Pony request for impermanent in-thread private messages March 16, 2001 9:26 AM   Subscribe

In light of recent discussions about hostility on MetaFilter, could it be helped by the ability to post a private message in a thread that disappears after a few weeks?
posted by rcade to Feature Requests at 9:26 AM (8 comments total)

What do you mean? Example?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:24 AM on March 16, 2001

There are times I would like to respond privately to something that's out of line.


1. A new no-email-address member shows up and posts a bunch of stuff like this. I respond privately in the thread, as I would like to, that the level of conversations here is generally a lot more friendly than Usenet and other places.

2. A longtime member posts an uncharacteristic personal attack. One (or hopefully more) people respond with private messages objecting to it.

3. A misunderstanding about a joke causes one member to call another a total and complete asshole. The jokester sends a private note letting his critic know he was kidding.

These scenarios may be too optimistic (although #3 happened via e-mail), because private messages can also be used for evil instead of good.

However, my experience is that people lose their enthusiasm for personal attacks in private one-on-one conversations.

I don't know how many people would use private methods as a way of self-policing the site, but 80 percent of the content here is probably generated by 10 percent of the users. Keeping that 10 percent in line might be enough to protect MetaFilter from degenerating into noise.
posted by rcade at 11:26 AM on March 16, 2001

rcade: It's a great idea, I hope you don't mind me playing devil's advocate with the reasoning tho :)

I feel that noise will be generated regardless. People will continue to publicly bash each other (as it seems to be more enjoyable in a crowded area...and the more ears the better). The first problem I see with this is in the post topics themselves. (1). Political thread (2). Political/moral thread (3). Political thread.

In these cases you're going to see people try to side with others on viewpoints on the obvious issues. I'm not saying that's a bad thing at all, I actually enjoy a good political controversy...the only problem is that personal attacks, in these cases, enter solely to overburden the conversation, (making it harder for the receiver to prove his/her point (and have them rather focus on the accusation (I really need to stop overusing ()'s))) but they also generate the most followup reactions too. You'll see that most of the threads that reach 30 or more have a politically controversial nature to them, the remainder threads that reach that high are just plain fun.

With private messages, the symptom of anxiety will still be ever present, just it will disappear after few weeks and no one will know what people are rebutting against publicly in response to private messages (could get quite confusing looking back on). I also feel that hostility could be less reserved when the person knows 4000 other viewers won't be watching (read as 1on1 policing)

Aside from that, it's a great idea as a substitute for requiring an e-mail address....just have an inbox for each user as they log in...that would be great!
posted by samsara at 12:07 PM on March 16, 2001

That makes sense Rogers (I never saw that joke before, I found it hilarious though it was a bit over the top). Private messaging isn't something I'm planning to do this weekend, but I'll keep it in mind.

And 'privateparts' is booted. I may require email authentication for all new members, to prevent such people from going to the trouble of being a disruptive jerk.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:20 PM on March 16, 2001

That sucks.

Not that privateparts was booted, but that things came down to that. Unavoidable as a place gains publicity, but sucky nonetheless.

Alls I know for certain is I'm waiting eagerly for Monday morning.
posted by cCranium at 4:10 PM on March 16, 2001

I never saw that joke before, I found it hilarious though it was a bit over the top.

As I told him in e-mail, I thought Aaron would know I was only kidding. Serves me right for trying to avoid emoticons.
posted by rcade at 4:14 PM on March 16, 2001

Messaging might be a good feature, if it's not too much trouble. I switched to a more anonymous e-mail address on my profile page today, after receiving some disturbing mail from nonmembers this week. I don't want to have to pull my address completely, but as readership grows I guess you have no idea who's out there. Messaging might help create some sense of accountability.
posted by gimli at 8:57 PM on March 16, 2001

Messaging might have been nice for the first link I posted - I was attacked immediately by someone who didn't read the article I linked to, assumed the questions I asked in the lead-in were due to my own opinions rather than pulled from the article, and proceeded to tell me I needed to change my views. It was a bad way to start off on MeFi, and would have given me the wrong impression about the community if I hadn't been reading for a while.

As it turned out, the link only generated a couple of comments, and I haven't seen the offending poster around. But it would have been nice to send a private message pointing out their obvious failure to read the article, instead of having to defend myself by comment and risking a ridiculous, off-topic thread and further public attacks by that poster.
posted by jennaratrix at 2:36 PM on March 24, 2001

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