Hey, are we still self-policing? (Feb. 2004) February 4, 2004 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Hasn't "self policing" pretty much run it's course by now? I mean, it worked great when we had lots of new people coming in everyday. But today's MetaFilter is made up of people who have *all* been self policed for well over a year. None of us are going to change our ways. Recent attempts at self policing seem to be getting embarrassingly pointless. Can we stop calling it "self policing" and start referring to it by the more accurate term - "masturbatory rhetoric"?
posted by y6y6y6 to Etiquette/Policy at 8:54 AM (70 comments total)

WHAPPA^3
posted by quonsar at 9:01 AM on February 4, 2004


I like it, we need to stop rhetorically masturbating each other, because the more masturbatory rhetoric that occurs, the lesser the effect of the masturbation on the rhetoric. I especially do not like it when someone tries to masturbate me.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:09 AM on February 4, 2004


Fine, Stan, I can take a hint. Next time just an ordinary hand-shake.
posted by Hildago at 9:12 AM on February 4, 2004


y6: You present one perspective.
Conversely, I say self-policing is working just fine and as it should.
"I mean, dude, what's your problem? What's with this fasci(st)nation with control?"
posted by mischief at 9:26 AM on February 4, 2004


Dammit guys, I hate it when you get too friendly with each other.

I'm not shaking any of your hands at the next meetup.
posted by DaShiv at 10:14 AM on February 4, 2004


All I care about is a moratorium from self-righteous use of the rhetoric "I thought this was 'the best of the web.'" I just wanna slap the crap outta someone when they write that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:17 AM on February 4, 2004


Sure, sounds good.

*prepares to make anti-bush post, recieve handjob*
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 10:17 AM on February 4, 2004


You know, the only mutual masturbation I can recall seeing recently was over here. I had to sanitize my monitor after clicking on that forest of reciprocally fondled penises.
posted by y2karl at 10:39 AM on February 4, 2004


Masturbation is Good.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:40 AM on February 4, 2004


Masturbation is Goo
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:48 AM on February 4, 2004


Waits for someone to say: "Metafilter: A forest of reciprocally fondled penises."

*taps foot*
posted by carter at 10:50 AM on February 4, 2004


"None of us are going to change our ways. "

I am. I'm just not telling you when.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:51 AM on February 4, 2004


All I care about is a moratorium from self-righteous use of the rhetoric "I thought this was 'the best of the web.'" I just wanna slap the crap outta someone when they write that.

Damn! I just said said that.

Slap me. Or make me say "A forest of reciprocally fondled penises". One's as good as the other.
posted by taz at 10:57 AM on February 4, 2004


Waits for someone to say: "Metafilter: Masturbatory rhetoric since 1999"

*fondles carter's foot*

posted by soyjoy at 10:58 AM on February 4, 2004


*tries to continue tapping foot, but for some reason fails. looks at watch instead. then looks at soyjoy*
posted by carter at 11:13 AM on February 4, 2004


Uh… what were we talking about again?
posted by timeistight at 11:40 AM on February 4, 2004


MetaTalk: self-policing by amusing derail since 1999 just under three hours ago.
posted by fvw at 11:47 AM on February 4, 2004


SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP*

*not directed towards anyone in particular. just stepping in for mcsweetie in case he misses this thread.
posted by iconomy at 11:55 AM on February 4, 2004


Hey, what's in this clos-- ARRGGHH!
posted by namespan at 12:01 PM on February 4, 2004


Dear iconomy, what has taken up so much of your time lately? You're missed.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:07 PM on February 4, 2004


forgive me father , for i have self policed.
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:19 PM on February 4, 2004


It'll make you go blind, lad. Now say three Hail Marys and go fondle carter's foot.
posted by languagehat at 12:46 PM on February 4, 2004


"What are you doing in the bathroom, son?"
"Self-policing."

And I was about to invite y6^3 to my next well-attended co-ed MeetUp, but if he doesn't want to shake my hand...
MeetUp Tip #1: Self-policing? No. Swag bags? Yes.

But considering how much of the Web is already based on masturbation...
As for me, I don't need Internet Porn as long as I have madamjujujive's comment history... oops, I promised her I wouldn't post that...
posted by wendell at 1:04 PM on February 4, 2004


Can we stop calling it "self policing" and start referring to it by the more accurate term - "masturbatory rhetoric"?

Fine by me: y6y6y6 would you stop wasting all our fucking time with this masturbatory rhetoric? At least Miguel has the courtesy to use interesting word choices to make his flamboyant outbursts appear to be of deadly importance.

Yours forever,

The Teary-Eyed Masturbating Puppet, cum laude.
posted by The God Complex at 1:10 PM on February 4, 2004


How 'bout people just stop making crappy front page posts? Huh? How 'bout that?
posted by Space Coyote at 1:15 PM on February 4, 2004


I just wanna slap the crap outta someone when they write that.

Guilty conscience, eh?

"Self-policing" has never really been that accurate, in that only Matt has the power to enforce. It's collective scolding.

Anyway: how do you know it doesn't work? Maybe, without it, Metafilter would be much worse?

I have some excellent elephant powder, if you're interested.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:50 PM on February 4, 2004


"How 'bout people just stop making crappy front page posts? Huh? How 'bout that?"

Exactly my point. The "how 'bout it?" has been asked so many times that it's become silly. If you ask someone several times a week for an entire year or more to stop doing something, and they continue to do it, then why keep asking?

If one were to objectively think about the potential success of a plea for less crappy posts one would have to conclude that the chance of success is zero. Not close to zero, but literally and exactly zero. Yet we continue to do it.

I'm not trying to say anything about crappy posts, especially since most of my posts are crappy, but rather ask why people keep mentioning it like it's a valuable tool when it is, in fact, a fanciful notion.

It worked great a long time ago, but has long since lost all influence over actual posting.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:53 PM on February 4, 2004


So, once we've all gotten over the outburst of Beavis-and-Buttheadism over the word "masturbatory" (of which I plead guilty - heh heh heh), the question that needs to be asked is thus:
Assuming that the existing 'self-policing' mechanisms are failing to deter 'crappy posts', then is there any way we can change the Filter to improve it?

And are MetaFilter's failures at "self-policing" any worse than those of ... say... the White House?
posted by wendell at 2:06 PM on February 4, 2004


Your last post has completely confused me now, y6y6y6. You're saying that you're ultimately part of the problem (making crappy posts) and the rest of us should give up trying to fix it?
posted by Witty at 2:16 PM on February 4, 2004


"You're saying that you're ultimately part of the problem and the rest of us should give up trying to fix it?"

No. And I don't even know how you get that. What I'm saying is that the wonder which is "MeFi self-policing" is a fanciful notion and we'd be better served by not kidding ourselves.

Crappy posts are here to stay. Does anyone seriously think otherwise? We've always had crappy posts. And self policing stop having any effect on that long ago. Self-policing is dead.

"Posts like this really annoy me."

Yeah. So what? You know hauling it into MetaTalk isn't going to change anything, so why bother? Self-policing = Doing nothing. I think it would be healthy for us to just admit that.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:27 PM on February 4, 2004


So, once we've all gotten over the outburst of Beavis-and-Buttheadism over the word "masturbatory" (of which I plead guilty - heh heh heh), the question that needs to be asked is thus:
Assuming that the existing 'self-policing' mechanisms are failing to deter 'crappy posts', then is there any way we can change the Filter to improve it?


If everyone would calm the fuck down every time there was a run of three bad posts in the space of a two or three days I think we'd probably pull through. It's certainly better than having it spawn a new round of ten oh-my-god-the-filter-is-broken-because-someone-posted-a-news-link threads in the grey that serve no purpose, which is then occasionally--as it was here--followed up with some meta metadiscourse that accomplishes nothing.
posted by The God Complex at 2:28 PM on February 4, 2004


"self-policing since 1999"

As I see it, this is the crux of the matter right here. MetaFilter, as a social hub, has gone the route of having flexible rules, with flexible guidelines. We choose to shame people into behaving properly, and when that doesn't work, well......until they cross the line and Matt closes their account, we have to deal with them.

I view MetaFilter as an amorphous blob that changes size, viewpoint, filters, desires and so on as the winds blow. Right now it's Iraq and Bush politics that is the driving engine; it was Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, 9/11, gun control, fat people before that. Who knows what it will be next (coughitsalwayspoliticscough). The thing is that until that "self" disappears in "self-policing" nothing is going to change here. Or I should say that the changes that will happen will be minimal and often unseen, gradually changing until one day we will start saying insertyourownword-Filter as well as NewsFilter or IraqFilter.

So, as I see it, until there are mediators on the site, something that we all know is never go to happen, we have to deal with MeFi exactly the way it is. Part of that is having people like BlueTrain and Stavros ask for fewer Iraq posts as well as those like fold and mutilate who aggressively stand against that sort of moderation. Opinions will sway back and forth, people will get upset and yada yada yada.

I guess what I'm saying is that until we get badge-carrying moderators, calls for moderation of Iraq/Politics/Israel/Palestine etc, will be like pissing against the wind, but those very calls for moderation are an integral part of our "self-policing", so they can't stop. Slowly, slowly, perhaps views will change and people will refrain from posting their newsfilter posts. Or perhaps not.

posted by ashbury at 6:26 AM PST on January 27 this thread

posted by ashbury at 2:39 PM on February 4, 2004


Assuming that the existing 'self-policing' mechanisms are failing to deter 'crappy posts'

Is that a valid assumption? That remains to be proven.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:45 PM on February 4, 2004


Fine by me: y6y6y6 would you stop wasting all our fucking time with this masturbatory rhetoric? At least Miguel has the courtesy to use interesting word choices to make his flamboyant outbursts appear to be of deadly importance.

Just as long as no-one makes outbursts of deadly impotence...
posted by five fresh fish at 2:48 PM on February 4, 2004


Yes, the word "assuming" was used very deliberately.
posted by wendell at 2:49 PM on February 4, 2004


I got that idea from this:

I'm not trying to say anything about crappy posts, especially since most of my posts are crappy, but rather ask why people keep mentioning it like it's a valuable tool when it is, in fact, a fanciful notion.

Unless you're just trying to deflect any potential comments about your posting history by admitting that they're subpar, you're basically saying that your posts are crappy and the rest of us should just get over trying to nip it.

Maybe I'm just reading into it too much?
posted by Witty at 2:50 PM on February 4, 2004


y6y6y6, if self-policing is dead, what did you hope to gain with this post? If people stop (or even cut down) on appeals to the membership to police itself, won't that show that self-policing does work; if self-policing is dead, then people will ignore this thread.
posted by timeistight at 2:56 PM on February 4, 2004


As I see it, this is the crux of the matter right here. MetaFilter, as a social hub, has gone the route of having flexible rules, with flexible guidelines. We choose to shame people into behaving properly, and when that doesn't work, well......until they cross the line and Matt closes their account, we have to deal with them.

Or taunt them a second time.

Seriously, ashbury nails it. Self-policing isn't dead, it's just ineffective and toothless beyond a certain point.

Here's an interesting thought: what would MetaFilter be like if we could all delete threads/posts?
posted by namespan at 3:26 PM on February 4, 2004


"if self-policing is dead, what did you hope to gain with this post?"

I'm not trying to police anything. Just wondering whether it's something central to the site's success, or if we're just doing it out of habit and self indulgence. I suspect the latter.

Try not to be so defensive.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:31 PM on February 4, 2004


y6 seems to think that because self-policing doesn't work on everyone, that it doesn't work. But some people here seem to agree that a good, clever barb and a bit of embarrassment is enough to get them to think twice about a poor post next time.

No not everyone will listen, but we can still have some sort of voice about what is is that we like to see.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:36 PM on February 4, 2004


All I care about is a moratorium from self-righteous use of the rhetoric "I thought this was 'the best of the web.'" I just wanna slap the crap outta someone when they write that.

It's clear that it's not the 'best of the web' these days, booboo. It should be, many would like it to be, but it's not.

Also : y6y6y6 is so full of shit his eyes are brown. I suspect he just likes the raw savagery of jungle justice, and there hasn't been much bloodletting around here lately. Still, you gotta like him for trying.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:51 PM on February 4, 2004


I propose we double the self-policing budget, tighten the double-post patrols, increase the flame-retardant counter-measures, and secure the self-post sensors.

Send out scouts for the mythical "best of the web" while the news hounds churn out story scraps and recycle "issue" comment fodder.

I believe that in every Mefi member there is a good post waiting to get out. We just got to get on the ball and score one for the home team.
posted by john at 3:57 PM on February 4, 2004


"...what would MetaFilter be like if we could all delete threads/posts?"

February 4, 2004

-

February 3, 2004

-

February 2, 2004

-
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:59 PM on February 4, 2004


Try not to be so defensive.

Huh? Where am I being self-defensive? I don't think I've even used to term "self policing" before this thread.

Maybe you're confusing me with someone else.
posted by timeistight at 4:01 PM on February 4, 2004


If nothing else, self-policing is fun. You get to criticise things you don't like while being all righteous and shit about how you are doing it "for the good of the community". It does often end up being somewhat mutual-masturbatory, but that can be fun as well.

Really, the only thing that can work on a site like this is self-policing, unless you appoint a posse of moderators who can rule with an iron fist. With only one administrator who has other things to do apart from watch over us to make sure we are behaving, the community has to take some shared responsibility for its own actions, or the site will degenerate into, well, I don't even like to think what things could be like.

Yeah, iconomy, where you bin all this time?
posted by dg at 4:08 PM on February 4, 2004


"y6y6y6 is so full of shit his eyes are brown."

This goes without saying. But it doesn't address the matter at hand. And when I really want jungle justice I appeal for letting new memberships start back up. Nothing says "fun time" like new members dropped into a snarky elitist discussion forum with well established secret rules.

This is probably another reason Matt hasn't started new memberships back up.

No, as silly as it sounds, I was being genuinely curious. We were all pretty proud of "self-policing" when the term first got coined around here. Slashdot was melting down due to the trolling and spam, but we were keeping the quality high just through infrequent peer preasure. Rather impressive given the context.

But these days "self-policing" seems more like dressing up a personal gripe. I was interested in the cultural shift.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:11 PM on February 4, 2004


None of us are going to change our ways.

I'm trying to. (Seriously). I am disgusted with what I view as a definate downward trend in FPP's (there are still at least several weekly - sometimes daily - that are not only not the "best of the web", but are little other than trolls, and are intended to be). These invariably lead to highly polarized, nasty discussions full of one-line snarks and very little intellect.

And there are a relatively small number of people that are responsible for most of them. They have no intention of policing themselves ... but giving up on even mentioning self-policing would, I think, be a bad idea.

Matt has set guidleines. He's our host. Following those guidelines would lead (I believe) to a much better environment here ... one that would encourage far more lurkers to actively participate. There are some folks here that shit in the pool. Matt won't kick them out. But that doesn't mean they should not be reminded - often - that they are shitting in the pool.

It may not stop the nastiness completely, but it probably does mitigate it to at least some extent.
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:29 PM on February 4, 2004


"self-policing" seems more like dressing up a personal gripe.

Fair cop, guv, at least in my most recent effort.

I suppose I was thinking that maybe my annoyance was shared. There's only one way to find out without polluting the blue.

Also, I'm a pretty infrequent MetaTalk poster/commenter. It may be self-indulgence, but it ain't habit.

Lastly, I honestly do pay attention when posting style or topics come up here, and bear Metatalk in mind when considering whether to post - that's one reason why I don't post very often, and have posted less and less since I joined.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:37 PM on February 4, 2004


what would MetaFilter be like if we could all delete threads/posts?

Like this.
posted by homunculus at 4:41 PM on February 4, 2004


"How 'bout people just stop making crappy front page posts? Huh? How 'bout that?"

The problem I see is right in front of your monitor. Opinions are objective.
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:11 PM on February 4, 2004


Can't we just talk about masterbation again?
posted by dness2 at 5:13 PM on February 4, 2004


what would MetaFilter be like if we could all delete threads/posts?

It'd be a goddamn [self] police state, you fascist pigs!

It's clear that it's not the 'best of the web' these days, booboo. It should be, many would like it to be, but it's not.

It's clearly never been only the best of the web and nothing else, and perhaps there has been a slight increase in "sup-par" threads as of late (although that seems to be eternally the case) but that doesn't mean it's overpopulated with drooling serfs, either.
posted by The God Complex at 5:16 PM on February 4, 2004


Just a quick comment -- I was going to write a MetaTalk post much like this one, today.

If MeFi continues the way it's been going, I can't see myself staying. It's reached critical mass, and it really needs some form of moderation (semi-public or private) at this point if people want to be able to carry on constructive and interesting conversations/debates in the majority of threads.
posted by Jairus at 5:22 PM on February 4, 2004


people, self important people, are the funniest people, in the world...
</streisand>
posted by quonsar at 5:53 PM on February 4, 2004


Oh fer chrissakes, what's the "best of the web," anyway? Last time I looked, the Web offered over 30,000,000 domains, with some host to several tens of thousands of sites (e.g. livejournal.com). That's a lot of met to filter!

What's more, we seem to have settled down out of the exuberance of '99, when a web page had as much chance of offering VRML or whatnot as the like. Most pages you see these days are still some combination of text and image, occasionally moving image, and from time to time sound. In that field of words and pictures, I think we do a pretty good job.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:41 PM on February 4, 2004


I've said it before, but if you want the place to be better, then do something about it. You get out of MetaFilter what you put in, as is true with anything in life.

Of course it's easy to sit around and complain, but it's much more admirable to lead by example and start making the place better for your being here.

"Best of the web" is applicable.
posted by hama7 at 8:00 PM on February 4, 2004


"Nothing says "fun time" like new members dropped into a snarky elitist discussion forum with well established secret rules.....Slashdot was melting down due to the trolling and spam, but we were keeping the quality high just through infrequent peer pressure." - I was going to ignore this thread until I read this comment by y6y6y6.

I think this is an unfinished thought - let me complete it : self policing, through peer pressure, can be effective but I think the efficacy drops off through familiarity.

Shame is more of an operative factor, I think, between strangers. But familiarity breeds slack in most, I suspect.

When I first started participating in this forum, I remember the random blizzard of names......now most of the names are familiar to me, and some even have faces attached : so many personalities and voices rendered distinct only through words.....but still so familiar, and now I feel confident taking liberties I never would have dared a year ago.

So here, suck on my pubic hair trimmings. They're good and nutritious, really. Go on - you really want to....

See what I mean ?

______________________________________________

And here's a further problem - shaming is only effective to the extent that transgressors care about community opinion and there are further ramifications for misdeeds beyond mere group opprobrium - which can be very, very powerful but less so, I think, on a web forum.

Shaming works best among communities of humans who live together in the flesh, I fear - so here, in this forum, we have in some ways more familiarity than in many real communities but our actions have no real ramifications......except to be kicked out of the community, but that extreme measure is very rare.

If there were faces attached to the members of this particular discussion, well.....

We could, at the very least, glare at each other - if not hiss and spit.
____________________________________________


"I am disgusted with what I view as a definite downward trend in FPP's (there are still at least several weekly - sometimes daily - that are not only not the "best of the web", but are little other than trolls, and are intended to be)." (MidasMulligan) - Trolls only bother me if they are crappy posts. But crappy posts know no ideological boundaries.

And, why fixate so much on crappy posts anyway ? What about crappy comments ?

A mediocre post can be elevated by good commentary, while a great post is dragged down by lazy or ideological reflexive excrescence.

But the "best of the web" is an inedible conceptual chestnut always roasting on the political fires and - consequently - always stinking up the house. The "best" is that which interests us, correct ? And humans vary and so definitions of "best" will always vary, right ?

Well then - the grail of "best" can only be approached through political conflict, negotiation, and compromise. Potential post material does not come stamped with a "Best of the Web !" gold seal of approval. The "Best" is open for negotiation....and MY "best" is better than YOUR "best".

Whappa.
posted by troutfishing at 9:04 PM on February 4, 2004


That said, I agree with hama7's comment.

damn, that's twice in a row - better do something, and quick !
posted by troutfishing at 9:07 PM on February 4, 2004


Bah. Strawman.

The 'best' may be in the eye of the beholder (a concept which, in fine troutfishing fashion, he managed to inflate to soliloquy length (just joshing, there, trouty)), but honest attempts to find and show Good Stuff (and make it, it must be said, if we're talking comments and conversation, because for many Metafilter is the best of the web (may god have mercy on their souls)) are easily distinguishable from lazy-linking to ananova or msnbc's latest piece on baby-eating mother rapers, or baby-raping mother eaters, or some popstar's tit, or something.

How stupid do we suppose ourselves to be?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:17 PM on February 4, 2004


stavros, I concider myself quite intelligent. You on the other hand ...

(really, I'm just kidding; honest!)

Joke to the side, I would really like to know who this "we" is, about we we are supposed to make a general opinion. I think troutfishing's point is valid; shaming only works if we all think we're in this together. Clearly, we don't anymore. And since we don't have the unifying will to educate the n00bs, self-policing seems almost quaint. (But it is entertaining so by all means ... let's!)
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:18 PM on February 4, 2004


I'm thick as a brick, but I'm pretty, by god. So, so pretty.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:01 AM on February 5, 2004


I seem to recall that *His Great Eminence* once commented that the 'self' in self-policing does not refer to the community, but to the individual.
posted by mischief at 6:42 AM on February 5, 2004


Which makes the lack of the community's ability to deal with individuals who do not police themselves all the more puzzling.

Standard answers follow: 'if you don't like it, don't read it', 'shut up shut up shut up', 'you are too much of a coward to confront the glorious truth', 'I LIEK NOODELS AND PIE'.
posted by darukaru at 8:26 AM on February 5, 2004


I'll discipline myself if I can get my hands on the equipment.

And a strong, severe german woman clad in chain mail, wearing a viking cap.
posted by troutfishing at 11:34 AM on February 5, 2004


Helga! Komm hier!
*points to troutfishing*
GET HIM!!
posted by languagehat at 12:53 PM on February 5, 2004


Helga? Helga? Where'd Helga go?
posted by wendell at 1:27 PM on February 5, 2004


Dortmund, most probably.

Now looky here: 95% of everything is crap.

I have found this to be an ironclad rule of the universe, and this implies, regrettably, that even the things we love are subject to its dread, implacable aegis sweeping silently between the stars. 95%!

Once we've accepted this, life is so much better. It makes the remaining 5% that much sweeter. Trust me.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:02 AM on February 6, 2004


adam, that 95% figure is an average; the normal distribution ranges from 90% (MetaFilter) to 99.44% (my site). A useful guideline for making it easier to seek out non-crap.
posted by wendell at 8:43 AM on February 6, 2004


I have to make a call out on iconomy here---she waxed revelatory last summer on her son's discovery of the solitary vice--and here she's going SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP... What chutzpah!

On behalf of all sensitive humiliated pre-adolescent sons everywhere, I gotta say Back at you, Ms. Potkettle! Think of the psychological trauma: M-om! You embarrassed me in front of strangers!

In the words of Nicholas Cage in Peggy Sue Got Married,

Woman--Humiliator!

just sayin'...
posted by y2karl at 10:00 AM on February 6, 2004


adamgreenfield - If I have children, I'll be spare about imposing overt values. But one day, when they are old enough, I'll take my daughter/son aside and tell them, with great seriousness, "I have one great truth to impart to you before I die - 95% of everything is crap."

Why not? - It's the truth....in the human realm, at least.


y2karl - her son will return the favor.
posted by troutfishing at 9:11 PM on February 6, 2004


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