special privileges are absolutely not a thing, that user was severely mistaken in making those comments. Yes, that's an official statement.
Thank you, Brandon. Follow-on: the comments asserting special privilege incorrectly were also a personal attack on Phunnimee. Why were they allowed to stand while the pushback was deleted wholesale?
posted by Alterscape at 6:35 AM on June 5 [24 favorites]


MetaTalk is more loosely moderated and comments where people are being a more jumpy are generally allowed. That said, I definitely see the case for deleting the original comment, but believed and still do it was important to leave as example of where the problem started, so there would be no question of what was said, while removing others that were beginning on pile on, which we discourage on the site.

So 'a user' is allowed to be a fighty asshole because nobody backed him up? But because he's taking all comers, nobody can respond?

I think you may need to rethink your approach, because whatever your intention that is the outcome you get. At what point does "a system's purpose is what it does" become relevant here?
posted by Dysk at 6:35 AM on June 5 [32 favorites]


Hmm checked earlier and did not see this thread, went to stretch and almost a thousand posts!!! MIFI is Baaaaak!!!
posted by sammyo at 6:50 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


I find the user occasionally abrasive but their contributions to the site are consistently excellent as evidenced by the fact that they’ve gotten over 150,000 favorites. The claims about their spamming the site do not seem to be consistent with a cursory check of their comment history.

Interrogative mood, no matter how assuredly you state your opinions and conjectures, they mean absolutely nothing to me, and probably many more who are asking questions

You continue to ask the same questions the mods have answered. I’m just pointing that out. Your concern sounds like a you problem.
posted by interogative mood at 6:53 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


Wow.
posted by box at 6:55 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Interrogative mood, I get that you believe nothing here is worth discussing. But maybe you could listen.

I don’t personally think there’s anything nefarious going on. I think there are structural issues with our staff that are often on display, not least of which is the transition in governance the site is going through, but also a lot of history, and a lack of tools, both technological and strategic support and clarity and training. When I was on the transition team, which was brief and we ended up limiting the scope of our work to just the two pieces - start finding out what people value on the site, and what was the next step - the lack of structure was pretty surprising.

But the general goodwill of the moderators was also clear; there were no complaints about members shared with us, they were very careful about privacy, etc. I didn’t get a close look at any backend stuff but I was left with the impression that it’s a real mess in terms of how moderation data is stored or not stored and there aren’t a lot of tools. I also got the impression the decision-making has historically been very ad hoc, which means soooooo much discussion time (over shifts in different time zones) and inconsistencies. It also makes onboarding hard and leads to burnout.

Anyways, in this thread I see the following:

In my opinion as a former online community manager and a former manager in a service industry, there is a real issue with how the conflict between members was handled. It is not some kind of nuclear situation, but unless there was stuff happening off the page or some kind of three strikes rule being applied, one set of comments was moderated more heavily than other, and the rules of engagement on MetaTalk were not clear. We could all easily find examples of comments of equal weight that haven’t been moderated.

I think this is partly because it’s just hard but also because there is not a kind of drop down menu culture of consistency.

That’s the thing - the rules do shift around. Even Brandon’s mod note about bans on conversation is making that clear, because it wasn’t “no, we don’t ever do that,” it’s “let me check.”

The statement about post limits in a day when we can all see there have been two posts in a day recently is the also the same.

More fundamentally though, moderation here is still handled as a set of rules (an inconsistent, often esoteric one, from the outside.) It’s about stopping people from doing things/wrecking things.

It’s not handled like community engagement or customer service (not that the mods don’t help or don’t want those things, but there are no consistent practices for them and no strategy for developing them.) The ethos comes from a time on the net of expansion - from little pockets of people to Everyone Online. I remember moderating when AOL opened their walled garden and all these people were out on forums saying they were paying for them when they meant their ISP fees.

As a result, discussions like this one pretty much always go pear shaped. The question of this Meta was about names for Trump, but it was also round eleventy-thousand of what’s a request, what’s a norm, and what’s a rule, and who gets to say, and why should we care. This last (caring) is increasingly fraught because of how the whole world is going, including in- and out-group signalling among the Very Online/Very Activist practices out there.

There’s almost never any resolution to this kind of post, although I would say probably there is some shift in norms. Because there’s no clear way to resolve these discussions, and because moderation is supposedly in service of the members including donors but is still stuck in practices from a different era both technologically and when there were more new members coming in, each discussion also brings up a ton of inconsistencies as well as past grievances.

That happened in this case was a side conversation where multiple people were airing grievances all about what they perceived as inconsistent moderation. And that was moderated inconsistently live in front of us all. I really don’t like to slam moderators on these things due to the lack of tools, and because I just know there’s no perfect pathway, but whoa man this one is screamingly obvious. Which is an okay thing, if we can handle it respectfully.

If I were in charge of this mess I would recommend:

- trying to apologize to the member who buttoned (one big limitation here is how MeMail vs. members’ email works) and just ask them to consider coming back
- the OG comments should be reinstated unless MetaTalk moderation policy is changing. If it is, please clarify what it is now. Way worse insults have consistently been allowed (if what is on the Other Place is the full discussion). OR hippybear’s comments should be moderated (I favour the first)
- I think loup did clarify things but I’d recommend plainer language - both here and in the type of communication given to hippybear
- either letting the Meta through or just plainly saying it’s not going up. I think the queue policy needs a quick refresh and clarification. In this case, as is pretty common in on and offline customer service, the longer you let a concern go the worse it is for your organization. Even if the response is “we really want to discuss this tomorrow.”
- long term MetaTalk needs work around what it’s actually for and what norms apply

This shouldn’t be about one user.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:55 AM on June 5 [85 favorites]


I find the user occasionally abrasive but their contributions to the site are consistently excellent as evidenced by the fact that they’ve gotten over 150,000 favorites. The claims about their spamming the site do not seem to be consistent with a cursory check of their comment history.

Clearly we should be granting them special privileges. By rewarding them for attacking other users, derailing threads and acting troll-like in other posts.
posted by qi at 6:56 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


The claims about their spamming the site do not seem to be consistent with a cursory check of their comment history.

It's a more recent development. A quick look at their comment history bears it out, with several recent threads where they are very active in slow-moving threads, regularly making up well over 10% of comments.
posted by Dysk at 6:59 AM on June 5 [14 favorites]


Hey warriorqueen, I just want to acknowledge the effort that went into writing that comment, and in being in the place to write that comment. I feel like that very articulately sums up a lot of my concerns here, and your recommendations are ones I would cosign (I have no authority and can't speak for anyone else, of course).
posted by Alterscape at 7:03 AM on June 5 [22 favorites]


If I were "A User" and I discovered a whole meta which was basically a referendum on me, including speculations on my mental health and just general invective chucked in my general direction, including insults lobbed at anyone who had the temerity to defend me, I'd be out of here and never come back.

Which is to say that I find this MeTa to be, fundamentally, in extraordinarily bad taste. We should not have MeTa discussions about specific users, full stop. It is gross.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:03 AM on June 5 [35 favorites]


Is any member of the moderation team going to explain just what the fuck is going on or no?

Questions I would have for the Mod team:

1) does A User receive special treatment from the mod team as they claim.
3) if not why would they have that impression?
4) if not why are their attacks on other users left standing?
5) if not why have the moderation team been so utterly hostile to other members of the community around A User to the point of driving one off the site

And most importantly

6) does the mod team consider any aspect of what happened there to have been done well or reflect well upon themselves?
posted by Artw at 7:03 AM on June 5 [12 favorites]


I find the user occasionally abrasive but their contributions to the site are consistently excellent as evidenced by the fact that they’ve gotten over 150,000 favorites.

that's the beauty of this site. you find the user a certain way. clearly there is a plurality of other users on this site who feel differently. i mean we're not conjuring all this up out of thin air, number of favourites not withstanding (and i don't think there's a favourite threshold beyond which we can no longer call someone's behaviour into question). this is a community discussion; not as it pertains solely to one user but moderation policies in general. i think it's fine to let people have that conversation without telling folks they're wrong to feel the way they do, which isn't real helpful tbh
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:03 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


(And if my above comment is somehow beyond the pale, then I would suggest that the gaslighting I'm responding to references post history just as my comment does, and it is impossible to have a conversation when one side can make reference to concrete things and the other cannot.)
posted by Dysk at 7:03 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


I mean, a plethora of favourites does not imply full scale acceptance of behaviour. You can use favourites that way if you want, but if users have a shit ton of faves doesn't mean that they can't be bad actors at times. Hell, I have been a bad actor at times, especially when I first got here. I buttoned for the Trump years because it got to be too much for me. I unbuttoned after the 2020 election because it felt like a boil had been lanced and I could find joy and use in being a member.
posted by Kitteh at 7:07 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


This shouldn’t be about one user.

you're right ofc. your comment is very constructive. thank you for laying all the out so well.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:07 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


MeTA used to be full of these petty user callout threads. Eventually it was banned for good reason.
posted by interogative mood at 7:11 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


The specific post towards phunniemee that is a bone of contention is as follows:

I'll tell you what. How about you don't engage with me or anything I post ever again. I have permission from the moderation team that I can request that and it will be enforced. So you just don't ever talk to me or see anything I post ever again. We have no way to block people here but the mod team has told me I can request this, so I'm requesting this of you, phunniemee. Edit me out of your MetaFilter experience. I don't need you in my feed anymore.
posted by [A User] at 11:10 PM on June 3 [+] [*]
posted by Artw at 7:13 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


If this sort of thread shouldn't be allowed, maybe you could create a new MeTa to discuss that, because this one obviously a) went through and b) is about the intersection of mod behaviour with a particular user.

What's the alternative? Just never call anyone out, because you'll get you comments deleted and further MeTa's aren't permitted? We could have avoided this if the mods had thought just a touch harder about how their actions would look, but here we are.
posted by sagc at 7:15 AM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Interrogative mood, I get that you believe nothing here is worth discussing

I am not saying that, nor do I believe that. However asking the same question over and over again and pretending the mods haven’t answered isn’t a discussion. It is a reading comprehension problem.

ArtW for example just posted that there is some bone of contention about some non-existent mod policy that the mods have said doesn’t exist.
posted by interogative mood at 7:16 AM on June 5


ArtW for example just posted that there is some bone of contention about some non-existent mod policy that the mods have said doesn’t exist.

If you want to talk reading comprehension... Artw said it was "a user's" comment itself that was the bone of contention.


(Though in fairness, they do mislabel it as a "post".)
posted by Dysk at 7:18 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


I do feel for the user in question. Because the way he interacts on the site never seems to be addressed by the mods, it has come to a head here in an uncomfortably personal way. As sagc said, how else would it end up addressed? In some respects I feel this is really on the site mods more than that individual user.
posted by dusty potato at 7:19 AM on June 5 [18 favorites]


Brandon, I'm still not sure why you seem to have deleted a number of comments yesterday that have long had a place in MeTa. Is it now site policy to delete non-insulting comments about buttoning as derails in MeTa?
posted by mediareport at 7:21 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


I would appreciate clear and direct answers from the mods with no evasions and I don’t consider anyone speaking for them useful.
posted by Artw at 7:23 AM on June 5 [21 favorites]


If I were "A User" and I discovered a whole meta which was basically a referendum on me, including speculations on my mental health and just general invective chucked in my general direction, including insults lobbed at anyone who had the temerity to defend me, I'd be out of here and never come back.

Which is to say that I find this MeTa to be, fundamentally, in extraordinarily bad taste. We should not have MeTa discussions about specific users, full stop. It is gross.


It's a question of moderation, though. Had the original decision been "ok, the both of you are getting personal, this is a derail, time outs and deletes for all" the personal stuff probably never would have come up. This shifts responsibility off the mods and onto the users, who are now allowed to have a kind of Quaker meeting about their grievances with one person.
posted by kingdead at 7:23 AM on June 5 [9 favorites]


There's a bone of contention because, even with from an statement of no explicit special treatment, their recent behavior and the history of similar incidents on this site indicate that there is something going on. Whether it's intentional or not, it's happened many times before, and it still seems to be ongoing based on the comments deleted vs those still standing.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 7:24 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I think the emphasis on protecting “A User” is itself an evasion.
posted by Artw at 7:25 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


Artw, I've liked your contributions for a long time but you should have gotten a 24-hour timeout for what you did in that front page post last night.
posted by mediareport at 7:27 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


If anyone wants my opinion on the goings-on with "A User" they can MeMail me directly, because as a point of principle I am not going to air my opinion here, or in any public thread.

I have noticed my Favorites counter going down, which I think is maybe an indication that more people are buttoning.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:29 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Yup, kingdead has it. Deleting all the comments from both sides would have been in line with "no personal attacks, even in meta." Deleting none of the comments would have been in line with how meta often worked earlier in the site's history.

What we seem to have instead is that one user is allowed to make personal attacks, and other users are not allowed to rebut those. The original crappy comments from one side still stand 24 hours later, but the immediate pushback has been memory-holed, and now we have two long metas rather than one. My opinions about the users involved are mostly irrelevant, I care about the policy implications of inconsistently applying a vague policy.

I really feel like we got the worst of all possible outcomes here and I'm not sure why it went that way, from a mod policy perspective.
posted by Alterscape at 7:31 AM on June 5 [22 favorites]


(On failure to preview my own damn comment: It's true that a bunch of us are rebutting those personal attacks in the other meta and here, but in a much longer and more aggrieved and more public way. I'm not sure that's a win for moderation.)
posted by Alterscape at 7:32 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Artw, I've liked your contributions for a long time but you should have gotten a 24-hour timeout for what you did in that front page post last night.

I flagged it myself and would absolutely eat the 24 hour suspension to underline the need for some proper mod response on this, which we have not.
posted by Artw at 7:33 AM on June 5 [23 favorites]


You know I said this in a previous meta talk, but I strongly believe metatalk is not fit for purpose. We have countless examples of threads on honestly relatively trivial things which lead to long standing members deciding to quit their participation of the website.

This is unhealthy, and I think it's because the format is not well suited to a productive conversation.

I share other user's concerns that moderation of "the user" has been pretty inconsistent.

I am also disappointed that Loup will often say things which seem to just be factually incorrect when they weigh in on these conversations. I refer here to the 2 post a day limit which seems to just be obviously untrue (or, if it is true, is not applied in a consistent manner).

i think that moderation of metatalk is really not working well, and it should be reconsidered to avoid these kinds of situations happening again.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:37 AM on June 5 [23 favorites]


Another request: please check to see if the questions you have were answered previously, as some folks are asking for clarification that has been given. It's fine if you want to follow up from that though!

[ follow-on: the comments asserting special privilege incorrectly were also a personal attack on Phunnimee. Why were they allowed to stand while the pushback was deleted wholesale?

Because the pushback was continuing the derail and starting a pile on a specific user, which is a firm "no, don't do that". Otherwise, the comments between the hippybear and Phunnimee seemed heated, but in bounds, IMO.

So 'a user' is allowed to be a fighty asshole because nobody backed him up? But because he's taking all comers, nobody can respond?

No, it just means some of the grary comments aren't moderated, which has been the tradition in MeTa. If the community would like that to change so that MeTa is more tightly moderated, then that's certainly a discussion to be had.

Otherwise, the goal was remove the derail from the original MeTa so its issues could be the main focus of the thread and to create a new one where people could talk about the problematic elements of the derail.

- trying to apologize to the member who buttoned (one big limitation here is how MeMail vs. members’ email works) and just ask them to consider coming back

That has been considered, but it's a tricky thing, where member has indirectly has sort of said they don't want to talk to you, so is out bounds to reach out to them? There are probably different answers for different people about this, but I've definitely considered it and believe a little cooling time would be good.

1) does A User receive special treatment from the mod team as they claim.

There is no special treatment done for that or any user. They were severely mistaken.

3) if not why would they have that impression?

Not being flip, but people do misinterpret things all the time and that's what happened here. No such special treatment was said or implied.

4) if not why are their attacks on other users left standing?

Didn't view their comments as an attack and as mentioned previously, believed the original derailing comment should be left at that point.

5) if not why have the moderation team been so utterly hostile to other members of the community around A User to the point of driving one off the site

We disagree about moderators being "utterly hostile", so I'm not sure what to say here. Ultimately, we want every member to enjoy the site and have fun and feel safe and that's what we aim for, though obviously we make mistakes.

6) does the mod team consider any aspect of what happened there to have been done well or reflect well upon themselves?

Oh yeah, this totally could have been handled better, so apologies.

Hippybear's derailing comments should have been removed sooner. Even if they weren't, articulating to those who were responding to them could have been done better in the sense of asking for patience and getting the other MeTa up more quickly. We hope to do better in the future, yes.

I'm still not sure why you seem to have deleted a number of comments yesterday that have long had a place in MeTa. Is it now site policy to delete non-insulting comments about buttoning as derails in MeTa?

They were continuing the derail and piling on another user.

There has been no policy changes, deleting those comments was a judgement call on my part, in the sense they felt like a batch of derailing comments, so they should all be removed, that was the thinking.

A mod gap is coming up, so it might be a while before any other questions are answered.

posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:38 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


Special privileges are absolutely not a thing, that user was severely mistaken in making those comments. Yes, that's an official statement.

Thank you for clarifying that no one has special privileges. Could you further clarify whether you are also stating that the below process outlined by Loup (with my interpretation of the actions involved which may not be entirely correct) is NOT POLICY?

Step 1:

In MeMail, yes, you can request that someone cease contacting you, or block them.

Action: Block user using the MeMail block button.

Result: Individual is no longer able to contact you via MeMail because they are blocked.

Step 2:

If you, or any other member keep receiving unwanted reactions from a member in particular, you can MeFi Mail them and explicitly ask them to cease contact.

Action: Send a MeMail to the user in question requesting you stop contacting them outside of MeMail as well (in Step 1, the individual was blocked from MeMail, so this is explicitly referring to contact outside of MeMail).

Result: Individual receives a MeMail with this request.

Step 3:

If they persist after the request to cease contact you can reach out to us to step in.

Action: Reach out to mod about the fact that this person is contacting you despite being blocked via MeMail.

Result: Mod enforces outside of MeMail contact as well (as no contact via MeMail is already enforced via site coding of blocking, unless the the block button doesn’t actually do anything?).

Therefore mods enforce no contact requests outside of MeMail.


If it IS policy, am I correct in assuming it is accessible to all users (no special privileges required to access it)? Is there somewhere this is outlined, and what are the standards for approving such a request?
posted by brook horse at 7:41 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


I think that Brandon Blatcher is maybe not the ideal person to be answering these questions?

"Should have been removed sooner"...
It's still up!!!
posted by sagc at 7:41 AM on June 5 [12 favorites]


No, it just means some of the grary comments aren't moderated, which has been the tradition in MeTa. If the community would like that to change so that MeTa is more tightly moderated, then that's certainly a discussion to be had.

This is the worst of both worlds. You do not head off a derail by leaving only the inflammatory thing that will obviously continue to provoke response up. That is the least effective approach. It doesn't need to be tighter moderation (or looser) as much as it needs to be a damn sight more consistent and even-handed.
posted by Dysk at 7:42 AM on June 5 [25 favorites]


Thanks Brandon for being the mod that responded in the other thread and I’m sorry that today will probably be filled with a bunch of Very Important Internet Drama for you.

This comment by a user should’ve been a slamdunk for the mod team but it wasn’t. That user claimed that the mod team would actively prevent Phunniemee from interacting with them in public. A mod didn’t respond to this claim of privilege with a clear “what the hell? No, this isn’t a thing”, comments pushing back on that user were deleted, Schmod’s “I’m out of here, seeya” comment was deleted as a derail, derails by that user were not deleted, Loup did not post this MeTa because posting two MeTas in a 24-hour period isn’t a thing (except when it is), and there’s a mod request to not name that user in this thread.

Maybe “special privileges are absolutely not a thing”. If they were a thing, they might look like what happened yesterday.

(In case it needed clarification: The ‘Team Threaded Comments’ title is a jokey jab at the eternal flat-vs-threaded-comments debate because the derail could’ve been cordoned off in its own thread instead of dominating the post. In hindsight a better title would’ve been ‘A Title’.)
posted by Diskeater at 7:44 AM on June 5 [28 favorites]


It seriously seems like Hippybear can derail a thread at will, and somehow any *response* to that is the problem. You've basically said as much above!

How is it at all consistent to say that a) it wasn't an attack but b) it should have been deleted sooner and c) any responses are so derailing they have to be deleted and d) we can't ever delete the original comment or even censure the user?

How does Hippybear basically telling other people they don't want to share a site with them match with wanting "every member to enjoy the site and have fun and feel safe"? Why does hippybear apparently rank the highest of all posters, if one has to choose between deleting one of their comments and doing whatever this was?
posted by sagc at 7:45 AM on June 5 [22 favorites]


No, it just means some of the grary comments aren't moderated

Actually, returning to this: why some? If we aren't moderating grary comments, then a mod note to end the derail would have been sufficient, no? If we are moderating grary comments, then why was A User's intensely grary comment allowed to stand? You left the most off-topic-to-anything-in-the-thread-already comment up, and the most grary (these are the same comment) and then deleted all the ones that were more on-topic with a thing already in the thread, and were less vicious personal attacks, in the name of clearing up derails and getting rid of personal attacks?

You'll have to forgive me for not following your logic entirely, here.
posted by Dysk at 7:56 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


There is no special treatment done for that or any user.

Please inform the rest of the moderation team about this new development.
posted by qi at 7:56 AM on June 5 [9 favorites]


Thanks Brandon for being the mod that responded in the other thread and I’m sorry that today will probably be filled with a bunch of Very Important Internet Drama for you.

To be clear, this is not problem. Members are upset and feel unclear about some things or disagree with moderation actions, so it's important mods address issues that are brought up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:57 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


Is it a policy violation to say you are leaving the site? If not, why was schmod’s comment to that effect deleted? Still unanswered.
posted by snofoam at 8:03 AM on June 5 [12 favorites]


Yeah, that judgement call was off, for sure.
posted by mediareport at 8:08 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


Members are upset and feel unclear about some things or disagree with moderation actions, so it's important mods address issues that are brought up.

Members are unclear because moderation actions are inconsistent and that cannot be simply chalked up to loose guideleines that allow flexibility. A mod (not you) also appears to be pulling new rules out of their tuchus. We have a two day limit for metatalk posts since when? Was that announced? If so okay then where? If not and the real problem with approving a metatalk post is moderator coverage then they should say so.
posted by qi at 8:09 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Please inform the rest of the moderation team about this new development.

Zing! You got'em!
posted by kbanas at 8:10 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


I also commented on the deleted FPP. I believe I was the second poster other than a user. My comment was not about the MeTa; paraphrasing, I asked a user to stop vandalizing their own post with weird bullying of a mod.
posted by kensington314 at 8:16 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Is it possible to reinstate schmod's comment on why they left? I think if that's technically doable, it should be done. As noted by at least one other above, it was a different schmod comment that mentioned a user and apparently the deleted buttoning comment did not.
posted by kensington314 at 8:18 AM on June 5 [15 favorites]


Not an attack? Many people, including the user attacked, reacted to hippybear's comments as if they were an attack, so it seems odd at best to say it wasn't deleted bc it wasn't an attack. Also it's not like hippybear hasn't frequently been demanding that people discuss their posts the way hippybear wants, and it's definitely not like hippybear hasn't been given a timeout in the past due to the way they talk about trans and other marginalized people. Seeing them as fighty isn't a new development so it's weird they were given such a wide berth
posted by donnagirl at 8:22 AM on June 5 [19 favorites]


I do not disagree that the poster isn't prolific and creates interesting FPPs, but as donnagirl points out above, I don't participate in them because I have had the experience of having my hand virtually slapped when I don't engage with the content as the user wants.
posted by Kitteh at 8:30 AM on June 5 [20 favorites]


So is this the correct thread to discuss the fact that A User has been aggressively thread-sitting both his own and other’s posts with increasing frequency and intensity, often browbeating users in an increasingly frantic quest to shape the site to what he believes it should be? Or would that be a new Meta? The framing of this post is a bit confusing in terms of what’s “on-topic”.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 8:34 AM on June 5 [17 favorites]


I am not saying that, nor do I believe that. However asking the same question over and over again and pretending the mods haven’t answered isn’t a discussion. […]
posted by interogative mood at 7:16 AM on June 5
[+] [⚑]


what's the opposite of eponysterical?
posted by nourishedbytime at 8:51 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


Mod note: Is it possible to reinstate schmod's comment on why they left... As noted by at least one other above, it was a different schmod comment that mentioned a user and apparently the deleted buttoning comment did not

Popping back in for a minute to say this has been done.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 8:54 AM on June 5 [14 favorites]


Kind of pointless to delete the comment regarding claims of special privileges in question given how much we’ve talked about it. It should have been deleted at the time, but now would just seem silly.

From what I can reconstruct. User 1 made claims that they couldn’t call twitter /x without their post being deleted. User 2 engaged in a direct personal attack calling out one of User 1’s previous MeTA posts as containing inflammatory language. A post that as far as I can tell was simply to request people show a little decency to the victims of the titanic submarine disaster, but used the term genocide in a way that User 2 felt was wrong. User 1 responded in what seems like a pretry level headed way. User 2 persisted with their personal attack. Then User 1 posted their follow up comments that generated all this controversy.

So it seems to me that the failings here were that user 2’s out of bounds personal attack should have been deleted and the original complaint by user 1 that they can’t call x, twitter should have been something for the mods.
posted by interogative mood at 9:08 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher is the most junior mod and we don’t have multiple staff on duty at the same time.

I should have written "That doesn't sound quite right, let me check with the other mods and see if something has occurred or changed, I've been off for the past two days."

So again, not picking on anyone but this is why it gets inconsistent. Either of these situations are just wrong

In situation #1, a mod who is on duty alone cannot learn in a year what moderators do and don’t do for arguments between users (not an uncommon situation.)

In situation #2, things can change in two days and there’s no record or logging system a mod can check when coming on board for something as major (and needing to be enforced) as “user q can’t comment to user x.”

I hope we can help develop if not these things, an understanding that the mod team is lacking them.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:11 AM on June 5 [16 favorites]


There is no special treatment done for that or any user.

I am comfortable accepting as the truth that there is no de jure special treatment for that or any user. But it is a falsehood to state there is no de facto special treatment for that or any user. Any mod claims to the contrary amount to more gently worded versions of "who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"
posted by paper scissors sock at 9:13 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


From what I can reconstruct. User 1 made claims that they couldn’t call twitter /x without their post being deleted

That's a very anodyne characterisation of something that is actually quite inflammatory, calling his refusal to call twitter X "deadnaming" and then getting a very fighty tone on about being subject to special restrictions (ironically enough) and finally doubling down on calling X twitter being "all" he's doing, while acknowledging his inappropriate use of 'deadname' in a context that makes it plain he feels this is ridiculous.

This is in a context of the user having a history of not exactly handling trans issues or mefites with a great deal of tact, shall we say.
posted by Dysk at 9:17 AM on June 5 [28 favorites]


This whole "no, it's the children who are wrong" nonsense is bad-faith bullshit given what we know about the situation. This is no way "user 2's" fault, it lies entirely with "a user" getting away with bullying and the mods at least implicitly endorsing it by both their words and actions.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 9:23 AM on June 5 [9 favorites]


interrogative mood, you realize that dressing up your comments in the trappings of level-headed decorum doesn’t actually make them level-headed and decorous, right? Like, we can all see the comments in question with our own eyes; I’m not sure what you think you’re adding by painting them in a particular light and then presenting your take as the only reasonable one.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 9:30 AM on June 5 [33 favorites]


Is it a policy violation to say you are leaving the site? If not, why was schmod’s comment to that effect deleted? Still unanswered.

If I read Brandon Blatcher’s comment correctly, it was deleted as part of the derail. I would argue that was wrong, and the mods seem to have agreed, but it was answered.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:24 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Deleting someone’s final comment saying they’re leaving is so absurdly disrespectful I’ve been trying to think of something constructive to say about it but I can’t.

Knock it off.
posted by hototogisu at 10:28 AM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Random thoughts. Yep it's my usual dribble-glass of tripe so feel free to emit a huff of disdain and ignore it.

1. Thanks to this affair, I have developed a newfound respect for the seemingly hidebound and quaintly byzantine Robert's Rules of Order, more specifically as practiced in the US Congress

2. I don't expect 24/7 perfection from this site's mods (particularly given MeFi just recently having come off life support); if I did, I would feel like a sadist (and not in a fun way). I've been on sites with weapons grade bad-faith moderation teams; this site is Muppet Babies by comparison. I'm confident these MeTa posts will eventually lead to good things.

3a. [from sagc comment itt] Separately from anyone here, the phrase "The Moderators of H*******r" sounds like a heckuva Doctor Who story title, agreed?

3b. Jeez, what did I do to you guys? posted by A User...
You killed Kenny, you bastard! ;-) ;-)

[i invite you to read mycomment in richard ayoade's voice]
posted by zaixfeep at 10:52 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Just want to say that I really appreciate warriorqueen's comment above. It gave me a much clearer idea of what people mean when they talk about "needing better mod tools" and the like. Inconsistency in mod judgments is easy to point out, but hard to fix if technical solutions are out of reach due to technical debt and social solutions (like more co-modding time or time for deep discussions) are out of reach due to budgetary limitations. It seems like the cycle of adhockery would be pretty difficult to get out of under these circumstances.
posted by Not A Thing at 11:00 AM on June 5 [17 favorites]


also really appreciate warriorqueen's comment
posted by kensington314 at 11:03 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


Dysk the comment just made would have been the appropriate way to respond to his comment for user 2. In fact many people, including me engaged with user 1 along those lines.

regarding another posters comment:
interrogative mood, you realize that dressing up your comments in the trappings of level-headed decorum doesn’t actually make them level-headed and decorous, right

This has nothing to do with why comments. I'm not claiming all User 2's statements were level headed. I just said that User 1's initial response to User 2 seemed level headed. It think the inflection point where their interaction went of the rails was when User 2 posted this comment: I meant about your flippant use of the word genocide, which apparently is still obviously stupid to everyone but you. . Calling another user flippant and stupid is out of bounds. The correct way for User 1 to handle it would have been to flag it with a note; but I understand why they responded as they did.

It started with User 1:
I'm going to need the moderation team to declare a clear judgement here because I've had multiple comments deleted saying that I'm deadnaming X as Twitter. Each deletion felt egregious to me and pissed me off a ton. And now in this thread the community is saying this is fine. So are the mods being overly strict with me for some reason? or what the fuck else is going on. Because I'm going to start taking notes about how the moderation team is treating me unfairly.

A back and forth went on with several users including me to try to understand this. Bringing us to this statement:

But because I used the phrase "deadname" when I did so, THAT seems to be what made the comment offensive.

Then User 2 jumps in with:
You are obviously upset but I'm also going to suggest that you aren't, perhaps, the best judge of effective use of inflammatory language, and by my estimation there's probably a good reason your comments were deleted.

Inflammatory Language was link to the previous MeTA post about the titan submersible.

That provoked this reaction from User 1:

Sure, you can use that as an example of how I think MetaFilter might be a better community if it were more self-reflective. If you disagree with that thought, then you are an exemplar of whatever you feel MetaFitler should be. I disagree, and think MetaFilter might be a more humane place that works better for its members than you seem to suggest might be required.


I found that comment to be pretty level headed and reasonable. And a more accurate summary of their intent in thread 2. I'm not describing all their comments that way and in now way justifying User 2 responded with
I meant about your flippant use of the word genocide, which apparently is still obviously stupid to everyone but you.

Finally we get to User 1's final two comments An attack, is met with an attack:
Wow, you've carried that with you for how many months? That's astonishing as I haven't interacted with you at all here in MetaFilter that I can remember. So you've got this grudge because I used a word in a way that you felt was inappropriate and you're bringing it back up now? Fascinating.

Followed immediately by:

I'll tell you what. How about you don't engage with me or anything I post ever again. I have permission from the moderation team that I can request that and it will be enforced. So you just don't ever talk to me or see anything I post ever again. We have no way to block people here but the mod team has told me I can request this, so I'm requesting this of you, [redacted]. Edit me out of your MetaFilter experience. I don't need you in my feed anymore.

Certainly no longer level headed.

Let's look at thread 2 which was called out by User 2

The subject was "MetaFilter has a real problem with voicing class genocidal attitudes". The controversy is around the phrase Class Genocide" A term that has been replaced with "Clasicide" according to Wikipedia. This MeTA arose out of the original Titan Submersible thread. Hints of the derail that generate the MeTA are found in the MeTA; but it seems some context is lost to time.

Some comments from "thread 2":
We can probably stop short of declaring contempt for the rich, even when expressed in an uncouth manner, to be advocating genocide.

"Genocide" is really not an accurate or appropriate way to describe hatred, even murderous, of the rich.

Bringing Anne Frank into this to imply (paraphrased) "Rural living becoming economically difficult is pretty much the Holocaust" is a DEEPLY shitty take, and is one that's making it clear that the derail over the OP's use of the word genocide wasn't just an unfortunate word choice. Just like we don't accept people hyperbolically using "rape" to mean "did something unpleasant to," perhaps this is a line that could be drawn?

If discussion of genocide here is rubbing you the wrong way, I invite you to read the title of the post again, and to note that virtually all mentions of genocide have been with an expression of the belief that Hey, genocide is not a concept you should just throw around. Literally, the only reason Anne Frank was mentioned was to point a big, blinking arrow at how inappropriate that framing was.

But nothing I saw in the original thread or in this one - neither the sneering fuck-the-dying-rich stuff nor the inappropriate escalation to Anne Frank - seems to me worth some of the vicious assumptions about other users occurring above. I can accept that folks have emotional moments or bad days or whatever that lead to over-the-top written reactions (I've had plenty on this site, for sure, so I try to be forgiving these days, or maybe I'm just getting old), but declaring you won't be sad to see a longstanding and frequent contributor to the front page go away, because of *this* mess of a thread? Nah, that's bullshit.

It seems that a reasonable interpretation of this post is dismay that this website is wishing death on people due to their socio-economic status. So why don't we interpret it that way rather than picking on word choices. What if we have a conversation/discussion about whether it's appropriate to wish death on rural poor people? Whether it's ok to wish death on particular rich people because they are rich? Rich people in general?

User 1 ultimately clarified their intent in thread 2 stating:
The desired outcome of this thread is that MetaFilter members stop expressing that they wish members of either the poor or the rich to die based on their decisions in life. I'm not sure how that is so difficult to understand.


That all seems pretty typical kind of back and forth and certainly not particularly inflammatory, flippant and stupid as characterized by User 2.
posted by interogative mood at 11:33 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


That's a lot of words for what is basically the legalese version of the playground "nuh UH, she started it!" immaturity.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 11:36 AM on June 5 [24 favorites]


oh, my.
I've gone through a out half of interogative moods (I do have a habit of occasionally shorting names like IM but I see some valid points for not, I thinks it's ok if older users agree but it can led to confusion and could be construed as a microaggression.) timeline, seems accurate.

oh, my.
posted by clavdivs at 11:46 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


User 2 posted this comment: I meant about your flippant use of the word genocide, which apparently is still obviously stupid to everyone but you. . Calling another user flippant and stupid is out of bounds.

I didn't call anyone flippant or stupid. I called an action a person took flippant and stupid, which is a judgement call I will proudly stand by, because in my opinion it was. Whether or not I think any person involved is flippant or stupid isn't relevant to the conversation.

I don't care how many nicely edited links and pull quotes you put together, people are still ultimately responsible for the actions they take and the words that they say.
posted by phunniemee at 11:51 AM on June 5 [33 favorites]


I cannot see how this user's comment was anything but a little harmless levity that earned the site $5, so why was it deleted?
posted by ambrosen at 12:03 PM on June 5 [32 favorites]


That got deleted too?

Talk about losing the dressing room.
posted by hototogisu at 12:08 PM on June 5 [11 favorites]


Excuse me Ambrosen this MeTa is for conversation about comments by a user, not 'A User'. If you'd like to talk about comments by 'A User' please open a separate MeTa.
posted by Diskeater at 12:09 PM on June 5 [30 favorites]


Did A User button already?
posted by kensington314 at 12:13 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


If a sock puppet buttons, do we have to invent an even more twee euphemism for it?
posted by hototogisu at 12:14 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


even if we don't get an answer the fact that 56 people favored it it doe say something in and of itself. I can see a moderator delete a comment that is not adding to the discussion especially for a new account.
but the account is all zeros except for favorites which is 56. it's a tough call, but mods you should have left the comment stand.
posted by clavdivs at 12:14 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


Because a reasonable interpretation of that post was *not* that we shouldn't judge based on socioeconomic status, but that the argument stupidly and farcically equated a class of people permanently protected against any major consequences of their actions to many classes of people who consistently find themselves in precarity and will always suffer consequences, even for things they have no direct connection to?
posted by i used to be someone else at 12:19 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


The deletion choices are truly bizarre.
posted by JenMarie at 12:20 PM on June 5 [9 favorites]


Did we ever get a direct answer as to where the only-one-meta-per-day rule came from, or is everyone just supposed to pretend that little incident never happened?
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 12:24 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Oh yeah, this totally could have been handled better, so apologies.

Hippybear's derailing comments should have been removed sooner. Even if they weren't, articulating to those who were responding to them could have been done better in the sense of asking for patience and getting the other MeTa up more quickly. We hope to do better in the future, yes.


Thank you for that acknowledgment.

Honestly feels like the mod team had far deeper problems than just a one of fumbling of a thread and you probably all need to reflect on how you go about moderation and what the moderation is for, because at the moment it mainly comes in the form of arbitrary deletions that seem make threads more not less contentious. You might want to consider a lighter touch, or a more consistent touch, or an entire change of approach. Whatever you do I would suggest approaching it as a serious problem and not something to be lightly dismissed.
posted by Artw at 12:25 PM on June 5 [25 favorites]


*slowly closes the thread, backing out into the hallway*
posted by wenestvedt at 12:26 PM on June 5 [20 favorites]


I think the fact that the "Geez, what did I do to you guys" comment from the A User sockpuppet was deleted is pretty pathetic. Even if it weren't amusing (and for the record, it was), what does it say about Metafilter governance that a comment gently poking fun at the authority will get deleted?
posted by tivalasvegas at 12:32 PM on June 5 [50 favorites]


Even sadder if you know A User was Paphnuty's BND account
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:37 PM on June 5 [11 favorites]


Dysk the comment just made would have been the appropriate way to respond to his comment for user 2.

Right, so you agree that 'A User' was in fact being inflammatory before "user 2" even made a comment?
posted by Dysk at 12:40 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I didn't call anyone flippant or stupid. I called an action a person took flippant and stupid…

A slight nuance that ignores social conventions and the plain meaning of your words to try to escape accountability for your words and actions.

You said “which is apparently still obviously stupid to everyone” implying everyone but “you”. That is a condemnation of the person, not an action. It provides the reader with a direct link between your judgement of the person, their actions. Furthermore prior to that you said they were not the best judge of which of their comments were inflammatory. Yet another judgement upon the person, not their actions.

You want people to be accountable for their actions and their words; why don’t you start by taking a hard look at your own actions and words.
posted by interogative mood at 12:43 PM on June 5


ok, that's rich.
posted by sagc at 12:44 PM on June 5 [13 favorites]


It’s really telling that nobody talking about the real victims in all this (Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm)
posted by theodolite at 12:47 PM on June 5 [25 favorites]


Artw:

https://www.metafilter.com/58583/Youre-so-smart-you-probably-think-this-post-is-about-you#1588699

I think I've figured out the method they are using to make moderation decisions.
posted by Jarcat at 12:48 PM on June 5 [13 favorites]


Did we ever get a direct answer as to where the only-one-meta-per-day rule came from, or is everyone just supposed to pretend that little incident never happened?

It's not a rule, no one ever said it was a rule, you can simply scroll back through MetaTalk and see plainly it's not a rule, so I'm not sure what you're talking about.
posted by kbanas at 12:49 PM on June 5


kbanas, call it a practice described by management, then. Perhaps that's why people are concerned about this apparently-new, apparently-policy being enacted - or at least invoked - without anyone having heard about it?
posted by sagc at 12:53 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Y'all I randomly think of the titanic class genocide thread every few months and laugh; it really did stick with me. I was trying to explain metafilter to someone IRL and absolutely that was part of my explanation
posted by catcafe at 12:53 PM on June 5 [30 favorites]




I’m referring to this comment, which doesn’t really make any sense if there’s no rule-shaped-object underpinning it, kbanas.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 12:54 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Pretty sure they know exactly what you’re referring to.
posted by JenMarie at 12:55 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I’m really not sure what the pause was about. It didn’t seem to helped things - if it was a delay to allow a better mod response it doesn’t really seem to have helped. Mainly it gives the impression of hoping the issue will go away.
posted by Artw at 12:56 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


It's not a rule, no one ever said it was a rule, you can simply scroll back through MetaTalk and see plainly it's not a rule, so I'm not sure what you're talking about.

The exact phrasing was "we rarely approve put more than one meta through in the same day". So yes, it is a rule, just not a hard and fast one. It's just another symptom of the the overarching issues with inconsistent moderation.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 12:56 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


*slowly closes the thread, backing out into the hallway*

If I told you I agree with ArtW At 3:25 today, would you come back.

I agree with ArtW. but Ithat comment on the new account/sockpuppet aspect,I viewed it as levity. now if it came from wenestvedt, it have 74 favorites. but from one angle someone makes a sock puppet account ask what they have done which is kind of ribald qua nigh participation, I think it through it's a new member who hasn't said anything but is accused of something. it was two side of the coin clever but. but here's a question I do have, what if moderation left all the comments up and at one point just put it in a note to stop the derail would that mod note has stopped further inquiry into those comments further derailing the thread.
posted by clavdivs at 1:01 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


If it was a delay to allow a better mod response it doesn’t really seem to have helped.

I'm sure the mods are very busy with the rest of the site, which is why they haven't posted in this thread, essentially the only thread on the site today, in the last 4 hours.
posted by bowbeacon at 1:02 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


I agree that the deletions just make everything confusing, and also make it look like users who saw comments are overreacting to users who didn't see the comments. I appreciate what warriorqueen's saying about lack of other tools, but this particular tool seems to be creating more issues if it's the only one being used and it's being used this arbitrarily.
posted by lapis at 1:05 PM on June 5 [9 favorites]


It’s really sort of unbelievable that even when the topic at hand is mod actions, the default stance has become “go ahead and discuss among yourselves since this is a community issue, we’ll just be chilling in the mod lounge so we don’t get in your way”, rinse and repeat as often as necessary while absolutely no progress is made on anything. Like, perhaps the mods really should be part of this discussion, not just opaque arbiters?
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 1:08 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Frankly I would have expected some kind of prepared statement or timeline of what happened and explanation of where it went off the rails with

Instead… not much of anything. BBs response to me and others, not a lot else. Much less transparency than I would have hoped for.

Is the expectation that this is a venting thread and after a good old vent everyone is going to be happy? Because that’s not happening. If anything it’s giving space to people like IM to wind everybody up and make everybody madder.
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on June 5 [16 favorites]


AAA+ User, would lol again
posted by Sebmojo at 1:14 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


I miss cortex.
posted by fight or flight at 1:17 PM on June 5 [20 favorites]


I miss the rains down in Africa.
posted by Wordshore at 1:19 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


I miss A User
posted by donnagirl at 1:23 PM on June 5 [40 favorites]


clavdivs: If I told you I agree with ArtW At 3:25 today, would you come back.

Oh, I'm still here: can't tear myself away! I was just backing away from the whole mishegas, not any particular, recent comments.

I love this place and all of you, but the need to mortar-and-pestle every single issue into paste is really kind of killing the site, no matter which side of the issue you're on.

And I love that site site has mods, but they're not covering themselves in glory either.

That's why I am backing slowly out of the thread and going back to distributing favorites on FPPs and AskMes. Call me a coward if you will, but this place is supposed to be a source of pleasure and education. Maybe that's my privilege talking, though.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:50 PM on June 5 [36 favorites]


In the past, if a Mefite was consistently at the center of several controversies and contentious interpersonal disputes, month after month, year after year, while expressing zero self-awareness or remorse and showing no signs of losing steam, what would happen?

Were they banned? Or did we just collectively agree they could stick around and continue stoking the flames because they regularly post FPPs and have a high number of likes because they have the copious free time to densely post every single thought, valuable or not, that enters their head?

I feel like if one kid keeps showing up at every birthday party and ruining it for the other kids, the kid would be asked to leave.

But maybe this is one of those situations where the kid knows where the bodies are buried. Or has wealthy parents who can pull strings. Who knows how stuff like this happens. It's fascinating.
posted by nightrecordings at 1:53 PM on June 5 [16 favorites]


I miss the rains down in Africa.
I takes a lot to moderate the blue
Is there anything a hundred mods or more could ever do?
But surely as the two peaks of Kilimanjaro rise above the Serengeti
They are gonna find the time to moderate the gray.
posted by interogative mood at 1:53 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


That's why I am backing slowly out of the thread and going back to distributing favorites on FPPs and AskMes. Call me a coward if you will, but this place is supposed to be a source of pleasure and education. Maybe that's my privilege talking, though.

Please consider my new Ask about unrefrigerated cheese.
posted by kensington314 at 1:58 PM on June 5 [16 favorites]


Ah, I see we've reached the part where users who want this to go away start aggressively joking to make anyone who still wants it addressed look like whiny nofunnicks.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 2:06 PM on June 5 [9 favorites]


Not sure if that was a reference to my comment or not but while I generally don't participate at length or at all in conversations about moderation, for the record I am glad people are raising the issues they are raising here because I was sad to see a user button over deference to a user who recently engages in bullying of the entire site.
posted by kensington314 at 2:08 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


Actually it's crucially important to me that we make room for both legitimate moderation concerns and shitposts. I don't want to be part of a site that lacks either.
posted by phunniemee at 2:12 PM on June 5 [49 favorites]


just tellin jokes while the mods boil potatoes with the last of the silphium resin
posted by hototogisu at 2:12 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Just reminding folk that Brandon did say "a mod gap is coming up".
posted by Klipspringer at 2:23 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


We had to have a dedicated thread for the moderation discussions because they were apparently an unacceptable derail in any and all other threads. Maybe we can let this topic have the one space where it's welcome, and leave the shitpost derails for other threads?
posted by Dysk at 2:24 PM on June 5


I think there can definitely be joking without undermining the serious aspects of this debacle. The Reddit post about this has both more humor and more straight talk about it than this thread.
posted by snofoam at 2:25 PM on June 5 [14 favorites]


There’s basically only a shitpost derail because of a dumb reflexive deletion. It’s highly illustrative of how the mods absolutist instincts are actually making things more contentious not less.
posted by Artw at 2:27 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


In the past, if a Mefite was consistently at the center of several controversies and contentious interpersonal disputes, month after month, year after year, while expressing zero self-awareness or remorse and showing no signs of losing steam, what would happen? Were they banned? Or did we just collectively agree they could stick around and continue stoking the flames because they regularly post FPPs and have a high number of likes because they have the copious free time to densely post every single thought, valuable or not, that enters their head?

In the past, AND today, the mods tend to give people several strikes before they get banned - deleting individual comments, giving them memailed warnings, giving them public warnings, giving them one-day bans, giving them one-week bans, and a host of other things before going the perma-ban route.

And you know what - that's something I've always appreciated about this site. Because we all make mistakes, we all have blind spots, and we all have things that we are just way too Dense about and Just Don't Get. Growth and change can sometimes take time, and I'm personally glad that the mods here are erring on the side of letting that time take time.

Because when it comes to "consistently [being] at the center of several controversies and contentious interpersonal disputes", you and I and everyone else in here may each have very different definitions for "consistently", "at the center", "controversies", and "interpersonal disputes".

Does it bite us in the ass sometimes? Sure. I've had the occasional comment I've made get deleted - and there was a time when that number of comments went up, and it seemed to correspond with a time when we'd had a newer person on the mod staff (and that person is not a mod any more and my deletion rate seems to have dropped again; and NO POWER ON THIS EARTH is going to compel me to tell you who I think it is, so don't even try y'all). I grit my teeth and sulked, but bore it - because the alternative was something I experienced on the TWOP boards, where I made one slightly-snarkier-than-usual comment, and was instantly blocked from posting for several months because they had a far stricter moderation standard.

There's a user who drew some heat about 10 years ago, largely because they had a comparatively conservative outlook to things compared to most others on the site and spoke from that perspective - and it often rocked the boat. They could have been banned back then. They weren't. And - they've changed in many ways, for the better.

Jerk-butts do get banned, it's just that they're given a chance to grow out of being jerk-butts first. And that is something I have always appreciated about this site.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:37 PM on June 5 [21 favorites]


2718 characters of "give jerk-butts a chance" and yet not a single mention (let alone tears shed) for the many users "jerk-butts" have chased off the site.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 2:44 PM on June 5 [24 favorites]


I think warnings are fine, reasonable, and an expected courtesy in this situation. I never said we should go straight to banning, so not sure how that came up. My comment stated that if the person has an extensive track record (which A User does) of behaving this way, which means there's been mod interactions and warnings given to them in the past (allegedly there has been, so I'll choose in good faith to believe it's true for now), we should ask ourselves why their unmitigated participation is still tolerated.
posted by nightrecordings at 2:46 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


Not to derail (further?), but mod policy has been contentious for a while, and I still remember this whole discussion, where were we promised explanations and more detail and things that just never arrived, and everyone just waited until it was forgotten about. I think mod policy has been overly opaque and arbitrary for years, and has also often seemed discriminatory in worrying ways. There's been a tendency to, well, cover shit up to try to calm things down, which we see again here, deleting a user's message announcing they're leaving the site is pretty damn kafkaesque, turning a justified and perhaps well-reasoned departure into just a sudden, unexplained disapperance where no one can know what happened and there's no blame to accept.

I don't know what the solution is, maybe there needs to be a set of basic, unbreakable rules for mods about things they absolutely can not do, that the community votes on or something, but that's just throwing things out there. In the end, bad faith is almost impossible to entirely protect against with rules, and in that case, there needs to be some other kind of oversight.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:48 PM on June 5 [17 favorites]


Sure, that seems very reasonable nightrecordings, but the wider context with this particular user is that they produce a lot of content for the site and have a lot of social capital here. And the issue here is of heft, and how much heft that social capital sways due process.
posted by einekleine at 2:50 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Oh, believe me. I know. Hence why I said in my original comment Or did we just collectively agree they could stick around and continue stoking the flames because they regularly post FPPs and have a high number of likes because they have the copious free time to densely post every single thought, valuable or not, that enters their head?
posted by nightrecordings at 2:55 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


The Reddit post about this has both more humor and more straight talk about it than this thread.

Do you mean this Reddit thread. I guess I better call control and let them know they’ve figured out that I’m a glowie. I want to make it clear though that I have nothing to do with any issues you may experience going through airport security or customs in the future.
posted by interogative mood at 3:10 PM on June 5


I generally like hippybear's comments, and wasn't aware of the grar they had caused.

That's why I initially posted backing out of the room, because I wasn't part of the people they had pissed off.

I see that I should just zip my lip, as usual.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:11 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


The invisibility of whatever behind the scenes coaching/corrections that goes on just seems to compound the general vibe of “why aren’t the mods doing anything??”. I’m not calling for struggle sessions, I’m just saying that once something becomes publicly regarded as An Issue it would go a long way to see the mods just acknowledge “hey, we know A User has had some issues with browbeating Other Users for not participating in the way that A User wants them to; we’ve asked A User to stop this and made it clear to them that if they can’t bring themselves to do so they’ll be getting a time-out”. Public problems sometimes require public solutions.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 3:15 PM on June 5 [12 favorites]


Eh, I don't know. Yes, A User produces a lot of content, but they are also pretty good, intentionally or not, at staying on the "not overdoing it" side of the line, however narrowly. I also tend to post a lot in my own threads, because I am trying to add context and extra information, and I often account for a large percentage of the comments, since I post large groupings of podcasts, which no one is going to listen to and then come back and comment, since it will take longer than a month. I'll agree that he's unnecessarily fighty, and the mods should probably respond to that (along with his not-great track record on trans issues), but compared to some of the Beasts on the site around 2010, he's... well below average.

And, yeah, I can think of one "bad apple" who I got into it with over and over who... got a new outlook, and I see as an ally and general voice of sanity these days. Will that be A User in 5 years? I don't have great hopes, but there is hope. Is he driving people away permanently? I sure hope not. I think the recent buttonings are more due to sloppy mod practice than A User specifically, but I can't see into other's hearts, and I suspect you can't either.

I kind of wish that we were just calling A User by his name, since literally everyone knows who he is, and this is a silly fig leaf.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:15 PM on June 5 [11 favorites]


If mods were handling this privately with the user in question, what would we see on the surface?

I ask because in another space I’m in this kind of issue has come up and I was gently reminded that people who think nothing’s happening are often just not in a position to know that it is, for good reason. That was kind of a relief, as someone who has been on thin ice myself, at times.

I’ll leave it to others whether mod grace is actually called for here — like wenestvedt I was not aware of any of this interpersonal stuff until the prior MeTa went sideways the other day.
posted by eirias at 3:16 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


We would trust the process if it seemed like there was a process to trust, but after months of mod stonewalling or simply ignoring all kinds of questions in the site update threads, it’s obvious there isn’t.

If I just googled shit and argued with people in every single thread about things I have no idea about I’d have been banned years ago.
posted by hototogisu at 3:21 PM on June 5 [16 favorites]


I mean, I can think of at least two people who now stay away from this site because of the way A User loves to suck up all the oxygen in almost every FPP.

And one of those people has created more FPP posts than almost anyone else on this website - including A User.

I wonder how many other people who enjoy making lots of FPPs would feel more comfortable coming back if the bad apple in question was no longer present.
posted by nightrecordings at 3:32 PM on June 5 [17 favorites]


I have to say, I don't get it either. I can understand the mods not wanting to show up with all the anger directed at them (and maybe with no good answers, for whatever reason), but I don't understand why they just allow this to go on. It's making people feel worse, not better. And according to that reddit thread, more than a couple more people may not be coming back, with this particular event the final straw.

I know I'm not alone when I say I don't really have another place on the internet that would replace this one. But it seems to be fading away at a quicker rate than previously.
posted by Glinn at 3:56 PM on June 5 [20 favorites]


Do we do any kind of exit survey when people button? That feels like a silly question, it’s so often an impulsive decision, but if people actually are buttoning because of specific ones of us we probably ought to look that in the face (and if that’s not what is happening we ought to look the real reason in the face too).

Has the transitional board come up with a mission statement? I think membership decisions ought to be taken with an eye toward mission.
posted by eirias at 3:56 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


there is no exit survey. i think memberships/posting are roughly pootling along steady after a steep decline based on the last graph I saw.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:59 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I'm weirdly starting to think only absolutely egregious violations of policy should be deleted and instead mods should go wild with notes instead. It would let us know their thoughts and leave a record instead of memory-holing and confusing everything. I might not like it in practice, I don't know; but maybe it would be easier than whatever this struggle is, which seems to be a pattern that repeats itself here, in a cyclical fashion.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:02 PM on June 5 [42 favorites]


100%. And unless someone is actually using slurs or hate speech towards another user MetaTalk needs to go back to being an no-deletion zone.
posted by hototogisu at 4:06 PM on June 5 [17 favorites]


Most damning thing of all: I looked at the Reddit thread and it’s funnier than this one. We have fallen, etc.
posted by Artw at 4:07 PM on June 5 [28 favorites]


What would the mods do if a user was a missing stair?
posted by i used to be someone else at 4:07 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


yeah, i think comment deletion is a low key disaster that worked when there was a lot of high touch modding and a more unified site culture, now it's just going to create more drama.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:08 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


Were they banned? Or did we just collectively agree they could stick around and continue stoking the flames because they regularly post FPPs and have a high number of likes because they have the copious free time to densely post every single thought, valuable or not, that enters their head?

Yeah, there's definitely an answer to this question, but somehow it's even worse than the hypothetical answer you mapped out here as "the bad answer." They kind of become, for a time, the main character of Metafilter.
posted by penduluum at 4:11 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


anyway, I thought it was funny earlier in the thread when we had a bear being defended by another bear. you usually only see that with pigs, and they usually have a union too.
posted by i used to be someone else at 4:11 PM on June 5 [11 favorites]


In one hand, I find it really encouraging that several of you are raising several valid points that, I hope, we can translate into real changes together. On the other hand, I'm shocked with the amount of speculation and misinterpretation going on as well.

For now. Let me provide extra context about the comments and that started this thread since my first attempt at addressing them did not suffice.

For the first one, this one came a s a shock and all I could find was this comment and the mod note addressing it. That's literally all the context there is.

For the second one, a MetaTalk post was submitted three weeks ago,. In the draft, the user highlighted issues with other members and proposed the addition of a block button on MetaFilter. The post was rejected because it wouldn’t go well on MetaTalk. I promptly contacted the user to explain the rejection and provided information about the block feature in MeFi Mail, including how it works. Additionally, I mentioned the availability of user scripts for Greasemonkey and referred to the most recent MetaTalk discussion on the topic. I advised the user that if they were facing unwanted messages or interactions on the site, they should MeFi Mail the person in question and explicitly ask them to cease contact and asked the membet to let us know if the problem persisted. However, the member did not respond to the rejection email, and there was no further communication about this.
The next thing I knew about this was on Tuesday morning when I opened MeFi a few hours prior to my shift to find that the mod queue was getting tens of flags across the board (not only coming from the thread in question). This happens every now and then and when it does, generally it means that flags and comments will pop faster than a mod is able to catch up real time.
So, I messaged Brandon to check if he needed help while I started catching up with the thread. Later, during my shift i replied with this comment.

What I would like to do is take the next few days to work together with you (the community at large) to stop the speculation and focus on the valid points being raised to synthesize and prioritize them. Maybe each one of them needs an individual Meta? Maybe they can be grouped in categories? I don't know, this is something we can figure out together.
posted by loup (staff) at 4:33 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Any clarification regarding the one meta per day rule, loup? If y’all are sticking with that, breaking this discussion into several posts is going to require a fair amount of time.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 4:43 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


Wait, are you talking about this other unposted metatalk because that's why this was delayed? I have no idea what that has to do with this. Is "the user" hippybear? Because at this point, you should probably stop with the talking around things.
posted by sagc at 4:48 PM on June 5 [11 favorites]


A sick system has four basic rules:

Rule 1: Keep them too busy to think. Thinking is dangerous. If people can stop and think about their situation logically, they might realize how crazy things are.

Rule 2: Keep them tired. Exhaustion is the perfect defense against any good thinking that might slip through. Fixing the system requires change, and change requires effort, and effort requires energy that just isn't there. No energy, and your lover's dangerous epiphany is converted into nothing but a couple of boring fights.

This is also a corollary to keeping them too busy to think. Of course you can't turn off anyone's thought processes completely—but you can keep them too tired to do any original thinking. The decision center in the brain tires out just like a muscle, and when it's exhausted, people start making certain predictable types of logic mistakes. Found a system based on those mistakes, and you're golden.

Rule 3: Keep them emotionally involved. Make them love you if you can, or if you're a company, foster a company culture of extreme loyalty. Otherwise, tie their success to yours, so if you do well, they do well, and if you fail, they fail. If you're working in an industry where failure isn't a possibility (the government, utilities), establish a status system where workers do better or worse based on seniority. (This also works in bad relationships if you're polyamorous.)

Also note that if you set up a system in which personal loyalty and devotion are proof of your lover's worthiness as a person, you can make people love you. Or at least think they love you. In fact, any combination of intermittent rewards plus too much exhaustion to consider other alternatives will induce people to think they love you, even if they hate you as well.

Rule 4: Reward intermittently. Intermittent gratification is the most addictive kind there is. If you know the lever will always produce a pellet, you'll push it only as often as you need a pellet. If you know it never produces a pellet, you'll stop pushing. But if the lever sometimes produces a pellet and sometimes doesn't, you'll keep pushing forever, even if you have more than enough pellets (because what if there's a dry run and you have no pellets at all?). It's the motivation behind gambling, collectible cards, most video games, the Internet itself, and relationships with crazy people.
posted by She Vaped An Entire Sock! at 4:49 PM on June 5 [13 favorites]


Also, you just basically said we need another committee to deal with this! Everything you need to know is in this thread.

Also also, you seem to be implying that you didn't see any of the comments Brandon deleted? You didn't have the context of th deleted comments when responding? If you did, that makes things more confusing. If not, it's another example of how the mod team is not communicating things clearly, as with the various "rules".
posted by sagc at 4:51 PM on June 5 [14 favorites]


Honestly, every update from loup leaves me feeling less informed about what’s actually going on. If they’re not able/willing to improve their communication skills, I think it would really behoove the mods to choose a different point-person for communications, because what we’re currently getting is frankly embarrassing.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 4:57 PM on June 5 [33 favorites]


Do not expect faith in the mod team to return soon or without effort. Or ever, honestly.

I think I’m going to take a holiday from the site now, maybe it’ll have sorted itself out when I return but I expect it’s more likely I’ll just hear about it quietly folding.
posted by Artw at 5:09 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


It also seems like a pattern that there will be a long thread, lots of questions raised, and minimal moderator involvement. But then, rather than addressing the questions and points, you'll propose waiting a while and then having the users… ask their questions again? Maybe in a more organized manner (but without any process for that), and only the ones that are "valid" by an undefined standard? Maybe there will be another MeTa thread eventually, and some people can re-litigate all their questions (but with minimal interaction from the moderators, since you're just taking notes and not stepping on discussion (other than to delete some comments), even though you're the only ones who can answer the questions), while others decide that if you didn't answer their questions the first or second time, why keep asking. Or maybe people give up, move on without another thread, lose a bit more trust in the site, and some of them button or just stop visiting. But at least it's quiet.
posted by JiBB at 5:10 PM on June 5 [24 favorites]


I work in HR and sometimes during a hard week I'll ask my boss if it would be possible for me to keep my same job and pay but we just get rid of all the employees, and he's like "no."

So anyway it's a joke when I say it.
posted by phunniemee at 5:14 PM on June 5 [29 favorites]


On the other hand, I'm shocked with the amount of speculation and misinterpretation going on as well.

The users: “What’d we learn today, mods??”
Mods: “NOT A GOD DAMN THING!!!”
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 5:18 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


What I would like to do is take the next few days to work together with you (the community at large) to stop the speculation and focus on the valid points being raised to synthesize and prioritize them.

We should start by throwing a link to this thread in the site banner so we can really get the community input we need.
posted by snofoam at 5:19 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


I'm shocked with the amount of speculation and misinterpretation going on as well.

That's what happens when a crowd of people have a lot of questions and nobody answers them. Situations like this are where, imo, more mod presence would help because questions would get answered and people wouldn't have to speculate.

Right now I'm waiting to see how many threads it takes for a mod team to decide what to do about a problematic power user. One more than this? Two? Three? I don't see the point. Either they get a time out, they get a talking to, or they get a ban, any one of which could have been done and announced a few hundred comments ago. But sure, kick it around in committee a while longer - that'll definitely stop people leaving because nothing gets solved.
posted by cmyk at 5:25 PM on June 5 [24 favorites]


On the other hand, I'm shocked with the amount of speculation and misinterpretation going on as well.

This is nothing to be shocked about, this is 100% a sign that you guys are not communicating well enough and not doing things correctly. As previously pointed out, we've had several instances of actions by mods, the community being unhappy about them, and then nothing at all happening despite assurances, and just running out the clock hoping that people would forget about it.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:34 PM on June 5 [28 favorites]


2718 characters of "give jerk-butts a chance" and yet not a single mention (let alone tears shed) for the many users "jerk-butts" have chased off the site.

My failure to speak of that in this conversation does not mean that those sentiments don't exist. I wasn't aware I had to demonstrate those sentiments in order for you to listen to my opinions.

Is there anything else you'd like me to tell you in order for you to actually read my comments instead of just counting the characters? Any other way I could validate my opinion in your eyes? Do tell.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:38 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


What I would like to do is take the next few days to work together with you (the community at large) to stop the speculation and focus on the valid points being raised to synthesize and prioritize them. Maybe each one of them needs an individual Meta? Maybe they can be grouped in categories? I don't know, this is something we can figure out together.

Okay fuck it, I'll engage in good faith. Would you mind giving a few examples of what you think are valid points? We can't really determine the superstructure of how to have a conversation about valid points if we don't know what they are. Some might require separate threads; many or most would not. Nor is it likely the community will stop speculating without answers about what conversation we're even having, right now.
posted by penduluum at 5:45 PM on June 5 [9 favorites]


I'm weirdly starting to think only absolutely egregious violations of policy should be deleted and instead mods should go wild with notes instead. It would let us know their thoughts and leave a record instead of memory-holing and confusing everything. I might not like it in practice, I don't know; but maybe it would be easier than whatever this struggle is, which seems to be a pattern that repeats itself here, in a cyclical fashion.

You're not alone. Deletions often make some kind of sense to those who saw the comments before they were deleted, but everyone else wanders in and becomes instantly confused as to what the fuck is going on. I've read all of the nonsense this thread is about and still don't really have any idea what happened, apart from a general sense.
Often, there's no clear way to delete some comments but not others without increasing the confusion. More use of notes as 'nudges' would retain the context for those of us not constantly refreshing threads and following every single comment as they appear. Less deletion would prevent bad behaviour being (inadvertently) covered up and provide for better accountability around people who behave badly.

This issue definitely repeats itself over and over and every time it comes up, it creates huge amounts of ill-will and anger that is at least in part because half the people have no idea what actually happened in the first place. Leaving whatever behaviour started the yelling in place (egregious violations excluded, albeit with a note that something was deleted) with clear and consistent push-back from mods would at least help put everyone on the same page over what happened.

I have a lot of sympathy for the mod team and value everything they do, acknowledging they miss-step sometimes as we all do. However, I very much miss the part of MeTa where people got to have honest conversations with that team (even back when that was a team of one) and where concerns were responded to openly and plainly. I feel like the mods often try hard not to offend anyone and offer wishy-washy responses when an unambiguous response along the lines of 'this is unacceptable, stop doing that shit' is called for. The notion that there is some far-fetched process of protecting specific users and allowing them to block other uses is an example - I don't believe for a moment that anyone (mods or others) really believed this was at all true and a moderator saying 'I don't know if that's true or not' about something that was clearly not true was

Being a moderator in a place like this means you are never going to be able to please everyone, so better to speak plainly - the current softly-softly approach is not working and makes things worse. Similarly, the thing that's happening in this thread where we talk out the side of our mouths about 'a user' is bullshit - if someone is acting badly, they should be called out by name and be given a chance to present their side of things. People are here pretending not to be dumping on a specific person when that's exactly what they are doing, but with a side of plausible deniability because they 'not calling out anyone personally'. Maybe they deserve it, I don't know, but give them the respect of naming them and let them defend themselves if they wish to.

MetaTalk is supposed to be where we hash out concerns about how the community is working. Doing that without moderators being part of the conversation is largely a waste of time. People come to MeTa because they care about what happens here and most of them aren't afraid to tell it how they see it. The moderation team is entitled to and should act in the same way.
posted by dg at 5:53 PM on June 5 [46 favorites]


I mean, I can think of at least two people who now stay away from this site because of the way A User loves to suck up all the oxygen in almost every FPP.

It me! Breaking my lurk to say that A User is who drove me off the site with his "won't someone think of the poor billionaires?" meta post. After all the ups and downs of 19 years on the site, one person managed to make me walk away when it became obvious that he was more important to the mods than the entire rest of the community. I was actually pondering a return recently but the total mod malpractice in these two Metas have convinced me to stay away.
posted by octothorpe at 5:57 PM on June 5 [54 favorites]


Fuckin’ amen dg
posted by hototogisu at 5:58 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


It is, of course, the mods who apparently *want* us to pretend we're talking about some abstract user.
posted by sagc at 5:58 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, I'm shocked with the amount of speculation and misinterpretation going on as well.

Yes. We're all trying to find the guy who did this.
posted by bowmaniac at 6:05 PM on June 5 [42 favorites]


The whole "valid points" thing is misdirection. If the community raises concerns about what we think are problems with mod policy/practice, but the mods get to decide which ones of those concerns are "valid points" and not, then that's a problem in itself. There's no accountability.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:11 PM on June 5 [9 favorites]


"I looked directly at the Reddit discussion, Ray!" -- Egon, Ghostbusters

Nah, it just looks like a bunch of people who decided to live in bitch-eating-crackers mode 24/7.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:24 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


I just favorited Bowmaniac’s post, but I am not him.
posted by bowbeacon at 6:25 PM on June 5 [16 favorites]


I agree that more notes would be good when comments are deleted. Always leave a note.
posted by interogative mood at 6:47 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


People are here pretending not to be dumping on a specific person when that's exactly what they are doing, but with a side of plausible deniability because they 'not calling out anyone personally'.

a lot of users are annoyed by hippybear and think moderation should be taken about them that is a fact that will be either be dealt with, or not, by the moderation staff.

I'm a moderator and this part of the job sucks out loud, ngl, but waffly 'let's talk about this' posts aren't either of those things.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:05 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


a bunch of people who decided to live in bitch-eating-crackers mode 24/7.

Metafilter: a bunch of people who— [I am violently pulled off stage by a cane]
posted by brook horse at 7:05 PM on June 5 [37 favorites]


On the other hand, I'm shocked with the amount of speculation and misinterpretation going on as well.

Gambling, Casablanca, beautiful friendships, etc.
posted by paper scissors sock at 7:08 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


I came into this thread absolutely ready to rage about threaded comments...
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:58 PM on June 5 [19 favorites]


Someone made a wildly inaccurate assertions about how mods were going to back him up if someone he didn't like commented about his comments. The mods saw the comment and were active in the thread, but it took the better part of two days to get an unequivocal statement that the user was "severely mistaken."

Mods should know what they will or won't do and it should be trivial to correct statements that are severely mistaken about themselves. There shouldn't need to be some consensus building phase on the mod slack channel or a chance to hear from the community before doing this. Unfortunate that Brandon thought he could delete comments but not simply correct a false statement.
posted by mark k at 8:22 PM on June 5 [22 favorites]


FYI I've also learned you should never ever ever ask questions of the mods in a meta thread.

Always contact the mods directly, it seems to work faster and I believe it works better for the mod team. I think they all can see it, which means you're going to get a response quickly from whomever is on deck at the moment or next, and followup if needed.

I think that direct contact is generally preferred, even for non mods?
posted by Chrysopoeia at 8:25 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


One of the things I like about metafilter, something I so wish was true in the broader world, was the idea that if someone was here, they are worthy of respect until they do something to lose it. not sure if that is how my brain has always worked, or just what I learned in terms of morality, but that's how I tend to think.

I also have been misunderstood and misread a lot in my life. My experience is that it is really hard to know what people's motivations are, even if they are a good friend I'm looking directly at, they may misunderstand me, or I them. So I'm personally reluctant to assume I know what sort of person is speaking when it's a relative stranger who I only know from a discussion site.

I just hope, if I'm ever coming across as rude, inconsiderate, violate some rule of decorum or etiquette, appear biased, or you aren't sure what I mean, you'll reach out to me directly, and engage, not just tell me not to interact with you or be rude to me. I try not to do that with others, and I hope others will try not to do that with me. I'll certainly listen if people do that. I've found it much harder to engage when people create their own version of what I've done and said and express that without engaging with me? Like I still have no idea how to respond if I've done something upsetting, how to acknowledge that harm, if people have made up a whole understanding about me that isn't true to my self understanding. Sometimes I need to reflect. But also sometimes people are just widely off base.

Generally that isn't something I've experienced, but when it has it has been very hard for me. So I'd like to avoid it here. If I'm discussing here, or arguing on here, it's for something I believe, not against someone. I think most people read me that way, even if sometime people think I'm too nice, or naive or something.

If there is someone I can't trust or don't want to engage with on here, then I can set a personal boundary and choose not engage with them. Please note I mean a person boundary, which is for me a choice about my behavior and actions. That's different from an ultimatum, which would be for someone else.

I'd only resort to something like that if they seemed to be repeatedly harassing me or a marginalized group I belong to, and I'd bring it to the mods.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 8:27 PM on June 5 [16 favorites]


Always contact the mods directly, it seems to work faster and I believe it works better for the mod team. I think they all can see it, which means you're going to get a response quickly from whomever is on deck at the moment or next, and followup if needed.

I decided to stay after my shift rereading this thread and the previous one, catching up with the new comments while pulling some numbers from the site to address some of the points raised and making notes about comments that need to be addressed. After 6 more hours in front of the computer I only know that my next reply will be a lengthy one and will not even be enough to address half of what I would like to address. By the time I post it, there will be a ton of extra comments that need to be addressed. So, I could not agree more with this comment.
posted by loup (staff) at 8:43 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Cannon Fodder: You know I said this in a previous meta talk, but I strongly believe metatalk is not fit for purpose. We have countless examples of threads on honestly relatively trivial things which lead to long standing members deciding to quit their participation of the website.
If possible, join or help organize a group for presenting employee problems to the management. See that the procedures adopted are as inconvenient as possible for the management, involving the presence of a large number of employees at each presentation, entailing more than one meeting for each grievance, bringing up problems which are largely imaginary, and so on. -Simple Sabotage Field Manual
posted by ctmf at 9:03 PM on June 5 [11 favorites]


Always contact the mods directly, it seems to work faster and I believe it works better for the mod team.

It can work worse for the community sometimes though, as it only gets an answer to one person.
posted by Dysk at 9:08 PM on June 5 [20 favorites]


The biggest issue with this website is the stubborn lack of transparency around moderation.

And while I want and choose to believe that the mods’ hearts are in the right place, even if I strongly disagree with their approach, there has been a noticeable shift on their part toward bland, corporate HR pseudo-therapy speak, which is a sign that this probably isn’t going to get better. I feel like the mods are hoping this will “all blow over” but this problem isn’t going to go away without banning someone. It just isn’t.
posted by nightrecordings at 9:36 PM on June 5 [21 favorites]


And only communicating policies in private to one person at a time can result in confusion and misunderstandings. For example, the “We can only post one MeTa thread per day” policy may have been communicated in private to half a dozen users who were asking why their MeTa post seemed to be held up in the queue indefinitely. But when it is finally acknowledged in public, the mods may be left thinking “Come on, we’ve said this half a dozen times already, it’s established policy,” but to 99.9% of the users, the policy seems to come out of nowhere, seemingly invented suddenly to delay a discussion in favor of a comments-disabled informational post.
posted by JiBB at 9:46 PM on June 5 [15 favorites]


If individual users contact the mods, can we then post your responses here? Is that somehow a more efficient way of getting answers out to the community?
posted by lapis at 10:09 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Always contact the mods directly, it seems to work faster and I believe it works better for the mod team. I think they all can see it, which means you're going to get a response quickly from whomever is on deck at the moment or next, and followup if needed.

Though I'm sure this is more convenient for the mods, it's also completely opaque, has no for users to know that two different users would get the same response, and, in general, has no accountability or transparency for anyone but the actual user asking.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:19 PM on June 5 [22 favorites]


In the past, posting communication with the mods publicly was explicitly forbidden and punished. If the preferred method for determining and disseminating site policy is it going to be asking and being told privately, do users need to ask each time if they can share said policy with others, or is the ban on sharing communications with the mods and artifact of previous times and no longer policy?

(Or, should I have asked this question privately, and then asked if I may share the answer with anyone else?)
posted by JiBB at 10:26 PM on June 5 [14 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "Nah, it just looks like a bunch of people who decided to live in bitch-eating-crackers mode 24/7."

A whole diffuse toxic network of such places has sprung up in the last 2-3 years for just about every community, fandom, and influencer you can think of, from "sneer clubs" for forums to LibsOfTikTok-style Twitter accounts to "snark" pages targeting women on Instagram (I was even on a small webcomic-related one until last year, though in fairness the author had turned into a *literal* Nazi).

Despite the wide range of subject matter, they're all weirdly similar -- endless circlejerks of jeering ex-/anti-fans spending a bizarre amount of their time obsessively hatewatching their pet objects of scorn for years on end, performatively mocking and insulting them to pander to other haters. And while they can hit on valid criticisms at times, their meanspiritedness often crosses the line into trolling, harassment, and even stalking -- that tends to happen when you found a "community" on the deeply unhealthy premise that regular people are cartoon villains deserving of constant sneering contempt. The skewed, uncharitable, othering portrayal of targets combined with the usual algorithmic social media BS supercharges this dynamic and rewards the worst offenders with ad dollars and reach.

I suspect Twitter's abandonment of moderation, Reddit's boosting of ragebait, and Facebook/Instagram's de-emphasis of political content (in favor of non-political engagement fodder) are all playing a role in the broad rise of this phenomenon in the last few years. And I appreciate that the mods here make an effort to blunt such ugly pileons, even when the target nominally deserves it. It feels cathartic in the moment, but it's cruel and unhealthy.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:06 PM on June 5 [30 favorites]


Kboards forum used to have a rule "don't bring outside drama here" and it extended to references to discussions of the forum happening elsewhere. Instant delete and progress towards a ban if repeated. Was remarkably effective.
posted by Zumbador at 11:26 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Always contact the mods directly, it seems to work faster and I believe it works better for the mod team.
Direct individual contact is great for specific issues relating only to one user and far better than dragging a minor conflict or issue into the flames of MeTa.

But, for issues that impact the community more broadly, this is a really bad way to go. Doing this would adversely impact literally everyone involved. I can't imagine anyone seriously believes this is a good idea, notwithstanding loup's comment to the contrary. If anyone does believe this, they haven't thought through the ramifications at all.
posted by dg at 11:56 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


There is also a huge potential for misunderstandings if we start communicating site policy or other mod positions via a game of telephone. I mean, that is the exact process by which we were all told that A User had special privileges from the mod team, after all.
posted by Dysk at 12:27 AM on June 6 [22 favorites]


Mods should know what they will or won't do

Should, for sure. But this isn't on the new guy. Part of the history of the situation here is that modding has been, and I am not able or willing to bring receipts here... deeply bespoke. Personalized. Case-by-case. Lots of informal history, mods accounting for some users' personal lives as best they know them, understanding that this mod is going to handle that.

With the best of intentions! Isn't personalization and responsiveness good? Well, I've learned some things about why what's good in 1:1 can be a problem in a group. But warriorqueen's input is more useful.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:35 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


I'll just tap the "public moderation log" sign again.
posted by Klipspringer at 12:35 AM on June 6 [19 favorites]


And not to abuse edit: I laughed off the asserted privileges, but then loup's comments made me think (as brook horse's reading has laid out) that actually maybe a mod would think about that, if the vibes were right. Who knows anything.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:40 AM on June 6 [6 favorites]


A few thoughts:
1) Ah, fuck, not schmod :( Brandon: cooling off, whatever, but if you can coax them back please, please do so. Schmod: if you are reading this please know you are already deeply missed.

2) ArtW: faaahk. Understandable, but please don’t stay away too long. I’ve been pretty upfront in my usual awkward way that you’re one of my favorites despite how often we disagree. I really dig the way you challenge me in AI threads.

3) Dysk, thank you for every comment you’ve made in this thread. Nailed every point I felt needed raising, and in a super timely fashion.

4) Why in the hell am I just now finding out that using “deadnaming” to refer to the whole Twitter/X collective policy thing (where we ignore Elon’s BS rename until he quits his virulently transphobic behavior towards his own daughter) is considered inappropriate? Even though the actual policy itself passes? I just wrote a comment only a couple of days ago and this slid right by.

Where can I go to look up similar stuff in the future? I realize nobody owes me shit nor should I expect them to do work for me, but there are so many things like this and it is impossible to keep track of how they all develop. Not hurting others - anywhere really, but particularly not on Metafilter - is actually super important to me.
posted by Ryvar at 2:34 AM on June 6 [13 favorites]


One other thing: I have a twenty-two year history of advocating for lighter moderation on this site which, problematically, extends back to my early (and shameful) edgelord free-speech-absolutist years. Other people without that problematic history have written eloquently about the issues with current moderation and so I leave that to them.

On the subject of implementation, however, I would like to suggest that any and all unambiguous hatespeech should continue to be deleted outright with a mod note. Beyond the overt, where the community draws on the line on what deserves similar treatment for some of the more detailed aspects of, say, LGBT discourse is not a thing a straight cis dude can or should be weighing in on so I won’t.

For things that are outside positionality-based exclusion and oppression, however, I would like to suggest that the presentation in-thread is a mod note, containing at the end a default-collapsed copy of the quarantined, not deleted comment or - UI benefit here - disruptive chain of comments neatly grouped in sequence. Expanding these collapsed comments should require two clicks - neither more (disability) nor less (minimizing accidental initiation of further grar).

The idea is to allow the moderators to continue having tools for re-railing a thread, while providing users transparency so that we can have meaningful and informed discussions about thread moderation when the stakes are less than exclusion of Mefites from marginalized groups.
posted by Ryvar at 2:57 AM on June 6 [10 favorites]


Why in the hell am I just now finding out that using “deadnaming” to refer to the whole Twitter/X collective policy thing (where we ignore Elon’s BS rename until he quits his virulently transphobic behavior towards his own daughter) is considered inappropriate?

I mean, it seems fairly obvious to me, in the same way the e.g. the common use of "rape" to talk about video game defeats was pushed back on as problematic back in the day. Using a term that describes something awful (and/or discriminatory)bto refer to things that are significantly less awful, even if they are on some level analogous, is just not a good idea.
posted by Dysk at 3:23 AM on June 6 [12 favorites]


Where can I go to look up similar stuff in the future? I realize nobody owes me shit nor should I expect them to do work for me, but there are so many things like this and it is impossible to keep track of how they all develop. Not hurting others - anywhere really, but particularly not on Metafilter - is actually super important to me.

Unfortunately this is demonstrably not a priority for staff, as the problem of policy documentation being spread across multiple pages, the wiki, and a quarter century of metatalk threads has been identified and acknowledged for years without a whole lot being accomplished (the good work of the BIPOC committee and the transition committee notwithstanding).
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:34 AM on June 6 [6 favorites]


if mods are asking for input, i'd like to offer:

1. nth the suggestion that comment deletions (with or without mod notes) be replaced solely by mod notes--except for extremely egregious cases of outright hate speech, threats of violence, doxxing or the like, which i presume a user would be banned for anyway.

2. if the note is ignored, a follow-up emphasising like "no fr quit it", as it's entirely possible folks are still slapping away at their keyboards while the note is posted and haven't hit preview. if that's ignored, the user(s) gets a day off.

3. this should go without saying but repeat offenses ought warrant the mod team to consider longer timeouts.

in terms of how this situation has been handled thus far, i think the above could have headed off a lot of tangles that resulted.

but i gotta say, i'm kind of at a loss to understand how you can simultaneously stay very hands off in this discussion, not offer immediate and clear responses when this whole thing started, and then complain about having to play catch-up. a clear, succinct, and no-room-for-doubt response to several users repeating the same question in the previous thread would have foregone all this mess.

i have worked in site moderation with a staff of folks on different shifts and i know things can get lost in the shuffle, real life intervenes and so on. i sympathise with that. but you can also let folks know "hey it's gonna take some time for us to go over all this, can y'all please hold off while we catch up, we'll drop back in as fast as possible" or the like. let folks know you're reading, considering, discussing, and will return to offer input at a particular time or date. that would likely cut down on a lot of the speculation; if people don't know what's happening, what else are they gonna do?

on the subject of users being consistently problematic but still running wild, as i said i've been on this site since 2008. i also have seen awful users who turn a new leaf and become important contributors. i also know users who were unrepentant shitbishops who kept right on slingin it until they were ultimately banned. none of us have the data breakdown as to which scenario is more common. what i do know is, we should be basing moderation decisions on what is happening now; not what may happen at some point in the future. there's a whole lot of spectrum between laissez-faire and outright bans, and i think those should be reached for more often in the interests of making the community feel safer and more welcoming, and allowing the benefit of the doubt that a user can grow and change if given the time to cool off and reflect.

forgive the wall of text pls
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:34 AM on June 6 [25 favorites]


It does seem like clarity here shouldn’t be that hard for the mods. I’m surprised at the delay, and the pushing off, unless they’re just waiting for this thread to lose steam so they can comment. But that still seems off? Modding is tough but it’s past time to answer some of the recurring unsettled questions on policy.

Metafilter is a place that made me better and more thoughtful. I think the wrong people here are taking a break because of the activities of other User who should take a reflective break.

Let’s get this figured out sooner than later.
posted by glaucon at 3:50 AM on June 6 [10 favorites]


Using a term that describes something awful (and/or discriminatory) to refer to things that are significantly less awful, even if they are on some level analogous, is just not a good idea.

(And I should add that this counts double if it's something usually wielded against a minority group you aren't a member of.)
posted by Dysk at 4:04 AM on June 6 [12 favorites]


Dysk: the extent to which that broader approach is obvious depends heavily on one’s ability to predict likely social norms. Some of us rely on parroting because humans do not have consistent behaviors we can extrapolate, they only have culture requiring bulk memorization of tens of thousands of rules. Attempting to predict what people will deem reasonable has no outcome other than extreme public humiliation. Not ever. Of course this is also frequently the outcome of parroting as well (as in this case, where I was parroting two in-group co-workers) so the logical conclusion is to just stop talking to anyone, ever. Communication is always, always a mistake.
posted by Ryvar at 4:22 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


After 6 more hours in front of the computer I only know that my next reply will be a lengthy one and will not even be enough to address half of what I would like to address. By the time I post it, there will be a ton of extra comments that need to be addressed.

Are you seeking sympathy, for needing to do your job.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:26 AM on June 6 [27 favorites]


the logical conclusion is to just stop talking to anyone, ever

pretty sure you're kidding but it's also fine to not know a thing, ask, and learn. which you did! indeed some stuff is obvious to some and not others; i think asking was the right call. i for one appreciate it, and wish more people asked.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:35 AM on June 6 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I did specifically say that it seemed obvious to me. I realise that it might not for others, which is why I explained my thought process for getting to that position.
posted by Dysk at 4:39 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


I think most of what is going on in this thread (and similar earlier threads) is a conflict between a longstanding community dynamic/expectation that mods would participate actively in these threads, answer questions, explain themselves, etc., but Loup (and others I suppose) have decided that they just aren’t going to do that. If we were writing on a blank slate, someone might make a good case that the active participation model is not optimal, but the site has like a 15+ year history of doing things that way, so it seems like a weird silence/vacuum when the mods are largely absent from the discussion. Saying that people can contact the mods on a 1-on-1 basis totally ignores this issue. I guess if the idea is that the mods can no longer participate in that way, that is what it is, but it should be clearly/directly recognized and the downsides for the community should be acknowledged - not waved away. A different model for mods (e.g., volunteers, new blood, etc.) might be able to be more active, which is what I think is what people are generally saying they want.
posted by Mid at 4:56 AM on June 6 [14 favorites]


Mod note: Hi, just popping in to say I'll on duty for a few hours. Loup, as mentioned, is working on response to various points, so that'll be along later. No, there's not a particular timeframe on that and I personally get it, as the questions I answered yesterday took up a lot of time (which is fine).

My only suggestion at this point would be for members to mention anything they feel has not be answered, with say a tag at the beginning, like #pleaseanswer so it's clear what people are asking for.

I might chime on anything that pops up during my shift, but otherwise, I'm just listening for the moment
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 5:05 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


People are literally screaming for answers, so it’s probably best to just pull up a chair and listen.
posted by bowbeacon at 5:08 AM on June 6 [13 favorites]


#pleaseanswer what's going to happen to kensington314 if they eat that cheese, i am very worried
posted by phunniemee at 5:21 AM on June 6 [12 favorites]


#pleaseanswer why is everyone screaming at me
posted by nobody at 5:22 AM on June 6 [6 favorites]


I flagged Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane's comment as fantastic. I am saying this because I think it's useful, particularly in this thread, to talk about tools that we have available to us, whatever the concern (those raised in this thread or otherwise). I occasionally:

* Use the contact form
* Flag posts I consider bad
* Flag posts I consider great
* Flag comments I consider bad
* Flag comments I consider great

I do this to elevate concerns to mods' attention, both things I see as issues and things that I see are models for how to MetaFilter well.

Many here are radical transparency and/or free speech folks, a view I respect but to which MetaTalk is perhaps the most serious counter in my life. I appreciate the good-faith efforts here (occasionally that includes good-faith snark and humor!), but I think MetaTalk just isn't serving its stated purpose well anymore. There's always been a lot of storm and strife here, but the combination of simmering resentment, interpersonal problems, and moderation challenges now frequently overwhelms the subsite. I think this is damaging MetaFilter in multiple ways, from hurting individual MeFites to permanently driving away longtime MeFites to drawing engagement away from the rest of the site. Users may have differing opinions over whether that's a good or bad thing, given how important people feel addressing issues like those in play in this thread to be.

I'm removing the last few MetaTalk posts from my "Recent Activity," and I encourage you to consider doing the same, fellow MeFites, unless you have constructive ideas to offer about the topic of this post that you have not already shared.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:34 AM on June 6 [10 favorites]


Mod note: Several comments removed about past offsite activity removed at user's request. Please completely drop that derail and do no bring it up any further.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 5:37 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


I agree with cupcakeninja on both counts: Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane has done a good job of outlining a basic solution that can be implemented without waiting for Metafilter's eventual reorganization and without a great technical burden (remembering that the benefits of 'hiding' vs deletion have been brought up in many prior threads). But also, losing X number of users per Metatalk is not a sustainable strategy, either professionally or emotionally.
posted by mittens at 5:48 AM on June 6 [5 favorites]


#pleaseanswer how this all went so poorly.
#pleaseanswer why a one-MeTa-a-day was invoked out of nowhere.
#pleaseanswer why the mods don't know if a user can request someone never speak to them again.
#pleaseanswer why it was thought to be a good idea or policy to delete the derail but not the derailing comment, fail to address the initial comment, and delete non-derail, non-fighty comments. Did training fail somewhere?
#pleaseanswer why mods are always proposing a future discussion, instead of participating in the community.
#pleaseanswer why mods still haven't taken any action about hippybear
#pleaseanswer why mods decided to delay this post for the utterly facile "a user" elision
#pleaseanswer why Loup doesn't seem to have been aware of what was actually deleted in the previous thread, and based their comments on only what was still up
#pleaseanswer why it's so hard for mods to simply clearly communicate things while they're doing them
#pleaseanswer why no other mods have lent their perspective to this
#pleasenaswer why mods are seemingly incapable of actually keeping up with these threads, and instead need us to do all the work of summarizing our own posts
#pleaseanswer why this all seems so difficult.
#pleaseanswer.
posted by sagc at 5:48 AM on June 6 [31 favorites]


#PleaseAnswer

Why do people here feel so entitled; and as a follow up, why are they allowed to be so cruel to the staff?
posted by terrapin at 6:00 AM on June 6 [11 favorites]


Because we've been asking the staff to do the job the community pays them to for literally years, and they keep doing whatever this is, instead. If pointing that out and requesting that the moderators actually moderate instead of kicking the hornet's nest then vanishing for days is unacceptable to the community, I'm happy to close and wipe my account.
posted by Alterscape at 6:03 AM on June 6 [32 favorites]


#pleaseanswer how many people have turned off their recurring donations in the last month

#pleaseanswer how many people have buttoned in the last month
posted by phunniemee at 6:06 AM on June 6 [23 favorites]


There really were a lot of funny jokes on this website back in the day, it still does some things well but not that anymore, not for years
posted by Kwine at 6:13 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


You want to talk about people being cruel to staff? The comments hippybear made towards Brandon in his deleted thread are also really gross, as though he were expected to snap to for this user's requests. (It had a very "You there, boy! Take care of this now! I know you have a problem with me but you better do what I say!") So we have a user that has been awful to another user AND staff and yet we are expected to be patient about why this problematic behaviour has not been addressed.
posted by Kitteh at 6:14 AM on June 6 [36 favorites]


Why do people here feel so entitled

yes why, the entitlement, why


Golly it's like this entire embarrassment was sparked off by a user's unbelievable entitlement in re their access to the mods.
posted by phunniemee at 6:14 AM on June 6 [16 favorites]


Terrapin, what, specifically, do you feel users are being "entitled" about?
posted by bowbeacon at 6:16 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


#pleaseanswer I guess? Again I’m not sure what the new posts will be so can move this comment there later if needed.

I think when a decision is taken that the primary communication with the mods should be 1:1, there are consequences on the community engagement end. For issues that are more individual of course it makes sense. But when it’s about community norms, one consequence is that the application of the rules becomes opaque and you can lose people to that feeling of “I don’t know what’s happening or why.” Discomfort lowers engagement.

This is another example of how the best strictly moderation activities, where 1:1 discussion lowers the stress on mods and may stop some arguing/feedback, don’t always align with actively engaging and managing community growth and engagement.

I kind of agree that MetaTalk has a toxic edge to it. If I were running the site, I would be looking to change it and also introduce other tools, but I don’t think this is a good point for that given the coming changes. But this discussion started in large part because a MetaTalk was visibly inconsistently moderated, touching on the perception that A User has been inconsistently moderated, as well as new-to-me-anyway rules around the queue. I think this is an opportunity to confirm what those current practices are with the community. Is MetaTalk now moderated for derails? Will warnings be given before deletions? If people are told to take a discussion to a new MetaTalk what’s the time frame? (Because as we saw, the discussion continued so it doesn’t really seem to work if there’s a long gap.) what’s the expectation for mod participation? Etc.

Long term I think there needs to be a shift in approach but that’s one opinion and a whole other thing.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:20 AM on June 6 [16 favorites]


Oh also one point I forgot to make.

Your moderation practices do not impact only the people moderated. People who notice also are impacted. So even if in the day-to-day you see one person buttoned visibly, you don’t know how many people are drifting away - each time they read or hear things or wonder where a poster went and see their account is gone, it may lower not only their trust but their willingness to take risks - to post and comment.

In the TT survey we learned one of the big reasons people don’t post/comment is esoteric-feeling norms and that they can’t “get it right” so why bother. I worry that the moderation norms may be starting to feed into that, although I do see a number of mod notes. Sometime those notes are a bit opaque though.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:35 AM on June 6 [23 favorites]


Saw all those hashtags in Recently Activity and came in to tell you people to stop making a bloody mess, but upon CTRL-Fing to see who's great idea that was... carry on, I suppose.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:42 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


So the comment about special privilege did serve to kick this off, but people are way too fixated on it. It doesn't read as a real thing*, so why would anyone believe that it's true? Similarly Brandon "I am going to check up on this" makes perfect sense; it's not really enough to say "that's not a thing" -- the mod ought to have some idea of how the user got the idea that it is a thing and a sense of the history of interactions that might have led to it. The reading of this as a weird special permissions conspiracy with the mods is making an extreme jump on unsupported facts.

The much more important issue was the scattershot deleting of comments (some of which probably needed it, others definitely not) which wildly exacerbated the problem. Another issue is the ongoing behavior of A User (and I think this circumlocution is odd and not great; it's not like we are talking about abstract behaviors), and, while I imagine the mods don't want a tribunal in MeTa (as we have had before), we have dealt effectively with disruptive members in the past, and I'm not clear why the lessons learned then aren't being applied now.

#pleaseanswer An additional problem seems to be that individual mods are taking actions and promising responses, and then it is left to them to continue the process on their next shift. Given the thinness of coverage, this isn't really workable, especially in a fast moving thread. Maybe the mods need to have a better system for "continuing action" across shifts? It won't be perfect, but it should be better than this.

* #pleaseanswer the exception to this is the wording brook horse provided which suggests there is a process by which a user can demand another user not interact with them on the main site. This seems absurd to me, as it would take an exceptional amount of mode time for a two-person dispute, and most cases where it's invoked would certainly involve abuse or harassment, and that kind of behavior should result in time outs and or bans, not complicated work arounds.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:44 AM on June 6 [12 favorites]


As a person who has been here off and on since 2004 and did the full button/account wipe option a while ago - the thing I notice is there's so much distance now between the moderation and ownership of the site and the membership.

Time was the moderators were users of the site and their moderation blended with them being members of the site. Even the site owners were accessible and part of the conversation. There were a lot of difficulties with that, particularly burnout, but it did feel like everyone was a Metafilter member first.

And at some point, I don't exactly know where, the decision was made that we needed moderation to become more...professional I guess? Policies were developed, responses or opinions became more official/hierarchical, and suddenly the site's staff needed to get "feedback" on things because it seemed like they were further and further out of touch with actually being members.

A recent example that illustrates this past this whole thing - in a site update, it was mentioned that a project would be undertaken to review all the site's static copy. This after a bunch of other rewriting projects or fixing instances where things are misspelled on the site. And meanwhile, it seems like the non-profit board (and the transition team before it) suffer from the load needing to be carried to be part of these things being so high and decisions made behind the scenes not to hire administrative support that would have been a resource to them. And the members expressing the need over and over for better accessibility, communications, and getting new members. And so it is very easy to conclude that what "we" think does not align with what "you" think as moderators, and then instances like this feel very like confirmations of that distance.

This isn't a perfect analogy, but it feels like we were once a local pub whose owner used to yell out "everyone - stop pissing on the floor because nobody else here wants to stand in your piss" from time to time and then got sold and we got a new owner who posts more official signs like "Patrons who create excessive mess in the bathrooms may be asked to leave. Sincerely, Management." The content is the same, but the distance from it as people who congregate here is radically different. This doesn't feel like our pub anymore.

And I think that more than answering what are now a sheer volume of questions, or adjusting policies, or whatever else is involved in the official response that will be coming at some point - there needs to be a perspective shift on moderation here. We need mods who talk with the members, not to the members.

Like I was really excited when Brandon was made a mod because I appreciate his general honesty and accessibility, and I hoped he'd be able to moderate the way Jessamyn did (her own opinions were very clearly here even if they clashed with Matt or Cortex at times) but it feels like everyone needs to wait and defer to what Loup will say more "officially", which completely neuters the benefit that was accrued by having a very active member become a moderator.
posted by openhearted at 6:49 AM on June 6 [58 favorites]


I think people are fixated on it because it *was* so absurd, but a shockingly large amount of verbiage by the mods was dedicated to explaining that it might not have been absurd, up to and including Loup's description of how (maybe? It's not the clearest) hippybear was right, despite it being a "misunderstanding" - see brook horse's summarization. That's not event to go into the fact that mod behaviour also made it seem like a less-than-absurd claim.
posted by sagc at 6:51 AM on June 6 [11 favorites]


Actually I think the floor pissing analogy is the best summary of this whole thing I've heard yet.
posted by phunniemee at 6:55 AM on June 6 [19 favorites]


We need mods who talk with the members, not to the members.

Emphasizing this part from openhearted's excellent comment. This is very much how it feels to me, and it comes across as belittling. Loup making a comment to point out that they spent extra time to read the thread is a prime example. The community is spending time and emotional energy to write these comments, and it's apparently a burden for the mods to read them. Okay then. If the people getting paid don't care enough to read the comments down here, why should the users bother?

This is exacerbated by multiple metatalk threads where issues are brought up, and then no real answers are given, no changes are made, and the threads run out of steam and fizzle away. The problem is that each of those are causing the people who bring up the problems in good faith to run out of steam and fizzle away too.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 7:06 AM on June 6 [29 favorites]


#pleaseanswer why Loup doesn't seem to have been aware of what was actually deleted in the previous thread, and based their comments on only what was still up

This in particular, since it is demonstrably possible to un-delete comments, which means they are visible to mods, which means "I don't know what was posted" coming from a mod is, well, it is just not true.

Anyway, this whole business leaves just a super bad taste in my mouth. I'm not a fan of public flagellation - and Metas are 100% public, I can read this in incognito mode - regardless of whether the flagellee is deserving of reprimand. This whole business could have been avoided if the initial problematic behavior were properly handled. But it wasn't, and continues not to be. What a shitshow.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:07 AM on June 6 [12 favorites]


#pleaseanswer

Reposting from above:

Special privileges are absolutely not a thing, that user was severely mistaken in making those comments. Yes, that's an official statement.

Thank you for clarifying that no one has special privileges. Could you further clarify whether you are also stating that the below process outlined by Loup (with my interpretation of the actions involved which may not be entirely correct) is NOT POLICY?

Step 1:

In MeMail, yes, you can request that someone cease contacting you, or block them.

Action: Block user using the MeMail block button.

Result: Individual is no longer able to contact you via MeMail because they are blocked.

Step 2:

If you, or any other member keep receiving unwanted reactions from a member in particular, you can MeFi Mail them and explicitly ask them to cease contact.

Action: Send a MeMail to the user in question requesting you stop contacting them outside of MeMail as well (in Step 1, the individual was blocked from MeMail, so this is explicitly referring to contact outside of MeMail).

Result: Individual receives a MeMail with this request.

Step 3:

If they persist after the request to cease contact you can reach out to us to step in.

Action: Reach out to mod about the fact that this person is contacting you despite being blocked via MeMail.

Result: Mod enforces outside of MeMail contact as well (as no contact via MeMail is already enforced via site coding of blocking, unless the the block button doesn’t actually do anything?).

Therefore mods enforce no contact requests outside of MeMail.


If it IS policy, am I correct in assuming it is accessible to all users (no special privileges required to access it)? Is there somewhere this is outlined, and what are the standards for approving such a request?
posted by brook horse at 7:08 AM on June 6 [7 favorites]


Yeah -- I don't like talking about closing my account because it's a little "stomping my feet and threatening to take my toys and go home" but Sparky Buttons 100% has it. I've been a member of this community for 18 years, and I credit it (at least, earlier iterations of it) with a lot of expanding my perspective and knowledge and empathy.

Every ridiculous mods-fall-on-their-face metatalk incident has me spending more time with the community in the other place, and less interested in participating here. This has been going on for years. I almost closed my account last month. It's very likely I will close my account unless loup manages to somehow entirely reverse years of ... I don't know exactly how to describe it politely, so I'm going to go with "not being very effective at the community management portion of their job" today.

I don't know if anyone would miss me, as my activity here has shrunk to trying to be helpful in Ask and mostly favoriting takes I agree with here. I think there are probably people here who have beef with me if they think of me at all, which is fine, I've certainly not been perfect. But I'm one of those 15+ year users who remains active and is thinking about getting lost, and based on what I'm seeing here, I'm not the only one in this position. I mean, ArtW, the literal most prolific remaining user in terms of total comments as of the recent infodump, just closed his account. On the one hand, if everyone who questions things leaves, the site might get less contentious, but it's not like more users are joining, and the remaining users seem to be more contentious in the smaller pond, rather than less.

I miss what mefi used to be, but I guess it's true that you can't go home.
posted by Alterscape at 7:27 AM on June 6 [40 favorites]


but it's not like more users are joining,

This. So much this. Take a look at the demographics; MeFi is, for better or worse, the same folks who have been here more or less from day one. Over twenty years ago, we were all so much younger, the Internet wasn't as it is now, and honestly, LBR, we are Olds. That's fine! That's great! But do not hope the current youth and the youth to follow will come here. We are a dying dinosaur. Younger generations interact with each other in different ways; a web forum like this ain't it. I don't think MeFi can afford (both literally and figuratively) to hive off members.

And honestly I can't blame them. We should be making MeFi better for those of us who are still here until it's time to turn out the lights.
posted by Kitteh at 7:36 AM on June 6 [14 favorites]


#pleaseanswer are the mods actually going to be answering the #pleaseanswer questions, or is this just a bit y’all are doing to distract us from [gestures at the surrounding situation]?
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 7:42 AM on June 6 [8 favorites]


It's so much easier to burn a barn down than to raise one. Sigh.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:43 AM on June 6 [7 favorites]


Mod note: #pleaseanswer are the mods actually going to be answering the #pleaseanswer questions, or is this just a bit y’all are doing to distract us from [gestures at the surrounding situation]?

Yes.

My shift is coming to end, so there will be another mod gap. I've been handling various behind the scenes things, so there won't be any responses from (have head to the other job) at this time.

But loup and I did communicate during this shift about the longer general reply they are working on. I'll be back on duty tomorrow and will touch bases with the thread and community then.

Best well, y'all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:53 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


Mod note: Oh, forgot I was subbing in for someone this evening, so will be back later tonight)
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:56 AM on June 6


Hard agree with Alterscape. Twenty three years here and there's been a lot of shit but it used to be that on balance, MeFi and the people here made me a better person. I 100% credit this place with keeping me from ending up arrogantly semi-conservative, for building on shit I already knew about not being racist with some nuance, for keeping me sane at work, and for helping me realize that being genuine is better than being smart.

Now, not so much. The bad outweighs the good, partly because the site is quieter, but also partly because there's a person in charge who doesn't seem to know or like us at all. Metas like this (and they're all like this now, and no reason to suspect that might change) are nothing but bad energy dumped into the space. I cannot understand how someone can so completely misread every situation, and somehow make so many things worse by their participation and still be employed. And there's no voice to counter the Official Voice. Other than loup and Brandon, I can't even tell you who is modding any more. I miss Metas with multiple mods giving their actual human reactions to things even when those reactions were in conflict. It was easier to give grace when things seemed more human and less corporate. I'm trying to hang on in desperate hope that the nonprofit thing will bring staffing changes but it's getting harder every day
posted by donnagirl at 7:56 AM on June 6 [30 favorites]

But loup and I did communicate during this shift about the longer general reply he's working on
#pleaseanswer How is it that loup is always working on vaguely-specified things that might make things better in the future, but then rarely actually appear, and if they do appear, end up entirely useless corporate-speak blather consuming pages of text to say very little of substance? I can't tell if they're trying to make things worse or just really, exceptionally not good at the community management part of this job.
posted by Alterscape at 8:02 AM on June 6 [23 favorites]


Quick point of order:

I mean, ArtW, the literal most prolific remaining user in terms of total comments as of the recent infodump, just closed his account.

Artw's profile is still active; I think Artw was more expressing an unofficial "I'm going to go outside to touch grass for a few days" break than a buttoning. And hey, that's something I've done several times myself as well over the past 20 years, I just don't announce it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:03 AM on June 6 [6 favorites]


#pleaseanswer I’m genuinely confused and interested in the idea that there was 3-4 hours of “behind the scenes“ things to accomplish on an internet message board with 500 active users that was more important than the active meltdown of the community. What are these things?
posted by bowbeacon at 8:04 AM on June 6 [17 favorites]


Fair enough, EmpressCallipygos. I didn't check my work, just took his comment here at face value. Mea culpa.
posted by Alterscape at 8:04 AM on June 6


I just feel the need to point out that loup wasn't, I believe, originally hired to manage community engagement (I think I remember a bit about being a buffer for cortex, but don’t have time to look up that post), or as a business manager so loup’s stepped up in that regard. That may be different from how it’s working out, but it is a big shift in roles.

Also I do like the bar analogy too and that is one aspect of what I mean by engagement.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:06 AM on June 6 [6 favorites]


I’m genuinely confused and interested in the idea that there was 3-4 hours of “behind the scenes“ things to accomplish

3h55m spent choosing the right playlist
0h05m spent logging back in to metafilter
posted by phunniemee at 8:09 AM on June 6 [5 favorites]


That's entirely fair warriorqueen, and I appreciate that someone stepped up, but the community management bit of metafilter has been terrible for years and are you saying that in everyone in the site's extended orbit, there's no one else more skilled at community management who could replace them in the public-face-of-the-site department?

Like, to be clear, I'm sure loup is a perfectly fine human being. I want them to be happy and successful and all that. I just find them to be not particularly convincing as a community manager and I don't know why this is going the way it is.
posted by Alterscape at 8:10 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


I think you need three things to successfully lead a business or organisation. Vision. Passion. Competency.

I may as well be provocative now because I doubt I will ever log in again, so...

mathowie had vision and passion but lacked competency. Fair enough, a personal project organically became a business. The site grew and evolved under his reign.

cortex had passion. But no vision and no competency. The site stagnated and with no future vision so many opportunites to adapt and survive were lost.

And now, sorry to say loup + jessamyn, no vision, no passion, no competency.

So many of us for so long were begging for professionalism in the era of overblown passion. We didn't mean take on the worst aspects of an aloof customer service bot. Just be good at whatever it is you're meant to be doing here. Retain users, promote engagement, attract new users.

I think many of us would have been happy to compromise on missing vision and passion if we had good management.

But this is the worst of all worlds. It's so sad that this is how MetaFilter finally dies. Just fading away pathetically.
posted by iivix at 8:11 AM on June 6 [36 favorites]


#pleaseanswer why Loup doesn't seem to have been aware of what was actually deleted in the previous thread, and based their comments on only what was still up

This in particular, since it is demonstrably possible to un-delete comments, which means they are visible to mods, which means "I don't know what was posted" coming from a mod is, well, it is just not true.


I have been following since the previous thread, and I genuinely do not understand this question. Is it related to this comment by loup?
....For the first one, this one came a s a shock and all I could find was this comment and the mod note addressing it. That's literally all the context there is....
Because that does not read to me as loup saying "I can only see these un-deleted comments," it reads as saying "In the world of all comments both deleted and un-deleted that were authored by Arthur User in any thread, all I'm seeing in relation to this topic is this one very much un-deleted comment."
posted by solotoro at 8:13 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Mod note: pleaseanswer I’m genuinely confused and interested in the idea that there was 3-4 hours of “behind the scenes“ things to accomplish on an internet message board with 500 active users that was more important than the active meltdown of the community. What are these things?

Quick answer to this specific point while pre-hydrating .

Catch up on this particular thread, compost the Best Of blog post and then share that on several social media platforms, compose an earlier comment to this thread to set expectations, responding to various emails and updating notes on about what has been occurring with this thread, respond to a specific situation occurring in this thread, head back to updating notes, respond to various flags and notes in other threads, then having Zoom call with loup about what's been going on in this thread, and then responding to this specific comment.

From my point of view, there are major issues being covered in this thread, yes, but plenty of other things not related to this thread or the issues being discussed that were occurring off the site.

Now I'm really out and can not respond to much until later this evening, eastern time.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 8:14 AM on June 6 [10 favorites]


I appreciate the response.
posted by bowbeacon at 8:18 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


are you saying that in everyone in the site's extended orbit, there's no one else more skilled at community management who could replace them in the public-face-of-the-site department

I don’t have great answers, but my memory is that cortex asked Jessamyn to hold space for the site by owning it, and he definitely asked a few of us (ultimately the transition team) to look into community management of the site, which included Brandon and he did great. There wasn’t a discussion of someone else running it at that time because that wasn’t in the cortex-Jessamyn plan. I assume the new board, who are wisely quiet in this thread I think, are looking at staff structure or will be handing that off pretty quickly. I think the race is still do we run out of money and audience before the new structure is in place.

To be transparent, I am not on the board and so have kind of ceded any say into these things, mostly because I can’t make the meetings which are two a month at a bad time for me, but also with two formal meetings a month I think it might be challenging for actual work to progress. So all these posts are probably annoying. But I think at the point the board is ready to hire all this input is important, as is treating current staff decently.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:21 AM on June 6 [15 favorites]


Fair enough, warriorqueen. Thank you.
posted by Alterscape at 8:24 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I didn't check my work, just took his comment here at face value. Mea culpa.

Oh, no shade thrown - on the other hand, I was trying to be the bearer of good news.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:24 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


tivalasvegas: "Unfortunately this is demonstrably not a priority for staff, as the problem of policy documentation being spread across multiple pages, the wiki, and a quarter century of metatalk threads has been identified and acknowledged for years without a whole lot being accomplished (the good work of the BIPOC committee and the transition committee notwithstanding)."

Loup acknowledged ongoing work updating such pages and making them more consistent recently and caught plenty of flack for wasting time.

loup: "I decided to stay after my shift rereading this thread and the previous one, catching up with the new comments while pulling some numbers from the site to address some of the points raised and making notes about comments that need to be addressed. After 6 more hours in front of the computer I only know that my next reply will be a lengthy one and will not even be enough to address half of what I would like to address. By the time I post it, there will be a ton of extra comments that need to be addressed. So, I could not agree more with this comment."

Sebmojo: "Are you seeking sympathy, for needing to do your job."

Based on the *full* context of that (brief!) comment, I see seeking sympathy for spending six hours of unpaid overtime catching up on and composing a response to a very long, active, and contentious thread.

It feels like the root of contention in these threads is the feeling of inconsistent engagement from staff. Thing is, this isn't 2010 -- there isn't 24/7 overlapping coverage with someone available to respond to comments in near-real time on demand. (I also recall more than a few people being very annoyed with cortex's lengthy in-the-weeds statements and asking loup and co to dial things back and let threads breathe).

My sense interacting with loup is that they're thoughtful and caring but try to set firm boundaries on their moderation work for themselves and the team, in contrast to the blurrier mathowie/cortex-era always-on-call style, which burned both of them out psychologically and even health-wise.

We've got to adjust to the fact that oftentimes questions and concerns won't have a response right away, and that that's okay. I think that's what others are referring to by "entitlement" -- this expectation that part-time staff with lower hours, pay, and benefits will be able to muster the same responsiveness as it did in the past under very different financial and organizational circumstances.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:11 AM on June 6 [32 favorites]


there have been multiple times when people have been patient, just for their concerns to never be addressed.
posted by sagc at 9:16 AM on June 6 [11 favorites]


Why don't we give the mods a week off to work on mod policy and answers to these questions? If someone does something really bad, they can automatically be given a time out until the end of the week. No new Metas until the end of the week. As users, we concede that we can survive without niceties like updates to the Best of blog for a week.

At the end of the week, the mods can present their proposal and the community can respond.

If everything goes to hell during the week then we develop some appreciation for what the mods are doing. If it doesn't maybe we rethink how we restructure moderation.
posted by snofoam at 9:26 AM on June 6 [15 favorites]


This isn't a perfect analogy, but it feels like we were once a local pub whose owner used to yell out "everyone - stop pissing on the floor because nobody else here wants to stand in your piss" from time to time and then got sold and we got a new owner who posts more official signs like "Patrons who create excessive mess in the bathrooms may be asked to leave. Sincerely, Management." The content is the same, but the distance from it as people who congregate here is radically different. This doesn't feel like our pub anymore.

That might not be perfect, but it's pretty close.

(Also the owner takes 3 months to tweak the wording of the Sincerely, Management sign. The floor started to leak due to the "mess" a long time ago. The owner... posts another sign offering to work together with patrons in order to synthesize and prioritize their reactions to this. The owner believes this is the correct approach. The floorboards creak to disagree, but synthesis of their disagreement is pending.)
posted by trig at 9:42 AM on June 6 [7 favorites]


At this point I'd just like to know which mod deleted A User's light-hearted joke, which I thought was a perfect bit of levity in a very dark thread, and if that mod now realizes just how much that deletion went against the grain of the community, as expressed in the comments above. Was it really flagged that much? Or at all?

loup, were you the mod who deleted that joke? If not, would the mod who deleted that joke explain why it was deleted? Thanks.
posted by mediareport at 9:46 AM on June 6 [22 favorites]


I flagged it myself and would absolutely eat the 24 hour suspension to underline the need for some proper mod response on this, which we have not.

I know Artw is taking a break, but I do think it's at least a bit ironic that the reason the mods didn't respond to his obvious shitpost comment the other night is likely the same reason that hippybear was allowed to scold users for not responding to his posts in the proper way for longer than he should have been, namely, that both members have been active posters and the mods are hesitant to lose any more of those.
posted by mediareport at 9:51 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


To complete the local pub analogy you have to remember that the shouting pub owner is totally exhausted and trying to decide whether to sell the bar or burn it down.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:53 AM on June 6 [12 favorites]


Also I know Metatalk threads used to be messy and heated before the queue, before the no-deletions-in-MT policy went out the window, and before the mods stopped participating actively. I know people used to flame out and get hurt and button. I can understand people saying the old approach was not optimal. But: mess, heat, flameouts, hurt, and buttoning are all still happening, while Metatalk as a place where changes actually happen as a result of real, to-the-point, interactive conversation with mods is dead.


I agree with this suggestion:
1. nth the suggestion that comment deletions (with or without mod notes) be replaced solely by mod notes--except for extremely egregious cases of outright hate speech, threats of violence, doxxing or the like, which i presume a user would be banned for anyway.

2. if the note is ignored, a follow-up emphasising like "no fr quit it", as it's entirely possible folks are still slapping away at their keyboards while the note is posted and haven't hit preview. if that's ignored, the user(s) gets a day off.

3. this should go without saying but repeat offenses ought warrant the mod team to consider longer timeouts.
At minimum, this should be the case in Metatalk. Stop pruning and start participating closely, please.
posted by trig at 9:54 AM on June 6 [16 favorites]


To complete the local pub analogy you have to remember that the shouting pub owner is totally exhausted and trying to decide whether to sell the bar or burn it down.

(TBH I think modding and leading a pub as uniquely intense as a successful social media site is something most people should realistically expect to be able to do well, without burning out, for only so many years. I really think that should be an ingrained expectation. I know a lot of people think that's a problem and that modding/leading should be something a person can do as a lifelong career, but I think shorter, finite terms by people who still have the the passion and competence to do the job well are better than the "I'm getting tired so let's just do way, way, way less, and if the place dwindles or dies then my life gets easier" model.)
posted by trig at 10:06 AM on June 6 [12 favorites]


Oh, that's a good point, trig. Maybe we did course-correct too far, yeah, and I hope the transition board keeps that in mind when discussing what sort of Executive Director the nonprofit should hire.

Separately (not directed at you!) I wish I could figure out how to write "para-antisocial relationships" without the hyphen.
posted by nobody at 10:13 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


re: Replacing deletions of comments with hidden/quarantined ones -- I'm not fully endorsing this idea, but if mods would like to experiment with it, there is a relatively easy, low-impact solution of editing the comment to wrap it in a collapsible HTML tag like so:

<details><summary>[Comment hidden]</summary>Crappy comment goes here</details>

Which produces:

[Comment hidden]Crappy comment goes here

One could even customize the summary part with a mod note ("[Comment hidden: Do not continue this derail"), or use it to action only the problematic part of a long comment while letting the rest stand. Of course this complicates the nuances of comment moderation, but since it can be accomplished with existing code (plus maybe a keyboard macro to make pasting the HTML easier), it doesn't require any kind of complicated retooling.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:23 AM on June 6 [33 favorites]


I wonder if it's even possible to have the feel of the old Metafilter with the new structure. When we had the bartender who personally yelled at people not to piss on the floor, that was possible because the bartender lived there. Matthowie/cortex were basically always around. That made things personable, but it burned them out.

The current mods deserve a decent work-life balance, but the boundaries that allow that preclude the sort of interactions you'd have with a bartender who's always on the premises. So we get bland corporate tone and decisions that don't get made because they're waiting for consensus rather than one person who's able to say "fuck it, I'm responsible and here's how we're going to do things".

To extend the pub metaphor even further Metafilter used to be a neighborhood bar where everyone had a relationship to the bartender, and through them, the whole community. Now it feels like a fake Irish pub where the staff turns over every couple of months and everyone sits at their own table rather than up at the bar.

There are still moments of genuine community! The thread about isolation in young boys started off as Metafilter at its worst, but serious conversation was had and minds were changed! I was ready to button but decided to keep reading, and I'm glad I did, because there's a lot of great communication there.

I honestly miss the old Metatalk, even with its flamewars and hurt feelings and ragequits. At least it got things out the open and sometimes concerns were addressed. Now I periodically realize that so-and-so disappeared at some point, and their account is closed, but all the evidence of what happened has been scrubbed.
posted by echo target at 10:27 AM on June 6 [22 favorites]


I think this is a very good idea.
leaving mod notes, and hiding rather than deleting comments, except if they're outright hate speech.

At the moment, comments get deleted, and if there's a mod note about it, (like there is in this thread) I often don't know what got deleted (because the mod note needs to be vague enough not to simply duplicate the deleted comment and therefore render deletion useless) and so I'm often unsure what is allowed and what isn't.
posted by Zumbador at 10:34 AM on June 6 [12 favorites]


Nice metaphors, echo target.
posted by einekleine at 10:55 AM on June 6


Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your posting history and whether or not other users are allowed to interact with you.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:05 AM on June 6 [22 favorites]


Hiding comments and including mod notes would go such a long way.
posted by Threeve at 11:15 AM on June 6 [11 favorites]


Why don't we give the mods a week off to work on mod policy and answers to these questions? … At the end of the week, the mods can present their proposal and the community can respond.

God I want to see this so bad it hurts. More than anything I want to see that mods and owners have a FUCKING PLAN. Right now, the de facto plan appears to be "change as little as possible" (with a side of "nobody has the stones to admit that this is the plan").

At this point I'd enthusiastically support SOME plan, ANY plan, as long as it was different. Because what you're doing here isn't fucking working.

I'm not holding my breath, though. It really feels like nobody with any power actually cares.
posted by dorothy hawk at 11:24 AM on June 6 [12 favorites]


Actually, that's unfair. It does seem like some mods do care, sometimes. But even when they do, it seems like they're unable or unwilling to make any sort of big plans or moves -- caring doesn't translate to action.
posted by dorothy hawk at 11:28 AM on June 6 [8 favorites]


I see seeking sympathy for spending six hours of unpaid overtime catching up on and composing a response to a very long, active, and contentious thread.

Spending a max of fifteen minutes following through on the main controversy* highlighted by the post and composing a short response would seem not just adequate but preferable to what has happened.

* am I missing anything here?
- HB is kind of on one and fighting with mods and other users.
- He makes a “please don’t talk to me” comment targeted at another user, invoking a slightly mangled understanding of an anti-harassment policy to suggest that this request is backed by mod authority.
- People read this as an assertion of a special guarantee from the mods to him personally. Which is maybe not what he meant, on reflection, but is sort of an understandable vibe to get from the overall tone of the comment.
- This is against the backdrop of a.) him being frustrated with negative responses to his posts and b.) other people being frustrated with him acting like the thread police.
- in the ensuing discussion, several comments critical of him (or just poking fun at the situation) are deleted, while the original “never speak to me again” comment is not, which exacerbates the impression of favoritism.

Because if that sounds about right, it seems like a first-pass response of “no, there’s no special privilege here, ordering users not to talk to you on the public forum is [not a thing/actually a thing but anyone can do it], we’ve asked the user in question privately to take the night off but we can talk about larger issues of people sitting on/shitting on threads later” would go a long way. That and not asymmetrically deleting a bunch of stuff.
posted by atoxyl at 11:28 AM on June 6 [16 favorites]


Do we have any reason to believe A User isn’t currently on a forcible time-out? It’s been a day and a half since they posted, which in A-User-time is an eternity.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 11:45 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


No, I'm still here.
posted by A User at 11:48 AM on June 6 [123 favorites]


Bold! I love it.

If the user that's the subject of this post is on a timeout, it would have gone some way toward clearing things up if the mods had mentioned it when it was implemented as well as what, specifically, it was for.
posted by sagc at 11:51 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Having a thread full of people asking questions, and then asking users to re-post questions with a special hashtag if they actually want them answered fits into the anti-pattern I observed earlier that leads to users not feeling heard. But at least it's a defined process?

It feels rude to re-ask the same question of the same people in the same thread, but if it's the process you want… My question about preferring questions about site policy to be asked in private and if user's still need to explicitly ask for permission before they can quote that policy elsewhere, while perhaps phrased a bit snarkily, was a real question, so #pleaseanswer.
posted by JiBB at 11:51 AM on June 6 [10 favorites]


No, I'm still here.
posted by A User at 1:48 PM on June 6 [13 favorites +] [⚑]


FLAGGED mods please delete this lighthearted comment at once
posted by echo target at 11:58 AM on June 6 [14 favorites]


I'm wondering why A User has 45 favourites for that comment at time of writing, but his profile shows 103 favourites, and only that single comment as the user activity. Is this favouritism?
posted by biffa at 12:38 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


You don’t want to know.
posted by snofoam at 12:38 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


I'm wondering why A User has 45 favourites for that comment at time of writing, but his profile shows 103 favourites, and only that single comment as the user activity. Is this favouritism?

#pleaseanswer
posted by bowbeacon at 12:42 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


A User’s first comment was a lighthearted joke in this thread that was deleted by mods, but I guess the favorites don’t get taken out of the count when that happens.
posted by snofoam at 12:48 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


If that’s not a joke, #dontworryillanswer: their first comment was deleted but it seems overall favorite counts are retained.

If that is a joke, #imsorryianswered.
posted by hototogisu at 12:48 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


No, I wanted an actual answer from the actual mods.

Edit: Like, I know the reason. I want to know the REASON for the reason.
posted by bowbeacon at 12:55 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


Oh I was responding to biffa, I didn’t see yours at time of writing.
posted by hototogisu at 12:56 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


At this point I am legitimately unsure whether A User's comment and all our replies will survive the next mod pass. Maybe that's a me thing, but if not it illustrates the depth of the current disconnect.
posted by echo target at 1:01 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


I'm legitimately unsure whether the mods will ever interact with this thread again, so you're feeling more optimistic than me.
posted by bowbeacon at 1:10 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


I'm legitimately unsure whether the mods will ever interact with this thread again, so you're feeling more optimistic than me.

If you're being honest here, then this is a sign that you are genuinely not seeing things clearly.
posted by nobody at 1:16 PM on June 6


It was sarcasm, but it has also been 8 hours with no substantive mod input, and 5 hours with no input of any kind.

I know that there is a "mod gap", which is fine, but this thread is basically an existential threat to the site and the owner is busy posting happy-go-lucky comments in Pride Flag identification threads. Which is fine and wonderful and one of the kinds of posts I like about the site, but this_is_fine.gif, you know?
posted by bowbeacon at 1:24 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


Being proud of “deadnaming” is a terrible look, even if it’s for a corporation most of us reasonably hate. It seems like the mods should say “sheesh, read the room” and then start enforcing temporary bans for continued fightiness. But without being behind the scenes myself, I don’t know how reasonable they’ve been. I’m not sure how productive a bunch of us armchair moderating are likely to be either.
posted by rikschell at 1:25 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


[not that the mods didn’t essentially demand it, but this whole A User thing has turned out to be so much meaner than just using their actual username]
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 1:39 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


bowbeacon: "the owner is busy posting happy-go-lucky comments in Pride Flag identification threads"

Jessamyn made it clear that she was taking ownership as an unpaid on-paper owner to keep the site afloat but would be leaving the bulk of administration and community management (aside from occasional stray comment moderations) to existing staff and volunteer efforts. She's also been *abundantly* patient and willing to stick with the vagaries of the transition process, especially when the initial approach with the SC fell through. She's already stayed on longer and shouldered more than she signed up for; please don't ding her for not taking on even more.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:48 PM on June 6 [53 favorites]


I like Jessamyn a lot! I'm not dinging her. But this is a five alarm fire, and it is just raging off in the corner while people button and the entire leadership ignores it.
posted by bowbeacon at 1:56 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


[not that the mods didn’t essentially demand it, but this whole A User thing has turned out to be so much meaner than just using their actual username]

This is such a perfect synecdoche for the entity of how mods and owners have interacted with this site for the last … gosh, at least five years, probably more like ten.

I don't doubt that they have good intentions. "We should try to avoid a pile-on" is a pretty great intention! But they frequently just totally misunderstand … like, human behavior? "Don't mention Person X" is roughly as effective as "don't think about pink elephants" — especially in virtual spaces where the consequences for breaking the rules are negligible.

And then when the impact isn't what they expect, they always hide behind the intention, and never accept that they made a mistake. Oh sure, I'm sure someone will eventually apologize for something, but that's not really taking responsibility. Someone might come along and apologize for this thread turning into a pile-on. But they won't do anything to change it, not really, and next month or year we'll be piling on to someone else. Taking responsibility doesn't mean apologizing when things go wrong; it means taking steps to ensure that same thing doesn't happen again (and again and again and again and …).

I've basically never seen anyone in any power here say "hey we fucked up, and here's what we're doing to make sure this doesn't happen again".

All of this is particularly wild, because "separate impact from intent" and "how to make a genuine apology" are both things I learned from reading MetaFilter!
posted by dorothy hawk at 1:57 PM on June 6 [18 favorites]



this thread is basically an existential threat to the site and the owner is[...]

I'll probably leave it at this, because I don't want to get into a whole back and forth about it, but:

1) Maybe I'm being naive, but I don't think this is the existential threat to the site some of you think it is. (Only 10% of active users are even active on the gray, at least month by month.) It was all badly handled, yes, but...if you go enjoy whatever other parts of the site you generally enjoy, you'll find it's all still there, same as before (at around the same pace as in 2003-4, before signups were reopened, coincidentally), with whatever mod practices you want changed mostly not getting in the way of anything.

2) [removed, because I had to step away while typing, and then Rhaomi got there first.]

But now:

But this is a five alarm fire, and it is just raging off in the corner while[...]

But you're precisely the one(s) raging in the corner! And I don't mean to be directing this at you, specifically. You're clearly not alone in how you feel about this. But you've also characterized everyone's distress here as "literally screaming," and either that's not right or, if it is right, everyone should really stop screaming already.

(And again, sorry for singling you out. These were just easy quotes to hook onto to express my...unease at how all this has played out, on both "sides." And I guess see my comments in the previous thread for evidence that I'm not just being a mod/admin sycophant here.)
posted by nobody at 2:06 PM on June 6 [31 favorites]


In the past, if a Mefite was consistently at the center of several controversies and contentious interpersonal disputes, month after month, year after year, while expressing zero self-awareness or remorse and showing no signs of losing steam, what would happen?

We would name a gift exchange after them.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:10 PM on June 6 [45 favorites]


It's gauche to use a series of fleeting infractions as the premise for a huge pile-on.

All of the people under discussion are real, living, breathing, complex people who might read what you write and feel bad about it in their actual, real lives. So please tread carefully and thoughtfully when you comment.

If, at this point, the main beef is with mod response time and communication practices, that feels like it should be its own MeTa. Hopefully conducted without breathless Thunderdome energy.
posted by delight at 2:12 PM on June 6 [8 favorites]


Sshhhh… that’s a secret.

[on non-preview: damn you, intervening comment!]
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 2:12 PM on June 6


this thread is basically an existential threat to the site

lololololol
posted by pullayup at 2:15 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


that feels like it should be its own MeTa

>Maybe each one of them needs an individual Meta?

A metastasis of metas, if you will.
posted by phunniemee at 2:19 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


I’ve been working on responses and reviewing this thread alongside other site tasks and responsibilities. Unfortunately, only a portion of what I’ve drafted will make it into this reply. Your patience, if any is left, is appreciated.

The last thing I want to be is your designated “aloof customer service bot” (thanks for the remark, no offense taken). So, let’s take a different approach.

I understand that there are urgent questions that require attention. As promised, I'll address them as promptly as possible. However, before diving in, let's reset some expectations. Welcome to my TED talk:

I get it—the frustration, the lack of vision—it's all there. And I'll own my part in it too. MetaFilter deserves better.

I feel the weight of this post's somber tone, and I understand its origins. Witnessing a beloved place decline is truly disheartening.

But here's my take: MetaFilter isn't doomed. Instead of tragedy, I see a resilient community—one that's weathered storms and will continue to do so, long after my time here.

I’m not just blurting nice things for the sake of it. I want to highlight the distinction between MetaFilter as a community and as a business.

As a community, this has been a place where you have shared, and lived through so much. A place that deserves and needs a better structure and business to support it.

As a business, I see a cool and personal project that needed to become a business to sustain its growth, decisions were made to start becoming a business and, by the time I joined the team it kind of was a business and it kind of wasn’t at the same time.

Several of the frustrations people had with mathowie remained after he left, and many of the frustrations with cortex remained after he left. I can say the same about myself and I think many of those frustrations will remain even after MetaFilter, hopefully, goes on without me.

I feel like a big issue here is that the community never really had a solid business foundation. The site just exploded without the necessary structure, guardrails (seriously, where are the terms of use?), growth plan, or financial responsibility. I noticed this during my first two years here (2020-2022). We went from eight mods who were active in MetaTalk to just four part-time mods, with only one still participating in MetaTalk.

When Cortex left in 2022 because of burnout, it became even clearer. I had a conversation with him about what to do next, and I pointed out the divide between MetaFilter as a community and as a business. We realized we were in a delicate position, and the solution to bridge that gap couldn't come from just another site owner. So, we made the decision to empower the community itself—to give it the authority, decision-making power, and strategic direction it needed to thrive.

Back then, I agreed to handle payroll, and I continued as the mod responsible for posting site updates during the transition. Jessamyn took on the task of registering MetaFilter LLC and transferring all assets to this new entity. She also managed the taxes while we worked on creating a new governance structure for the community.

During that time, the business supporting the community essentially dissolved. We still maintained moderation and dev support for the site, but the old MetaFilter business was no more. Our focus shifted to financial matters, accounting, documenting procedures, centralizing account access, ensuring legal compliance, and improving budget planning.

Initially, we thought we'd transition the site to the community in just a few months, but it's been over two years now. While we've made progress with finances and structure, there's still work to be done. The community, Jessamyn's guidance, and the unwavering commitment of the Transition Board, Steering Committee, and now the Nonprofit Board have all played a crucial role in this process.

What am I trying to say with this?

Drastic changes and big decisions about the entire MeFi business and structure need to happen. Now, I want to be upfront: I’m not the one making those calls. It’d be downright irresponsible to leave it all up to me, especially since MeFi is transitioning to a Community-Owned and Community-Driven setup.

Let’s talk about communication. Right now, the level of responsiveness you are getting it’s beyond lacking. MetaTalk, while great for community building, isn’t cutting it for staff-to-member communication. It’s carrying some unrealistic expectations from the old days when MetaFilter was a different beast altogether. We simply don’t have the resources to operate like we used to.

Remember when staff used to be super active on MetaTalk? Well, those days are long gone. It was burning everyone out. Nowadays, we’ve got a smaller team of part-time moderators keeping an eye on things, MetaTalk is mostly addressed by yours truly (that’s me!) while I also handle a bunch of other tasks during my 5-hour shift each day—payroll, staff management, accounting, tech support, customer service—you name it.
We’re committed to supporting the community with the time and resources we’ve got, but let’s be real: things won’t go back to how they were.

Tomorrow I'll go on to address the Metatalk queue, how it works, what can we change about it. Etc.
posted by loup (staff) at 2:27 PM on June 6 [41 favorites]


I do think this thread and the previous one represent a profound failure in moderation.

In particular if I was Hippybear I can't imagine how I would feel about this thread. As much as his behaviour in the first thread was pretty unacceptable, the problem was mainly in bad moderation, and I'm not sure the continuous pile on which has allowed to continue in this thread has really helped matters.

This thread is a conversation about moderation, in which one mod posted some answers, and another one posted once, and then disappeared to apparently write a complex 6 hour essay... This isn't the first time Loup has done this, and if the experience of last time is any help, I suspect that this carefully crafted essay will not massively help.

I don't think the issues raised in this thread are very complicated, and I think it would have been quite simple for the mods to write a simple answer, and then either stick around to respond or just lock the thread
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:27 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


Ok, I am quite amused at the timing of my post...
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:27 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


... Don't think I was wrong though
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:30 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


omg, peeple mispeak, have stuff happening, mini-aneurysms, crankyism, just stoopidinesses, can't we all just let some of these things go. let it go. let it go. let it go.
posted by sammyo at 2:43 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


"Right now, the level of responsiveness you are getting it’s beyond lacking."

Is it just me, or does the rest of this post go on to say that this is basically by design and won't improve? It doesn't sound like you see this as an issue - is that correct?

This is another example of turning simple questions into a long, roundabout post that addresses little and implies that any decisions have to be made later, by someone else, and even definitive statements can't be made without more delays.

#pleaseanswer
posted by sagc at 2:44 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


I've been donating $10/month since 2022, despite only intermittently being active on here. I hate to say it, but between this and the thread that spawned it, I think I'm finally giving that donation up.

It feels like I've been on the somewhat extreme end of mod sympathizing over the years—I think it's a hard job and I think the community is often unfair and vicious. But it's preposterous how mismanaged this situation was. I still think the gang-up against staff gets meaner than I'm comfortable with, but there's no excuse for how this all went down. It's amazing how low the stakes were in the last thread, and how dumb the derail was that blew everything up, and how easily all of this could have been avoided.

At this point, the user complaints and criticisms have been consistent for years. How has there been so little progress? How, when half of the issues here really do feel like they could be solved by a two-hour sit-down discussion?

Basic things should not be this hard. And if they are, well, I just can't imagine this community ever moving past it, let alone on.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 2:55 PM on June 6 [16 favorites]


Is it just me, or does the rest of this post go on to say that this is basically by design and won't improve?

No. Some of this is the way it is because that's honestly what we have. Things will keep improving and we'll keep supporting the community with the resources we have. But again, expectations need to be reset and things won’t go back to how they were.
posted by loup (staff) at 2:56 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


If you can't take the time to communicate mod decisions, then a visible moderation/deletion log makes sense even more so.
posted by Jarcat at 3:01 PM on June 6 [22 favorites]


I suspect that this carefully crafted essay will not massively help... I don't think the issues raised in this thread are very complicated

Right, the issue is precisely the remarkable consistency in not addressing the simple thing people are upset about, invoking limited staff time, and then using that time to write some broad state-of-the-site response or get lost in the minutia of formal policy. It’s either totally backwards prioritization or a tin ear for picking up the main thrust of the thread from skimming the comments… or the helpful bullet points from people who have done that themselves.
posted by atoxyl at 3:03 PM on June 6 [9 favorites]


loup - several people suggested/endorsed fewer deletions, especially in Metatalk, in favor of more mod notes. Is that something that can be implemented? Or is under consideration? Who has the authority to make that decision? Thank you.
posted by JenMarie at 3:03 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


"Right now, the level of responsiveness you are getting it’s beyond lacking."

>> Is it just me, or does the rest of this post go on to say that this is basically by design and won't improve?

I have had many unkind thoughts about the mods here, but in Loup's defense, I thought their statement was clear: Metafilter doesn't have the resources it used to, and the lack of responsiveness from mods is one of the casualties of that.
posted by Bourbonesque at 3:03 PM on June 6 [21 favorites]


It kind of sounds like part of the issue is that the person officially responsible for MeTa doesn’t really keep up with the details of what’s going on with the rest of the site. But I think plenty of people would be happy to try to boil it down, and in fact have done so.
posted by atoxyl at 3:06 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


It probably wouldn't be easy to implement anyway since I know the coverage fluctuates, but it's frustrating that one thing which would otherwise help set expectations -- a public mod schedule or even just a big visible "THE MOD IS [IN]" toggle -- would also be ripe for abuse by basically advertising when you can spam and violate guidelines without any risk of being stopped for several hours. Maybe a floating "office hour(s)" within a larger shift, where people know someone will be available to answer questions (and where answering those questions will be the first priority)?
posted by Rhaomi at 3:09 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Drastic changes and big decisions about the entire MeFi business and structure need to happen. Now, I want to be upfront: I’m not the one making those calls. It’d be downright irresponsible to leave it all up to me, especially since MeFi is transitioning to a Community-Owned and Community-Driven setup.

I guess my question is - who is making calls right now? Because if you aren't, and Jessamyn is here but really not, and the non-profit board is having a difficulty getting and keeping members...is it nobody?

This community raised some $80,000 in one-time contributions and $10,000 a month in recurring donations 18 months ago on the promise of revival. The decision was made about a year ago to prioritize content review over hiring an administrative person to help by...you, it seems from those minutes. And now you're here talking about "supporting the community with the resources we have" - as though we didn't give our time and substantial money to get you more resources...and you chose not to use them for what they were for. So it seems to me like nobody here wants to be making business decisions...but there's a business to run. Oy.

Like I get the goal is eventual community-ownership, but Metafilter can't sit on its hands for the months and or years it will take for that to happen. It needs someone capable of deciding that we need a few more hours a week dedicated to site communication to stop this bleeding and either deciding to take it from the reserves or the seemingly positive P&L that we are running these days to make that happen. Without that, this site may not make it to its community-owned goal - we are losing membership waiting for the promised land.
posted by openhearted at 3:09 PM on June 6 [28 favorites]


Lack of resources? I get that. But even with the lack of resources, there should have been a little more something about The Derail of all Derails. It was the sheer ugliness of the comment that struck me hard and the fact it still sits there is wild. I'm neutral at best towards the mods; I don't spend a lot of time in MeTa traditionally.

I mean, I think it's admirable that loup feels MeFi has staying power but with a lack of resources for moderation, a mess of a business plan (the nonprofit thing just feels like folly at this point), I am wondering if the site is going to continue to lean on long term members to keep it alive because I certainly can't imagine anyone signing up anymore. If more longtime users button and/or take their donations with them, how will this site make up the shortfall?

I am more sympathetic to the committees who keep donating their precious time for very little action in return.
posted by Kitteh at 3:09 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


I've been here 17 years across two accounts, and the only thing I feel comfortable doing anymore is favoriting posts and comments. I still appreciate the front page, but I feel like the stakes are too high for too many people here and worry about saying the wrong thing.
posted by CtrlAltD at 3:10 PM on June 6 [16 favorites]


We simply don’t have the resources to operate like we used to.

I also think this is a big part of the problem; this is not a new discussion. But: are you (loup, jessamyn, anybody) doing anything about that? I know the plan has been for the eventual nonprofit to handle this, but as you (loup) pointed out, that's been in the works for... a long time. If lack of funds is a big part of the vicious circle we're in ( ⤷ lack of funds → lacking moderation, development, and outreach → current users leaving, minimal new users ⤴) , then that should be a major priority - now, not at some nebulous time in the future. Is it?

A year and a half ago when the Steering Committee ran the last serious fundraiser for this site, they named the goals Survive, Revive, and Thrive. The latter two goals were ambitious but important. (Iirc we never quite reached Revive, and the subsequent fundraiser... is still a sore point.) Is there anyone trying to be ambitious about getting MF - the business or community - the resources it needs to actually operate well?
posted by trig at 3:11 PM on June 6 [9 favorites]


re: Replacing deletions of comments with hidden/quarantined ones -- I'm not fully endorsing this idea, but if mods would like to experiment with it, there is a relatively easy, low-impact solution of editing the comment to wrap it in a collapsible HTML tag like so:

I have fantasized about this very solution for years! I hope that MF adopts it someday.
posted by a faded photo of their beloved at 3:13 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


1) Maybe I'm being naive, but I don't think this is the existential threat to the site some of you think it is.

This is exactly true. This is not a five alarm fire, it's not even a fire. This is not an existential threat to Metafilter. We had a contentious thread about a somewhat-irresolvable issue, basically a request from a user that other users refrain from a particular behavior (that a large percentage of people in the thread admitted they found annoying, although for different reasons and with different solutions). A particular user made a spectacle in the thread and thew out some odd and unsubstantiated claims. The mods did a not-great job of addressing this, which led to this thread, where we are waiting for answers.

I work for a large institution, and I need to interface with a lot of different offices and individuals. Most of my day is spent wring emails asking questions, waiting for answers, reading emails, and sending out answers or directing the request to someone who can answer it. This process can take days, if it's a complex situation. Sometimes there's a critical deadline with money on the line, and then I have to pester people. Otherwise, I let it sit for at least a couple of days. Because that's how long it takes, if people need to confer, look stuff up, and get back with a correct answer. And I have way more staff than MetaFilter does, not to mention all the other people in my institution.

This thread would feel a lot less fraught if we all accepted that we aren't getting minute-by-minute responses. It might take a day or several. Is anyone's life in danger if it takes 36 more hours for a response? Will anyone lose their job? Will a $26 million dollar contract fail? This is not an emergency. I get that it's annoying, I want answers, too, but this is not even the 10th most annoying thing I've had to deal with today, and I bet it's not for most of you, either.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:13 PM on June 6 [43 favorites]


At this point, the user complaints and criticisms have been consistent for years. How has there been so little progress? How, when half of the issues here really do feel like they could be solved by a two-hour sit-down discussion?

Exactly. I’ve seen this sort of thing happen in my own life when executive-function issues and self-destructive tendencies get the best of me, and I’ve found that at a certain point you just need to throw in the towel and let the other folks involved know that you’re going to need them to take the lead in getting things unfucked. What that would look like here, I don’t know, but what I do know is that site management is terminally stuck and won’t be able to get out of that stuckness until they’re able to acknowledge where we’ve ended up and the fact that part of this is down to needed skills which they simply do not possess, and which the site requires.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 3:15 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


GenjiandProust, I think what you're describing is common, is highly viable, and/but is built on the foundation of a record of follow-through. Many users here have seen that when such patience is extended to the site administration, it almost never results in any meaningful follow-through. That's the long and short of it, I think.
posted by dusty potato at 3:20 PM on June 6 [19 favorites]


This thread would feel a lot less fraught if we all accepted that we aren't getting minute-by-minute responses. It might take a day or several. Is anyone's life in danger if it takes 36 more hours for a response? Will anyone lose their job? Will a $26 million dollar contract fail? This is not an emergency.

Super big agree that none of this is an emergency. It is, however, deeply unnecessary. That's what's so frustrating.

No one should have had to wait for anything. The delay between the inciting meta and this meta was entirely manufactured by the mods. There is a queue. There is a "rule" about having one post a day. The moderation team was entirely, fully, 100% in complete control of when this thread was opened. They could have used that time to craft a response to the specific moderation questions that had been raised and made it the very first post in this thread. It would have addressed the open problems, set a tone, and guided the discussion.

Instead the thread was left open with no guidance or official note (except for the creation of A User, one of the best memes of our time) for over an hour, and by the time a moderator came back to post a follow up it was already going to be buried. Useless. Useless, disappointing, and unnecessary.

This thread either should have been opened immediately after the mod instruction in the first thread saying to create one, or it should have been held until the mod team had their community management shit together. Crowd control 101. I just don't understand the choices.
posted by phunniemee at 3:56 PM on June 6 [29 favorites]


loup, I appreciate your comment, and especially that you're finally speaking with some candor about what's up. Seriously I do, and I'm sorry that I'm going to have to follow that up with a huge but.

But here's the thing: we all know about the limited resources. We really do. But limited resources don't mean no resources, but what we've seen is precisely zero movement, no action, no changes in .... years. Look, in my day job I work with small companies, but their size doesn't prevent them from getting things done. I've mentioned before here an animal shelter that I've worked with; they've got an annual budget pretty similar to MetaFilter's (a bit bigger, but only by like 10-20%) and yet when I look at their annual report it's ... a lot! It's certainly not nothing!

How do they do it? It's not magic, it's not especially amazing staff, it's super simple. They pick something and focus on it until it's done. If there's only an hour in the week to work on the project, they spend an hour on that project. That's still progress! Limited resources, over a long period, can actually show results.

Things will keep improving

I don't believe you. I don't think you're lying, I think you fully believe this when you write it, but this site has demonstrated an almost overwhelming resistance to change and I see absolutely no evidance that you or anyone else is actually gonna get serious about doing something.

Here's what you can do if you'd like to prove me wrong:

Pick something, and do it. Anything! Say you're gonna do it, commit to it, and then prove you can get it done.

Me, I'd probably pick "hidden" comments (instead of deletions), and the associated changes to mod behavior to prefer hiding over deleting. But seriously, pick any of the ideas suggested in this thread, or any other over the last decade, and just fucking get it done. If something involving software development seems to heavy a lift choose something entirely about mod behavior. Even just committing to clearly answering every question in this thread for like the next week or month and then not giving up until all of them have been addressed would be an improvement.

I've been on this site for 20 years (this is my second handle). I'm not gonna button or flounce out, but my level of participation gonna be directly correlated to my optimism that this site is going somewhere. I don't think I'm the only one who's calibrating how much energy they want to put into this place against how much energy its staff want to put into it.
posted by dorothy hawk at 4:05 PM on June 6 [31 favorites]


Mod note: Ok, been back on the clock and have dealt with other issues on the site, now focusing on this thread and replies, starting from the comment i made about 8:05am EST this morning. It'll be another hour or two, rough estimate and I'll probably make several comments with the replies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 4:06 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Based on loup's comment, it would seem that the ability to make any significant change depends on changing the status and governance of the site. There is simply no one currently in a decision-making capacity. With that in mind, the most obvious choice would be do use the site resources to do whatever can change governance as quickly as possible. The site does have a significant amount of money coming in and the site could change how it uses that money tomorrow if it wants to.

For example, the nonprofit setup board could find a part-time director who could work as a contractor for the current LLC (and potentially transition to the nonprofit). This director could get to work right away to help speed up (if elbow-grease helps) the nonprofit transition, but also work to set policy, develop goals, etc. This could be funded with some or all of the mod expenses. If someone came and said, "I'm here to make the site better and I want to spend all my time doing that, so please follow the guidelines for a while because we cut the mod budget to have real change instead" I bet the vast majority of users would give it a chance and be well-behaved. For anyone who doesn't get on board with that, there could just be a well-defined policy of giving time outs to anyone who causes a stink during this transition period. Would it work? Who knows? But it would be better than this! Especially when the person in charge of the status quo is already telling us they can't improve anything.

At the very least, put the nonprofit transition board in charge now. They're from our community, they're stepping up to do something and it has been said loud and clear that there is no one involved in the business side that is empowered to make decisions. If necessary, for employment law reasons, have one of those people be an interim director on contract.
posted by snofoam at 4:26 PM on June 6 [8 favorites]


Mod note: #pleaseanswer how this all went so poorly.

From my point of view, I was late on dealing with hippybear's original derailing comments, tried to deal with them but doing something new in terms of creating a new meta and shifting focus there, but failed there, then my kitchen pipes started leaking at the end of the shift and I focused on that and once that was dealt with I was at the other job, in a town about 40 minutes away, which was having major issues with its cell network, so I couldn't tell what was going on. Plus, I didn't think it would go as badly as it did.

That is not an excuse, but an explanation on how various factors sprang up and compounded to snowball effect.

#pleaseanswer why a one-MeTa-a-day was invoked out of nowhere.
That's for loup to answer fully, but my thought is that the new thing I was trying (making a new MeTa to shift a derail) was new and odd, they paused on that.

#pleaseanswer why the mods don't know if a user can request someone never speak to them again.

Because i had been off two days previously and wanted to check in and see if something had changed. Which may sound odd, but when I showed the draft of the US Elections post Meta, most chimed in and said it was good, except for the one of the overnight mods, who
who then pointed out that I was wrong, despite the current owner saying the post was fine (not a slam Jessamyn)

Point being, I know some stuff can slip through and before making a definitive statement, I wanted to be very sure.

#pleaseanswer why it was thought to be a good idea or policy to delete the derail but not the derailing comment, fail to address the initial comment, and delete non-derail, non-fighty comments. Did training fail somewhere?

The initial derailing comments were wildly out of anything I knew to be true and I did not want to delete them because I wanted there to be no mistake or possible denial of what was written.


#pleaseanswer why mods are always proposing a future discussion, instead of participating in the community.

We're here.

#pleaseanswer why mods still haven't taken any action about hippybear

Hippybear has been contacted. Not going to get into details, but they have been contacted about the problematic elements of their behavior.

#pleaseanswer why mods decided to delay this post for the utterly facile "a user" elision
Explained above

#pleaseanswer why Loup doesn't seem to have been aware of what was actually deleted in the previous thread, and based their comments on only what was still up

That's for them to say, but I'm betting they mispoke.

#pleaseanswer why it's so hard for mods to simply clearly communicate things while they're doing them

There tends to be a lot going on if it's a major situation, so usually we're focused on dealing with the explicit situation instead of communicating is what I'd say, particularly in this situation.

#pleaseanswer why no other mods have lent their perspective to this

Unknown at this time. But since loup generally tries to be the point person about mod responses in MeTa, I'm betting mods have consciously or unconsciously decided they are point person for all MeTas.

#pleasenaswer why mods are seemingly incapable of actually keeping up with these threads, and instead need us to do all the work of summarizing our own posts

That was me, not the mod team who asked for this. My thoughts are that communication is difficult, especially in these threads and situations. I've seen members asking questions that have already been answered, so my goal with the #pleaseanswer was request what people felt hadn't been answered and to focus on that.

#pleaseanswer why this all seems so difficult.

Because there's a lot of gray areas which can go several different ways.

A derailing comment was made in MeTa, where moderation is much lighter. Does that comment get deleted in this situation, if so why? The comment seems wildly inaccurate, should it be left standing for posterity? Etc, etcc.

Hope this clears thing up.

posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 4:30 PM on June 6 [28 favorites]


Thanks, Brandon.
posted by sagc at 4:32 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


I have a lot of sympathy for there not being enough resources and enough time, I really do. In light of that, though, I'd like to make one major suggestion that I think is generally in line with what many people have expressed, and that I think would help:

If the mods are overworked and can't keep up, and mistakes keep happening, consider changing the moderation policy to moderate less. Focus on the really abusive stuff, hate speech and the like should be deleted on sight, of course, and try to not police/guide discussions quite so much. As noted above, we're a smaller community now, I think we're capable of handling a derail, and maybe a derail isn't always so bad anyway. I think fewer deletions would be better, and that would also represent less work for the mods, I think.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:35 PM on June 6 [25 favorites]


Being proud of “deadnaming” is a terrible look, even if it’s for a corporation most of us reasonably hate.

this is a derail in this thread but not in the one that caused this thread to exist.

that said, corporations are not fucking people, no matter what some crow-eating dumbass republican former nominee with binders full of women says, so using the term "deadnaming" for corporations is some dumb, annoying, "I'm an ally" shit.
posted by i used to be someone else at 4:59 PM on June 6 [11 favorites]


Mod note: #PleaseAnswer

Why do people here feel so entitled; and as a follow up, why are they allowed to be so cruel to the staff?


Wanting answers is fine, especially when things have gone wrong.

#pleaseanswer how many people have turned off their recurring donations in the last month

#pleaseanswer how many people have buttoned in the last month


I don't have that information, but I do think it would be best to be clearer with the question. By last month do you mean what has occurred in the past 30 days or what happened in May?

Is MetaTalk now moderated for derails?

Nothing explicit has changed in policy. The deletions I made were from of a point of piling on a user.

Will warnings be given before deletions?
They should be and I definitely should have been like "Hey this comments are piling on a user, please stop it or comments will be removed"

If people are told to take a discussion to a new MetaTalk what’s the time frame?

It should be within a few minutes. Perhaps the mod on duty should just make one, it would be quickest route.

(Because as we saw, the discussion continued so it doesn’t really seem to work if there’s a long gap.) what’s the expectation for mod participation? Etc.

Perhaps a brief (BRIEF) initial comment from a mod explaining the situation and reason, but otherwise, the users should be given priority.

Maybe the mods need to have a better system for "continuing action" across shifts?

Absolutely agree and I dropped the ball here.

#pleaseanswer the exception to this is the wording brook horse provided...
They reposted the wording, will reply there.

#pleaseanswer How is it that loup is always working on vaguely-specified things that might make things better in the future, but then rarely actually appear, and if they do appear, end up entirely useless corporate-speak blather consuming pages of text to say very little of substance?

Point blank, those "vaguely-specified things" are still being worked on. I will not elaborate further, only heard about it in a Zoom call with loup today

I'm not trying to be cute and I know (KNOW) this will raise all sorts of other questions, which I personally will not answer and loup probably won't at the moment. Yes, this is frustrating and could (should) be handled better and absolutely people will be angry at not knowing more information and I totally get that and would encourage loup to mention it soon. I would encourage people to drop it and not bring it up for now.

But it's a good thing, especially in the context of the change to being community driven. Suffice to say I was absolutely delighted when I was told and I have a new bounce in my step about MeFi's future.

No, I haven't cleared this (or any) portion of the comment with loup, will probably tell them afterwards that it's been made. I'm commenting on it now to (gently) push this to be announced sooner than later.

]
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 5:03 PM on June 6 [12 favorites]


loup: Things will keep improving

I think there might be a little bit of a disconnect here. Do you mean "the community will continue disintegrating?"
posted by snofoam at 5:05 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Why was this metatalk posted specifically to discuss "the moderation actions that occurred" and then left with no moderators answering basic questions in the thread for an hour

it's been that way for as long as I've been here.
I was hoping that making this place a non profit etc etc would finally _finally_ change things but alas.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 5:07 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Mod note:
Thank you for clarifying that no one has special privileges. Could you further clarify whether you are also stating that the below process outlined by Loup (with my interpretation of the actions involved which may not be entirely correct) is NOT POLICY?

Step 1:

In MeMail, yes, you can request that someone cease contacting you, or block them.

Action: Block user using the MeMail block button.

Result: Individual is no longer able to contact you via MeMail because they are blocked.

Step 2:

If you, or any other member keep receiving unwanted reactions from a member in particular, you can MeFi Mail them and explicitly ask them to cease contact.

Action: Send a MeMail to the user in question requesting you stop contacting them outside of MeMail as well (in Step 1, the individual was blocked from MeMail, so this is explicitly referring to contact outside of MeMail).

Result: Individual receives a MeMail with this request.

Step 3:

If they persist after the request to cease contact you can reach out to us to step in.

Action: Reach out to mod about the fact that this person is contacting you despite being blocked via MeMail.

Result: Mod enforces outside of MeMail contact as well (as no contact via MeMail is already enforced via site coding of blocking, unless the the block button doesn’t actually do anything?).

Therefore mods enforce no contact requests outside of MeMail.

If it IS policy, am I correct in assuming it is accessible to all users (no special privileges required to access it)? Is there somewhere this is outlined, and what are the standards for approving such a request?


I'm honestly confused here. It sounds like you're asking if any user on the site can ask the mods to step in if they're being harassed on the site, especially if they've asked the harasser to stop it.

The answer to that question is yes, you can ask mods to stop if a harasser will not cease their actions. But we're only able to do anything about stuff that occurs on the site itself.

Hope that clears things up, let me know if something was misunderstood.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 5:08 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


If the mods are overworked and can't keep up, and mistakes keep happening, consider changing the moderation policy to moderate less.
This a thousand times. I'll say again that I'm very sympathetic to the moderation team, but all this stupid shit going on is a very predictable outcome of choices that have been made by that team (all with absolutely good intent to do things right). If the available resources don't permit the level of oversight that would be ideal, dial the oversight back to what the resources can cope with. That's a simple and obvious decision to make both from a community management and business perspective. Do the best you can with what you have, but don't try and do more.

Deleting comments that cross some invisible and ever-shifting line is clearly resource-intensive because it so often creates its own shitstorm. So, don't do it except in egregious, clear-cut violations. I can see that deleting a comment looks like a quick and easy way to stop things from blowing up, but it so often does the opposite. Leave a note instead - doesn't have to be a novel or a deeply thought-out inciteful piece of writing. Just 'stop doing this, <user> or you'll be timed-out'. I guess that's slightly more work than pressing a delete button, but it would be a lot less than trying (and usually failing) to also delete responses to the deleted comment that inevitably makes things worse. A large part of that is due to the prickly nature of the community, but that would hardly be a surprise to anyone. Doing less will give the team the space to do better. This doesn't require any coding or changing of anything, so there's nothing to stop that happening immediately except maybe a lack of will.

Everything you do is a decision and decisions always have consequences. Decide on the things that let the team do their best.

Today I learned that we (apparently) aren't allowed to call 'X' 'Twitter'. This is the sort of thing that creates friction to no benefit. Despite having deleted my account there, I still keep getting emails about things that are posted and they are shown as coming from 'X (formerly Twitter)'. When a corporation calls itself this, why the fuck would we tell people off for doing the same? Again, do the things you can with the resources you have and don't waste resources on stupid shit like protecting the feelings of a corporation.
posted by dg at 5:16 PM on June 6 [10 favorites]


BB: "I know (KNOW) this will raise all sorts of other questions, which I personally will not answer and loup probably won't at the moment..."

Ok, this can be fun. My guess: Lenny Kravitz has agreed to play at the MeFi 25th birthday party.
posted by snofoam at 5:16 PM on June 6 [8 favorites]


Brandon, I certainly hope you received an apology from hippybear. You were also treated very poorly by him.
posted by Kitteh at 5:22 PM on June 6 [22 favorites]


HB acted like a completely unhinged AH to Brandon, and rather than a public rebuke was instead given the courtesy of his nasty comments wiped away such that people now say, I checked his comment history and there’s nothing problematic there.
posted by JenMarie at 5:27 PM on June 6 [13 favorites]


Folks, I’ve long thought that moderation here worked mostly on vibes and I’m ok with that because that’s what you get from a small business. . Except this is more like your local elementary school’s PTA, with all the drama and shoestring budgets and people demanding that things be a certain way. If you want a place with corporate-style moderation, nailed down explicit policies, and consistent rule enforcement, you know what the alternatives are.
posted by bq at 5:35 PM on June 6 [12 favorites]


Comment deletion enables missing stairs, full stop.
posted by Alterscape at 5:37 PM on June 6 [15 favorites]


Also, dg, as far as I can tell it’s not “don’t call X Twitter.” It’s “please don’t invoke ‘deadnaming,’ which has a very specific implication and can be read as trivializing to trans experiences when you call X Twitter.”
posted by Alterscape at 5:39 PM on June 6 [27 favorites]


First, thanks Brandon, for the kind of reply that I think a lot of people were waiting for.

I did not want to delete them because I wanted there to be no mistake or possible denial of what was written.

Having highlighted the awkwardness of the deletions/non-deletions in one of my comments I want to say that I do think this was the right call, and I can see how the rest of it shakes out from there - I am guessing the deleted comments that were critical of his behavior were considered less important to preserve because they were not “historically significant” in the same way as the precipitating comment, and thus swept up for being too personal. This just had an unfortunate overall effect when things had already gotten personal, and it’s not the first time “cleaning up” after a derail or blowup has had that effect.
posted by atoxyl at 5:44 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Mod note: #pleaseanswer are the mods actually going to be answering the #pleaseanswer questions, or is this just a bit y’all are doing to distract us from [gestures at the surrounding situation]?


No distractions, questions will be answered, except for the one about kensington314's cheese. Sargento, really? I can't support brand in any way, so will pass.

In the past, posting communication with the mods publicly was explicitly forbidden and punished. If the preferred method for determining and disseminating site policy is it going to be asking and being told privately, do users need to ask each time if they can share said policy with others, or is the ban on sharing communications with the mods and artifact of previous times and no longer policy?

That doesn't sound quite right, let me check with the other mods and see if something has occurred or changed, but will throw the question in the mod slack to see about it. Might not get a reply until tomorrow. If you have specific examples of using sharing something a mod said and being punished for it, I would very much like to see those examples, 'cause that doesn't sound fair or right.

The Guidelines, Content Policy and Privacy Policy are public links located at the bottom of every page.

I'm wondering why A User has 45 favourites for that comment at time of writing, but his profile shows 103 favourites, and only that single comment as the user activity. Is this favouritism?

I'm not totally sure, I thought the favorite count was removed if a comment was deleted. But perhaps it's just if the account has been wiped that favorites are removed?

I certainly hope you received an apology from hippybear. You were also treated very poorly by him.

Somewhere previously in this thread, people expressed shock disbelief that I didn't view one of hippybear's comments directed at phunniemee as an attack. Best way that I can think of (at the moment) to explain that is that I didn't view hippybear's comment about me as an attack. I thought they were odd, but had no basis in reality, so it was sort of pointless to respond to them. It was like calling me a zebra stripped Martian that smells of regret and lakes. Ok, whatever, moving on.

At this point I'd just like to know which mod deleted A User's light-hearted joke, which I thought was a perfect bit of levity in a very dark thread.

Agreed, I love the one off jokey comments, but do feel they have their time and place adn shouldn't be used everywhere, especially.

But the comment was flagged with a long note from another user that made some decent points, so without talking to loup, who is currently off duty, that is my guess as to why the comment was removed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 5:47 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


What were the decent points?
posted by sagc at 5:59 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


the ban on sharing communications with the mods

I think I'm not alone here when I say:

what

I don't know if this is actual policy or if it ever were (I can't remember ever hearing about it), but if it somehow is, it needs to be rescinded immediately. Even if mods prefer questions to be asked in private (as I mentioned above, not ideal for several reasons), it at least has to be possible for people to share that communication publicly.

If not, it's some sort of kafkaesque nightmare where you can only talk to the people in charge in private, you can't tell anyone else what they said, and again, there's no way to know if they're saying the same thing to everyone or are applying policy consistently, and any semblance of accountability and public oversight is just completely gone.

More things need to be public, not less (fewer, yes, pedants).
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:03 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


Somewhere previously in this thread, people expressed shock disbelief that I didn't view one of hippybear's comments directed at phunniemee as an attack.

Just to back up Brandon here, I also didn't view it as an attack. I also don't think it should be deleted. I'm almost pathologically incapable of getting my feelings hurt, so someone liking me or not liking me is really none of my business.

The two things over the last two threads that I do have a problem with are tone scolding (the original topic) and what I consider to have been very poor moderation choices, the latter of which I think I've been pretty clear on.
posted by phunniemee at 6:05 PM on June 6 [8 favorites]


#pleaseanswer

Hope that clears things up, let me know if something was misunderstood.

Okay, so from your comment Loup WAS talking about an anti-harassment policy. That was never stated. Is the anti-harassment policy outlined anywhere? And was hippybear correct in invoking it against phunniemee? Was hippybear also correct that were this anti-harassment policy to be enforced, phunniemee would be banned from engaging with anything he posted again?

As it stands, with the comment up and Loup’s comment saying “no, hippybear doesn’t have special privileges, yes, we will enforce requests from anyone that a particular user not engage with any of the requester’s content,” phunniemee could be banned from engaging with any of hippybear’s posts based on behavior that, to my eye, does NOT qualify as harassment. The concern members have is that this is an unknown weapon of ambiguous force and undefined rules for use can, apparently, be wielded against a user simply because you disagree with or dislike them.

I suspect that is NOT the case, but at no point has it been said “this is not an appropriate use of the anti-harassment policy” and as such paints hippybear as having a legitimate claim against phunniemee.
posted by brook horse at 6:06 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


Sorry, meant to add thank you for responding and to not sound so terse but long healthcare worker day. 👍
posted by brook horse at 6:08 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


I suspect that is NOT the case, but at no point has it been said “this is not an appropriate use of the anti-harassment policy” and as such paints hippybear as having a legitimate claim against phunniemee.

I am not 100% sure that there not is a legitimate claim of some sort. Phunniemee had poked hippybear about the "class genocide" MeTa in several separate threads over the course of the past few months. I can see that hippybear clearly stepped over the line in some other cases, but I feel like that is genuinely inappropriate and something hippybear had the right to complain about.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 6:12 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Mod note: In the past, posting communication with the mods publicly was explicitly forbidden and punished. If the preferred method for determining and disseminating site policy is it going to be asking and being told privately, do users need to ask each time if they can share said policy with others, or is the ban on sharing communications with the mods and artifact of previous times and no longer policy?


Other mods chimed in on the Slack and there response was essentially (paraphrasing) "What?! How did get that impression, it's totally false!" Site policy is public and no one should have to learn it by interacting individually with a mod. If people have questions, they can create a MeTa or use the Contact Us form, which goes to the entire mod team.

I personally, as a mod, prefer that people do one of the above and NOT MeMail about mod stuff, unless it's because they're having a problem with a specific mod and want to report that and if in that cause, it should go to loup directly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:13 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


thanks Brandon, that's a very helpful response.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:20 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Phunniemee had poked hippybear about the "class genocide" MeTa in several separate threads over the course of the past few months.

Are you talking about this literally one single comment in a thread hippybear wasn't even participating in?

I mean please if there are any other times tell me, I genuinely don't remember.
posted by phunniemee at 6:20 PM on June 6 [9 favorites]


#pleaseanswer

So, the special secret “good thing” that you can’t really talk about (but did mention). I understand you can’t give specifics without the team agreeing, and I respect that. But could you say if maybe, hopefully, it involves Lenny Kravitz in some way without overstepping or ruining the surprise?
posted by snofoam at 6:22 PM on June 6 [11 favorites]


If you have specific examples of using sharing something a mod said and being punished for it, I would very much like to see those examples, 'cause that doesn't sound fair or right.

I’m not about to go digging through a quarter century of posts, but I assure you that I’ve heard this communicated by the mods several times over the years. Not so much the punishment part, but what happens is User A (not to be confused with A User!!) says something like “User B told me the mods told them [x] via memail, is that not true??” and then the mod is like “email communications are confidential; if you have any concerns reach out to us directly to discuss”. Sometimes with an eye toward member privacy, but definitely not always.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 6:24 PM on June 6 [10 favorites]


Are you talking about this literally one single comment in a thread hippybear wasn't even participating in?

I mean please if there are any other times tell me, I genuinely don't remember.


I had thought there were. I must be misremembering someone else's comment about it. I apologize. That does make hippybear's reaction much more unreasonable.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 6:25 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


I’ve done only a small amount of searching, but this discussion makes it very clear that it is not ok to post correspondence with the mods.
posted by bowbeacon at 6:26 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


lol christ
posted by phunniemee at 6:26 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


"What?! How did get that impression, it's totally false!" Site policy is public and no one should have to learn it by interacting individually with a mod.

Pinged my memory about the banning of odinsdream who at some point had shared private email correspondence between her and cortex. I honestly don’t remember how that went down and what the truth was and am not digging through 387 comments to find out, but I can see it arising there (as an actual example or source of confusion).
posted by brook horse at 6:27 PM on June 6 [13 favorites]


I also feel like people have absolutely had comments deleted for posting mod emails to them.
posted by sagc at 6:28 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


Mod note: I suspect that is NOT the case, but at no point has it been said “this is not an appropriate use of the anti-harassment policy” and as such paints hippybear as having a legitimate claim against phunniemee.

Ohhh, I believe I understand what's being asked now. If User A demands User B not engage with them AND their posts, is that official thing that mods will enforce?

I'm pretty confident in saying no, but it could also be very contextual, very much so.

If user A makes a post about the band Morphine and User B comments on the post something like "Oh, I love that band, saw them at the 8x12 in Baltimore in the '90s, they were fantastic, what a great show" and User A is like "they're harassing me, delete their comment!" the mod reply probably be along the lines of "this is not harassment, so there's no need to delete anything".

But it would really depend on what happened that lead up to what caused User A to say they're being harrassed. If there was an actual trail of harassment, User B would definitely be removed from the site and thus unable to comment on anything.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:31 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


This has 100% happened, and no, I’m not gonna go spelunking to find the comments.

I miss odinsdream.
posted by hototogisu at 6:31 PM on June 6 [11 favorites]


Other mods chimed in on the Slack and there response was essentially (paraphrasing) "What?! How did get that impression, it's totally false!"

Yeah, after a little more reflection, if that’s truly the mods stance they’re either quite ignorant of site history (even just the history of modding here), or they’re trying to gaslight the living fuck out of the community.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 6:32 PM on June 6 [8 favorites]


Brandon: Yes, thank you, that’s what is being asked. That has been one of the major concerns, both as broader policy and in that there has been no statement that this would be an inappropriate use of the anti-harassment policy. Because if it IS appropriate, based on what appears to be two total comments from phunniemee, that would have an extremely chilling effect on the entire community.
posted by brook horse at 6:33 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Other mods chimed in on the Slack and there response was essentially (paraphrasing) "What?! How did get that impression, it's totally false!" Site policy is public and no one should have to learn it by interacting individually with a mod.
I'm like 99% sure this was a thing way, way back in the day, when someone started posting the content of MeMail conversations with a mod in MeTa and there was the usual to-do about how such things are intended to be a private conversation and shouldn't be shared publically without consent. I'm not suggesting this is how it should be, but that may be the genesis of that belief? I would hope mods would not make statements about other users in an official capacity, privately or otherwise, that they wouldn't want to see shared.
posted by dg at 6:34 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Mod note: Pinged my memory about the banning of odinsdream who at some point had shared private email correspondence between her and cortex

That happened in the past and may be a misunderstanding based on singular exchange, so will check in about what, if any policy, is in place now about the policy about private communications with mods is these days.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:36 PM on June 6


lol christ

Oh damn it. I am very sorry, you weren't the one who made the comment, you were the one who explained the joke someone else made about it. And I just crossed it up in my old man brain. I am an idiot.

I have been feeling bad for the past few days not bringing it up, because while hippybear and I haven't gotten long on several occasions and I agree that the billionaire submarine MeTa was wrongheaded and thought the jabs were pretty funny, I was trying to be fair to hb. And it turns out it just didn't happen.

It's embarrassing, but that is what I get for posting without double checking first. And I am sorry hb went off on you like that. That was way more uncalled for than I had realized.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 6:40 PM on June 6 [15 favorites]


Literally everything that has ever happened happened in the past.

And why do you have to re-check? The policy is now so clear that the other mods laughed.
posted by bowbeacon at 6:41 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


before metafilter existed, there was a long standing tradition online that one didn't share private correspondance in public - even in the shittier places of usenet, like alt.flame or alt.fan.karl-malden.nose, you weren't allowed to do that

now whether that's still approrpriate in this instance is debatable, but to be fair, the mods haven't just made this up or decided to go this way for nefarious reasons - this is a real, old school rule
posted by pyramid termite at 6:48 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


It’s a fine and normal rule that existed here for years, which is why it is so shocking that the staff is baffled by the suggestion.
posted by bowbeacon at 6:49 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


So… it is a rule, just one the mods don’t know about? This is all very confusing.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 6:49 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


In ye olden days it was a social norm, in the scoured desert of the now it is an ironwrought legal framework taken to its most objectionable extreme.
posted by lucidium at 6:54 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


I think the question now is, if mod decisions and policies are mostly shared privately then can that be disseminated to the rest of the community? The obvious to me answer is maybe just make it public to begin with.
posted by JenMarie at 7:08 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Okay, I have a question:

Can I call dibs on the name "a zebra striped Martian that smells of regret and lakes" as an option for a sock puppet, because that's awesome.

(Just trying to lighten the mood a bit, apologies)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:17 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


Mod note: And why do you have to re-check? The policy is now so clear that the other mods laughed.


If folks want a definitive answer, then it's absolutely worth checking in to make sure everyone is on the same page and understanding.


posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:18 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Sharing private communications you've had with other users may or may not be frowned upon (I don't think it should be a bannable offense or anything, because once you send something to someone else, you should know they can do whatever they want with it, including making it public), but private communications with a mod in their capacity as a mod should absolutely be 100% ok to share in public.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:22 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]




To add more useless anecdata, I also recall it being frowned upon (at the very least) to share the contents of a private conversation with a mod in a public area of the site. But I sense -- perhaps erroneously -- that it was in the context of very specific topics (like, say, confidential matters/opinions concerning another member), and not every kind of communication unilaterally. Heck if I can remember how it was applied in practice, but it does exist in my decades-old memory of things here.
posted by mykescipark at 7:29 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]


Literally everything that has ever happened happened in the past.

And why do you have to re-check? The policy is now so clear that the other mods laughed.


"How dare you double check anything or use any phrase that I consider unnecessary" is some peak late-stage MeTa energy.

(FWIW, by my reading this whole tangent seems to originate in a surprising misreading of BB's 6:13 comment, but I guess any clarification on that point is best left to BB.)
posted by Not A Thing at 7:34 PM on June 6 [12 favorites]


FWIW, by my reading this whole tangent seems to originate in a surprising misreading of BB's 6:13 comment, but I guess any clarification on that point is best left to BB

Could you link to that comment or clarify which one it was? I did a search for "6:13" on the page and didn't find anything.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:40 PM on June 6


Presumably here; timestamps have always reflected the time zone set in the profile.
posted by sagc at 7:43 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


before metafilter existed, there was a long standing tradition online that one didn't share private correspondance in public - even in the shittier places of usenet, like alt.flame or alt.fan.karl-malden.nose, you weren't allowed to do that

As someone whose legacy dates to 1991 Unix email and BBSs…no. The preponderance of creeps militated against it, for one thing: just no. Don’t put jr in writing if you don’t want it circulated. The attempt to prevent private communications becoming public has pretty much only ever worked in the defense of the powerful and privileged:
posted by Miko at 7:46 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Mod note: My shift is ending soon, so there won't be much more from me and there will probably be a huge mod gap. I'll be back at some point in the AM, Eastern Time, for just a few hours.

If anyone feels a question has not be answered about this situation, feel free to ask it (and please tag it with #pleaseanswer or link to it if it's already been asked.

The goal with this thread is that people get answers to their questions about all this, so that no one walks away feeling anything has been hidden, ignored, or whitewashed. Folks may not like or agree with the answers, but they will get them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 8:01 PM on June 6 [13 favorites]


Brandon, you're doing good work here and I for one appreciate it.

Remember when this was where we all just made jokes about ponies?
posted by mmoncur at 8:28 PM on June 6 [14 favorites]


I have absolutely no stake in this dumpster fire, but one question keeps coming to mind and i'll probably regret even asking, but.. if the mods don't know the policies around here, how the hell can the users be expected to?
posted by cgg at 8:29 PM on June 6 [14 favorites]


timestamps have always reflected the time zone set in the profile.

Oh wow. I've been here for > 15 years in some form and that whole time I assumed everything was in Pacific Time. (Which I guess it is, but only by default.) Now that I know what it means, the "time offset" preference is kind of hilarious -- who would guess that "+0 hours" refers to MeFi's natal time zone and not UTC? (Everyone but me, I guess.)

Anyway given that every other sentence of the comment in question was addressing the protasis of the conditional ("IF policies are now announced only by private mod-to-user communications, THEN is it still not OK to publicize those private communications"), it seemed odd that the first sentence would be interpreted as responding to the apodosis. But maybe that is also just me.
posted by Not A Thing at 8:49 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Honestly, one Meta per day seems like a good policy. Sometimes you WANT a rate limiter. I've seen some Discord servers where they put a room in Slow Mode. Think about it. You don't have to get back to me right away.
posted by hypnogogue at 9:05 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


"What?! How did get that impression, it's totally false!" Site policy is public and no one should have to learn it by interacting individually with a mod.

I feel like there's older conversation around this but here's one example of cortex explaining in July 2020 to not post private correspondence. This comment is 2 days before the other MeTa comment link form brook horse but I think both were about the same broad situation.

Emphasis added:
I'm not going to post private correspondence, and it's pretty well known as seen in books for weapons' comment above that doing that sort of thing is broadly a banning offense on the site. I'm not gonna do anything other than say books for weapons shouldn't have done that and more so neither should have trappist, but it's a real stark violation of the site guidelines and one we very clearly tell folks not to do, for everybody's protection and sense of safety. "Unless you're upset with the mods" isn't an asterisk on that.
He says it's something "we very clearly tell folks not to do" which seems to supports my idea that there should be history around this policy.


That happened in the past and may be a misunderstanding based on singular exchange,

Obviously July of 2020 was not a super awesome time in the world, so maybe this was a one off thing explained poorly, but by my read folks are absolutely told and expected to not post any private communications regardless of the situation. I personally have a deeply embedded memory that MefiMail has a sort of HIPAA rule and messages are not to be discussed.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:08 PM on June 6 [14 favorites]


I have absolutely no stake in this dumpster fire, but one question keeps coming to mind and i'll probably regret even asking, but.. if the mods don't know the policies around here, how the hell can the users be expected to?

I'm currently reading a pretty solid biography of The Clash. One thing that is clear is that they were well named. Inside and out, there was always a clash, there was always chaos, it was often (always?) not clear who the manager was, who the producer was, who played on what, who wrote what ... but the mad train kept a-rolling ... not forever but for far longer than it should have given all the discord-disconnections-disruptions (and all manner of other things that don't even begin with "d").

My point being, I'm just damned glad we had them around vital and cool for as long as we did. Which is rather how I feel about Metafilter. Not saying I think the site is doomed (no five alarm fires I'm aware of); am saying that a big part of why it's stuck around as long as it has without losing its appeal (for me anyway) is because it runs on chaos, at least to some degree. Nobody knows exactly what's going on and never has. And yet it has kept on keeping on. Call it magic, I guess. The real kind.
posted by philip-random at 9:10 PM on June 6 [10 favorites]


Is MetaTalk now moderated for derails?

Nothing explicit has changed in policy. The deletions I made were from of a point of piling on a user.


I think this is the problem - you let 'A User's comment stand, while deleting all replies, with a comment to the effect of "hey don't pile on 'A User'" while leaving their horrible comment up, with no rebuke whatsoever to A User. It looks like you're just trying to hold a hand over them, while deleting all responses to their angry attacks, and not doing anything in the thread to or mod notes or anything to tell A User to cut it out. To the public reading the thread, A User's attack was allowed to stand, with no consequences or "hey cut it out" type statements, while all replies thereto were off-limits, "piling on".

It just looks like the rules are very different for A User and everyone else when that is what you do - say that several comments have been deleted, this isn't on, but make no indication that the not-deleted comment that you're saying left up because of how historically or unbelievably awful it was or whatever, to make no indication that it was in fact unacceptable, or that A User should in fact also not attack other users. If I had wanted to give the impression that A User is above the rules without explicitly stating it, I'm not sure I could come up with a way to communicate it more clearly.
posted by Dysk at 9:28 PM on June 6 [19 favorites]


Nobody knows exactly what's going on and never has. And yet it has kept on keeping on. Call it magic, I guess. The real kind.

It's nice that the chaos has been magical for you, I guess? It hasn't for everyone, including the many, many longtime active MeFites who are no longer willing to put up with this and have left or have stepped way back.

Often in these contentious MeTas there's an insinuation that we're all whiny toxic malcontents who are impossible to please. I can't speak for everyone who has left/stepped back, of course, but at least in my experience these are largely people who continue to feel deeply hurt, saddened and frustrated by the continued decline of MeFi, and who have offered very helpful suggestions that were shouted down for years.
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:30 PM on June 6 [19 favorites]


for completeness on the concerns about it being improper to publicly discuss private messages, here's a comment from June 21, 2011, original username left out because that's not the point I'm making:
Speaking of which, has [X] been spoken to by the mods for violating memail privacy? He revealed something someone told him in confidence in memail, a clear violation of site policy.
Now this does have the qualifier "in confidence" which may or may not be separate and different from "in memail", but again, my personal remembrance has been that at some point there was a big blow up over someone pasting messages into a public post and the mods came down quick with the banhammer and instructions to never do that again because the very name of private messages tells you that everything must be private.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:40 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


ah. found it. Excerpt from a October 15, 2009 comment from jessamyn:
Here's the mail rules

- do not repost private messages [email, memail, chat] without permission

...
That MeTa was linked to from this 2010 MeTa which has a whole sidebar about if we can or can't post private messages.


In jessamyn's comment I think that the "without permission" is the source of the apparent misunderstanding here. I would assume that if I privately asked a mod about policy, I would not be allowed to talk about that unless I went back and got permission. Maybe mods always thought there was an understanding that contact form stuff always had that permission?

Except later on in the 2009 MeTa there's this interaction

Does a notice on one's user profile reading "MeMail sent to this account may be reposted publicly" constitute permission?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:46 on October 15, 2009 [+] [⚑]


No. No it doesn't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:57 on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite +] [⚑]


so... idk. But that's why I was under the impression that you don't talk about fight club memail
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:48 PM on June 6 [9 favorites]


Site policy is public and no one should have to learn it by interacting individually with a mod. If people have questions, they can create a MeTa or use the Contact Us form, which goes to the entire mod team.

You realize the suggestion to interact individually with a mod was endorsed by loup and that's the reason people were asking whether that was somehow the new way to get public policy answers?
posted by lapis at 9:58 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]


I personally have a deeply embedded memory that MefiMail has a sort of HIPAA rule and messages are not to be discussed.

Well, in addition to the current owner and the previous owner of the site, each saying that it was a banning offense (in the context of posting communications with the mods, as linked above), it’s also in the FAQ: “Similarly, copying and pasting MefiMail to any other part of the site without the writer's permission is a bannable offense.” Maybe all the mods were relying on a Shirley exception (“Surely nobody would think this explicit rule would apply to a question about site rules or policies?”), but I don't know why a user would know about this unstated exception, especially when the times someone is most likely to ask about the rules is when they would apply to a controversial situation or one where there is currently conflict.
posted by JiBB at 10:04 PM on June 6 [17 favorites]


Since no one has pointed the mods to this paragraph from the current Metafilter FAQ, I might as well do it:
Members are also expected to respect each other's privacy in certain basic ways. Members' profile page information (such as location) is not visible to search engines and should not be brought over to the rest of MetaFilter. Similarly, copying and pasting MefiMail to any other part of the site without the writer's permission is a bannable offense.
People have linked a few older threads that reference it, but it's abundantly clear that this extends to recent moderation norms, too. See, for instance, the MeTa linked above, Twitter harassment from Mefi Outsider & Go Mefi from July 2020, which pretty clearly demonstrates how this type of rule has served the mods well, if not the membership (but I'm not trying to draw a parallel between the gravity of that situation and this one, so let's not relitigate them here, okay?).
posted by knucklebones at 10:05 PM on June 6 [10 favorites]


Jinx!
posted by knucklebones at 10:18 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


When the general user’s understanding of policy gets this Talmudic, well, “you have an interface problem” Is an understatement.
posted by Miko at 10:19 PM on June 6 [15 favorites]


Also, FYI, "unpaid overtime," unless you're exempt, is almost always illegal. You need to get paid if you worked.
posted by lapis at 10:22 PM on June 6 [15 favorites]


FWIW, my experience with the mods in the mathowie/cortex era is that they tended to be less formal/diplomatic and a lot more blunt, especially when talking over mail. Cortex's mod statements became more tactful and discursive later on but could still come off pretty damn frankly in private, which occasionally bled into his public comments as well. This tendency tightened up as the approach to staffing and moderation became more professionalized, moreso after loup took over -- I could never imagine them calling anybody out for acting like an asshole, for example, even privately. Call it "bland corporate PR blather" if you want, but it may explain why previous leadership would have been less comfortable with having their raw unvarnished opinions about disputes shared publicly without their consent.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:47 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "Nah, it just looks like a bunch of people who decided to live in bitch-eating-crackers mode 24/7."

When members go to reddit and say 'hello i finally gave up and closed my account at metafilter' they give the same reasons that they or other members say here. Problems that never get fixed. Inconsistent guideline enforcing. Feeling they were lied to, mistreated or gaslit by moderators.

Write them off if you want but we have lost at least a hundred members who used to be very active but left voluntarily. They were not banned. Some went to reddit. They used to fill ask with questions or the front page with best of web content. Made thousands of comments. Content and good discussions are the life blood of metafilter. Take them away and what is left? Make changes and frustrated exmembers may come back. Even if they don't maybe fewer active members will leave.
posted by qi at 11:26 PM on June 6 [50 favorites]


The subreddit really has a range of types, from kind of unhinged people with huge hateboners to people who are level and grounded and have reasonable complaints to people who are just chillin'. It just generally doesn't turn into giant firestorms because of (I believe) the title of this post: Threaded Comments.
posted by Bugbread at 11:35 PM on June 6 [17 favorites]


The Clash rule
posted by kensington314 at 11:44 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]


The subreddit really has a range of types, from kind of unhinged people with huge hateboners to people who are level and grounded and have reasonable complaints to people who are just chillin'.

It gives me whiplash going from super-sensible personalities and recognizable names to dudes who are probably incandescent with rage they only get custody one weekend a month, but solely as a matter of principle, not because they particularly want to spend more time with their kids.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:55 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]


it's wild to me that people thinking a user's reaction to phunniemee is justified because she explained a jokey comment of mine which stitched not one, but *two* of a user's most famed sentences, one from a thread and one from a comment.

she's catching strays while I'm here mimicking euphoria (now let me say I'm the biggest hater)
posted by i used to be someone else at 2:32 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


like if, between phunniemee and I you did a comment by comment comparison in this thread and the thread previous you'd see she only refers to a user vis-a-vis that blatant attack and I've been not subtle in how irritated I've been with a user, which largely stems from a long pattern of offensive but not quite offensive enough behavior in the mods' eyes for me to be all "I hate the way that you walk, the way that you talk / I hate the way that you dress"

this is over a one-sided beef that wasn't even USDA canner grade and the site is far past well done now.
posted by i used to be someone else at 2:40 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


the thing is I probably wouldn't have been such a snipery bitch about a user if the mods had actually been a bit more verbose when making mod notes and explaining why a user's history of mild ally-polite style of transphobia wasn't appropriate, but given how long it took for the mods to bother setting up a bipoc board that moves with all the swiftness of a stagnant spillway why should I wait another half decade for a trans user board that releases minutes maybe once a quarter when they're really moving to be set up?
posted by i used to be someone else at 2:52 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


Write them off if you want but we have lost at least a hundred members who used to be very active but left voluntarily. They were not banned. Some went to reddit. They used to fill ask with questions or the front page with best of web content. Made thousands of comments. Content and good discussions are the life blood of metafilter.

However, if you go to that Reddit sub, the only thing they seem to talk about is "lol Metafilter sux" or "lol [metafilter user x] is so boring".

I also miss the users who've left, but I suspect that the people who actually contributed to Metafilter in the way you're describing probably just....left, and didn't see the need to join a hatewatch subreddit. I'm skeptical that the people in that subreddit are the erudite conversationalists you're claiming.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:39 AM on June 7 [11 favorites]


"Some went to reddit" suggests that he is talking about all the users who left, not just the ones who have commented on reddit or that sub-reddit itself.

But I guess we're happy to write them off? I've seen many people make a single comment or two over there when they leave and then not join that community more broadly, so I'm not sure it's as clear-cut as you seem to think based on looking at that community. I know there are a people very active in that sub that aren't/weren't my favourite commenters, but a lot of people have passed through with various degrees of activity that I genuinely miss.
posted by Dysk at 3:53 AM on June 7 [13 favorites]


we don't have an exit survey for users who buttoned (which btw would be a good idea) but if there's any kind of over-arching theme to why people are ceasing donations, or leaving altogether, that can be gleaned for final comments on the site or on any other site (and tbh i do not read that sub as a bunch of lol metafilter sux being slung around), yeah, there's a few themes that definitely emerge. shitpost outliers can probably be ignored, but when a pattern emerges it's probably a good idea to pay attention to that i would think
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:56 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


she doesn't take herself so seriously

Honestly can't see how anyone can look at that reddit sub and say it doesn't take itself too seriously. It can be useful but good lord do some of the folks there take themselves very *very* seriously. I crack up sometimes at how much it can parallel the worst aspects of MeFi.
posted by mediareport at 4:03 AM on June 7 [15 favorites]


Heya, adding to what Aya Hirano has said. Just like MetaFilter users aren't all the same, you can't assume all people in the Reddit sub are the same.

I'm subbed there and skim it occasionally. Sure there's a fair amount of bad faith or exaggerated mockery, or axe grinding. However, there's often a number of ex-users who engage more in sorrow than anger to express how they feel about the site, and take the opportunity to say their piece before moving on (or not).

In the most recent thread a few ex MeFites touched base to say hi, and these were who were long standing positive contributiors to MetaFilter.

What people do with that is up to them, but I wanted to push back on the idea that it's nothing a lot of aggressive malcontents who are not missed on MetaFilter.
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 4:08 AM on June 7 [20 favorites]


bad faith or exaggerated mockery

I think you might have misspelled "gleefully mean-spirited shit" there.

(Also, thinking all MeFites are the same, or one user can represent the entirety of the site, is like the main sport over there. It's rarely questioned, unlike here, where someone generalizing from one person to the entirety of MetaFilter at least sometimes gets called out.)
posted by mediareport at 4:18 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


People talk about things there because they've learned that they're not allowed to talk about them here.

Yes, there's a lot of hate-reading and bitch-eating-crackers and axe-grinding there. But there's also a lot of people there who care deeply about the site, many of whom are still participating here too.

The problematic user's behaviour that kicked this whole thing off has been an ongoing topic of conversation there for months. It's been an extremely obvious and troublesome pattern. But the moment schmod actually spoke about that behaviour out loud here, his comment was deleted, as was his subsequent comment announcing he was leaving in response. Only the latter one has been reinstated.

Meanwhile, all of the original derailer's obnoxious comments are still standing. And yet we're still being told the bare faced lie that they haven't been getting special treatment. When in fact anyone who believes their own lying eyes can see that they're still getting special treatment, right now, in front of us.

As Dysk keeps patiently pointing out: it doesn't matter what you say the policies or goals are. The purpose of a system is what it does.

And when viewed through that lens, what people keep seeing here is a system that wants to protect itself, hide or evade problems, prevent change, and resist efforts to renew or replace it.

This can be true even if it's not the intent of any of the people involved.
posted by automatronic at 4:32 AM on June 7 [39 favorites]


I don't disagree with anything you've said, and this:

People talk about things there because they've learned that they're not allowed to talk about them here.

is exactly what I meant when I said that sub can be useful. A place where discussion of mod decisions can occur without the mods being able to delete comments about themselves is the single biggest reason to visit that sub. But spend some time there and the downsides of its own moderation style become obvious.

One cute thing about it is the tentativeness folks will use there when posting comments that go against the sub's prevailing winds. Which, of course, also happens to be one of the sub's most common criticisms of this place. Like I said, it cracks me up sometimes.
posted by mediareport at 4:41 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


A place where discussion of mod decisions can occur without the mods being able to delete comments about themselves

This is, in theory, what MetaTalk is. And to some degree (a large degree?) in practice, too, but the ambiguity of site guidelines and inconsistencies in moderation make MetaTalk less frank and open than it should be, but also clearly not less combative.
posted by snofoam at 4:55 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


I think this is the problem - you let 'A User's comment stand, while deleting all replies, with a comment to the effect of "hey don't pile on 'A User'" while leaving their horrible comment up, with no rebuke whatsoever to A User. It looks like you're just trying to hold a hand over them, while deleting all responses to their angry attacks, and not doing anything in the thread to or mod notes or anything to tell A User to cut it out. To the public reading the thread, A User's attack was allowed to stand, with no consequences or "hey cut it out" type statements, while all replies thereto were off-limits, "piling on".

This is my issue with the whole shebang. I don't care what everyone calls Trump, but I do care when attacks on a user are allowed to stand, and replies about that behaviour being unacceptable are deleted. That is my bugbear. I mean, I don't have issues with the mods in general, but the nastiness of those comments should not be allowed to stand and when they happened, whatever mod was on duty should have said, IN THREAD, "hey hippybear, maybe you need to step away from the post. Go get something to eat and take a walk. Come back tomorrow. This is not how we talk to our fellow community members."

Like, that's literally it.
posted by Kitteh at 4:55 AM on June 7 [34 favorites]


[FYI I've asked to have all my comments above in this discussion removed. Upon reflection, I feel I'm neither as long-tenured, prolific nor impactful a contributor to MeFi to participate in this discussion. Sorry about any resulting 'missing stair' comments.]
posted by zaixfeep at 4:58 AM on June 7


Whoa there zaixfeep. My understanding is that a missing stair is a creepy/abusive person that many people in a community know about, but the community protects. It's the kind of thing where, when you join a real-world community, someone might tell you "don't ever be alone in a room with [x], he tries to grope people," or whatever, but nobody actually asks [x] to get lost because paradox of tolerance or whatever. "Don't try to step on that missing stair, you'll break your ankle." I was specifically talking about how some people's shitty comments in other threads were cleaned up and are now invisible, so there's no evidence if you look at those peoples' profiles that they're the kind of people who say things that earn deletion.

Asking to have your own comments cleaned up for lack of expertise, not because you baited the mods and said shitty things, is an entirely different thing, I think.
posted by Alterscape at 5:03 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


Also, to push back, I think you are 100% entitled to have an opinion, zaixfeep. I didn't notice your comments above in particular one way or the other, but you joined in 2016, you've been here nearly 8 years. Creating an environment where you feel like you don't count is I think a big part of the problem the bloody site seems to have, and we should try to fix that as a community.
posted by Alterscape at 5:07 AM on June 7 [23 favorites]


Yeah, I strongly disagreed with part of one comment, zaixfeep, but that doesn't mean you should delete it. It's a conversation.
posted by mediareport at 5:18 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


I don't think you need to have a certain number of years or comments or posts here or whatever to have an opinion, and for it to be valuable. I guess I could see if your account was just a couple weeks old or whatever, but if you're a mefite, you're a mefite to me.
posted by Dysk at 5:19 AM on June 7 [15 favorites]


Upon reflection, I feel I'm neither as long-tenured, prolific nor impactful a contributor to MeFi to contribute to this discussion.

god if this isn't part of the whole problem idk what. i mean it's an understandable impression to get when a "long-tenured" and "prolific" member of this site gets protected from pushback for being nasty, and when that same member's favourites count is cited as evidence of their supposed overall approval by the rest of the community. but jfc if you're here you are a part of the community afaic and things need to change to reinforce that idea better
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:23 AM on June 7 [25 favorites]


That's the vibe, it seems. Longterm members get a pass for their behaviour, but newbies button before they can reach longterm status. It reinforces that anyone here from the old guard is more valuable than new blood...who could help keep the lights on.
posted by Kitteh at 5:27 AM on June 7 [11 favorites]


FWIW I've said more about this situation on Reddit than I have here because a) I can't imagine what I could say here that y'all are not already saying at length, loudly, repeatedly, as we all have been for years, and b) what I feel most inclined to post, an entire screenful of facepalm emojis, would probably be deleted. I'm just a shitposter anyway, I don't have any answers. But for as much as there are crackers being eaten and bitching being done there, dismissing the whole thing as a bitch-eating-crackers endeavor would be overlooking the fact that a *lot* of long-time prolific contributors seem to feel more comfortable on Reddit than over here. I know I did, last time I took a break here for a couple of years.

Asking ourselves why that's the case (and on preview why folks like zaixfeep who've been here for years, who belong here and yet don't feel qualified to contribute to this discussion) might start to stem the tide of departures.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 5:30 AM on June 7 [13 favorites]


Mod note: FYI I've asked to have all my comments above in this discussion removed.

This has been done.

Will have a comment or two about things that were written overnight, but that'll be a bit later this while dealing with a few other issues on the site.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 5:36 AM on June 7


Alterscape, I guess I misinterpreted your comment "Comment deletion enables missing stairs, full stop." Comments referencing a deleted comment do evoke a 'missing stair'-like metaphor in my mind. Perhaps someone can suggest a better metaphor.

I feel my earlier comments in this post made me seem like some sort of Will Forte-created character wandering around in the background. My deletions stand. Beyond this reply I'm out of this discussion.
posted by zaixfeep at 5:44 AM on June 7


Well this is fucking depressing.
posted by Dysk at 5:44 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


Yeah...I hung out at the Reddit area a few times, until I literally stumbled upon people gleefully discussing my mental health and trying to "diagnose" me. It was deeply embarrassing and truly was a nasty shock to read, so stayed off there since. I'm happy if people find some community there they like, but not those parts of it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:44 AM on June 7 [26 favorites]


(I'd like to say I do appreciate the more following-along mod notes and time of return expectations. Also, agree with Kitteh above that the original hb comment could have stood, with a mod not underneath saying unacceptable, and none of the rest of it might have even occurred.)
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:46 AM on June 7 [10 favorites]


zaixfeep, I'm sorry I used a term I understood to have a specific meaning in a way that wasn't clear to people without the social/historical context for my use of the term. That's my bad for relying on shorthand. I hope you keep engaging.

Also re: reddit, there's a bunch of people over there, including me. Some of them are people I disagree with. There's people over here who say gross things too (hello, this entire brouhaha), so I'm not sure it's as cut-and-dry as "the bad people went to reddit." I definitely feel more comfortable over there (for some of the same reasons zaixfeep cites -- I am certainly not one of the mefi cool kids). I doubt I'm going to change anything, but eh, it's nice to kibbutz with the section of folks who love and miss mefi of old, and I can ignore the bits I don't care about and downvote the shitty bits. I do have a suspicion that being active over there makes me somehow suspect to some people here, but eh. I haven't said anything over there I wouldn't say here, and vice-versa.
posted by Alterscape at 6:02 AM on June 7 [13 favorites]


I definitely feel more comfortable over there

The last time I was sent a link to that reddit there was a contingent of people calling me the HR Edge Lady and speculating that I abuse my job role to run background checks on the men I date, an absolutely wild take with precisely zero basis in reality. Cope harder.

I'm sure there are some very fine people on reddit, it is a massive place and given how online the metafilter population has been since the beginning of the internet, the post metafilter diaspora is wide. But I'm sure you can also understand how that particular subreddit does not feel like a welcoming or comfortable place to call home for all of us.

If/when metafilter collapses, I'm probably not going to be online as much. My favorite place to be is Ask, and there's nothing else anything like it anywhere else online. I generally only come to MetaTalk for the kicks. The thought of moving the focus of my internet life to a place where only ex mefites continue the meta-talking spirit is frankly exhausting to me.
posted by phunniemee at 6:12 AM on June 7 [32 favorites]


Mod note: Couple of notes:

Thanks for the links and reminders about the MeMail policy. That was mentioned on the Slack also.

That policy still stands in terms of a MeMail between two (or more) users who are not moderators. Don't do that, it could result in a ban.

The real and important question is what's the current policy on communications between a general user and a Moderator and that's what's being brought up in the moderation Slack. Not much has been discussed in that regard yet (it was night for most mods), so we'll keep you posted.


posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:15 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]


My favorite place to be is Ask, and there's nothing else anything like it anywhere else online

Yeah, I didn't have the energy to be part of the discussion about what could possibly be worth pitching to journalists about the site's upcoming 25th (!) anniversary, but this place has always had some unique offerings that don't really seem to exist elsewhere. Like an all-topics, one-stop-shop, moderated Q&A-slash-advice site that doesn't exist for marketing or astroturfing purposes and tends to draw knowledgeable answers for almost every question.
posted by trig at 6:26 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


Yes add me to the list of people who were curious about the metafilter sub (I love metafilter people, why wouldn't I seek out more metafilter conversations?) and had a look at it only to find some nasty comments about me so no thanks.
posted by Zumbador at 6:27 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


Mod note: Also, please be mindful of discussions about or back and forth with the Reddit group. The conversation points have been moving into the area of "This is what I don't like about that group" or "they said this about me" which is wading into the area of bringing offsite "drama" (for lack of better term) onto MetaFilter. Please don't do that. If that does happen, we may ask people to drop that conversation completely and if it still continues comments may be removed. We're here to talk about MetaFilter.

It's fine to acknowledge the existence of other places where people talk about MetaFilter or why users may feel more comfortable elsewhere, but we absolutely do not want want to get into cross talk or arguments about various issues.

We wish members on that specific Reddit or any other site well and have no objections to their existence, but again, absolutely do not want to get into anything resembling an argument or fight and request that members on MetaFilter do the same.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:30 AM on June 7 [10 favorites]


A perspective from a relative outsider (I don’t read most of the site usually) who just skimmed this thread: If you want new users and growth, you should probably get rid of MetaTalk. The blue seems fine at a glance as do the other subsites, but a click into MetaTalk is like lifting a rock to find a wriggling mass of who knows what. Without heavy moderation, it’s always going to seem like Too Much to a casual person who just wants to find interesting links on the open web. If it’s more important to get the wriggling and writhing in, that’s cool, too.
posted by ignignokt at 6:41 AM on June 7 [24 favorites]


The conversation points have been moving into the area of "This is what I don't like about that group" or "they said this about me" which is wading into the area of bringing offsite "drama" (for lack of better term) onto MetaFilter. Please don't do that.

That continues to be a terrible take. Metafilter is designed to be a site that talks about other sites. A discussion of what's good and bad about that subreddit is well within the purview of this discussion as it's naturally evolved, and denying folks the opportunity to point out to the site's promoters in this thread why, exactly, they don't feel welcome there only serves to strengthen MeFi's critics. But OK, it annoys the mods, so I'll mentally flag it and move on.
posted by mediareport at 7:03 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: wriggling mass of who knows what
posted by jgirl at 7:12 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


a wriggling mass of who knows what
I concur with everyone saying to maybe hide questionable comments instead of deleting them because suppressed fights blaze out on MetaTalk and create enormous piles of catnip that I cannot resist. Against my better judgement when I want to avoid tasks, I flip over to MetaTalk hoping for exactly that beautifully described phenomenon: "a wriggling mass of who knows what" that I can really disappear into. That's how I laid waste to yesterday and how I'm currently destroying today. Yes, please, do autodelete slurs and outright abuse, but if you would please leave comments accessible and not make the sorts of deletions that led to this blowout, the curious could click and get the backstory; the uninterested and persons with intact executive function could ignore it; and above all, you would avoid creating irresistible mysteries that lead to rapidly metastasizing, delicious, day-wrecking gossip piles like this very excellent one.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:16 AM on June 7 [30 favorites]


It's a bit sad that there's a few people here who've posted and said that they don't feel like real contributors, even though I recognise their names and feel like I've had positive interactions with them.

I wonder how it's possible to fix that.
posted by ambrosen at 7:23 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


I wonder how it's possible to fix that.

One way - and I'm not saying you do this, this is just a general observation - would be for folks in the community to avoid constantly making references to how long someone has been a member here, or how long they've been actively posting, in threads where the community is trying to hash out new or improved norms or guidelines.

There's no better way to make someone new or newish feel like an outsider than to see a whole thread full of "(poster A) has been around for 17 years" and (poster C) has been weighing in on this for 14 years!" type comments, even if gatekeeping and bona-fide-verifying isn't the intent of comments like that. It's very intimidating, even to someone who may have been here for more than weeks but maybe only a single-digit number of years.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter how long someone's been here. What matters is that they're here and want to continue to be here.
posted by pdb at 7:33 AM on June 7 [16 favorites]


To ambrosen's point, I think there's a very definite "in" clique 'round here. I don't think that's really anyone's fault -- cliques happen as a natural part of humans being humans -- but it's pretty clear when you aren't in the clique. So I suspect if you're both a relatively "new" (read: less than 10 years, given the stats Klipspringer put together) user, and not "in," it's pretty alienating sometimes. I'm not new, but I'm not in, and I get that experience.

I've been around a long time and there's areas of the site where I feel like I have something to say (certain technical questions on the green, questions about surviving higher ed, etc), but I've never really felt like I had anything to say on the blue or anything I wanted to say on the blue. Like, I worry about saying something slightly wrong and having the mods (or maybe worse, the users) descend to chew me a new one. I've seen it happen, and I'm an introvert so I don't really like the idea of putting myself out there. Also, the older I get the less excited I am about putting up the kind of self-disclosure some people do here. Like, this stuff is searchable and archived on the wayback machine and permanent in a way I don't necessarily want a lot of my dirty laundry to be.

I really appreciate a bunch of outspoken users here who have educated and informed and enlightened me over the years. Maybe it's selfish that I'm not doing the same, but also, I'm a milquetoast upper middle class techbro. There's no shortage of people like me on the internet or on metafilter, so, why add to the noise? (acknowledging my own hypocrisy here, since I'm adding to the noise, but ambrosen did ask...)
posted by Alterscape at 7:35 AM on June 7 [14 favorites]


It's a bit sad that there's a few people here who've posted and said that they don't feel like real contributors, even though I recognise their names and feel like I've had positive interactions with them.

I wonder how it's possible to fix that.


Similar questions have wandering around in my brain and I think the community as a whole needs to make a pointed effort to encourage people to post.

First by making it feel easier to post and that there's not a huge barrier to posting. Secondly, and just off the top of my head at this very minute that doing occasional (seasonal?" events. Oh, it's summer in northern hemisphere? Then have an 'event' where people are encouraged to make posts about what they like about summer, what they're looking forward to and what summer means to them or just something about summer, which could also mean posts about how things are getting warmer and what that's all about.

Just a random thought, but basically encourage and remind people to share things neat things they've found around the internet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:39 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


A perspective from a relative outsider (I don’t read most of the site usually) who just skimmed this thread: If you want new users and growth, you should probably get rid of MetaTalk.

This was high on my list for the initial Transition Team recommendations; remove it, or very radically change how it functions. MetaTalk is one of the reasons I participate so much less these days.

re: "real" members: I think I recognize almost every username in this and the previous thread. Some of you really irritate the hell out of me but I can't imagine there being real questions as to who is or isn't "qualified" to comment.
posted by curious nu at 7:45 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


I think the community as a whole needs to make a pointed effort to encourage people to post.

Since we're being blunt here, my personal read on posting to the blue is that very, very frequently, one of the first few comments is a dismissive (or hostile) derail by a terminally-online axe-grinder that poisons the discussion. It's a real fuckin drag to click into a thread to find that there are 30 comments from 3 or 4 people who have clearly not engaged with the content in any way arguing about ... something.

I don't know what the solution is (other than, uh, threaded comments), but it sucks.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:48 AM on June 7 [45 favorites]


Mod note: Since we're being blunt here, my personal read on posting to the blue is that very, very frequently, one of the first few comments is a dismissive (or hostile) derail by a terminally-online axe-grinder that poisons the discussion.

Please flag those comments, flag'em with a note if you like and believe more explanation would help. Also consider making a thoughtful comment about the subject while ignoring those comments, if people have time.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:54 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


Re getting rid of MetaTalk: one of the ideas in the Mefi Golightly post (made by my previous self) that led to a user being banned by cortex because, among other things, they tried to share mod correspondence, was to make MetaTalk members-only. That idea never really got explored because of the fallout, but maybe something to consider?
posted by creatrixtiara at 7:59 AM on June 7 [15 favorites]


(as in, MetaTalk is only viewable for logged in users)
posted by creatrixtiara at 7:59 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


i think logged-in visibility for metatalk is a great idea tbh. on the other hand i can also imagine the jumpscare it would cause for new users to get signed up and then witness all this.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:07 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


Mod note: I'm headed out, there's another long mod gap, 'cause it's the weekend. I'll be back tomorrow.

If any questions still persist feel free to link to any that have already been asked, but missed, or post a new one with the tag #pleaseanswer.

Y'all take it easy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 8:15 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


A perspective from a relative outsider (I don’t read most of the site usually) who just skimmed this thread: If you want new users and growth, you should probably get rid of MetaTalk.

Just as a counterpoint: When I first started lurking here Metatalk was one of the things that really impressed me about the site. The openness of the mods! The accessibility of the mods! The serious conversations with the mods! How much they seemed to care, and how responsive they were to people!

(Agreed that today's MT is not that.)
posted by trig at 8:20 AM on June 7 [18 favorites]


lots of very valuable suggestions in this thread that people have been suggesting for years (specifically a lighter moderation touch/focus on truly objectionable comments plus moving to hiding comments instead of deleting them) but i would like to point to one aspect of loup's comment that i think is the source of a lot of this strife.

Nowadays, we’ve got a smaller team of part-time moderators keeping an eye on things, MetaTalk is mostly addressed by yours truly (that’s me!) while I also handle a bunch of other tasks during my 5-hour shift each day—payroll, staff management, accounting, tech support, customer service—you name it.

i understand that the site has limited resources. but one major issue under Cortex's ownership that we rang the bell about over and over again was the conflating of mod duties with admin duties. we begged and pleaded for cortex to either step back from moderation or to hire an admin person to free up his time - he was unable or unwilling to do so.

now we are in the same situation where the one mod who has been deemed The Communicator is also doing all the admin work for the site. Loup has told us again and again not to expect to hear from anyone else in these threads, but they're also the one doing all the admin work every week (and in only 25 hours a week, it sounds like?) yeah - no wonder you're burned out.

if loup is doing admin work, why are they the only person users can be expected to ever hear from? is it just that Loup as a relative outsider is most willing to sit at the table and eat a big pile of shit? (forgive me for the inelegant metaphor, but in a lot of ways i have to imagine that's what MetaTalk feels like from a mod perspective)

#PleaseAnswer - is there no one else equipped to handle site updates and respond to MetaTalk comments? Brandon clearly has been making it a priority, as his moderation-only workflow allows that. but Brandon is also the New Guy and it seems like a lot of his job is Communing With The Mod Council to divine what the actual site policies are. are all the other mods (truly since they don't participate in MeTa I am not even sure who is still with us these days) just too burned out to take on any of these responsibilities? is Loup the only mod who works enough hours to handle all these responsibilities?

because we understand that you have limited resources, but as it has been for years, a lot of frustration has to do with how the resources are being used. admin work is Priority A, which it always will be. comment moderation seems to be Priority B and community management seems to be a distant Priority C. a lot of us have been asking for years to switch priorities B and C - asking for less "moderation" and more "community management". if i remember correctly that was supposed to be a major benefit of Loup taking over MetaTalk - but clearly they are stretched too thin.

a site as precarious as this one needs community management like we need water. we need someone to massage threads like these and maybe someone with the unilateral ability to decide on relatively low impact decisions like "is it OK to share MeMails from mods" without having to consult the Council. i really think we need someone with the bandwidth to consider these things without also having to worry about getting payroll in on time.
posted by nourishedbytime at 8:29 AM on June 7 [20 favorites]


Since we're being blunt here, my personal read on posting to the blue is that very, very frequently, one of the first few comments is a dismissive (or hostile) derail by a terminally-online axe-grinder that poisons the discussion. It's a real fuckin drag to click into a thread to find that there are 30 comments from 3 or 4 people who have clearly not engaged with the content in any way arguing about ... something.

Well said. This is why I almost never post anymore.
posted by oulipian at 8:31 AM on June 7 [19 favorites]


On the subject of how to get people to feel welcome - I don't think I can say a lot about that, because I guess I'm one of those people who never particularly expects or needs to feel welcome or a sense of belonging with a random group of strangers. I talk as much as anyone about the community here, but honestly I'm fine with it being just a place where I can learn people's (user)names and get a sense over time of where they're coming from.

But based on experience at another site that does feel somewhat more insider-y than here, I think one of the things that makes me feel that way is that older members (account activity "levels" are prominently displayed) seem (to me) to respond to each other much more and to kind of ignore posts by newer members. I don't know that I've seen that much here, but then again I haven't really been looking. So maybe beyond encouraging people to make front-page posts and trying to be encouraging to new front-page posters, we can also try to make sure to engage thoughtfully with what new names are saying in comments, so people don't feel like they're talking into the wind. (But again, no idea whether people actually feel that way here.)
posted by trig at 8:36 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


I've been here since 2009 (this is my 2nd account) and in my opinion it's not enough to "encourage"new folks to post on the blue. What's discouraging people is the behavior throughout the site that they see. And, honestly, reading the infighting on the grey is embarrassing.
I buttoned awhile ago when the attitudes from mods towards members, and esp donors, was just too painful and belittling to witness. I came back because I thought wanted to continue to participate on Ask.
But really the site has become a shadow of what it was and forming more new committees isn't going to change that. Sometimes things we value just run their course.
posted by WithWildAbandon at 8:39 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


#pleaseanswer how many people have buttoned in the last month

I don't have that information, but I do think it would be best to be clearer with the question. By last month do you mean what has occurred in the past 30 days or what happened in May?


This is is... this is starting to sound like the "how many days are there in a week" thread from bodybuilding.com
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:54 AM on June 7 [22 favorites]


For me, it’s less that snarky, dismissive comments make me go “Oh no, Metafilter doesn’t like me!” so much as “This shit again?” Part of this is work and minority burnout—I deal with so much nasty, dismissive shit every day in-person that I have no reason to expose myself to it in my free time.

This also reduces the amount of time I spend reading Metafilter, because the discussion is what I value as much as the links but the discussion is just as likely to expose me to that. It often feels like opening the door to the break room and hearing your coworkers engaging in mean gossip and deciding actually I’ll no buy myself lunch instead. Sometimes I do come in and am like, “Hey what if we weren’t so mean and gossipy?” but you can guess how well that usually goes.
posted by brook horse at 9:02 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


This is is... this is starting to sound like the "how many days are there in a week" thread from bodybuilding.com

In fairness from a data analytics point this is a useful distinction: if we were only given the number of people who buttoned in May, we would miss the impact of the most recent threads. But if we do the last 30 days, it may be an inaccurate average. I don’t think people were looking for an average though, so it seems like last 30 days is a safe bet.
posted by brook horse at 9:04 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


As another long-time enthusiastic consumer / supporter / very limited engager, I agree with a lot of what's been said in the last 30 posts or so, by people only daring to add their take now that the MeTabrouhaha regular tide has ebbed to a slightly less frenetic level.

I too would happily see MetaTalk done away with, or only kept in a much more minimal form. E.g. one heavily modded thread every 2 months to deal with anything global or bigger than can be dealt with in user-mod comms...

Since we're being blunt here, my personal read on posting to the blue is that very, very frequently, one of the first few comments is a dismissive (or hostile) derail by a terminally-online axe-grinder that poisons the discussion. It's a real fuckin drag to click into a thread to find that there are 30 comments from 3 or 4 people who have clearly not engaged with the content in any way arguing about ... something.

Honestly I would be fine with a strict 1 user 1 reply rule when posts begin. Scale it to 2 / user from 50 replies and up, 3 from 100, that sort of thing. Or just put a global rate limit of maybe 3 interactions per hour in place?

The actual content (you know, those post things?) here is (always has been and still is) so varied and of such high average quality, would forcing people to digest and interact with it in a slower manner be such a bad thing?
posted by protorp at 9:09 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


It’s a nice idea but given the drop off in commenting at all it’s certain to exacerbate that. I’m not going to check back like “am I allowed to comment again now?” And there are many discussions where a thoughtful back and forth has been wonderful. It also would do nothing to stop the five drive-by “I hate this actually” comments chilling the beginning of the thread.
posted by brook horse at 9:14 AM on June 7 [13 favorites]


It would also preference people who are constantly online to the detriment of people with busy work schedules who can only be involved in a discussion for half an hour a day.
posted by brook horse at 9:15 AM on June 7 [11 favorites]


Honestly I would be fine with a strict 1 user 1 reply rule when posts begin. Scale it to 2 / user from 50 replies and up, 3 from 100, that sort of thing. Or just put a global rate limit of maybe 3 interactions per hour in place?

please NO to this sort of stuff. I come here for many things but probably conversation above all (both to follow and perhaps contribute). And sorry, the more rules a conversation has, the less interesting, I think. By all means, ask me to shut up if you think I'm hogging too much of the oxygen, but applying hard rules just enables hallway monitors ... and nobody likes those kids. Do they?
posted by philip-random at 9:23 AM on June 7 [17 favorites]


And it would make it tough to make a second comment adding a clarifying or extending thought like brook horse just did. (Not to mention possibly leading to more edit window abuse).

I think a blanket policy isn’t the right thing, but “don’t threadsit” should be the community norm.

MetaTalk has always been the toughest part of the site, at least since I’ve been around. I remember at least once contacting the mods because they were being harsh on someone and I didn’t agree— and it turned out I was missing a lot of context because I missed some really bad deleted things.

Yeah, I agree with the “delete hate speech and doxxing, but hide derails and milder problematic things instead of deleting”. Also as much as possible a mod note.
posted by nat at 9:23 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


But based on experience at another site that does feel somewhat more insider-y than here, I think one of the things that makes me feel that way is that older members (account activity "levels" are prominently displayed) seem (to me) to respond to each other much more and to kind of ignore posts by newer members.

I'm new-ish and I do think this is true here, and it's one reason I don't comment much. It feels like the expectation here is for people to write long, thoughtful, and serious comments, which is great, but I don't want to spend that amount of effort writing an internet comment and get no response because I haven't been here long enough.

I've been reading Metafilter for years and really enjoyed it and learned a lot. There's been a lot of talk about how it would be nice to have more different types of people here, so I thought it would be fun to contribute to that, as someone who, from what I can tell, is pretty different demographically from most people here. But at this point it kind of feels like I spent $5 for the privilege of favoriting comments so strangers know I found them interesting.
posted by birthday cake at 9:40 AM on June 7 [34 favorites]


I keep trying to stay out of this thread and then wanting to add one more thing, so here's a reminder to me to make this be the last one.

The thing I wanted to add is: This site is never going to be for everyone. And even for the people it is for, it's probably not going to be for us all the time. Few things are, right? Whatever note modding or user culture are going to hit, it's never going to be the right one for every user, and some people are going to bounce off things or take breaks or leave. Life changes also affect how active people are. Within some percentage, that's normal and to be expected.

We talk a lot about how to keep that percentage down. Which is very important. But even if there's just a low, perfectly normal rate of attrition, in order to keep the site alive there have to be new members coming in. Even if only a small percentage of them decides to stay. There are hundreds of millions of English-using people on the internet; it's really okay if this place is only for some of them.

But that means people have to actually know about the site, and know something about it that makes them want to give it a chance.

I don't want to belittle things like the Best Of blog posts and whatever social media stuff the site's been doing, because that's not nothing, but #pleaseanswer what serious, analytical, budgeted efforts are being made to get more people to find out about this place and even give it a chance in the first place?
posted by trig at 9:41 AM on June 7 [9 favorites]


Okay one more: thanks for your perspective, birthday cake (and thanks for your user name, which is making me think about birthday cakes, which is making me smile, which I needed!)
posted by trig at 9:46 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


In fairness from a data analytics point this is a useful distinction: if we were only given the number of people who buttoned in May, we would miss the impact of the most recent threads. But if we do the last 30 days, it may be an inaccurate average. I don’t think people were looking for an average though, so it seems like last 30 days is a safe bet.

Or just say "# in May and # so far in June". There's no need to over-complicate any of this stuff, it was just another way to delay deny deflect.
(not directed at you bh)
posted by bowmaniac at 9:47 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


I haven't posted much recently, and catching up on all of this....I've never been a power user and the disparities there have been clear for a while. I'm glad that's getting some attention (for better or worse) but, like, yeah. I'm out.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:49 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]


what serious, analytical, budgeted efforts are being made to get more people to find out about this place and even give it a chance in the first place?

IMO the two places to invest the time/effort/money into promoting widely are Ask and Fanfare. There are other places online to talk about interesting links and news, but there is no place like Ask. I'm not enough of a media hound to know how to make Fanfare more broadly useful, but I know tons of people here could provide actionable feedback to make it a true selling point of the site. Ask and Fanfare provide the most unique opportunities among the wider internet for us to find a future, marketable niche.
posted by phunniemee at 9:49 AM on June 7 [18 favorites]


Or just say "# in May and # so far in June".

I think I just provided the most vicious self-own on academia ever, because this straight up didn’t occur to me.

The ivory tower fries your brain, everyone.
posted by brook horse at 9:51 AM on June 7 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I know what I'm suggesting re. posting limits isn't really something that would / could work practically for lots of valid reasons to do with how different people want / need to use the site. And it wouldn't look great to newcomers.

But I do suspect there is a sizeable chunk of quiet users out there for whom the long-term value of Mefi comes from the words rather than the conversations, and for whom the content rather than the people is what comes first in their sense of community.
posted by protorp at 9:52 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


There’s already a dearth of commenting and site activity, I really don’t think restricting it is going to be good for site health and longevity.
posted by JenMarie at 9:58 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


IMO the two places to invest the time/effort/money into promoting widely are Ask and Fanfare.

DAMN RIGHT. Listen, AskMe is pretty damned unique and frankly should be a huge driver of traffic to the site. AskMe beats the pants off of any Q&A-style queries from everything to the mundane to the strange.

FanFare was meant to be a TWOP-lite replacement and I wish it was more trafficked. It gets huge responses for popular shows and movies, but without the efforts of DOT and others for more esoteric fare, just crickets. Obv, everyone consumes media differently--I often can't get to a movie theatre opening weekend and I have very little streaming channels ($$$$, y'all)--so it's hard to jump in on conversations when I won't see X movie or show for probably at least a week or two, if I'm lucky. Shepherd and I caught up on some movies from, like, months ago and posted comments about them in FanFare, but folks have moved on so it felt a little lonely. But as I said, folks consume media at different rates.

But yeah, the Purple and Green could be huge huge traffic drivers.
posted by Kitteh at 10:33 AM on June 7 [18 favorites]


we don't have an exit survey for users who buttoned (which btw would be a good idea)

This shows up with a free-form text field for every single person that closes their account:

You can optionally include a reason why you're leaving that will be sent to the site admins. Your feedback can help us improve the site.

#pleaseanswer Mods, could you please let us know what’s done with this info, both currently and historically?
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 10:36 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


But I do suspect there is a sizeable chunk of quiet users out there for whom the long-term value of Mefi comes from the words rather than the conversations

I'm probably just being dense here, but aren't these the same thing?
posted by Dysk at 10:49 AM on June 7 [3 favorites]


The biggest barrier to posting for me is the body of continually revised rules and policies, both codified and customary. I feel it is impossible to post even jokey or throwaway comments without fear of offending someone or breaking a rule.
posted by CtrlAltD at 10:54 AM on June 7 [17 favorites]


Someone earlier in the thread said that it's alienating to mention how long you've been on the site. I think it's useful when it underscores that people (like myself) at one time felt comfortable participating, but no longer do. I say that as someone who doesn't have any axes to grinds or problems with anyone on this site.
posted by CtrlAltD at 10:57 AM on June 7 [6 favorites]


I think one of the things that makes me feel that way is that older members (account activity "levels" are prominently displayed) seem (to me) to respond to each other much more and to kind of ignore posts by newer members

I'm glad someone raised this, as it's been my sense as well. (Not a new user personally and not referring to people's engagement with my own posts here.) I didn't know I just had a wrongly calibrated measure of that but it is interesting to see others have noticed. I'm sure I'm guilty of it too! Will try to keep that in mind.
posted by kensington314 at 11:09 AM on June 7


There are other places online to talk about interesting links and news, but there is no place like Ask.

This x10000. Ask is the first place I go when I need to, erm, ask a question about something. Not reddit, not yelp, not tripadvisor...askmefi. Because I know at Ask, most times, I will get thoughtful answers from people with actual experience about the thing I'm inquiring after, not just "here's a listdump of 20 things like what you're asking about, pick one and do/get/read/buy that". That level of experiential depth is invaluable to me in a time when everything is geared towards star ratings and quick hit one-sentence overviews.

Others here find value in the community they've built on the blue over the years, and that's fantastic and I don't mean to dismiss or minimize that in any way. I've never really dove deeply into the world of the blue, either posting or commenting for a lot of the reasons people have outlined here and in other threads (fear of pileons, intimidation at the high bar set by a lot of long-timers, etc), but I do get a lot out of the links people post there. But I use Ask a lot and...wow, that's a super-valuable thing to me.
posted by pdb at 11:11 AM on June 7 [13 favorites]


(You aren’t all randos to me, of course. Or you’re my randos. But you would be to new users, is the point.)
posted by brook horse at 11:23 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


i will also tell you in advance that i will have very unkind things to say about your participation in those threads specifically.

Also it sounds like you have unkind things you'd like to vent about me, and have those validated by your fellow users, not things you'd like to say to me, since you could have contacted me via memail at any time.
posted by interogative mood at 11:23 AM on June 7


since you could have contacted me via memail at any time.

What and unlock the special mod anti harassment tier? Nice try pal.

If you want negative attention you certainly know how and where to get it without resorting to direct messages. Clearly.
posted by phunniemee at 11:26 AM on June 7 [28 favorites]


Also it sounds like you have unkind things you'd like to vent about me, and have those validated by your fellow users, not things you'd like to say to me, since you could have contacted me via memail at any time.

why would i get into a private argument with you when you have not changed your behavior in the slightest after months and months of people arguing with you in public? you don't actually have to answer this, i'm just asking questions!

anyway i believe i also said this was a massive derail and you have proven me correct, feel free to memail ME if it's so important to you (i will not respond)
posted by nourishedbytime at 11:30 AM on June 7 [8 favorites]


you might not want to get too deep in reading implicit assumptions into other people's comments, lest people start saying when they think the subtext of your posts are, interogative mood.
posted by sagc at 11:30 AM on June 7 [7 favorites]


It would also preference people who are constantly online to the detriment of people with busy work schedules who can only be involved in a discussion for half an hour a day.

Something I have noticed is that there are MeFi users who are very invested in participating in the comments on posts as discussions, with near-real-time back-and-forth, and there is a whole other set of users who may read the comments, drop one of their own, and then maybe come back to it hours or days later.

One of the ways in which MetaTalk discussions go wrong (as I’ve observed them) is when there are users expecting the near-real-time discussion and they feel like the mods (or just loup) are treating it like a once-a-day/shift/whatever situation.

(One of the things that has been great about Brandon Blatcher’s participation in this post is his careful expectation-setting of when he’d follow up, and how much he would follow up, and it’s been a reasonable frequency compared to how fast this discussion is moving. Kudos to “the new guy”.)
posted by jimw at 11:34 AM on June 7 [35 favorites]


I'm one of those people, and I think there's definitely a middle ground. Promising followups and not making them has been a problem in the past. When it comes to situations where moderation is actually happening, there should be in-thread engagement too, if only for clarity's sake.
posted by sagc at 11:38 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]


yes, cannot say enough nice things about brandon's participation in this discussion - specifically, he has followed up on his promised timelines, which has regularly not been the case on MetaTalk in the last few years. i think it's worth emphasizing that people's frustrations with the timeline of moderation responses is because of a pattern of delays and missed promises. not to repeat myself but it really seems like a lot of these issues have to do with loup specifically being spread too thin.
posted by nourishedbytime at 11:41 AM on June 7 [24 favorites]


Clearly what this site needs urgently--right now--is a bespoke MeTa asking the mods to implement a whole new set of rules about a single subject from a user with a clear axe to grind.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 11:48 AM on June 7 [10 favorites]


I'm picturing just an axe-grinding only thread, sort of like the weekly free threads, but instead carefully calculated to destroy the site with extreme ad hominem grudge activity and war crime apologia.
posted by kensington314 at 11:52 AM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Have you ever considered the possibility that it's not everybody else who is wrong?
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 11:59 AM on June 7 [10 favorites]


Mod note: I'll chime in regarding the Metatalk queue later today. For now, just a quick note to say: Can we please not bring Israel / Palestine into this thread? Also, let's please make an active effort not to centre comments around the difference you have with other members of the site.
posted by loup (staff) at 11:59 AM on June 7 [12 favorites]


why is this thread still open?

it's the katamari damacy of grievances at this point.
posted by lalochezia at 12:02 PM on June 7 [6 favorites]


Because we were told to mark things as "please answer" and that the mods would get back to us in this thread.
posted by lapis at 12:07 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


Mod note: FYI, interogative mood asked for his initial comments about I/P to be removed. I've removed several replies as well.
posted by loup (staff) at 12:15 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


This thread should be locked. Or at the very least moderated.... It would make much more sense to lock this and collate answers to actual questions at this point, as this has degenerated into users sniping at each other
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:16 PM on June 7


I'm honestly shocked at the (not very many, but still) people saying "Why is this thread still open", "We should get rid of MetaTalk or make it much more limited", etc., as if people talking about the problems we see with the site is the actual problem, and if people would just stop complaining, the problems would no longer exist. What an ass-backwards attitude.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:16 PM on June 7 [22 favorites]


That's the vibe, it seems. Longterm members get a pass for their behaviour, but newbies button before they can reach longterm status. It reinforces that anyone here from the old guard is more valuable than new blood...who could help keep the lights on.

I just wanted to highlight that this definitely seems true, in my experience, that certain users (BNFs, in the old fandom days) get waaaaay more allowance, particularly when being fighty or threadshitting, than newbies. Rather than active deletions, I'd love for mods to take to actually enforcing warnings or timeouts. Even for longtime users who they see as an overall benefit to the site. Everyone has an instance when they're out of line, and should be made aware of that.

I also agree that we haven't found a good balance between people who just want to do driveby commenting and people who are treating posts like their personal, 3-person debate team practice. It's another thing that dissaudes users, new and old.

Finally, hear me out on my longstanding pony request to indeed do like other sites and lets us block seeing comments from other users (not just A User by special mod powers): honestly, it would likely save the mod team a ton of work and might make things more peaceful in posts.
posted by TwoStride at 12:20 PM on June 7 [11 favorites]


IMO the two places to invest the time/effort/money into promoting widely are Ask and Fanfare.

TWoP was replaced by the essentially identical Previously, which was then replaced by the also essentially identical Primetimer.

BUT, new management at Primetimer has led to new policies that have had a distinct chilling effect across the site. Many regular posters there are looking for other places to post. The quality of snarky and non-snarky discussion used to be so high across those three site iterations.

I have considered suggesting FanFare on the Primetimer forums I post on. But I don't know if the spirit of TWoP snark could work on FanFare, and there's probably not enough engagement to encourage Primetimer vets.
posted by jgirl at 1:01 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


Yeah add me to the list who think AskMe and FanFare are the more viable future of the site. I think the blue in general is a relic of a different time online, and if the site is ever to gain new users it will be via the green, the purple, and/or some as-yet-unconsidered phone app that offers something new and unique to young people and would be probably the only way they would ever engage with MetaLand. (We MetaFogeys could continue to prattle on in the blue about beanplates and this is just to say I have invoked hardcore taters again despite the soft ban on the practice.)
posted by kensington314 at 1:03 PM on June 7 [5 favorites]


A quick survey of the front page shows multiple posters with diverse (2, 5, 10, 20+ years) history here, who've each made hundreds of posts / thousands of comments, yet have under 10-20 lifetime interactions on MetaTalk.

I don't think questioning the fundamentals of what it is, who it caters to and what modes of posting behaviour it ends up encouraging should be shot down, especially in the context of the seepage of that behaviour elsewhere on the site.
posted by protorp at 1:12 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


I would love for FanFare to become more active but the current layout/organization is a huge, huge turnoff for engagement.
posted by TwoStride at 1:16 PM on June 7 [19 favorites]


So we're done agonizing over our lack of resources to even stay on top of a metatalk thread, and we've moved onto brainstorming new wish list items to work on. Great!
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:23 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


I often think of myself as the Grim Reaper of MetaTalk - by the time I make a comment everyone is either calling for the thread to close or posting recipes. Are we still doing the recipe thing?

One side effect of how things are structured here in terms of the continuous wall of comments is that slow readers generally can't participate much if they don't happen to get in on the thread at the beginning.
posted by charred husk at 1:27 PM on June 7 [8 favorites]


Late-thread recipes are absolutely still a thing!
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 1:53 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


I would wait on those, it feels disrespectful to people still hoping for on topic answers and discussion.
posted by JenMarie at 2:04 PM on June 7 [8 favorites]


But I do suspect there is a sizeable chunk of quiet users out there for whom the long-term value of Mefi comes from the words rather than the conversations

I'm probably just being dense here, but aren't these the same thing?


I think what this was intended to mean is that for some people, the value comes from pages with words that already exist (compare: most people's experience of Wikipedia), while for others, the value comes from the interactive experience of conversation (compare: SnapChat).
posted by a faded photo of their beloved at 2:54 PM on June 7 [3 favorites]


Personally, while I admit adding diastatic malt to bread is a precious thing, I do like the sweetness it seems to impart, and I am a fan of how tangzhong allows for breads to last longer and be more moist.

Also the weird way flour just turns to jelly.

Anyway, I use about 1 flour : 5 liquid (milk or water) ratio and take that from the mass used in the rest of the recipe. Slowly bring it to about 160F until gelled and you can see the bottom of the saucepan when moving your spoon through.

Let it cool until room temperature and mix in to your dough.

But if I'm going to be honest it also doesn't feel like, ultimately, it really will matter. If your bread recipe is good you're gonna eat it fast regardless of how moist this would make it, and I have no idea if the answers sought in this thread will ever be satisfying.
posted by i used to be someone else at 3:00 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]


#pleaseanswer: what steps would need to be done to implement a comment-hiding functionality for the mods to use and how could we ensure that this happens in a defined length of time?
I'm more and more entranced by the idea of dorothy hawk's idea of picking something and doing it, and it seemed like a good suggestion, and a nice sop to throw to the raging masses.
These are the steps I can think of as a person who has put in literally 3 minutes of thinking about it. I don't want to give the false impression that I have any idea what's involved for real, that's why I'm asking.
1 - see if it is technically feasible (it may not be)
2 - decide to do it (is it a good idea? do we have a decider &/or a decision making process? Does anyone have time to do it?).
3 - ask Frimble (and the other new programmer whose name I have forgotten, my apologies) to create the tool.
4 - teach the mods to use the new tool.
5 - update our comment deletion policy.
6 - introduce the change to all of us in a metatalk thread.
posted by Vatnesine at 3:10 PM on June 7 [5 favorites]


LATE THREAD RECIPES!
Ok I don't have one BUT the cream cheese / heavy cream part of this recipe from the Pioneer Woman is delightful, a big billowy creamy not-too-sweet stable topping for desserts or cakes. I personally didn't care much for the full recipe (cream to cookie ratio is wrong for me, YMMV) but i'm keeping the idea of cream cheese / heavy cream whipped together with some sugar and vanilla for a cake topping in the future. Delightful!
posted by Vatnesine at 3:15 PM on June 7


Cool.
posted by hototogisu at 3:16 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


what steps would need to be done to implement a comment-hiding functionality for the mods to use and how could we ensure that this happens in a defined length of time?

This is already available to them, no? People have already posted examples in this thread of how this can be done with bog standard HTML; all the mods would need to do would be to decide to actually do it. Perhaps that will require a committee? But it’s something they could start doing today if they wished.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 3:16 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


I would be really happy if the recipes were reserved for AskMes asking for recipes. We've had people complaining in this thread of how hard it is to follow and catch up to a MeTa if you aren't "in at the beginning." Filling the space with digressions having nothing to do with the topic in question is just adding barriers. I know it's a tradition, but it's not a helpful one. Maybe we could have a monthly "Recipe Roundup" MeTa for people who want to share, to replace the MetaTalkTail Hours...
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:22 PM on June 7 [65 favorites]


That is one change mods should just do. Instead of deleting, hide, using existing html elements (someone quote that post, I'm not sure where it is in this threadnaught.)

A user/mod change would be to invite users to flag top of blue thread dismissive shitpostery and mods to hide it by default. Brandon has already asked for the flagging.

Both of these things would markedly improve metafilter imo.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:26 PM on June 7 [11 favorites]


(While I am a big fan of the "details" html element to hide bad comments, I think that to do this with the current codebase would require editing the original comment to include the hidey html. I'm under the impression that mods have historically been loathe to edit users' comments. Whether they try to make a technical solution that retains the old comment as-is in the database and "wraps" it in modly markup or socially try to hash out whether and how mods editing users' comments in this way is acceptable, I would be happily surprised if such a change happened quickly.)
posted by a faded photo of their beloved at 4:25 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


While I am a big fan of the "details" html element to hide bad comments, I think that to do this with the current codebase would require editing the original comment to include the hidey html. I'm under the impression that mods have historically been loathe to edit users' comments.

Adding a formatting element isn't editing the words, the words are what was put there and they will be unchanged.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:46 PM on June 7 [7 favorites]


I'm under the impression that mods have historically been loathe to edit users' comments.

What a deletion if not a severe edit?
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 5:00 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


I'm under the impression that mods have historically been loathe to edit users' comments.

And change is understandably anxiety-inducing and sucks. Time for some exposure! Mods, please edit my comment to add the hidden tag. :)
posted by brook horse at 5:38 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]


You know, I’d you think this thread has run its course you can just close the tab and walk away, right? You don’t need to come in here tell other people to shut up, or try to drown them out with this silly recipe crap.
posted by dorothy hawk at 5:51 PM on June 7 [29 favorites]


I came in here initially to talk about what a good idea you had and to see if I could get an official answer about it and try to redirect the thread back towards your suggestion, the recipe thing was an afterthought. But yeah, people don't seem to like it, and it's kind of sucked all the air out of the room, hasn't it.
posted by Vatnesine at 6:38 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Having been a member for almost 23 years and seeing some other long-term members making comments, I feel that I should also cozy up to the bonfire, so here's my two cents:

I learned about two terms because of this thread that were hitherto unknown to me: missing stair and deadnaming. I bring this up because it's good to learn things - yay me! But I think that people who know these terms should also recognize that not everybody does. For example, when I came across the words "missing stair" in this thread, I made no mental note, I didn't stumble over it or pause because I didn't even realize that it was terminology, they were just some common words.

Anyway, that's it! Carry on.
posted by ashbury at 6:41 PM on June 7 [10 favorites]


Eh, it’s the end of a Friday and the thread is two and a half days old. If anything’s sucking the air out of the room it’s the impending weekend. Holding off on recipes for a while longer is perfectly fine since I think some folks are a bit raw/exhausted from this whole roller-coaster, but I don’t think you were really jumping the gun by normal meta standards, Vatnesine.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 6:47 PM on June 7


Likewise, when I read "missing stair" I didn't think anything about it. People make up metaphors on the fly a lot on MeFi, so I assumed it was just that, not a pre-existing metaphor with a fixed meaning (which turned out to be a very different meaning than the one I had assumed).

(Note that the above comment is not a call to action. I'm not advocating using more metaphors, or fewer metaphors, or instituting rules about metaphors, or drafting guidelines on metaphor usage. I'm just saying "hey, ashbury, you're not alone, I did the same thing.")
posted by Bugbread at 6:57 PM on June 7 [7 favorites]


And I learned that "missing stair" is much less widespread a term than I thought it was. Sorry, y'all.
posted by Alterscape at 9:29 PM on June 7 [5 favorites]


Since there's been some talk about people being afraid to post:

Earlier today, I watched and really enjoyed Tom7's latest video. Later, because this thread has MeFi on my brain again lately, I thought, "hey, why don't you Be The Change You Want To See and post Tom7's video?" I started to compose a FPP but never got there. I just got exhausted trying to figure out if this would be sufficiently non-problematic to withstand scrutiny here. Some of the things that ran through my head:

- Can I just post a link to the video without much explanation, or will people complain about a "mystery meat" post?
- For that matter, the video starts pretty slow, it takes a while until the scope and humor become clear. Will people complain about that?
- Hm, is just one video too "thin"? Do I need to gather links to the rest of Tom7's videos? Oof, that's a lot of work.
- Oh, but if I du that, then I need to check if there's been a previous Tom7 post, otherwise a Tom7 roundup would be a dupe.
- This work by Tom7 involves LLMs. It's a funny and silly way, but it's still LLMs, that's a hot-button topic here. Do I need to warn people that LLMs are involved? If I do, that seems like it's priming people to have an argument about LLMs before watching the video and getting the context and the joke. If I don't, are people going to be mad that I snuck LLMs into their feed?
- For that matter, Is the comment thread just going to devolve into another LLM argument? How might I frame things to prevent that?
- What about Tom7 himself? I don't know anything about him. Do I need to do some research to figure out if he's Problematic in some way that makes him not a suitable person to post about?

At this point I was no longer excited, at all, and just gave up.

I mention this because it's really common. I think about posting here a rather surprising amount given than I so rarely do so. I'd say at least every couple of weeks — and more frequently when I'm reading and engaging in comments — something comes into my mind that seems like it might make a good post here, and then I run through a similar thought process to the above and just give up.

It's just so, so common for an FPP to turn into a game of "how long does it take until someone figures out why this thing you like is bad?" The culture here feels badly broken.

This is why I'm so pessimistic about MetaFilter's future. Culture change IS possible. I've seen it happen. I've seen it happen HERE -- the culture moved away from the "boyzone" culture to one that was, for a time, more welcoming. But culture change is super fucking hard; it takes vision and commitment and the willingness to focus and do work. If it takes years to get a change to the flagging UI, how in the world is there a possibility for traction for the much, much harder process of culture change?
posted by dorothy hawk at 9:42 PM on June 7 [80 favorites]


dorothy hawk, the answer to your question is: make the post because things don't change if people don't try, and making the post is a try. If there's something wrong with it, somebody or a bunch of somebody's will let you know in the comments, you do a mea culpa, learn from it and move on. At the end of the day, making a post that doesn't work out shouldn't be the end of the world. The odds are really good that it's going to be a fine post, though.
posted by ashbury at 10:03 PM on June 7 [5 favorites]


If we interpret anyone saying "I don't like this" or "this upsets me" to mean "this is not allowed" or "this should be banned" , then that makes it really difficult for people to say when they are unhappy with something. And that doesn't seem ideal.

I'm responsible for managing my own emotions, so in most cases, I don't get to tell another person what they're *allowed* to post.

But I should be allowed to state what my emotions are, without people reacting as if I'm throwing a tantrum.

This gets tricky with pile ons, it's worth being careful not to repeat what has already been posted as that increases the volume and harshness of what you're saying.
posted by Zumbador at 10:22 PM on June 7 [14 favorites]


ashbury: "If there's something wrong with it, somebody or a bunch of somebody's will let you know in the comments, you do a mea culpa, learn from it and move on."

I can't speak for dorothy hawk, but I also drifted away from the site because I found commenting and posting too stressful, because I would write, think about how I could be misinterpreted, revise, think about how I could be misinterpreted, revise again, (etc. repeat process over and over), look at my comment which was reaching Treaty of Westphalia lengths, revise for concision, eventually get my comment in shape, post it...and find out that people were misinterpreting me in new and exciting ways and getting upset at me for things that I neither said nor thought. I could re-edit enough to avoid certain pitfalls, but no matter how careful, there were always surprising new pitfalls.
It reached the point where I would spend 15 or 20 minutes typing, editing, and revising a comment before coming to the conclusion that there was literally no way I could phrase something without someone misinterpreting it in one way or another, which (due to MeFi's non-threaded structure) might mean a total derailment and pile-on, and then I was like "what the hell, dude? You're here (ostensibly) for fun. This isn't fun, this is really stressful," and I just stopped coming to comment as much.

Full disclosure: I've been working on this comment for about 15 minutes now. I can still see some parts that people might take the wrong way, but I give up at this point. If something in this comment annoys anyone, rest assured, the thing you think I was trying to say is probably not the thing I was actually trying to say.
posted by Bugbread at 4:04 AM on June 8 [62 favorites]


It's just so, so common for an FPP to turn into a game of "how long does it take until someone figures out why this thing you like is bad?" The culture here feels badly broken.

Unfortunately, I do do this math when I make FPPs because I've been around here long enough to see that there is a super high probability rate that the first five comments will either be:

A) the thing you like sucks

B) Two thousand word screeds about why your FPP is flawed

C) Entirely pointless name-dropping story about said FPP so as the poster can centre the convo on them, not the FPP

But again, it may just depend on the temperature of the site that day! I made my recent FPP despite dreading it would be full of people who make fun of sober drinking options for people, but it turned out great. I mean, some folks tried to be dismissive of the whole thing but it took a while for that to happen. I was pleasantly surprised!

I do encourage folks to flag comments when some of the same bad actors came into your FPPs to drop a turd in the punch bowl. (Movie threads, pop culture threads are notorious for this. I legit don't understand why if you find X stupid, you come into threads saying X is stupid, like you're Moses with the Ten Commandments.)
posted by Kitteh at 4:08 AM on June 8 [27 favorites]


But I should be allowed to state what my emotions are, without people reacting as if I'm throwing a tantrum.

And you (the general You, not you specifically, to be clear) should also recognize that sometimes your emotional take doesn’t add anything to the conversation.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:37 AM on June 8 [23 favorites]


I mention this because it's really common. I think about posting here a rather surprising amount given than I so rarely do so. I'd say at least every couple of weeks — and more frequently when I'm reading and engaging in comments — something comes into my mind that seems like it might make a good post here, and then I run through a similar thought process to the above and just give up.

It really is common. I do the same. I've often wanted to just SUBMIT a post here, somewhere...and have someone else do it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:05 AM on June 8 [9 favorites]


I made my recent FPP despite dreading it would be full of people who make fun of sober drinking options for people, but it turned out great. I mean, some folks tried to be dismissive of the whole thing but it took a while for that to happen. I was pleasantly surprised!

And...bwah? If it wasn't here, I'd be confused as to WHY anyone would have to be dismissive of such a thing. But it's MeFi. I hope it wasn't too bad, haven't read it yet.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:21 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


(Read that thread now. And yeah, some really eye rolling negative vibes from some of the usual suspects. I think it's worth skipping and not replying to comments with that vibe, but they can be a bummer for sure.)
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:39 AM on June 8 [7 favorites]


Dropping in to agree with the other posters who are discouraged from posting. I often think about something I think is cool - a musician, game, event - and wonder if it would make a good FPP.

Then I think about it again. The singer I like has a humorous song about a controversial topic. That will probably get picked apart. This other guy sings about celebrities, some of whom were problematic. Someone else used a word now considered a slur in an old song, so can I post about him? This article is from the Guardian. Are MeFites boycotting the Guardian? What about Twitter? The NYT?

And do I want to post about small creatives, who might find this discussion, and potentially expose them to a thread full of 'this sucks and is bad, actually' criticism? Or just dismissive snarking?

Honestly, even posting this I'm expecting to get negative comments for not knowing what's acceptable and what isn't.

I do want to be respectful and kind and not post things that are offensive or harmful. But I honestly can't work out where the line is sometimes.
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 5:44 AM on June 8 [31 favorites]


I buttoned last year after something like twenty years after having quite enough of a small set of terminally online members policing every FPP. The latter several posts in here are by people I used to be excited to see on the front page, and knowing that they too fell off because of that culture we've curated... well it was worth $5 to come say they're not alone.

And I wish also to be the change I want to see, but it will require me to ratchet down whatever respect I had de facto for Mefites and start treating the comments here with the distance I reserve for Reddit.

For what it's worth, the deleting policy really just adds chaos. It's irrelevant what historical mods have made up as policy - you can start a new one today, I liked the enclosure in hiding tags approach but whatever it is just do it. Please. I'd like to try to come back here and be part of reviving, but this thread alone was so exhausting with the same voices demanding the same unreasonable levels of attention from both the site staff and users... I totally get why only a few people post anymore, and they seem to be able to let that noise slide off. I couldn't because I had a lot of respect for both individuals and ethos we shared at one point - that's a me problem but probably not a unique one.

I used to come here for the very best of the web, intelligent discussion from often experts in uncommon disciplines. When I left it was just a place to come get dragged.

So maybe this time it can get better.
posted by Lenie Clarke at 5:48 AM on June 8 [22 favorites]


I should admit that the last FPP I made was intentional troll bait, but it turned out to be a mostly pleasant, productive thread. Like Kitteh, I was pleasantly surprised, and maybe that’s why I’m still here in this thread.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:09 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Since there's been some talk about people being afraid to post:

I just posted an FPP on the recent Indian election. It was a much more difficult process than usual, since I was posting out of my comfort zone and on a subject I am still very much a beginner on. I also had a hard time finding Anglophone reporting that was reasonably substantial and not horribly biased, and I spent quite a bit of time going through previous Modi threads looking for useful background.

I came close to just deleting it a few times, but eventually hit post. A friend immediately texted me to say that I’d typed “million” when I meant “billion.” Oops! I was so focused on the sources, I hadn’t checked my text. So I made a comment noting the error, flagged it asking more a mod fix (which got done). No one has called me an idiot or decried a source as propaganda, and people have started adding links and stuff in the comments. I doubt it will become a huge thread, but some people are finding some value in it.

I have abandoned FPPs, mostly because I couldn’t find enough sources that seemed reliable. A one-link FPP isn’t “the best,” but it can be fine. If you want to flesh it out, link to the creator’s page or social media or throw in a “previously,” if they exist. There really isn’t that much to lose.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:10 AM on June 8 [13 favorites]


tiny frying pan: "It really is common. I do the same. I've often wanted to just SUBMIT a post here, somewhere...and have someone else do it."

IDEA: Monthly MeFi "LinkFilter" thread, mod-posted the first of the month. Find a neat article, video, blog, etc. but don't feel up to the work of cobbling together an FPP, tags, title, and otherwise putting yourself out there? Just comment "LinkMe:" followed by the link and maybe a one sentence description for context. Everybody has tacit permission to turn your link into an FPP if they'd like, first come first serve, with a nod back to the original LinkFilter comment -- sort of like how Projects lets other members cross-post to MeFi proper. Maybe pin a permanent link for the most recent LinkFilter to the top of the sidebar, or even in the navbar. Could be like a lo-fi version of Pinboard and an evergreen resource for new post ideas. Bonus: the thread itself would make for interesting browsing, allow unfocused low-stakes discussion, and serve as a personal searchable log of your bookmarked and read-later links (just search your profile for the tag "LinkMe"!)

In fact, I could see this type of monthly informal "catch-all" thread serving other subsites well:

AskFilter: For random, dumb, or chatty questions that don't merit an Ask post, discussed in-thread. Tag: HelpMe

FanFilter: Post requests, recommendations, and watercooler-type discussion of what you've been enjoying lately, including rewatches, live shows, web stuff, etc. Tag: WatchMe

MusicFilter: For sharing songs you've enjoyed, unfinished material you're working on, etc. Tag: PlayMe

TalkFilter: For the kind of quick #pleaseanswer-type questions that have been raised recently, without needing to open a contentious high-visibility thread on the topic. Tag: ModMe
posted by Rhaomi at 6:41 AM on June 8 [34 favorites]


Do people feel the same trepidation about posting to AskMeta than to the front page?

I'm assuming the fewer, clearer rules about posting and (my impressions at least) closer moderation of responses means it's a more inviting space?

Or is it not useful to compare because comments in Ask are not supposed to be a conversation?

I've certainly seen some harsh comments on Ask, as well as pile ons.
posted by Zumbador at 6:43 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Rhaomi, I love that (series of) idea(s)!
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:44 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Rhaomi I really like that idea of a LinkFilter thread!
posted by Zumbador at 6:44 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I also do the same things you’re all describing. The anxiety created from putting your words in a place for everybody to see, to pick apart, to critique is very real. I think that this is part and parcel with authorship. I can’t even imagine, and frankly it never occurred to me, that putting words out there can make somebody feel very vulnerable. What a a forehead-slapping moment! Are there any published authors reading this? Tell us about it!

But wait, hold on, I see an opportunity to do something I’ve never done before and I think that it’s so appropriate…

MetaFilter: the thing you think I was trying to say is probably not the thing I was actually trying to say
posted by ashbury at 6:45 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Dorothyhawk's comment perfectly describes why I have only ever posted to the main page twice (not on this account) and then gave up because the dismissive, insulting comments made me feel so small. Heck, I'm not even brave enough to comment most of the time.
posted by maryellenreads at 6:52 AM on June 8 [12 favorites]


I just want to point out that having anxiety over making posts isn't a universal experience here (not to say it's unimportant, just that we don't know how common it is relative to other platforms).

I've made ten or so FPPs in the 20ish years I've been around (no, hardly prolific), and at no point have I thought to worry about the comments. I take care to try and be kind and polite myself, just because that's basic human decency. I've always assumed that people having a wide variety of takes on something is a side effect of having a relatively wide reach, and honestly I feel like the variety of takes here is pretty calm and reasoned compared to what you see in comments on YouTube or wherever.

For people who do want to post here but find it off-putting, I'm wondering if there are other public internet communities where you do feel comfortable posting articles, and whether you have a sense of what's different about those other communities?

I also think we should take care over jumping to conclusions around the churn rate of users (i.e. how often people leave). Before taking action based on assumptions, it would be worth actually measuring the long term churn rate of the user base - not just an individual month. I wouldn't be surprised if the churn here turned out to very substantially lower than other social media platforms.

If individual people find that participating here (or on whatever social media platform) causes them more upset and anxiety than they want, it's a really sensible solution to move away from it for a while. Being less online is fine, leaving a community is fine, doing whatever is necessary for your own mental health is fine. Honestly I think that threads like this one would go better if more people chose to notice when they're getting worked up, and take a break for a bit or go for a walk.

I absolutely see value in user retention, and value in low-anxiety posting, and value in aiming to be better than the average internet platform at those things. I just caution against making assumptions that the situation here is unusually bad in either respect.
posted by quacks like a duck at 7:31 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


I've just made a post within which there are negative descriptors and links about some unpleasant people (politicians in the UK).

Reckoning, on previous form, a 50/50 chance some Ralph Wiggum "Look at me! I'm a moderator!" faux-policer will wankingly hurtle into the comments and ejaculate some form of "stop being beastly to the politicians, they are human, we are better than that, won't anyone think of the poor billionaires/fascists/right-wingers?" comment.

I'll flag it, add them to the tosspot mental list, move on to making the next FPP.
posted by Wordshore at 7:35 AM on June 8 [12 favorites]


Do people feel the same trepidation about posting to AskMeta than to the front page?

I certainly do. A couple of times I have posted on behalf of other people, at their request, and having warned them that there may be responses that make assumptions that they find upsetting or offensive. I've told them that they need to approach it with the attitude of taking what's useful and ignoring the rest, which was something cortex told me to do years ago when I was trying to manage responses to a question I'd asked. I don't think I'd ask again on someone else's behalf, certainly around anything likely to be touchy. Someone recently talked to me about asking on their behalf about strategies to help a child at a food bank, and I felt so much weariness about trying to phrase this in a way that would get useful answers that I didn't think Ask was the right forum for the question.

Of course I do generally find answers useful, which is why I continue to use Ask myself. Sometimes answers have been lightbulby, such as (paraphrase, anon question from years ago) "the problem you are having with x thing is not about you being x thing, it is about misogyny". And the trepidation can be helpful in working the question through - what answers do I not want, would they actually apply, how can I put the question more clearly etc.
posted by paduasoy at 7:36 AM on June 8 [8 favorites]


I also do the same things you’re all describing. The anxiety created from putting your words in a place for everybody to see, to pick apart, to critique is very real. I think that this is part and parcel with authorship.

To be clear, publishing your work doesn't fit in the same place to me as this place. Publishing doesn't come with its own forum and immediate feedback (unless you choose a Medium or blog or whatever). You might even employ an editor or other trusted partner in authoring that way.

Here, you're on your own with instant feedback some of which is well intentioned and some of which seems to seek out whatever philosophical or political impurity that allows the responder (and those who support them, one presumes) to write off the entirety of your post. The thing is, at least for me, I post here because I've historically thought highly of the discussion and learned about (or changed my view on) many topics.

Raging about how terrible AI is and anyone who suggests differently is a class traitor or how unacceptable it is to post certain news sources or how mad you are about paywalls or lack of transcripts and so on is pure noise and discouraging as hell even when I agree with those sentiments. I'm of the unpopular opinion that this place is best exactly as its name describes - a higher order filter built by humans whose opinions I can trust enough to decide if I want to give my attention to a given topic, and when I have expertise to share I'll engage as a node in that filter to help others make good use of their attention.

On one hand, I get the urge to aggressively filter ideas that might sound enticing but lead to shitty places (I know I do that on other sites - grant zero benefit of the doubt), but verbalizing and posting those defenses - not every time so you can just ignore it as noise - but intermittently, sometimes right away sometimes after others have collaborated effectively only to later learn why Actually This is Terrible. So you live in a kind of fear not of actually learning the things you wanted to share aren't to everyone's interest, but that even liking them makes you somehow a bad person. Thing is, that only comes from defaulting to respecting opinions of Mefites - and that's sadly the thing I think I have to stop doing by default to exist here in the current epoch.
posted by Lenie Clarke at 7:38 AM on June 8 [11 favorites]


I say this from time to time, when the subject comes up, and occasionally someone takes me up on the offer.

If there's a link you want to post, and you don't want to post it, send me a MeMail. I'll do my best to make a post that won't turn into a shitshow, and, if you'd like, I'll leave your name completely out of it.

It does seem like there are more negative comments about the content of FPPs lately (though, if I go back and read old posts, I am reminded that this has always been a thing. "No wireless. Less space than a Nomad.")

I don't want to blame it entirely on Trump, or COVID, or enshittification or late-stage capitalism, though it seems like all of those things contributed.

Like others have said, the best thing we can do about it is to make good posts, and good comments. It's not always easy--for some folks, it seems like it's never easy--but it's what I can do, from where I am, to make this place more of the place I want it to be.
posted by box at 8:11 AM on June 8 [8 favorites]


Mod note: Hi, back for the day, and am catching up with the thread.

Rhaomi's suggest is interesting, made a front page post to try it out.

Will respond it a bit with #pleaseanswer questions.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 8:17 AM on June 8 [25 favorites]


Posting FPPs sucks ass but once in a while someone actually clicks the link and posts an interesting thoughtful comment. By now I know to ignore the first wave of comments by MeFi's powerusers (which are usually about the text of the FPP instead of the actual link) who seem to be unable to read and think "maybe this is not for me" and leave it alone.

"If there's something wrong with it, somebody or a bunch of somebody's will let you know in the comments, you do a mea culpa, learn from it and move on."

Why would anyone want to engage with a site that makes them feel bad? Many MetaTalk users seen to have a weird thing where they think users should feel honored to be part of it, to strive and work towards being better posters, to deserve to be part of this site. No casual use allowed. Meanwhile, the wallpaper is peeling off, the heating doesn't work and the landlord is MIA.
posted by simmering octagon at 8:54 AM on June 8 [30 favorites]


#pleaseanswer is there any intent to move loup's post in the other thread here? It seems to have been dropped there and then forgotten about, while quoting people from this thread.

This kinda feels like another example of the lack of coordination between and focus by the mods.
posted by sagc at 9:33 AM on June 8 [8 favorites]


lack of transcripts

this is a disability access issue and not comparable to bitching about paywalls. i’m not saying people shouldn’t post things without them (i don’t know what i think!) but the fact that people might comment about it seems like the price of the ticket on that one.
posted by knock my sock and i'll clean your clock at 9:34 AM on June 8 [9 favorites]


"ashbury: "If there's something wrong with it, somebody or a bunch of somebody's will let you know in the comments, you do a mea culpa, learn from it and move on.""

But the issue is that there's almost invariably not anything "wrong" with the post, and there's nothing to "do a mea culpa" about and "move on". It's generally just a bunch of hall monitors and whiny nitpickers.

There was a post the other day about Roosevelt's D-Day prayer. The first comment complains that the article didn't mention other campaigns that were already going on in Europe (although, oddly, the complainer recognizes that FDR did in fact recognize them in his prayer). This happens all the time. People complain that a post about one thing isn't a post about what they want it to be about. Unlike many companies, this person did actually read the linked content, but still complained about it. Why spend the time crafting a post when you know that there's a good chance it's going to be met by that or commentary about how you've broken some unwritten site rule, or one of the lengthy, repetitive lists of guidelines that keeps getting longer and longer.
posted by jonathanhughes at 9:42 AM on June 8 [29 favorites]


Brandon, thanks for giving the LinkMe idea a shot (and thanks Rhaomi for suggesting it). Even if some of these never end up in FPPs, it's turning out to be a great collection of fun and interesting links. Reminds me of how the front page used to feel -- weird, eclectic, plenty of rabbit holes to explore, something for everyone. I miss that Metafilter.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:52 AM on June 8 [11 favorites]


wankingly hurtle into the comments
posted by ctmf at 9:54 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


I am appreciating both the LinkFilter post and several of the other posts a few of you have made today!
posted by nat at 9:56 AM on June 8


Mod note: #PleaseAnswer - is there no one else equipped to handle site updates and respond to MetaTalk comments?

Staff time could be probably be rearranged to help in this area. We'd have to talk about that internally and there's currently no time frame on doing that, but maybe within two weeks that could be addresses publicly? That ETA is a total guess on my part.

#pleaseanswer how many people have buttoned in the last month

Rough guess on after looking at some numbers. These are guesses because I'm manually counting, based on information I do have access to and not running any database queries or going through to try and determine which accounts are sock puppets (which are absolutely allowed and not an issue at all). I do not claim these numbers are accurate, again am manually looking at a graph we get about daily signups and emails we get about self closed account (which yes, does include any reason the user submitted at the time of the closing).

Am purposefully including several months to hopefully avoid further accusations that the moderation team is trying to deflect or hide something.

March
New Signups (may include current users that registered a sock puppet):
12

Self closed their accounts:
13

April
New Signups (may include current users that registered a sock puppet):
36

Self closed their accounts:
12

May
New Signups (may include current users that registered a sock puppet):
42 (one turned out to be a spammer)

Self closed their accounts:
3

June (As of the time of this comment)
New Signups (may include current users that registered a sock puppet):
9 (including the obvious jokey account, A User, (which is fine))

Self closed their accounts:
9 (rough estimate, but definitely a higher than usual number based on my memories of being a mod. Yes, those "higher" numbers did pointedly leave a comment saying they were leaving because of the way this situation was handled.)

It is doubtful I will expand much on further details about these numbers solely because this was done manually, is a bit of time suck, and it feels like doing actual database queries would be a much better way to get these answers.

Further, I personally think this information should be included with site updates once the transition to community driven is done, along with other site stats, said stats to be determined by the community.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 10:00 AM on June 8 [34 favorites]


Brandon, you're a damn good egg. Thank you for all your efforts in this thread. If there is a mod-duty reorg, you'd be an excellent choice to handle MetaTalk if that duty isn't distributed amongst the mods
posted by donnagirl at 10:09 AM on June 8 [36 favorites]


If I understand correctly, we did do a big survey of members and what prevents people from posting, and a significant number of people said they were put off by the large number of guidelines, or unwritten expectations (I'm probably using the wrong words, but I believe that was the gist of it)

So this is not just going on the vibes of a few people.

If (general) you don't feel that way, that doesn't invalidate the way others feel, that they're being unreasonable or misguided.

When people tell you about their experience, listen.

It's possible that a response of "the water is fine, just jump in" might be helpful to some, but it's more likely to seem patronising,even if your intentions are genuine.

It's more helpful to acknowledge that x does happen, and it sucks because we can't change it, but we might be able to do something about y.
posted by Zumbador at 10:09 AM on June 8 [14 favorites]


I can still see some parts that people might take the wrong way, but I give up at this point. If something in this comment annoys anyone, rest assured, the thing you think I was trying to say is probably not the thing I was actually trying to say.

I mean, yeah. In my experience, the only way past that is through, to the thicker-skinned other side. I'm a manager of 300+ people and I must communicate with them. That's also exactly like this. I could announce I'm going out on the sidewalk and handing out $20 bills and some number of people would find a way to be mad about that. I just do my best, try to hear everyone's comment, take useful feedback if there's any I find value in, discard the rest without letting it get to me. I'm not actually required to respond to every bad-faith shit-stirrer.

Quitting or letting it ruin your day is letting them win. I hate to say anyone deserves to put up with it, but there's some in every crowd and there's no thing anyone can do (careful revision and editing, after-the-fact moderation, peer-to-peer disapproval, public airings of grievances) that can stop it.
posted by ctmf at 10:17 AM on June 8 [5 favorites]


Kudos and thanks to BB for the clear communication, follow-through on answering questions, and going right on ahead with trying something new with the Linkfilter post. This is exactly the kind of support that everyone has been asking for.

I would love to see more of this! Since there is no decision-making body for this site at the moment, it seems totally reasonable for a mod to try out new ideas as suggested by the community, even if there is no consensus. For example, a mod could just start hiding comments instead of deleting them to see how it goes. Or whatever thing that seems worth trying, within reason.
posted by snofoam at 10:20 AM on June 8 [6 favorites]


Mod note: pleaseanswer what serious, analytical, budgeted efforts are being made to get more people to find out about this place and even give it a chance in the first place?

I specifically am not aware of any at this moment.

You can optionally include a reason why you're leaving that will be sent to the site admins. Your feedback can help us improve the site.

#pleaseanswer Mods, could you please let us know what’s done with this info, both currently and historically?


We are currently collecting that data in a spreadsheet that loup implemented at the beginning of 2024. I can not say what has been done with this information previously.

Late-thread recipes are absolutely still a thing!

Please note that all comments in these thread about late-thread recipes have been flagged, several of them quite heavily, where I'm defining heavily as more than 10 flags.

This information is being shared from a community information point of view, i.e. some are fine with late-thread recipes while some others are not.

#pleaseanswer: what steps would need to be done to implement a comment-hiding functionality for the mods to use and how could we ensure that this happens in a defined length of time?

I don't see that idea being implemented at anytime in the near future, as it breaks how the site currently treats deleted comments from a database point of view. The comment would be deleted from human view ability point of view, but still seen as a "live" comment by the system/database.

#pleaseanswer is there any intent to move loup's post in the other thread here? It seems to have been dropped there and then forgotten about, while quoting people from this thread.

I'll ping them about this. We do not have the funciationly to simply move comments to another thread, loup themselves will have to delete and then repost it if that was there actual intent.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 10:27 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'm a shit-stirrer about the current state of moderation and on the balance I really appreciate Brandon Blatcher's responses in this thread. It's not perfect, surely, but it's something and that's really what I think most of us were hoping for as a baseline for further future improvements. Thank you, Brandon.

#pleaseanswer what barriers are there to trying out something like the suggestion to use existing HTML to hide rather than completely delete posts, and what (if anything) can we as a community do to help lower those barriers?

Suspect we're talking policy / community action, not a technical change, here, to be clear, since mods can clearly already edit posts/comments (they do it to fix links and such already), and the HTML already exists and works in most modern browsers. And, on preview, I think it's fine if "hidden" posts aren't equal to "deleted" posts from a database point of view. Do y'all do anything with the info that a comment has been deleted, other than just not render it?
posted by Alterscape at 10:29 AM on June 8 [12 favorites]


And at some point, I don't exactly know where, the decision was made that we needed moderation to become more...professional I guess?

Somewhere in the early 2010s the moderation policy went from "intervene when someone is being too much of an asshole" to "create a safe space."

In itself it wasn't a bad idea, but it shifted a lot responsibility to the moderators. If someone was having a bad experience it became a flaw in the site that needed to be corrected. It was no longer that user A was being an asshole, it was that the moderators had failed in their duty to protect the community from them.

Obviously a few people got very entitled about that, but the general attitude of holding moderators responsible for all social policing has become the norm. It's a much heavier load than pre-change.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:33 AM on June 8 [38 favorites]


Quitting or letting it ruin your day is letting them win. I hate to say anyone deserves to put up with it, but there's some in every crowd and there's no thing anyone can do (careful revision and editing, after-the-fact moderation, peer-to-peer disapproval, public airings of grievances) that can stop it.

A group of people required (by their employment) to exist and work together where they're sometimes upset by a policy is not the same thing as a community which (ostensibly) chooses to share a space and wants to be welcoming both to existing and new people. Most of the tail end of this thread is about the shitty way peers treat peers not the complaints about management.

If you're a manager of that sized organization it would surprise me if you're a-ok with colleagues climbing all over one another across several public forums. I know I'm not.

Maybe you can see how this reads as flippant victim blaming and can read the responses here that this makes people want to leave.
posted by Lenie Clarke at 10:34 AM on June 8 [14 favorites]


(As an aside, Lenie Clarke, is that an intentional Rifters reference? If so, salute.)
posted by Alterscape at 10:43 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm a shit-stirrer

Well even shit-stirrers accidentally have a good idea once in a while. ;) (that's humor)

I was referring more to in-thread "the thing you like sucks" type comments, not people honestly trying to improve the site. Just because people are unhappy doesn't make them wrong. That's why you have to *read* the comments even if you only find value in some of them. You never know beforehand which ones.

If you're a manager of that sized organization it would surprise me if you're a-ok with colleagues climbing all over one another across several public forums. I know I'm not.

I'm also not, but there's only so much I can do about it. I would absolutely do something about bad behavior like the original "A User" being disrespectful to others. I'm just saying this utopian "everyone gets along with everyone and you can safely post something with nobody nit-picking your language and un-charitably reading into any ambiguity" place doesn't exist in practice. I wish it did.
posted by ctmf at 10:44 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Maybe you can see how this reads as flippant victim blaming and can read the responses here that this makes people want to leave.

Also maybe you're doing exactly the thing, reading something into my comment that wasn't intended.
posted by ctmf at 10:46 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Really happy to see communication coming through. I think it was good for the mods to let the community talk (type) it through even if that meant some had concern that Questions weren’t being addressed promptly (a feeling I had).

This community isn’t perfect but I don’t know of one that is and on the whole still really grateful for this site and what it means and what it tries to do as a functioning group of people.
posted by glaucon at 10:52 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]

I don't see that idea being implemented at anytime in the near future, as it breaks how the site currently treats deleted comments from a database point of view. The comment would be deleted from human view ability point of view, but still seen as a "live" comment by the system/database.
Has open sourcing MetaFilter been considered? It's a shame that technical issues are holding back features that could help the community. I might be interested in helping out if I could, maybe there are some other programmer MeFites who would too. #pleaseanswer
posted by april of time at 11:02 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]


(As an aside, Lenie Clarke, is that an intentional Rifters reference? If so, salute.)

I guess I'm identifying with a villain protagonist a bit, yes. And... Peter Watts nailed so much about the Maelstrom that I'm kinda hopeful he's fantastically wrong about the rest. This discussion reminded me of that universe - just Entropy Patrol all the way down.


Also maybe you're doing exactly the thing, reading something into my comment that wasn't intended.

It seems your comment intended to say people expressing they felt so uncomfortable making posts should get thicker skins.

I found that intent dismissive and victim-blaming. And similar to the dismissive intent of the shallow but aggressive FPP participation that seems to be repelling people as noted above.

I'm not saying don't call out shitty things. I'm saying don't equate a posting with a user's identity or endorsement in a way that you come after them, directly or indirectly.

These are your words, not a post discussing a management website's latest case study, so I'm totally comfortable reacting to them this way.
posted by Lenie Clarke at 11:33 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Do people feel the same trepidation about posting to AskMeta than to the front page?


Yes. (25-year lurker's perspective)

I reject 90% of my AskMe ideas even though all of my questions are about facts. I have no idea how people are brave enough to come in here and post about their psychiatric issues or relationships.
posted by mmoncur at 11:42 AM on June 8 [19 favorites]


It seems your comment intended to say people expressing they felt so uncomfortable making posts should get thicker skins.

I can see that, sure. (aside, I think we're mostly on the same side here, because I don't disagree with any of your post generally)

In fact, I kind of DO mean that, in a way. Just not in the dismissive way you seem to be imagining it. "If people don't comment the way I like, I just won't post" is one valid strategy. "Who gives a shit if 'A User' doesn't like the thing I like, I'll post what I want" is another. I'd encourage people to try out the latter.

Straight-up bad behavior and personal attacks is neither and should be addressed by the moderation, I agree with that. And ALSO, will never be 100% effective, is all I'm saying.
posted by ctmf at 11:48 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Do people feel the same trepidation about posting to AskMeta than to the front page?

For me, absolutely not. But 99.9% of my AskMetas are about factual, consumerist things, so those are less...fraught, I guess? I purposely don't ask the internet - anywhere, not just AskMe - about emotional or personal things, because I am the kind of person who will only ever look to people I know in real life for advice and support for things of that nature. I'm not Always Online enough to want the internet's advice or support for intensely personal things.

So I use AskMe mostly for "what should I buy/watch/read/do with my leisure time" sorts of things, and for that, I have no hesitation at all, because this community has an amazing breadth and depth of knowledge about a lot of things that I may or may not know. I know if I come here, I'll get good advice.
posted by pdb at 12:02 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Mod note: In the past, posting communication with the mods publicly was explicitly forbidden and punished. If the preferred method for determining and disseminating site policy is it going to be asking and being told privately, do users need to ask each time if they can share said policy with others, or is the ban on sharing communications with the mods and artifact of previous times and no longer policy?

Here's a response to that after conversation on the mod Slack.

Reposting communications between users without the explicit approval of every non-mod user involved in the communication is explicitly not ok and if done may result in a ban from the site. Do note do this.

Reposting communications between a mod and non-mod user is generally frowned upon, but not explicitly banned and will be treated on a case by case basis. The idea is that there are two (at least) different audiences when a mod is talking one on one vs publically.

This may sound odd at first read, but here's an example why it isn't:

A. Private communication example:
User: Hey this situation with User X, what's up with that?
Mod: Eh, they were having a bad day/week and being an asshole.

B. Public communication example of similar exchange:
User: Hey this situation with User X, what's up with that?
Mod: Don't know, they're clearly not their usual self.

Now imagine that example A is made public. Some people would probably be mad about a mod calling a user an asshole, because there are reasonable expectations of how mods should treat and address regular users at all times.

But in one on one communications, particularly with users that have communicated with the mods repeatedly over time, so there's a certain comfortability about language, with that one on one audience. We can argue about whether that's right or wrong, but people are people, so getting comfortable and casual when repeatedly communicating just kinda happens. Ultmately is just a small website, not any sort of official government agency that's setting policy that will affect people's lives.

Bottom line, a bit more information might be inadvertently shared in one on one conversations that is not meant for public consumption. But when revealed for the audience it was not intended for, then things might get taken out of context or meaning.

So yeah, please do not release or share communication between you and a mod without the mod's consent. Doing so is frowned upon.

The best way to avoid that, from my point of view as a mod, is for every to treat every communication with a user as one that's going to be shared with some other person and since this all digital and easily copied, assume it's a gonna be on the front page of a media site (news or otherwise) and don't be an ass, be professional.

To general users of the site, I would advise to explicitly ask the mod you're communicating with if it's ok to share the communication. If they say no, ask for a reason or give them a chance to reword things. If you think the original answer or reworded one reveals some problematic elements then please report it to loup.


posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 12:06 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


In fact, I kind of DO mean that, in a way. Just not in the dismissive way you seem to be imagining it. "If people don't comment the way I like, I just won't post" is one valid strategy. "Who gives a shit if 'A User' doesn't like the thing I like, I'll post what I want" is another. I'd encourage people to try out the latter.

And yet you have people in this thread saying that somehow "who gives a shit" isn't working for them. I'm suggesting listening to this rather than taking away that simply chasing personal attacks is enough and anyone with a problem with that should just toughen up.

If you only want people who can toughen up to post - great - that's how you achieve that. If you want the posters who have explicitly left because toughening up isn't how they want to do community, we might need a different perspective and set off expectations and norms.

Characterizing that shift as unattainable utopia seems - again - dismissive. Telling me I'm imagining it kinda sucks, but fortunately my skin is thick enough to handle it.
posted by Lenie Clarke at 12:06 PM on June 8 [11 favorites]


It's not that I'm not listening, it's that I think there's nothing that can reasonably be done about it. I'd rather people didn't leave the site. And I'll just leave it at that.
posted by ctmf at 12:11 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Also
but fortunately my skin is thick enough to handle it.
Well played :D
posted by ctmf at 12:13 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Dropping back in, as this thread morphed a bit, in order to agree strongly about barriers to posting being a challenge for me (all across MetaFilter, except for Ask, actually). I discard whole topics in advance because of how terribly threads can go, even the ones that start and stay bad but eventually level out. I don't want to share something I think is cool, only to face a hail of pebbles and stones.

Doesn't happen all the time, but rarely (IMHO) are there enough commenters on a thread for there to be distinct schools of thought about the subject of the post, such that I can say "well, the Guelphs hate it, but the Ghibellines like it, so I guess this wasn't a complete waste of my time." On days when there's That One Thread, or days when MetaTalk gets hot, you can wind up with a post that maybe only catches a few eyeballs, and few or no comments.
posted by cupcakeninja at 12:14 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Several years ago I posted what I consider to be a truly terrible ask about the status of rock music among young people. I say it's truly terrible because it was just . . . dumb, in retrospect. What was I even asking? Out of billions of young people in the world, are there any who listen to new rock albums? (duh) Out of millions of young people in the US, are there any who listen to new rock albums? (double duh) Are there new rock bands? (triple duh) Are there still formative indie rock albums? (the whole structure of the music industry has changed!)

Like I just hadn't spent any time trying to figure out how to use Ask for what I was trying get out of it: an answer to a question from a friend about what new guitar-based music is formative for teens and twentysomethings.

And for years--years!!!--I just remembered this post as an absolute shitshow where I looked like an idiot in front of all MetaFilterdom. In my mind the whole thread was just, "You pretentious little shit, what the fuck is your problem?"

And like last year I revisited it the way you can only approach the things you're ashamed of from a safe distance, tentatively, many years after the fact. And really what happened is that littlewater came in and said, "There are a ton of articles about 'rockism.' Read your source of choice," and then I got red in the face and said, "Oh no! I must be misunderstood! VERY MUCH APOLOGY I don't even care about rock music! Never heard of it! I'm into rap music!" And then, looking at the thread in retrospect, I went on to do really kind of an unacceptable level of threadsitting in my embarrassment.

But, you know, littlewater isn't even here anymore and I'm still plugging away trying to figure out how to do ill-conceived furniture projects to single-answer engagement, or pathologically trying to lighten the mood by posting Sargento cheese content. And truthfully, their answer wasn't even that harsh. It was terse but I mean, it answered my question--literally they mentioned two bands that I had heard of but had no clue anyone actually cared about. It is probably my most engaged-with Ask thread (I usually feel like the king of the 5-8 answer AskMe post) and I learned a lot and everybody was just chit-chattering away about music.

I am not sure what I'm trying to say with this anecdote. I wanted people here to like me even though we're all strangers to one another, and felt misunderstood and like I'd made myself a pariah in a space that I valued by sounding simultaneously unsophisticated and pretentious. But in reality probably nobody here though twice about me or my post ever again.

I don't think those of us without thick skins need to get thicker skins, but there is something, I think, to what ctmf just said. I do think those of us who wish to post should . . . just post! We'll survive all our dumbest and least well-received posts. And I think that will help create a more open culture here. I also think modding the shit out of early-thread turd-in-the-punchbowl activity would also help create a more open culture here. I myself have been guilty of turd-in-the-punchbowl behavior, because I hate a SLYT post, or I have particular strong-held opinions that I forget can be alienating, or I've spent 25 years learning Internet-tone and Internet-tone is dehumanizing, and I apologize to anyone I've ever done that to. Including, actually a user. I've done that to a user at some point in the months past and I'm sorry I did that.
posted by kensington314 at 12:15 PM on June 8 [17 favorites]


Mod note: If I understand correctly, we did do a big survey of members and what prevents people from posting, and a significant number of people said they were put off by the large number of guidelines, or unwritten expectations (I'm probably using the wrong words, but I believe that was the gist of it)


Yes, this was done by the Transition Team, which I was part of and was one of the most eye opening things revealed, as someone's who made over 600 posts. Mentioning how many posts I've made is not any sort of flex, just noting I have a different view that what I believe is a sizeable part of the community.

Also
Someone mentioned somewhere in this thread that they didn't know who the current staff is. That information is in the FAQ and updated when staff changes. Imma just repost it here to save people a click:
"The moderators are: taz, goodnewsfortheinsane, travelingthyme, Brandon Blatcher, and loup; web developers frimble and kirkaracha."

Loup is aware of their post in the wrong thread, but currently not near a computer, so we'll just have to wait until they're near one to delete and report it. Hopefully the link to that misposted comment assists people in still getting that information sooner than later.

I think it's fine if "hidden" posts aren't equal to "deleted" posts from a database point of view. Do y'all do anything with the info that a comment has been deleted, other than just not render it?

I'm not a developer, so can't really speak to that, but my understanding it would be different way of handling that data and frankly, as a mod and member of the community, I would prefer to have that data noted as deleted in the database.

Has open sourcing MetaFilter been considered?
At least from memory, I want to say that it has, even back when original owner and developer where on the site.

But currently, as far as I know, there is no move towards making the site's code open source or using an open source .

Otherwise, I'm still around for a few more hours if any one needs a question or clarification about the current situation. Please tag it as #pleaseanser in the beginning of the comment, thanks.

I personally will be off tomorrow (Sunday, eastern time) and there are always large gaps in moderation over the weekend, so I would not expect sort of quick or detailed answers to any questions until alter in the week.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 12:27 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


And see, kensington314, I don't read any of the answers in your first example as harsh at all, proving that one person's 'trainwreck of a thread' is another person's 'answerers are just trying to get more clarification of the question plus are answering to the best of their abilities.'

I don't really have any insights or anything to share, I just think that it's interesting that we all read different things into posts/comments. I don't know what to DO with that, though. I think mods and community norms have done their best to encourage people to read and post and comment with their best selves. I also know that doesn't always happen because, well, we're all human and we all aren't always our best selves.
posted by cooker girl at 12:29 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


#pleaseanswer if users in the community were interested in sponsoring specific features in a specific time-frame, is that a thing the powers that be would be open to?

#pleaseanswer In the absence of creating a new way to hide but not fully delete disfavored posts, what would it take for the community to convince the mod team to let bad-but-not-too-bad posts stand with a strongly-worded mod note instead? Seems like a slightly less blunt-instrument approach might've led to a less-hot resolution to the situation that kicked off this string of metas, so I think it's worth at least discussing further.
posted by Alterscape at 12:42 PM on June 8 [9 favorites]


Reposting communications between a mod and non-mod user is generally frowned upon, but not explicitly banned and will be treated on a case by case basis. The idea is that there are two (at least) different audiences when a mod is talking one on one vs publically. [...] Some people would probably be mad about a mod calling a user an asshole, because there are reasonable expectations of how mods should treat and address regular users at all times. But in one on one communications, particularly with users that have communicated with the mods repeatedly over time, so there's a certain comfortability about language, with that one on one audience.

Hey, fwiw, I think this is not an acceptable take. For two reasons:

a) the question of whether it's okay to post personal mod communications came up because users were being encouraged to raise their concerns, including about site policy, privately rather than publicly in Meta. One major problem with that is that mod "rulings" on policy, or other information that is relevant to the entire readership, are left unpublicized to anyone outside of those personal communications. If mods want to insist that these communications need to be private, then the flip side of the coin is that mods need to commit to publicizing any such rulings or information to the entire membership themselves, on a timely basis. Do you really want to take on that responsibility? It goes completely against loup (and apparently most mods') take that there aren't enough resources to prioritize reliable communication. If we're being realistic: I do not have trust that the current mods will care about this or do it right.

b) Sorry, but mods are professionals and it shouldn't be so hard to not write anything in a personal message to a user that you wouldn't write in a Meta thread. Especially things like calling users assholes (I know this was just a hypothetical example, but it's not out of line with things that we've seen in communications from e.g. cortex). And there have legit been cases in the past where mods have behaved in really unacceptable ways, that I personally didn't believe until I saw the actual messages. Mods' reaction there shouldn't be "well that's why our messages shouldn't be public"; it should be "holy hell that is unacceptable behavior in pretty much any professional context and definitely not acceptable for someone holding a public-facing, community-building, trust-requiring position." Seriously, don't make any room for "accidental" unacceptable behavior.

I think mods should never post private mod-user communications without the user's consent. But users should be able to post those communications without mods' consent. There is not a symmetrical power relationship here.

#pleaseanswer: are you willing to reconsider?
posted by trig at 12:46 PM on June 8 [36 favorites]


There is not a symmetrical power relationship here.

@trig (which should be a thing we can do btw) thank you.
posted by Lenie Clarke at 12:54 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


There shouldn’t be an issue with non-mods publicly posting onsite communications with mods. If a mod wants to bad mouth a user there’s a subreddit they can anonymously join.
posted by Diskeater at 12:55 PM on June 8 [11 favorites]


Yeahhhhh, I'm not thrilled if "mods might be talking shit behind people's backs, so don't share that" is the official policy. Although this is not a business setting, I still think it's a close-enough analogy that I never get to take my "manager" hat off completely, not even if I'm having beers with a couple of people from work outside of working hours. If I say something that leads them to believe something about me, well the next day I'm still the manager who said the thing. The answer is to not say such things, not to swear my companions to secrecy.

I'm not saying every little communication should be posted in public, but that mods should act as if it might be and not have a problem if someone wants to.
posted by ctmf at 12:57 PM on June 8 [16 favorites]


So, probably the 2 issues I have with reactions to my posts (mostly on the Blue) is either a) getting very few responses at all* or, occasionally, b) people riffing on something loosely connected to the post**. This used to bother me, but I kept plugging away, because I want people to know about these podcasts. If a couple of people of the howevermany who looked at the post listened, and it made their day better, well, I figure that's a win, even if I never know it. And the creators whose work I enjoy maybe find a little bigger audience, which is also a (theoretical).

So, in the end, I grew a tougher skin around what disappointed me. Is that advice for everyone? Only if you want to get over your anxiety and post to the site, which maybe you don't and that's OK.

Now, things I try to do as a member reading FPPs:
- Read as charitably as possible.
- Especially early on, respond enthusiastically. If I've got gripes, save them until people have said positive things. If that means never griping, oh no, I did not get to gripe this hour!
- Avoid derails. Don't talk about US politics in threads on other countries' politics (yes, we know Modi is kind of like Trump, but he's also not. Let's revile him for Modi reasons). If there's a tangent I'm really feeling, maybe I research that and do my own, complimentary FPP.
- If derails occur, try to rerail, if I can. Make a comment that's to the point. If people are being negative, try to say something positive.
- Stay out of FPPs which I am indifferent or hostile to. You made a post because you like a band; that post is not helped by me telling you how much I dislike the band, unless, I dunno, I have some links to share from reputable sources that the band are being investigated for a murder and cannibalism spree. That's a downer, but on topic.
- Conversely, if I notice an FPP with a very low comment count, I go in and look at it. Often I have nothing to say, but sometimes I can make a little positive comment that might help more people comment. If I can't, I can give a favorite to say "I saw this thing."
- Mostly try to avoid jokes, or, if I absolutely can't resist, pair it with something substantive. If I indulge my urge for a one-liner, I try to follow it with "More seriously..."

None of those are rules or guidelines, they are just a set of practices that are built on how I would like to be treated. I am sure you have your own. So, in closing, while I think there really isn't a way around "if you are an anxious poster, you can still post and hope for the best," but as other members, we can make efforts to make every posting experience better for everyone, especially relatively new posters. I kind of think it's an honor to post here, but the flipside of that is honoring, respecting, and showing dency to the people who try.

I guess if an anxious poster really wanted some help, they could contact we and I'd try to help build a post with them, although I will warn in advance that I don't always get the results I would like myself. I kind of wish there was a buddy system where two members could post an FPP together, but that's probably a pony too far.

* I do accept that, since I mostly post about niche interest podcasts, the chances of people having listened and saying that isn't huge, and the chances of someone listening to 6 hour-long episodes and then remembering to come back and say so is not great, either.

** Which, again, if my interests aren't easy to respond to people will respond to whatever. Or not respond.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:02 PM on June 8 [26 favorites]


cortex (since someone mentioned him) used to talk in plain every-day expressions and use decidedly non-professional expressions, etc. It made him seem relatable and "one of us" and like a real person, not a corporate drone. On the other hand, you get to a certain size where that's impractical and a bad bad idea because it can come off really poorly when heard by someone who doesn't know you have a heart of gold, tend to exaggerate for rhetorical effect, would *never*... etc.
posted by ctmf at 1:04 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


I think mods should never post private mod-user communications without the user's consent. But users should be able to post those communications without mods' consent. There is not a symmetrical power relationship here.

I dunno; I think this could lead to some real James O’Keefe action. I'd rather the mods weren't thinking about "what might someone do with this if it isn't framed just right?" A better approach is just don't post private correspondence without permission from all involved. Maybe with a carve out for a situation where someone is outright lying about something, although I haven't seen much of that for years.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:07 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but mods are professionals and it shouldn't be so hard to not write anything in a personal message to a user that you wouldn't write in a Meta thread. Especially things like calling users assholes (I know this was just a hypothetical example, but it's not out of line with things that we've seen in communications from e.g. cortex). And there have legit been cases in the past where mods have behaved in really unacceptable ways, that I personally didn't believe until I saw the actual messages. Mods' reaction there shouldn't be "well that's why our messages shouldn't be public"; it should be "holy hell that is unacceptable behavior in pretty much any professional context and definitely not acceptable for someone holding a public-facing, community-building, trust-requiring position."

I have to say I agree with this. I'd consider this a floor for even semi-professional moderation.

I think this could lead to some real James O’Keefe action

The presumption that critics of the moderation will be acting in bad faith is a terrible one. Are you anticipating that people will deliberately act out in deceptive ways in the hopes of ensnaring mods into being assholes in writing?
posted by praemunire at 1:13 PM on June 8 [11 favorites]


Mod note: #pleaseanswer if users in the community were interested in sponsoring specific features in a specific time-frame, is that a thing the powers that be would be open to?

I would advise to hold off on that at this time.

#pleaseanswer In the absence of creating a new way to hide but not fully delete disfavored posts, what would it take for the community to convince the mod team to let bad-but-not-too-bad posts stand with a strongly-worded mod note instead?

I'm assuming you mean 'comments' instead of 'posts' and am answering as such:
I'm pretty sure this is not being considered at this time and won't be for the foreseeable future due to having to rework the codebase in major ways.

If mods want to insist that these communications need to be private, then the flip side of the coin is that mods need to commit to publicizing any such rulings or information to the entire membership themselves, on a timely basis.

Sorry, but mods are professionals and it shouldn't be so hard to not write anything in a personal message to a user that you wouldn't write in a Meta thread.

Yeahhhhh, I'm not thrilled if "mods might be talking shit behind people's backs, so don't share that" is the official policy.

I think mods should never post private mod-user communications without the user's consent. But users should be able to post those communications without mods' consent. There is not a symmetrical power relationship here.

Mods' reaction there shouldn't be "well that's why our messages shouldn't be public"; it should be "holy hell that is unacceptable behavior in pretty much any professional context and definitely not acceptable for someone holding a public-facing, community-building, trust-requiring position." Seriously, don't make any room for "accidental" unacceptable behavior.


Combining a bunch of comments to note that the mods basically in agreement and I do believe we're talking about exceedingly rare edge cases.

Bottom line, can a user be banned for sharing a direct communication between themselves and a mod? My interpretation of that is that in very, exceeding rare instances, so rare than I can't think of an example at that moment, it is possible and if done better have a damn good reason, explained publically, and done because in involved some major repercussions.

I say that as a mod who has learned and heard of some terrible behavior directed at mods, which is not and will not be publicly shared. Which now brings up a possible example: If in the process of doing or saying terrible things to a mod, a user also releases publishes some previously private communications, then it's totally possible that that act might be the final straw that causes a banning.

I'm trying to be clear about this so that expectation is that in 99.9% of the instances of a user publishing communication between them and a moderator, the user is not banned, while leaving space for a currently hypothetical case.

IF that hypothetical becomes real, the community is 110% within in rights to loudly and repeatedly express that the banning was wrong and take issue to correct that situation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 1:14 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


cortex (since someone mentioned him) used to talk in plain every-day expressions and use decidedly non-professional expressions, etc. It made him seem relatable and "one of us" and like a real person, not a corporate drone.

That's true (I'm the one who brought him up) but: some of his (later?) private communications went way beyond the friendly-plain-talk line. And tbh, even as a new member I wondered if the harsh language from mods was a sign of something not-great; as I got to know the site better I stopped worrying about it because the mods' behavior otherwise built a lot of trust in me; but then during the last few years of cortex's time as owner there was a really clear "us against the users" adversarial mentality, and I wondered and still wonder a lot if there's a connection between that and the abusive-not-abusive communication style.

I'm one of the people who's been railing against the corporate-drone style we've shifted to, but I really think there's a middle range where you can be human but also not say things you'd be rightfully embarrassed to have other site users see. (And I don't even object to the word "asshole" - I think it's fine to ask someone to not be an ass - but talking that way about a third party without their knowledge? As a mod? Nah.)
posted by trig at 1:15 PM on June 8 [9 favorites]


So we shouldn’t use the contact form?
posted by bowbeacon at 1:18 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


Thanks, Brandon. I really appreciate the transparency and understand the constraints. I do think you misunderstood my one question, though.. regarding:
#pleaseanswer In the absence of creating a new way to hide but not fully delete disfavored [comments], what would it take for the community to convince the mod team to let bad-but-not-too-bad posts stand with a strongly-worded mod note instead?
Here I'm advocating for, if we can't find a way to hide but not delete posts like the ones that were deleted and kicked off this whole incident, would the mods be willing to try out just leaving those posts, but with a strongly worded note. Like rather than "Several deleted, please stop the derail," something almost exactly like what we got, but with at least some of the comments standing and a note to the effect of "Please stop digging in on this derail. These comments are standing to capture the conversation, but if you need to discuss it further, please open a new meta." I think but am not certain that might have avoided some of the worst of the blowback that happened in the other meta.
posted by Alterscape at 1:21 PM on June 8 [7 favorites]


The presumption that critics of the moderation will be acting in bad faith is a terrible one. Are you anticipating that people will deliberately act out in deceptive ways in the hopes of ensnaring mods into being assholes in writing?

I have been on MetaFilter for a while now, and on MetaTalk for almost as long. I have seen members behave really badly to mods, sometimes in very duplicitous ways. Not all of them, or even most of them, but it's a door I think should be nailed shut.

To be fair, I have also seen some mods behave quite badly to some members, and that often took way too long to resolve, but we need a different set of tools there.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:22 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Wait, how does *not* deleting comments, and leaving a strong mod note, require codebase changes?

#pleaseanswer
posted by sagc at 1:23 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Mod note:
Here I'm advocating for, if we can't find a way to hide but not delete posts like the ones that were deleted and kicked off this whole incident, would the mods be willing to try out just leaving those posts, but with a strongly worded note. Like rather than "Several deleted, please stop the derail," something almost exactly like what we got, but with at least some of the comments standing and a note to the effect of "Please stop digging in on this derail. These comments are standing to capture the conversation, but if you need to discuss it further, please open a new meta."

Oh yeah, that has occurred before, it just didn't at this point. It should have.

Wait, how does *not* deleting comments, and leaving a strong mod note, require codebase changes

Misunderstanding on my part, which has been corrected the intra comment reply above this one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 1:27 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Brandon, thanks again for quickly giving LinkFilter a try -- loving the results already! I will have to dig in over the next few days and try to post-ify some myself.

Brandon Blatcher: "I'm not a developer, so can't really speak to that, but my understanding it would be different way of handling that data and frankly, as a mod and member of the community, I would prefer to have that data noted as deleted in the database."

IMHO, it kind of makes sense to classify the type of comment that would be hidden differently from the delete-on-sight spam/slurs/etc. anyway. Idk how the backend works, but in terms of finding or tracking them for mod purposes one could just do a sitewide search for "mod note summary details" and it would turn up every comment that had the collapsible HTML code edited in; you could do the same search on a user's profile to find just their hidden comments. Ofc anybody could do a search like that, but then again the whole point of hiding comments is to make them less visible while still clear to others that they've been actioned by a mod.

Alterscape: "Like rather than "Several deleted, please stop the derail," something almost exactly like what we got, but with at least some of the comments standing and a note to the effect of "Please stop digging in on this derail. These comments are standing to capture the conversation, but if you need to discuss it further, please open a new meta." "

The issue here is that in longer threads, leaving the derail-y comments standing might encourage people to respond to them on sight before they scroll further down to see any mod notes on the matter. Hiding them in place leaves the context while making it clear that mods have addressed it already and that continuing the fight is not okay. (I guess mods could also edit a bolded mod note at the top/bottom of a comment, but that doesn't get the benefit of visually suppressing it behind a click.)
posted by Rhaomi at 1:29 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Is the site willing to think seriously about the comment-hiding approach for, say, one week, in order to decide whether to do a limited-time experiment using the <details> tag even though it's not ideal from a database perspective, in order to at least try out comment-hiding before committing to or against it? And, if after the experiment it seems potentially worth implementing permanently, make the necessary infrastructure changes a high-priority dev item? #pleaseanswer
posted by trig at 1:30 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


For some future day when ponies fall from the sky like rain: A hiding comments feature could also be used to auto-hide comments with X (non fantastic) flags. The auto-hide could be overridden by mods, and if anyone abused the feature there would have to be some way to address it, but it could be helpful for times without coverage, or just generally encourage appropriate flagging by users to make the site easier to moderate.
posted by snofoam at 1:39 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Mod note: Is the site willing to think about the comment-hiding approach for, say, one week, in order to decide whether to do a limited-time experiment using the
tag even though it's not ideal from a database perspective, in order to at least try out comment-hiding before committing to or against it? And, if after the experiment it seems potentially worth implementing permanently, make the necessary infrastructure changes a high-priority dev item? #pleaseanswer


We are not at this point or for the foreseeable future, which I'm defining/guesstamiting as not till early next year, considering that change*. It's a good idea, yes, but with the upcoming transition it's probably best to hold off on doing much to change the code or add major new features until we're further along into or even after said transition.

If users want to create a document of requested features, I think that's a good way to make sure these requests are not forgotten. I'm not sure of the best way to do that, but am willing to assist in doing so if people want said assistance.

*That said, it's entirely possible that a higher up might come along and say differently. But as moderator who's been equated to little more than a gopher getting messages from the mod council, I comfortable with what I've written above.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 1:43 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


There is zero, absolutely zero, code change required. None.
posted by bowbeacon at 1:47 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


OK, I've been thinking about this "details" idea, and I kind of like it, if only for the reason that I sometimes come into threads and see a bunch of deletions and wonder what the hell happened (for, I will admit, often prurient reasons, but also because I'd rather not reignite some kind of fire storm if I can avoid it). One side effect that might be a problem though (outside of things like workflow and exactly how something exists in the database) is that there would have to be a way to "deactivate them, if only for favorites. Let's say someone says something really shitty to me, totally outside site norms, and the mods "detail it," but it keeps getting favorites. It's one thing if 20 people favorite calling me some kind of slur in a sort-of funny way and the mods delete it; it's another if, over the next 3 days, it gets 70 extra "protest" favorites, and I have to wonder if that many members think that of me. How do we deal with that?
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:48 PM on June 8 [7 favorites]


GaP, that's a great point and definitely would require some code-tweaking to disable or at least hide favorites for such comments. (I imagine it's doable though, since favorites are already hidden/disabled for deleted posts.)
posted by Rhaomi at 2:05 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


We are not at this point or for the foreseeable future, which I'm defining/guesstamiting as not till early next year, considering that change*. It's a good idea, yes, but with the upcoming transition it's probably best to hold off on doing much to change the code or add major new features until we're further along into or even after said transition.

I kind of understand that, but meanwhile we've been putting off all manner of important things until the transition - for several years now. I think we've been paying a price for that, and also making things that much harder for the next team.

I suggested a short, limited time experiment, which is something that can be done without committing to a larger change. With regard to the larger change, I don't know what the dev team is working on these days, but the last monthly update said "Kirk is still going over possible User Experience and accessibility improvements" and this sure seems to fall within that bucket, as something to at least figure out the costs of implementing. Keeping in mind that elegant optimal solutions are often not better than barebones ones. (That especially holds for an experiment - I don't think there's any need to start thinking about favorites or edge cases for a short, basic viability check.)

The reason I think this is worth bringing up repeatedly is that it offers a potential remedy for some serious moderation issues that themselves have been coming up repeatedly over the past several years. Is it not worth thinking about seriously for at least, like, a week, and maybe doing a short experiment, before ruling it out as "not for the foreseeable future"?

#pleaseanswer (is this still necessary?)
posted by trig at 2:10 PM on June 8 [8 favorites]


I like what just happened above: Rhaomi made some suggestions that are actionable without a lot of coding work or other consultations. BB agreed that it's worth trying and did a trial of it.

One of the pieces of dysfunction is that we workshop and committee-refer everything to death before giving anything a shot. Some things, sure, they need a bit of time to be thought through. But other things, sure, try it and see what happens.

That being said, I'm not a huge fan of those suggestions, because I think it just adds even more complexity to the process of making a post. "OK, should I put this as an FPP or will people also yell at me because it would fit in the LinkFilter thread or the TalkFilter thread" or whatever.

We want to make it simpler and less anxiety-provoking to participate, not the other way round.

Ultimately, I feel that coming up with more procedures to follow isn't likely to lead anywhere except to more rules-lawyering. The proper bounds for an acceptable FPP on the Blue are actually quite simple and longstanding:
A good post to MetaFilter is something that meets some of the following criteria: most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page, and it might warrant discussion from others.

Posts don't have to be long, and they don't have to contain multiple links or end with a discussion-sparking question.
If the culture of the site is such that people feel uncomfortable posting things they find that they think will be new and lead to interesting discussions because they've observed similar things being dragged by other posters, that's a problem that should be addressed by mods kindly but firmly dropping a note in the thread to remind people not to shit on things out of the gate. If (generic) you see an FPP and it makes you upset for whatever reason, either keep scrolling, make a respectful comment about your feelings, or flag it if you really feel it's necessary.
posted by tivalasvegas at 2:13 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


It could still be months (or years??) before the leadership transition takes place, right?

I suggest we compose a MeTa thread about the hide-comments-not-delete proposal. We have a mechanism for a userbase survey. If this idea gets widespread support in a dedicated MeTa, why not do a poll to ask the members what they think? The reason it’s not being considered is just the lack of someone to make the decision, right? #pleaseanswer #HideNotDelete
posted by umber vowel at 2:36 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Mod note: Is it not worth thinking about seriously for at least, like, a week, and maybe doing a short experiment, before ruling it out as "not for the foreseeable future"?

The answer I keep giving is based on information that has not released yet and there is no current timeframe on said release. That sucks, I'm sorry about that, not trying to be cute, but want to be crystal clear that the answer of "not for the foreseeable future" that I've written and repeated is not coming from a place "NO, don't want to, never gonna happen" or anything remotely like that.

That said, in a very generic, not committal way that will not be elaborated on, yet does reflect someone's joke upthread about Lenny Kravitz, I have been humming his song "Are You Gonna Go My Way" and thinking about just the title and based on that: "oh yeah, the community is going to be pleased about things going their way on various issues, long term". No, I will not be elaborating. Yeah, this sucks, I'm sorry. Ultimately coming up with more procedures to follow, I feel, isn't likely to lead anywhere except to more rules-lawyering. The proper bounds for an acceptable FPP on the Blue are actually quite simple and longstanding:

Often when removing derailing comments from the front page, I encourage people to make the kind of posts that they personally would enjoy and mention the Best Of Blog. The posts presented there are highly favorited by the community, so if people are wondering "What works well on MetaFilter" that's one good source
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 2:38 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


WHAT ARE THESE BREADCRUMBS ABOUT BRANDON :) :) :)
posted by kensington314 at 2:45 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Is there consensus among the mods and ownership that this "nothing will change until mysterious news is revealed" approach is the right one?
posted by sagc at 3:01 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I suspect Brandon is in an awkward position here and we should probably let this drop for now....
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:06 PM on June 8 [23 favorites]


Taylor Swift fans would have figured it out by now
posted by one4themoment at 3:12 PM on June 8 [15 favorites]


[takes the red pill from Laurence Fishburne and realizes we've all been commenting inside a single threaded comment thread all these years.]
posted by kensington314 at 3:28 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


That being said, I'm not a huge fan of those suggestions, because I think it just adds even more complexity to the process of making a post. "OK, should I put this as an FPP or will people also yell at me because it would fit in the LinkFilter thread or the TalkFilter thread" or whatever.

(My impression, and I might be wrong, is LinkFilter is not the "rightful place" for any given material, but a possible stage of development for a post. If you've already made an FPP, there's no need for its content to go into LinkFilter.)
posted by a faded photo of their beloved at 3:57 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


how about absorbing linkfilter request/proposal url comments in the weekly free thread instead of a separate fpp?
posted by zaixfeep at 4:01 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


going forward, i will mentally read disruptive/cracker-eating/punchbowl-contaminating comments back to myself in the voice of truman capote or april ludgate. to which i will mentally respond, 'oh, you witty, erudite scamp! go home, you are drunk :-)' which translates to 'bless your heart' in my alien homeworld language.
posted by zaixfeep at 4:09 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Oh sorry, I sort of conflated a couple of the things in the above comment. My point regarding that was more that I can see that process leading to an expectation that single-link or "thin" (but actually fine) FPPs would be further stigmatized, for lack of a better word, because "oh this could've gotten fleshed out via LinkFilter".
posted by tivalasvegas at 4:09 PM on June 8


#pleaseanswer: So if the mods don't want us to share direct communication with them, can the mods stop suggesting that if we want questions answered about policies and other sitewide issues, that we use the Contact Us form rather than MetaTalk? And will the mods continue to answer questions in MetaTalk? There's a feeling like loup, at least, thinks answering questions in MetaTalk is an unreasonable request, but apparently it's the only way to get public answers.
posted by lapis at 4:10 PM on June 8 [14 favorites]


METAFILTER: Taylor Swift fans would have figured it out by now
posted by philip-random at 4:12 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


I didn't even realise we weren't supposed to bring up something a mod had said privately. I think I did do this at one point. It makes me wonder if I am on secret probation.
posted by biffa at 4:13 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I suspect that some of the reticence on the mods' part to discuss that issue is due to the fact that mods may in the past not always have interacted professionally with MeFites over MeMail. Regardless of whether that is the case or not, my advice for mods going forward would be to assume that any correspondence could be forwarded on or made public and not to say anything privately that they wouldn't be able to justify later on. That doesn't mean being a bureaucratic automaton; it's just the kind of standard that any of us who write in a professional capacity would be held to.

On the other hand, it's usually going to be a dick move for MeFites to publish private communications without permission, and if there's a policy statement that gets informally made in that setting it's probably best to ask the mod to make a comment to that effect in the appropriate publicly-viewable space.
posted by tivalasvegas at 4:24 PM on June 8 [12 favorites]


I can see that process leading to an expectation that single-link or "thin" (but actually fine) FPPs would be further stigmatized, for lack of a better word, because "oh this could've gotten fleshed out via LinkFilter".

I think maybe a slightly clearer framing would be "a place for links you're not ready to post for whatever reason" (maybe you're afraid the post would be too thin, maybe you're just afraid to post period, etc.).

I can see people posting links from there with more content, but also just as plain single-link posts. Some people are braver about just posting, and I also think for some people the prospect of negative comments might not feel as personally distressing when there's a separation between the poster and the link-suggester.

Might not hurt to put a LinkMe tag on posts that are made.
posted by trig at 4:36 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Packing it in for the day, there will various long gaps in moderation till Monday afternoon, easter time or so.

I think things are basically settled in terms of questions about this situation. If not, feel free to post any other questions related to this situation and/or how it was handled and please tag them at the beginning of the comment with #pleaseanswer, thanks.

If no else gets it by the time I'm back on duty on Monday evening, then I'll pick up with the question from lapis.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 5:51 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: I've been working on this comment for about 15 minutes now. I can still see some parts that people might take the wrong way, but I give up at this point. If something in this comment annoys anyone, rest assured, the thing you think I was trying to say is probably not the thing I was actually trying to say.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:54 PM on June 8 [8 favorites]


there will various long gaps in moderation till Monday afternoon, easter time or so.

See y’all in April!
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 6:22 PM on June 8 [8 favorites]


easter time or so

I got confused for a minute and thought there was a time warp. Then I realized it was just a typo.
posted by NotLost at 6:22 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


zaixfeep: "how about absorbing linkfilter request/proposal url comments in the weekly free thread instead of a separate fpp?"

Nah, those threads get pretty cluttered already with the mix of people responding to the weekly theme and sharing random personal stuff -- it's a lot more conversational and I'd hate to disrupt that with a flood of random links.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:37 PM on June 8 [12 favorites]


nothing will change until mysterious news is revealed

So much unverified
So much [more inside]
But baby it ain’t over ‘til it’s over…
posted by snofoam at 6:48 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Re people's concerns about ideas on how to make it more likely for people to post, and about comment deletions:

Keep in mind that "the perfect is the enemy of the good".
posted by Zumbador at 7:26 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


#pleaseanswer The idea that we should ask for explicit permission to share staff communication with us is not the wisest business decision in terms of limited resources. I work for a non profit, I'd love if the external organizations and individuals we engage with shared our one on one communications more, that's less work for me, and I wouldn't throw impediments in their way of doing that, especially impediments that would mean I'd have to do additional work like granting permission.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding though.
posted by Chrysopoeia at 12:17 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


Either sharing communications with mods publicly has to be explicitly allowed, not "frowned upon" or "discouraged" or "could result in a ban in some rare edge case" or anything else that might subtly discourage it because it seems the mods might get angry at you,

or,

mods have to not encourage people to take questions about mod policy and decisions to private communications.

There's no way to maintain a transparent and accountable site policy otherwise.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:04 AM on June 9 [19 favorites]


One thing anyone can do, right now, to make it easier for people to post is to add a positive comment to any thread you like. It's fine to just write "Interesting link, thanks for posting it." If there are some positive comments on your thread, you don't care about the one guy hating on it for no good reason.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:14 AM on June 9 [37 favorites]


Seconding both of the comments just above. Yay for encouraging folks with thanks for cool posts. Boo for telling users to contact mods directly with policy questions while also telling users they can't share with other users what the mods' answers to those policy questions actually are. That's a laughably dysfunctional combination of site policies that makes no sense other than as an attempt to hide what should be an open conversation.

There may be specific mod interactions with specific users that might need to be kept private, but that's not what the stated policies are saying.
posted by mediareport at 5:37 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Either sharing communications with mods publicly has to be explicitly allowed, not "frowned upon" or "discouraged" or "could result in a ban in some rare edge case" or anything else that might subtly discourage it because it seems the mods might get angry at you,

What about a more nuanced rule like "users are allowed to share private communications with mods as long as the communication is not about another specific user". Or something like that.

B/c I really don't see a reason to say that users can't share private communications about site policy with mods or that they can't share private communications with the mods about their own participation on the site. But I could understand how it might be more sensitive if the communication is about one single specific user (not A User, just generic a user).

I think it's important to have this sharing of mod private communications be explicitly allowed for transparency, and it seems like the main concern in the thread is about private communication with mods regard site policy.

Frankly, I also really don't think sharing private communication with a
Also, I've been lurking in this thread and just wanted to say thank you to Brandon Blatcher for his transparency and candidness in this thread. I'm really glad that you're on the mod team.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:38 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Why do mods need to be discussing other users with third parties anyway? That's exactly the sort of thing that should be either a) communicated publicly or b) not stated at all. There shouldn't be these scenarios where there's some secret knowledge that some users have, but are forbidden from sharing.
posted by sagc at 6:15 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]


What about a more nuanced rule like "users are allowed to share private communications with mods as long as the communication is not about another specific user". Or something like that.

Yep, that. I'd edit to "as long as the shared communication does not mention a specific user," since the need for policy clarifications often arises from specific users' actions and that can be hard to separate out.
posted by mediareport at 6:21 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


"as long as the shared communication does not mention a specific user,"

Yes, that's a much clearer and simpler way of phrasing it. That's perfect.

#pleaseanswer Would the mod team be open to an official policy of "users are allowed to share private communications with mods as long as the shared communication does not mention a specific user"? And to be clear, this would be without needing to contact the mod for approval. Any communication that does mention a specific user would still require approval from both parties participating in the shared communication.

Because honestly, "You most likely won't get banned for sharing private communication with a mod" isn't exactly encouraging, at least to me.
posted by litera scripta manet at 6:47 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Why do mods need to be discussing other users with third parties anyway? That's exactly the sort of thing that should be either a) communicated publicly or b) not stated at all. There shouldn't be these scenarios where there's some secret knowledge that some users have, but are forbidden from sharing.

To provide some plausible context for this - I remember a few years ago contacting the mods about a trend in a user's posts. They responded that, behind the scenes, they had already been working with that user on their contributions and that they're now on a "next time is a timeout" policy. I think behind the scenes there are attempts to educate and curb that are soft and try to avoid a public flogging, because often times people get defensive and flame out as a result. And I think telling me about that was a way to let me know that they're taking my concerns seriously.

And so if I was to go and post that to MetaTalk, it takes that tool out of their kit.
posted by openhearted at 7:27 AM on June 9 [11 favorites]


I guess - but as we've seen extremely recently, there's real value making that public, too, in order to avoid the perception that a user is getting special treatment, which then builds resentment that boils over into a bunch of frustration in a form that then gets deleted as a derail.

If the mods are willing to tell individual users that someone is nearly at a timeout, they should be able to say so in the thread where the person is doing the thing that is earning them the timeout. If they don't, I'd argue that they are, in fact, giving special treatment to a user who apparently can't handle being corrected publicly, while setting up other users to be confused and have their own comments deleted, just for not having information mods are distributing privately.
posted by sagc at 7:40 AM on June 9 [15 favorites]


I do think there is value in mods privately correcting users, but I don't know what the solution is when it comes to mods confirming that to others. At that point, I think it should be OK to say "Mods have confirmed with me that they're working with that user" and I think mods probably shouldn't be sharing further details privately in the first place; at that point, I think you might as well cut out the middleman and just post "We, the mods, have contacted this user are aware of the problematic behavior" right in the thread.
posted by sagc at 7:46 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


My perspective: I work in tech support and I deal with some dumbass users. I complain about the dumbass users to my coworkers because they also have to deal with them and they get it. I would never dream of telling the dumbass users that they are being dumbasses. I would also never complain about them to their coworkers because it would make me and my department look unprofessional. That’s Soft Skills 101.

I feel like people are laser-focusing too much on the 0.01% of Brandon’s “99.9% of the time it’s not a problem” statement but mod ambiguity hasn’t helped the situation this past week so I get it. I still believe that mod communication to non-mods should always be written as if it was public because Soft Skills. Maybe the only exception would be if the mod explicitly said to the not-mod “please don’t post this in public” but I can’t really see a case where what would happen.
posted by Diskeater at 8:19 AM on June 9 [16 favorites]


I still believe that mod communication to non-mods should always be written as if it was public because Soft Skills. Maybe the only exception would be if the mod explicitly said to the not-mod “please don’t post this in public” but I can’t really see a case where what would happen.

This.
This makes sense to me. It's practical, and is achievable because it's a clear protocol for a defined, small group of people (the mods) instead of previous suggestions, which require buy in from a much larger, unpredictable group with wide-ranging motivations (the rest of us).
posted by Zumbador at 8:26 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


I do think there is value in mods privately correcting users, but I don't know what the solution is when it comes to mods confirming that to others.

Yeah, it's an age-old problem. At work (again, sorry, it's the experience I've got) we, management, are at a serious disadvantage in the 'court of public opinion'. In a conduct or performance problem situation, the employee can go around selectively sharing information, misrepresenting things, and basically saying anything they want. WE, for privacy and not stoking the rumor mill reasons, are limited to "we are aware of the issue and are taking appropriate action" type statements, and the occasional "that is incorrect (but that's all I can say)". It feels unfair. But ultimately it's the right answer and there is a good reason we can't talk about those things. I can't sabotage that good reason by talking behind the scenes to some people but not others, and certainly not secretly. I either say it in public (or knowing the person I'm talking to could choose to make it public), or I don't say it at all.
posted by ctmf at 10:35 AM on June 9 [14 favorites]


Yes to everything ctmf just said. This is not an unreasonable standard, but pretty common in the work world. I have also worked in organizational policy positions, and my assumption was always that any questions I answered via email would be shared with other employees.

I also think the best course of action is for mods to be answering questions asked in public with public answers in MeTa.
posted by lapis at 1:15 PM on June 9 [9 favorites]


A perspective from a relative outsider (I don’t read most of the site usually) who just skimmed this thread: If you want new users and growth, you should probably get rid of MetaTalk.
I disagree very strongly with this, but I do like the idea of making it only available to logged-in users. Some would argue that this reduces transparency, but I disagree. In this context, transparency is all about allowing any member to see what is being discussed. There is no need to air our dirty laundry quite as publically as we currently do.

Yes, I'm one of those users who vanishes for days at a time, then spends forever trying to catch up.
posted by dg at 4:56 PM on June 9 [11 favorites]


It doesn’t make any sense to me that Meta and top of the site banners are visible to anyone who isn’t logged in. Random person clicking through a search result to an askme page does not need this stuff.
posted by snofoam at 5:04 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


I can tell we learned nothing as a community because that Wheel of Fortune thread went off the rails within the first few comments like fucking clockwork. Listen, Pat Sajak is an asshole but how about we try to engage with the topic first? No one new wants to post. At this point, y'all run for the hills. This place is not the best of the web, gotta get the hot takes in.
posted by Kitteh at 6:15 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


That's really unfair, Kitteh, given that the poster themselves included the New Republic link about Sajak's shitty politics *as part of the post itself* with this:

Counterpoint: Don’t Pour One Out for Pat Sajak, Wheel of Fortune’s Die-Hard Right-Wing Host

The comments didn't go "off the rails." The rails included discussion of Sajak being an asshole.
posted by mediareport at 6:29 PM on June 9 [14 favorites]


And yet, everyone ignored all the links except that one. Huh. There are five links before that. Everyone just chose the last.

My contribution is about how my grandparents loved it when I was a kid and I remember enjoying watching with them. I think we can share things we liked it about as well as vilify Sajak.
posted by Kitteh at 6:32 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Who's stopping you?

Sajak particularly asked for it, though, with that "Wheel of Fortune has always been free of politics" crack in his goodbye speech. That's comedy gold. As if all the other TV game shows have been bastions of wokeness or something lol.
posted by mediareport at 6:35 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


I literally posted my childhood memory in the thread. I mean, you did check it, right? Or did you assume I posted it here only?
posted by Kitteh at 6:36 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I saw it. No one stopped you.
posted by mediareport at 6:38 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


It would appear the desire to argue has become so great that we're entering the phase of arguing with people about things we agree on.

"Half of a dozen is 6."
"What are you talking about, it's 6."
posted by Bugbread at 6:47 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


A perspective from a relative outsider (I don’t read most of the site usually) who just skimmed this thread: If you want new users and growth, you should probably get rid of MetaTalk.

It certainly shouldn’t be visible to people who aren’t logged in, but it is a necessary outlet. Could you imagine all this grar ending up on the rest of the site?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:53 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I apologize for the terse snark, Kitteh. I do understand how those with strong positive feelings or memories about someone will be turned off by folks with strong negative feelings or memories about that person. I just don't see any way to modulate that on the blue without telling folks that, say, they shouldn't be allowed to discuss Person X's homophobia when Person X comes up on the blue. Threads like that will always be a mix, and folks should be - and are - allowed to post both kinds of comments.
posted by mediareport at 6:59 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Could you imagine all this grar ending up on the rest of the site?

I'm not sure most of this gear would even exist without MeTa though.

Getting rid of MeTa would make me sad, because as someone who mostly appreciates MeFi for the mildly interesting discussions among mildly interesting people who provide mildly interesting insights about mildly interesting online content, the possibility of those conversations being fodder for even more mildly interesting insights is irresistible. But in practice MeTa seems to mostly function as a grar factory, and the discussions leave me with few insights -- except that many other MeFites' relationships to the site are at the same time brittler and more intense than I would have thought possible.
posted by Not A Thing at 7:08 PM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Kitteh: "And yet, everyone ignored all the links except that one."

Kind of like how you ignored this classic SNL skit, or clavdivs's puzzle, or this interesting story about Sajak's run at late night, or this educational historical sidebar, or the shout-outs to Vanna White, all mentioned in the thread?

The post is about the end of Sajak's run as host, not the show itself (which will keep airing), and explicitly mentions his odious views (which not everybody is aware of). People are going to have strong reactions to that, especially since his send-off speech tries to give himself an apolitical spin (oh ho ho).
posted by Rhaomi at 7:14 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I'm ambivalent about what the best version of that thread might be, but it's a little weird that the first two comments steering things toward other potential discussion angles both felt the need to mock/shame the direction the conversation had taken so far. That doesn't seem like the best, either.
posted by nobody at 7:30 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


But in practice MeTa seems to mostly function as a grar factory, and the discussions leave me with few insights

Fair point. It also chews through mods.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:00 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Fair point. It also chews through mods.
posted by Tell Me No Lies


"Do not meddle in the posts of MeFites, for you are crunchy and taste good with a plate of beans." ;-)

seriously though, when you advertise strong effective moderaton, you attract posters who expect a higher standard of discourse and who are more strongly outraged disappointed when other posters don't meet that standard. and just like which 10% of ms-word features one uses comparded to others, all our posting standards/intolerances differ.
posted by zaixfeep at 8:36 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


when you advertise

Does Metafilter actually advertise? I've never seen an ad for it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:43 PM on June 9


clarification: advertise publicly communicate or discuss by whatever means, eg wiki, in passing on any social media, etc.

i do not know whether mefi advertises. i remember reading someone somewhere discussing mefi's (claimed superior) moderation philosophy in comparison to reddit, slashdot, fark, etc. a while back.
posted by zaixfeep at 8:51 PM on June 9


...features one uses comparded to others...
and if you've ever comparded, you know how awkward that can be.
posted by zaixfeep at 8:54 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


ok last comment from me in this fpp for at least tonight, i left this part out of my earlier comment.

when i think of e.g. fark, i think of 'tough crowd w/colin quinn' - insult-rich but it's expected, everybody's in on it and few feelings are hurt for very long. for metafilter, i used to think of 'weakest link' - high stakes, nobody knows anybody else's strategy and the ritual of the harsh, strategic one-at-a-time ejection of a failed or inconvenient player by the others.

my first step in recovery has been to let go of that weakest link metaphor in relation to mefi. some folks are simply compelled to let their grouch flags fly, and i am now cool with that. (it also helps that i imagine them never bringing their shopping carts to the proper place at the grocery store, but that's just me being petty :-) )
posted by zaixfeep at 9:19 PM on June 9


I mean, I get the point -- it's the internet, you have to have some level of tough skin -- but really it's not too much to set the expectation that people not be jerks. Everyone gets grouchy sometimes but that doesn't mean that it's fair to inflict that grouchiness on the people around you, online or not.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:06 PM on June 9


but really it's not too much to set the expectation that people not be jerks
i was sharing how i myself chose to work through this, not consciously intending to advocate. i can't control anyone else's behavior but i feel i can find it in me to be kind and tolerate the chronically jaded, negative and grouchy here to a degree. as always, ymmv. i support your desire to improve the site and if/when you and others succeed i will celebrate your success as well as no longer having to work so hard to keep finding that requisite kindness and empathy. [ok out of here for the night, for real]
posted by zaixfeep at 10:33 PM on June 9


[pressed post-comment prematurely on previous comment and missed edit window] many of you in this post (and on the other post on the other site) helped me immensely by sharing your stories. Nice to not feel quite as alone and off-balance here as i did. thank you.
posted by zaixfeep at 10:46 PM on June 9 [6 favorites]


how the fuck did pat sajak turn into a sacred cow jfc ridiculous
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:17 PM on June 9 [6 favorites]


It’s not that Pat Sajak is a sacred cow. Personally I don’t care about Wheel of Fortune, nor did I know about his terrible views, nor do I care nor am I surprised. For the record I’m bi and have once thrown a parent out of the lobby of a martial arts program (and threatened to cancel their kid’s membership) for a homophobic statement, which does not mean anything but to say I have taken action physically in a situation where I had a small chance to impact a small group of people.

It’s that sharing that X has terrible views is a sport here. It’s not just one comment. It’s so predictable it’s almost laughable - not the first comment but the way everyone chimes in to be sure we all know we’ve stabbed Caesar — and it seems to me to be some kind of, I don’t know, mild form of identity fusion. To me, it’s a bit tedious and it says way more about how ppl want to be perceived than adding insight or information or personal connection to the conversation. If someone wants to share how Pat Sajak’s views infected their favourite aunt and ruined a relationship I am all ears - and want to dole out sympathy via favourites. But if we’re on round 2576 of “I am a right thinking person because I add the 11th comment stating Pat Sajak’s rear end is hanging out” then it’s like, yawn.

I actually avoid a number of posts these days like obits because they read to me like the in-group out-groups sports team conversation referenced in the article I linked. And like…I don’t know if I’m a minority or not here; I might be the person for whom the local bar is just not the hangout. But I miss the (perceived) days when I would go into a thread hopeful there might be a really neat story about competing on game shows or a link to an article about a game show scandal rather than a kind of monofocus on the in-group out-group of US conservatism and the worldwide rise of right-wing populism and the backlash to gains in equity.

This last is in fact important to me, I just don’t need to take the pledge in every thread that isn’t about Australian creatures (posts I love.)
posted by warriorqueen at 3:23 AM on June 10 [39 favorites]


Much of this discussion would potentially become moot with a downvote button. Don’t like the direction a thread’s going? Downvote the shit out of the derailing thread-killers and thread-shifters. It would, of course, cause problems we’ve previously discussed here, but it would be great to have another tool, as well as being so pleasant to offer a simple thumbs-down on sanctimonious or disagreeable comments.

A MeFite could, for instance, downvote this comment instead of carefully explaining why MetaFilter is better than Reddit as it is today, as it was five years ago, or as it is in said MeFite’s non-reality-belabored imagination.

Just a thought.
posted by cupcakeninja at 3:30 AM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Much of this discussion would potentially become moot with a downvote button. Don’t like the direction a thread’s going? Downvote the shit out of the derailing thread-killers and thread-shifters.

Flagging or contacting the mods doesn't achieve this?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:02 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I, personally, like those options. Many MeFites don’t seem to, based on discussion above, though I feel like there are split opinions about contacting the mods for reason X vs. reason Y. This is also not the first discussion where I’ve seen mods talk about trying to read the balance of the thread and its participants’ views based on number of flags, etc.

I am not a mod, and I don’t know whether downvotes would actually help this process, but the fact that we already have upvotes means half of the system is already in place. I also think the lack of downvotes sometimes leads to more vitriol and grar, with MeFites being forced to articulate, when upset, frustrated, or angry their dissenting or disagreeing opinion. I recognize that many people have disagreed strongly with this perspective in past, but I thought it worth reiterating in the context of overall discussion about tools and comms with mods.
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:22 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I mean, I get the point -- it's the internet, you have to have some level of tough skin -- but really it's not too much to set the expectation that people not be jerks.

It's not the risk of getting a couple of replies from jerks that stops me from posting.

It's the small but non-zero risk that a 700-comment thread will spend the next few days talking about my mistakes.

(Yay I'm number 701!)
posted by mmoncur at 4:34 AM on June 10 [14 favorites]


I would also like to note that again in my perception, the last two things I have made similar comments about in MetaTalk (late-stage capitalism remarks and bombardment of US politics in Canadian threads) seems to have eased some which I greatly appreciate.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:54 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Flagging or contacting the mods doesn't achieve this?

Given how disruptive deleted comments are, this option might seem equivalent but if the action they take is deleting and maybe-commenting that doesn't feel like a net win.

But I'm not convinced we can tool our way out of that problem, but do agree (imagined) downvotes can convey a different crowd-sentiment than flagging.
posted by Lenie Clarke at 4:57 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Flagging or contacting the mods doesn't achieve this?

Flagging doesn't/shouldn't result in the deletion of comments that are not positive, but also not breaking guidelines. I assume that the idea was downvotes would deëmphasize comments that a large portion of users felt were detracting from the conversation.

MeTa seems to mostly function as a grar factory

The MeTas will continue until morale improves.
posted by snofoam at 5:08 AM on June 10 [10 favorites]


Downvotes help negative posters and others, including the original poster "read the room" in a way that flags don't. Seeing a negative comment and a bunch of visible downvotes may inform a user that the room isn't really into hot takes - this may also provide the original poster some confidence they didn't just make a fool of themselves.

Contrariwise, no downvotes may not necessarily mean "bring on the hot takes" given the multi-wave nature of posts on the blue.

This is one reason it's frustrating that the very-online early-hot-take contingent can quickly derail what might otherwise be a good discussion.

Of course, downvotes can also lend to other kinds of pile-ons and brigading. They're a tool that can provide different incentives and more visible signals to users - that's all.
posted by Lenie Clarke at 5:18 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


A problem with downvotes, as I see it, is that they can be used to express many different things.
On Reddit, they are supposed to be used to mark comments that do not make a good contribution to the discussion, but many many people use them simply to say 'I disagree' which is a completely different thing.
You can get downvoted to hell and back simply for stating a valid but unpopular opinion. You can get downvoted for saying that you don't eat meat, use Android or like coffee, just because other users want to express that they themselves do enjoy meat, Android or coffee.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:59 AM on June 10 [17 favorites]


So yeah, please do not release or share communication between you and a mod without the mod's consent. Doing so is frowned upon.

Maybe this has been somewhat walked back, I can't quite tell. But, I just want to say that, as someone who does community management elsewhere on the internet and also is heavily bound by genuine privacy laws in my professional life, I think this is a terrible policy even if it is only rarely applied (in fact, it's worse policy for being rarely applied, because that means that it is applied selectively). I still think laws like FERPA are the complete wrong frame for thinking about internet moderation, but even so, there's a reason FERPA governs *my* behavior, not that of my students. Overall I'm basically just uninterested in private communication with a mod team that has this policy, this site needs more transparency, not less -- and more/clearer public communication for that matter.

I also think there's a real disconnect with the following, that is essentially just shooting yourselves in the foot:

The best way to avoid that, from my point of view as a mod, is for every to treat every communication with a user as one that's going to be shared with some other person and since this all digital and easily copied, assume it's a gonna be on the front page of a media site (news or otherwise) and don't be an ass, be professional.

This is the absolute reality, so just have a realistic policy on your end that matches it. When needed, ban people for their bad behavior full stop.
posted by advil at 6:02 AM on June 10 [15 favorites]


Tweak the Favorite system by adding an ‘Unfavorite’ button. One Favorite adds 1 to the Favorite total. Five Unfavorites subtracts 1. The number can’t get below 0 (or 1 if someone adds a Favorite to keep the ‘bookmark’ intact) and no one knows how many Unfavorites a post/comment has.

Monetize this by selling the naming rights to the Unfavorite button every quarter. Everyone gets 100 Unfavorites at the start of the month and they do not accumulate but people can buy more.
posted by Diskeater at 6:21 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Anything that adds more negativity here (like "downvoting") is not great, to me. I'm grateful for once our code is too rickety to even consider adding that right now.

You could say "I'm having a nice day" and be downvoted on Reddit.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:27 AM on June 10 [15 favorites]


“I am a right thinking person because I add the 11th comment stating Pat Sajak’s rear end is hanging out”

I think it’s ungenerous to suggest that people are stating their opinion for performative reasons. I mean, it does appear to happen, but I think a lot of people just want to say what’s on their mind.

then it’s like, yawn.

Fair enough. People probably aren’t stating their opinion as a form of entertainment either.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:04 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Of course, downvotes can also lend to other kinds of pile-ons and brigading.

I think it’s bad enough that favorites has been turned into a public upvote system. I don’t think the count should be visible inthread, as they encourage people to weight some comments over others. I personally have them turned off because I want to read each comment without prejudgment.

A system of upvotes and downvotes that only the relevant user saw might be useful though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:11 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Tell Me No Lies, thanks for mentioning about turning off favorites visibility. I'd never considered doing that, and I'm not even sure I realized it was an option, so rarely do I adjust my settings.
posted by cupcakeninja at 8:24 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Downvote button: Hell no. Also, Leave the Fave button alone. Scanning the Fave counts gives me a sense of the MeFi community's thoughts about a topic. One benefit for me is the ongoing appreciation of the variety, width, and depth of MeFi's contributors. We are a picaresque bunch.

Related: Although I have favorites among the commenters, I don't usually look for the commenter's name before I read the comment. I understand that some people don't want to read comments from specific individuals. Why not put the commenter's name above their comment?

Other relatives: A website striving to be supportive and inclusive would probably reach out to an individual who seemed to be struggling. Sunday morning psychologists would do better to refrain from half-assed, not-so-passive-aggressive remarks.
posted by mule98J at 9:39 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Flagging or contacting the mods doesn't achieve this?

I’m agnostic about whether Reddit-style up- and downvotes would be good or bad overall (if it’s even technically feasible), but if part of the problem that led to this massive thread is that MetaFilter’s moderators are overextended, I could see an argument for downvotes as a tool for the users actually engaged with any given post to prevent derails from ruining a thread.

I’m not sold on downvotes specifically as a solution, but I think it’s worth considering how much of that kind of “moderation” could reasonably and usefully be “outsourced” to the rank and file.
posted by Suedeltica at 10:03 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


From what I've seen on Reddit, down votes increase conflict. It takes a very unusual person to react to a down vote with "Hey, look, people don't like my comment, maybe I should reassess" rather than "WTF why is everyone being so PETTY!?!?"
posted by Zumbador at 10:23 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


" Listen, Pat Sajak is an asshole but how about we try to engage with the topic first?"

I guess we just should ignore the bad things about a person and just engage with the post as is. Oh wait, the post mentioned Sajak's being a right-winger. Well now I'm confused.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 10:43 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Why not put the commenter's name above their comment?

please NO.

As is, we get content first, then context. I see this as feature, not bug.

I've been around here long enough that I do identify some users as not-my-fave. And yet, even in this thread, I find myself reading something, liking it, and then discovering, oh it's [whoever]. This is the opposite of bad. I love it when something of value comes from an unexpected place, proves me wrong. This feels like growth.
posted by philip-random at 10:46 AM on June 10 [28 favorites]


I’d also prefer that we stick with content-before-name. I have seen people change and my opinion of them has changed and it’s been based on what they are saying now.
posted by Songdog at 10:59 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


cliques would use downvotes to exclude people or opinions they don't like - it's negative, prone to manipulation and just about impossible to police
posted by pyramid termite at 11:16 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Favorites gamify Metafilter, in a similar way. One example of this is when someone posts a passive-aggressive "cite ?"-style comment and you follow up with actual cites, but the person demanding those references was really just acting in bad faith — declaring that you're wrong without coming out and saying so, even when facts were behind you — and they still gets loads of favorites from the crowd. It is awful. I hate it. I hate the schoolyard-bullying, points-scoring aspect it has added to the site.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:18 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Alternatively, favorites give me a way to indicate “I’ve seen this.” I use it to acknowledge a post when I have nothing to say and a comment when I don’t have time or words to write a response. I think of them as nods to people in a hallway I don’t have time to greet.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:37 PM on June 10 [21 favorites]


Why not put the commenter's name above their comment?
Nnnnooooooooo! One of my favorite things is reading someone's comment and having some reaction--laughing or nodding in agreement or being surprised by insight or becoming irked in some way--and then getting to the name and thinking "Whaaa? It's that person I have opinion X of and now my idea of them is flipped!" If I got served up the commenter's name first my prejudgments would be challenged a lot less and I'd be more of a complacent dullard than I already am.

or what philip-random said.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:44 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


iirc the original intent of the favorite action, just a tool for saving a comment, not a “like, endorsement, or upvote”. Am I misremembering this?
posted by interogative mood at 12:48 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


If you are, I am, too, interogative mood.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:50 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Also I do not think MetaTalk should be hidden from nonmembers. It's a really cool part of the site. It's the community-est part. How do you know you want to join the community if you don't even know it is one to the degree that MetaTalk reveals it to be? I guess it might draw signups, actually, because if you're lurking somewhere on the blue and there's a kerfuffle and someone does one of those MeTa links but you can't open the thread and find out what's going on...? That would probably be pretty galvanizing.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:52 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


iirc the original intent of the favorite action, just a tool for saving a comment, not a “like, endorsement, or upvote”. Am I misremembering this?

It's always been "whatever you want it to be." And knowing that, and that it's different for everybody, you can't read too much into the favorite count. Which is its best feature.
posted by ctmf at 1:31 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


You never know if the person who favorited your comment was using it as "get a load of THIS fucking comment [eyeroll, wanky motion]"
posted by ctmf at 1:34 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Really instead of being called favorites, it should have been something totally value-neutral, like 'marks'. My comment got 15 marks. What does that mean? Only the people who marked it know,
posted by ctmf at 1:48 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I struggle greatly to maintain the belief that all of my favorites are "I liked this / agreed with this / found this interesting" favorites, and not "here, have a pity-favorite you poor, sad, deluded man."

Except during the extremely rare manic swing. Then EVERY favorite means "Almighty Ryvar, Exalted Above All Other Mefites: I too wish to numbered amongst your most devout worshipers." Which I accept with grace, benevolence, and the absolute antithesis of humility befitting a true Messiah.

Nothing is going to change how manic Ryvar feels about even the most value-neutral of terms. But all the other flavors of Ryvar could really use the boost of calling them "favorites."
posted by Ryvar at 1:50 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


My comment got 15 marks. What does that mean?

call them whatever you want; from a user interface and experience perspective, they're upvotes

I don't think it's unreasonable to assume, whatever your personal use-case, that the (possibly vast) majority of both theoretical and actual users of MF treat the favorites system equivalent to an upvote system, given its obvious and multiple similarities to such systems across virtually every other internet forum in current or prior existence. I think it's pretty clear that favorite-hunting, clique-forming, and various herd-mentality/bullying behaviors derive from MF's favorites just as much as they do from Reddit's system.

there are advantages and disadvantages to MF's approach vs. Reddit's, but I think pretending that favorites as-is are some special exception to the general rule of how communities function on the internet these days isn't going to get us very far in imagining a better future for this particular website
posted by Kybard at 2:04 PM on June 10 [15 favorites]


also, to speak very broadly at the end of an absurdly long and lengthily absurd conversation: in general I think there is a wide and largely unexamined gap between this community's insistence on "good faith" as a starting principle and the practical reality of conversations here, and that extends across both the administrative and general-public sides of the table
posted by Kybard at 2:06 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


The "care hug" thing is the only one that can be used as a response to any comment on Facebook, so maybe we should go with that.
posted by snofoam at 2:07 PM on June 10


from a user interface and experience perspective, they're upvotes

vast majority of my favourites are because I like/appreciate the comment, and I wouldn't be surprised if such was the case for most around here. But unlike say reddit upvotes, this doesn't affect visibility or placement on the page.

So from a user experience perspective, I'd say no, they're not upvotes. they're uniquely what they are -- Mefi faves.
posted by philip-random at 2:16 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


Favorites on whole posts are usually for me to find them later but comment faves? No consistency whatsoever, though it's almost always a positive reaction. Sometimes my favorite is an agreement, or a me too. Sometimes it's saying, 'I see you, friend'. Sometimes it's a bookmark, to where I left off or something I want to come back to. But whatever the underlying impetus, they're a small way of validating to the author 'I appreciated you writing this'. At least, that's how I interpret my received favorites. I always want to get at least 1 favorite per post/comment, and always figured if I went on a commenting streak (lolol) where nothing was getting favorited it'd be a sure sign I needed to think more about if I'm adding to the conversation before hitting post.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:52 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


I appreciate this tangent. There's some whiplash in being reminded that the semiotics of favourites as bookmarks vs endorsements has been a decade plus nuanced conversation here, while decade old twitter likes are simultaneously being used as a public reason for summarily binning political candidates here in the UK.
posted by lucidium at 3:13 PM on June 10


While I'm sure, given how many people MeFi has, there's somebody using Favorites as bookmarks, I think the number is so vanishingly low as to be completely negligible. The comment that started this thread ("I'll tell you what. How about you don't engage with me or anything I post ever again. I have permission from the moderation team...") currently has zero favorites. There's no way that nobody wants to bookmark that. The reason it isn't being Favorited isn't because "nobody ever wants to be able to find that comment again," it's because virtually nobody uses Favorites as bookmarks.

(Of course, those folks who do use Favorites as bookmarks will all chime in at this point, and I do believe you're all telling the truth, but given the lack of comments on egregious comments people talk about at length in MeTas, I think you're all very much the exceptions.)

(And, of course, I realize that there are some trainwreck-instigating comments that do get Favorited, but they're being Favorited because they're amazing. For example, son_of_minya's "For the record, I bet my right hand against quonsar's lies. Under any amount of torture, he will break first, because he is lying. If I break first, I will surrender my right hand," with its 31 favorites)
posted by Bugbread at 3:25 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


32 now. That thread is F I R E. Complete with “metafilter isn’t what it used to be” lamentation in 2003.
Looks like people used to do late-thread poetry! That’s a touch of class, that is.
posted by Vatnesine at 3:53 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Mod note: Just a note I'll be around for a few hours to to handle some of the remaining questions in this post. See ya in a bit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 3:59 PM on June 10


(Favorites didn't exist yet in 2003, in case that's relevant. All of those favorites are from time travelers like us.)
posted by nobody at 4:09 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


While I'm sure, given how many people MeFi has, there's somebody using Favorites as bookmarks

That's me!

I think the number is so vanishingly low as to be completely negligible.

I strongly expect you're correct.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:10 PM on June 10


Ok it means people love your comments, if that's the way you want to take it. [shrug emoji]
posted by ctmf at 4:19 PM on June 10


Mod note: Ok, I wrote a few things in reply to the question from lapis. After thinking about it, I'm posting that reply in the Mod Slack to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page and ok with what I wrote

I don't think it's anything controversial or major, but would like everyone to be able to chime on it.

So the reply to that question will take a day or two more, since not everyone works every day and we're spread out around the world.

So I ask for your patience on that question, please.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 4:58 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Could someone please explain to me what "grar" means? It's not a term I've ever heard before, and whilst I can kinda guess from context, that's often not right. And Google is of no help.
posted by maupuia at 5:16 PM on June 10


“Grar” loosely means “people displaying their aggravation in such a way that aggravates other people.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:27 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


"grar" is a term that generally means, as I understand it, a combination of upset, unhappiness, argument, and low- to mid-key fighting. Over on the old mefiwiki in-jokes page, there's an entry for it, including a link to this 2009 first use (by jessamyn!).
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:28 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Wait, that's a MeFi word? I just assumed it was standard English slang...
posted by Bugbread at 5:30 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Mod note: One comment removed. Please avoid bringing up previous history with a user you don't like.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:28 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Uh, wasn't that the original topic of this thread though?
posted by She Vaped An Entire Sock! at 6:30 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Mod note: Uh, wasn't that the original topic of this thread though?

Regardless, if one's total contribution to a thread is how much you dislike another member, that comment will probably be removed. The site would become an unfriendly place if more people did that, so please don't do that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:46 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Wait, that's a MeFi word? I just assumed it was standard English slang...

You and me both. I think we’ve been around here too long.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:57 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


it's onomatopoeia for someone going GRAR like their mouth is cartoonishly wide and whoever talked to them is being all whoa, and looking out of the page
posted by Sebmojo at 8:14 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


There's a fight on urbandictionary between two people who both claim to own the word "grar" and that's so perfect.
posted by Zumbador at 12:48 AM on June 11 [16 favorites]


You never know if the person who favorited your comment was using it as "get a load of THIS fucking comment [eyeroll, wanky motion]

Oh God here comes the dark night of self-doubt
posted by Phanx at 1:36 AM on June 11 [19 favorites]


What do those favourites even mean???
posted by Phanx at 4:07 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Here I thought it was GRAR, and stood for “Great Raging; Afterwards, Remorse.”
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:44 AM on June 11 [11 favorites]


no no it's german for the bart, the
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:12 AM on June 11 [10 favorites]


I think the number is so vanishingly low as to be completely negligible.

Just an n=1, but there are definitely plenty of times where I use favorites as bookmarks - especially on posts or in askmefi answers.

Of course, like most of my website bookmarks, they are mostly aspirational. I rarely ever come back to any of those things even when using them as a "bookmark."

But comments on fanfare, comments on FPPs, and comments on MeTa, they do function much more as upvotes.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:54 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Re: Names at the top of the comment.

I prefer names at the bottom of the comment. I directed that thought at those who want to be able not to see certain members in their feed. It would save them the trouble of scrolling down to the bottom of a comment before ignoring it.

For me, the Fave button works a lot like the dot offered at the passing of some notable person. It's a personal thing that differs from one usage to the next.
posted by mule98J at 10:21 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


You're all wrong. 'grar' is MeFi's stock ticker:

METAFILTER CABAL, STAR CHAMBER AND CAT CONSULTANCY (NASDAQ:GRAR)
15-minute delayed quote: NQ1.42 (down 0.02)

where [N]ASDAQ stands for Narnia and NQ=Narnian Quatloos. And of course, no different classes of stock, that would be problematic.
posted by zaixfeep at 10:22 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Is that a chicken stock or vegetable stock? I'm going to need a recipe.
posted by fight or flight at 10:23 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Don't get Grar confused with GWAR
posted by effluvia at 11:32 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


I saw Gwar twice. I did not get peed (or anything else'd) on.

I like favorites and for me they are mostly agreeing or liking, and I generally assume the same when I get them. If it's something else, that's also fine.

Prefer names at bottom.
posted by Glinn at 1:35 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


GAR Pike. my conjecture is the extra R is for a gutural gerr
posted by clavdivs at 1:35 PM on June 11


Now that I have finally figured out which user A User is - my two cents is that I enjoy and appreciate A User's contributions to the blue, and look forward to their Pride month posts every June. I've noticed they can be a bit more abrasive on MetaTalk than I'm personally 100% comfortable interacting with, but I can say that about a lot of people, including myself. I hope A User is okay.
Really appreciating all the mods' work on here too - I'm 'originally' from Reddit and with that context, I can say I find the moderation and general manners on MeFi pretty excellent.
posted by ngaiotonga at 2:57 PM on June 11 [8 favorites]


Please do not introduce downvoting on MetaFilter.

I take favourites here mainly as agreement or endorsement, and that's useful and positive in many ways.

Conversely, a downvote is clearly a negative, there's no getting around that. Someone isn't just ignoring you, they're going out of their way to strike your comment down without rebutting or discussing it. And many folks I'm sure would start reflexively downvoting members they just don't like, for whatever reason, in the hopes that it would drive them off the site.

I've been on reddit, I've seen that dynamic at work. There's a real inducement to game such systems.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:53 AM on June 12 [16 favorites]


Mod note: Ok, I wrote a few things in reply to the question from lapis. After thinking about it, I'm posting that reply in the Mod Slack to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page and ok with what I wrote

Update: this is still in progress. We're going to add a FAQ entry (or two, not sure yet) about communications and the Contact Us form, so we're working on drafts of that. With the staff being located around the globe and not working everyday, it'll be probably be into the weekend before anything is ready.

We'll update y'all about the progress by Noon eastern time on Saturday June 15.

posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:58 AM on June 12 [5 favorites]


After 6 more hours in front of the computer I only know that my next reply will be a lengthy one and will not even be enough to address half of what I would like to address. By the time I post it, there will be a ton of extra comments that need to be addressed.

So I think (about 1/3 down the thread now) one of the problems is that there is a difference between people who are operating on something as a labor of love, and those who are operating it as a job, and we have gotten very used to the former, but those expectations don’t work well with the latter.

I had my beefs with mathowie, cortex, jessamyn, and others while they were actively doing mod work, but the thing that I think can’t be disputed is that they were all, in addition to their other qualities, “power users”, and what I mean when I say that is that they often responded far more often than 12 hours a day. The coverage they had was provided by shit you couldn’t ask an employee to do. I know this because I, with ADHD, was frequently posting on ridiculous hours, and I would see mods who were on answering questions at midnight. Metafilter wasn’t just a job but a community where they hung out and wanted to be. And that meant they would absolutely catch at least more shitshows and respond much more frequently, whether it was a good response or not, there would be more active back and forths. And as befitted internet nerds from that era, like myself, they all read fairly quickly. So they could get more done in less time.

Now there are less mods and the ones that are there are somewhat less organic - in part because Metafilter tried to be more egalitarian about actual hiring practices - and they’re less embedded in the community as a major social source, so they seem to keep to their 8 hour workday - or less, when hours are cut. Which is a reasonable thing for an employee to do! But it means they can handle less and stuff can get out of control more.

Six hours to read two mega threads seems enormously long to me - but I think is normal for a regular person who didn’t cut their teeth on early internet.

I have no idea about the actual thing that erupted, because I work more these days, but I think that those broader issues are likely impacting it and the response to it.
posted by corb at 9:50 AM on June 13 [9 favorites]


And now we’ve had more long-standing members button because of an anonymous Ask/wank-fuel-generator, which the mods both approved (despite it breaking multiple Ask guidelines from the get-go) and then defended when people pointed out that it was basically crafted to elicit feelings of sexual victimization for no reason other than the OP’s “curiosity”. And now it’s been nuked from the site so there’s no evidence of what went down. Absolutely shameful. So much for transparency.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 5:40 PM on June 13 [24 favorites]


Gonna miss avocet. One more trans member needlessly driven away.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 6:06 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


the ask, since it's been deleted, was someone asking for detailed explanation of how people would feel if a flatmate was habitually naked in the living room. people obliged, and said it would feel gross, there were 70ish replies. I don't think it's a big transparency scandal, but i do think the user behind the anon qn should maybe not post here anymore if they make a habit of this kind of thing? it felt very icky.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:05 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


The user should absolutely be banned. It was clearly someone jerking off to other people’s sexual victimization. The mods enabled a subway flasher, and then discouraged people from piling on.
posted by bowbeacon at 7:07 PM on June 13 [14 favorites]


For me it's that the tone of the Ask was giving Tom Sizemore from Natural Born Killers.
posted by phunniemee at 7:09 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Transparency-wise, it feels like the biggest issue at this juncture is the fact that it was COMPLETELY deleted, rather than simply de-listed and hidden like a normal deletion. I have several questions about why the post was ok’d to begin with and then why a mod decided to start deleting comments that were pointing out what an obviously fucked up post it was, but without anything to reference I can’t imagine anything fruitful coming of the conversation. And with the rarity of these “nuke from orbit” deletions, it really seems like this was a purposeful choice by the mod on duty.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 7:17 PM on June 13 [16 favorites]


I've been here a while and I don't ever recall seeing an above the fold mod note like this question got. Unusual in itself even with all the other problems of that question and its deletion aside.
posted by phunniemee at 7:20 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


Normally when posts on any subsite are deleted, they're left with a note like "deleted per poster request", this is the first time I've seen something been completely removed with an "Error: File not found" message. Can a mod explain why they went this route, and what the guidelines are here?
#pleaseanswer

This might need it's own MetaTalk thread though, if there's a volunteer.

On preview, what not just everyday big moggies just said.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 7:22 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


I presume the reason was some variant of 'oh shit' but it should really come back and just be a regular closed thread imo.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:25 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


Ok, so the mods screwed up. Happy now?
posted by Melismata at 7:33 PM on June 13


If editing the content of askme posts is on the table - which it apparently is - there are definitely more elegant ways of both removing the content and communicating with users about what's been deleted.
posted by sagc at 7:34 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I saw that question earlier and rolled my eyes at it -- to me it came off as "selfish, socially clueless 'free spirit' who needs to be set straight before they creep out anybody else." In hindsight I can understand people reading an ulterior motive into the question itself, but that definitely wasn't blatant, at least not in a guideline-violating, delete-and-ban-on-sight way.

IIRC, the question was from a "naturist" type trying to understand past roommates being uncomfortable with casual nudity in a common area. Thing is, there are plenty of people out there from families or cultures or just with mentalities where nudity is not seen as inherently sexual or problematic (to *them*, anyway). Insisting on it when other people disagree is obviously not right, and the comments were united in saying so, but the question wasn't trying to justify it beyond the typical "no judgment pls" aside that's common to questions like that. You could take a cynical read on "help me understand why people dislike this" and interpret it as skeevy fetish-baiting, but it wasn't overt, and you could also take it as an earnest question from somebody who doesn't "get" social norms around nudity for whatever reason. It's borderline though, and with the consensus verdict and people straying into calling OP a criminal creep, it was probably the right call to delete at that point, with a bar on asking similar questions in the future.

(As for the nuking, I'm pretty sure *all* deleted questions are automatically removed from the DB now for privacy and security reasons, at least for the anonymous account.)
posted by Rhaomi at 7:34 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


The user should absolutely be banned. It was clearly someone jerking off to other people’s sexual victimization. The mods enabled a subway flasher, and then discouraged people from piling on.

Yeah, this is the crux of the matter from where I’m standing. If the mods aren’t willing to honestly and openly address whatever the hell happened here, I’m ready to throw in the towel.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 7:34 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


Rhaomi, I don't seem to remember much evidence that the anon was unfamiliar with nudity taboos. Indeed, they tried to head any responses calling them creepy off at the pass, preemptively asking that they not be posted.
posted by sagc at 7:37 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


I think we could have a better discussion about the intent/framing/content of that AskMe if it hadn't disappeared...
posted by mmoncur at 7:41 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


There was even recognition that it was something the roommates might have to "grit their teeth" about and "take," which to my eye should have been a tip-off that the whole thing should never have gotten posted in the first place.

But now: were there voting on the matter, I'd vote for just piling it into this thread, rather than making a new one. A new thread for this issue alone would probably turn into something similar to the first half of this one, plus just give more satisfaction to An Anonymous User.
posted by nobody at 7:42 PM on June 13


Not so much not being aware of them as not understanding why they're a thing, I guess. Like people who swear inappropriately and are all like "they're just words! Mouth sounds!!" when somebody complains. If you feel like some irrational taboo was cramping your style and wanted a straightforward answer on what the big deal was, it might make sense to add a disclaimer like that ("because it's rude and bothers people" is true but doesn't answer the question of "why is this considered rude and bothersome").
posted by Rhaomi at 7:43 PM on June 13


I'd vote for just piling it into this thread

Humble petition for this thread to become the sin eater for late stage metafilter moderation decisions.
posted by phunniemee at 7:45 PM on June 13 [17 favorites]


And then exiled?
posted by nobody at 7:46 PM on June 13


Perhaps the mods could have workshopped it with the poster before approving it to make it more anthropological. I thought that was part of why anonymous questions had to be approved, so this sort of thing didn't happen.
posted by sagc at 7:46 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


it might make sense to add a disclaimer like that ("because it's rude and bothers people" is true but doesn't answer the question of "why is this considered rude and bothersome"

The asker did add a disclaimer. Several. My memory is imperfect but they specifically requested not to hear arguments for why people should be nude, or why people should not be nude, but quite specifically requested detailed responses for how you would feel when you saw your roommate naked. That is the red flag, that is the ick.
posted by phunniemee at 7:48 PM on June 13 [18 favorites]


I should have added: to be fair, it looked like the majority of people answering the question -- like, presumably, whichever mod approved it -- didn't quite pick up on why the question itself was so terrible, but a small handful did (and then eventually, a bunch later, more did...but were deleted).

My guess is it just took a while for the mod on duty to realize those people were correct.
posted by nobody at 7:52 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


A lot of people elsewhere clocked it for what it was.
posted by bowbeacon at 7:53 PM on June 13


Yeah, the anon OP specifically shut down pretty much every reasonable direction the thread could have gone, leaving nothing but an explicit “tell me in as much detail as possible how this would make you feel”. When a solid half of the replies were along the lines of “sexually violated is how I’d feel”, it was pretty obvious what was going on, which is what made Brandon’s “hey guys, stop the pile on and answer the question in the exact way the OP demanded!” so baffling.

But again, the fact that we’re working off of recollections here is a real problem, and it would be nice if a mod could #pleaseanswer the questions about that thread.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 7:55 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


(As for the nuking, I'm pretty sure *all* deleted questions are automatically removed from the DB now for privacy and security reasons, at least for the anonymous account.)

For all accounts, and it was done retroactively for all of AskMe.


Oh, but speaking of the MODERATORS HIDING SITE DATA FROM THE USERS, I am completely outraged that the infodump page hasn't been updated in a while. I'm entitled to up-to-the-microsecond status reports on absolutely everything, and I'm going post angry taunting messages in MetaTalk until my Natural Rights are recognized!

Or maybe a script broke or something. Could someone take a look? I'd hate to see the service slide away from lack of attention.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:07 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


It was this:
I do not want:
- Advice on what I should be doing "Wow, you're an awful roommate, put some clothes on"
- Advice on what they should be doing "Wow, they have no right to tell you what to do with your body"
- Advice on mediation "Why don't you try wearing x/y/z or only going nude at x/y/z/ times"
that made it pretty clear to me that this question was not in good faith.

If they had wanted to understand norms, they would have asked for that. They asked for people to answer with nothing but their feelings. That ask should have never made it onto the page, and I'd feel better if the asker were banned.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 8:15 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


I still have the tab up so here's a link to a PDF of the Ask as it stood a few minutes before deletion.
posted by Diskeater at 8:29 PM on June 13 [24 favorites]


+1 vote for "this should get a new MeTa because it's a giant clusterfuck and not enough people will see the tail end of this one", fwiw
posted by adrienneleigh at 8:37 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


For all accounts, and it was done retroactively for all of AskMe.

thanks, that's useful to know.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:42 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


+1 vote for "this should get a new MeTa because it's a giant clusterfuck and not enough people will see the tail end of this one", fwiw

Yeah, you're right (and I shouldn't have suggested otherwise).

That said, I hope this time a mod has the wherewithal to chime in early with a clear explanation of what went wrong on their end, rather than...however else they might choose to handle it.
posted by nobody at 8:45 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


(As for the nuking, I'm pretty sure *all* deleted questions are automatically removed from the DB now for privacy and security reasons, at least for the anonymous account.)

>For all accounts, and it was done retroactively for all of AskMe.


I don't think this is accurate. I have comments in questions that have been deleted and those comments and threads are still accessible. I can't think of any asked by the anonymous user to go look up, but deleted questions by both active and buttoned members are still accessible by link for a few I've gone and checked.
posted by phunniemee at 8:59 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


(Here's an anonymous question from 2009 that was deleted but not nuked, so there definitely wasn't a full retroactive change to those, either.)
posted by nobody at 9:14 PM on June 13


Could you point me at one? I was going off of the infodump records.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:15 PM on June 13


(Here's the most recent deleted non-anonymous question, if that's what you were asking for.)
posted by nobody at 9:25 PM on June 13


Whoa, the archived-by-month/year pages (on Ask and MF, at least) broke some time on March 3rd of this year, with the pages for April, May, and June showing no archived posts (MF, Ask), and the pages for March showing just three days' worth (MF, Ask).
posted by nobody at 9:37 PM on June 13


Mod note: Hi, here's a brief run down of facts:
  • The question was approved from the mod queue.
  • When the question started getting flagged a lot no moderator was on duty.
  • I saw the flags due to alerts that occur when something gets a lot of flags. So I took a look, removed some comments, and left a note. This was done without consulting anyone.
  • Checked back an hour later and saw that more people were feeling as though they were unwittingly being pulled into a perverse fantasy with the question.
  • So, I removed the question and wiped it from being viewable, so no one would have to feel like they were part of that perversion, be it those who had read it or those who might. That decision was made on my own, no one was consulted about it.
I'm seeing that 34 comments have been made since this one at 9:06pm Eastern. It's the middle of the night for me, was just making a bathroom run, so I won't be reading those comments or responding until tomorrow and it's doubtful anyone else will either.

That said, a new MeTa is probably the best way to handle this situation. Any member can submit one, so feel free. Yes, it'll be approved.

I know people want answers sooner than later, but that's just not possible this evening (eastern time), so patience is requested. Until then, please believe that the mods are not attempting to hide anything, this just occurred at an unexpected gap in coverage and with the weekend coming up, there will be long gaps of coverage. Apologies for that, but in the end, I believe we will figure out this together, thank you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 9:50 PM on June 13 [17 favorites]


thanks brandon, there's probably nothing to be done on it now anyway, might just be a thing to think on for future anon asks?
posted by Sebmojo at 10:50 PM on June 13


You guys, I feel like an absolute fool to admit this, but I had been following that askme from right when it was posted, and it didn't occur to me until other people pointed it out that it was disingenuous. I have absolutely met people who had that sort of "why can't everyone be cool about nudity/insert random thing they like that others don't" vibe going on, and when I first read the question and responses, it felt great! one of those "I'm so advanced you shouldn't be such a prude" assholes getting told why they are awful! fuckyea! So I get why mods didn't immediately twig to the fact that it wasn't posted in good faith, I was also fooled. It took them about 4 hours to sort it out, which isn't a bad response time, I think?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:56 PM on June 13 [18 favorites]


also ewwwwww now I realize that the creepy dudes I've talked to that were posturing as such liberated fucking souls to get an ick response were doing it for different reasons fuuuuucccclkkkk iiiick please pass the brain bleach
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:57 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


Huh, I would not have even considered someone was posting that for self-gratification had I seen it. Good on those who called it out and flagged it. There's another little data point for me on why people suck.

It's been dealt with so I hope it doesn't trigger another MeTa to re-hash something that is now history, even though some people are probably not satisfied with letting it stay as history.
posted by dg at 11:07 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


to see this:

I am only asking people to tell me what it feels like to see a roommate nude in common areas, so that I can understand why it would bother someone to the point of avoiding them.

without any acknowledgement that this whole thing could be avoided by simply asking for consent beforehand felt absolutely to me like the asker was super interested in exploring the discomfort this would cause others, and only that. especially as they specifically instructed answerers to not respond with how that discomfort could be avoided, either through what the asker could do different or how the situation could be "mediated"

and the whole "this baffles me". come the fuck on. does it? does it really? like even if it did, not simply asking the roomies why they were not ok with this, but asking a group of strangers "tell me how this would make you feel but NOT what i could do different or even how to resolve this conflict"?

i try my best to assume good faith but that right there is a giant red flag, and absolutely read like a stealth request to help op get off on their non-consent motivations and i'm glad it was nuked. i mean it was anonymous anyway so it's not like anyone could make a mental note to be wary of op elsewhere on the site, so there was little point in having it deleted but still viewable, but it's pretty weird that it made it through the queue to begin with for sure
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:20 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


"tell me how this would make you feel but NOT what i could do different or even how to resolve this conflict"?

Yeah, that wording is a hallmark of trolling, even before you get into the sexually-oriented content. I don't think the mods should approve any posts that try to control answers on that kind of level.
posted by BibiRose at 3:37 AM on June 14 [13 favorites]


+1 to Brandon’s transparent explanation. Transparency about what happened and what can reasonably be expected in terms of more mod comments on the issue. This is how to stop (or mitigate) the grar machine. Earlier is better.
posted by Mid at 3:52 AM on June 14 [23 favorites]


I picked up on the creep element but answered anyway, because at this point in my life, I’m more likely to crack up laughing at flashers than anything else. I’m ok with the time it took the mods to respond. Not thrilled about the deletion but the explanation makes sense. Seems like a normal learning curve to me.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:06 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


What I find annoying this the repeated cycle of:
  1. users flag things or make their displeasure known in the thread
  2. mods come in and protect the person doing the offensive thing
  3. mods delete any evidence of pushback
  4. mods eventually admit that they messed up, while not addressing why this keeps happening
Also, am I correct in reading the explanation as "the question was getting flagged, so I deleted comments from the thread"? Shouldn't this have been a cue to look more closely at the question, since it was being flagged, rather than just trying to eliminate pushback?
posted by sagc at 4:16 AM on June 14 [20 favorites]


Separately, Brandon, have you heard from loup lately? You said you'd check with them about moving their comment from the other thread to this one, as apparently it can't be done unilaterally, despite the comment quoting someone from this thread.

It's been a week. This is why people are concerned about responsiveness, about whether mods care about the community, and whether they're even paying attention to users. There have been 14 comments in that thread since loup mis-posted their comment, and quite a few of them are pointing out the mistake. It should barely be out of Recent Activity! And yet, no response in that thread, even to say "I'll get to this".

People predicted that at some point, mods would stop responding regardless of whether questions have been answered, because that's the pattern we've seen time and time again. Is that the case here, too?
posted by sagc at 4:20 AM on June 14 [13 favorites]


Metafilter: Seems like a normal learning curve to me.
posted by Melismata at 5:07 AM on June 14


For those of you wanting responses from mods, this might be a good opportunity to resuscitate #pleaseanswer from earlier in the thread.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:22 AM on June 14


Mod note: Hi, I'll be around for a few hours, just fyi.

Can a mod explain why they went this route, and what the guidelines are here?
#pleaseanswer


I believe that was answered here. To be clear, again, that question was wiped by me, with no consultation with other mods. That decision was made on based on the idea that the OP was possibly using it for perverse reasons.

...have you heard from loup lately
Loup is aware of their misposting of that question and it's up to them what they wish to do about it, so people with have to direct questions their way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 5:44 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


-1 to Brandon’s checking MetaFilter on a middle-of-the-night bathroom run.

"users flag things or make their displeasure known in the thread; mods come in and protect the person doing the offensive thing; mods delete any evidence of pushback; mods eventually admit that they messed up, while not addressing why this keeps happening"

It keeps happening because not enough mods = no time to do a deep read of posts or comments = reactive rather than proactive moderation to put out resulting fires = panicked second-guessing and checking and re-checking of MetaFilter only to find new fires caused by moderation errors borne of too-fast decision-making = loss of sleep = reduced capacity to make good moderation decisions = more of the same but worsening = burnout = dooooooooooooooooooooommmm*

*for the site, I mean, not you, Brandon. I think you're doing quite a good job given the current impossible circs, but you have to "put your own mask on first" or we're seriously hosed. Please keep those middle-of-the-night bathroom runs dark so you don't wreck your sleep and fall out and then we're all dragged shrieking into a maelstrom of uncontrolled buttoning. <3
posted by Don Pepino at 6:07 AM on June 14 [15 favorites]


OK, from your perspective, Brandon - is it a problem that loup hasn't gotten back to the users? Does it seem like a good system for the users to have to prod mods to reply, or take care when posting? Is there anyone on the mod/management team who's in a position to comment on this pattern?

Because we already know loup has been contacted, and we're already aware that it's not something any other mod can fix, because you've said so repeatedly. The underlying question, to me, is why is this so hard. What's stopping loup from reposting their comment? What's preventing them from just saying "won't be reposting it" in the thread? Why does the mod team default to radio silence like this?

#pleaseanswer
posted by sagc at 6:10 AM on June 14 [11 favorites]


Mod note: is it a problem that loup hasn't gotten back to the users? Does it seem like a good system for the users to have to prod mods to reply, or take care when posting? Is there anyone on the mod/management team who's in a position to comment on this pattern?

I realize you're directing these various question to me, but you're going to have to direct them to loup and that's going to be my position on that issue.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:31 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


Look, I'm loup, howdy howdy howdy.


Official mod response to MetaTalk queue queries, posted by loup in the wrong thread a week ago:
There has been some speculation that the MeTa queue is being used as an editorial tool so, as promised, let’s talk about the MetaTalk queue: how it works, what can we change about it. Etc.

For context, here’s the original comment that sparked speculation about the rules around the Meta Queue.

- Once a Meta is submitted, it goes to a queue where it can be edited, approved or rejected.

- We evaluate each post in the queue on a case-by-case basis, however, most Metas get approved as they come. For example, so far this year, 54 out of 62 Metas have been approved.

- Out of the eight Metas rejected for far this year, two were rejected because they were about technical issues that got solved the same day. One was an angry response to a FPP comment in the blue from a user who then buttoned. The remaining 5 posts were rejected because they would not go well on MetaTalk for different reasons (like being a post about litigating US Elections, or being too centered about a specific user or being yet another thread about the I/P conflict).

- Every time a post is rejected we reach out to the user to explain the reason and work with them to see if they want to make adjustments or need anything else.

- Lastly, we do not edit submissions unilaterally, we only do this when agreed upon with the OP.

Now, regarding the posting schedule, we try to space Metas across the week. Moreover if they are policy-related, about posting etiquette or related to a heated subject. If a post is and “Ask The Community”, “Help me find this post, an obituary, or about a cool initiative or idea we’ll approve those right away, regardless of the other posts in the queue as we see no reason for those to be help up waiting.

The "rules" above have been inherited and more than a set of rules are taken as best practices and I have also discussed them with Jessamyn in the past. Now, can they change? Yes , if the changes we want to make are changes in how we proceed, we can discuss them and change them here. If the changes are technical, this will take time but we are working on making tech changes happen faster, more details on that later.

Okay fuck it, I'll engage in good faith. Would you mind giving a few examples of what you think are valid points?

Subjects for next week:

- Appropriate level of moderation in MetaTalk, frequency of deletions, policies around blocking.
posted by loup (staff) at 7:38 PM on June 7 [1 favorite +] [⚑]
posted by phunniemee at 6:49 AM on June 14 [13 favorites]


Maybe it's time to "spend more time with family" and "pursue other interests."
posted by jgirl at 6:56 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


So loup’s just chosen to no longer engage with the community? With the plans for updates this week and no follow-through? This honestly seems kind of weird. Mods, we know you can’t do anything about this, but it’s odd, right? #pleaseanswer
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 7:19 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


People are being so nasty to the mods, it wouldn't surprise me if they just shut down threads like this with no explanation. Sometimes they should.
posted by Melismata at 7:25 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


Even that would be more communicative than where we are now.
posted by sagc at 7:31 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


Sometimes they should.

So you agree. Mods should be more actively responsive.
posted by phunniemee at 7:31 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


(Here's the most recent deleted non-anonymous question, if that's what you were asking for.)

Thanks! Apparently the “deleted” flag is no longer being set in infodump.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:34 AM on June 14


Oh, and in my little Pollyanna universe I assumed the person asking about naked roommates was writing a housemate scene/situation and thus narrowed the question down to the roommate’s emotional processes.

However, without that context being provided it was inevitably going to end up as a clusterfuck.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:44 AM on June 14


Mod note: Hi y'all, small request. Please pause all questions for the moment or adjust your expectations for answers, as there is developing situation that demands more immediate attention.

To offer a few clarifications, this does not involve anyone leaving or any major site changes, though we are having to readjust the schedule a bit. This is a personal situation and we will not be elaborating on that at the moment, if ever.

We're heading into a mod gap, I'll be back for a few hours this evening and most of the day Saturday.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:49 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


And now that I think about it the NAKED==SEX thing is very American and the poster might not have known what they were getting into.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:10 AM on June 14


(As for the nuking, I'm pretty sure *all* deleted questions are automatically removed from the DB now for privacy and security reasons, at least for the anonymous account.)

For all accounts, and it was done retroactively for all of AskMe.


When whatever’s going on behind the scenes has been resolved, could we get an answer from the mods about the current state of Ask deletions and what is considered “normal” visibility-wise, for both anon and non-anon questions? Historical info welcome but absolutely not required.

#bigfluffysoftball
#pleaseanswer
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 8:11 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


And now that I think about it the NAKED==SEX thing is very American and the poster might not have known what they were getting into.

Have you read the actual post, Tell Me No Lies? An archived version is linked up thread, if you haven’t.

Nothing personal towards you, but the bending over backwards to justify how this post might not be what it obviously appeared to be was (by several people, to be clear) has really been one of those “so open-minded that their brains fell out” situations that’s a hallmark of Metafilter at its worst.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 8:17 AM on June 14 [11 favorites]


I'd also like to suggest that a lot of people who seem to have thought nothing of the post seem to be men. Any woman who's regularly had to take public transportation or answer phone calls from strangers starts to get a sixth sense about when someone's fixing to whip out their willy unbidden. It'd be good practice for the mods to try to listen when women raise the alarm about something that seems harmless to you at first glance.
posted by Brain Sturgeon at 8:24 AM on June 14 [16 favorites]


My initial quick read/dismissal of that Ask was "jerk trying to gather 'evidence' from 'impartial third parties' that his poor roommates' feelings are Wrong" rather than "jerk jerking it." But, on reflection, the latter analysis is most likely right. Still, neither is great AskMe material, which is putting it mildly, and if avocet left because of this mini-debacle (?), that's a damn shame.
posted by praemunire at 8:24 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


And now that I think about it the NAKED==SEX thing is very American and the poster might not have known what they were getting into.

sure, only in the original post they said they were aware their roomies didn't like it. were i op that would tell me i at least had to talk it out with them, if not change where i'm naked. instead, op specifically told people not to give them mediation advice; they just wanted to hear why others would be creeped out by it. kind of a stretch to evoke prudishness as a motivation behind taking issue with the question tbh
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:30 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


Have you read the actual post, Tell Me No Lies? An archived version is linked up thread, if you haven’t.

Yep, and I responded to it when it was asked.

has really been one of those “so open-minded that their brains fell out” situations that’s a hallmark of Metafilter at its worst.

The “It’s indeterminant so we must assume the worst!” is, sadly, Metafilter at its most normal.

And of course it’s not just assuming, it’s going forth and acting as if our interpretation is 100% certain to be the case. Anyone casting doubt is clearly insane and can’t see the obvious truth we have arrived at with no supporting evidence.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:31 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


I really hope avocet has a good break and comes back.

If both roommates hadn’t responded the way they did, and the poster hadn’t said why don’t they just suck it up rather than saying huh, do they not appreciate that home is a no-clothes zone, sure. But that was not it.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:33 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Anyone casting doubt is clearly insane and can’t see the obvious truth we have arrived at with no supporting evidence.

I’ll wager anyone here $20 (SAIT) that if the mods take a cursory look at other anon Ask requests coming from that user they’ll find plenty of supporting evidence.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 8:48 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


It could easily be that somebody could be approaching that question like: "my roommates wouldn't be so unreasonable if this were a Finnish sauna instead of a houseshare in North America, therefore I will model a freewheeling unclothed lifestyle for them in the hope that, through me, they may learn true freedom." This exact sort of narcissist does of course exist, and many of us have met them.

But if you've met one, think back: aren't they pretty proud of themselves? So doesn't it seem like if it were just an evernude with a blind spot and an axe to grind and not the "let me see if I can gin up some free interactive nonconsent porn by exploiting this unwitting internet community" rape culture asshole that people suspect it is, the username would probably have been attached?
posted by Don Pepino at 9:24 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


I’m not sure we should allow anonymous AskMe posts from Louis CK in the first place.
posted by snofoam at 9:30 AM on June 14 [25 favorites]


the username would probably have been attached

That was what tipped me over into the "jerkin' it" analysis.
posted by praemunire at 9:32 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I’ll wager anyone here $20 (SAIT) that if the mods take a cursory look at other anon Ask requests coming from that user they’ll find plenty of supporting evidence.

And if they don't they find that evidence?

I parsed that thread immediately before it was deleted (ie: I got to the bottom of it and saw that it had been deleted).

I had already decided not to comment as what came to mind for me was an old, old roommate (post high school days) who suddenly took to wandering around naked because (various hippie ideals of freedom and who were we to take issue?) Maybe two years later, he was dead, a particularly messy suicide.

My point being, I was reading a mental health concern into it (on the part of the asker), and couldn't think of anything I could say that might help. In fact, I felt any reply at all would just be rewarding their provocation (conscious or otherwise).
posted by philip-random at 9:45 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


There were some really shitty, body shame-y, gender essentialist takes in that post that nobody could challenge because it was on Ask and not on the main page, which is another reason why the question itself should never have been posted. Ask was not an appropriate forum for that kind of discussion. I'm still kind of shocked that anyone read it and let it through the queue based on that alone. With that framing, how was it ever going to be useful to the poster or to anyone else?
posted by fight or flight at 9:46 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


I’d just like to say that I think asking mods/staff to publicly comment on one another’s performance of their job, responsiveness, or availability is entitled, unreasonable, and not OK.

It’s one thing to talk about moderation decisions,
policies, or practices, but it’s crossing lines to fish for criticism between colleagues. That’s not helping anything.
posted by Songdog at 10:15 AM on June 14 [35 favorites]


Agreed, I think putting Brandon on the spot about loup is out of line.

At the same time, with all due respect to loup, there is no world in which moving a comment from one thread to another, something that would take five minutes tops (highlight/copy/switch tabs/paste/Enter), should take a week. The fact that it wasn't done a week later until a user stepped in and did it for them this morning (thanks phunniemee) is a good example of the lack of engagement and communication many of us are seeing from loup in particular and from the mods in general.

Brandon's clearly trying hard (maybe too hard, if he's feeling compelled to check after hours) but he can only do so much. I know taz and gnfti are doing things on their shifts (hi and thanks), but otherwise it's starting to feel like Brandon is the only one holding the place together, and that's not sustainable at all, not for Brandon and not for the site.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:37 AM on June 14 [16 favorites]


Yeah, the refusing to move a comment to the correct thread thing just reads as so bizarrely willful. With the current state of moderation here it really feels like the mod equivalent of a cashier saying “we’re getting your order packed up safe and sound!” while looking you in the eye and stacking can after can on top of your bread.

Perhaps it’s not unadulterated passive-aggression, but they’re going to need to actually use there words and communicate if that’s the case. Paid moderators owe the community better than “there’s big secret things happening in the background, so just grin and bear it!”.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 11:02 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


What, if anything, does the community owe paid moderators?
posted by box at 11:04 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


Hi y'all, small request. Please pause all questions for the moment or adjust your expectations for answers, as there is developing situation that demands more immediate attention.

I think for the community's (and quite frankly, the mods') sake then close these threads for now. There's already a metric ton of feedback on what went wrong initially, what questions people have, what solutions they suggest and then how very wrong that anonymous question was. The issue here is you all clearly don't have the capacity to handle and/or action much of the information you already have received, or the stuff received in previous threads about improving things or change.

So rather than people spending their energy frustratedly shouting into an endless void, maybe the mods should recover from whatever this is, get to a place where people are healthy/have capacity to deal with things, and then be accountable by coming back to us with what you heard and what you are going to do. Be well.
posted by openhearted at 11:28 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


So, BB says there are currently some minor personal issues in modding, which sounds to me like it could be a death in the family or something, and twelve minutes later someone says "When whatever’s going on behind the scenes has been resolved, could we get an answer ..."

JFC people.
posted by Melismata at 11:36 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


Mod note: I think for the community's (and quite frankly, the mods') sake then close these threads for now.

Yes, we need to regroup internally and come back to this addressing the feedback provided. Unfortunately this will have to wait as we are also working on other projects (see next week's site update for more info) and need to address the developing situation Brandon mentioned. I'll close the thread for now. If you have anything that needs urgent attention please contact us or email me directly. Thank you for understanding.
posted by loup (staff) at 11:49 AM on June 14 [9 favorites]


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