Metatalktails, free threads, chatting and barriers July 3, 2024 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I'd like information and a discussion on community members chatting with each other, along with apprehension about making FPPs.

Metatalktails, free threads, chatting and barriers

1. We used to have Metatalktail Hour threads here on MeTa, but it looks like we haven’t in more than a year. Why?
2. We now have more and more “free threads” on the blue. Was a decision made to replace the former with the latter? What is or was the relationship or differentiatioin?
3. I don’t know why, but I sometimes participated in the Metatalktails, but I don’t participate in the free threads. Do people see them as qualitatively the same? If not, please elaborate.
4. And now, we are experimenting with “chatty” other posts, such as the “HelpMe” – along with the “LinkMe”. Maybe we should consider another subsite that’s all about chatting.
5. And, this is tangential, but just focused on the LinkMe, and at least part of what brought that about – It seems like a good number of people are apprehensive about making FPPs. That’s a concern in general, and especially is we want to grow the site. How do we turn it around? Are the LinkMe’s enough? Do we need more encouragement, more modding, more flagging, another subsite, or what?
posted by NotLost to MetaFilter-Related at 12:33 PM (39 comments total)

Mod note: Thank you for posting this, NotLost, I think Metatalktail Hour threads just stopped happening when we tried to move to a more community-driven approach, there were a few community MetaTalkTails and then nothing.

If the community thinks we should have a mod assigned to post these, we're happy to do it again, but roughly speaking, I’d like to see which types of special threads we want and would like to find the frequency that feels right.
posted by loup (staff) at 12:36 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


This is the post that resulted in the community taking over the metaTalkTails, I think.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:53 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


The mods kept citing "posting MetaTalkTail threads" as a major way they were spending their time and therefore why they did not have time to do other things that people were requesting of them. The thought was that community members could easily post such threads instead.
posted by lapis at 12:54 PM on July 3 [4 favorites]


Lately the free thread posters have been giving them more of a theme, although they also make it clear that people don't have to stick to that theme. But I feel like free-thread-with-optional-theme hits sort of a middle ground between the original free threads and the bygone Metatalktail Hour threads.

However, this post makes me wonder if a big difference between the two is that the free threads are posted Monday morning, while the Metatalktail Hour post was usually made on Friday, which seems like it led to more weekend engagement (though I haven't checked that, I could be remembering wrongly). In comparison, in the free threads there are a lot of mostly theme-related comments in the first few days, and by the end of the week only a few people are still posting to them.

Personally I like the freeform chattiness of the semi-themed free threads.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:45 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Sorry I missed that post on MetaTalkTails. I will catch up on that. Thanks for the link.

So anyone can post either a free thread or a MetaTalkTail at any time? That seems to be what taz said.
posted by NotLost at 2:46 PM on July 3


Hi NotLost, thank you for posting this!

I see the Metatalktail Hours and the Free Threads as qualitatively the same, with the nice difference that the Free Threads are on the blue, where lots more people see them and join in.

I find myself not participating a ton in the Free Threads, myself, but that's mostly due to me being busy right now. I imagine I'll join in more at some point.

The Free Threads feel to me like they've taken on a bit more of a "regular updates" vibe that I personally really like - getting the latest on a MeFite who's in film school, or starting to do more busking and music gigs, or dealing with a crummy job that, a month or two later, turns into a much better situation.

I hope you feel welcome in the Free Threads. Maybe I'll see you in there sometime soon!
posted by kristi at 4:12 PM on July 3 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure why exactly, but I posted in almost all of the MetaTalktail threads and I never post in any of the free threads. I think one reason may be as Greg_Ace said, that the Friday night timing of the post meant that I'd see it on a relaxed Saturday morning when I had time to post. I also seem to remember they stayed on theme more and the topics were fairly light. I enjoyed them a lot and have wondered why they went away.

The free threads are fine but they're usually so "post whatever" that I get bored. With MetaTalktail having a topic I know right away that if it's "tell me about your pets" I'm in, and if it's "fantasy football" I'll scroll on by. Free threads might or might not take an interesting turn but I'm going to have to scroll through a lot of random stuff in hopes of finding something.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:10 PM on July 3 [5 favorites]


I miss the old metatalktails.

I came to metafilter via the green and the blue is a bit of a foreign country. When I found metatalk, I loved it. The mix of serious discussion and real community was fantastic. It felt friendly. I got to know the smaller crowd.

Now, just like my friend who doesn't like chocolate, I'm not asking that the blue change. But it's a bit rambunctious sometimes. I contributed to my first freethread the other day, I'm pretty sure, and I'm not sure I'll continue.

I was also saddened at the way the talktails ended. The unfair accusations that it was like staff letting teens into the liquor cabinet... Oh well that's long gone.
posted by freethefeet at 3:32 AM on July 4 [4 favorites]


It seems like a good number of people are apprehensive about making FPPs. That’s a concern in general, and especially is we want to grow the site. How do we turn it around?

I think there are two primary apprehensions with posting, just noticing what other people have said, and what I end up fearing when I make a post, and each issue requires a different approach: (a) is this link enough to make a post out of? (b) is this link going to land me in trouble because of an issue I didn't foresee?

The first issue, I think, requires encouragement and example. We actually post a lot of single-link FPPs, and I think people need to recognize those are fine, and produce a lot of good conversation, and don't need a lot of supporting evidence (to think back to the recent thread on 'previouslies'--anything that adds friction to the process, we should emphasize is totally optional). I think LinkMe is great for kind of practice of this, and for seeing more single-link posts--but what if, within LinkMe, we also encouraged people to go ahead and post their link as an FPP?

The second issue has a few different kinds of trouble baked in, and this is more to do with site culture. You posted a link but it's about a 'problematic' topic, or a normal topic handled problematically, or a normal topic handled normally but in a newspaper some people find problematic. You post about a public figure you like, and the first comment is a milkshake duck that dominates the rest of the thread. That puts a real burden on the shoulders of the poster.

I think we have all seen the comments criticizing a link based on its platform: Substack has a nazi problem, Twitter has an Elon problem and a Nazi problem, the NYT has a terf and pro-war and pro-Trump problem, CNN's in the tank for Trump, the Guardian has a terf problem, Wapo has a Bezos problem. I think, for the good of people trying to make new posts, we need to sweep platform concerns off the board. They're not valid as a critique of a given FPP. (That is, they're valid as concerns of the platforms themselves, and the platforms should be subject to critique, but that does not extend to every link being subject to that same platform-based critique.) Mods can ask people to lighten up on that.

Obituary threads are harder, because there really are some people who mixed the good and bad in their lives, and if we're forced to ignore their sins, we're not honoring the people whose lives they've wrecked, and yet they may have produced meaningful art that touched a lot of lives. I think it's important to moderate that kind of thread so it can show the full person--good and bad--without becoming a depressing grindy hate-fest.

But at the same time I think we should recognize that those fears are maybe overblown. It's not like mefites are getting called out right and left for not hewing to the social justice gospel of the moment. (People who engage in the endless repetitive back-and-forth in political threads are doing so of their own volition, and so that's a little different than the calling-out I think people fret over.) We shouldn't exaggerate that issue. I believe that people feel that fear, and that fear is valid but overstated. It's healthier for the site that they participate, but I don't know how you tell someone, nah, you'll be fine, nobody's going to come after you, other than sitting them down with a bunch of threads and showing that it doesn't really happen that often--and that when it does, you can actually just blow it off. A random mefite's take does not really have to affect you.
posted by mittens at 5:49 AM on July 4 [13 favorites]


There has been a long term trend of MetaTalk being less of a behind-the-scenes social gathering and more just focused on the site mechanics. In particular MetaTalk threads tended to devolve into jokey fun towards the end, and that has all but stopped.

Personally I think this is a good thing, as MetaTalk brings out the absolute worst in people. Putting the more conversational posts in a public place means that outside observers encounter a much better side of the site.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:42 AM on July 4 [9 favorites]


For FPPs, I’ve never been a big poster and 50% of that is personality and laziness (reacting is easier than acting.) However, in more friendly environments I do post more. This is not for me about “fear” so much as effort/reward.

Things that keep me from posting.

Technical barriers:
99% of the time I find something interesting, I am on my phone
- the mobile editor where I can barely see my words half the time and linking is a total nightmare
- inability to save drafts, esp across multiple devices if I do have to use a laptop

Site culture:
- the past custom that single link posts aren’t great or have to be special
- crafting the right context for links on a general interest site
- the platform crankiness above is high high on my list, esp Substack which is kind of a go to for underemployed writers and journos
- a general sense that my tastes aren’t welcome, esp as a white middle aged woman (I am not weeping about this, I’m just stating my thoughts) -either they are too quirky or too mainstream
- the idea that I will actually be judged on a) my awareness of every nuance of every writer out there who may have said a shitty thing, b) that attention to a thing means endorsing it, c) that if anything thematically links to money, power, democracy, etc., the comments will probably go over those these for the nth time.

I think most of these are able to be overcome and I’m grateful for those who do it all the time, but for me as those things all add up it just often isn’t a way I choose to spend my down time.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:57 AM on July 4 [17 favorites]


I see the Metatalktail Hours and the Free Threads as qualitatively the same, with the nice difference that the Free Threads are on the blue, where lots more people see them and join in.

That's both a feature and a bug, I think. It's nice that more people participate, but frankly it makes the threads overwhelming and difficult to follow and I avoid posting in them as a result.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:12 AM on July 4 [4 favorites]


Metatalktails were where I wrote some of my best comments. I really miss them.
posted by Stanczyk at 11:39 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


My personal take on the Metatalktails was that people liked them a lot, they brought value, and then a contingent of users decided that they were a primary reason for the mod's overall dysfunction (for lack of a better term) because mods said they spent time on them. This vocal contingent demanded users take these threads over, and then they stopped being posted pretty quickly without regular posting/tending by mods. Frustrating, honestly.
posted by twelve cent archie at 12:58 PM on July 4 [6 favorites]


People who miss the MetaTalktails can post them. They weren't banned or anything, just moved away from being mod-generated.
posted by lapis at 1:03 PM on July 4 [3 favorites]


People who miss the MetaTalktails can post them.
I'm a person. I miss the MetaTalktales. There's one in the queue awaiting mod approval :-)

I do feel like the MetaTalkTails posts are more for people highly engaged with the community, so more like a conversation between friends than a public debate.
posted by dg at 7:15 PM on July 4 [6 favorites]


I am not sure if this is the place to give feedback on the new "HelpMe" open threads in Ask. But, I am going to post my comments here anyway. I have been here for a long time. Ask was always a more restrictive subsite than any of the others. It started with can only ask questions that were answerable. Then relationship questions started coming in and that was deemed ok. Then a short while ago, asking more chatty questions was deemed ok. Now it has gone to having an open thread in Ask.

I don't oppose the open or vague threads in and of themselves, I just think Ask is the wrong place to put them. I think someone mentioned a new subsite for these sort of open threads. That seems like a lot of work for the already overburdened programmers, but I would support that. I think they should all be right here in the grey. I cannot really give great answers for why I don't like the open threads in Ask, but it really sits wrong with me that they are there.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:16 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]


I also don't think the HelpMe thread is worth keeping. I think a ChatMe thread for chatty questions would make sense if Ask went back to being more restrictive regarding chattiness, but as it stands... what's the point of it? It seems like something that would cause fewer Ask posts, if anything. Or reinforce some idea that AskMe questions need to be big productions, which is not the case?

(On a more petty note seeing all the @usernames was a bit jarring - given that the @ has no actual functionality here, not sure why people were instructed to use it instead of just writing the username they were responding to, like in any other thread. But eh, I get that people are used to it/like it.)
posted by trig at 3:44 AM on July 5 [11 favorites]


Seriously, looking through the HelpMe thread again it feels like a clumsy thing a community would duct-tape together if it didn't have a dedicated Q&A site.

(I'm glad we're doing experiments, just not impressed by the results of this one.)
posted by trig at 3:55 AM on July 5 [6 favorites]


I really liked the HelpMe thread. It was fun to have somewhere to be more casual and personal with other people here and get to know them a bit. I hope we have more posts like that (lightly structured and casual) in the future.
posted by birthday cake at 5:52 AM on July 5


People who miss the MetaTalktails can post them. They weren't banned or anything, just moved away from being mod-generated.
Yes, and then they went away, because there wasn't someone whose job it was to maintain their presence and function. Removing support makes things go away. If you have a public park and the city holds weekly events at the park and then community members say "why is the city wasting resources on this thing that we all enjoy and like when we can do it on our own," the weekly events will go away after the city stops organizing them. People try to make them happen on their own and then things get away from them. Volunteers can't sustain things without support.
posted by twelve cent archie at 5:56 AM on July 5 [7 favorites]


I really liked the HelpMe thread. It was fun to have somewhere to be more casual and personal with other people here and get to know them a bit. I hope we have more posts like that (lightly structured and casual) in the future.

birthday cake, asking just because I'm curious: do the free threads on the blue have a different feel for you? (Or the metatalktails of days past?)
posted by trig at 6:13 AM on July 5


Yes, and then they went away, because there wasn't someone whose job it was to maintain their presence and function. Removing support makes things go away.

And in an ideal world with unlimited resources, it would be great if they had moderator support. But there aren't unlimited resources, and we keep getting reminded how extremely limited mod time is. So it seems to make sense that things like chatty threads are something the community could take responsibility for.
posted by lapis at 6:24 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]


metatalktails of days past

Or present! Thanks dg for putting one up.
posted by trig at 6:59 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]


HelpMe feels like a poor version of what Reddit does well. I think MetaFilter should focus on what Metafilter does well.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:28 AM on July 5 [4 favorites]


As someone who spends a good bit of time in Ask, I also bounced off the HelpMe thread. If other people liked it, fine, but I doubt I'll spend time in there.

I did participate in the MetaTalkTails and have made the switch to the Free Threads. It may be that I spend less time on MeTa these days, as I find the ways we fail each other as a community to be disheartening, and so many of the discussions here seem to end up with folks leaving.

As someone said above, the Free Threads are a nice way to get updates from users on their lives, and to share things like what's up in my garden. If I had to state a preference, the Free Threads would come before MetaTalktails, and the LinkMe threads would come miles before HelpMe. But that's a data point of one, and I'd prefer a "yes, and" approach to the site (except for HelpMe, I guess.)
posted by Lawn Beaver at 10:49 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Yes , thank you dg for starting the metatalktails thread!
posted by capricorn at 11:02 AM on July 5 [4 favorites]


trig, yes, a little, in that they're less structured so sometimes I'm not sure what to comment that other people would find interesting. I had fun looking through the HelpMe thread, finding a question I might have something to share about, and writing a response knowing that it was fine if it was kind of silly or personal.

I don't think Metatalktails or free threads should be replaced by HelpMe threads or anything like that, just sharing why I liked HelpMe. I think that right now anything that makes people want to participate is a good thing.
posted by birthday cake at 4:31 PM on July 6


That's interesting, thanks birthday cake. (I don't think I've ever participated in any of the chat-type threads, but I read them sometimes. As a chat outsider, they all seem pretty similar to me, in that I see some people responding to the prompt, some people doing their own thing (more and more the longer the thread gets?), and some people responding to each other's comments. So it's interesting to see how different they seem to other people.)
posted by trig at 5:55 PM on July 6


If you have a public park and the city holds weekly events at the park and then community members say "why is the city wasting resources on this thing that we all enjoy and like when we can do it on our own," the weekly events will go away after the city stops organizing them.

I think the issue is partly that we didn't all enjoy the thing. It was cited consistently as a thing that was taking mod time and resources away from other tasks, and my impression was that participation was limited to a pretty small subset of active users.
posted by Dysk at 9:01 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


inability to save drafts
warriorqueen, maybe a feature can be added to save personal drafts, as a part of the site rebuild? my rough draft of a name for such a feature is MetaMe

MetaMe, as i had to say ‘ta’ to a draft of this very comment (scrolling to the top on my phone to read the OP again accidentally reloaded this page), currently for me is google docs. i have a gdoc where i can draft what i want to write. opening gdocs is possible on various devices, so i can save something i’ve written on my phone & then update it from a computer, etc.

queuing seems possible based on dg’s comment. perhaps MetaMe could be a modified form of this?

many more thoughts about all the ideas raised here. i am going to work through those in a separate draft & just post this
posted by HearHere at 3:41 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


My memory is that the mods explicitly disagreed with the claim that things like MetaTalktails were a substantial drain on their time and resources. But the fact that it was repeatedly included in publicized lists of how moderators were spending their time was pointed to by some users as evidence that mods were frittering away their time and the site's limited resources, regardless of whether the mods agreed that it was a substantial time sink. So I don't think it's true that MetaTalktails stopped because they were a drain on mod resources, I think they stopped because it was the only way to end that line of repeated attack. Anyway that's my memory, and I won't try to dig up the receipts to prove my point, but I also think it's important not to let this version of events stand unchallenged.

I thought taz was particularly skilled at crafting them and that's partly why they were successful, but I'm happy if other MeFites can get them going again successfully.
posted by biogeo at 9:10 PM on July 9 [4 favorites]


If it was explicitly not a thing that took time and resources, then why repeatedly list it as a thing that's consuming your time and resources when asked why you don't have time for [other thing]? That seems like a bit of an own goal at best.
posted by Dysk at 9:22 PM on July 9 [3 favorites]


(More likely, the assumption that it didn't actually take up any time is in fact false. Unless you're suggesting the mods were lying to us?)
posted by Dysk at 12:43 AM on July 10


Is there currently a good spot for folks dropping "here's stuff that might make a good fpp but I can't manage to get around to it" breadcrumbs for other folks? Was that an occasional separate thread? Or part of metatalktails or something else?
posted by rmd1023 at 6:29 AM on July 10


rmd1023, that's LinkMe (tag); the latest post in the series at the time I'm posting this is here.
posted by Alterscape at 7:21 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


I encourage anyone here to check out the current LinkMe thread where I have linked to a few freshly published short sf/f stories by Naomi Kritzer and John Wiswell - I'm pretty fatigued and would appreciate if other people would make front page posts about these.
posted by brainwane at 8:08 AM on July 11


Thanks! ... I wish I'd made a note to myself about the link I wanted to drop in there because it might be a good FPP if someone wanted to do a bit of expanding on it. STUPID BRAIN.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:40 AM on July 15


> i continue working through my thoughts, yet i wanted to get back to this thread in a reasonable amount of time- i started posting a little while ago on mefi. for single-link posts, one response i received for making such posts better is: a single link to a Google Book is not ideal (the recommendation was to maybe bring in an article or something). that makes sense. how i see this community is a group of people interested in sharing ideas; the more ideas shared the fuller the conversation can be

i have posted single-links still & posts with many links. one of my single-link posts, on situated knowledge, is specifically alluding to the fact that i, at least, would like to hear whatever you'd like to post, especially if it is quirky or mainstream!

the idea that I will actually be judged
for me that's also definitely a stressor! i have some comfort that nobody knows i'm a dog [wiki], but the idea of being judged can still give pause (i want to be a 'good dog'). my sense of the site culture is that people are genuinely curious, i.e. if something's said that's worth exploring people will ask where it's coming from, so we can all grow. i think what it boils down is that what is being critiqued is the idea rather than individual
if anything thematically links to money, power, democracy, etc., the comments will probably go over those these for the nth time
yeah, people do like to have these discussions :-) some threads go on for a while... i think this is a strength of the site! my time is unfortunately limited, so i can only participate so much. i do enjoy reading most threads even if i am unable to contribute

anyway, yes, limited time, so i need to move on to other things at the moment. i'll hope to pop back into this thread at some future point. mostly want to say right now: please feel free/encouraged to post; you are what makes this site wonderful!
posted by HearHere at 9:55 AM on July 20


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