How are you helping when you derail a thread by questioning its validity October 14, 2003 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Heh. Step back and ask yourself: How are you helping when you derail a thread by questioning its validity inside the thread?
posted by ZachsMind to Etiquette/Policy at 6:06 PM (52 comments total)

A single image link, that mentions an AP article, without linking it. This you want to defend? Yeesh, ever hear of choosing your battles?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:09 PM on October 14, 2003


Then put your right foot in. Then you do the hokey-pokey and you turn yourself around, because that my friend, is what it is all about.
posted by Stan Chin at 6:11 PM on October 14, 2003


Let's see. I agree it would suck if people started posting any cute jpeg they saw. It's not something I'd like to see happen often, but in this case let's see if it fits the criteria:

  • most people have not seen it before,

  • there is something interesting about the content

  • it might warrant discussion from others.


  • At least it might have, if it weren't for the fact that almost immediately out the gate, the post's thread gets derailed with a question that belongs over here in MeTa not in MeFi.

    I lost the battle long ago. This is not a battle. This is a statement of fact. Opinions about the quality of MeFi posts belong in MeTa. That's why it's here. Derailing ANY thread by questioning its validity is impolite and bad form.
    posted by ZachsMind at 6:11 PM on October 14, 2003


    Perhaps JimBob should have taken it straight to MeTa, but the post really sucks.
    posted by trharlan at 6:16 PM on October 14, 2003


    I'm sorry, I'll never do it again.
    posted by Jimbob at 6:18 PM on October 14, 2003


    zibbity bop!
    posted by quonsar at 6:23 PM on October 14, 2003


    It was a dumb post, so I deleted it.
    posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:24 PM on October 14, 2003


    *points at Matt* See? Y'all don't have to just scramble to be the first to post about how terrible every Mefi post is. If it's bad, it'll go away. We don't all need to pretend to be MeFi traffic cops. This place is in good hands.

    This isn't a competition, gang. It's a community. At least occasionally. When people choose to work together. Next time, rather than derailing a thread, try supporting it. Maybe if the instigating link was bad and you think you coulda done better, adroitly incorporate links that support the initial post's topic, and try saving the thread rather than just helping to destroy it. M'kay, now y'all look over what I just wrote and try to find something to make fun of. You'll feel better.
    posted by ZachsMind at 6:35 PM on October 14, 2003


    Traffic cops? I feel more like a parking inspector.
    posted by Jimbob at 6:37 PM on October 14, 2003


    "If it's bad, it'll go away."

    This is a joke right?
    posted by y6y6y6 at 6:57 PM on October 14, 2003


    jengod is preparing a plague of locusts even as we speak.
    posted by quonsar at 7:02 PM on October 14, 2003


    quick, someone post a recipe that uses locusts!
    posted by amberglow at 7:15 PM on October 14, 2003




    Locust Stew?
    posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:21 PM on October 14, 2003


    Bollocks!
    posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:21 PM on October 14, 2003


    Fwiw, I think it was brave of you, Zachs, and according to first principles, i.e. if you have a complaint about a post, better take it to MeTa.

    However, I do believe that threads on the Blue must be able to absorb some dissent about a post's worthiness, else rushmc's suggestion, that every MeFi post automatically generate a MeTa thread, begins to look like a serious proposition.

    Jengod chose to make a risky, humorous post (you either thought it was funny or not) and it's in the nature of this kind of post that you expose yourself to the same kind of approach by those commenting.
    posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:22 PM on October 14, 2003


    Tell it like it is Migs. I didn't come straight to Meta because I didn't want to pollute the grey with a pathetic complaint about a post I was sure (justifiably) wasn't long for this world. On the other hand, Zach's right. Why did I bother making a snarky comment at all when the post was destined for deletion?

    My supervisor eats crickets. Plain, or choc-coated. True.
    posted by Jimbob at 7:26 PM on October 14, 2003


    MetaTalk crouches at our feet
    Like a dog that begs for something sweet.
    Do you hope to make us fling the poo?
    Do you hope to make us vibrate too?
    Hello. I love you. Can you feel of my pain?
    Hello. I love you. I must spew out some flame.
    posted by quonsar at 7:26 PM on October 14, 2003


    This isn't a competition, gang. It's a community. At least occasionally.

    Say, could you loan me a couple of hundred bucks?
    posted by y2karl at 7:41 PM on October 14, 2003


    So, is this the random comment thread?

    Excellent. Because I have a case of lutefish I need to unload. Does anyone have any rutabagas?
    posted by yhbc at 8:02 PM on October 14, 2003


    I have a case of lutefish I need to unload.

    What a coincidence. I just happen to know a bunch of hungry Lutherans.
    posted by MrBaliHai at 8:25 PM on October 14, 2003


    I like locusts. Does anybody like locusts?
    posted by weston at 8:26 PM on October 14, 2003


    I wanted to participate in that thread, damnit. That photo reminded me of Bush taking his place on Mt. Rushmore, and I want to know more about the photographers taking the pictures (like, are their trucker hats ironic?). Where is this unapologetic iconography coming from?

    Would the post have survived with more content? Should I, as a fuckwit, just get my own blog?
    posted by eddydamascene at 8:44 PM on October 14, 2003


    We don't all need to pretend to be MeFi traffic cops. This place is in good hands.

    See, Zach, this is where your argument comes undone. If you have the right to chastise JimBob, then he has the right to chastise the post, and both were done in the appropriate forums. His comment was about the post, hence meta, and belonged on MetaFilter, the blue. Your post was about his comment, hence twice removed or "metameta" and thus belongs here on MetaTalk.

    I understand how you feel about "mucking up the blue," but really, MetaTalk just isn't the place, as Jimbob later pointed out, for small pithy grey posts about smaller pithier blue posts. Note that the MeTa categories are "Bugs," "Feature Requests," "Uptime," "MetaFilter-related," "MetaFilter Gatherings," and "Etiquette/Policy." The last is the only category even tangentially related to blue posts, and then it's still a matter of interpretation: what is the scope of posts that can be grouped under etiquette/policy.

    Those of a microscopic position, like Zach, believe that every small detail related to Etiquette/Policy is fair game. Those of a macroscopic position, like myself, see MetaTalk as a place for more removed discussions, such as "what makes a good post" or "over time this user has accumulated this horrible posting history," while "this post sucks" is not acceptable MeTa fodder.

    Miguel makes an excellent point that posts must be able to absorb some criticism. I believe that posts should be able to absorb ALL criticism, save for some egregiously bad post that somehow warrants a MeTa thread. Of course, the criteria for this egregiousness is subjective, but with cautious use of MeTa, a careful tacking between too much MeTa and too little MeTa can be achieved, and thus an average balance is reached.
    posted by The Michael The at 8:51 PM on October 14, 2003


    "This is a joke right?"

    I was dancing between kissing Matt's ass and my well-known opinion regarding his use of the delete key. He knows where I stand on that. It wasn't my intent in this thread to argue whether or not the thread in question deserved being deleted. Like I said, that's a battle I lost long ago. My beef was about how people are so quick to judge, and how in the past threads that either were deserving, or could have been saved, were derailed and ruined by judgmental people who think they know everything. People trying to knock others down, when we could instead work together and lift one another up.

    But hey if this really is a competition and the objective is really to post links to places and things on the web just to give complete strangers the world over an opportunity to look for holes in your armor and humiliate you for sticking your head out, then by all means let's turn this into an Olympic sport. Put little bullseyes on each Front Page Post so they're easier to aim at.

    If, in your opinion, a Front Page Post doesn't deserve existence, don't exhale on it.

    "His comment was about the post, hence meta, and belonged on MetaFilter, the blue. Your post was about his comment, hence twice removed or "metameta" and thus belongs here on MetaTalk."

    Nope. Wrong. Responses to a Front Page Post should be about the link offered or the topic in general (or apparently injokes, as previous discussions have indicated most believe it's anal to bother censoring them, and in that I happen to agree). If a response to a Front Page Post deals with the etiquette and policy of said Front Page Post, it does not belong in The Blue. It belongs here. Otherwise you're derailing the thread.

    It deteriorates into "metameta" a lot sooner than you're claiming there, Michael.
    posted by ZachsMind at 9:36 PM on October 14, 2003


    Responses to a Front Page Post should be about the link offered

    Exactly. Including its propriety and quality. I agree that injokes should be admitted, but only on the condition that critiques are admitted as well, because they're both on an approximately equal level of relevance to the post itself. Both or neither, as long as we're consistent. They're both derailing the thread, period. How can you justify one and not the other? Because one is "controllable" and the other not? Just as people can read over your enamored injokes, they can read over critical comments as well.

    As to the meta-ness, I politely disagree with you (note that I'm not saying "No, wrong!", as that would just be uncouth). If we derive our definition of meta from "used with the name of a discipline to designate a new but related discipline designed to deal critically with the original one," we can translate it to be "comments used to deal critically with the original topic/post." Mathowie has never specified whether the comments section of MeFi is specifically for comments on the topic or on the post itself. Actually, it's more likely that they're for the post, rather than the topic, if we consider that MeFi is for the "Best of the Web," and that it's generally accepted that the fewer comments the better, and that comment-generating hot-button topics (a la NewsFilter) are scorned. Regardless, because it was never specified, we must consider that comments are for both the topic and the post. Comments on the post deal critically with the topic and the post itself, and MetaTalk is, as I said before, a level removed from that. I see where you're coming from, but I interpret the metaness differently, in the fashion I just described.

    But hey, ask everyone else, and you'll get 17159 interpretations beside ours. Just don't claim authority, as you do when you write "If, in your opinion, a Front Page Post doesn't deserve existence, don't exhale on it.", as you're neither the sanctioned MeFi Traffic Cop nor Mathowie.
    posted by The Michael The at 10:04 PM on October 14, 2003


    People trying to knock others down, when we could instead work together and lift one another up.

    But Zach, that's what working together means, in the context of pluralism, the only basis for a community weblog such as this one, which is able to bring together a multitude of individuals, each one with their own world-view and opinions, who probably wouldn't want to be seen dead together.

    Pulling in different directions is what gives MetaFilter its healthy energy. We're all struggling about what is relevant or interesting; all struggling about what MetaFilter is about. Therein lies its particular strength: that, apart from the low-key, democratic and link-intensive guidelines carefully set out by Matt to include everything except the mean-spirited; the shitty and the repetitive, we can all present our case to everybody else and expect an honest, unhampered reaction.

    As a complete ignoramus regarding anything to do with Physics, I dimly remember from my school days that this seemingly tearing-apart; forces-in-all-directions aspect of the debate here is, in fact, a mimesis of what happens - hold your breath here, Zach! - in nature!

    Summing up: diversity cannot be achieved without difference, dissent and downright conflict.

    But, by jove, it's worth it, is it not? :)
    posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:05 PM on October 14, 2003


    unhampered? I think I meant unhindered or untrammeled or something.
    posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:07 PM on October 14, 2003


    unhindered maybe?
    and what miguel said...conflict is healthy.
    It's the piling-on that's not.
    posted by amberglow at 10:18 PM on October 14, 2003


    Jeez. MeTa traffic directors are over-caffeinated today, while the newsfilter cops are asleep at the wheel... What's going on? And a "banner day" at that.

    [scratches head]
    posted by scarabic at 10:41 PM on October 14, 2003


    The true meaning of ignorance: when you actually don't know what you're saying, even when it's correct. It was unhampered I meant...
    posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:52 PM on October 14, 2003


    Miguel, you broke the hyperdictionary.
    posted by ginz at 3:41 AM on October 15, 2003


    Well said, Miguel.
    posted by rushmc at 5:22 AM on October 15, 2003


    Jesus Christ, how many times can we have the same argument?

    If you can't ignore someone's callout in a thread, you're just as bad as someone who can't ignore the bad thead and insists on calling it out. (or something. must have coffee.)

    You all can bitch about the MeFi Cops all you want, but this site would have devolved into Fark long ago if there wasn't some peer pressure to get it right.

    A lot of things go on here that are more detrimental to the site than someone saying "Dude, you're post sucks." One of them is the habit we have of mocking each other--just like Zachsmind did to start this thread.
    posted by jpoulos at 6:17 AM on October 15, 2003


    I agree with jpoulos.
    posted by BlueTrain at 6:49 AM on October 15, 2003


    Someone posts so-so post. Someone else criticizes post in comments section. Someone else criticizes criticizer in MetaTalk.

    Film at 11:00.
    posted by Shane at 6:50 AM on October 15, 2003


    Boy is this a stupid discussion. But I don't want to pollute the grey by saying so, so I'm going to go post a thread in the blue about it. Reserve a spot on MeTa for the ensuing callout.

    I agree with jpoulos too.
    posted by languagehat at 7:44 AM on October 15, 2003


    I don't often comment on the quality of posts within threads, though I did so recently with the extremely stupid pumpkin pie post. I look at it this way:

    Stupid posts should be discouraged and deleted
    Stupid posts that get decent discussion are frequently not deleted.
    To ensure they are deleted (and thus discouraged) stupid posts should also get stupid discussion.

    Derailing the thread for stupid posts is the right thing to do. Sure it's bad for the thread, but it's good for the long term health of the community.
    posted by jacquilynne at 7:48 AM on October 15, 2003


    I think 'unhinged' works just as well...
    posted by dash_slot- at 8:00 AM on October 15, 2003


    To ensure they are deleted (and thus discouraged) stupid posts should also get stupid discussion.

    ABSOLUTELY not. That is SO wrong wrong wrong. In fact, IMO, that is probably the 2nd worst thing that occurs on Metafilter. It is NOT good for the community, as it lowers the overall level of discourse, disrupts people trying to have valid discussions (just because one person decides something is "stupid" and should be trashed doesn't mean that all will agree), causes bad feeling between members which can grow into petty, ongoing and disruptive "feuds," presumes to do Matt's job for him (and he is on record strongly opposing such juvenile antics), and makes us all look stupid to the thousands of non-member readers of the site. This is so grievous an offense, so anti-community in its very nature, that I think this should be one of the (very few) grounds for banishment from the site.
    posted by rushmc at 8:13 AM on October 15, 2003


    *points and laughs at jpoulos*
    posted by quonsar at 8:22 AM on October 15, 2003


    But rushmc, stupid babies need the most attention.

    just kidding. I agree with you, rush. Though banning may be kind of harsh.
    posted by PrinceValium at 9:19 AM on October 15, 2003


    Even though I posted it, and you vehemently disagreed with me, I agree with you on this: that is probably the 2nd worst thing that occurs on Metafilter. Trouble is, as a 2nd worst thing, I consider it to be light years less bad than the 1st worst thing, which is craptacular posts.
    posted by jacquilynne at 9:59 AM on October 15, 2003


    Actually, if we want to be technical, the worst thing that occurs on Metafilter is quonsar. Craptacular posts are a close second.
    posted by jpoulos at 11:19 AM on October 15, 2003


    Jesus Christ, how many times can we have the same argument?

    So far, 3602 times, and still rising...
    posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:14 PM on October 15, 2003

    the post's thread gets derailed
    Derailed... This term is overused and its so-called effect on threads exaggerated. A single post rarely 'derails' a thread. Most readers ignore it and continue on.

    This is just another example of MeFi's small yet vocal thought cops using rhetoric to try and browbeat the rest of us.
    posted by mischief at 12:15 PM on October 15, 2003


    Actually, if we want to be technical, the worst thing that occurs on Metafilter is quonsar. Craptacular posts are a close second.

    hey! go practice your horizontal scrolling, pal!
    posted by quonsar at 5:42 PM on October 15, 2003


    Earlier today, only moments ago when discussing the Cubs' fan who hindered Alou from catching a foul ball, I agreed to disagree with someone. Somebody should start a thread about that, I think.
    posted by The God Complex at 5:44 PM on October 15, 2003


    This is just another example of MeFi's small yet vocal thought cops using rhetoric to try and browbeat the rest of us.

    And what's that an example of?
    posted by walrus at 2:09 AM on October 16, 2003


    Pointing at the cripple and laughing hysterically. ;-P
    posted by mischief at 8:41 AM on October 16, 2003


    Interesting choice of words. What amuses you about cripples?
    posted by walrus at 9:43 AM on October 16, 2003


    Oh, waaaaaaah! If we're going to talk about appropriate forums, how about email? Why is it that double posts get called out and deleted on MeFi but the same issues get discussed ad nauseam in MeTa? I'm not going to bother doing a search, but I'm guessing the discussion of whether a criticism of a thread belongs in the blue or the grey has taken place more than once here. If JimBob had an email address posted, you should have emailed him, and if not, you should have sat on your hands.
    posted by anapestic at 10:42 AM on October 17, 2003


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