Why can't we all be as considerate of each other on MeFi as we are over here on AskMeFi? December 14, 2003 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Why can't we all be as considerate of each other on MeFi as we are over here on AskMeFi? Is it because it's new, or is it something else? Don't get me wrong, I like a measure of snark & biting wit. But everyone here is so damn nice (which is why it was a great holiday present to us, Matt) that I think I have entered George Costanza's opposite day. Will there be any spillover?
posted by madamjujujive to MetaFilter-Related at 8:51 AM (34 comments total)

Please limit comments
to answers or help in finding an answer. Thanks.

That pretty much will do it.
posted by Stan Chin at 8:58 AM on December 14, 2003

Part of the secret to the kindness is that it is literally a forum wherein people are asking for help, assistance, guidance, wisdom -- and the last thing you want to do when seeking help is offend those who may be able to provide said help.

That, and none of us want to turn it into a crapfest, thereby causing Matt to regret ever launching AskMeFi and turn it off.
posted by davidmsc at 8:59 AM on December 14, 2003

No politics.
posted by fuzz at 9:01 AM on December 14, 2003

Ask MetaFilter has a purpose.
MetaFilter doesn't.

People are addicted to MetaFilter because it's infuriating.
People are addicted to Ask MetaFilter because it works.

Helping is fulfilling.
Arguing is arguing.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:16 AM on December 14, 2003

People on the blue for the most part post for their own self-satisfaction. People here for the most part are genuinely sharing something.
posted by mattpfeff at 9:22 AM on December 14, 2003

the color blue makes your eyes turn evil!!

or what everyone else said.
posted by rhyax at 9:54 AM on December 14, 2003

I act the same in AxMe as I do in MeFi and MeTa - it's just everybody else who is different here.

Seriously, though... I don't know. I was amazed to see people behaving so civilly, which seems kind of terrible now I've said it, but true. I guess it's what y6 said - helping is fulfilling.
posted by taz at 9:57 AM on December 14, 2003

Yes, these points are all true... but even in a post that might have lent itself to partisanship or sniping, people seemed to go out of their way to be objective and respectful of various viewpoints. Mirabile dictu!

I am also amazed that people are so willing to expose vulnerabilities here and be so open about asking for help in areas that they might never admit to on MeFi. Plus, I see new posters here.

So I guess the biggest part of my question is, will there be spillover? Will AskMeFi make MeFi participants out of *quiet* members? Will learning more about members foster more respect?
posted by madamjujujive at 9:57 AM on December 14, 2003

It's also just new. I think MeFi was more civil when it was a novel, exciting, fun experiment. Once we start taking things for granted, I'm sure there will be more snarkiness and judgment around here, too.

Yes, I'm a pessimist. It's true that without politics & religion, and with certain actual problems, vulnerabilities, exposed, we may be more empathetic here. I think the majority of people behave similarly on the blue and brown, though; it only takes a few nasty comments to color your view of a conversation.
posted by mdn at 10:09 AM on December 14, 2003

We're helping each other--it's what a community does. : >
I love it so far, and it's the clearly defined mission of it that precludes most sniping and bitchiness I think--we post on Mefi to share links and things (giving), and here we give advice and help, or get it. I know I've gotten great advice out of my question, and I hope I've given good advice too. Maybe it's the yin to mefi's yang?
posted by amberglow at 10:12 AM on December 14, 2003

IMO, it has to do with the general tone. Too many FPP's have a pretty obvious agenda attached to them, which creates an atmosphere ripe for animosity even before the first comment is posted. The general format is "I believe X, and here is a link that says I'm right!" Here, people are coming out and saying "I don't know" right from the start. I think that makes people a lot more willing to discuss things in kind and civil manner.
posted by gatorae at 10:15 AM on December 14, 2003

My feeling is that we learn more about the Mefites as whole people which leads to greater compassion. People express strengths and weakenesses, hopes and fears, more here than they do in the other two places, and they often seem to put more of themselves into the questions they ask and the responses they give. Once you know MayorCurley is itchy -- to give one example -- it's a lot easier to try to be civil when he's disagreeing with you. I like getting to know more about the MeFites as whole people, not just seeing their MeFi Game Faces. I want it to stay so I try to make it not suck [as davidmsc pretty much said] and I think other people feel the same way.
posted by jessamyn at 10:22 AM on December 14, 2003

Each thread posted to AskMe must, by definition, begin with the open admission that the poster does not know something. It's a nice way to begin conversations.
posted by Prospero at 10:38 AM on December 14, 2003

This is fun. You get to learn new stuff and help other people at the same time. There is a clear mission -- ask or answer,and that removes the ambiguity and eliminates the noise. It's really hard to politicize floor sanding, plumbing and hard drives -- not a challenge, I said hard, not impossible. Don't feel obligated to prove me wrong.

Here there is experience and knowledge, in the blue there is opinion. One is objective and the other subjective, one is often hypothetical and the other concrete. Plus, I like my new pony and want to take care of it.
posted by cedar at 10:43 AM on December 14, 2003

My theory is that there is no link to AskMeFi on the Blue yet. The people who have found AskMeFi are people who regularly read MeTa. This group is is self-selecting-- generally more involved in, or more deeply committed to (and concerned with) the 'Filter community. I wouldn't be surprised to see AskMeFi to become more contentious as the circle of participants widens out dramatically from this original tighter, smaller-knot core. (This is not meant as any sentimental wistfulness for monolithic, hegemonic community-- I like the grit of the blue!)
posted by limitedpie at 10:52 AM on December 14, 2003

AxMe is about helping people, not debate, if there is a disagreement over who gives the best advice, well, I just can't see getting as worked up over that as I would over a political post. People often interpret posts on the blue as attacks on their personal and deeply held believes, if that person is not insecure the ensuing dialogue is both rich and fascinating, but sooner or later someone is going to feel threatened whether the discussion is gay marriage or Mac v. PC, and then the personal attacks start. On the green we ask for advice, which is inherently non-threatening, people who have experience with the question are inclined to contribute. Very few people believe their experiences are universal, many people believe that their viewpoints are.

Short answer: on the blue people want to be right, on the green they just want to help.
posted by Grod at 12:19 PM on December 14, 2003

I stopped participating in MetaFilter for exactly a year. MeFi had gradually transformed from community weblog with interesting links to community discussion board with interminable political punditry and 24-hour news*, and I felt little desire to return. I was disheartened by the vitriol these topics inspired in other users, and the vitriol it inspired in me.

Ask MetaFilter is, in my estimation, what MetaFilter once was: an intelligent community, posting thought-provoking questions of all sorts, intelligent links, and actually attempting to help eachother grow rather than stir the pot. Suddenly, everything I found compelling about the Blue has been reborn in Green, and I wanted to participate again.

I hope that, if and when $user attempts to drag their old grievances, endless in-joking, and vitriol into the Green, the venerable Mr. Haughey applies a more stringent moderation policy. Ask MetaFilter is as useful as we make it.

Thanks, Matt.

* With the occasional interesting link
posted by Danelope at 12:40 PM on December 14, 2003

(moved over to MetaTalk since this is meta-ask.metafilter)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:00 PM on December 14, 2003

It's just the honeymoon period - don't worry, we will soon get over it and turn back into a pack of snarling hyenas waiting for the first sign of weakness.

Seriously though, all the above comments are true but the two that stand out in my mind are that, in order to start a thread, someone has to admit to something they don't know which puts them in a position of needing others and the community responds in kind. Secondly, there is a clear purpose - ask a question, get an answer. In order to politicise the process, someone would have to go out of their way to depart from the clearly defined purpose of each thread and this would stand out clearly as trollish behaviour.

Like taz, I have been amazed at the decorum here and feel a little ashamed for feeling this way.
posted by dg at 2:09 PM on December 14, 2003

I've tried to prune the crap berries as much as possible that I find in ask.mefi but I really hope it can stay high quality.

I know it's just social pressure basically keeping it good, but I honestly think if we can keep it high quality for a couple more weeks it's possible it could last a long time.

It does remind me of MetaFilter in the spring of 2000, back when people were just sort of trying to help each other understand issues around a post instead of making a point with a sledgehammer, as they so often do now.

It's been good though, and I'm hopeful it can continue.

In other words... DON'T FUCK IT UP. :)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:27 PM on December 14, 2003

Everybody is still being very nice and polite to each other over on MonkeyFilter too, but that may be because it's also new and still in the honeymoon period. We'll see if it lasts.
posted by homunculus at 2:34 PM on December 14, 2003

My theory is that there is no link to AskMeFi on the Blue yet. The people who have found AskMeFi are people who regularly read MeTa.

Have you seen the fights around here?

Anyway. AskMe and MonkeyFilter are both low-pressure environments. They aren't worrying about being The Best Place For Links On The Web. I think this helps. If AskMe starts trying to bear the burden of being The Best Place For Advice, I'd think you'd start seeing a lot of the same dynamics.

At some point there'll be a Mac-PC fight, or an SUV fight, but the Q&A format of AskMe helps. It gives people here something new to do, and I'm kind of surprised that's all it's taken for it to be a big success.
posted by furiousthought at 3:00 PM on December 14, 2003

I think there is absolutely no reason why the high standards on AskMeFi couldn't easily be upheld on MeFi, if not on MeTa, which relies on confrontation to do its job properly.

I'm a lousy psychologist but perhaps the consciousness that it is a gift from Matt and will be quickly taken away if we foul it up has something to do with it - plus the fact that it's so damn useful to those who ask, as well as making those who answer feel useful in turn.

Or perhaps it's just somewhere where we can go when we're feeling out of sorts, i.e. nice. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:36 PM on December 14, 2003

Why? Is quonsar actually behaving over there?
I don't know, cuz I haven't been there. Yet! ;-P
posted by mischief at 4:11 PM on December 14, 2003

Mischief! You keep away now, hear? ;-P
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:54 PM on December 14, 2003

Prune the crap berries!

Seriously, Ask MeFi has been great. I'm thrilled to see some people posting there who haven't been (visible) on MeFi in quite a while (myself included).
posted by adampsyche at 5:59 PM on December 14, 2003

I propose two rules for Ask.Me

1) We will all be nice to each other
2) If anyone breaks rule #1, we will kick their ass
posted by vacapinta at 12:35 AM on December 15, 2003

We should start a pool predicting the first flame war in the Green.

You know two people at some time are gonna think they're right and neither one will back down.

Imagine if someone asks whether or not male circumcision is a good idea for their new born son?
posted by Dagobert at 4:38 AM on December 15, 2003

well, female circumcision is not a good idea for their newborn son.
posted by quonsar at 8:09 AM on December 15, 2003

It's not much a failure to be "nice" that has made metafitler unreadable in parts as of late, but the constant, overwhelming use of obvious saracasm and just a general snide sort of feeling. I realize I've been an offender on here before (cough, cough), but ... The whole sarcasm/snidness bit has worsened tenfold because of the popularity of such echo-chamber siites such as Little Green Footballs, A Small Victory and Eschaton. It's not white-hot passion at work - it's the way certain people have been primed to act by these sites. I realize plenty of Q&A, hobbyist forums on usenet had trolls and flame wars (I remember seeing on a cats newsgroup), but in political insta-punditry blogs bile-spewing is the dominant form of communication.
posted by raysmj at 8:47 AM on December 15, 2003

Hey, who you calling snide?
posted by mischief at 9:36 AM on December 15, 2003

You, asshole!

Now, I think I'll go have another chocolate chip muffin, freshly baked. Want one?
posted by raysmj at 9:38 AM on December 15, 2003

Actually I thought it was because the green was such a calming colour... blue just feels cold, man ...
posted by feelinglistless at 2:20 PM on December 15, 2003

You know two people at some time are gonna think they're right and neither one will back down.
It doesn't matter whom is right or wrong. The poster decides and or tries it out.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:32 AM on December 16, 2003

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