And you wonder where all the conservatives have gone... January 17, 2001 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Etiquette/Opinions/View of the poster.

Since this post discusses all of the above, I don't know any other way to begin, or to jump in, but here goes - I, as a somewhat conservative person, one of maybe 2 here on mefi, have tried to be reasonably patient. The reasoning behind it was something like 'well, this is just a joke, if I ignore, I won't bite the trap as to trolls do this on ngs and I have long since learned to killfire', and at times felt that; and since I'm mostly disagreed with, I feel that the very thought of me 'calling foul' would be met with great hostility. Maybe I was right.

Example. The topic of this post is an opinion of the poster, and he does in fact semi-self link. There's nothing wrong with offering your opinion, in fact it's great. I guess, let me put it this way - what if, say I, were to post a link saying 'Democrats really do think with their dick' and would link it to the Jesse Jackson story + a post on FreeRepublic with me saying this (I don't even want to go near the FreeRepublic, mind you). Not to whine, but, I really want you to see my side of this. There are many other examples, and I'll continue inside. (as to not take up the entire page)
posted by tiaka to Etiquette/Policy at 4:03 PM (30 comments total)


There are many such links, and these links offer no purpose as to forward the conversations. As I say this I mean that mefi isn't just about posting links, the way I see it, is there are many conversations that are always present and they are brought back every now and then and the issue is re-examined again. Example : Blogging, there was one article that said that blogging is dumb, everyone was enraged and there was a serious discussion, a week later, Jacob posts about blogging and compares it to geocities. We then, as mefi users can see this and continue the conversation again and so on. I believe there was a post only yesterday about the same thing. Political links often go back to the bush/gore argument as to who won the election. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I'm somewhat tired of the political links that offer nothing more than to call someone an idiot. As I've read some of you agree here. I don't know if I got the point across well, but, hopefully you'll see where I'm coming from here. hopefully
posted by tiaka at 4:03 PM on January 17, 2001

I agree with you, tiaka (wow...typing fingers still intact, space-time continuum unruptured). Lemme try that again....I agree with you, tiaka. (oddly liberating, I must say)

Anyway, this here electoral horsey is mighty dead. And people will likely keep thrashing it, long after you and I (and anyone else who comes here often) have buried it. But it's sort of the nature of the beast. You can't really make a rule that states "no divisive political stuff", since that would be way too broad. I definitely see your point, though. I just don't see any possible solution, other than waiting out the storm of inanity. Just think of it as part of the mixed blessing of being ahead of the "learning curve".

For my part, I'll agree to keep my Bush bashing to a minimum. (Can't promise to swear it off entirely, though. Baby steps).
posted by Optamystic at 4:28 PM on January 17, 2001

I agree with you totally, tiaka. IMHO, an even more egregious example than yours is this one: Dark. Like America's Future. Join the dark campaign until after inauguration day. The link asked no questions, presented nothing for discussion or debate. It was but a purely blatant use of MeFi to advertise for people to join her chosen crusade. And of course, all it did was instantly disintegrate into a long "Bush sucks!"-"No, YOU suck!" argument. And yes, tiaka, like you, I fully believe that if I had posted, for example, a direct link to an anti-Gore movement web campaign that said nothing but "join us," the outcry here would be deafening.

I love the political discussions, but the topics need to vary. And the more MeFites continue random, arbitrary bashing of Bush, the GOP, and conservatives in general - all disguised as 'jokes' of course - literally over a dozen times per day, these sorts of hotheaded pileons will continue.
posted by aaron at 5:01 PM on January 17, 2001

Tiaka, although I'm at the opposite end of the political spectrum from you, I'd agree that the vast majority of political threads being currently started are pointless, if only because they're so darn repetitive. As Matt has said that he's going to take up the Herculean task of moderating front-page posts at some point, this problem will hopefully go away. I'm capable of dealing with one John Ashcroft post (with a possible followup on Ronnie White), one inauguration post, and such-and-such. More than one every day is painful.

Personally, I've felt that most, though by no means all, of the troll-type comments have been from right-of-center folks, but that's probably because I disagree with them and I've been avoiding as pointless retreads threads like that "Moron" one. But I certainly hope that the mostly-liberal slant of MeFi posters and the relentless onslaught of one-note "Bush is dumb" threads haven't led you to feel unwanted! The Internet is just not, in my experience, conducive to polite, worthwhile discussions on subjects that arouse marked disagreement, whether politics or OS wars, but I hope that sad fact doesn't make you love us less.
posted by snarkout at 5:03 PM on January 17, 2001

Is this a good time to chip in that I long for the days I'd never heard the word "Ashcroft"?

I don't mind political threads, as a general rule. What's being seen here, though, is as tiaka mentioned indicative of a larger problem. When a thread discussing a certain topic is still on the front page, that topic shouldn't be considered dead by posters. Any new links relating to that topic can fit quite nicely in the threads already discussing them, and if it falls off the front page, well, that's what archives are for.

In other words, I agree with everyone here, just differently. :-)
posted by cCranium at 5:33 PM on January 17, 2001

Tiaka, this is exactly what I was talking about in this metaTalk thread.
posted by ericost at 5:55 PM on January 17, 2001

As an afterthought, some of the political threads that I've found the most rewarding or thought-provoking (and response-worthy) on MeFi -- some of Sudama and others' musings on racism, discussion of hate crimes and gun control, Steven Den Beste's recent post about political correctness in science textbooks -- have been about topics that don't neatly break down into a Democrats vs. Republicans (vs. Greens) argument. Does anyone else feel the same way?
posted by snarkout at 6:25 PM on January 17, 2001

I've noticed these posts too tiaka. Basically any post that says "Bush is a big fat bafoon and I hate him" is something we've gone over many times before. If this site were moderated, I wouldn't have let that thread go live, because it basically just says the phrase above.

I've been thinking about the kuro5hin model, where anything can be posted into a category, and only the good stuff goes to the main page.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:53 PM on January 17, 2001

I dig your intent and all but I can't help but think that all of the cries for intervention are threatening to take this site to new, uncharted areas where it will be less fun, and free, and open.

(politics disclaimer) I am a classic uncategorizable, in terms of politics, and think that the most polarized topics often are fun. Nonetheless, I haven't even read any of these topics until they came up in Metatalk, because they either looked like a train wreck before I looked or because the linked article/site was booooooring.

I think that if you don't like it -- skip it. The discussion here seems to indicate that the MeFi consensus is moving towards a slippery slope of hard core moderation that I suspect will only lead to chilling of discourse not agreeing with the majority.

Matt, before doing anything terribly drastic, could you just clarify the troll rules, and the self-linking rules, and see if the community can patrol itself?
posted by norm at 7:08 PM on January 17, 2001

How does the kuro5hin model work, and will it require you to moderate more, or is it an automated process?
posted by Zool at 7:08 PM on January 17, 2001

True, Norm, and a good point. On the other hand, I do think people are more likely to be discouraged from making posts I would find interesting when they look at the front page and see that it has been filled with a dozen stories already. And when a single topic is broken up over four or five threads, it's annoying and less likely to cohere as a genuine discussion.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:31 PM on January 17, 2001

Matt - I think the kuro5hin model makes sense, but, I think a problem might be the quality of overall content. Since you will be submitting to different sections, more stuff could be submitted into each category, this might create a shoot and miss type of system. People putting up a lot of stuff in hopes of at least one thing getting to the front page? Also, do you think that keeping up with all the posts will be harder if this system is implemented?
posted by tiaka at 8:37 PM on January 17, 2001

My way of dealing with it has been to ignore the threads I think are a waste of time, participate in the ones I think are interesting, and to search for material to start threads I think would be more fun.

Any public forum will have a certain amount of noise among the signal, and there's really no way to avoid it short of strict moderation. I personally wouldn't wish that job on anyone -- especially newly-married Matt.

If no-one responds to the trolls, eventually they'll tire and go away. There's nothing more frustrating to someone with an extreme agenda than being ignored. Example: we recently got a new member who is very fond of the word "sodomite", because it gets a rise out of people. Why does anyone even respond to someone like that?

This is one of the few cases where ignoring a problem really does make it get better.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:06 PM on January 17, 2001

When a thread discussing a certain topic is still on the front page...

Yeah, but the problem is that everyone can have a differently-lengthed front page.
posted by aaron at 10:05 PM on January 17, 2001

Tiaka has a point and looking at the kuro5hin site right now there is a post by enterfornone on the main page about exactly that problem, the quality of posts declining.
posted by Zool at 10:25 PM on January 17, 2001

Zool (and others who aren't sure), a brief overview of the kuro5hin model:

Basically, people submit stories. The stories get thrown into a queue where the general readership can look at the stories. The users are able to comment on ways to improve the story (since kuro5hin encourages longer posts as opposed to /. like blurbs), editorial comments and the like.

When a story's submitted, I think (I've never actually gone through the submission process myself, so this is mostly conjecture and from what I remember of Rusty's description) the author selects a category to put it in (ie, Mindless Link Propogation for a blurb). Users then decide whether it goes to the front page or not via a rating and voting system.
posted by cCranium at 5:34 AM on January 18, 2001

Tiaka: Where do you get the idea that there are only two "somewhat conservative" people here? That might have been true at some point in the past, but I haven't felt an absence of conservative viewpoints in these political threads.

I think the most frustrating thing about the present situation is that people are posting new links for polarizing political topics that have active threads less than 3 days old. If Matt institutes a moderation system, I think he should have a feature where he can move a new front page link into an existing thread.
posted by rcade at 10:46 AM on January 18, 2001

I think he should have a feature where he can move a new front page link into an existing thread.

That would be great, and I defiantly agree with rcade about too many similar links mucking things up. I have started having trouble remembering what argument is going on in which thread.

I don't know anything about the mechanics of making rcade's suggestion come to life, but perhaps the addition of these new links into a thread, could move the original thread forward to the current day, and thusly hot topics would stay current, only giving in to the gravity that pulls it off the page when there are no new links to spur on the conversation. If nothing else, it would force people to bring fresh information to the table if they want to keep the topic above the fold.
posted by thirteen at 11:20 AM on January 18, 2001

"definitely" not "defiantly".
posted by thirteen at 12:28 PM on January 18, 2001

That's an intriguing concept. At the very least I wouldn't have to remember 3 or 4 threads on the same subject that I'm avoiding. :-)

Though I could see that being somewhat easily abused by one or two people engaged in a discussion that doesn't appeal to others as much.

There would have to be some kind of escape Matt could inforce, ie a "Move and refresh thread" option and a "Move without affecting gravity" thread.

(I can just picture Matt scrolling through this conversation with his head in his hands and his hair in mild disarray thinking "Oh Jesus, these annoying bastids've gone into their little fantasy world of SuperMegaMetaFilter again." :-)
posted by cCranium at 12:30 PM on January 18, 2001

I just said that as a joke. Obviously there are more than 2. There are 3. No, heh. There are really like 5 or 6. heh. I don't know how many there are, but it's a very small minority, or at least it used to be. I got this feeling from some of the other posts that there were two or three people defending Bush and then were called trolls. I didn't really bother to comment.
posted by tiaka at 12:32 PM on January 18, 2001

I can just picture Matt scrolling through this conversation with his head in his hands and his hair in mild disarray thinking "Oh Jesus, these annoying bastids've gone into their little fantasy world of SuperMegaMetaFilter again."

Yeah ... I sometimes think the same thing when I post a suggestion that involves new programming.
posted by rcade at 12:49 PM on January 18, 2001

My personal preference for this type of thing would just be to police the threads with your comments.

If someone is acting childish, ask then to stop and contribute something which advances the discussion.

If someone is starting a thread which is redundant to something currently active, politely explain how this hurts Metafilter.

I think people are receptive to this. Yes, it's frequently a thin line between wonderfully funny and pointlessly childish. I think we can find a happy medium though.

The example post tiaka used is a good example of something that is both childish and redundant. If several people had started the thread by pointing this out I think it would have reinforced the type of standards we all want to see here.

Anyone in the world can post crap on this site. Moderation is an uphill battle. If we try to make sure that everyone realizes they are personally responsible for the quality of the site I think that will work better than moderation.

Addendum: I know I act childish here on occasion. It's a personality disorder I'm trying to deal with.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:47 PM on January 18, 2001

y6y6y6, I don't know if childish is the right word. A little bit of occasional freewheelin' fun doesn't hurt any.

See, I don't mind the idea of polite, in-thread correction, but that's what MetaTalk's for. <sigh> Of course, the people who seem to be the ones not understanding this thread's arguments also seem to be the ones not reading Metatalk (at the very least not contributing), so it's a bit of a trap.

Perhaps a posting guidelines modification along the lines of "If your link contains the same subject as another on the front page, regardless of "perspective" or "angle" post it in the already existing thread" or somesuch.

Phrasing is, of course, changeable.

I think it's important that the "vision" of Metafilter be expressed clearly in the posting guidelines. Expressing it clearly, however, has already been the topic of many Metatalk threads.
posted by cCranium at 4:45 PM on January 18, 2001

but perhaps the addition of these new links into a thread, could move the original thread forward to the current day, and thusly hot topics would stay current,

I really like this idea. (I can't wait to see what my.metafilter looks like.) I've been thinking about how to improve mefi by dynamicizing the front page for a while now. I think it would really help if we could keep active threads prominent somehow and this is the best idea I've heard yet.

Another possibility is to have a view of MeFi in which all threads with fresh comments (new today, or today & yesterday, or w/in a configurable number of days) are listed, chronologically or by number of comments.. which again could be either a preference or just whatever makes the most sense. This view could be a link off the front page, or maybe as a preference it could be my default page. Maybe each day would list new links first, then links with active discussions. I'm not sure what this would look like, exactly. There would be redundancy & confusion about when the thread started which may or may not be a problem.

Just a few thoughts...
posted by sudama at 5:57 PM on January 18, 2001

Caucus (the engine used for Howard Rheingold's "Brainstorms" forum) has the ability to merge threads, by copying across messages, should the posters so desire. It seems to work well-ish.

And I'm all for anything that maintains the cultural biodiversity of MeFi.
posted by holgate at 5:17 AM on January 19, 2001

I actually think that this kind of thing should be discussed in MeFi proper (yes, I understand that that's what Metatalk's all about, but I think cCranium's right that that doesn't reach a lot of the community, and trying to come to some public consensus in MeFi would help). I've though a couple times lately of stating that discussion but figured somebody would just say (condescendingly if not contemptuously) "Take it to MetaTalk." I like y6's idea that the community could do a better job of policing itself, and that that would be preferable to technological solution. But "the community" needs to be able to discuss it, and like it or not, the MeTa community is not the same s the MeFi community.
posted by rodii at 1:23 PM on January 19, 2001

> I've though a couple times lately of stating that discussion

Ahem, I've *thought* a couple times lately of *starting* that discussion. . . sorry
posted by rodii at 2:21 PM on January 19, 2001

Wow, Caucus still exists? ::shudder:: I have very non-fond memories of trying to crawl from topic to topic using that software. I hope it's been heavily modified.

Is Howard's little shindig still invite-only?
posted by aaron at 10:08 PM on January 19, 2001

Rodii: The kind of people who would care about meta topics like this find their way to MetaTalk eventually. Talking about it over there is just going to bog down ongoing conversations.
posted by rcade at 8:55 AM on January 21, 2001

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