Starting a QA Dept May 2, 2000 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Soon enough it may be time for Papa Meta to hand out bright orange "Board Monitor" vests and send a group of hard-hitting patrollers out into the world, or at least Metafilter. Perhaps this is a question for Matt to pose, but I would be interested in seeing what means people can think of for keeping Metafilter the quality discussion area that it is. (please excuse me if this was previously discussed, I can't seem to remember it being a topic before...)
posted by bryanboyer to Etiquette/Policy at 5:23 PM (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Easiest thing right now would be to allow users to create shit lists (or, as was euphemized on "Car Talk" this weekend, "fecal rosters"). I have a list of five or six people whose posts I don't need to see again. This way we can make our own content decisions, because who knows: maybe somebody out there enjoys seeing wacky Onion headlines reprinted ... and reprinted ... and reprinted.

And no more links about Weblogging!

posted by luke at 5:30 PM on May 2, 2000

well, that's one approach.

another might be to tag those who have consistently abused metafilter so that their posts have to be approved before they actually get posted. if matt assembled a crack team, he wouldn't bear the brunt of the added work.

I think this kind of thing might be part of the ebb and flow of any public discussion group as it grows. likely we'll come up with a solution to this, things will settle down, then fall apart again, then settle down, and so on. like dress codes at work.

in any case, it seems to me that there are three choices:
1) do nothing
2) identify meta-abusers and manually approve each individual post
3) toss people off the board altogether if they abuse the forum.

there's the /. collaborative filtering thing, but it seems like that might be a time-consuming solution (for Matt) and also a really big stick to deal with just a few people.

anyway, matt, let me know how I can help.

posted by rebeccablood at 5:35 PM on May 2, 2000

I'd like to institute that all links need to get approved, but that the approvers are a team that shares the work. I can't think of the programming to do this off the top of my head, but I'm thinking about how to do this.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:50 PM on May 2, 2000

Here's a radical idea: What about a cap on membership? 1,000 is a nice round number that's coming up. New folks get in line and can only join when others drop out, are kicked out or, say, don't visit MF for two weeks or so. This could help preserve signal-to-noise ratio. I mean, once 10,000 people have the ability to post here, how much fun is it going to be? Maybe then it will be time to franchise.
posted by luke at 5:57 PM on May 2, 2000


Would your team just have to approve front page links, or ones on the comments page as well? There still might need to be some sort of mechanism for dealing with comment area trolls.
posted by mrmorgan at 7:00 PM on May 2, 2000

My initial suggestion was that we kill the idiots... but from my perspective, that might be a conflict of interests. I personally don't want to run willy nilly into the moderated version of MeFi (there is an 'instant' quality to posts here that I'd hate to lose), but I also would hate to shut the doors - since I think that new blood is important. Capping at 1000 won't resolve problems that already exist. My favorite option is a combination of specific rules and responses (codified/enforced by Matt) - plus owner disgression (ie, Matt has no obligation to let you be a dick, even if you haven't been told 3 times yet) and community reinforcement. We basically have the elements of this now, and the weakest link in it is that Matt's a big ol' softie that doesn't *really* want to have to ban anybody or kill their posts... I don't want to be a "Board Monitor" (I think the vests should be lavender - lavender is the new orange), but I'd be pleased as punch to start laying the smackdown on folks who break the 'unwritten' law. I'd prefer to do it to folks who break the 'specifically detailled and set forth in the terms of service' law, but I really just wanna lay some smackdown... er... down.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 8:02 PM on May 2, 2000

I can see something like a meta-meta-team that can swap out approving posts by troublechildren. if, say, three to five of these users [who can number in the 20-30 range] sign off on a post, then it's in. there can be a probationary period maybe. it would be nice if no one needed to do this, but dang, I'm constantly amazed at people sometimes....

Also, the rules are clear, and few. sanctions should also be clear, and few, and upheld. Do what you need to do, Matt, it's your party and I'm glad you invited me.
posted by jessamyn at 8:03 PM on May 2, 2000

hey, matt, couldn't you use pyra to implement the approval system? invite people to the team, assign posts to them for approval... pyra needed to have new features added anyway, right?
posted by brig at 8:41 PM on May 2, 2000

A few people to approve posts (front page or comments, it doesn't really matter) before they're posted?.. Sounds like a recipe for stagnation.

Homogenizing your content, probably isn't going to help. Now that you've had open posting, going to a more restricted method will drive some people that really add something positive away.

I do like the idea of being able to set up a personal "fecal roster" though. There are a few folks that I doubt will ever add to my Metafilter experience, but I don't want "moderators" dictating who gets on that list. We may not agree.
posted by stilton at 5:29 AM on May 3, 2000


I don't think anyone is envisioning this as a way to restrict self expression so much as to weed out obvious abusers of the system. obvious trolls, those who post links to their own site, and the like. those with a history of doing this will of course be the ones whose posts are approved before going up.

no one has time to carefully vet everything that gets posted here. it's just a matter of a few abusers and distributing the work so that Matt doesn't end up policing metafilter as his fulltime job.

posted by rebeccablood at 11:38 AM on May 3, 2000

Perhaps my post comes across more severe than I intended. If I thought that people "envisioned this as a way to restrict self expression" I wouldn't have bothered posting. I agree with most of what's been said here, but I do hope to inject a little caution.

I'm afraid that MeFi would *appear* cliquish if there was a crack team of moderators with the power to delete offending posts. The first time someone deletes someone else's post that maybe shouldn't have been deleted, you will get accusations of censorship and the "community" will have problems. I do agree with your intent, but you have to be very very careful with your methods.

I have a lot of questions, but I'll stop wasting space here. I'd love to be in on this conversation if there is one. I'll keep checking here, but anyone should feel free to email me if needed.
posted by stilton at 1:52 PM on May 3, 2000 [1 favorite]

I don't know, so far there have only been 3-4 annoying self-posters that I can think of, and I've been reading this site from the very start. So maybe it's working fine, in reality... Maybe this discussion will be more important in a few months or so.
posted by chaz at 5:35 PM on May 3, 2000

> So maybe it's working fine, in reality...

I agree, for now... one moderator is probably okay.

However, moderators are a proven way to make sure that the groups acceptable standards are being upheld. It's worked on usenet and fido since about 1906 (heh).
posted by Dean_Paxton at 8:00 PM on May 3, 2000

stilton, that's a great idea, the personal shit list thing.

that also leaves open the comical possibility of publicly showing the people with the highest number of shit list listings.

Slashdot lets you do this, I think the one time I looked, like 10% of slashdot users blocked all posts by JonKatz.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:33 PM on May 3, 2000

This all sounds very familiar doesn't Stilton. =]
posted by dangerman at 10:49 PM on May 3, 2000

Matt, just an FYI - but the evolt site has something like you're talking about in the 3rd comment up there.

basically, there are a group of people who have 'admin' status and can approve or deny articles or posts that come in.

Check out the sourcecode in the /admin folder at - or drop me an ICQ or email on Monday, I'll be gone for the weekend :)
posted by djc at 11:02 AM on May 5, 2000

The 'Fecal Roster' gets my vote, we all have those off days where we post something that on a better day we wouldn't, but there are persistent offenders. Any moderation from the 'Orange (or lavender) Vests' would be likely to be held up as elitism.
Implementing something like Plinth Suggested where we could see if it was an 'off day' or if the offending post was in keeping with that person's general tone would help this.
posted by Markb at 4:56 AM on May 9, 2000

Hey ya'll.

I don't like the cap on users. I do like the editorial board. I do like the fecal roster.

What about a limited number of posts per person per (variable) length of time?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:02 PM on June 1, 2000


Of course, I meant on the homepage. This would keep people from posting the offhand remark and cluttering the frontpage. It's gotten pretty bad lately. Two links in two days to the same Salon issue?

Also, it would move discussion into this easy-on-the-eyes area of Metafilter. The halls are empty in this area, and that is a shame.

posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:17 PM on June 1, 2000

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