Would MetaFilter be better off without an etiquette/policy section in the gray? November 1, 2003 6:37 AM   Subscribe

The Pollo Campero discussion is a nice example of members drowning out derailing attempts without resorting to MetaTalk (at least until I fucked it up by bringing it here). Would MetaFilter be better off without an etiquette/policy section in the gray?
posted by rcade to Etiquette/Policy at 6:37 AM (69 comments total)

No.
posted by rushmc at 6:39 AM on November 1, 2003


The post would have been better if it had addressed why this topic was interesting for people outside LA/DC. As it is, it is just a local story about a restaurant with a good opening weekend. I have long defended newsfilter for stories that have some bit of (inter)national interest (like the hipster story), but this chicken story is the equivalent of "Local Couple Crash Car in Suicide Pact", and the derail attempts should have come to the gray.
posted by mischief at 6:53 AM on November 1, 2003


The thread has 42 comments -- two knee-jerk criticisms of its presence on the site followed by 40 people actively discussing the subject. You may think it's a no-interest local story, but clearly many others disagree.
posted by rcade at 7:09 AM on November 1, 2003


yay, now we have to drown out the derailing attempt yet again.

Haters.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:14 AM on November 1, 2003


Any thread that isn't about anything I care about does not belong on metafilter.
posted by Stynxno at 7:18 AM on November 1, 2003


One of the reasons I ask this question is because we've explicitly killed etiquette/policy discussions from the SportsFilter MetaTalk.

We're making a quixotic attempt there to have a more easy-going personality than MetaFilter, and person after person has said that the public pillory is one of the least liked aspects of this site.

As much as I've enjoyed a long run here as a pedantic, judgmental scold, I now think pairing an unmoderated front page with often vicious mob criticism of individual members is an experiment in online community that destroys a lot more than it builds.
posted by rcade at 7:20 AM on November 1, 2003


What mischief said. rcade, I resent the accusation of 'knee-jerk-ism'. The fact that people discussed the topic doesn't mean it belongs here. If people only discussed things that belong here, we wouldn't need rules, would we? All inappropriate posts would simply fizzle. The reason we have rules is to delineate the realm of material that is appropriately discussed on this site, to avoid overwhelming it with trivia. Local, essentially non-web-related, run of the mill news stories are bad MeFi.

I also feel compelled to note that there's a difference between derailing a post and raising rules of etiquette that have been repeatedly expressed by the site's owner.
posted by stonerose at 7:21 AM on November 1, 2003


Local topics can be of national or international interest. But I don't have to tell you this, stonerose. You've posted Toronto rock concert and Ontario same-sex marraige links that are no more outside the guidelines of this site than the Pollo link.
posted by rcade at 7:56 AM on November 1, 2003


The concert posting linked to web-based live broadcasts, etc., making it clearly within the guidelines of the site. Yeah, the same-sex marriage post was news-filtery and kind of local. What does that prove? That I'm not perfect. Because of other people's critiques (and because I've grown tired of the discussions that result from most posts about hot-button social issues), I've tried to post less frequently, and to get away from newsfilter posts.
posted by stonerose at 8:08 AM on November 1, 2003


People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stoneroses.
posted by crunchland at 8:14 AM on November 1, 2003


Despite it being kind of commercial, I found the idea of such a place's enormous popularity really rather interesting. Certainly much more food for thought than some random flash piece of crap.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:17 AM on November 1, 2003


people discussing chicken

end of argument
posted by carfilhiot at 8:18 AM on November 1, 2003


Proposed experiment:

Friday could be "don't bitch about the posts" day.

We'll see if the amount of seemingly poorer quality posts grows so much that it outweighs the benefit of cutting down on the whining and complaining.

I have a feeling it won't.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:19 AM on November 1, 2003


well, it did violate Halloweenfilter, but otherwise it was ok--it is very rare for a foreign fast-food company to start spreading here--and were any of the krispy kreme posts called out? should they have been?
posted by amberglow at 8:49 AM on November 1, 2003

two knee-jerk criticisms of its presence on the site followed by 40 people actively discussing
Hindsight is 20/20. The first two posters saw a local story and responded with posts much like previous local stories receive. Granted, they should have come to the gray or kept it to themselves, but the pattern has been long established and they just followed the herd.
posted by mischief at 8:53 AM on November 1, 2003


people discussing chicken liquor

end of argument

posted by Space Coyote at 8:56 AM on November 1, 2003


See localPepsiBluenewsfilter post.

Bring it to the gray: get bitched out because "does every post have to be MeTa'd???"

Make a remark in the blue that amounts to throwing up one's hands: get called out in MeTa for not bringing it to the gray.

Shut up and say nothing: scratch head and wonder what "self-policing since 1999" is supposed to mean.
posted by stonerose at 9:06 AM on November 1, 2003


Self-policing means saying to yourself, "Shut up and say nothing." ;-P
posted by mischief at 9:09 AM on November 1, 2003


Stonerose: You posted two links based on local interest to you that were well-received, each prompting more than 40 comments. Now you feel the need to apologize for what you did and vow never to do it again. Doesn't that suggest something might not be working correctly in this community?
posted by rcade at 9:16 AM on November 1, 2003


Well, there were only a handful of people participating in that encrypted message thread. Most sane people gave up on it after the first day. I guess I don't see the harm in a thread that only a handful of people enjoy. The rest can ignore it.

Now, if there were a screenful of local/encrypto/halloweeno/beanofilter messages every day, then something should probably be done about it. As it is, they're anomalies. It's ok to discuss that they may not belong, but you don't need to belabor the point.

Yes, yes. Let's "fix" the community. Who shall we fix first?
posted by crunchland at 9:22 AM on November 1, 2003


Stonerose: You posted two links based on local interest to you that were well-received, each prompting more than 40 comments. Now you feel the need to apologize for what you did and vow never to do it again. Doesn't that suggest something might not be working correctly in this community?

rcade, I apologized for one of those links. The other one was totally within the mandate of MeFi. Why did I apologize for the gay marriage post? Because, after being socialized into the MeFi 'way', I realize that just because some people find a local interest story interesting, doesn't mean that this is the place for it. Just because others transgress the stated wishes of the creator of the site, doesn't mean I should. This is how the social universe works: people learn the rules, to a greater or lesser extent. We learn that it's not always appropriate to do what we want when we want to; we also learn that it's not always appropriate to be pedantic about enforcing the rules. Sometimes, a wisecrack is a sufficient reminder of the rules. It's messy and frequently it seems arbitrary, but there it is.
posted by stonerose at 9:36 AM on November 1, 2003


Just because others transgress the stated wishes of the creator of the site, doesn't mean I should.

Nowhere in the guidelines does it say anything against links to local content. The question should be is it interesting (and not just an outright marketing move)? There are many reasons that a person might find the chicken link interesting that have nothing to do with the fact that they live in the city where a franchise has opened. Many others may not find it interesting at all, even if they do live there. One's right to judge how interesting a link is entitles one to choose to either read or skip the post and ensuing thread. No more.

Metatalk works better when it's about exploring issues that arise in order to arrive at a rough group consensus. It shouldn't be about vigilantism or personal agenda-pushing. Posting on Metafilter should not be the equivalent of launching clay discs in a skeet shoot then taking cover while everyone else takes their potshots. There is NO post that one can make that someone can't find fault with, or won't dislike or be bored or offended by. Opening up every post to attack by its detractors is a bad idea, but the reason I disagree with rcade's original question is that while I don't see this as a proper/useful use of the forum, it doesn't mean that there isn't a legitimate need for a place to examine true etiquette/policy issues.
posted by rushmc at 10:03 AM on November 1, 2003


Metafilter: people discussing chicken
posted by pemulis at 10:06 AM on November 1, 2003


Yes, but the chicken discussing people is even better.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:35 AM on November 1, 2003


bok!bok!
posted by crunchland at 10:35 AM on November 1, 2003


Nowhere in the guidelines does it say anything against links to local content. The question should be is it interesting

From the post-a-link page: Found something cool on the web and want to share it with everyone else? ... Just to be clear: the point of MetaFilter is to find the best and most interesting of the web to share with others...

I (really!) do hate to be pedantic, but I think what this hinges on is to what extent the link is "of the web". As the web grows, just about everything there is to discuss ends up on it. Clearly, though, MeFi isn't meant to be a universal discussion board. It's about the web. That, along with novelty, no self-linking, and no Pepsi-Blue-ing, is what prevents MeFi from being a free for all.
posted by stonerose at 10:40 AM on November 1, 2003


Would MetaFilter be better off without an etiquette/policy section in the gray?

Given a relatively static (and closed) population of users who've pretty much learned as much as they're going to about each other and how they view the site, maybe so. That is, the way things are now, MeTa seems to offer diminishing returns, at least in its conflict resolution capacity, because most people who read it are pretty settled in their ways by now.

But on the other hand it doesn't seem like MeTa has ever had a bad impact on what shows up on MeFi proper. I mean, do you think that if it hadn't existed previously, other MeFi threads that got taken to MeTa would have instead been rehabilitated by conscientious users?
posted by mattpfeff at 12:13 PM on November 1, 2003


It's about the web.

Virtually no links are exclusively about "the web." Even blinky Flash do-dads are about something and presented via the web. I don't think many of us want to limit the site to discussion of the latest html standard proposals.

The web is a medium. Its subject, as you point out, is everything.
posted by rushmc at 12:33 PM on November 1, 2003


The web is a medium. Its subject, as you point out, is everything.

Somehow, I knew someone would take that statement in its narrowest possible sense.

What I meant was: as with any medium, the web does certain things better than others. If MeFi is not to become the universal discussion board on any topic (can we at least agree that this limitation is desirable?), it seems clear that it needs to concentrate more on what the web makes possible, and does well, that other media do not. I can only surmise that this was Matt's intent in the guidelines I quoted above.
posted by stonerose at 1:04 PM on November 1, 2003


I found the pollo story interesting, and I don't live near a franchise. Local/nonlocal is not the issue. Interesting/pointless is the issue. This was interesting to a lot of people, and it wasn't a contentious "You're wrong! No, you're wrong!" post. Except, of course, for people who questioned its very existence.

Or: what rushmc said.
posted by languagehat at 1:52 PM on November 1, 2003


*jerks knee*
posted by quonsar at 2:44 PM on November 1, 2003


*knees a jerk* ;-)
posted by stonerose at 2:48 PM on November 1, 2003


*kneads some jerky*
posted by Stan Chin at 3:14 PM on November 1, 2003


*kneads, jerks*
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:10 PM on November 1, 2003


needy jerk
posted by crunchland at 5:11 PM on November 1, 2003


I'm in New Zealand, and I thought it was interesting. I'm a big fried chicken fan.

Having said that: where's "here", amberglow?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:26 PM on November 1, 2003


I went there (to Pollo Campero) for lunch today, it was delicious! Corner of Olympic & Union near downtown L.A.
posted by jonson at 5:35 PM on November 1, 2003


ah come frae bonnie scotchland and ah want tae hear mair stories aboot the wee fried chuckies....or ah'll whip oot mah caber and toss the bloody lot of ye !
This metafilturrrrrrr is nae place fur whinin sassenachs gripin an moanin awa aboot mistakes in spellin an postin thit ur aboot as big as the moths eggs in ma sporran.
may i suggest a noo site fur the moany basturds among yis , whaur ye kin all gripe n moan till yir jackboots ur covered in jizz.
englandfilturrr
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:51 PM on November 1, 2003


>unmoderated front page with often vicious mob criticism of individual members is an experiment in online community that destroys a lot more than it builds.

Preach on brother. It seems like mefi has reached the point where what's acceptable and what isn't should become fairly obvious and perhaps "etiquette problems" are best left to emails to Matt instead of a public "trial."

Considerng I've been on the sending and recieving end of both I can see how easily a trivial problem can escalate into an annoying bitchfest consisting of the usual metatalk suspects, going through one's posting history to find juicy bits to continue aimless "arguments", pointless witchhunts, stupid personal grudges, etc. I recently was just going to block my browser from resolving metatalk.metafilter.com because its become such a mess of late. A shame we can't vote or rate metatalk posts as most are just crap pointing out some trivial problem that would usually go away on its own.

In a recent thread (im too lazy to look it up) someone posted "Who cares" and got a great reply saying something like "Do you goto the book store and yell at books you don't like?" thus shutting up the mefi quality cop without going to the gray.
posted by skallas at 10:45 PM on November 1, 2003


Also, I've noticed a lot of blue posters who are now conspiciously missing from the grey, leaving the usual suspects and "mission posters" to have at it. Metatalk doesn't have to go away, once a critical mass of people who give a shit go away (which I think has happened) it becomes obselete and largely useless in regards to policing the site.
posted by skallas at 10:49 PM on November 1, 2003


skallas, there's no way to tell how many people read metatalk, unless Matt tells us. Not everyone that reads it posts, surely.
posted by The God Complex at 10:53 PM on November 1, 2003


Metatalk works when there are various voices contributing, not just reading. There's a list of usual suspects in my head as they are the only ones who post, and frankly, not very well. There seems to be a much lower signal to noise ration here than there use to be and a lot of posts (many deleted already, which should give you some kind of hint in itself) are just shit and have nothing to do with the blue and seem to exist soley for the sake of entertainment, character attacks, navel gazing, etc.
posted by skallas at 11:36 PM on November 1, 2003


I recently was just going to block my browser from resolving metatalk.metafilter.com because its become such a mess of late.

Because it's too difficult just to not go there? Seems to me that those who want MetaTalk to go away already have it within their power to make it go away...for themselves. Problem solved. I'll never understand this impulse, which crops up here periodically, to impose oblivion on thousands of other users...is it a power trip of some kind? Certainly it is easier to destroy than to create, but is there really major mojo in some people's eyes to be the one who can someday say "I got Matt to take down Metafilter/MetaTalk?" Very strange. It seems no one is arguing that any problems at MetaTalk are making MetaFILTER worse, and some have suggested that by acting as a pressure release valve it makes it better, so looked at that way, it's doing its job. If it has to do some peripheral entertainment, character attacks and navel-gazing to accomplish that...well, that may just be the price we have to pay (though I'm all in favor of minimizing those behaviors).
posted by rushmc at 3:29 AM on November 2, 2003


err, rushmc, blocking my browser means just blocking me, not thousands. Just a clever way to stop impulse clicks.
posted by skallas at 4:37 AM on November 2, 2003


This only works when people agree to be bound by the consensus here. But people who don't give a damn about the guidelines in the first place are unlikely to give a damn about the discussions here. It's like a court with no judge and no bailiffs, only a jury.
posted by darukaru at 5:36 AM on November 2, 2003


err, rushmc, blocking my browser means just blocking me

Yeah, I knew that. My transition from your comment to the attitudes of others was awkward, sorry.
posted by rushmc at 11:23 AM on November 2, 2003


But people who don't give a damn about the guidelines in the first place are unlikely to give a damn about the discussions here.

That's true: it's a tradeoff for the freedom we enjoy here. And there will always be those self-centered individuals who refuse to get with the program. But I think the history of the site bears out the idea that it works surprisingly well most of the time, and that consensuses (consensi?) ARE reached regularly, though some may choose to violate them or indeed remain ignorant of them.
posted by rushmc at 11:26 AM on November 2, 2003


It seems no one is arguing that any problems at MetaTalk are making MetaFILTER worse ...

That's exactly what I'm suggesting. MetaTalk creates an imbalance in this community in which negative feedback predominates. Now that Matt admits he isn't able to keep up with the volume of discussions here, there isn't even a point to most of the harshness.

One thing that made me uncomfortable, running SportsFilter, was when an individual member's front page link was hammered by five or six people. A person shouldn't have to feel defensive because their opinion of a good front page post diverges from that of a few outspoken members.

I think a community like this needs to provide more of a balance between positive and negative feedback, either by draining the swamp and cutting Etiquette/Policy as a topic, or by giving us more opportunity to offer positive feedback.

Two ideas to allow for more positive responses: 1) a simple "[this is good]" button, 2) a way for members to become sponsors of a post -- in other words, "posted by probablysteve (with 5 sponsors)."
posted by rcade at 11:46 AM on November 2, 2003


You are not advocating balance, rcade, but a means of allowing positive feedback to predominate over negative feedback. MeTalk already provides the balance between the two.

Balance would also include 1) a simple [this is bad] button, and 2) countersponsors, "posted by whosoever (with 5 sponsors and 8 detractors)".
posted by mischief at 12:43 PM on November 2, 2003


"Ate de tractor"??? Oh, nevermind...
posted by mischief at 12:44 PM on November 2, 2003


A person shouldn't have to feel defensive because their opinion of a good front page post diverges from that of a few outspoken members.

And the alternative is to let people with divergent ideas post a bad (by community standards) post every day, unremarked? Seems an unfair burden on the thousands of other participants in the site, who from the start have no ability to remove the posts and whose ability to even express their opinion you have now taken away.
posted by rushmc at 3:52 PM on November 2, 2003


momma ate de tractor wid da milk and cornflake,
momma ate de tractor wid clorox, too.
posted by quonsar at 4:17 PM on November 2, 2003


rushmc: And the alternative is to let people with divergent ideas post a bad (by community standards) post every day, unremarked?

Sounds like a great justification to progress to a more mature comment system like moderation based and threaded slashdot-like discussions and/or allow voting on FPPs which raises good posts to the top of the page every few hours or so.

Sometimes, admittingly rarely, a technological solution beats a social one.
posted by skallas at 4:27 PM on November 2, 2003


you could just shoot everyone, then send em a bill.
posted by quonsar at 4:33 PM on November 2, 2003


An invoice, even!
posted by insomnyuk at 6:19 PM on November 2, 2003


Sometimes, admittingly rarely, a technological solution beats a social one.

Granting for the sake of argument that to be the case here, mathowie has made it abundantly clear that he is not interested in investing the time/effort to make that happen—or in allowing someone else to do it. So we might as well make the best of what we've got, it seems to me, rather than dreaming of alternative approaches we will never have (Sportsfiltarians and others are obviously exempt from this and free to test any solution they like).

Am I being pragmatic or contrary? I dunno, YMMV.
posted by rushmc at 6:20 PM on November 2, 2003


I dunno
[this is bad]
posted by mischief at 7:18 PM on November 2, 2003


$500 for repaining the internet.
posted by crunchland at 7:35 PM on November 2, 2003


The internet is painful enough as it, crunchland.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:03 PM on November 2, 2003


crunchland: the internet glazier
posted by clavdivs at 8:11 PM on November 2, 2003


I think that only a select number of elite "super users" should have the ability to sponsor posts. Imagine, if you will, a world where these "super users" controlled what people thought of posts:

"Miguel gives this thread his vaunted seal of quality" and then four small gif images of champagne bottles (on a scale of one to five champagne bottles).

"Quonsar gives this thread a begrudging nod of approval," on a scale of sardonic to enthusiastic nods.

Etc.
posted by The God Complex at 9:22 PM on November 2, 2003


Like this?
posted by mischief at 10:31 PM on November 2, 2003


Excellent. We should implement this post-haste.
posted by The God Complex at 10:35 PM on November 2, 2003


I think you have a point rcade, about the punishment aspect, but I looked back over October's etiquette/policy posts and found 13 entries questioning the propriety of Metafilter posts; of these, one was a poster criticizing his own post, one was xmutex's "egregious" post (which I am convinced was a joke), and two addressed the same post. Another post asked generally about "theme days" (again, in what I think was a joking way), and one didn't criticize the post itself, but suggested that it was a form of self-linking.

So, as far as serious posts complaining about front page action goes, I count around eight or nine (out of, conservatively, probably more than 700 Metafilter posts for October). The funny thing is that I had the impression that there was a lot more complaining going on, and that October had been an especially bad month for it.

I don't draw any particular conclusions from this, but I guess it's food for thought.
posted by taz at 11:34 PM on November 2, 2003



"Quonsar gives this thread a begrudging nod of approval," on a scale of sardonic to enthusiastic nods.


this sort of thing has been discussed in the past and though i'm too lazy to find the thread, it was easy enough to find this image i prepared for that discussion: ponies or pancakes?
posted by quonsar at 12:06 AM on November 3, 2003


one was a poster criticizing his own post

That was my thinly-veiled plea for acquittal, which was granted. I give that thread four champagnes out of five.
posted by The God Complex at 12:08 AM on November 3, 2003


No, TGC, I didn't mean yours. I meant this.
posted by taz at 1:38 AM on November 3, 2003


Rushmc: People don't need the Etiquette/Policy topic to have a place to object to a front-page post, as the Pollo Camporo discussion demostrates. Two people complained quickly but were totally disregarded by people who didn't share their opinion of its suitability on the site.

To me, self-policing in the blue has become more effective than self-policing here.

As to whether any change is possible, I think it's been clear since day one that MetaFilter's open front page and intentionally vague guidelines would be challenged by the popularity of the site.

Our solution -- developing our own increasingly rigid orthodoxy of "acceptable" posts and ripping the shit out of transgressors -- may work to a degree, but we're becoming more like Usenet every day, where the lack of rules and editorial oversight inspires an atmosphere where the loudest and most thick-skinned voices dominate.

Spend much time on Usenet these days?
posted by rcade at 3:37 AM on November 3, 2003


Let's see... I first learned about Sriracha sauce on Metafilter, and now I go through a bottle a month. There have also been enlightening discussions about potato chips. I'm still waiting for Miguel to hit the salted cod button...
posted by zaelic at 3:40 AM on November 3, 2003


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