This is sorta Devil's Advocatey April 25, 2003 11:23 AM   Subscribe

This is sorta Devil's Advocatey, but I'd like to hear a discussion on this. As an example, I've noticed today that there are a couple of music oriented MeFi posts, which is nothing new, but now that there are a couple music-specific MeFi-like sites out there, would it not be better for people to start getting into the habit of utilizing them? To keep MeFi from remaining as polluted as it is? Or do some feel those MeFi Wannabes should be ignored? I mean, why have multiple MeFis if we're not taking advantage of their presence? And if a decision is made, will that turn into Topic Policing? Is there a solution that can be found before it becomes a problem?
posted by ZachsMind to Etiquette/Policy at 11:23 AM (43 comments total)

Semi-related MetaTalk discussion occurred here.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:32 AM on April 25, 2003

To keep MeFi from remaining as polluted as it is?

You assume that the music posts are pollution; many would disagree. Admitedly, the posts today could have been a little less generic and advertising-like. One of the things I really like about MeFi is it's generality. I don't want to visit a dozen topic-specific filter sites for news or interesting links in different areas. I like the variety of MeFi, including the music. The problem, in my mind, isn't the bandfilter, it's the adfilter.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:33 AM on April 25, 2003

perhaps music threads are the new friday five?

the mefi mix cds just went out, and since it's a slow news day maybe there are more people curious about new music...?
posted by pxe2000 at 11:38 AM on April 25, 2003

i don't know about you, but i don't have time to keep track of 234985 'filter sites...especially when the freefilter ones don't show the new comments/threads since you last visited.
posted by kv at 11:46 AM on April 25, 2003

I don't know. I would probably like a music post better than an Iraq post, since music is more personal in nature. You might hate that band, but that could be someone's favorite and someone else could have some cool stories about that band in a Waffle House circa. July 1994. If the discussion was on another site, those stories would be missed.
posted by mkelley at 11:52 AM on April 25, 2003

I was about to post on this topic (though I think the jazz pics is actually a good post). No matter how much you may like the bands in question, posts announcing new albums, tv appearances, etc. don't belong here.
posted by mkultra at 11:57 AM on April 25, 2003

Soon, there will be so many *filter sites that we're supposed to post on that there will be nothing left to post here...
posted by eilatan at 12:32 PM on April 25, 2003

monju_bosatsu and pxe2000: Is this "news" something I'd need media access to know about? Becauseā€¦
posted by timeistight at 12:45 PM on April 25, 2003

Okay let me try this from the opposite extreme. It's understood that Matt has no problems with these clones proliferating, but shouldn't WE have problems with it? Matt isn't taking this personally, granted, but in a way it is a backhanded compliment at best to MeFi as a whole. Ultimately this cloning of MeFi is indicative of a perpetual complaint I've

The community which MeFi has created over the past two or three years threatens to schism with these newfound sites. If people feel unwelcome in MeFi, they may leave and go elsewhere. ..Actually in some cases that could be a good thing.

I've tried encouraging some of these other sites by posting to them regularly, but there's not much response and though there may be a lot of lurkers, they're comparatively rather lonely in those other MeFi-Ish sites. This may be a temporary thing, as more and more people explore them and find ones to their personal liking, but this risks weakening the intellectual "gene pool" of communal activity and verbal intercourse.

IS this MeFi Clone business really not just like Usenet, as has been insinuated? Or worse? Should the dedicated MeFi community encourage this clone behavior or snub it? Will it make a difference either way?
posted by ZachsMind at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2003

I'm actually with ZachsMind, although when I debated posting this MeTa thread, I just admitted defeat before I even started typing. There's such a depressingly generic "anything goes" air around here now, it seemed kind of pointless to try to get the MetaFilter back to it's roots as a filtering of content one could only find on the web. As I write this (2:55PM CDT), there are 6 more or less "traditional" MetaFilter posts on the front page - 6 threads outweighed by the 3 all-but-content-free band link threads and 8 "newsfilter" posts. Clearly, people how post to the front page like this shit, or we wouldn't be seeing this.
posted by JollyWanker at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2003

(ZM posted again while I was typing; my response is to the original post, not the followup...)
posted by JollyWanker at 1:00 PM on April 25, 2003

I'm a little confused, ZachsMind. How much effect can we have on other sites? Won't they wither or thrive on their own merits?
posted by timeistight at 1:11 PM on April 25, 2003

If you get the chance, check out freefilter right now, becore they fix what's going on over there. Looks like it's not very popular.
posted by Samsonov14 at 1:20 PM on April 25, 2003

Here's my vote for keeping the music posts, even the mediocre ones. You really want to have variety here, and I like going down the day's postings and checking out a little politics, a little tech stuff, a little music, a little geography... you know what I mean. The content-exclusive clone filters are suffocatingly singleminded. MeFi encompasses the world.
posted by Faze at 1:20 PM on April 25, 2003

Since when has anyone had an aversion to insightful or informative music info? IraqFilter complaints came from MeFi being flooded the site with useless noise about Iraq. NewsFilter calls come from people who find CNN links to be ridiculous. but when did music links become taboo? Despite my own post today, which may or may not fall roughly under what monju was talking about (music release news, however I was hoping that my post might have been a bit more interesting in terms of its contents rather than a simple album release post) I tend to agree about AdFilter. I would hope that posters would bring something new and unique to the table that is worthy of insightful discussion rather than, "Hey, anybody check out the new Blink 182 album, its cul!!:)" because that can be saved for another site, you're right.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:21 PM on April 25, 2003

Ack! I hate it when I do that!

Retread of Paragraph One: This cloning of MeFi is indicative of a perpetual complaint I've heard over the years that no matter how much Matt improves this site it's never enough. Someone out there finds fault with another person's Front Page Post almost daily and it's been like this for a long time. In theory, each of these MeFi Clones could schism and develop their own rules, either being more restrictive or more vague, and if someone didn't like the mood of one MeFiClone they could move on to the next. But there would no longer be ONE place where one could post and be heard.

The audience would be scattered. I guess what I'm wondering is, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

And to JollyWanker: I'm playing Devil's Advocate, as my opinion on this topic is 1)irrelevant and 2) abandoned long ago.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:31 PM on April 25, 2003

there's a pretty thin line between "I like Elvis" and "I like pancakes"... I'm just sayin...
posted by victors at 1:40 PM on April 25, 2003

Jesus Samsonov14! How about a little warning there? Yuck!
posted by timeistight at 1:46 PM on April 25, 2003

Oh dear. Freefilter seems to have gone all Stile Project on itself.

And yes please with the safety warning, Samsonov14. I don't work outside the home, but that doesn't mean I want someone's nasty bits burned into my retinas.
posted by padraigin at 1:55 PM on April 25, 2003

Dammit I clicked on that too. I think I've been visually scarred. AND I am at work, that's great, just great.

Ick, Ick, ICK!

I agree with Faze. I like the music posts.
posted by Woolcott'sKindredGal at 1:55 PM on April 25, 2003

Doesn't anyone check the URL before they click?
posted by PrinceValium at 1:59 PM on April 25, 2003

But there would no longer be ONE place where one could post and be heard.

There never has been ONE place to post. MetaFilter has always been just one of many.

It does strike me, however, that these things are hard to get off the ground. It's been nearly a year since mathowie and his cohorts started Blogroots, but it has yet to achieve the vitality of the MetaTalk category it replaced, in spite of the fact that many of us dutifully trooped over there and signed up.

As much as I love the idea of a TimeistightFilter that would concentrate on the things I like, I doubt if such a thing could achieve critical mass.
posted by timeistight at 2:12 PM on April 25, 2003

Fortunately, where I am it was blocked, but I know what Goatse is. It could still cause trouble. The guys upstairs might not like the ping. It was bad form, Samsonov.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:14 PM on April 25, 2003

Goatse? The url was If it had been, I wouldn't have clicked on it.
posted by timeistight at 2:29 PM on April 25, 2003

It was bad form, Samsonov.

Zach... I opened up your link and saw what Samsonov repeated which was the latter for me in this thread.

There whole page for me had many many, I mean many links that took you to what they posted on the Main page, problems over there or what?

Good luck on your post, ;)
posted by thomcatspike at 2:37 PM on April 25, 2003

OMG! My favorite band/celebrity is releasing/has released a new recording/movie! I wonder if anyone on MetaFilter also likes this band/celebrity and would like to talk about it? I'm sure I can find a press release/review/official website that I can link to so my post marginally meets the guideline that it be about something interesting on the web! Away I go!
posted by varmint at 2:42 PM on April 25, 2003

...and I thought Blogroots was just an attempt to sell one a those old-fashioned tree-killing books.

Thomcat.. Ah..! Touche, that is one of the links I posted initially, isn't it? Well Goatsce wasn't there when I linked to it but that's the nature of the WebBeast, I guess.

Ironic. Just the other day I went to to read the funny email they got. It is an amusing site, though also pretty gross and NWR.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:06 PM on April 25, 2003

Zach, please keep in mind that as one of the denizens over there, I find the news toys of the Empire (the clones) to be refreshing. Each one will and is develope its own life. If that's small, and we keep going back, then booyaa, we must have found something we liked there. Because those of us who return like it, we tend to respect the place more ... certainly more than many seem to respect this site.

Furthermore, each filter is unique. The merits of one cannot be judged against the merits of another. IraqFilter was born, in part, because the vast majority over here were screaming at the top of their lungs for those posts to go away. Yet there are those who really find that information significant, and like to delve into what the IraqFilter posts have to offer. BookFilter was born out a user's love of reading and talking with others the same. These things are not the same, except that they are populated for the most part by those of us over there, who found something to enjoy over here. The connection with people without the chaos of IRC is what sites like MetaFilter have offered. If one hopes to focus that on what they find important, then the filters offer a truly endearing way to do that.

In answer to the question as to whether it would fragment MeFi, the simple answer is to figure out how many people who play happily in the fields of elsewhere filter, also continue to participate here. I would venture, the vast majority. Will they steal links that could have refreshed us here? This is the Internet, and MeFi finds cool stuff with remarkable distribution. If WarFilter User X doesn't post ReallyBoffoLink Y to MetaFilter, then I tend to thing that BakingFilter user Z will find that link and do so.

Finally, on a more personal note, all the snarky "I'm not interested in that" posts have really drug me out. I would rather find 3 cogent comments about a topic I like, then to find 40 comments about why the post doesn't belong on MetaFilter. That's too much ego to wade through for fun. No one is likely to post a link to a site about raising rabbits on WarFilter. So no one feels compelled to call them out. The admins are all different in these sites, and they will all have different ideas than Mathowie. The ego games aren't nearly as likely on the filters, and I find that more fun to participate in.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:18 PM on April 25, 2003

Is this a Chicken Little joke? Sheesh, people arrive and leave communities every day. This dynamic is what keeps things interesting. MeFi will be what it wants to be, just as AnyFi will be what it wills itself to be.
posted by mischief at 3:36 PM on April 25, 2003

Wulfgar, I understand where you're coming from, but creating clones of MeFi to be more topic specific doesn't rectify any perceived problems, of which some feel there isn't a problem so why fix something that's not broken? When the EtcFilters came into being, this did not slow down the number of posts in MetaFilter that might be better suited in a more topic specific filter. There are still regularly war oriented FPPs in MeFi, and I for one am not certain whether or not that should ebb until the Iraq issue does. In fact I'm torn opinion-wise on this issue. I can see both sides. The very idea of cloning MeFi for topic specific discussions stings of topic policing, which in my experience does not help and I've often found to be laughably offensive. However, the alternative that's existed prior to now has also never ceased to annoy people.

It reminds me of the old days of Usenet where people in a newsgroup focusing on Star Trek's original series would get upset when the topic would drift to (what was then) the new series Star Trek Next Gen. From one perspective it's very anal retentive to complain about such a distinction, but from another perspective if you honestly don't want to be bothered with a topic different from what you're comfortable reading in a given forum, you feel either you have to get up and leave the forum or get the other person(s) to leave. Why should you have to leave when the topic changes? You were here first. Why shouldn't they go somewhere else to talk of different things? But then again, why should the topic squatter not want to be tolerant enough to talk about anything?

I've seen this come up again and again over the years and I don't see the present developments doing anything other than making the situation more laughable. Like George Carlin looking at and laughing at environmental issues. I've been saying for years the sky is falling. People laughed at me then. The sky's not falling. It's more like it's melting, like a Salvador Dali painting. I have to laugh at this now to keep from crying.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:00 PM on April 25, 2003

There are still regularly war oriented FPPs in MeFi, and I for one am not certain whether or not that should ebb until the Iraq issue does.

I like WarFilter because I can post interesting but conventional posts about the war without worrying about frustrating Matt.

At around the same time yesterday I posted this on MeFi and this on WaFi. I think each was appropriate, but I don't think the WaFi post would have been a good MeFi post since it's just a couple of regular news articles. But I think that this WaFi/MeFi post was appropriate because some of the links were of a different caliber. It all comes back to the links.

MetaFilter: Respect the Link.
posted by homunculus at 5:01 PM on April 25, 2003

When the EtcFilters came into being, this did not slow down the number of posts in MetaFilter that might be better suited in a more topic specific filter. There are still regularly war oriented FPPs in MeFi, and I for one am not certain whether or not that should ebb until the Iraq issue does.

On the contrary, I would argue that IraqFilter posts on Mefi HAVE greatly declined, except among those who a) respect the link and post good stuff accordingly, and b) those who want the widest audience for their view (ego driven tripe). As homunculus points out, those that respect the link will know where the stuff they find belongs and will act appropriately. Those that just want to hear there own words read back to them will shoot for the big pond. If that damages Mefi, well, maybe we should do something to control the egos instead of the venue.
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:36 PM on April 25, 2003

Oh dear. Freefilter seems to have gone all Stile Project on itself.

Oh dear, we seem to have a lack of clue in here, again. Anyone can post what they want on sites like MetaFilter. Sure, it might not stay up long, but they can post it anyways.

This is why we have a 'posted by -nickname-' line on such sites. This section tells you who posted the adjoining content. That way, you can tell just whose fault it is. As a > 10,000 user, and judging by your comment, I shall have to assume you are not familiar with this concept.

Here's the main point: Every single thing posted on a *Filter site is not indicative of the style or opinions of the entire site. Sorry if you thought that wasn't true.
posted by wackybrit at 7:43 AM on April 26, 2003

if there were actually categories for threads, like /. and metatalk, then maybe people could actually do some metafiltering on their own.
posted by boost ventilator at 8:06 AM on April 26, 2003

Okay. Let me step into the fray.

I created MusicFilter because I wanted to contribute something useful to the MeFi community. I've not been with MeFi for as long as some, but a year and a half has been long enough for me to make MeFi the first site I visit in the morning and sometimes the last site I visit in the evening. It's that kind of quality.

So when FreeFilter became available, I decided to give something to the MeFites that they had requested. It was certainly not meant as a slight against Matt and I never expected all of the MeFi music posts to suddenly be diverted to MuFi. I suppose I was just making a place where people could comfortably make those occasional "I love this band! You should hear 'em!" posts without fear of reprisal.

And yeah, all of the FreeFilter sites were visited yesterday by the unfortunate image of the Goatse man. Just what we needed....
posted by grabbingsand at 11:13 AM on April 26, 2003

The goatse intrusion yesterday was unfortunate. I wish people would have more intelligent ways to voice their disgruntlement.

"...categories for threads..."

I hypothesize that the category breakdown in MeTa was one of many things Matt experimented with, thinking if successful he'd someday carry it over to MeFi. Why that still hasn't happened is anyone's guess, but may have to do with the point I was trying to make above: i.e., it doesn't seem to matter one way or the other. Categorization doesn't fix the problem of posts that fail to meet the given discussion community's criteria (both concrete & abstract). The introduction of freefilter and metaphilter and the like forces categorization, but in a way that is even more vague than had Matt forced categorization on MeFi as he's done with MeTa. At least had he done that people would have to choose a category. Now, they either go to a category MeFi clone which may or may not have an audience, or throw everything into MeFi regardless of subject matter, in order to possibly reach a wider audience.

"Those that just want to hear there own words read back to them will shoot for the big pond. If that damages Mefi, well, maybe we should do something to control the egos instead of the venue."

What's used to attempt control of the egos IS the venue. Whether it's password protection or ID badges at the gate. Whether it's limiting the use of html tags, or putting up barbed wire and doing security screenings at points of entry. Whether it's seeking to make the server hack-proof, or designing the room to be mosh-proof. Real or virtual, it's the same thing: the only thing Matt's got to use in order to control the egos in here IS his venue. It's been that way since the beginning, and he's utilized that as best as possible, balancing freedoms with security. Actually come to think of it, MeFi is a great microcosm of human interaction and social constraints & control measures. If there's a way outside of the venue to control the egos inside the venue, it's never been discovered before. It's outside the box.

"I created MusicFilter because I wanted to contribute..."

It's not my intent to diss the effort of the well-intentioned. I for one enjoy MusicFilter & HumorFilter, and am a bit frustrated that of all the clones they haven't caught on those two are the ones I naturally gravitate back to more often than any others. I'm simply asking if the contributions of MeFi clones is actually improving the community or making things worse.

The milk's already been spilt. I'm just pointing at it and goin' "WTF??"
posted by ZachsMind at 11:53 AM on April 26, 2003

I don't know where else to post this, but it looks like the goatse (what in the hell is a goatse, anyway?) pics are up on mojo. I'm not giving the link, you should already have it somewhere, but mojo is currently NSFW.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:42 PM on April 27, 2003

I am confused about all the talk of goatse pics. Is this another in-joke that I am out of?
posted by dg at 6:04 PM on April 27, 2003

ZachsMind: I'll also step into the discussion...though a little late. I don't see any "spilt milk" and I'm confused on exactly WYFing...

BookFilter was probably the first of the recent *filter sites. (Don't forget SportsFilter all so long ago.) BookFilter was created because Freefilter allowed me to create the site. I had the time just as the software appeared.

I can tell you BookFilter didn't even cause MetaFilter to blink. I expected that. And I beleive the "wannabe" jibe isn't warranted for any of the filters. I know I wasn't creating a MetaFilter clone. I wasn't expecting to pull any posts off MeFi. I bet there are as many book, author, and publishing threads on MeFi as there were before. Sites like FilmFilter and BookFilter don't compete with MetaFilter. As specialized sites we're more laid back. The posts don't rush by if you don't log on every few hours.

I liken the *filter proliferation to the early days of pulp magazine publishing. First you had general fiction magazines. Then someone noticed a lot of people liked mysteries. So they published something like Mystery Story Magazine. Then another editor noticed the public liked detective mystery stories. So that publisher brought out Detective Story magazine. Ad infinitum.

Guess what? The general fiction magazines didn't lose readership. And in the end most of the specialized magazines stopped publishing. (The general fiction mags eventually did also, but that's another story.)

For a more recent example: did the creation of ABC help doom CBS? Or for that matter did MTV kill off NBC?
posted by ?! at 6:30 PM on April 27, 2003

dg: Someone decided to spam all the FreeFilter sites with a juvenile image. You didn't miss anything.
posted by ?! at 6:31 PM on April 27, 2003

dg: Here's the "in joke" in a nutshell. The goatse pic is one that's done the rounds before. It's older than the "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" meme, and depicts what appears to be a male human bending over to show his ass to the camera while spreading his buttcheeks with his hands to reveal a particularly enlarged anus. Its purposeful use on the 'Net by anonymous cowards is usually shock value. Whether the intent is an attempt at humor or a socio-political statement, the phrase, "you suck" has more intelligible effect. As ?! said, you missed nothing more than a juvenile prank. It happens.

?!: So from your perspective, this proliferation of "Filters" (be they clones of MeFi or not, most purposefully 'borrow' part of MeFi's namesake), is less like Usenet and more like cable channels? Wherever there is a perceived abscense of directed attention for any particular topic or type of poster, there should be a "Filter Channel" to accomodate that demographic?

You can paint the situation how you want. I still don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe it's nothing, but I for one don't see how this is improving the community. It looks like it's only potential is to dilute the community. As you've admitted, it's perhaps having no effect presently on the MeFi community.

Maybe that IS a good thing. Maybe it would be a good thing if the MeFi community got broken up a bit. Time will tell. I call it spilt milk because the Filter Clones are already out there. Metaphorically, the milk's already been spilt. I still see this entire situation as a potential mess and a proverbial train wreck and I still say "WTF?"
posted by ZachsMind at 7:17 PM on April 27, 2003

I'm surprised that there hasn't been more activity on HealthFilter, especially regarding SARS.
posted by homunculus at 12:20 AM on April 28, 2003

ZachsMind: I firmly believe diversity will be a good thing. For example, I first came to MetaFilter because /. -- with all the options -- was too fractured and tech-loving for me. I may be branded by MeFi zealots, but since I found /. first I thought of MetaFilter simply as a simpler version of the former. And with all my years with online discussion groups... I see MetaFilter and the rest as just huge FidoNet derivatives. (And I'm sure others with more experience see earlier incarnations.)

We did "borrow" part of MetaFilter's name. That's what wackybrit called his software. I thought "filter" would make it easy to know what BookFilter was intended to become. (And using my previous examples... that's why NBC, CBS, and ABC all used "broadcasting" as part of their names.)

Finally, I ask you, what would happen if mathowie did decide to pull the plug. I know he has said he'd probably sell it first, but what if? Would everyone move to a new board? Move to Plastic? Kuro5Shin? (Or whatever)

My belief is that a new community at a new site would spring up almost overnight. mathowie's great software and steady hand developed Metafilter into the great site it is today, but the users are what gives it personality. I believe most of those users would want to stay together somewhere else.
posted by ?! at 12:11 PM on April 28, 2003

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