Not our most shining moment.... December 22, 2004 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Not our most shining moment, as spotted by Leonard. Hopefully it's just holiday stress manifesting itself as assholery that'll blow over after the new year. One can hope.
posted by mathowie to Etiquette/Policy at 12:12 PM (223 comments total)

I often think this place would be better without the ability to discuss the links.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:17 PM on December 22, 2004


If anyone can do something about it, it's you, Matt.
posted by me3dia at 12:17 PM on December 22, 2004


It's like the conversation version of the La Brea tarpits.

Fugly.
posted by LairBob at 12:27 PM on December 22, 2004


Very astute and concise blog entry by sad panda. Sums it up all too well.
posted by Shane at 12:28 PM on December 22, 2004


SAD PANDA. Perfect name for the content of the post.

I have nothing productive to add, since I didn't participate in the thread. I just wanted to remark on the sad panda thing.
posted by kavasa at 12:31 PM on December 22, 2004


ConfessionFilter is a very tricky thing to do, and some topics (body weight, depression, child-rearing) are clearly a bit too sensitive for some
___

Well, perhaps I'm a cry-baby but there are so many god-damn fucking assholes on this forum I cannot take it any more.
Bye you liberal communist son-of-a-bitches, have a fucking party.
posted by dancingbaptist at 12:40 AM CET on December 20


comedy gold
posted by matteo at 12:34 PM on December 22, 2004


I've taken to assuming that any thread of 100+ comments is probably some sort of embarrassing clusterfuck.

I'm usually right.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:42 PM on December 22, 2004


He offers some interesting suggestions that should be looked at. I've been reading for years and its pretty obvious that many new members haven't yet found their niche on mefi. Instead, they are venting years of spleen built up while they read as non-members. I figure that this will continue, but slowly taper off as new members get frustrated and quit, or go too far and get themselves banned. 'Ignore the troll' has never been a wiser sentiment. As people make comments purely to start arguments/get attention, they should be ignored. If they are truly disruptive, bring it to MeTa.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:42 PM on December 22, 2004


Why did he hyphenate son-of-a-bitches? Also, since when did I have multiple bitch mothers? I guess it's part of the routine.
posted by The God Complex at 12:42 PM on December 22, 2004


I've been trying my damnedest lately to only say nice things, or mainly nice things. "If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything" is what I try to keep in mind. Sometimes though, the silence can just make people who don't believe in that little rule sound all the more vocal.
posted by sciurus at 12:43 PM on December 22, 2004


I'll say it again: so-called snarks should not be tolerated. Snarks hurt this place far more than a thousand newbies ever could. Bad threads can be deleted or called out--what's our defense against snarks? We can't have matt go through every thread and start deleting all the funny (read: asshole) comments that get made.

Banning discussion isn't the answer. Discussion here is great--about half the time. The other half we end up with threads like that.
posted by nixerman at 12:44 PM on December 22, 2004


He offers some interesting suggestions that should be looked at. I've been reading for years and its pretty obvious that many new members haven't yet found their niche on mefi. Instead, they are venting years of spleen built up while they read as non-members.

I disagree. I think most of them are probably ok. However, the vocal offenders (which I think is probably what you were talking about anyway) seem to think that the best thing they can to go "get known" is make a fool of themselves until everyone remembers who they are.
posted by The God Complex at 12:45 PM on December 22, 2004


Sorry, that should say "can do to 'get known'" but I did some mid-sentence editing and clearly botched the job.

I'll say it again: so-called snarks should not be tolerated.

Oh, please. People just need to grow a bit thicker skin. Also, some people around here need to learn when to turn the snark off, but it's a fine line. This place would be small-town boring and lose half its charm.
posted by The God Complex at 12:47 PM on December 22, 2004


Indeed.
posted by adampsyche at 12:50 PM on December 22, 2004


However, the vocal offenders (which I think is probably what you were talking about anyway) seem to think that the best thing they can to go "get known" is make a fool of themselves until everyone remembers who they are.

You've got to admit that it has proved to work well for several old and well-known members (that I will not name).
posted by milovoo at 12:50 PM on December 22, 2004


I think people may be more vitriolic online than in person. Also, I may take it personally if someone tells me how to behave in my profession as well. I'm not taking sides here. (2¢).
posted by pepcorn at 12:54 PM on December 22, 2004


I find it vaguely amusing that one of the main bones-of-contention here on MeFi is called a "snark."

No more snarks

I have a tough time rallying around something called a snark.

No more flooflebluffers on Metafilter!
posted by tpl1212 at 1:00 PM on December 22, 2004


The God Complex, the place has already lost half its charm not because of bad posts but because of the uncontrolled snark-fest and flood of attack posts. Consider that you may be biased; I assure you, yours and others' snarks are not half as funny as you seem to think they are.

Further, the whole "thicker skin" thing is bullshit. I'm all for thicker skin--are you? I attack people all the time in the blue but my attacks have a point: they directly address something the person has been said and their aggressive nature is meant to inspire a response. On the other hand, snarks are just masturbation. They contribute nothing to the discussion, they aren't meant to inspire a response--in fact they're not even about the person being attacked. They're just a worthless way to say "look at me, I'm so smart." Those who snark aren't interested in thicker skin--they're not interested in any kind of conversation at all.

How many times must we see a thread devolve into a snark-fes and become just a series of people stopping by and dropping idiotic one-liners before? There's nothing charming about that at all.
posted by nixerman at 1:01 PM on December 22, 2004


Wait, was that a snark?
posted by tpl1212 at 1:01 PM on December 22, 2004


Maybe we should make a collective MeFi New Year's Resolution and focus our snark and misanthropy for the 5,999,980,000 non-Mefites in this world. So next time you feel like attacking another community member, you can do it, just make sure it's the global community and not the MeFi community.

Right?
posted by grouse at 1:04 PM on December 22, 2004


As my mother used to say, 'If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.' - Words to live by, particularly here.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 1:05 PM on December 22, 2004


I'm not even sure I understand the new stick up our communal ass.

I sure hope it is just holiday stress, and will subside.
posted by milovoo at 1:06 PM on December 22, 2004


I think that dismissing any and all confrontations or pointed questions as "snark" is problematic, though.

I'm delighted to read as much "I disagree strongly with what you said and challenge the premises of your argument" as anyone cares to dish out.

"You're a poo-poo head," on the other hand, gets old quickly.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:16 PM on December 22, 2004


Those who snark aren't interested in thicker skin--they're not interested in any kind of conversation at all.

Sorry, but you're wrong. You seem to be confusing funny (or attempted funny) snarks that occasionally have a point--or are just plain funny, as is often the case--and someone trolling a serious discussion with one-liners meant to incite a flame-war.

They aren't the same thing, and most people here tolerate, and even like, the former, while they detest the latter.


The God Complex, the place has already lost half its charm not because of bad posts but because of the uncontrolled snark-fest and flood of attack posts. Consider that you may be biased; I assure you, yours and others' snarks are not half as funny as you seem to think they are.


I'm sorry that the last two months have gone so roughly for you. It must be terrible to have lost the golden age of early November since you joined...

Unless you're talking about before you joined, in which case I respectfully suggest that we've always tolerated some snark--and, again, most of us don't mind it.

Also, I think the others' snarks are probably about as funny as I think they are, considering that I mostly consult myself over what's funny (in regard to others). As for my own comments, I think they're probably hit and miss, but I hardly think I'm the blight on the community you think I am. Besides, why would I care if someone as uptight as you thinks I'm funny? You probably point out plot inaccuracies in Ben Stiller movies.
posted by The God Complex at 1:17 PM on December 22, 2004


Um, that was kind of nasty, but I've definitely seen worse around here, and anyways, the sight of an enraged fold_and_mutilate in its home territory is rare and impressive to behold.
posted by furiousthought at 1:21 PM on December 22, 2004


Not our most shining moment, as spotted by Leonard. Hopefully it's just holiday stress manifesting itself as assholery that'll blow over after the new year. One can hope.
posted by mathowie to etiquette/policy at 12:12 PM PST


Hmm, replace "holiday stress" with "presidential election" and its late October all over again.

And damn, that is one ugly thread.
posted by fenriq at 1:26 PM on December 22, 2004


Addendum: I think that's a horrible thread. So, to be clear, my point isn't to defend that thread.
posted by The God Complex at 1:28 PM on December 22, 2004


I posted this because it's so surprising. Some thread about anti-depressants sends a group into a tizzy, where they toss around "fuck you" like water? It didn't even seem to be a hot button issue to me.

It's appalling behavior and I have some simple ideas to get started on doing something about this. I've banned half a dozen people this week already and I don't think that's good long term fix.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:31 PM on December 22, 2004


It didn't even seem to be a hot button issue to me.

46% of Americans use RX prescriptions daily and Americans have a drug cure for everything. I think it's contentious and an interesting issue with western medicine. The thread was still overrun with a bunch of mad ridiculators, though.
posted by The God Complex at 1:35 PM on December 22, 2004


I'm really getting tired of the same people, day in and day out shitting in threads. How many times in one thread does the poster need to be told that it wasn't a good fpp? I really hope that these people are not so rude and obnoxious in their "real" lives as they are here.

Perhaps a rule could be established that if you simply cannot help yourself from snarking/criticizing/self-aggrandizing, then you must include a helpful suggestion with your comment. For example, instead of "this post sucks." How about "I would have gotten more from this if you included a secondary source."

And those of you that have user numbers under 17k need to get over yourselves. This isn't your own personal little playground anymore. Get used to it. Learn to play nice with the other kids or go home. Your constant reminders to people of their join date is petty. And, I would venture to guess that a fair number of recently registered accounts are just secondary for longtime mefi members such as yourselves.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:39 PM on December 22, 2004


Honestly, I've been impressed with the level of discourse in the political threads lately, especially with new posters. Several threads I expected to turn ugly actually were pleasant to read. Granted, there's been a lot of other crap such as the nonsense discussed above, but for once, the cause doesn't seem to be (at least exclusively) politics.
posted by loquax at 1:44 PM on December 22, 2004


TGC, I've been reading for a while. And the point remains that the flood of snarks and attack posts have contributed to a distinctly uncivil atmosphere around here. Maybe I'm being a little extreme in calling for an end to snarks. Perhaps a timeout would be more appropriate. But I don't think that would go far enough to change the culture of piling on that's rapidly developing here.

And is there really such a thing as a Ben Stiller movie? Can Ben Stiller be said to carry a whole movie? I guess Zoolander maybe...
posted by nixerman at 1:45 PM on December 22, 2004


I've banned half a dozen people this week already and I don't think that's good long term fix.
posted by mathowie at 1:31 PM PST on December 22


Maybe you're not banning the right people. A couple of the most well known and highest post count users are some of the worst assholes. Perhaps if they get banned the message will get out.
posted by norm at 1:48 PM on December 22, 2004


I second Norm.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:49 PM on December 22, 2004


No, he's banning the right people. He's getting rid of the outliers first, before figuring out a solution for the asshat-fuckwits.
posted by me3dia at 1:50 PM on December 22, 2004


Matt, The God Complex's right, America (and most of the industrialized world is following her, see a recent not-anymore-online NYT Magazine excellent story) is the world leader in the "there's a drug cure for everything, esp for mood disorders" department. mood disorders (and the better way to cure them) are a very hot button issue indeed. I'm happy I've never had depression problems (I'm not enough introspective, probably) because if I did the topic of which chemicals -- if any -- are the best way to get better would be very very sensitive to me.
a thread like that is a pocketful of firecrackers.
an alleged doctor that mentions "happy pills" and "saps" before going on a tantrum and telling everybody to go fuck themselves because they're commies is the match that blows everything up

____

This isn't your own personal little playground anymore.


it never was. but maybe some of those who have been around more in this place know one or two things more than the "I just posted this cool thing and it disappeared from the front page why o why" new people.

also, to some users it is probably a source of some satisfaction that people are now paying to get what they got earlier, and for free. nothing wrong in a little frisson of. I'd happily trade my not-that-low user number for fishfucker's username for example
posted by matteo at 1:52 PM on December 22, 2004


This will almost certainly seem presumptuous, but I think a lot of the problem here has to do with the overall culture, both the smaller culture (being MeFi itself) and the larger culture (the culture from which MeFi users spring, which, let's face it, is usually the US of A).

The last presidential election did bring out a lot of very ugly in-fighting between Democrat-supporters and Republican-supporters, and that was reflected in the many, many head-meets-brick-wall spats here on MeFi. Shortly after the election, a flood of new members opens here, and one clear outcome was a similar ugly division between the newer members and the older members.

Some new members acted like jerks, but so did a surprising (for me) number of older members. I can't help but wonder if at least some of what's going on with this tete a tete has to do with repressed anger over the election, and the division that characterizes American culture in general right now.

That does *not* mean that if Kerry had been elected, all would be well. I just think a lot of people are just generally angry right now - angry at the direction the larger culture is taking, angry perhaps at themselves in relation to this.

I've been visiting MeFi since about 1999. I've recommended to innumerable friends, and have considered it one of the best places to visit on the net for what seems like an eternity. It's a real bummer that conversations have taken the tone they have.

Let me put it this way and then it will be 5 o'clock here and I will go home. I'm Canadian. I have visited the States once only since 9-11. It was just a month or so later admittedly, but the sheer rage I felt walking through the street had such a huge effect on me I thought: eww, I am not coming here again until this administration is gone (still waiting on that BTW). The atmosphere was very strange, viscerally violent - I had the feeling that somebody was going to deck me if I said anything remotely out of line.

Lately, that's pretty much how I feel when I come on MeFi. Maybe I'm drawing a connection where there is none, but anyway, that's my two cents.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:53 PM on December 22, 2004


Actually, you just think that you know more. But hey, that's your perception, so I guess it's your reality. Still, it doesn't forgive the constant shitting in threads where you have 8, 9, 10+ people repeating the same "this post sucks" crap. And it's always the same people.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:57 PM on December 22, 2004


Metafilter is the place where i'm most comfortable hanging my asshattery.
posted by naxosaxur at 2:00 PM on December 22, 2004


Loquax, I agree, certain threads that i was quite sure were going to turn into giant piles of steamy poo, were quite readable.

I believe that this is primarily because we know we don't do politics well. The worst political offenders ( the people who added only noise to the conversation) have lost interest /think they've won/ or been shouted into oblivion. The downside is that those that add signal to thread may have been lost as well. But such is life.

As for me, I think the noobs are no different that the veterans, same distribution of absurdos/pseudo-intellectuals/political axe-grinders/ trolls/ etc.... that have always been here. Perhaps the problem is that we have a whole bunch of people who've just gotten there first chance to add their own personal puff of hot air into the ever widening gyre. And they are giddy with it's possibilities. Soon they'll calm down. The novelty will be lost. I hope.

Till then, #1 help us all.

On preview: Stinkycheese, I think perhaps you may be on to something....
posted by Freen at 2:04 PM on December 22, 2004


If people just try to be a little more respectful, ALOT less trigger happy and take each comment with the widest possible tolerance, maybe things would get better.

But I do know there are some members trying to "earn their chops" by getting into comment war after comment war. I know who they are but that doesn't mean I have an ounce of respect for them (though I do try very, very hard to be civil in the threads).

There's nothing more sobering than rereading your own comments. I don't want to be the asshole I used to be anymore (thanks to some particular members for helping me get sorted out).

Maybe we need a RompusRoomFilter for free for all monkey poo flinging throwdowns? Or an UnPCFilter so the assholes could vent without shitting all over the threads?
posted by fenriq at 2:22 PM on December 22, 2004


"You're a poo-poo head," on the other hand, gets old quickly.

And yet that doesn't stop numerous MeFites from saying just that (any many variations on the theme) in countless threads.
posted by raedyn at 2:27 PM on December 22, 2004


Fenriq: Bucketofcocks.com seems to be available......

as is AssFilter.com...

Anyone in?
posted by Freen at 2:29 PM on December 22, 2004


Well, i got something out of the thread - Overgrow
posted by puke & cry at 2:36 PM on December 22, 2004


wow. it's almost a daily occurance now...

snarks eating newbies...I wonder if they'll starve one they've eaten all of them?
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:45 PM on December 22, 2004


Freen, interesting, I've seen bucketofcocks on MeFi many times now and I just realized why it didn't sound right. I grew up saying pail of dicks, as in "You're about as ugly as a pail of dicks".

And yes, pailofdicks.com is available as well. So is asshatfilter.com.

On Preview: Probably not anytime soon, Hands of Manos, some of them have pounds and pounds of high energy fat wedged between their ears that they can live off of almost indefinitely.
posted by fenriq at 2:46 PM on December 22, 2004


Actually, you just think that you know more. But hey, that's your perception, so I guess it's your reality.

pot, kettle?
bah. it's interesting that you're arguing that the greenest "why did my (triple) post disappear????" user knows exactly what people who have been years on MeFi (some of them even putting possibly interesting, non-Pepsi Blue content in it) know.
"your perception = your reality" is a really lame putdown. but maybe Matt will listen to you and ban the bad bad kids who had to audacity to call "Pepsi Blue" in one (admittedly problematic) post of yours (not that I agreed with them, mind you)
posted by matteo at 2:55 PM on December 22, 2004


What Juicylicious said, and also what I said in the "Sigh . . . [+]" thread before I sent the Mattsignal. :>
posted by littlegreenlights at 2:55 PM on December 22, 2004


Actually perception = reality is not a put down but rather a philosophical belief set forth by René Descartes. You perceive new members to be stupid, thus they are stupid in your world. I perceive a few mefiers to be rude, thus they are rude in my world. Get it?

And, I am not "arguing that the greenest "why did my (triple) post disappear????" user knows exactly what people who have been years on MeFi (some of them even putting possibly interesting, non-Pepsi Blue content in it) know." Are you on drugs? How could anyone know
"exactly" what another knows? That's just silly. And I'll point out yet again that a fair number of newly registered accounts are most likely just secondary accounts for longtime members. So you don't really know who you're calling "n00b," do you?

It's not about what you say, but how you say it. I don't care if someone posts "pepsi blue" in a post of mine or in a post of yours. However, it serves no purpose to be the 20th person to post the same thing. Oh wait, it does serve a purpose. It lets you think your just so clever. You are part of the clique. The cool crowd. But if you were really civil and intelligent, you wouldn't hit & run, you'd say why it's pepsi blue.
posted by Juicylicious at 3:17 PM on December 22, 2004


My vote is for AsshatFilter.com
posted by Freen at 3:17 PM on December 22, 2004


Matt, if you stopped Americans from commenting this place would be so much more constructive...

[ ;-) ]
posted by i_cola at 3:18 PM on December 22, 2004


You know, at the very beginning of the thread, before the shitstorm commenced, dancingbaptist said "I wish we could get the full text cuz I have some ? about this study." and I held myself back from snarking. This place is not IRC, much as it resembles it sometimes, and... well, I'm not going to rehash that old one. Express yourself in clear English, if it's your first language, or get back to [Fark/whatever]. Anyway, I held back.

But I stand by my later comment, ill-timed and urged as it was by the attitude dancingbaptist displayed, though. I shouldn't have bothered, perhaps, but his mangling of the language now seemed part and parcel with the utter contempt he seemed to hold for everyone else, something further demonstrated with his comments about patients.

So I snarked. Don't even regret it, much.

It doesn't surprise me at all that that thread turned into a lynchmob. People want doctors to deserve the god-like status they confer upon them. Even me, with my doctor-hate, I still expect a doctor to comport himself, when speaking medically, with a modicum of...what? Dignity? Decorum? A veil of faux-seriousness? I don't know, but when a doctor starts making fun of patients -- amongst people who are discussing being patients -- in l33t d00d speak, it's only natural that people get that 'burn the witch' vibe going.

Doctors are human, too, of course, for the most part. I'm not implying anything to the contrary.

But I'm not surprised at the vitriol -- ably fed by dancingbaptist himself -- that flowed out of that thread.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:18 PM on December 22, 2004


"However, it serves no purpose to be the 20th person to post the same thing."

This is why I hate so very much the various memes/cliches. Nuke the site from orbit, pepsi blue, xfilter, whatever. Oh how I hate them.
posted by kavasa at 3:29 PM on December 22, 2004


stavros, I would contend that projecting what you want on another is part and parcel of the problem, regardless of whether you feel justified or not.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:34 PM on December 22, 2004


As much as I didn't want to do it, I think it's time to add a "flag this post" link to posts, and a "flag this comment" option to all comments, so that people have an outlet to complain that isn't the same 100 "pepsi blue!" or "this post sux and so do you n00b" crap.

Hopefully, this can stem the tide of rage and give people an outlet to make legit complaints I can react to, since this would be an automated Matt Signal that I could use to gauge what is worth staying and deleting and who is worthy of the ban hammer. Plus, it would mean you wouldn't see another lame complainy comment again, because they can just use the links to report their displeasure instead. Now I just need to wire up the complaint generator to /dev/null and the problem solves itself! :)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:35 PM on December 22, 2004 [2 favorites]


I agree with the wonderchicken, 100%. I missed the thread, otherwise I probably would have said something myself.

on preview: that's a good idea matt. I love you.
posted by puke & cry at 3:40 PM on December 22, 2004


Wow, that'll open up a whole new venue of complaining about people who post complaints instead of using the complaint button.

Metaaaaaa.....
posted by Wolfdog at 3:41 PM on December 22, 2004


As much as I didn't want to do it, I think it's time to add a "flag this post" link to posts, and a "flag this comment" option to all comments

YES!
posted by Saucy Intruder at 3:43 PM on December 22, 2004


Metafilter was supposed to get better after the election, and it did for a while. And then new users started pouring in with their "n00b" mistakes, combined with the chest pounding of the oldtimey's has made people go fucking nutz (yes, with a "z").

I like the idea of a collective "lets get our shit together and stop embarassing ourselves" new years resolution. We are better than this.
posted by Quartermass at 3:44 PM on December 22, 2004


About.com has a system where you can report problematic posts on its forums. It works well over there.


But I think half the problem is that people forget that there are other people behind other computer screens behind each post. There are many of you who wouldn't dream of being as mean in real life as you are here. There are polite and courteous ways of expressing displeasure, but instead so many here default to extremely abusive language.

As to the doc in the thread that started this all: If I wasn't offended by him, chances are he wasn't as bad as some of you thought he was. I have a hair trigger sensitivity to true condescension. I didn't feel he was doing anything besides joking around, and it didn't feel offensive. I understand YMMV, but come on, I'm the canary in the coal mine when it comes to this topic!
posted by konolia at 3:55 PM on December 22, 2004


This goes back to an early post in the thread:

I've been reading for years and its pretty obvious that many new members haven't yet found their niche on mefi. Instead, they are venting years of spleen built up while they read as non-members.

As a fairly new member, I just thought I would comment on that. When I joined, I had no frustrations to vent. In fact, I was pleased as can be that I finally had the opportunity to participate in this forum. The first several times I participated, I will admit that my posts were less than elegant. If old timers has corrected me, that would have been fine. But I got the distinct impression that when the wave of new members hit, there were several old timers that not only seemed to be just waiting for a "stupid n00b" to open his mouth, but that they relished in the flames they administered. Of course there were substandard posts; but they hardly warranted crucifying the new members and then joking about it over a cigarette afterwards.

I figure that this will continue, but slowly taper off as new members get frustrated and quit, or go too far and get themselves banned.

There is another option: new members will assimilate. For some, this means emulating the eagerness to flame others at the drop of a hat that some old timers have shown many of the new guys. For myself, I've discovered, eventually, that your following advice is actually the best policy: 'Ignore the troll' has never been a wiser sentiment. Amen.

As people make comments purely to start arguments/get attention, they should be ignored. If they are truly disruptive, bring it to MeTa.

Okay. This is hardly starting a new MeTa thread over, but since Matt brought up something almost a week old, let me vet something from the recent past as well. In this thread, the first three comments were on topic, more or less. But then, Faint of Butt and Steve_at_Linnwood start snarking at each other, essentially starting a MeTa on the thread. I asked the enemy combatants to "Take the flames that don't relate to the topic to the gray, please."

I didn't really want to start a MeTa regarding the disruptive posts for several reasons. First of all, the thread was petering out anyway; secondly, I wasn't really involved in the snarking, other than to suggest that Steve and Faint take their issue to the gray. In the end, I just let the whole thing drop, precisely because I was trying not to feed the trolls.

So... having said all that, can I ask some advice of the old timers here? If two or more people start flaming each other on a thread you've started, and the flames have nothing to do with subject, is it proper to call them out on the gray? Or was merely suggesting they bring their disagreement here the proper thing to do?
posted by Doohickie at 3:56 PM on December 22, 2004


Doohickie, tell them in the thread first, like i tried to with jonmc and Alex the other day. I'd take them here if it was incredibly insulting or personal or offensive.

I think the majority of you new folk are doing excellent stuff here, and god knows we needed the fresh air/new blood, but there is enormous defensiveness(? or something) from some oldtimers. I guess you guys (and the rest of us) just have to deal with that, since most of them don't get banned or called out. It's a tiered system, and some tiers are moldier than others.

and what Juicy said.
posted by amberglow at 4:12 PM on December 22, 2004


If two or more people start flaming each other on a thread you've started, and the flames have nothing to do with subject, is it proper to call them out on the gray?

Two flawed premises here.

1. You don't own the post. Moderating a thread that you started looks really bad. Starting a Metatalk post based on it looks juvenile.

2. The point of Metatalk is to discuss things related to Metafilter. Calling out two people who obviously know that they are snarking at each other doesn't accomplish anything. Rather, it just spreads the shit a little more thin and enables the 95% of Mefi readers who had ignored or missed entirely the original exchange to rehash it anew.

You remember what they say about arguing on the Internet, don't you?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:13 PM on December 22, 2004


Yes it is "proper" to take it to the grey. But kind of annoying all the same, especially with all the b.s. going around. If everyone called out everything, it would just make things worse right now.

Tough call, and I think part of the overall problem we are having right now.

and what amberglow said.
posted by Quartermass at 4:14 PM on December 22, 2004


Total projection.

When has an antidepressant post on MeFi ever not been all about AxeToGrindFilter? It's begging for a certain vocal minority of people here to barf out generally uninformed opinions about SSRIs, the pharmaceutical industry, or to project their distrust of physician's and their motives.

And christ. For a place in love with rape haiku, getting in a huff because someone called antidepressants happy pills (in a tone that seemed clearly facetious) was just bizarre.

People want doctors to deserve the god-like status they confer upon them. Even me, with my doctor-hate, I still expect a doctor to comport himself, when speaking medically, with a modicum of...what? Dignity?

I call more bullshit. You can't have it both ways. There wasn't, and there has never been any hint of god-like status attributed to doctors on this site (or for that matter, in the real world post-1980). Check the "golf-buddies" snark. Just plain stinks. It's self-evident in the zeal with which people jumped on the alleged appeal to authority that never even really happened. Your doctor-hate speaks for itself, and to hold one person in a forum to a higher level of decorum or dignity than anyone else is stupid, especially when his or her opinions aren't given any more weight.
posted by drpynchon at 4:14 PM on December 22, 2004


Matt, it seemed to me that the "report this post" option has worked well on other boards.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:14 PM on December 22, 2004


I blame the newbies. This place is looking more and more like Fark every single day.
posted by Arch Stanton at 4:14 PM on December 22, 2004


As much as I didn't want to do it, I think it's time to add a "flag this post" link to posts, and a "flag this comment" option to all comments, so that people have an outlet to complain that isn't the same 100 "pepsi blue!" or "this post sux and so do you n00b" crap.

We'll need some clear and specific guidance (or, at least,feedback) regarding what sort of things you do and don't want reported. Otherwise, this will become just a way to "punish" people you don't like.

For example, what level of incivility would you want us to flag? If you let me flag the things I personally think are inappropriate, I'd flag most of MetaFilter. Others would have different standards. So what happens when someone flags something and nothing visible happens for a while - should they assume that you didn't think it was a problem, or that you decided to handle it via email, or that you just weren't around for the day?

Like I said, clear guidance is going to be important for your sanity, I would imagine.
posted by gd779 at 4:14 PM on December 22, 2004


I would also just like to point out that at the same time we have The Pagan Christ post, which could have been ugly, but turned out gorgeous and spawned a fascinating discussion. I loved reading that thread.

So not everything has gone totally poo-poo head.
posted by taz at 4:16 PM on December 22, 2004


For example, what level of incivility would you want us to flag? If you let me flag the things I personally think are inappropriate, I'd flag most of MetaFilter. Others would have different standards.

Self-plagiarized solution:
1. Members can "vote to delete" on any post.
2. A post is deleted after a + c votes, where:
- a is an arbitrary constant, like 10 or 20; and
- c is the number of comments in the thread.
3. Your vote doesn't count if:
- You've already voted; or
- You've commented in the thread.

In practice, this would work as follows:
- One person would "sacrifice" his/her right to vote by commenting in the thread and explaining why the post should be deleted;
- Everyone else, wanting to kill the thread as quickly as possible, will choose to vote to delete rather than posting a snarky comment in the thread - thus avoiding the nullification of their vote and avoiding making it that much harder for the thread to get deleted.

Mathowie's job would be to figure out how well the system is working, and move the constant a up or down accordingly.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:20 PM on December 22, 2004


Matt, wrt the "flag this post" feature, the truth is that I have no idea what the appropriate standards are around here. You say you don't want threads like the ones linked to above, but I'm really not sure where you want the line to be drawn. At all.

And, in the absence of clear boundries, the lowest common denominator will always prevail.

Also: I, for one, am begging you for killfiles.
posted by gd779 at 4:23 PM on December 22, 2004


"people forget that there are other people behind other computer screens behind each post"

Oh, I don't think that's the problem. I know there are people out there behind their computer screens, but quite frankly I hate people.

Present company excluded, of course. All you people are spiffy-keen and neat-o.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:30 PM on December 22, 2004


I would flag "for a place in love with rape haiku".


And what Arch Stanton said.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:31 PM on December 22, 2004


My personal Metafilter rule is to go berserk, if warranted, on the subject or link of the FPP, but never, NEVER attack a fellow Mefite. I will denounce your favorite band or presidential candidate, with great relish. But YOU are precious to me. (I mean, YOU collectively.)
posted by Faze at 4:33 PM on December 22, 2004


Um, I'm agreeing with the Farkification comment, not saying I would flag his comment. Bah. Never mind.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:33 PM on December 22, 2004


Two flawed premises here.

1. You don't own the post. Moderating a thread that you started looks really bad. Starting a Metatalk post based on it looks juvenile.


I realize you are absolutely right. That was another thing that occurred to me when I decided not to bring it here.

2. The point of Metatalk is to discuss things related to Metafilter. Calling out two people who obviously know that they are snarking at each other doesn't accomplish anything. Rather, it just spreads the shit a little more thin and enables the 95% of Mefi readers who had ignored or missed entirely the original exchange to rehash it anew.

I hadn't thought of that, but that's a good point.

Yes it is "proper" to take it to the grey. But kind of annoying all the same, especially with all the b.s. going around. If everyone called out everything, it would just make things worse right now.


Thanks for the input. The thread received mixed reviews, and by the time I tried to get the two snarking each other to settle down, it was apparent the thread was dying. It wasn't the best fpp; I think the main link was fine, but I made that the last link, and some people never got there. So I learned something. Chalk it up to experience.

Oh, and as for new features to cull bad threads out of MeFi, I think the better course would be to let the status quo ride for the time being. I get the sense that things are settling down. This place is akin to Major League Baseball in that one must be very careful about messing with the time honored formula.
posted by Doohickie at 4:40 PM on December 22, 2004


I will denounce your favorite band or presidential candidate, with great relish.But YOU are precious to me. (I mean, YOU collectively.)

Translation: I will passive-aggressively attack you in an indirect manner.
posted by y2karl at 4:56 PM on December 22, 2004


Inspired by FishFucker, don't have much to add w/o a link. {unfortunately could not find his comment relating to this post}
posted by thomcatspike at 5:04 PM on December 22, 2004


Call me crazy, but that thread wasn't that bad. One user decided to go ballistic is all. It's not the end of the world.
posted by jonmc at 5:13 PM on December 22, 2004


You can't flag things without having clear guidelines--it's asking for more trouble than it's worth.
posted by amberglow at 5:15 PM on December 22, 2004


I call more bullshit. You can't have it both ways. There wasn't, and there has never been any hint of god-like status attributed to doctors on this site (or for that matter, in the real world post-1980).

I think you're wrong. Sorry. Not perhaps in regard to this site, but in general, I think it's simply true. People submit to the perceived authority of their physicians in a way they do with no others. There is a rich vein of psychology at work there. I'd add too that I don't want anything both ways. Merely making an observation.

Your doctor-hate speaks for itself, and to hold one person in a forum to a higher level of decorum or dignity than anyone else is stupid, especially when his or her opinions aren't given any more weight.

When someone claims to be a doctor, then speaks about things medical, I think people expect them to do so without 'hey d00d' instant-message faux-drollery. I'm not saying I necessarily expect them to do so (because, again, I have my own issues with 'medical professionals'), but, like I said, I'm not surprised thatsome people got their knickers in a bit of a twist when dancingbaptist did.

stavros, I would contend that projecting what you want on another is part and parcel of the problem, regardless of whether you feel justified or not.

Wulfgar! I respect your opinions, but if you suggest that me being vocal about my desire for folks who are members here to pay a modicum of attention to their use of the language is part of the problem, then, OK, I'm happily part of the problem.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:15 PM on December 22, 2004


The problem isn't with DancingBaptist (in all his glorious assholery) nor with his being kicked in the nutsack for being a glorious asshole. Indeed, he needed a good swift kick.

The problem is that so many people behaved like chickens. If a bird in the henhouse loses a feather, every damn bird finds it necessary to have a peck at the beast. Pretty soon the thing is bleeding to death and the only humane thing left is to snap its neck.

We don't need to behave like chickens. We can recognize that someone has given an asshat a kick in the nutsack and restrain ourselves from throwing in our own kick.

Or to put it in kindergarten terms: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:17 PM on December 22, 2004


The question is which user you think went ballistic. For me, it was 327.ca who seemed to totally lose it. dancingbaptist apologized several times, made some good contributions, and ended up getting hounded out of the place. (Including by you, jonmc, who jumped into the fray late with nary a word on the topic, instead just more hounding of db).

I don't even like the guy - his post on the Berkeley vote irregularity counting was flame-bait and he flamed the thread too. I've taken to avoiding his contributions. But he didn't make that thread into the shithole it became. (Though I agree that if he skipped the IMspeak, it would be appreciated.)
posted by livii at 5:19 PM on December 22, 2004


Hey! Quit giving chickens a bad name!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:20 PM on December 22, 2004


I can't believe I'm agreeing with a wonder chicken, but I think that if a guy identifies himself as a doctor to lend credence to his views regarding a medication, he also defames the profession by speaking flippantly about said medication.
posted by Doohickie at 5:20 PM on December 22, 2004


MetaFilter: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Naw, that'll never work.
posted by Doohickie at 5:22 PM on December 22, 2004


(Including by you, jonmc, who jumped into the fray late with nary a word on the topic, instead just more hounding of db).

I cracked an obvious joke about "happy pills," then once he told us all to go screw, I told him (not in so many words) not to let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. Meeting assholery with public humiliation is one way to dicourage assholery, is it not?
posted by jonmc at 5:26 PM on December 22, 2004


livii, that's the crux of the matter. In that thread dancingbaptist was needlessly harassed. The guilty parties are clear. Towards the end you have people attacking him, after numerous apologies, just because they wanted to get the licks in.

And stavros, please, stop painting yourself as the noble defender of grammar and proper spelling. Nobody gives a shit if you feel doctors should write in Gentlemen's English. If it really bothers you so, call him out on the gray. In reality, your comments were just part of the pile-on. You had no intention of salvaging the thread, no intention of commenting on the subject, and no intention of actually encouraging dancingbaptist to speak in a more somber manner. You just saw an opportunity to state your disapproval and make an attack and leaped at it.

All these people who're defending their right to be assholes should think carefully about what it is they're trying to accomplish. I highly doubt anything significant will change because the tone of MeFi seems to have irrevocably changed. (Really though, this may have begun with the elections long before the new member influx.) But it's nice to be clear what exactly is the problem.

And Matt killfiles really would be nice.
posted by nixerman at 5:36 PM on December 22, 2004


This is an interesting discussion. I hadn't read the antidepressants thread before Matt brought it here to call it out. So I went back, read the entire thread, and then the above. A few comments:

Matt, do continue to govern with a light hand. Like most good communities, Mefi has a negative feedback loop--a dampening mechanism--to keep things from spinning out of control. This very thread has already started that process.

It does seem to me that dancingbaptist, although unintentionally, wrote his initial few comments in a very irritating way. 327.ca, in the midst of all his obscenities, nevertheless captured the essence of the problem in saying, "Sure, let your hair down. But don't trade on your doc status at the same time." That is what sent the thread off into Usenet hell, not the topic of antidepressants itself.

But, no, I do not sense any condescension in dancingbaptist's posts. Konolia is right when she says, "As to the doc in the thread that started this all: If I wasn't offended by him, chances are he wasn't as bad as some of you thought he was. I have a hair trigger sensitivity to true condescension. I didn't feel he was doing anything besides joking around, and it didn't feel offensive." That is correct, as witnessed by dancingbaptist's subsequent apologies.

If anything, it seems that dancingbaptist was trying to ingratiate himself by thinking he was speaking the same language as the natives, among whom he knows he must tread lightly due to his politics and religion. Unfortunately, the language he attempted to speak is an older pidgin, a baby language the community abandoned long ago and now views as puerile. So it smacks of condescension. Dancingbaptist stands condemned of a tin ear, nothing worse.

Still, a tin ear on Mefi is not a trivial offense. All we have are the words on the screen, and little time to reflect, to judge someone by.

And finally, let's cool it with the newbie vs non-newbie line of patter. Such gross generalizations are never true, and all it does is promote division.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
posted by mono blanco at 5:57 PM on December 22, 2004


When someone claims to be a doctor, then speaks about things medical, I think people expect them to do so without 'hey d00d' instant-message faux-drollery. I'm not saying I necessarily expect them to do so (because, again, I have my own issues with 'medical professionals'), but, like I said, I'm not surprised thatsome people got their knickers in a bit of a twist when dancingbaptist did.

Look, I here what you're saying, but people can expect whatever they want to expect. They aren't entitled to it, and they don't have the right to flame because these expectations aren't met. I'm a doctor, and I could easily approach a conversation about health care with whatever degree of professionalism, or lack there of that I choose to. That's not going to take away from the fact that I've spent decades of my life studying human pathophysiology, and relatively speaking, have become expert at it. It's up to the reader to take it or leave it based on how I say what I'm saying. Yeah, the dude didn't bring much gravitas, and his comment was utterly forgettable. But again, that didn't require the snarkfest. The guy was kidding, and he said nothing personal about anyone in the thread. The fighting words came from the folks that attacked him (and continued to attack him despite his apologies). And if we're talking about decorum here's the thing... Thems were fighting words that wouldn't so easily fly in person. The anonymity and distance offered by the net and MeFi are the only things that allowed them.

I think you're wrong. Sorry. Not perhaps in regard to this site, but in general, I think it's simply true. People submit to the perceived authority of their physicians in a way they do with no others. There is a rich vein of psychology at work there. I'd add too that I don't want anything both ways. Merely making an observation.

Respectfully, you're in no position to judge. Doctors get treated like crap by patients all the time these days. If it's not the belligerent guy whose life you save in the ER, it's the sense of ultimate entitlement that everyone seems to feel now that they have a $20 co-pay. In the era of managed care and having less control over who your doctor actually is, patients take out their frustrations about the system on those that represent it to them.

Everyone is different. I can tell you from my experiences working at the VA in the past, that while the WWII vets do have that degree of (perhaps undeserved) respect for their doctors, those that followed don't. You can tell by the suits they wear when they come to the office. Society's view of doctors has drifted downward for decades. Believe me, next to the patient population, it's the doctors that have been getting screwed left and right by the healthcare catastrophe as we have the least political power and the most do-nothing leadership. Your anger is misdirected. I point you to the drug companies, insurance companies, lawyers, and (probably most importantly) society's refusal to ration healthcare.

But I digress.

Also on preview, what mono blanco said.
posted by drpynchon at 6:09 PM on December 22, 2004


And finally, let's cool it with the newbie vs non-newbie line of patter.

Amen. And God* bless us everyone!

*God, or an alternate deity, being, force or whatever that is to your liking.
posted by Doohickie at 6:16 PM on December 22, 2004


dancingbaptist was being a dickweed. 327.ca was also being a dickweed.

However, dancingbaptist was being bizarrely hypersensitive (suggesting that there was something offensive in the term "GP" which my fancy-med-school-professor doctor uses to describe himself) and was only too delighted to make with the ad hominem and ad feminam attacks.

327.ca should not have kept heckling db after db apologized (even though it was a half-assed, snarky apology). But db just kept coming back for more and more of it, until he flamed out violently all over the place in a truly epic flameout.

Oh, and docpynchon? Regarding how patients feel about doctors:

Respectfully, you're in no position to judge. Patients get treated like crap by doctors all the time these days. In the era of managed care and having less control over how they manage their time and resources, doctors take out their frustrations about the system on those that represent it to them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:23 PM on December 22, 2004


We'll need some clear and specific guidance (or, at least,feedback) regarding what sort of things you do and don't want reported. Otherwise, this will become just a way to "punish" people you don't like.

The beauty of a hidden reporting system is that the clutter and noise leave the site and end up in a private page where I view the reports, and judge whether something is worth acting upon. If someone abuses the feature and I don't trust their judgement, I'll ignore it, so it's not really a problem for users.

I'll have tiny links to do reporting, and have a pre-set list of reasons, with a free form field to explain if necessary.

I think every double post callout in the world would disappear overnight, and I'd have an even faster way to spot them and remove them if needed (right now I just check the site periodically throughout the day).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:36 PM on December 22, 2004


Sidhedevil- can't we just agree that the insurance companies are the evil ones and just have a big group hug?
posted by Doohickie at 6:37 PM on December 22, 2004


And stavros, please, stop painting yourself as the noble defender of grammar and proper spelling.

I paint myself as nothing. I'm a noble defender of nobody but myself (and my family, perhaps). I personally have no patience for the semi-literate, and Metafilter has long been a place where love and respect for language has been evident. This is one of the reasons I like it here. I will continue to make snide comments about IM-speak and things like that. Sorry if that offends.

Nobody gives a shit if you feel doctors should write in Gentlemen's English. If it really bothers you so, call him out on the gray.

Excuse me? Am I not entitled to an opinion, just as you are? I'd respectfully request that you step the fuck back. And if you still think that the phrase 'call out' has anything to do with what Meatalk is about, you'd best think again.

In reality, your comments were just part of the pile-on. You had no intention of salvaging the thread, no intention of commenting on the subject, and no intention of actually encouraging dancingbaptist to speak in a more somber manner.

Agreed to the first, possible on the second, and entirely wrong on the third. Presumptuous as well as obtreperous, aren't you?

You just saw an opportunity to state your disapproval and make an attack and leaped at it.

First yes, second no, third, hardly. Read my first comment in this thread.

Mea maxima fuckin' culpa, OK. I didn't tell dancingbaptist to fuck off, in any of the rich variation of ways that people did, later in the thread. I insulted his use of language (after, and this is not inconsequential, he showed he actually could write clearly and coherently). Did I break down and snark because I was sucked up in the gang mentality? Probably. I ain't perfect. I'm not disappointed to see the back of him.

But your tone is entirely uncalled for, nixerman. Really.

Respectfully, you're in no position to judge.

Repectfully, I'm in the perfect position to judge, while you, as a doctor, are not, drpynchon. Although I thank you for sharing your first-hand experiences, something that's always welcome, they really don't go far towards addressing either my comment, or your reaction to them upthread. At the risk of belabouring my point, again, I wasn't talking about society's view of doctors, I was talking about the individual's fear of sickness and death and their very visceral need for someone, somehow, to save them. That need builds some serious amperage between patient and doctor, in that direction only. It has nothing to do with HMOs and all of that nonsense.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:49 PM on December 22, 2004


Matt, have you been doing a bit of housekeeping? I noticed some mildly snarky comments have been removed from the thread on my latest front page post...
posted by konolia at 6:50 PM on December 22, 2004


(Also, I've said nothing about grammar or spelling, contrary to nixerman's accusation, which is good, 'cause there are a metric assload of spelling mistakes in my comment above.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:51 PM on December 22, 2004


Meeting assholery with public humiliation is one way to dicourage assholery, is it not?

Not with the vindictive, needy, shameless, self-righteous or clueless.
Not to mention the semi-conscious.
posted by y2karl at 7:03 PM on December 22, 2004


I think the problem is what amberglow mentioned - clear guidelines - and also consistent application of those guidelines. The tone here has progressively grown nastier since I've been reading over the past 4 years. I realize that many people like the snarkiness, but it seems to permeate almost every post.

This is particularly frustrating to see in Ask Metafilter and yet the guidelines are very specific - "Please limit comments
to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers." There are several users that regularly ignore this, yet nothing happens to them. Why is this? You can't have your cake and eat it too - either enforce the guidelines or don't be surprised when they are ignored.

mathowie, I hope you'll crack down on this.
posted by garypratt at 7:18 PM on December 22, 2004


I realize that I may be speaking only for myself here, but my most "snarky" comments only come out when somebody says something so fatuous, infuriating or insulting that I feel compelled to answer it. Wouldn't an elimination of all "snark," effectively nueter debate if such a ban is not applied exteremely judiciously?

And wisecracks. I understand eliminating them from AskMe, really, I do. But humor is an essential part of the blue and gray. This site would not be the same without the wiseassery of people like quonsar, ColdChef, kafkaesque, and dong_resin. And if you don't want me making with the funny, don't feed me straight lines. I'll explode if I don't let 'em out somewhere.


Not with the vindictive, needy, shameless, self-righteous or clueless.
Not to mention the semi-conscious.


well, occasionaly the mefiosi have to whack somebody. But we do it with class.

*leaves gun, takes cannoli*
posted by jonmc at 7:32 PM on December 22, 2004


I'll explode if I don't let 'em out somewhere.

I'd pay $5 to see that.
posted by Doohickie at 7:34 PM on December 22, 2004


If we could just eliminate the hostile ad hominem and ad feminam remarks, I think that would be a huge step forward.

And I know that I have made many more of those myself than I should have (hell, one is too many). Those are always the ones I wish I could delete a few seconds after I hit "post".
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:02 PM on December 22, 2004


This site would not be the same without the wiseassery of people like quonsar, ColdChef, kafkaesque, and dong_resin.

3 out o' four of them hardly comment here anymore.

A tear, she is rolling down my face because of that.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:12 PM on December 22, 2004


If the baby jesus were still posting, he'd be crying too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:15 PM on December 22, 2004


I'm glad I skipped that thread. I'm not even going to read it now.

With regard to stav—about whom I'm more ambivalent than anyone here at mefi, including miguel—and his comments, it seems to me that where stav and others (including, too frequently, myself) go wrong is in their "the world is stupid and I reserve the right to be a prick and confront the stupidity" attitude. There is probably nothing more provocative and intractable than contemptuous, aggressive behavior that's motivated from a self-righteous grievance. The attitude is "I'm poking you in the eye because you deserve it". If people would dampen down the expresion of these sorts of impusles, things would get a lot more pleasant and productive here real quick like.

I'm not reading the comments in the threads much lately. Partly it's because there's so many of them, and partly it's because the snarkfest—that's been long-present at mefi—has diminshed the interest it holds for me. So, anyway, I don't have a sense of whether or not the newbies are part of the problem. I do have a sense, though, that defensiveness or territorialism or whatever of the oldbies has played a negative role in the evolution of mefi lately.

Finally, let's not have continuation of the doctor/western medicine critique and defense in this thread, please. Personally, as someone who's spent his entire life as a patient and has extensive experience, as a patient, with doctors, hospitals, and medicine, I see a big divide between typical doctors and patients with both having caricatured views of each other. I see doctors as people prety much like the rest of us, fallible, groping their way in a discipline that is as much guesswork as science, but who are expected to be mostly infallible by patients who don't really understand medicine or what a doctor does. I also see doctors as highly trained, and respect them—not worship them—for their training, intelligence, and experience. Finally, being a patient is, or should be, being in a cooperative relationship with a doctor. A doctor knows things the patient does not, but the patient knows their own body better than the doctor ever willl. Not to mention their own history. Although I'm talking about what I said we shouldn't talk about here, I'm trying to do so to avert to elsewhere the argument involved. The people that want to argue about this ought to have a more humanistic and realistic idea of each other before they try to argue about it. My 2 cents, anyway.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:15 PM on December 22, 2004


if you don't want me making with the funny [on Ask], don't feed me straight lines. I'll explode if I don't let 'em out somewhere.

Where's Jon Stewart when you really need him?

Jonmc, just stop. Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting AskMetaFilter.
posted by gd779 at 8:24 PM on December 22, 2004


I'm pleased you're ambivalent about me, EB. But my whiskey and amphetamines weekend in the desert invitation stands!

Now, the cheese:

1) I don't know about the world, but people is stupid, mostly, I find. Less so at Metafilter, though, which is nice.

2) Golly, I'm a prick? Ah well. Better a prick than a neuter, I suppose.

3) I try not to confront stupidity so much as point and laugh at it. Like Elvis Costello said, 'I used to be disgusted; now I try to be amused.'
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:26 PM on December 22, 2004


Finally, let's not have continuation of the doctor/western medicine critique and defense in this thread, please.

Why did you follow this plea with a paragraph on that very subject? I don't understand.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:28 PM on December 22, 2004


That need builds some serious amperage between patient and doctor, in that direction only. It has nothing to do with HMOs and all of that nonsense.

Umm, and? How else would you expect it to be? Forgive me if I don't see where you're going with this. Yes, people fear sickness and death. Yes, that makes them vulnerable. And they go to other people -- also fallable -- for help. Human nature and its outcomes may be upsetting, but unfortunately we lack better alternatives at this time. Also, it's a mistake to think the attachments and dependancies work one way. Some of us watch people die daily, and it never gets easy.

Oh, and docpynchon? Regarding how patients feel about doctors:

Respectfully, you're in no position to judge. Patients get treated like crap by doctors all the time these days. In the era of managed care and having less control over how they manage their time and resources, doctors take out their frustrations about the system on those that represent it to them.


I'm still wondering how this is at all relevant. I was talking about how society sees doctors, not what's wrong with doctor's and their practices. I couldn't agree with you more that GPs are pressed for time and lack control. That's why to me the intensive care unit is like heaven compared to a doctor's office. And how exactly do patients represent the system? One can only be urinated on so many times (and I mean that literally), before it becomes painfully obvious that physicians no longer receive the same degree of respect they once did. But by all means continue to interject yourself and grind that axe.
posted by drpynchon at 8:33 PM on December 22, 2004


I'm starting to think that you are either unwilling or unable to grasp what I've been trying to say, drpynchon, quite probably through a failure on my part to express it clearly rather than any failing on yours to apprehend. I give up.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:37 PM on December 22, 2004


I didn't mean that as an insult or to provoke you, stav. I just thought that your defense of yourself exemplified a big part of the problem (and I indicted myself, too, notice). I can't really deny that there's lots of things and people that are really damn annoying in the world. I'm less comfortable endorsing the idea that most people are stupid, but I'll go along with that, as well. In other words, at face value, I can't say that it doesn't seem as if being snarky and intolerance and just generally correcting and speaking out against all the bullshit doesn't make sense and is justified.

But I think that when you look at how things actually work, how these sorts of things really play out in the real world, even if justified it's not productive. Because, of course, everyone who's fed up with other peope's shit don't agree with each other. So everyone's "justified" in being an asshole to everyone else and it's always the other's person's fault. It's a recipe for unresolved conflict. Which, I suppose, is part of the attraction being that sort of person has to many people. Not to me, I can say, though. I don't really like conflict although I can be contentious. Conflict is not rewarding to me. I'm assuming that this is true for most people that are snarky. Being that way is more of a weakness, more a sort of shortcut one finds very easy to take in terms of expressing disagreement. I think we subconsiously think that our put-downs are somehow productive. But are they ever?

PST: partly for a good reason, partly an indulgence. I should have just said that there's a good conversation to be had on that subject, but not unless people are willing to go beyond stereotypes and, nevertheless, not here.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:37 PM on December 22, 2004


gd779, I was talking about MeFi and MeTa, not AskMe, which should be obvious by the fact that you had to add the "askme" parenthetically. But feel free to break my balls, all the cool kids are doing it.
posted by jonmc at 8:41 PM on December 22, 2004


I didn't mean that as an insult or to provoke you, stav.

Nah, it's cool.

I'm not sure how I got into this -- it's not as if I was the Main Offender in that thread or anything, by a country mile -- but I will say that as far as you go, EB, you're more or less right. For my part, I snark perhaps one time out of 20 that I feel the urge or go so far as actually typing something out and then deleting it on preview.

I would maintain that sometimes a good snark can be a good thing, for snarker or snarkee or both. And as we all know, too much of a good thing is just too much.

On preview, *breaks jonmc's balls*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:46 PM on December 22, 2004


For what it's worth stavros, I'm not trying to be a dick. I just want to see where you're coming from. I do understand what you're saying about patient's emotional needs, and the importance of doctors not to take advantage and have a high degree professionalism. I'm not sure you can apply that to doctors having informal conversations with people who aren't their patients.
posted by drpynchon at 8:49 PM on December 22, 2004


gd779, I was talking about MeFi and MeTa, not AskMe, which should be obvious by the fact that you had to add the "askme" parenthetically.

Okay, my mistake. If you agree that humor isn't acceptable in AskMetaFilter (unless you happen to be giving a funny but primarily helpful answer), then consider my comments withdrawn, with apologies.

(Why did you feel that the right to use humor in MetaFilter and MetaTalk needed defending?)
posted by gd779 at 8:51 PM on December 22, 2004


Odd, I'm with jonmc in not finding that thread particularly remarkable in any direction. I appreciated hearing people weigh in on the matter with their own perspectives and experiences, and I thought that continued to happen the whole way down, with the normal ratio of unhelpful comments in the mix.

Dancingbaptist's first comment struck me as tactless but sincere; I was surprised to read the fury it provoked. His last comment I would hardly commemmorate in the annals of the epic flameout. A 6.5 tops. More like a 6.1, or even a 5.9.

I have no valuable thoughts to offer on the flagging system. It would make the policing you do more efficient, Matt, but I don't see your behind-the-scenes magic as it is, so I can't quite imagine my experience of the site changing significantly.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 8:51 PM on December 22, 2004


see, stav (and to a lesser extent, jon--don't wanna leave you out), even if you think someone's an idiot/bastard/etc, that doesn't empower you to shit on them--it entitles you to dissect their argument/statement/etc--even snarkily/humorous/bitingly do that. It doesn't matter what you think of someone. We're all here together, and we're all different. We all have stuff to bring to the table, and some of that is not getting thru because of derails and bad feelings. I'm not even sure you realize that you do shit on people--a lot. Maybe it makes you feel good, or reinforces some alpha male thing or something, but people aren't liking it.

(The above does not apply to personal insults directed at you--or any of us.)
posted by amberglow at 8:54 PM on December 22, 2004


For what it's worth stavros, I'm not trying to be a dick. I just want to see where you're coming from.

Fair enough, doc. Perhaps I'll just leave it there, though, as I do understand where you're coming from, I think, and also find myself aghast at the way that (to pick a couple of example close to home) doctors and teachers (of which I am one, naturally) are undervalued, and athletes and entertainers propped up on pedestals built of cash. Which is tangential a bit to what you're saying, maybe, but that's the story of this thread.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:55 PM on December 22, 2004


More bannings I say. Put the fear of GOD MATHOWIE into all your minions. Your light hand has worked well and allowed the place to grow, but between the election filtering (I was not immune) and the incredible tension between the newbies and older members this place has gotten a little out of hand. A firm hand (at least in the short run) to re-instill some discipline into the unruly children is in order. More time outs will teach the unruly children to behave, perhaps. Some of the older members are waaaay too critical of n00b arrogance and failure to follow the established rules of order. Some new members are waaaaay too sensitive. Things have gotten personal and that is destructive. A community like this is like a hot tempered marriage - a little fire works now and then is fine but you don't want to let it get so personal that spite and hate creep in. That will destroy the whole thing. More bannings.
posted by caddis at 8:56 PM on December 22, 2004


Did you know that every time a Mefite gets banned, an angel gets its wings?
posted by Quartermass at 8:58 PM on December 22, 2004


I'm not even sure you realize that you do shit on people--a lot.

Seriously?

Well, that rocks me back in my seat a bit. I am aware, as I mentioned, that I've been perhaps a bit more prickly than at other times in my Metacareer of late, but I 'shit on people a lot'?

That's distressing. I'm going to need to think about that, and perhaps have a look at my recent posting history to see if that's a justified criticism or not. I make what I perceive to be pointed, scathing, but humourous asides frequently, but poo?

Let me just say that if that's a consensus opinion, I apologize, sincerely, to the community at large. I simply wasn't aware.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:00 PM on December 22, 2004


(Why did you feel that the right to use humor in MetaFilter and MetaTalk needed defending?)

Because the "war on snark" has affected me to the point where unless I preface everything I say with 1000 disclaimers, avoid anything remotely controversial and beg for forgiveness beforehand, I'll be either piled on or dragged into MeTa. And I can't be the only one that's been affected that way.

Honest discussion of difficult issues requires frankness. You can call it "shitting on people" but when I get pushed, I push back. My style and stav's style haven't changed an iota from when we started out here, why's it bad all of a sudden?
posted by jonmc at 9:00 PM on December 22, 2004


Alex didn't push you at all the other day--he made a snarky/bitchy comment--not directed at you, and that whole thread was your fight, jon. You decided to make it into a fight, and it wasn't necessary or helpful (except maybe to you--it wasn't to the rest of us).
I don't want this thread to become a pile-on on you or stav. I think all of us who have been here for any length of time have established patterns of behavior--not all of them good or helpful, especially with so many new people.
posted by amberglow at 9:09 PM on December 22, 2004


You can call it "shitting on people" but when I get pushed, I push back.

See, this is my first instinct too, but when I do that and look back on it later the whole thing looks like one big pile of pushing, not me reacting to someone else. Most of my least proud moments on the site involve this instinct (the rest involve a mad pash for preemptive callouts which seems to have mostly faded).
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:11 PM on December 22, 2004


Each thought he was thinking of nothing but "Snark" And the glorious work of the day; And each tried to pretend that he did not remark That the other was going that way.-Lewis Carroll
posted by exlotuseater at 9:14 PM on December 22, 2004


Alex didn't push you at all the other day--he made a snarky/bitchy comment--not directed at you,

He was being a jerk, amber, and plenty of other people in that thread told him so. He seemed to believe he was being attacked for his opinions, when it was his personality and manner that was grating on people. There's no way you can argue with someone who takes any rebuke as political persecution. Yeah, there's MetaTalk, but to a lot of us, MetaTalk feels a bit like snitching, for lack of a better word. And the one time I did drag someone in here did nothing to dispel me of that notion.
posted by jonmc at 9:23 PM on December 22, 2004


Ah, so apt, exlotuseater.

Yeah, very, very much don't want anything at all like a pile-on of stav and jonmc. For what it's worth, stav, I don't feel like you are as, um, "vicious" as a lot of people here and in that sense I don't entirely agree that you "shit on people a lot". On the other hand, you tend to be pretty scathingly critical and do so with an attitude that says that you're entitled to because you're annoyed and people mostly deserve it. I focused on you in this regard because you're a good example of it, not because you're a good example of the really vicious hatefulness that is also a problem here on mefi. I think the latter problem is more intractable, there's always going to be people like that. Matt can ban them, and he should, but there'll be more to replace them.

No, I was more aiming at something more middle-of-the-road; something that is, while less virulent, participated in by far more people and thus, cumulatively, much more harmful.

PinkStainlessTail's comment is very good on this topic, and I'm very pleased to see you and drpynchon backing away from being so confrontational. I'd like to suggest more explicitly that the matter of what is deserved and who is right is, practically, independent of how one behaves in an argument. We'd all do a lot better to put aside our certainty that we're right in regards to it justifying our behavior and behaving as if we're not so sure. (Even if we are.)

The topic of the post in question is a good example. Matteo and other people represent one point of view where they are pretty sure that something is very rotten in Denmark, so to speak, and, as a result, being harsh about it is justified. And, you know, maybe it is. But whether it is justified or not is a seperate matter from whether being harsh actually accomplishes anything. See, I'm very much a pragmatist and I don't understand the concept that sees merely being on the side of the angels as sufficient. I guess that's because I don't believe in angels. There's not much virute in merely being right (there is some). And, anyway, most people care about the things they're sure they're "right" about because they actually want things to be a certain way in the world. So, merely being right and angry and justified and fed-up is not, in my opinion, a good reason to be in an argument. If we want to argue, we should be trying to actually accomplish something. And that means, usually, some tact, generosity, humility is required, whether or not the other person "has earned it" or not.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:34 PM on December 22, 2004


EB, the exact word of AlexReynolds in the thread me and amber are talking about was "I am definitely being criticized for holding certain views and not apologizing for it."

That to me, is the type of thinking of a man who doesn't consider the idea that he could be wrong, or even that a reasonable person might see things differently. That attitude does more damage than snarkiness in my opinion, and I see it a lot around here.
posted by jonmc at 9:39 PM on December 22, 2004


You and Alex are very similar, jon. Maybe that's why he rubs you the wrong way?

And what EB said.
posted by amberglow at 9:43 PM on December 22, 2004


Yeah, well, AlexReynolds is intentionally confrontational because he's sure he's right and therefore justified in being confrontational. That's my experience of him on a thread we crossed swords in recently, anyway.

I'd prefer that everyone more consider that they might be wrong about stuff, but arguing for this has been, in my position, a losing battle. Not for the least reason that my own mannerism (but not, I think, my actual words) lead people to believe that I'm very sure of myself. So arguing for people to be more self-critical strikes people as being hypocritical of me. Ironically. Also, though, in general my experience is that most people have neither the desire or believe they have enough time to be as thoughtful as being this self-critical requires. So, anyway, my point was to ask for something less extreme but probably nearly as productive: to act as if one isn't as sure of oneself as one actually is, if only for the pragmatic reason that acting in such a way is more persuasive than not. Conflict in human affairs seems to always become self-justifying, it's own reason d'etre.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:47 PM on December 22, 2004


And people had already brought up his posting history in that thread, and he was responding to that, jon. If un owen says something, or someone else starts something, you have to run with it? I don't see a single comment about the topic, or links, from any of you in there piling on Alex. Is that why you jumped in--to pile on him? (Some people don't realize that if you do something, others feel that they can do it too--a ringleader effect, i guess.) I'm guilty of this too sometimes, and have been on the receiving end also, but it stinks both ways.
posted by amberglow at 9:51 PM on December 22, 2004


And that means, usually, some tact, generosity, humility is required, whether or not the other person "has earned it" or not.
EB: you are exactly right, but unfortunately, when people's passions are aroused, sometimes the rational aspect goes down the tubes; people are reduced to the "OH YEAH?! and YOU'RE a poopoo head!" sort of non-argument. The ad hominem, coupled with what jonmc points out- that some people with an agenda are closed-minded to the point of embracing ignorance, ends up in a stalemate of the worst sort.

A snark, in and of itself, is mostly harmless; it's when people are incapable of restraining themselves, of dismissing others' arguments out-of-hand, and personally attacking them, as opposed to attacking their arguments, that things get so unproductive.

When a thread blows up like that, it has more to do with what Amberglow is saying- people jump in because they feel like they can, and the level of static goes up- person X may be apologizing or explaining while persons Y, Z, A, B, and C, are slamming them. It gets hard to respond to the original argument while trying to "defend" against 10 new critical comments.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:00 PM on December 22, 2004


Metafilter: We are better than this.

And now sit back and read a piece of fiction by Ian McEwan, titled, THE DIAGNOSIS.
posted by semmi at 10:03 PM on December 22, 2004


You and Alex are very similar, jon. Maybe that's why he rubs you the wrong way?

We're both very frank and very verbose, but I'm all about doubt and ambiguity, can't say the same for him.

I don't see a single comment about the topic, or links, from any of you in there piling on Alex.

Well, first of all the post itself was a study in stating the obvious. People who kill pregnant women and cut out the baby often have mental problems. Really? I never would have guessed.

Second, the derail started with his mean-spirited, bigoted and callous "breeders" joke at the top of the thread. It also seemed to me to be a transparent attempt to turn thread into a discussion of homophobia, a subject obviously close to his heart, and more importantly, one he has expertise in, so he can be didactic and professorial. This tendency is further illustrated by his attempt to introduce the subject into a thread about cannibalism, for god's sake. Homophobia is certainly an important topic, but that wasn't the subject of the post. Any criticisms he met not with facts or reasoned argument but with implicit accusations of homophobia and psychological disorders. Which is a scarlet letter routine and quite frankly, dirty pool.

In other words, he brought it on himself.
posted by jonmc at 10:06 PM on December 22, 2004


I also understand that it's far harder to recognize this in someone whose basic views you agree with, but who's tactics and attitudes you find deplorable.
posted by jonmc at 10:07 PM on December 22, 2004


jon, was your comment in this thread helpful?

I look forward to the report button. Hopefully, it will result in people thinking a bit before they hit the "post" button.
posted by Juicylicious at 10:27 PM on December 22, 2004


semmi: excellent, thanks.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:36 PM on December 22, 2004


There's no way you can argue with someone who takes any rebuke as political persecution.

So try letting it pass. Because attacking someone, even when they're in the wrong, is to crap not only on them but on ALL OF US trying to read around the trainwreck and enjoy the thread! And you've already admitted you have no hope of influencing the person you perceive to be the offender. So ALL you will accomplish is the latter. And, really, what's the point of that?

Don't contribute to a pile-on.
posted by rushmc at 11:14 PM on December 22, 2004


Okay, Juicy, the suspense is killing me. What was the comment? (I guess it's been removed.)
posted by taz at 11:33 PM on December 22, 2004


I know that this thread went a different way, but the level of animosity directed at newbies here (on MeFi in general) is pretty astounding. It feels morel like hazing, and less like anything constructive or even particularly linked to newbie offenses. I understand that there are growing pains, I've seen them, I may have contributed, but being an asshole is no analgesic.

I do have to admit, though, that my first day as a member someone posted a great picture of a German Sheppard barking the shit out of a little pissing puppy. I liked that, I liked it alot. Can someone respond to this post with that picture? I forgot to download it.
posted by OmieWise at 6:27 AM on December 23, 2004


jon, was your comment in this thread helpful?

posted by Juicylicious at 10:27 PM PST on December 22


Juicy, I can't find jon's comment, it looks like he's been declared persona au gratin in that thread
posted by Floydd at 8:10 AM on December 23, 2004


mmm--persona au gratin : >
posted by amberglow at 8:23 AM on December 23, 2004


the report and voting seems very complex for the issue at hand

what about simple flood control?

it may stymie some conversation on occasion, but odds are it would suppress much of the venom

if people had to be more judicious with their words and posts, then the overall quality would in all likelihood go up

if the less constructive commenters were unable to simply troll and post at will, but instead were subjected to some flood limits that altered posting habits, i am thinking they may flame more judiciously

while you can never eliminate the issue (aside from some sort of prequalifying test and a 6 month "trial" membership during which you demonstrate your value to the community) it can certainly be contained.

the voting idea controls the problem. i think it is preferable that the behavior is modified

graduated privileges is another way to go - n00bs go from a quiet period to limited posts and gradually work into the stratosphere of unfettered and limitless engagement

just a few thoughts
posted by angry jonny at 8:31 AM on December 23, 2004


jon, was your comment in this thread helpful?

no, but it wasn't harmful either. it was meant playfully.

Okay, Juicy, the suspense is killing me. What was the comment?

It's not worth the suspense. I suggested she cook toast and popcorn for Xmas dinner, since it worked for Charlie Brown.
posted by jonmc at 8:35 AM on December 23, 2004


Um, while we're all taking jonmc to the woodshed here, I just want to draw people's attention to AlexReynolds's comment in this thread.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:37 AM on December 23, 2004


yup--dhoyt's homophobic comment directed at digaman's sexuality was WAY WAY out of line, and Alex called him on it.
posted by amberglow at 8:53 AM on December 23, 2004


As though that were a constructive way to call anyone on anything?
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:01 AM on December 23, 2004


amberglow, I know that you are really invested in a) being defender of the new MeFites, and b) being defender of the gay MeFites, but "fuck you you fucking fuck" isn't a contribution to the discussion.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:02 AM on December 23, 2004


Is "drama queen" perjorative? Someone tell Eisner - he doesn't need another shareholder lawsuit on his hands.

P.S. Stop overreacting, you hypersensitive nitwits. Gay, straight, bi, tri, non, whatever - "fuck you" is worse than whatever prompted it.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:10 AM on December 23, 2004


I generally try to ignore dhoyt myself, and I certainly thought his comment was annoying. However, it never occurred to me for a nanosecond that it was meant to be a slur on digaman's sexual orientation--even after I read AlexReynolds's comment, I thought that the "homophobe" part was referring to some other discussion on some other thread.

The phrase "drama queen" is used all the time by lots of people (cf. Saucy Intruder's link above) and is not invariably associated with the sense of "queen" as a male homosexual.

If AlexReynolds had said, say, "dhoyt, your comment is obnoxious and childish, and if you meant it as a slur on digaman's sexual orientation, it's doubly obnoxious and childish," that would have seemed like a far more appropriate response.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:18 AM on December 23, 2004


but "fuck you you fucking fuck" isn't a contribution to the discussion.

no, it isn't. but since gays seem to be fair game for slurs around here, there's not much to do -- cursing is about the only choice if dhoyt's comment disgusted you. if digaman was black, a watermelon joke would have provoked dhoyt's permanent ban. I doubt he'll be banned for that piece of shit of gay-hating commentary, instead.

look, HarryHopkinsHat has been banned for making fun of the overweight, dhoyt's still here.

the fact that we probably have more overweight members than gay ones may have something to do with it.
just sayin'
posted by matteo at 9:19 AM on December 23, 2004


and is not invariably associated with the sense of "queen" as a male homosexual.

I don't use the (unfunny + macho) "drama queen", but even if I did, I'd know better than hurl it against an openly gay person
posted by matteo at 9:20 AM on December 23, 2004


I doubt he'll be banned for that piece of shit of gay-hating commentary, instead.

Calling someone a "drama queen," is gay hating? That's a stretch.
posted by jonmc at 9:21 AM on December 23, 2004


...but "fuck you you fucking fuck" isn't a contribution to the discussion.
And calling people names is? I see a personal attack on digaman by dhoyt occuring first--don't forget matt himself posted digaman's wedding stuff to the blue--and Alex responding, harshly, but rightly. And digaman is perhaps the least drama-queeny person here---straight or gay.

I earlier said Alex and jon were alike--that's a good example of it. Alex saw the shit, and responded. jon does that too.

Saucy, i'd say personal attacks are worse than using "fuck you"--in fact, they're probably the only time a "fuck you" is actually warranted.
posted by amberglow at 9:22 AM on December 23, 2004


...if digaman was black, a watermelon joke would have provoked dhoyt's permanent ban. I doubt he'll be banned for that piece of shit of gay-hating commentary, instead.
Exactly. That kind of thing happens a lot here, and it's not right. It should be called out more than it is--otherwise it's seen to be ok, and it's not.
posted by amberglow at 9:25 AM on December 23, 2004


As I said above, I think there were more effective ways for AlexReynolds to draw attention to what he perceived as an insult to digaman's sexual orientation.

Because I, for one, didn't see his point. It literally didn't occur to me that dhoyt might have meant "drama queenery" as an anti-gay slur until I read your comment here.

Hence my belief that merely engaging in slanging matches doesn't further the discussion in a useful way.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:27 AM on December 23, 2004


And I'd love to see dhoyt banned, because his crap bugs me to death. But I wish AlexReynolds wouldn't just fling around "fuck you" and "homophobe" in lieu of actually taking people to task on what they say.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:28 AM on December 23, 2004


I earlier said Alex and jon were alike--that's a good example of it. Alex saw the shit, and responded. jon does that too.

Yes, but I can usually come up with something better than the fuckity-fuck festival Alex did.

And like I said, I never saw 'drama queen" as an anti-gay slur, I've always applied to histrionic, over-dramatic people of both genders and orientations. It conjures up an image of a ham actress weeping onstage.

and for the record, I don't see what's so bad about dhoyt. He's contrary a lot, but that's not neccessarily a bad thing.

just fling around "fuck you" and "homophobe" in lieu of actually taking people to task on what they say.

some people fling around the words "homophobe" "misogynist" and "racist" carelessly as a way of dicrediting the person they are debating with, without having to engage them. Most right thinking people are extremely sensitive to any accusations of the above, which makes them tend to back down from them. This is bad because it encourages people to use serious issues as a cheap rhetorical dodge.
posted by jonmc at 9:34 AM on December 23, 2004


Wow, this thread is insanity. I do want to remark that I think the post-flagging is a great idea. I am familiar with it from Craigslist, and it's a great way for a high-volume site to let users express concern without littering in the community. Flood control, or any form of throttling, is a blunt instrument and, I think, generally undesirable (yes, I'm including the once-a-week AskMe limit here, too), especially for issues (like double posts and product shills) that are qualitative rather than quantitative.

I think the main thing that will prevent abuse of flagging is the invisibility of it. People who abuse this site lurve the attention. I think Matt can also inspire accountability by keeping the name of flagger. I am completely happy having my "product shill" or "double post" or even "antisocial behavior" flag associated with my name - just as it would be if I emailed him or started a MeTa thread.

I'm startled that people don't understand what would be flaggable. I think partly that reflects a lack of familiarity with flagging schemes but it also feels like a real lack of familiarity with MetaFilter. Explore the site. Read. Learn. Evolve.

Finally, though, if we're going to see the guidelines we do have, especially in AskMe, respected, we're going to have see bans. Partly because some abusers of this site actually believe they are compelled to make their remarks in public. Bans are the only way to silence those offenders. I would hope a flagging scheme could yield data to make bans easier to administer fairly.
posted by caitlinb at 9:41 AM on December 23, 2004


Amberglow, no offense, but you (and matteo) are so clouded by what you see as anti-gay bias here that you are willing to jump to the conclusion that dhoyt's comment was an anti-gay slur. That's complete speculation. Under these circumstances, "fuck you" is an inappropriate response.

I understand your sensitivity toward these issues. Not being a member of a group currently subject to discrimination, I can't say that I have gained a full appreciation of your perspective. But perhaps us "outsiders" are better able to sort through the muck than you are. I'm a Sensitive Man (TM), prone to the "WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU MEAN BY THAT??" instinct, and I still don't see anything wrong with dhoyt's comment. So maybe you need to let it go, and use your energy toward the congressional election in 2006 where people who really do hate you are trying to set national policy to that effect.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:46 AM on December 23, 2004


Finally, though, if we're going to see the guidelines we do have, especially in AskMe, respected, we're going to have see bans. Partly because some abusers of this site actually believe they are compelled to make their remarks in public.

This is the kind of transition you can't avoid when you have thousands of users who grew accustomed to an opt-in moderation system.
</snark>
posted by darukaru at 9:47 AM on December 23, 2004


sid and jon--you don't see it because you're not part of the group that's most often called it. I see it, Alex saw it, and i'm sure digaman read it for what it was too. matteo here as well. dhoyt had already mentioned hyperbole--the "drama queen" shit was completely unnecessary--and typed there for a reason and to send a message---a message not intended for you two.

Saucy, it was an anti-gay slur, believe me. If you don't want to see it as such, fine. Anti-anyone slurs are not ok--that's why there aren't watermelon, or pms jokes here, and when there are, they're called out (you can ask jon about that).
posted by amberglow at 9:49 AM on December 23, 2004


oh, and disregarding/discounting what members of a certain group see as a slur is not cool--at all--for any group.
posted by amberglow at 9:51 AM on December 23, 2004


Oh, you're just sayin' that cuz you're part of that anti-slur group.

;- P
posted by Doohickie at 9:52 AM on December 23, 2004


oh, and disregarding/discounting what members of a certain group see as a slur is not cool--at all--for any group.

fair enough, amberglow, but I doubt we'll see terms like "white trash," "breeder," "redneck," and the incredibly hackneyed use of "lib'rul" in a parodied southern accent called out. If we're gonna adopt that policy it has to be across the board.

I remember distinctly a thread in MeTa where users were called to task for jokes parodying asian accents with "r" & "l" confusion. People were offended. Fine, why is that offensive, but parodying a southern accent isn't? And give me a better answer than "I don't like rednecks."
posted by jonmc at 9:57 AM on December 23, 2004


amberglow, then rather than just saying "Fuck you!", AlexReynolds should have called attention to what he perceived as an anti-gay slur by actually discussing the slur in questions instead of just tossing insults.

Because the only way people can learn is to be educated. Bellowing insults is not educating people, nor is it debate. If I wanted to see people trading insults, I'd watch Crossfire.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:08 AM on December 23, 2004


(the slur in question, I mean).

If AlexReynolds, or anyone else, wants to open people's eyes to slurs, there are better ways to do it.

For example, when AlexReynolds suggested that "breeders" were all anti-gay heterosexuals, I engaged with him in a jocular way with a link to Gay Parents' magazine and a reminder that my very own eggs now have lovely gay fathers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:12 AM on December 23, 2004


At this rate, we'll run out of words - we'll all be stuck grunting and shrugging. (And grunting and shrugging offends me, but I doubt anyone cares.)

At any rate, since "fuck you, you homophobe" is an affront to me, as someone who enjoys intelligent public debate, I'd rather that it wasn't said. I see that as a slur. Good enough? Or do I not qualify for the exemption from being offended?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:13 AM on December 23, 2004


Yep, I'm usually right.

(Is clusterfuck a slur again orgysexuals?)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:17 AM on December 23, 2004


The beauty of a hidden reporting system is that the clutter and noise leave the site and end up in a private page where I view the reports, and judge whether something is worth acting upon.

(right now I just check the site periodically throughout the day).

Matt is this site in place for us to use or coming some time soon?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:19 AM on December 23, 2004


If we're gonna adopt that policy it has to be across the board.
Sure. Slurs offend, no matter who they're directed against. And we'll never run out of words, Saucy--fighting for the right to offend and hurt others is a fight you can have alone, thanks.

Sid, you deal with slurs differently than the rest of us. Alex is not at all alone here by any means--in how he deals with them--and how he dishes them out.

Yes, "breeders" is a slur too--one i try not to use. Slurring the majority, however, is much rarer than the other way.
posted by amberglow at 10:20 AM on December 23, 2004


How did an invitation to a possibly tender, but at least enjoyable sexual gettogether become such an insult in English? In my native tongue it would conceivably elicit a follow up of a rendezvous, if the attraction is mutual. Insults usually pair the recipient with a well endowed horse, but offering sex is mostly a compliment, not a form of aggression. I think everybody should get laid more often.
posted by semmi at 10:38 AM on December 23, 2004


More time outs will teach the unruly children to behave, perhaps.

Rather than simply banning a member who is a problem, maybe a time-out (no posting privileges) of an appropriate length (30, 60, 90 days, or whatever)? Particularly if they've been useful contributors in the past.
posted by WestCoaster at 10:43 AM on December 23, 2004


So, merely being right and angry and justified and fed-up is not, in my opinion, a good reason to be in an argument. If we want to argue, we should be trying to actually accomplish something. And that means, usually, some tact, generosity, humility is required, whether or not the other person "has earned it" or not.

Yes. I don't understand why so few people see this.

Yes, but I can usually come up with something better than the fuckity-fuck festival Alex did.

That's the best you can offer? "Yeah, I shit on it, but my shit wasn't as stinky as Alex's!" No offense, jon, but you're way too easy on yourself; you fire away basically whenever you feel like it and then justify yourself afterwards with "Hey, they were askin' for it!" If you'd practice a little self-restraint, people might not get so pissed off at you. Seriously, you spend way too much time making nasty/"funny" little comments that add nothing to a thread -- and "plenty of other people in that thread told him so" is a good reason not to add to the shitpile.

Matt, the "flag this post/comment" idea is great. That should markedly diminish the nastiness around here.
posted by languagehat at 11:23 AM on December 23, 2004


And like I said, I never saw 'drama queen" as an anti-gay slur, I've always applied to histrionic, over-dramatic people of both genders and orientations. It conjures up an image of a ham actress weeping onstage.

And you don't seem anything troubling about that in any context? Even just telling another guy he's "acting like a girl" if he's too emotional has some veiled misogyny. If you couple that with saying it to a gay male in an environment that many people feel has some pretty strong anti-gay undertones (from a minority of the membership, mind you) and it's a pretty classless thing to call someone. At the very least, it'd be something I'd apologize for and make clear that I didn't intend it to be construed that way.

And, generally speaking, I try not to snark people too badly, although I did let one off at jon the other day--it was interesting at least. For what it's worth, I like jon most of the time, but occasionally his "have to see both sides" thing goes beyond reasonable (in my mind) and approaches a sort of zaniness that clearly gets on my nerves. That's my kind of half apology, I guess. I don't apologize for it bothering me, but I don't usually lash out like that.

Merry Christmas? Haha. Except amber ;)
posted by The God Complex at 1:37 PM on December 23, 2004


"Rather than simply banning a member who is a problem, maybe a time-out"

Westcoaster, I think that's what Matt means by a ban. Banned members usually get to come back if they cool off for a while and ask to be reinstated.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:43 PM on December 23, 2004


At the very least, it'd be something I'd apologize for and make clear that I didn't intend it to be construed that way.

Fair enough. Alex if your reading, nothing I've ever said to you was meant as a slur on your sexual preference. As Matt once said, I love the gay! I'm all about the gay. Just ask amberglow, who I consider a freind.

Slurring the majority, however, is much rarer than the other way.

Being a member of an oppressed minority may make assholery more understandable, but not excusable.

occasionally his "have to see both sides" thing goes beyond reasonable (in my mind) and approaches a sort of zaniness that clearly gets on my nerves.

I don't claim to see to "see both sides," I just operate on the assumption that people who differ from me don't do so out of eveil intent, and conversley that people who agree with me aren't always doing so out of good intent, if that makes any sense. I think examining motives is important.It's more a "put yourself in the opposition's shoes" type of thing. When understanding comes, reconciliation becomes more possible.

But anyway, I spent this whole afternoon Xmas shopping in the rain and I'm in no mood to argue. Happy Chankwanzamas!
posted by jonmc at 2:45 PM on December 23, 2004


jonmc, I would simply like to point out the obvious here: on this website you will NEVER (and I do stress NEVER) know the intent, motivations or psychological agenda of anyone you deal with. Their arguments are the only clues you have. Struggling stridently against those arguments is perhaps noble to feelings of self-worth, but altogether annoying to many who have to view it.

It's not that serious, my brother. Sometimes, you're insulted out of the generalizing ignorance of a respondent. Feel free to lay into those folk. But trying to find a motive or intent in this manner ... not very likely.

Unless, of course, you're willing and intentful to draw them other'uns out of their hidden nature. And then, unfortunately, you're trolling. I'm sure you can see how this consistent pattern of behavior could irritate others with whom you share this website, yes?
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:15 PM on December 23, 2004


Yes, I guess I see what you mean on that score wolfie, and I'll do my best to rein it in.

But, the fact that several people, I've brawled with in the past (matteo, skallas, rushmc, n9) have, once they've understood what I'm getting at, become more sparring partners than enemies, tells me that maybe what i'm trying to do does get across eventually. At least sometimes.
posted by jonmc at 3:21 PM on December 23, 2004


It's not okay to slur the majority, IMHO, and frankly I would think that people who know how hurtful slurs can be would be a little more careful about hurling them around.

And though I don't have any interest in the "I'm more oppressed than you are!" sweepstakes, there have been many many many anti-women remarks made on this board, and I try not to respond to them with simple howls of rage, even when I feel like it.

And I can understand emailing someone to tell them they're an asshole. If you want to just yell at someone on a thread, it should at least offer some educational value for the non-assholes reading the thread.

Now, I have to say that I don't always live up to this myself, but I'm trying and I appreciate being called on it when I'm not doing it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:29 PM on December 23, 2004


God, some of you people can be tiring. And, no, this is not specifically in reference to the previous poster, whomever that may be.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:08 PM on December 23, 2004


amberglow, you're simply wrong here. "Drama queen," whatever it's origins, is predominantly (almost exclusively, in my non-gay, basically mainstream experience) a non-sexual term referring to someone's playing something up for dramatic effect and attention. Also, just because you may recall that the person being responded to is openly gay doesn't mean that the commenter does. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, I certainly can't speak for him. But the username did not ring any such bells for me (then again, I couldn't care less about any of your sexual orientations, so I only remember that a couple Mefites are gay because they are constantly reminding us all of it--repetition forms memory), so I would NEVER have interpreted the comment as a slur, and it's quite possible that dhoyt, for similar reasons, would or could not have intended it as such. And the fact that you cannot know means you jumped the gun with your assumption.

cursing is about the only choice if dhoyt's comment disgusted you.

Why do you assume that a reasoned objection would be pointless?

jonmc, I certainly do not view you as an "enemy" in any sense and am gratified to know that you realize that. I disagree with you sometimes, and in some of those instances I point that out. But if you want to be my enemy, you have to habitually display meanspiritedness, and I certainly don't think of your "persona" in that way.
posted by rushmc at 10:40 PM on December 23, 2004


...And you don't really wanna fuck
with me
Only nigga that I trust
is me
Fuck around and make me bust
this heat
That's the devil
they always wanna dance
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:09 AM on December 24, 2004


ooh! I wanna play!...

God, some of you people can be tiring.

I might like you better if we slept together
I might like you better if we slept together
I might like you better if we slept together
But there's something in your eyes that says "maybe"
That's never!
Never say never!
posted by taz at 4:31 AM on December 24, 2004


rush, drama queen is a slur. See "J.A.P.", "someone's on the rag", and many many many other words and phrases that describe behaviors of people of a certain group. Using it after using other words that describe the same behavior (hyperbole, etc) was unnecessary and done for a specific reason. If you don't choose to read it that way, that's your decision.

It doesn't have to be seen by you (or other straight people) as offensive to actually be offensive. It doesn't need outside validation--no slurs do.
posted by amberglow at 7:52 AM on December 24, 2004


You may not like/approve of the derivation of the term, amberglow, but that's a separate discussion and doesn't mean it is valid for you to assign intent to those who use it who are familiar with it in its current, common usage and link no deeper meaning to it.

Someone may take offense at my using the word "cloud" because it has negative connotations within their particular subcommunity, and that's fine, but it would be absurd for them to impugn MY intentions if, for me (and for the majority of English speakers), the word didn't have such a connotation or connection. Intent trumps PC sensitivities.
posted by rushmc at 8:40 AM on December 24, 2004


his intent was clear. he had already spoken of hyperbole, making the slur redundant, unless for other reasons. get real.
posted by amberglow at 8:47 AM on December 24, 2004


this is who i'm talking about, by the way, in the callout about toilets:
*watches chubbies dive in headfirst, looking for "proof"*
posted by dhoyt at 8:26 AM PST on December 24


get real.
posted by amberglow at 8:48 AM on December 24, 2004


Well, how far do you want to take this amberglow? By the logic you're using, my oft-used refrain to pointless arguers ("girls, girls, you're both pretty!") would have to be called out as egregious sexism, when that's obviously not the intent.

Frankly, I'm surprised to hear this from you, amber. You've been known to enjoy un-pc tomfoolery yourself. I think we can give people a little bit of the benefit of the doubt.
posted by jonmc at 9:24 AM on December 24, 2004


I just want to say to you amberglow, that I sincerely did not realize that the term "drama queen" was pejorative. I've been called it myself, though I'm not a gay man. I've called other people that term, male and female, straight and gay. I didn't realize how that remark could be perceived as a slur. I will now refrain from using that term to describe anyone. See, you can learn here at Meta.
posted by Juicylicious at 9:26 AM on December 24, 2004


By the logic you're using, my oft-used refrain to pointless arguers ("girls, girls, you're both pretty!") would have to be called out as egregious sexism

Maybe not egregious, per se, but you're definitely perpetuating a gender stereotype. If I were to suggest to my friend, who cried to me about his loss, that he was acting like a woman, I am offending women by suggesting that crying is a female character trait. Being called "dramatic" is not offensive; being called a "drama queen" is offensive because the term connotes a negative gay stereotype (that gay men are prissy, emotional, and "woman-like").

Whether or not people are willing to admit and understand these very complex issues, let's try not to simply dismiss them (those who are offended) as being "thin-skinned" or "overly-emotional". We all have feelings, emotions, and issues that are dear to our hearts; the goal should be to understand them and have the decency to respect that, as opposed to rationalizing our own ignorance.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:53 AM on December 24, 2004


I just want to say to you amberglow, that I sincerely did not realize that the term "drama queen" was pejorative.

Of course you did, since you used it as a negative characterization (i.e., your intent was not to compliment or make a value-neutral reference). What you did not intend was to convey a sexuality-based insult...and therefore you didn't. The term, perhaps, may carry such a context, but it does not necessarily do so, despite amberglow.

you're definitely perpetuating a gender stereotype.

Only in the sense that using any word or phrase makes one complicit with the social agreement that gives it meaning. This is by no means necessarily a bad thing (though it certainly can be, in some instances).

being called a "drama queen" is offensive because the term connotes a negative gay stereotype (that gay men are prissy, emotional, and "woman-like").

I would say that that is an absolutely false claim. The term may have originated based upon personality traits of a certain subsection of gay men, who behaved a certain way which the phrase tries to capture and describe, but it makes absolutely no claim that this behavior is representative of ALL gay men, any more than the term "primadonna" should or can be interpreted to apply to all women (or all women who perform). That is your own particular baggage that you are trying to apply to the words post hoc, and as such, none of the rest of us are obliged to accept it.
posted by rushmc at 1:25 PM on December 24, 2004


If I were to suggest to my friend, who cried to me about his loss, that he was acting like a woman, I am offending women by suggesting that crying is a female character trait.

Actually, you'd be offending because you'd be intimating that acting overly emotional is effeminate and (this is important) therefore bad. I don't think women are offended by the idea that they're more in touch with their emotions; hell, that's what makes them so much more enjoyable than men (at least that's why I find, generally speaking). I do agree in principle, however, and I would find jonmc's comment to be mildly sexist and typical of our masculine western social structures.
posted by The God Complex at 2:31 PM on December 24, 2004


but it makes absolutely no claim that this behavior is representative of ALL gay men

No kidding. That's why it's a stereotype (an over-simplified generalization) as opposed to an absolute. Nowhere in my comment did I make the claim that the term "drama queen" had a definitive meaning.

That is your own particular baggage

Wrong. It's the word's baggage. Just like any racist epithet, the literal translation of "drama queen" was co-opted by those who'd prefer to use it as a slur. The term "gay" comes to mind as another example. In the 80s and 90s (and still today, but to a lesser extent IMO) the term gay was used as an insult. It had several meanings, ranging from idiot to "having feminine characteristics".

There are no absolutes in language rushmc and you know that. And there are certain terms that are more hurtful, more questionable, and more damaging than others. Therefore, when using terms that have had a history of abuse and negative connotations, people should think twice before blurting them out. This is a public forum and maintaining a respect for all people is important.
posted by BlueTrain at 2:38 PM on December 24, 2004


There are no absolutes in language rushmc and you know that. And there are certain terms that are more hurtful, more questionable, and more damaging than others. Therefore, when using terms that have had a history of abuse and negative connotations, people should think twice before blurting them out. This is a public forum and maintaining a respect for all people is important.

I agree. Earlier I said that it would be understandable for dhoyt (or antyong) to not understand the connotations of his comment. I still think that, after having it pointed out, a quick apology or "I didn't mean it that way and will consider that in the future" was in order; it's how I would have reacted, anyway, especially given the number of boyzonery claims over the years.
posted by The God Complex at 2:59 PM on December 24, 2004


antyong? I guess that's what happens when someone walks in the room and starts talking to me while I'm typing. This may be the watershed moment where I begin to use spellchecker with greater frequency ;)
posted by The God Complex at 3:00 PM on December 24, 2004


I will now refrain from using that term to describe anyone.

I may just use it more often. But I'm a prick, lest we forget.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:48 PM on December 24, 2004


...but it makes absolutely no claim that this behavior is representative of ALL gay men...

That may be true. I don't use the term, but I don't consciously avoid it, either. My defense of the term would be that it is very useful to describe a certain personality type, regardless of gender, and that because of this its usage has become notably far removed from its more homophobic origins. Even so, it still is connected to that origin and I'm sure that, Jucylicious excepted, lots of people are quite aware that it explicitly is about a negative gay stereotype. That someone would use the term knowingly about a gay man makes this much, much less ambiguous, doesn't it?

Still, AlexReynolds has a big chip on his shoulder and is eager for a fight with anyone that he thinks deserves a fight, and he's damn obnoxious about pursuing it. Whether in the right or not, there's absolutely nothing productive about this kind of behavior. It may well only encourage the very kind of behavior and attitides that he's railing against.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:13 PM on December 24, 2004


thanks, blue and TGC

and stav--go ahead and use it--but realize that if it's no problem to call openly gay men "drama queens" then jon going off over "breeder" is just as unwarranted, because it doesn't matter, right? Certainly "breeder" is just as useful and innocuous, right? and JAP? and saying that a woman is on the rag? right? jon getting upset over Alex's comment in the thread about the woman who killed a pregnant woman just shows how oversensitive jon is, yes?

It doesn't matter whether Alex has a chip on his shoulder, or is an asshole, or not--it's a derogatory slur that wouldn't be tolerated if it was about black people, or Jews, or the disabled, or any other group, except fat people, i guess.
posted by amberglow at 9:58 PM on December 24, 2004


if it's not ok for Alex to have spoken of "breeders" in one thread, why is it ok for dhoyt to speak of "drama queens" in another?
posted by amberglow at 10:01 PM on December 24, 2004


They're all fine. The words you use can say more about you than they do about whatever those words are being used to describe.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:36 PM on December 24, 2004


then jon going off over "breeder" is just as unwarranted, because it doesn't matter, right?

I can't even imagine what offense someone could take to the term "breeder." Your argument goes from the ridiculous to the sublime.
posted by rushmc at 11:46 PM on December 24, 2004


if it's no problem to call openly gay men "drama queens" then jon going off over "breeder" is just as unwarranted, because it doesn't matter, right? Certainly "breeder" is just as useful and innocuous, right? and JAP? and saying that a woman is on the rag? right?...It doesn't matter whether Alex has a chip on his shoulder, or is an asshole, or not--it's a derogatory slur that wouldn't be tolerated if it was about black people, or Jews, or the disabled, or any other group, except fat people, i guess.

Amberglow, you seem to be missing the central point of contention being offered. What people are saying is that "drama queen" does not compare directly with JAPs or breeders or gyps or watermelon-eaters, because most people don't think of it as being in any way related to homosexuality.

I'm not trying to convince you, but to try to explain the other side's position so that you can see what they're saying. Your counterarguments are all missing the mark, which I'm sure isn't what you intend either.

Imagine, if you would, that there is a Person A who took offense over Person B using the phrase "gale" in a mild insult, based on the coincidence that "gale" has the word "gay" in it phonetically. When other people defend the use of the word, saying it has nothing to do with homosexuality, Person A says "Oh, well, if that's ok, you're saying the word nigger is ok as well."

In this case, no, they aren't saying that 'nigger' is OK as well, because they aren't agreeing with the central proposition that "gale" has anything to do with "gay".

That's the position of this discussion. There are people like Bluetrain who posit that the anti-homosexual usage of the word has coopted the original usage. There are people like Ethereal Bligh who posit that the anti-homosexual usage of the word is the original usage. And there are a bunch of people who posit that the word's origin is unrelated to homosexuality, and that the current usage is also unrelated to homosexuality. For them, a comparison of "drama queen" and "JAP" is like a comparison of "jerk" and "nigger". When you say what sounds to the listeners to be the equivalent of "realize that if it's ok to call Martians 'jerks', it's ok to call blacks 'niggers'", you don't make a lot of sense.

As long as your argument makes the assumption that everyone agrees that "drama queen" is anti-homosexual in order to reach its conclusions, nobody is going to be educated, informed, shamed, chastised, or convinced by your argument, because, since the core assumptions are different, the argument's conclusions make no sense.

Oh, and on a sidenote, RushMC, the word "breeder" is sometimes used as a pejorative for straights. If you hear it a lot in it's pejorative context, then you would probably be offended by it, in the same way that you're offended by "nigger" or "kyke" due to the fact that they're used as insults. Personally, though, I find the word "breeder" to be too damn cool to be offended by it, but that's just me.
posted by Bugbread at 1:13 AM on December 25, 2004


"...can't even imagine what offense someone could take to the term 'breeder'."

"Oh, and on a sidenote, RushMC, the word 'breeder' is sometimes used as a pejorative for straights..."

I don't think I've ever heard it used in a non-pejorative context, ever. It's increasingly used by the childfree as a pejorative. Both among the gays that use it and the childfree that use it, it is clearly pejorative because it implicitly reduces people to only breeding machines. That's the reason for that particular choice of words. I mean, c'mon. It's obvious. Also, in both cases, the justification, or at least the sociological etymology of the use of the term, has to do with a group that feels marginalized by a majority that disapproves of their lifestyles and is "striking back", so to speak, with this pejorative. From their viewpoint, it's a sort of empowering term. It is, but I don't think that makes it right. You can empower yourself without ridiculing the other people. I take great offense at the term because even though I don't have children, there's such an inherent sneer in the use of the term that I think it's very—intentionally—provocative. So I don't think it's in the least "cool". Also, I think it's no less offensive to be reductive about someone's choice to reproduce as it is to be reductive about their choice not to.

As to the origin of "drama queen", I really think that the "queen" portion of this is certain to refer to homosexuality. The phrase comes from a time when "queen" for a gay man was used much, much frequently than it is today, partly because the general public had no stereotype of gay men other than the "queen" stereotype. Today's stereotypes are more nuanced. :) Well, a little more nuanced. But I think it's very unlikely that the original use of the word was intended to evoke the image of a literal queen. However, once the term started to be used in the more broad sense, especially, I think, when it started to be applied to women (and I'm pretty damn sure that it originally wasn't used for women), to rationalize the use of it the "queen" switched from "gay" to "archetype" ("chief among those who act emotionally dramatic"). But there are still subcurrents of the "flaming" effeminate homosexual man who is overdramatic about the least little thing. And a bunch of people still use the term in the more restricted sense. I can see why amberglow might take offense of be suspicious of its usage. But also, I think, when it's used to describe an openly gay man by someone who knows they're gay...well, I'm not gonna give the person the benefit of the doubt.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:04 AM on December 25, 2004


Amberglow, you seem to be missing the central point of contention being offered.

Actually he's not. The argument he uses assumes that the term "drama queen" has a history of connotations that are derogatory toward gays, which is one step beyond your central contention, which is that "most people don't think of it as being in any way related to homosexuality."

What people are saying is that "drama queen" does not compare directly with JAPs or breeders or gyps or watermelon-eaters, because most people don't think of it as being in any way related to homosexuality.

Based on what evidence? Your personal anecdotes? Racial issues are far more public than gay issues right now, which is why terms that have even a hint of racial intolerance are immediately pounced upon as being wrong. But words like queen, homo, queer, fag, dyke, etc. all have similar negative baggage. They just haven't made the front page of the NY Times as often. And it's up to us to be aware of this baggage and choose our words more carefully.

I can't even imagine what offense someone could take to the term "breeder." Your argument goes from the ridiculous to the sublime.

And the argument is most definitely not related to what you "can imagine", rushmc. Just because you are unaware of the terms and their usage doesn't preclude the reality of their harms.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:34 AM on December 25, 2004


BlueTrain:

I think you misunderstand me. Most of that was not necessarily my opinion on the subject, but my opinion on the two sides of the discussion (or, more specifically, the people on the other side from amberglow).

"Amberglow, you seem to be missing the central point of contention being offered."

Actually he's not. The argument he uses assumes that the term "drama queen" has a history of connotations that are derogatory toward gays, which is one step beyond your central contention, which is that "most people don't think of it as being in any way related to homosexuality."
(emphasis mine)

That's why I'm saying that he's missing the central point of contention. The point of contention is whether it has a history of connotations that are derogatory. Instead of approaching that point of contention, he's skipping ahead to conclusions based on assuming the opposite of what the other side thinks, and then coming up with conclusions of what the other side must find logically acceptable based on this assumption. However, since the other side, from what I can see, disagrees with the assumption being made, his conclusions on what is logically acceptable miss the mark.

"What people are saying is that "drama queen" does not compare directly with JAPs or breeders or gyps or watermelon-eaters, because most people don't think of it as being in any way related to homosexuality."

Based on what evidence? Your personal anecdotes?


I don't know. I'm not talking about my beliefs, I'm talking about what the gist of the counterargument is. If you want to know, take them up on it, not me.

But words like queen, homo, queer, fag, dyke, etc. all have similar negative baggage...it's up to us to be aware of this baggage and choose our words more carefully.

I dunno if I'm too comfortable with queen and fag being included in there, because, unlike the other words, they have contemporary, frequent, non-homophobic uses (The Queen of England might just say "Can I trouble you for a fag?"). Still, I definitely agree with what you're saying. If Country A was having a problem with successive female monarchs squeezing the populace, I might say "The problem with Country A is all the queens", but if I knew the person I was talking to was gay, I'd probably say "The problem with Country A is all the royalty", to avoid any misunderstanding. And I agree with everyone that we need to choose our words more carefully and be aware of what words are becoming hot-button words.

However, by that exact token, unless I know more of the original "drama queen" comment poster's beliefs, I'm not going to accuse him/her of being a homophobe, or a latent homophobe, but someone who needs to be more careful with their words.

And, regarding my own views on the word (you may have thought my posting above was a disingenuous way of masking my thoughts as "the vox populi"), I never thought about it having any sexual preference related meaning. That's probably due to the fact that I've almost exclusively heard it used to describe women. However, there have been enough posts here, by both gays and straights, that I see that I've gotten the wrong impression due to my environment, and that, while its origins may be in contention, it seems like its capacity for offense is not in contention, and it's going in my list of "words best avoided".

And, just for reference, I think the terminology of offense for homosexuals is almost as well known as for races, and better known than for nationalities. I've heard Americans who would never say "fag" say "Paki" for a Pakistani, and Brits who would never say "dyke" say "Jap" for a Japanese. I think everyone here knows the meanings of "queen", but most folks in disagreement here probably separate "queen" and "drama queen", while the other side probably considers them together.

On a side, AskMe type question: besides "breeder", what pejorative terms exist for straights?
posted by Bugbread at 9:57 AM on December 25, 2004


Just because you are unaware of the terms and their usage doesn't preclude the reality of their harms.

Okay, I'll be a bit clearer:

Anyone who would find a way to take offense at "breeder" is a troublemaking idiot.

:::looks hard at bluetrain:::

It's a behavior so ubiquitous that it's almost like getting your panties in a wad for being called a "breather" or a "blood-user."
posted by rushmc at 11:35 AM on December 25, 2004


Oh, and here's just one example of the mainstream use of the phrase, "drama queen." No gay to be seen, so far as I can tell.
posted by rushmc at 11:38 AM on December 25, 2004


RushMC: Just for your reference, the word breeder, from what I gather, was invented for use as an offensive term for straights. (Er, well, obviously the word existed before, but it wasn't used for folks except for breeders of animals). So, in a sense, it's like "towel head" or "camel jockey". It was "made", as it were, explicitly to cause offence. If your argument is that anyone who would find a way to take offense at it is a troublemaking idiot, then wouldn't the same apply to those two?

(If I'm misunderstanding you, please point me in the right direction, I'm not trying to be a didactic dick)

Also, just for reference, I don't think anyone in this thread is saying that "drama queen" is always used as a pejorative for homosexuals, just that it either often is, or its etymology is that.
posted by Bugbread at 11:53 AM on December 25, 2004


I figure anyone who uses "breeder" or "towelhead" as a sincere epithet is such an unbelievably useless twerp of a dysfunctional human being, that it would be stupid of me to treat it as an offense. It would be like thinking my pet hamster is trying to offend me by pissing itself when I pick it up. It's just a lower-form animal, it's what it does, it doesn't know anything better, it's just too stupid. Take pity on it, give it a bit of hamster mix, and put the open cage outside. A hawks will take it, as it should.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:57 PM on December 25, 2004


It's just a lower-form animal, it's what it does, it doesn't know anything better, it's just too stupid.

That may be true, but unlike hamsters, human beings that are "too stupid to know any better" often take high positions in government and industry and make the rest of our lives hell. Ignoring idiots is great as a short-term remedy; ignoring them for extended periods of time lead to acts of government (and large groups of people in general) that you might find offensive.

And rushmc, I'm not sure why you bother discussing anything with me since you believe that I'm a trouble-making idiot. Clearly I'm not worth your time. Please, do as five fresh fish would do and "let the hawks" take me. ::weeps quietly::
posted by BlueTrain at 1:31 PM on December 25, 2004


Regarding the term "drama queen" ... it has a long history of being used in reference to gay men.

Many gay men - like me - have co-opted numerous pejorative words (i.e. fag, queer) intended to demean us and have sought to turn them on their heads. For example, the chant "We're here, we're queer, get used to it" is an example of the co-opting of a vitriolic term. In this instance, gay men in the late 80's/early 90's drafted the term "queer" and used it as a vocal refrain during ACT-UP! (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and other demonstrations to shock society at large to pay attention and to address a rising/raging health crisis. Since then "queer" has become part of our popular lexicon (i.e. "Queer As Folk"' "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy", etc.). While this particular term has evolved to having additional nuance, it still can be used in contexts and settings as a demeaning, hurtful epithet ("Fucking queer."). The person who uses the term and the situation become extremely relevant in determining the intent of the word's use.

"Drama Queen" is used quite frequently by gay men in a humorous fashion ("Drama Queen: The Gay Man's Guide to an Uncomplicated Life"). Even so, if the term is used with malicious intent, it still carries the punch of an insult.

Much of the discussion above is reminiscent of that which took place after Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy's book "Nigger - The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word" was published in 2002.
posted by ericb at 3:29 PM on December 25, 2004


In determining whether or not "drama queen" can be viewed as having been used in a perjorative fashion in the thread under discussion, one needs to better understand the situation (i.e. the individuals involved, the intent, the context, etc.).
posted by ericb at 3:34 PM on December 25, 2004


jon getting upset over Alex's comment in the thread about the woman who killed a pregnant woman just shows how oversensitive jon is, yes?

for the record, amberglow, it wasn't the "breeders" part of the comment that upset me so much as the flippancy of using a thread about a gruesome murder to try and derail the coversation to something more of his liking.

I am also well aware of words and the power they carry. I've actually come to the conclusion, that in my case (and probably many others) our careless use of words comes from a bit of misunderstanding the atmosphere.

My immediate circle of associates includes people of plenty of different races, religions, nationalities, genders, sexualities and other persuasions. As people get to know eachother and become more comfortable with eachother, people talk more openly and even playfully josh with eachother around ethnic/gender/sexuality stereotypes.

Like a lot of people who spend a lot of time here, I've gotten perhaps overly comfortable, transferring behavior appropriate to a gathering of freinds over beers to a more public (and less familiar) enviornment*, having the unfortunate result of making me seem like a misogynist and a homophobe, when anyone who knows me IRL can tell you that's not true. So, I'm going to have to take that into account more.

But, it's Christmas and my bro-in-law bought me a bottle of Cuervo, so I'm going to be merry.

* although, right after this controversy erupted I asked a gay co-worker (a guy who would have zero problem telling me I'm wrong) if he found "drama queen" a homphobic term, and he said "no, anybody can be a drama queen, and it's a great phrase."
posted by jonmc at 6:00 PM on December 25, 2004


I put this info in the wrong thread. I hope it's OK if I put it here too.
The Implicit Association Test attempts to measure "implicit prejudices" – subconscious attitudes, those that lie outside of our awareness and may contradict our conscious ideas about equality and fairness. Take the test.
posted by semmi at 8:41 PM on December 25, 2004


I asked a gay co-worker (a guy who would have zero problem telling me I'm wrong) if he found "drama queen" a homphobic term, and he said "no, anybody can be a drama queen, and it's a great phrase."

I think you'd get this reaction as often as not. Not everyone displays a knee-jerk defensiveness about those matters which most concern them.
posted by rushmc at 9:18 AM on December 26, 2004


You know, I never associated the phrase "drama queen" with homosexuality. At all. Until this thread.
posted by Doohickie at 11:08 AM on December 26, 2004


--it's a derogatory slur that wouldn't be tolerated if it was about black people, or Jews, or the disabled, or any other group, except fat people, i guess.

Oh, bullshit. Victimhood, thy name is amberglow.
posted by Doohickie at 11:12 AM on December 26, 2004


I think you'd get this reaction as often as not. Not everyone displays a knee-jerk defensiveness about those matters which most concern them.

Actually, generally speaking, this guy would. He grew up in the projects on Avenue D and as a hispanic, poverty-class gay male would gladly tell anyone on earth that they were full of shit. Which is precisely the reason I asked him. He considered it oversensitivity. I'm willing to accept his conclusion.
posted by jonmc at 1:41 PM on December 26, 2004


and I am not a southerner, but I still vigorously object tothe use of the term "redneck." It's not all knee-jerk defensiveness but also offense at the fact that the "offense" card is played selectively accoring to political sympathy.
posted by jonmc at 1:46 PM on December 26, 2004


And I'd call that oversensitivity, in many cases. It all depends on context, of course, but I grew up in Louisiana, and "redneck" for many people is more a term of endearment, an identifier of in-group belonging, or a friendly jibe than an unforgiveable insult (though "coonass" is the preferred term).
posted by rushmc at 9:08 AM on December 27, 2004


As a gay guy who also meets the definition of 'breeder', can I take offence at both parties? It makes it easier to become a 'victim' than to figure out who is to blame here....

Sincerely though, folks, taking offence at immature insults, whether in the eye of the beholder or intentionally hurled in anger, is just a waste of time and energy. Yes, I know in the past I've objected to flaming & trolling, here & elsewhere: I see that as a stage I had to go through. Jerks will be jerks, the thin-skinned remain thin-skinned.

Film at 11.

posted by dash_slot- at 9:36 AM on January 5, 2005


Dunno how I managed to spectacularly mispost this comment here, instead of here: still - I did, but now you can see where it shoulda gone. Yikes! Can't even blame the beer, I've not touched a drop!
posted by dash_slot- at 9:48 AM on January 5, 2005


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