In defense of politicalfilter March 5, 2003 9:55 PM   Subscribe

Well, I'm sorry, sometimes we do do political threads well. Not many may want to join them - but most of those who do, continue to make them intelligent and alive. And I'm sure a lot of us who avoid going into them still derive an enormous pleasure from reading them. Which goes to say that, imho, political threads get an unfairly bad rap on MetaFilter (mainly due to Matt's apparent distaste for them) but they're part of the life and blood here and should be acknowledged for the interesting, integral part of MetaFilter they are. [I'm one of MidasMulligans fellow conservatives and I have to admire not only his gumption and enthusiasm but also the increasing fairness of his adversaries.]
posted by MiguelCardoso to MetaFilter-Related at 9:55 PM (24 comments total)

You said "do-do."
posted by Stan Chin at 10:01 PM on March 5, 2003

seriously, Miguel! ! !
posted by kv at 10:09 PM on March 5, 2003

not quite sure why my comment was linked to instead of the whole thread. But thanks, Miguel!

There's an exception to every rule; I think a good political thread can be fascinating. But sadly, good political threads are few and far between, and it seems like 95% of them quickly generate into name-calling, poo-flinging, did-not/did-too wastes of time.
posted by Vidiot at 10:25 PM on March 5, 2003

They do not, you poopy head!

(heh, sorry...)

/em ducks
posted by dejah420 at 10:48 PM on March 5, 2003

The problem is, Miguel, that we do them well so rarely as to drown out the good ones with the utter crap. Therefore, as a rule, we do NOT do political discussions well. One or two good threads in hundreds doesn't change the facts. Sorry.
posted by dg at 10:51 PM on March 5, 2003

" seems like 95% of them quickly [de]generate..."

Sturgeon, the science fiction author, once won a hugo or some other prestigious prize. An interviewer asked him, after he won the award, why he consigned himself to writing science fiction, when 95% of science fiction is crap. Sturgeon replied that 95% of everything is crap, so he might as well do what he loves.

This was known forever more as Sturgeon's Law.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:49 AM on March 6, 2003

One or two good threads in hundreds doesn't change the facts.

Which is the tragedy of Metafilter today. You know, if you're a glass-half-empty kinda person.

95% of everything is crap

I thought it was 94%. This changes everything!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:08 AM on March 6, 2003

what makes a good politics thread? is the only standard that it doesn't break out into violence? because reading that thread, i don't see any great insights. it's just the usual "balancing free speech with other rights" stuff. or can someone point me to something actually good (a new approach to the whole sticky problem of competing rights might bag someone a nobel peace prize, after all) rather than not particularly bad?
posted by andrew cooke at 3:23 AM on March 6, 2003

I have to admire not only his gumption and enthusiasm but also the increasing fairness of his adversaries.

Always the gentleman. No wonder you have so many admirers (self included), you cigar chomping, brandy-swilling knave, you! :)
posted by hama7 at 4:42 AM on March 6, 2003

but why do we even HAVE political threads. isn't that what freep and toostupidtobepresident are for?
posted by quonsar at 5:34 AM on March 6, 2003

I would really, really like it if we could do politics, along with everything else. I would love to see good posts by people who have a totally different opinion than I do, because I want to consider where they are coming from, what information they are offering, and if I'm overlooking something... I don't trust the politicians on either side, and I don't trust the news, and I don't have the time to dig up all the sources that will give me a more expansive view. That's what mefi should be able to do.

However, the truth is that the political threads get soggier than Miguel's cigar almost every time, and it really is due to all the personal attacks and vendettas. I don't want to read through 30 or 40 comments that all have to do with calling someone a fuckwit or a troll. I want to hear what everybody has to say about the issues; I just don't want to hear what they have to say about each other.
posted by taz at 5:39 AM on March 6, 2003

And let me formally apologize, Migs, for putting the can of whoop-ass into the electric can opener and leaving the kitchen with that MetaTalk anniversary thread. When I returned later, it looked like an "I Love Lucy" rerun (kind of a combination of the "too much soap in the washer" and "too much yeast in the bread" episodes, with a touch of "Vitameatavegimin" thrown in). I really regret that you took the brunt of the negativity, because I am definitely one of your admirers; speaking as one of the few semi-participating members of the original MeFites (Don't use the term A-List, I never rose past a B-plus myself), I just want you to know that I appreciate all your contributions to this really tangled corner of the web. I had expected that thread to de-evolve, I just was hoping it would do so more in the "1142" or "9622" direction. If you have trouble getting the "whoop-ass" out of your opera cape, just send me the dry cleaning bill.

Now, as for the issue you've raised in this thread... Are you out of your frelling mind?!?
Halfway-informative-and-less-than-halfway-embarassing political threads are few and far between, but one positive aspect of the PoliFilter mess is that, even though there is a 'dominant' political philosophy on this site, we are still getting plenty of participation from "the other side" of most issues. I hope that participation never goes away, leaving us with a forum full of "MetaDittoes" (If you know what I mean). But still, I am way too frequently annoyed by the shallowness of many of the most stident advocates on both sides (and embarrassed by some of them I'm supposed to agree with). But if Matt keeps deleting the shallowest op-ed posts, and the "shocking revelations" of the most questionable pedigree can be funnelled into the proposed "MoJo" section of the site (which I think would be a valid use for it), then I suspect the political climate at the 'Filter will only get better.

But getting back to my previous inquiry: What were you thinking, man?!?... I noticed by the date stamp on your post that you must have written it in the same wee-wee-hours of the morning, Portugal Time, that I composed the preceding incoherent paragraphs in California Time. I think I'm approaching a "full Ben Brown" (see the infamous "1142" thread for that reference), so let me close in the style of callers to one of the better-natured radio talk jockeys in L.A., who finish by "hanging up on themselves", so let me just delete myself. What more can I say?
posted by wendell at 6:02 AM on March 6, 2003

Most political threads here are doodoo.
posted by Shane at 7:02 AM on March 6, 2003

Yeah, yeah, great, super, but let's not ignore the more important issue here that has yet to be addressed: What the heck is "Taken Away"?

Bogged down in minutiae? Moi?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:05 AM on March 6, 2003

what taz said double. I certainly don't want political or news event posts to dominate, but I think they could have a place here if we could just eliminate personal attacks. Pipedream, perhaps.

To add to taz's comments, not only do I not want to read through 30 or 40 posts of invective, I have even less appetite for slogging through a few dozen posts saying "matt said not to post this," "newsfilter," "posse" etc etc.

At least invective can be amusing in its own perverse way. Deletions or post critiques are best handled in MetaTalk or by Matt.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:07 AM on March 6, 2003

Whether there are some political threads that are done well or not, the political thread is a beastie that exists only for certain types of people. For many, if not the majority, the political thread is a chaotic free-for-all filled with shouting, unpleasant talk, vulgarity, rudeness, disrespect and unwavering positions.

It's been said a million times now, but MetaFilter has changed into what we have today, and that has to include political threads of all colors. I think that it's unfortunate that these threads can't be conducted along the lines of any kind of debate, but that would need moderation, since it's obvious that our members have a very hard time moderating themselves. For very good reasons, Matt does not want moderators. Where does that leave us? With exactly the state we are in today: political threads that are for the most part what I described above, with the occasional great one that goes against the trend. Short of having no political threads, which I think is impossible due to the nature of MeFi, the only answer is to accept the fact that they exist.

Not many may want to join them - but most of those who do, continue to make them intelligent and alive.

Intelligent and alive to who, exactly? I'm not sure that the participants like to be in them either, judging from the sounds coming out of those threads. I'm sorry, Miguel, but this MeFite does not enjoy them, which is not to say that there aren't important things being said in them. I admit that I get a lot of information out of them, but that's because I'm nowhere near as knowledgeable as many of the participants.
posted by ashbury at 7:11 AM on March 6, 2003

The more poo here, the more it gets thrown.
Or hasn't anyone noticed?
posted by konolia at 9:17 AM on March 6, 2003

Why are political threads necessarily any more maddening than, say, threads about SUVs and the horrors of milk? Political threads just happen to frequently deal with the things that are, by the very nature, some of the most important things in life to people. Consequently, writing about such matters can bring out the worst in all of us, which of course includes yours truly.

The added problem with political news is that it attracts junkies who look at politics the way others look at sports. Is there any other explanation for the explosion in angry, obsessive punditry blogs? Most non-junkies see the stuff of politics as often of more import to their daily lives than that of sports. But then they see matters of such import trivialized by junkie-type writing and commentary. This, like all severe division in political life, helps breeds apathy except among all but the most interested.

It would be absolutely unreasonable to expect no conflict in any particular political thread. At the same time, I think metafilter is often better to read for political news than any political blog *because* of its deliberative nature. It's almost a godsend in that regard. Even so, given the effects of nasty, unthinking poltical arguments, the occasional "political blogs suck" thread is quite a good thing.
posted by raysmj at 12:34 PM on March 6, 2003

Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, Miguel, what is the point of this thread? Are you under the impression that we haven't gotten sufficient opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of political threads up till now? If anyone else had posted this, they'd have so many broomsticks vibrating out of their hide they'd look like Saint Sebastian. I felt sorry for you during the thrashing you got in the whoop-ass thread, but it sure doesn't seem to have chastened you.

And it's 90%. Accuracy, people, accuracy!
posted by languagehat at 1:57 PM on March 6, 2003

I like a good portion of the politcal threads myself. It's fun to argue with other intelligent and informed folks about the issues of the day. I generally learn a lot, sharpen my own positions and occasionally even change my mind based on arguments I read here. And I would say that while maybe we don't do it well, we do it better than most places I've seen. Of course, I wouldn't want to see many more political threads than we currently get, but I also would be disappointed if they went away.
posted by boltman at 8:09 PM on March 6, 2003

ahem. sorry about any misquotings. but it must be remembered that 84... no, make that 87% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:33 AM on March 7, 2003

A sweet discussion this might have been, about the privatization of public space, but it foundered in the shallows...too mellow, I am, to name names, and too selfish, I was, to intervene.

Too easy, it is, to rag from here.
posted by Opus Dark at 3:43 AM on March 7, 2003

At least invective can be amusing in its own perverse way.

Yes, I agree: thank God for riviera.
posted by y2karl at 5:07 PM on March 7, 2003

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