If you don't like it, don't eat it. January 29, 2001 5:42 AM   Subscribe

IRL, if you're not interested in a conversation happening between two people, you don't particiapte. Why does this stuff happen so much. It seems to me, if you don't like a thread, don't click the link, don't comment on it. It seems like it should be a simple thing to do.
posted by TuxHeDoh to Etiquette/Policy at 5:42 AM (18 comments total)

It's all part of the conversation. In real life, people talk about whether they want to talk about what they're talking about all the time. It's only when it begins to be the dominant topic that it's a problem.

It seems to me, if you don't like what people are talking about in a conversation, don't respond to it. It seems like it should be a simple thing to do.
posted by rodii at 7:18 AM on January 29, 2001

I think it was more of a "please god don't make this a subject of normal conversation on metafilter" request from a member. That's slightly different than a "I don't agree with the opinion of the original poster" argument.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:24 AM on January 29, 2001

but why get hot and bothered about a thread when you can just skip it?
posted by palegirl at 8:43 AM on January 29, 2001

Given the media onslaught pushing the new survivor as Something Everyone Must See And Talk About Around The Watercooler Tomorrow At Work, I saw the comment as possibly a reaction to that. Some way of saying "hey, we're not here to talk about pointless drivel on tv." Sometimes it's hard to hold back that sentiment, bite your tongue and move on to the next thread. I agree with the comment made, but held back from posting in the thread, I guess some people felt so strongly about it, they did post. There's always opposite viewpoints in threads around here, it was a strong reaction, but given how much of a waste of time and effort I believe the show survivor to be, I can understand the sentiment and why someone might post it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:10 AM on January 29, 2001

I see it happens a lot around here, though.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:20 AM on January 29, 2001

I for one one want MetaFilter to remain primarily a web log, a collection of interesting things found on the web (and ensuing discussion); however, it seems many view MeFi as more of a discussion board where they post an interesting topic and start a conversation. Wanting such a discussion board is not a bad thing, but don't the posting guidelines for MeFi suggest that it is not such a place?

Now, if palegirl had found an interesting article on survivor, or had even framed her link to the official survivor site differently, I think that would fit within the guidelines a bit better. In other words, she could have said "The survivor site is a good resource if you are interesting in reading up on the contestants" instead of merely posting what was essentially a witty recap of the first episode. For the record, I think the post about the superbowl results makes the same mistake. It does not meet the following criteria: "most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page," though judging by the 26 comments on that thread it certainly does "warrant discussion from others."

I hope everyone, especially palegirl, realizes that I am not directing these comments at anyone in particular; I merely bring it up because this shift I am describing seems to be taking place without much discussion. But what do you think? Am I out of place in bringing this up? Matt? Should I shut up and let it be? Or am I incorrectly interpreting the guidelines? Or maybe the guidelines should be changed to allow for more general discussion topics?
posted by ericost at 11:59 AM on January 29, 2001

no eric, it's a good point, in some ways posts like the survivor and superbowl one turn metafilter into a community discussion board for any and everything under the sun, when it was originally intended to be discussion about things on the web. I don't know if that's entirely a bad thing just yet, or what I could do to stop it if I wanted to.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:28 PM on January 29, 2001

Matt, can I suggest that one way to reduce it -- if you decide that's what you want to do -- is explicitly describe the intent in the guidelines? Something along the lines of, "Metafilter is primarily intended for discussion of interesting things found on the web; general-interest discussions without a strong web component, such as current events or politics, should usually be posted only if you believe there will be a great deal of user interest." I'm happy to see that most people follow the guidelines when there isn't much room for confusion (although I have no idea how much selfblogging and such you delete when I'm not looking), so if that's something you eventually want to set forth, I think people will be down with it.

Mind you, I think that would eliminate some interesting discussion, but it's your sandbox.

(Ericost, I see where you're coming from, but the guidelines in question seem intentionally vague -- I always took "most people haven't seen it before" to refer to the way links seem to spread from blog to blog. But current events would seem to fit a slightly looser reading of that criterion.)
posted by snarkout at 1:55 PM on January 29, 2001

I think that would fit within the guidelines a bit better.

And how long do you think it would have taken for said thread to devolve into a general discussion of what happened on the show last night? No matter how you framed it, it would quickly become precisely what the current Survivor thread is. People are going to talk about what they want to talk about.
posted by aaron at 2:11 PM on January 29, 2001

Aaron: no doubt you are right; but discussion in a thread is still different than a post to the front page. Posts like palegirl's I would think encourage the 1000's of new MeFi users to post pet topics to the home page, whereas a post about the survivor site would comply with the guidelines and still allow for discussion about the show in the thread.

Snarkout: yeah they are vague. But the thing is, a link to the superbowl site, or the survivor site, those are not pointing out something new for people to check out. Don't you think that most people who who would want to do so have already visited superbowl.com? Do you see the distinction I am making, between bringing up the superbowl as a topic of discussion with a casual link to superbowl.com, and linking to some article on the game, or even pointing to superbowl.com to draw attention to some notable quality of the site? It seems to me to be an important distinction.

So Matt, here is the question: if you want MeFi members to police themselves (and each other), do you think you should provide a more definitive reading of the guidelines so we can know what is appropriate and what is not? I want to do my part to help keep the noise level down, but it is hard when I am not sure if I am just imposing my own vision of MeFi on others or if I am justifiably asking people to comply with the guidelines.
posted by ericost at 2:43 PM on January 29, 2001

posted by palegirl at 2:56 PM on January 29, 2001

wait a minute. lots and lots of popular threads have revolved around "real life" not things found on the web.

any political thread, any thread about any news item (my recent post about the italian sexual harrassment suit, for example.)

I think it's easy enough to skip over the posts I'm not interested in.

but this is getting back to whether metafilter is "supposed" to be a repository for the whacky or a place for discussion of all sorts of topics.

posted by rebeccablood at 4:23 PM on January 29, 2001

I'm always curious to know what direction matt would like to see MeFi go in. I know that there's people on here who would eventually like to see subject-specific metafilters (i.e. a politics only one). But will something like that ever happen? Is something like that even desired?
posted by gluechunk at 4:27 PM on January 29, 2001

You know, I've noticed one thing in MeTa, and it's that Matt never seems to respond to calls to clarify or change the posting guidelines. I'm going to take that as an admonition to handle this stuff as a community, and you know what? It seems to work. Since the big thread on the "too much noise" phenomenon, we've had four light days in a row: 24 on the 25th, the day it was posted, then 19, 10, 11, and now 14, and today's a weekday (a very weak day, IMHO).

I can't help but think about the Bungle affair as this goes along, and think of Matt as a Wizard who is chilling, sitting back, and waiting to guage the consensus of the community before striking quick with his Staff of Wonder.

I advocate doing absolutely nothing beyond what we are doing; which is whining profusely if the signal:noise ration ever gets out of hand. All we need is the most prolific posters to pay attention, and it seems to take care of itself absent that. But hey, it's Matt's site, and Matt's staff, so don't take my word for it. I will say this: if MeFi ever gets to 10,000 (maybe even 5,000) members a split, probably by subject, will become inevitable. Just food for thought.
posted by norm at 5:03 PM on January 29, 2001

I'm content waiting...it does seem to be getting better (touch wood)...
posted by Avogadro at 7:22 PM on January 29, 2001

norm, when I showed you my Staff of Wonder, you weren't supposed to talk about it in public.

posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:37 PM on January 29, 2001

Sorry. I didn't think MeTa was public, though. Whoops!
posted by norm at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2001

Who needs a whole staff, I'd settle for an Assistant of Wonder.
posted by rodii at 9:16 AM on January 30, 2001

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