A user's experience with PayPal seems to have made him snap. December 5, 2004 1:04 PM   Subscribe

There have been numerous constructive product support requests, and frequent incidental product slams in both the green and the blue. NortonDC experience with PayPal seems to have made him snap.
posted by b1tr0t to Etiquette/Policy at 1:04 PM (56 comments total)

I don't think rhetorical questions that begin something like, "Why would anyone in their right mind . . . " is what AskMe was intended for. But that's just me.
posted by mcwetboy at 1:09 PM on December 5, 2004


I'll second that. Hopefully it gets deleted.
posted by Tubes at 1:12 PM on December 5, 2004


If NortonDC was a n00b, we would all have our pitchforks out, no?
posted by Quartermass at 1:14 PM on December 5, 2004


I thought StupidSexyFlanders was supposed to post this.
posted by loquacious at 1:15 PM on December 5, 2004


Oh and this:

And stupidsexyFlanders, fuck off and take it to MetaTalk if you don't like it. You know where metacriticism belongs, and it ain't here.

I mean come on. . .
posted by Quartermass at 1:16 PM on December 5, 2004


I am sympathetic/empathetic to the emotion, it did seem a bit useless.

"why would ANYONE use MetaFilter when they get Jrun errors?" (because mostly, you don't.)

I use PayPal rarely, but I've never had a problem. Sounds like one of those things- the best laid plans of mice and men and all that....
posted by exlotuseater at 1:18 PM on December 5, 2004


It is genuinely angry, and it is a genuine question. What drives the use of this trainwreck of a customer-abusive system? How can it be that this is has become the standard of internet commerce?

Those are entirely appropriate questions for askme. The objections are to the anger alone, for which I will not offer any apologies since it is not directed at any participants, excepting stupidsexyFlanders who used an inappriate forum for a callout.
posted by NortonDC at 1:23 PM on December 5, 2004


Well I think there are two issues here that are important, irregardless of the content.

1) It wasn't a question
2) Telling SSF to fuck off when he pointed this out.
posted by Quartermass at 1:24 PM on December 5, 2004


irregardless isn't a word. But other than that, I agree with Quartermass. NortonDC, too angry. Axeme s'posed to be a place to get helpful information, not to vent spleen.
posted by jonson at 1:29 PM on December 5, 2004


How is this question rhetorical? There *is* an actual question there about how the paypal system can actually work and be usable for anyone, given its timing limitations. You just have to look behind the obvious frustration of the post, but the question is clear, and b1tr0t even gave a helpful answer. It's not like we've never seen emotion on the green or the grey before, is it?

And we have a longstanding argument here over what the appropriate place for call outs is, and I've always thought most people agree it's in the grey. The green is supposed to be for helpful comments and nothing more, but people seem to be forgetting that more and more frequently these days.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:29 PM on December 5, 2004


Tell it to the @#*% judge, buddy
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:29 PM on December 5, 2004


If the question really is "Why do people use this service?" then: people use it because generally speaking, it works. That's one answer. Another is that they are the standard, and that implies that it works well enough for most people to have become the standard. If they sucked that much, then there would be other viable options.

As I said, I understand the emotion, but your phrasing of the question came off as a rant. It didn't really sound like an answerable question to me, but then perception is everything.
posted by exlotuseater at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2004


The objections are to the anger alone, for which I will not offer any apologies since it is not directed at any participants, excepting stupidsexyFlanders who used an inappriate forum for a callout.

I HATE WHEN PEOPLE ABUSE ASK.ME!!! NOT ANYONE IN PARTICULAR BUT JUST THE SMALL FUCKING ABUSES OF A VALUABLE AND USEFUL RESOURCE WHICH WILL INEVITABLY DEGRADE IT SLOWLY OVER TIME!

Sure, maybe its a valid question but it comes off as a crazy rant. Hardly a way to get reasonable answers going since it sounds like you are ready to burn at the stake anyone who might jump into the thread and defend them. This works against you since you wont get any real answers to your question.
posted by vacapinta at 1:43 PM on December 5, 2004


I posted this answer on the thread in question, but it seems to be appropriate here, too. nortonDC's problem was with the setup procedure, not the service per se.

I posit the question again: would you really want an online service which connects directly to your bank account to be quickly and easily set up?

The service itself is incredibly useful for the small businessperson/independent artist, as well as for the casual online purchaser. I would have preferred that they stay privately held, instead of "selling out" to eBay, but so far they haven't mucked it up too much.

/knocking on wood
posted by Aquaman at 1:45 PM on December 5, 2004


I've learned from bitter experience that tone matters, and it'll get in the way if what you really want is an answer. People react to emotions first, content second. Tell people to fuck off, and they'll focus on your aggression. Rant, and they'll wonder if you're just sounding off and looking for an audience.

I think the test that needs to be applied to this (and any other) question is, does the person posting the question actually want or expect an answer, and would an answer make any difference?
posted by mcwetboy at 1:50 PM on December 5, 2004


NortonDC needs to have a paypal account set up before he engages in eBay auctions. Period. That thread is humiliating enough to him without dragging it into MeTa, doncha think?

NDC: keep railing against paypal until it makes you feel better, but you weren't screwed over. You just didn't check out how it worked before you committed yourself to needing to use it.
posted by scarabic at 2:00 PM on December 5, 2004


I think the test that needs to be applied to this (and any other) question is, does the person posting the question actually want or expect an answer, and would an answer make any difference?

Excellent point. The great thing about AskMe is that 98% of the questions fit into this, and the ones that don't inevitably get called out here.

Irregardless...
posted by Quartermass at 2:01 PM on December 5, 2004


vacapinta -- I've treated every contributor in that thread with the respect that I would hope to get, including b1tr0t, who called me out in here, his MetaTalk post.

mcwetboy -- It's a "why" question, so the difference being sought is the creation of understanding. As to your question of whether or not I'm genuinely seeking an answer, let the communication between myself and the contributors in that thread answer the question.
posted by NortonDC at 2:10 PM on December 5, 2004


NortonDc certainly went over the edge, but PayPal can make you do that. I agree with him entirely, and will not do business with them. Nevertheless, AskMe is the wrong forum for such a rant.
posted by caddis at 2:20 PM on December 5, 2004


This is inappropriate for AskMetafilter. It's a rant, not a question.

If Norton's question is okay, then my next AskMetafilter question will be: "Why the FUCK would anyone buy an SUV?", followed by an angry list of all the bad things SUV's do to the environment. For an encore, I'll do the same thing with President Bush. Then Kerry. Then Israel/Palestine.

That's not what AskMetafilter is supposed to be for. AskMetafilter is supposed to be useful, not chatty, and not ranting/angry.
posted by gd779 at 2:21 PM on December 5, 2004


Why the FUCK would anyone ask rhetorical questions?
posted by Krrrlson at 2:25 PM on December 5, 2004


Delete it. We don't need the attitude.
posted by rushmc at 2:35 PM on December 5, 2004


I don't know if this is the appropriate place to call this out, but irregardless is a word. Check any decent dictionary.

You still shouldn't use it, ever, though.
posted by grouse at 2:54 PM on December 5, 2004


You still shouldn't use it, ever, though.

...irregardless
posted by Quartermass at 3:04 PM on December 5, 2004


This is inappropriate for AskMetafilter. It's a rant, not a question.

If it wasn't a question, why were people able to answer it?
posted by ralawrence at 3:16 PM on December 5, 2004


admittedly, it was a question, but it was framed poorly. almost as if he didn't want a logical answer. after having given it some thought, I do think it's a valid question, but it could've been said better. emotions, especially frustration, can affect one's ability to moderate their tone. /backhanded

Also, though I am a n00b, I've been viewing the site for an awful long time, and even I know not to make callouts other than in here; If I had done that, I'd be fearing the pitchforks and flaming brands. (well, either the callout or the post itself.)
posted by exlotuseater at 3:22 PM on December 5, 2004


If it wasn't a question, why were people able to answer it?

It's a rant in the form of a question, then. Anything can be repharased in the form of a question if you try hard enough, but that doesn't mean that any sentiment is appropriate for AskMetafilter so long as the poster pretends he or she is on Jeopardy.

Complaints about politics (i.e., "Republicans are fucking evil!") don't become appropriate for AskMetafilter if I simply rephrase the statement into a question ("republicans are really fucking evil, aren't they?"); and the same goes for complaints about Paypal. The "I want to rant" emotion in Norton clearly outweighed the "I would like information about Paypal that I can't get by reading their website and searching google" inquiry.
posted by gd779 at 3:30 PM on December 5, 2004


What I'd like to have seen is a 'What are the alternatives to Paypal, if any, particularly for international users?'

That'd've been useful. Paypal has driven me to distraction quite recently as well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:44 PM on December 5, 2004


Seriously, NortonDC, if you don't see the inappropriateness of this being posted as a question on AskMe, then it's hard for me to imagine that you're the same NortonDC that's been a part of this community since 2000. I completely agree with gd779 -- if someone posted a question like "Why the FUCK would anyone vote for George fucking Bush!?!", you'd be one of the many on the (appropriate) pile-on. And your wholly-inappropriate response to stupidsexyFlanders just reinforced my impression that you didn't post it as a question, but rather as a way to vent anger.
posted by delfuego at 3:55 PM on December 5, 2004


if someone posted a question like "Why the FUCK would anyone vote for George fucking Bush!?!", you'd be one of the many on the (appropriate) pile-on.

Someone did. That question is very much like the one you imagine, differeing only in tone.

your wholly-inappropriate response to stupidsexyFlanders just reinforced my impression that you didn't post it as a question, but rather as a way to vent anger.

Keep reading the thread.
posted by NortonDC at 4:05 PM on December 5, 2004


If anyone has gone over to look at post recently, it has actually evolved into a pretty intelligent and challenging discussion, in part due to NortonDC's additional comments explaining the various silly gymnastics that paypal requires which led to his clear frustration and in part due to the by-and-large generous and helpful spirit of AskMe responders.

Also fwiw, it's only NortonDC's third ever post to AskMe. Unlike some of us, he apparently doesn't post AskMe questions lightly or at the drop of a hat. I think this and his additional comments show the post raises useful questions and wasn't merely some vehicle to vent.

Could be I'm a little biased in his favor though, seeing as he is the hottest bf EVAR!
posted by onlyconnect at 4:21 PM on December 5, 2004


I see this as a cry for help. Why don't we just imagine that the post had been, "Egad. Isn't there a way to set up a Paypal account in fewer than 13 days? Is that normal, or am I missing something?"
posted by coelecanth at 4:55 PM on December 5, 2004


if someone posted a question like "Why the FUCK would anyone vote for George fucking Bush!?!", you'd be one of the many on the (appropriate) pile-on.

Someone did. That question is very much like the one you imagine, differeing only in tone.


Tone matters. As does intent. The other poster went out of his way to make clear that he (she? I don't remember) had a genuine inquiry and wasn't just ranting. His (her?) post was specifically limited to that genuine inquiry, without any hint of that he or she was airing a personal complaint. That post was therefore entirely different from yours.
posted by gd779 at 5:00 PM on December 5, 2004


IMHO, the thread has redeemed itself -- but that's in spite of the question, not because of it. It would have been a better thread from the beginning, if Norton DC has calmed down before venting in the green.
posted by subgenius at 5:15 PM on December 5, 2004


(Just as that would have been a better comment if I'd proofread it.)
posted by subgenius at 5:16 PM on December 5, 2004


"...the hottest bf EVAR!"

Wait a minute, NortonDC is a hot bi female?

That changes everything!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:18 PM on December 5, 2004


I know you are joking, but no, he is all guy. :P
posted by onlyconnect at 5:27 PM on December 5, 2004


I think this all would have been resolved if someone just responded to his first question in the AskMe thread, "we have cameras."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:51 PM on December 5, 2004


I'm just now seeing this thread, and I didn't get to see how nortonDC's thread played out after I commented. I gather I had some hate thrown my way. Too bad.

I meant exactly what I said. AskMe is one of my favorite sites on the web and with hundreds of new people getting settled in here, I'd hate for any of them to see that "question" and come away thinking that's an OK kind of post to make in AskMe. Sure I could have posted a one word "MetaTalk" link, but I wanted to make my point where the most people would see it, and to be honest, I wanted to shit on the thread so as to increase its deleteability score. Sue me. If NortonDC didn't get the information he wanted, whatever that might have been, he's certainly free to post again in a more reasonable manner.

Seeing that he hasn't tells me 1 of 2 things is true - either somebody answered his "question" in that thread, which is good, or that this was a one-time e-rage incident that's blown over, also good.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:00 AM on December 6, 2004


"...WHICH WILL INEVITABLY DEGRADE [Ask] SLOWLY OVER TIME!"

Which have degraded it over time, vacapinta. That's what makes it so maddening.
posted by majick at 7:37 AM on December 6, 2004


to be honest, I wanted to shit on the thread so as to increase its deleteability score. Sue me.

Can I just say I really hate this sentiment? (Moreover, is it really true that the guy who has himself posted fifty-seven separate AskMe questions, including queries like "Where do cobwebs come from?" is lecturing someone else on AskMe abuse?)

I also hold nothing but distain for the attitude that sincerely asked AskMe queries are fair game for disruption if you can do it in a clever and, even better, amusingly insulting manner. There was a time when people were afraid to insert even lone jokes in AskMe, because they didn't want to defy Matt's dictum to post something useful or not post at all. Now nearly every AskMe thread is punctuated with loads of unhelpful comments.

Complain about the questions, sure. But it's exactly such complaints in the green, and other similar comments that do not belong, that are really leading to the slow degradation of AskMe.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:26 AM on December 6, 2004


Now nearly every AskMe thread is punctuated with loads of unhelpful comments.

That's been bugging me for a while, too. It's contrary to Matt's repeated requests, it's contrary to the purpose and nature of the site, and it needs to stop.
posted by gd779 at 8:31 AM on December 6, 2004


Too bad that you didn't get to see it? Then go read it.

Too bad that you got some hate thrown your way? Then fuck off, because the instant you wrote "to be honest, I wanted to shit on the thread so as to increase its deleteability score." you justified every syllable of what I addressed to you in the thread.
Sure I could have posted a one word "MetaTalk" link, but I wanted to make my point where the most people would see it
It's especially gratifying to see you admit that getting attention was more important to you than adhering to rules of the community you claim to be protecting.
posted by NortonDC at 8:32 AM on December 6, 2004


Look, I apologize for whatever it was about my comment in that thread that's so offensive. I agree with onlyconnect that AskMe threads shouldn't be mucked up with criticism or wise-ass answers, though I've been guilty of that on occasion. Again, sorry for this and any past instances of nonhelpful answers. Whether asking questions at the rate of about one a week is abuse is open to argument. I think contributions to other peoples' questions have to weigh in there, too.

In this case, to explain further, not that I'm changing minds here, I skipped the usual single word "MetaTalk" callout link because of a combination of: the ugly nature of your horrible "question"; my fear that many new people would skip over any callout link I might do, and take your post as A-OK; the fact that MeTa callout threads resolve nothing, as half the energy is in those threads is spent arguing about whether the poster is a crybaby; my guess that the thread was probably going to disappear anyway; and just a weak moment on my part.

Tip of the hat to those who tried to answer whatever sensible question they were able to tease out of the steaming pile of your post. It was more than I could do.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:36 AM on December 6, 2004


(Moreover, is it really true that the guy who has himself posted fifty-seven separate AskMe questions, including queries like "Where do cobwebs come from?" is lecturing someone else on AskMe abuse?)

WTF does that have to do with *anything?* I've posted 80. None of them deleted or called out. Is my opinion invalid, too? You're starting to make this personal, probably because you're personally invested.

I think that's a good time to drop it, y'all.
posted by scarabic at 9:50 AM on December 6, 2004


Actually the time to drop it was when Matt deleted it.
posted by scarabic at 9:54 AM on December 6, 2004


scarabic, my online name is onlyconnect, and I chose it because of a passage in Howards End that helped shape me, which asks people to connect the character flaws that they criticize in other people to their own character flaws, and so understand how their own imperfections connect them to the rest of humanity. And if you ever spent time with me in person, you might find that I constantly second-guess judgments I make about other people, wondering whether the standards I set up for myself are fair to them, or questioning whether the standards they set up for me jibe with their own standards for themselves.

TMI, perhaps, but all of which is to say that believe it or not, my criticism of SSF here is actually not grossly affected by my affection for NortonDC, though he is undeniably hotter than a bucket of very hot things. I really do think it's bad form to poke sticks at someone for abusing a system, in a way that itself abuses the system, when you yourself have also abused the same system. In SSF's case, I think that abuse occurred when he, (1) in his own words, "shit on a thread to increase its deletability score," thus ignoring Matt's request to keep green comments helpful, (2) posted AskMe questions that are inappropriate or easily google-able, and (3) returned to the well of a community resource at rates that may be higher than average and in any case are higher than the person whose thread he shat on without remorse.

I don't know. Perhaps you're right, and I am personally invested. I honestly didn't think that was why I posted, though. I suppose you're allowed to reduce my POV to the blind loyalty of the besotted, but I thought I had a point.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2004


my online name is onlyconnect, and I chose it because of a passage in Howards End that helped shape me, which asks people to connect the character flaws that they criticize in other people to their own character flaws, and so understand how their own imperfections connect them to the rest of humanity. And if you ever spent time with me in person, you might find that I constantly second-guess judgments I make about other people, wondering whether the standards I set up for myself are fair to them, or questioning whether the standards they set up for me jibe with their own standards for themselves.

My goodness, you do have a holier-than-thou attitude. It must be an in-person thing, coz I don't see that attitude show itself in your posts.
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:26 PM on December 6, 2004


My goodness, you do hate women.
posted by NortonDC at 4:12 PM on December 6, 2004


Well, onlyconnect, I appreciate your reply. What you're saying seems more like a personal philosophy you want to live by. But when employed as a rhetorical strategy, it gets dangerously close to becoming an ad hominem attack, which is to attack the petitioner rather than address his claims.

When someone posts a callout here, we don't FIRST investigate their entire posting history looking for something they did wrong some other time. We address the merit of the complaint. The fact that you left this thread to go look at stupidsexyflanders' userpage is the primary sign that you'd stopped discussing *this issue* and started tossing darts and the *people* in it.

You're personally invested by definition. It's not even a question. And your constant comments about how hot NortonDC is are amusing and light-hearted enough, and might have been a nice tension-defusing addition to this thread, if they weren't accompanied by the barbs mentioned above. With due respect for you as a fellow member, I think you represented your position more as "get away from my hot boyfriend!" more than you would probably have liked to.

I'm hot too. Does that make me right?
posted by scarabic at 6:00 PM on December 6, 2004


Hmmm. I have to think about this. Maybe you have a point if I am sending the "get away" message, because I don't mean to be. But even beyond perception, this is a deeper issue for me because in the past I've felt that it's totally fair to call out people when I think they're saying one thing but doing another. Pots and kettles, etc. I do tend to connect people here with the information that's available about them. So maybe I'll ponder that a bit and consider what's properly off limits. I do think whatever is in the comment is fairly considered ... and from there it's only a small step to the user page, really. But I will give this some thought, as I don't mean to go about offending people with personal attacks.

Anyway, I really didn't mean to sound all self-righteous above, and thanks for not interpreting the worst, scarabic.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:46 PM on December 6, 2004


>>I'm hot too. Does that make me right?
>
>Hmmm. I have to think about this.

Can't say I'm crazy about where that one is going...
posted by NortonDC at 8:35 PM on December 6, 2004


Heh. Hot and funny.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:12 PM on December 6, 2004


My goodness, you do hate women.

Keep repeating the mantra; surely it will make it more true the more times you say it.

And since you make a non-sequitur snark at me, I always thought you had a screw loose Norton - your frothing at the mouth over PayPal just proves my point - very entertaining though, I'll give you that
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:46 AM on December 7, 2004


*smooch*
posted by NortonDC at 7:00 AM on December 7, 2004


I've felt that it's totally fair to call out people when I think they're saying one thing but doing another. Pots and kettles, etc.

It is fair, if it's... fair. This is the kind of thing which can be wielded in an obstructionist way. Or it can be used to temper an otherwise unfair accusation with some perspective.

A lot of times, when we hash out a callout like this one, I feel we're not so much punishing the person whose behavior is in question, so much as we are figuring out collectively, what we think is okay and what standard of behavior we are going to set for ourselves going forward.

I might have an opinion against something which I myself have done in the past, but that's natural as we evolve and go forward, setting higher and higher standards. You can check my posting history and you'll find FPPs that I just cringe at now.
posted by scarabic at 9:46 AM on December 7, 2004


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