Vote-Banning Proposal January 6, 2005 2:15 AM   Subscribe

In light of the recent tragic events in AskMe, and on MeFi, I move that we enable some kind of vote-banning system, or just close new user signups altogether until inbreeding causes us to become one eyed, immune-system-less pedigree albinos.
posted by armoured-ant to Feature Requests at 2:15 AM (102 comments total)

Things normally seem to get sorted out fairly well. Lately has just been...interesting.

I'm not really sure how a such a system would end up working out. I can think of quite a few threads that might not have survived in that system that I'm glad I came across.

*shrug* I suppose that those with more of a grasp of the overall effects of these things than I do will have to figure it all out.
posted by Stunt at 2:21 AM on January 6, 2005


Personally, I can handle a bit of chaos. I've actually got some reservations about the amount of regulation Mefi currently enjoys; I'd prefer not to see any more, even if that means I have to put up with the occasional asswipe. On the other hand, if you've got to bring out the night sticks and shackles, having a democratically controlled system would be, from where I sit, the best way to do it.
posted by Clay201 at 2:38 AM on January 6, 2005


I can't agree on the vote-banning, because it's not infrequent that a lot of users really get a hate on for someone who I think is basically okay. And I've seen many members who act very badly when pushed, but who are otherwise decent and well-meaning contributors. And of course, there's always someone here who will start pushing - hard. So some people would be banned by group agreement, though if they hadn't been taunted a bit too much to begin with, they never would have made whatever fatal error turned the group against them.

(I'm not talking about the most recent Khaflooey here, btw. I don't have much sympathy for either side in that one.)

Open membership means that anyone can spend $5 to prank-post or spam, but raising the cost makes it difficult for many possibly great potential members to join... So it's a rock and a hard place. I'm sure there's some kind of ingenious workaround, though, whether technical or social. In fact, I'd like to see a MeFi thinktank approach to solving this problem.

(I've often wondered, for example, what would happen if someone set up a popular community site that used reverse karma, one in which everybody started off at top-level, and then his or her rating diminished with each bad post or comment. Definitely not an idea for MetaFilter, but I'm just curious what the dynamics of that sort of system would turn out to be.)
posted by taz at 3:18 AM on January 6, 2005


It's like a bloody war zone here. Maybe during the couple of years that I was just a visitor (and I think that this applies to lots of n00bs), I didn't look too carefully at the adverse comment that was around and just used MeFi for interesting links. I suppose that this was because there was damn all I could do about anything because I couldn't say a word anyway.

Possibly this is just a shock to my poor n00b system but from what I've seen, a lot of people are unhappy for very differing reasons.

Some time served members feel that they have made MeFi what it is and should be the controlling force behind it and permitted to take up masses of space with complaint, snarking and "in" jokes. If that is the way that mathowie wants it to be, that is fine and completely his privilege and right. The guidelines however should be more exact and warn very clearly of the abuse which will hit anyone who breaks the rules. Yes, they are rules, because they are treated somewhat more gravely than gospel by many people.

N00bs on the other hand make mistakes but unfortunately some are obviously just using MeFi for self promotion. The distinction is some times difficult to define but is occasionally glaringly obvious. The problem here is that without a near full time moderator (and I can't see mathowie devoting his brain cells to that idea), outright and glaring abuse stays there for a long time causing more streams of comment and frustration.

The solutions? Sorry, I don't pretend to have any, but this one lone voice would prefer a more civil, even if slightly more strict MeFi.
posted by Cancergiggles at 3:25 AM on January 6, 2005


It's a pretty sad day for the 'ol filter. It started off funny, but some people just went mental it seems. If I wasn't leaving for the bush tomorrow I swear I'd send #1 a nice bottle of Aussie wine to get him through the long hours of cleaning up this mess.
posted by Jimbob at 3:32 AM on January 6, 2005


Recommend a 1994 Wolf Blas Chardonnay if you can find it.
posted by Cancergiggles at 3:35 AM on January 6, 2005


It's not just older members who are indulging in complaint, snarking and in-jokes, though, CG. Some other new members also spent a couple years lurking here, and did notice the sniping - and wanted to get in on it. Some others also noticed, and just figured out how to mostly sidestep the snark. None of it is simple; there is no such thing as n00bie or oldbie (?) behavior. It's much more perplexing than that.
posted by taz at 3:41 AM on January 6, 2005


I would hazard a guess that only a very tiny minority of new user signups cause problems.

Probably the same percentage as that of old user signups that caused problems.

(a new-ish user myself)
posted by ralawrence at 3:48 AM on January 6, 2005


I'm embarrassed to be a member here, today. That toilet of a thread -- and I don't really blame either dhoyt or his adversary, more than anyone else -- and the idiocy that spun out of control to spatter the rest of Metatalk and the rest of the site in crap... well, I don't quite know what to say.

I do know that Metafilter, and in particular that shining example of the worst we can be, is being pointed at and laughed about in various places around the internets that I also frequent, at the moment. It's embarrassing to me, even though I didn't join in, and it's times like this that make it clearer to me why Adult People decide to leave MeFi with regularity, often never to return.

It's right about now that someone should give me a

*glances meaningfully at the door*

but I think I'd go into some serious DTs if I left. Like crack indeed.

It started off funny

You think so? I think it started off bad, stupid, unfunny and obnoxious, and very quickly got worse.

If I were Matt (which many naturally thank the stars I ain't) I'd just freakin' shut the place down for a week for so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:06 AM on January 6, 2005


Point taken taz (even though you've been here since the dawn of civilization). I guess it's an impression and deduction on my part. I have a problem understanding why anyone would go somewhere new with the sole intention of bitching about it. Missing the good old days is a different story.

On Preview: Cheer up stavrosthewonderchicken. Maybe it's just a squall
posted by Cancergiggles at 4:09 AM on January 6, 2005


I'd suggest one of the problems is that there are some noobs with a a look-at-me, look-at-me mentality, who've been biding their time waiting to get entry and now feel the urge to throw something into every discussion. The novelty appears to wear off after a while for most (and indeed already has for some) so it tends to be a problem centred on the newer side of things.
posted by biffa at 4:09 AM on January 6, 2005


I've actually got some reservations about the amount of regulation Mefi currently enjoys

I wonder if somebody can come up with some stats to indicate number of MetaTalk posts associated to etiquette versus actual posts in the blue and green (on a given timeframe, say the last 3 months)? I would bet it wouldn't be to far off 5 or 6 posts in blue/green versus 1 post in Meta.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:12 AM on January 6, 2005


SpaceCadet: that page with the contribution indexes lists the MeFi:MeTa ratio by user, if you're really interested.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:24 AM on January 6, 2005


That "toilet of a thread" ended up being fairly entertaining, after a while, and aside from it's life-sucking volume, it's not even very pernicious by MeTa standards. Yes, it's a bit worse than has been seen recently, but it's childs play compared to the June-November action.

As for the bizarre proliferation of callouts immediately following that, I took it as some kind of joke-of-nature....
posted by lodurr at 4:25 AM on January 6, 2005


I'm pretty much a posting noob here. But, I've had an account for a while. And lurked longer than that. So, you can take my comments or leave 'em...whatever.

First, on the threads in question: the FPP with the browser hijack was not funny and not amusing. That is bad for Mefi. The apology thread, I didn't have a problem with. It was kinda amusing for a while, and when it stopped being amusing, I moved on. That's pretty much the way I conduct myself on online communities like this...some things aren't my cup of tea, but maybe they are to others.

Second, on the idea of modding and/or voting for FPPs: not a good idea. Not for Mefi. Mefi isn't about modding or voting or karma stalking/grudge voting. That's why I like Mefi. Karma and sub voting works. It works on Plastic (my other choice of time-wasting), but it wouldn't work with this community.

Third, on the general tone of folks since more people have signed up: quit your whining. You sound like a bunch of babies. Yeah, the above mentioned FPP was out of line, but for the most part the rest are just fine. I'm sick of seeing, what seems to have recently become customary, the "I can't believe this is a FPP" comments on just about every damn FPP. If you don't like it, click on something else.

Fourth...uh, I don't think I have a fourth. I'll just go back to lurking now.
posted by snwod at 4:32 AM on January 6, 2005


That "toilet of a thread" ended up being fairly entertaining, after a while

I say tomayto you say tomahto. I say it was an embarrassment. You say it was entertaining.

Let's call the whole thing off.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:43 AM on January 6, 2005


Some time served members feel that they have made MeFi what it is and should be the controlling force behind it and permitted to take up masses of space with complaint, snarking and "in" jokes.

This is probably one of the reasons that signups were finally turned on again.

With so many new users the dynamic is changing rather quickly, it's less and less a "dysfunctional family" where you know beforehand exactly how everyone is going to react before they even post a comment, are generally repulsed by what you know user x is going to say and so are waiting to pounce on them the moment they press Post. It was like a permanent "Christmas dinner with the extended family" conversation: interesting and often annoying, with a lot of pent up frustration. But lately MetaFilter feels more like walking through NYC or London never knowing what weirdness is about to jump out at you from around some corner. It's definitely more exciting, but it can get out of hand quickly.

Maybe we should just give it time to see how things shake out; if in a year things haven't settled down then we should start being concerned.
posted by sic at 4:45 AM on January 6, 2005


SpaceCadet: that page with the contribution indexes lists the MeFi:MeTa ratio by user, if you're really interested.

I couldn't see that on the page you link to - all I could see was the contribution index which divides number of posts by number of days as a member.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:47 AM on January 6, 2005


Voice of reason sic - like the "what weirdness is about to jump out at you from around some corner" - it just about sums it up.
posted by Cancergiggles at 4:51 AM on January 6, 2005


You have to look at an individual user's stats, SC.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:03 AM on January 6, 2005



I say tomayto you say tomahto. I say it was an embarrassment. You say it was entertaining.

Let's call the whole thing off.


I thought it was, too. For what it's worth, I apologize for that lame joke thread I started earlier. I'd been watching far too much Chappelle's Show, and that mother fucker is like a virus that gets in your system and makes you all crazy.

Sorry ;(

Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?
posted by The God Complex at 5:13 AM on January 6, 2005


I probably won't be giving it a year, sic. I'm not losing the filterlove just yet, but I agree with stav - I am personally embarrassed by the last freeforall. If that's what I had seen when I first started exploring MeFi, I guess I wouldn't have returned. (It's an egregious platitude, but, my god - Fark already exists, and it's just fine for its purposes. If I desire exposure to anus, I'd rather find it there.)

I loved the intelligent smartassery that I found here, though, when I did stumble onto it, and felt like I had discovered some sort of enclave where there were many people who were a lot like me, inside a fascinating larger group that was managing to collectively keeps things in balance. However, this is all very subjective, and I promised myself from the beginning that I would never start pining for "the good old days", so if the evolution of the organism really turns out to be reflected by recent events, I'll suck it up and look elsewhere.

This has nothing to do with new signups, but with how everyone, old and new, has reacted (or maybe I should say "acted out", or "overreacted") so far. Bunch o' Drama Queens.
posted by taz at 5:18 AM on January 6, 2005


OMG I made taz sad. Chappelle's devil influence is evil.
posted by The God Complex at 5:24 AM on January 6, 2005


No, TGC - not you. Just more like the last 24 hours. Before that I had my chin up. Resolutely.
posted by taz at 5:28 AM on January 6, 2005


Well, so tomahto it is.

Come on, there is some funny stuff in 8762, and it's not (even remotely) every thread here. It's a silly eccentricity. Obviously I like it, but I'm not trying to make Metafilter that everyday. Those of us susceptible to such antics aren't the ones defacing the Blue, Green, and Gray. We had an absurd Meta post, and those of us with an immature side took that post and ran with it.

There is one ass who needs to be banned tonight, without a doubt. Anything we can do to keep those things away would be great. But wthout its contributions, we would have come through tomorrow with silly but not unprecented wackiness in a thread or two on MeTa.

Those other online forums aghast at our behavior are full of themselves. Metafilter is filled with the most interesting, intelligent, witty, and humorous collection of people I have ever seen.

All this moderation stuff... I'm afraid it's going to turn into yet another vapid web forum. Metafilter has something -- and even with the influx of new users and the occasional recent outbreak of crap and insanity, it's done a decent job at keeping that "thing".
posted by theatrical matriarch at 5:35 AM on January 6, 2005


L'affaire d'crusiero is much more disturbing to me than 8762. That those posts are still live, waiting for unsuspecting clickers, disturbs me more the more I think about it. So, as a practical matter, I think drafting people to "volunteer" as Matt's deputy is a higher priority than complaining about how people reacted to a smackdown between a couple of drama queens. (And I still say that thread was a lot less nasty than most election-era threads.)

I nominate kirkjobsluder for the deppidy job, fwiw...
posted by lodurr at 5:48 AM on January 6, 2005


Eh. Issues of quality are and will become even bigger issues as time goes on, I suspect. Metafilter has for some time now, even before new signups, been a snipefest of fark proportions, and those other communities that are making fun of us have every right to do so. It's not necessarily okay, at least by my standards, but the filter IS changing. We have to either go with those changes and help guide them into something that we're comfortable with or decide that we can't handle it and move on. I can understand why somebody of the chicken's longstanding presence and dedication to how metafilter was might want to cease being active here, but I think that would be not only a shame, but a punch to the stomach and a loss of one of the many many limbs that make up metafilter.

Unfortunately, mefi has just as many good days as bad, lately. It's still better than most any other community of its ilk, and that's not bad in my book.

Anyway, as to the topic at the top of the thread, a community ban-hammer is a bad idea, although threads like this as well as personal emails (with the subject clearly labelled so that matt doesn't delete it right away) should get the job done in an able manner. We self-police more than well enough, IMHO.
posted by ashbury at 5:55 AM on January 6, 2005


Well that's my point ashbury: if we want this community to survive (and I think most of us do), we have to let it grow. Things change. Maybe the silly 8762 posts are more common now than before (but I've been reading this site for nearly half a decade and it doesn't seem that way).

The thing is that Mefi insanity is 9 times out of 10 far more interesting, informative, and intellectual than anything I've seen out there. And to be fair: there are things out there that have no humor or wit or silliness or insanity or the occasionaly stupidty -- but they bore me in time.

Metafilter has struck an uncommon balance. Sure it could go too far, and it certainly has teetered as of late, but the idea that Mefi has lost the *spark* that drew stavro here is likely bullshit. (Sorry, stavro: I like you, but things haven't gotten that bad...)
posted by theatrical matriarch at 6:07 AM on January 6, 2005


I don't feel strongly one way or the other on the moderation thing, but if things move to a moderation route, two somewhat-related thoughts:

1) consider the whole "checks-and-balances" setup with the government. Although bureaucracy isn't what we're looking for, there is something to be said for distribution of power. Of course, my vote would be for the benevolent dictatorship MeFi currently has.

2) Perhaps, again with the moderation route, there could be some sort of high bar that had to be cleared for something to be removed. One possibility: User Numbers under X get "5 point" votes, User Numbers under Y get "3 point" votes, everyone who signed up after Y gets "1 point" votes. A post would have to get, say 100 "votes" to delete it (or to move it to a "deleted" archive or something) (or leave it on LoFi). #1, obviously, has "100 point" votes. So it would take a lot (but not an unreasonable amount) of action (from the general pool) to pull something down from the FP.

Again, I don't have a dog in the fight. These are just my initial thoughts off of taz's I'd like to see a MeFi thinktank approach to solving this problem comment.

On preview: ashbury - I agree that MeFi is good at self-policing in many regards. Many many times I have done extra deep Googling and Wikipedia-ing to make sure that I HAD to use AskMeFi. And 99% of the time, I find the answer in that deeper Googling. The reason I do that? I don't want to get called out for not doing my homework before using Ask as a resource. But I'm conscientious. I want people to like me. I think a lot of the problems come when people don't care what others think of them here. So I agree with you that we self-police well, for the most part, but I think it's nuanced.
posted by Alt F4 at 6:09 AM on January 6, 2005


Point 2) was just a strawman. Feel free to beat it up or improve it or whatever. Maybe 100 points would be too low of a bar. Maybe the whole idea is unsound. I'm just throwing it out there.
posted by Alt F4 at 6:13 AM on January 6, 2005


Heavens. I hadn't even seen that Ask MeFi post.

100 is probably a fine bar for deletion.
posted by Alt F4 at 6:40 AM on January 6, 2005


Has there actually been a problem with Matt not banning enough people? He seems to act accordingly when the need arises. Sure, it would be nice if he was always live on MeFi to instantly nab the trolls and assorted jerks, but that can't happen. And in regards to banning somebody, which would be a big thing to anybody that cherishes this place, I think Matt's tempered judgement is the only one that matters. The ban hammer is mighty and I'm glad that only one man is wielding it.

Now a group of sub-Matts to delete offending posts might not be such a bad idea. But Matt's proposed NOTIFY button on each post could even take care of that.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:04 AM on January 6, 2005


Insofaras Matt is responsive to us and is one of us, there already is a community ban-hammer. He just happens to have the right of first refusal.

I feel uncomfortable when I see members asking for a new control feature or for a ruling on policy. I really appreciate Matt's consistant reluctance to impose A Strict New Policy as a solution some MeFi problem, whether it be the taxonomy for AskMe, criteria for FPP deletions or the enumeration of all ban worthy offences.

Policy is created and imposed to save someone the burden (and freedom) of using personal judgement. I just hope we don't make Matt tired of using his all the time.
posted by klarck at 7:15 AM on January 6, 2005


I like to think of that toilet of a thread and subsequent Mefi/MeTa/AskMe stupidity as Metafilter's Ron Artest moment.
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:26 AM on January 6, 2005


I think some straightforward text about what Metafilter is NOT would take care of it. Note that Matt hasn't commented nor deleted the post in question.

I'd would like to see a guideline that says insults are a last resort. Really, you would think this would be common sense, but I've read comments where members actually say the insults are what they LIKE about MeFi.

Go figure.
posted by xammerboy at 7:31 AM on January 6, 2005


What about closing the doors for a while, until things die down and then re-opening them?

Seems to me that what we're reacting to is just an exponential increase in thread toilets (we've always had some) caused by the constant stream of folks running in the door and down the halls and swinging from the light fixtures in their excitement to be here.

Maybe close down for four-to-six months, open for two months, rinse, repeat. Thoughts? Anyone?
posted by papercake at 7:35 AM on January 6, 2005


Nope. I say we leave 'em open. I see plenty of the new kids picking up the rhythm of the place just fine, and there are enough knuckleheads on the inside now that closing the doors would serve no purpose beyond creating an image for Mefi as a capricious, closed-minded and change-fearing place.

Which, I continue to assert, it is most certainly not.

Also, Matt's been asleep for most of the worst of this stuff. I'm guessing a cleanup of login-era proportions is nigh.
posted by chicobangs at 7:45 AM on January 6, 2005


The karma-voting, weighed by tenure if you like, is an interesting idea. Set the threshold at X, which temporarily suspends asshat.

As check-and-balance against the very real threat of banning reasonable-but-unpopular folks, it could be subject to #1's review--and if it's overturned, all those who voted for it get their karmic rating penalized, or, even better, get temporary suspensions of their own. That should help prevent against such Ban It! votes being lodged lightly.

Simply adding another trusted moderator or two is also helpful at any point as a given web community grows past a certain point. Not my call whether or not Metafilter's passed that point or not, of course--time will tell, whether the last interesting day or so is an outlier or an increasingly common event for #1 to wake up to the aftermath of.
posted by Drastic at 7:51 AM on January 6, 2005


First off, Stavros, you think the apology thread is an embarassment, I think its among the funniest threads on MeFi (sorry MeTa) if only for scarabic's comment among the other 850+.

Watching jonmc try to shit in his own hand so as to fling it, only to realize too late he's forgotten to take his pants off first: priceless.

yeah, there was a lot of stupidity and spam wanking going on last night. It wasn't all bad. I made several new pals and laughed alot.

As for shutting the site down to let things cool off. Why would that cool things off? It would just disrupt my day to not have my MeFi fix.

Instead of closing enrollments, why not make them sponsored enrollments? Want to join? Find a member who will sponsor you.

And it didn't take Matt long at all to clean out the garbage from last night. He's quick and efficient that way. I do like the idea of a karma system temporarily halting a given member's powers to post or comment though. It would have been easy to shut down cruisera before all of that stupidity.
posted by fenriq at 8:34 AM on January 6, 2005


Your premise is wrong, armoured-ant. Most of the people misbehaving and abusing the site are not newbies.

That "toilet of a thread" ended up being fairly entertaining, after a while

What part of "that's not the point" do you not understand?
posted by rushmc at 8:41 AM on January 6, 2005


Nay. The tyranny of the majority is much too dangerous.
posted by angry modem at 8:47 AM on January 6, 2005


Has there actually been a problem with Matt not banning enough people?

Yes. Absolutely. Uh huh. (If by "banning" you actually mean "giving a time-out"). Look, I'm as free expression as you're gonna find, but when people intentionally set out to ignore the site rules, go against mathowie's expressed wishes and see how far they can push it and get away with it, and act to tear Metafilter down and Farkify it, they need to be reminded that they are at the wrong site. Those who can understand this and adapt to the community standards will figure it out with a little nudge; the rest don't belong here.

First off, Stavros, you think the apology thread is an embarassment, I think its among the funniest threads on MeFi (sorry MeTa)

I didn't see a single comment in the whole thread that rose above the level of a fart joke. But if it had been a hilarious laugh-fest from start to end, that wouldn't change the fact that it was inappropriate for this site. There's plenty of internet geared toward that kind of thing: go there.
posted by rushmc at 8:51 AM on January 6, 2005


inappropriate for this site.

truly a concept worth grinding into dust with out collective bootheels.
posted by quonsar at 9:01 AM on January 6, 2005


Or not.
posted by rushmc at 9:15 AM on January 6, 2005


*ZING!*
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:18 AM on January 6, 2005


I suggest that by opening the site to new users, the median age of metafilter went down by about 15 years, and it shows.
posted by crunchland at 9:22 AM on January 6, 2005


Nay. The tyranny of the majority is much too dangerous.

Only if you have a reputation for posting malicious links.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:23 AM on January 6, 2005


I found the entire saga of Alex Reynolds and dhoyt and then crusiera to be very entertaining. I'm actually quite disappointed when threads and comments get disappeared.

How boring would Mefi be without the occasional chaos? Life isn't sanitized, you know.

Also, this whole "close signups" shit--that's NOT funny. What's poisonious to this site, IMHO, isn't what happened last night, it's the attempt to censor every little comment or thread somebody finds objectionable AND the attempt to return Mefi to an incestuous little clique.

Honestly, some people seem more perturbed by the fact there are newbies than anything else. Fuck, people, who's to say that the one or two "objectionable" newbies aren't oldsters in disguise.
posted by Jim Jones at 9:33 AM on January 6, 2005


rushmc, if you can't find anything humorous in that thread then I really don't think there's much that can be done to help you, you need to get put on the top of the sense of humor transplant list immediately.

And just because I disagree with you I'm supposed to leave? Sorry but get over yourself.
posted by fenriq at 9:37 AM on January 6, 2005


On the upside has been much polifilter on the front page.

A firm vote against and community "censure". All the variations of this I've seen implemented resulted in more and tighter group think. One of the things that makes MeFi great is the wildly varying points of view.

I'd like to see new membership tightened up by requiring time and efort to get in. Even something simple like requiring people to apply for an ID and then making them wait 10 days before they could activate their account at which point matt would collect the $5. Have the application expire after 25 days. Someone who actually wants to contribute would make the effort to hit the window but one off joke IDs and spammers would be discouraged. And because the application process could be automated it wouldn't take any on going time from matt.

Past experience leads me to believe that any site like this one is doomed when active users close in on 20 thousand and the threshold could be a lot less. I hope we can avoid a /. and K5 style melt down here.
posted by Mitheral at 9:47 AM on January 6, 2005


Would it be indiscreet to ask what the offending AskMe thread was about? It's been deleted (I assume for the best) now.
posted by kenko at 9:49 AM on January 6, 2005


the offending AskMe thread was several screens full of cock / shit/ fuck repeated over and over and over. and over.

(I might have the exact words & the order a little confused, but that's all you need to know).
posted by raedyn at 10:04 AM on January 6, 2005


Instead of closing enrollments, why not make them sponsored enrollments? Want to join? Find a member who will sponsor you.

I kinda like this idea. I forgot where I read it, and it may well have come from one of those evil conservatives I pretend to never to listen to, but I think the MeFi braintrust ought to look into such a thing.
posted by theatrical matriarch at 10:11 AM on January 6, 2005


Past experience leads me to believe that any site like this one is doomed when active users close in on 20 thousand and the threshold could be a lot less. I hope we can avoid a /. and K5 style melt down here.

This is my fear. Open enrollment should at least be episodic and not continuous. We need to absorb the new members we have or we will all become strangers to each other. People need to learn the common culture of the community or the culture and sense of community is lost.
posted by y2karl at 10:16 AM on January 6, 2005





Honestly, some people seem more perturbed by the fact there are newbies than anything else.


Oh, stop that. I don't give a hoot what your user id is, but since signups have been opened, there's been an unquestionalbe degradation in quality here.
posted by adampsyche at 10:25 AM on January 6, 2005


What part of "that's not the point" do you not understand?

Requiring every participant to "get the point" misses the point. I.e., if someone complains about someone, it might well be "missing the point" of their complaint to point out that the thing they don't like has positive aspects; but it's not irrelevant.

Positive things come from bad starts, sometimes. Do we un-make the thread because there was unpleasantness? Lots of people who don't normally tolerate one another had fund with each other. And it wasn't all pile-on.
posted by lodurr at 10:29 AM on January 6, 2005


I think that the sponsorship route would be a good one. Maybe the aponsor could be required to vouch for each of a newbies first 'x' FPPs - after that the sponsor would retain deletion rights over their FPPs for (say) 6 months. If a newbie then ran amok the sponsor would also get it in the neck.

Such a system should benefit from being fairly self regulating in terms of the influx as (most) people wouldn't want to take on too many newbies. It'd be great to see whether sponsors ended up with cliques of newbies all parroting their ideas.
posted by daveg at 10:32 AM on January 6, 2005


How boring would Mefi be without the occasional chaos?

Not very, since it's all about the links, but if that's not enough to keep your attention, feel free to surf on.
posted by rushmc at 10:46 AM on January 6, 2005


I kinda like this idea. I forgot where I read it, and it may well have come from one of those evil conservatives I pretend to never to listen to, but I think the MeFi braintrust ought to look into such a thing.
posted by theatrical matriarch at 10:11 AM PST on January 6


Nah, just little ol' me but I know I'm not the first one as crunchland points out.

I like daveg's take on it too. Hold people responsible for their sponsorees.
posted by fenriq at 10:47 AM on January 6, 2005


I sponsor quonsar.
posted by theatrical matriarch at 10:59 AM on January 6, 2005


Sponsorship? Isn't that just going result in an extended "dysfunctional family"? (referred to by sic earlier)

Most people are unlikely to sponsor those who are radically different to themselves, so whatever caused membership to be opened up in the first place would surely just be compounded.
posted by Cancergiggles at 11:00 AM on January 6, 2005


I'm glad to see that others found the AlexReynolds meta thread noxious. By internet standards, it's not so bad. By metafilter's standards, it's an example of the very worst of metafilter. I kept reading the "this is so funny" comments and wondering if people were reading a different thread than I was. And the pileon just got tedious. As much as AR deserved it (and I dislike him as much as anyone) I always wonder in these sorts of situations how people expect the targetted person to react. It's seems like people either expect the target to be very rational and even-tempered, or to be meek and admit that they're an awful person. Or to ignore it. The last is realistic (but requires some willpower), but the other two are fantasies. Almost no one, when repeatedly bludgeoned, responds with "oh, I understand now: you're right and I'm wrong".

Anyway, I don't see how the problem is with the newbies. No argument from me that there's some that are badly behaved. But the few bad eggs seem to be for a substantial number of old members a convenient excuse for them to behave as bad, or worse. That's the problem, I think.

And a wide-swath of temporary banning would, I think, get the message across. Wield that banhammer, Matt.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:04 AM on January 6, 2005


"Honestly, some people seem more perturbed by the fact there are newbies than anything else."

Oh, stop that. I don't give a hoot what your user id is, but since signups have been opened, there's been an unquestionalbe degradation in quality here.


I don't think you're one of the people being refered to, though.
posted by Bugbread at 11:07 AM on January 6, 2005


If the people in this thread cannot conceed that "THE" evil MeTa thread was roughly normal and admit their animosity is with regards to a few (very few) "bad apples" in the incoming class then I propose civil war.

I not sure that actually works out in a forum; but I've got a whole series of dirty tricks up my sleeve. I thinking I'm with the north here; y'all are just going to have to adjust... we can grind y'all to dust....
posted by theatrical matriarch at 11:17 AM on January 6, 2005


The newbies that are dragging this place down make the rest of us look bad, that's undeniable. But the vast majority of us newcomers are doing our best to engage in the sort of intelligent discussion and linking that made MeFi what it is.

The squeaky wheel always gets the grease unfortunately so those of us who are quietly contributing just sort of blend in with the rest of the users making it seem like every single newbie is running around like an idiot with his hair on fire.

Don't close signups or institute some sort of user handicap system. Ban the asshats (new and old) who are stirring up trouble. Let those users (new and old) who are willing to contribute intelligently do so. There are a lot more of us than you think.
posted by LeeJay at 11:35 AM on January 6, 2005


I think I alluded to this earlier, but with growth comes dilution, but not as you might expect. MetaFilter will have even more interesting links and threads than before, but it will also have far more uninteresting links and assfest threads than before as well. It comes with the territory. You can't expect 25k+ members to all be interesting and well mannered. But I suspect that a majority of them will continue to be so, thanks to self-monitoring that this community is famous for. It's an inexact science but it seems to work for the most part.

A few days ago somebody mentioned the forum Offtopic, so I took a look at it. It has well over 100K members and, while interesting at times, you can see that the average quality of a comment and post is pretty low. That said, they also seemed to have quite a few interesting people floating around... And despite the inferior quality of the posts, there seemed to be a lot less frustration in the air than you find here on the Blue/Gray/Green. But the side effects of growth are inevitable: unpredictability and greater individual anonymity.

As to the AR dramaqueen thread, I was amused at first, but grew bored by it after awhile. Some posts were pretty funny and others were just mean and most were pointless. I actually thought about EB while reading that thread, I thought about how disappointed he was going to be on such an extended pileon. And now I understand why he was calling attention to it a few weeks ago, because this sort of thing seems to have been growing these last few weeks as well. In retrospect the AR thread seems inevitable. But I do find it odd that certain users like Alex and Davy before him seem to actually enjoy taking on a mob, which should be sort of noble and inspiring, but in their hands is just depressing and stupid. Still, neither Davy nor AlexR seem to be going away, so I suppose that personality type is not at all bothered by massive rejection. Unfortunately, that means we are definitely going to see more of these threads in the future.
posted by sic at 11:40 AM on January 6, 2005


Me:
  • Anti - vote banning
  • Anti - closed membership
posted by Juicylicious at 11:50 AM on January 6, 2005


Nay. The tyranny of the majority is much too dangerous.

Only if you have a reputation for posting malicious links.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:23 AM PST on January 6


Seeing as I haven't done such a thing on metafilter and this is about metafilter, you should re-evaluate your logic, newbie.
posted by angry modem at 12:06 PM on January 6, 2005


Chalk it up under growing pains and self-policing? Doesn't mean that NOTHING goes wrong...it just means it gets fixed.

As of now, everything's fixed, and you don't have to click on the ARey thread if you don't want it.

I'm down for the metamoderation....if a thread gets enough votes among a certain number of the populous, it gets autodeleted....let's say a certain percentage of users with UIDs under 12000 who log in every day ;)

Just so we can "self police" when Matt's asleep and/or working and/or playing daddy.
posted by taumeson at 12:07 PM on January 6, 2005


Do you not see? This is the point where everything that is novel and interesting and promising and worthwhile turns to decay and mediocrrity and death and decay. You think you want to save it, but you cannot do anything but destroy it...
posted by theatrical matriarch at 12:15 PM on January 6, 2005


Sic: you were right, it did make me sad. Which is funny because I pretty much hate AR and contributed to his bashing at the beginning of the thread.

Lots of folks have complained about the pileons—what I said the other day in that context wasn't new. But what I was trying to say that perhaps hadn't been said before was that maybe we don't realize that although we seem to expect differently, pileons have their own doomed inevitability. Many of us—and I include myself definitely—have a tendency or bad habit to think that if we hit (metaphorically) someone hard enough it will, shall we say, "knock some sense into them". That's the cliche, the real rationalization is, I guess, that it's possible to cut deeply enough through someone's defenses and then, in their vulnerability, will finally listen and see why they're in the wrong.

But that almost never happens. Why so many of us think that it will (or act as if it will) is a mystery.

When cornered, almost all of us will strike back. In real life, people can be hurt enough to silence them, break them down and they go to tend their wounds. That's much less likely on the net—most people are not able to be hurt so bad they can't fight back. And so they do. Increasingly visciously, because the only option they feel they have is to escalate.

Or, otherwise to "outsmart" their opponents. AR tried a combination of attempted casual cutdowns, earnest criticism, insults, and other things. Maybe, just maybe, against a single foe such tactics will work. But no one member of the "mob" has nearly as much emotionally invested in the argument as the victim does—for this reason, their defenses are very, very thick. So no attack against them really "works". And the person being mobbed just looks all the more desperate, humorless, ineffective, pathetic, angry, and even ineffectively vicious. And thus, in the mob's estimation, just that more clearly deserving of punishment.

Through all of this, lots of folks doing the piling on keep shaking their heads and scolding their target for not being more level-headed, less hysterical, more reasonable, or just being quiet and going away.

Those expectations, given human nature, are completely unrealistic and unfair.

The bottom line is that the "mob" has set-up a catch-22 for their target. Nothing the target does is right (the closest thing is just walking away...but that still leaves the mob to throw out insult after insult unchallenged and, honestly, feels like a capitulation).

Now, I know that a good number of folks actually quite enjoy the pileons. Most of them enjoy them because they enjoy beating up on people. A few like watching. But I'm quite sure that a lot of onlookers and even most of those doing the piling don't really like it that much and either have a sort of distaste for it or an embarrassment about it later. It's to those folks I'm aiming my comments. Maybe the best thing is to jump off the train before you participate in the wreck. Because it's going to be a wreck, there's almost no doubt about it. And to the target of the pileon? Well, if you have the willpower, just walk away as soon as it looks like it's turning into a pileon. Doing it later is a good idea, too, but much harder.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:20 PM on January 6, 2005


Seeing as I haven't done such a thing on metafilter and this is about metafilter, you should re-evaluate your logic, newbie.

Are you or are you not the same person who posted malicious links on Monkeyfilter? If so, you've already demonstrated that you are not to be trusted. Oh, and it's "fukken nub" to you, by the way.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:21 PM on January 6, 2005


To explain it for those who couldn't think for themselves in regards to my 'tyranny of the majority' comment: The problem is there are threads for whatever reason Haughey'll want to stay, and the majority of the site will dislike...and it's open to abuse my the majority, especially in regards to political posts. In short, it's a retarded idea. There are gems that escape the majority, and this is a good thing.
posted by angry modem at 12:22 PM on January 6, 2005


(...oh, and please note that I'm scrupulously avoiding the question of whether the pileon is deserved, whether the target is a jerk, whatever. The dynamic is the same regardless of the circumstances and who is in the wrong, initially.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:23 PM on January 6, 2005


What was done on the blue and the green last night was the work of a troll. We are not all trolls. Know what I find irritating about the neoFite references and the site spiraling into shitsville, is the premise that somehow via osmosis, genetic, or other means we came here knowing how to be a 'Good Members'. Those who don't possess this trait are held up as shining examples of the demise of MeFi. What happened last night on the blue and the green were exceptions. Some of us are going to stick out like sore thumbs and some will merge perfectly with the community, it takes time to adjust and for some it will take longer than others.

Last night I thought it got out of hand when there was a meta of a meta of a meta of a meta and then the troll started with their handly work. I'm not sure what to think of the 'Thread That Shall Not Be Named'. Some comments had me laughing really hard, some things I thought were over the line and some things I just didn't get. When I saw AR join MeFi I knew something like this would be the eventual outcome. I don't like AR either (I think he is too confrontational in his writing style) and I think he was just as guilty of what happened as any of the other contributers. I saw the thread as the final result of an slow build up as well. I'm not trying to excuse anyone for perceived wrong doings but in terms of harshness I don't think that thread was it.

I think moderation and closing the doors once again isn't a good idea.
posted by squeak at 12:36 PM on January 6, 2005


"When I saw AR join MeFi I knew something like this would be the eventual outcome."

What I think that folks like AR don't realize is that if you have a list of, oh, 15 classes of generic people that you think are offensive and ruining the world then, as you work through that list in public and spew your generic invective, you're going to eventually, without realizing it, pretty much tell everyone that you hate them and think that they're evil people who deserve nothing but vicious contempt. I probably agree with AR on a portion of his list. But when his vitriol hits me (or people I care about), I get mad. I'm representative in this way, I think. Then, later, when some personal fight becomes very public, people like AR find they have few, if any, defenders and much previously unstated irritation with him becomes expressed. The result is that in the particular context of the argument at hand, someone like AR doesn't deserve all the shit they're getting. But it's not the particular argument that's causing people to throw the shit. And, as you say, it has built up over time.

Lots of people have a wide-ranging contempt for other people. They're usually sure they're justified (and often they are), and they usually (though not always) keep the contempt generic and don't express it personally. ("I wish the stupid, ignorant fucking christians would SHUT UP!") But even when it's not directed at some group one is associated with, this wide-ranging contempt becomes quickly tiresome and even obnoxious. Speaking for myself, after hearing lots of it—even when it's only been directed against people I, too, don't like—I end up silently yearning for the "hater" to get his/her comeupance.

I've come to strongly suspect that these sorts of folks have no idea that they engender hostility in other people just from their attitude, regardless of the rightness of their cause. For them, the only thing that matters is that they're sure they're right and justified. If it makes other people dislike them, well, that's further proof of how most other people are stupid, right?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:54 PM on January 6, 2005


Are you or are you not the same person who posted malicious links on Monkeyfilter?

Yeah, he is, but his position is that being an egregious asshole elsewhere shouldn't bother people here. How you feel about that argument is up to you. It doesn't do much for me.

And EB, I dislike most extended pileons, but that one really wasn't about Alex after a while, until he showed up to keep the fire stoked -- and this wasn't a matter of responding to immediate provocation, this was a matter of waiting till everyone in the room was getting drunk and telling elephant jokes, then poking his head back in and saying "Hi, remember me? I still hate you all!" Come on, the whole thread is worth it just for the Seal of Approval.
posted by languagehat at 1:16 PM on January 6, 2005


Ban the asshats (new and old) who are stirring up trouble. Let those users (new and old) who are willing to contribute intelligently do so.

Exactly.

Now, I know that a good number of folks actually quite enjoy the pileons. Most of them enjoy them because they enjoy beating up on people.

Yes, a lot of people are bullies. But that doesn't mean they should be encouraged (or even tolerated) when they seek to practice their bullying HERE.
posted by rushmc at 1:36 PM on January 6, 2005


Now, I know that a good number of folks actually quite enjoy the pileons. Most of them enjoy them because they enjoy beating up on people.

You know that's why they enjoy them? How do you know?
posted by Bugbread at 1:40 PM on January 6, 2005


"You know that's why they enjoy them? How do you know?"

Each and every one one of them told me so, silly.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:50 PM on January 6, 2005


Oh, ok. Good answer.
posted by Bugbread at 1:51 PM on January 6, 2005


I'm a newbie, so take the comments for whatever they're worth.

I get my pile-on and sophomoric humor kicks from other sites that do it better. I like MeFi because of its (in general) intelligence, civility, and self-policing.

I like that people will hold MeFi FPPs to a high standard, and call someone when they post crap (my first FPP had somebody say it wasn't FPP worthy). I know it inspired me to raise my internal bar.


Also, on a different not, has anyone else tried to draw parrallels between new MeFi immigrants, and real life immigration policy?
posted by forforf at 3:05 PM on January 6, 2005


It's not about the new members. This ought to be clear. I say this in response to innumerable people upthread claiming that it is.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:14 PM on January 6, 2005


I betcha I could enumerate them.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:16 PM on January 6, 2005


I just deleted my long-winded response to this post. Feel blessed.
The gist of my feeling is that I am still contemplating requesting that my membership be removed simply because I, only a few weeks into it, am getting sick of feeling like I will be descended upon by snotty posters who are more interested in sharing negativity than just choosing to only comment positively on the posts they do like. And God forbid I accidentally post a link that doesn't meet their perfect standards.


MetaFilter can be, in my experience, a very unwelcomeing place to visit.
posted by johnj at 3:40 PM on January 6, 2005


"The hardest thing to do in this website is to live in it."
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:57 PM on January 6, 2005


It's not about the new members. This ought to be clear. I say this in response to innumerable people upthread claiming that it is.

Sincerely hope not. The initial question seems to refer to events from yesterday posted by a neoFite so I replied to what was asked on that basis. If I interpreted the question incorrectly I apologize.
posted by squeak at 3:58 PM on January 6, 2005


Taz: please stay and do not remove your lovely user page. The other voices of reason: please maintain your levels of discourse while ignoring the rowdier elements.
Those of you who consider AlexR a hater, but denigrate newbies, well, need a mirror? Whatever gave you the idea that you are empowered to criticze and class-judge users who joined after you did? Seniority? So the 2-digit or 3- digit users can snark the 4-digit and 5-digit users? How would that work? Which elders volunteer to monitor that system (without pay) so that the juniors are kept in line?
And Taumeson, surely you jest!
What if we all remember that we are guests in Matt's virtual house and behave ourselves?
posted by Cranberry at 4:02 PM on January 6, 2005


forforf, I think it's been some time since civility was a defining feature of MeFi. Maybe I'm just blue/grey jaded (and hence, a multi-hued mess).
posted by cosmonik at 5:02 PM on January 6, 2005


Metafilter: a multi-...

Oh, fuck it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:03 PM on January 6, 2005


Many of us—and I include myself definitely—have a tendency or bad habit to think that if we hit (metaphorically) someone hard enough it will, shall we say, "knock some sense into them". That's the cliche, the real rationalization is, I guess, that it's possible to cut deeply enough through someone's defenses and then, in their vulnerability, will finally listen and see why they're in the wrong.

But that almost never happens. Why so many of us think that it will (or act as if it will) is a mystery.


Not that I participate in or endorse the pile-ons, but I don't think that the motivation/rationalization is entirely that you think you'll get the person to see that they're wrong. Instead, I think it might largely be a matter of "Everyone who disapproves of what this poster has done wrong better make themselves heard otherwise we could easily be dismissed as holding a minority opinion. With 20k users, anything less than 10k could be construed as a minority. And we don't want to give the wrong impression to people who consider doing a similar bad thing in the future, right?"
posted by juv3nal at 6:27 PM on January 6, 2005


Cosmonik: Actually, browsing about on Google, I found a link from 2001 of people decrying how uncivilized Mefi had become. So either it's continually going downhill, or people have continual memory revision.
posted by Bugbread at 6:37 PM on January 6, 2005


Also, on a different not, has anyone else tried to draw parrallels between new MeFi immigrants, and real life immigration policy?

I'm too busy trying to make my convenience store profitable so I can pay off the loan sharks and move my family out of the ghetto.


posted by A dead Quaker at 7:00 PM on January 6, 2005


bugbread: are you at all surprised? it's what the idea of nostalgia is all about...not the current usage, of yearning for the past, but the idea that we always forget the bad stuff, so we think the past is continually better than the present and we're just pining for a simulacrum.
posted by taumeson at 8:33 PM on January 6, 2005


I found a link from 2001 of people decrying how uncivilized Mefi had become

Doesn't that prove my point? That civility is not a sustaining feature of MeFi for some time? (Or...were you agreeing with me? It's just been so long, I've forgotten what it felt like)
posted by cosmonik at 9:20 PM on January 6, 2005


Taumeson: Yeah, a bit surprised. If I'd found people bitching on Mefi itself about the lack of civility, I wouldn't be surprised, but having a group of people who felt bad enough about it in 2001 to take it offsite to complain was a bit of a surprise.

Cosmonik: I'm not quite sure if I'm agreeing or not. I think when I posted it, I thought I was disagreeing, because you said "It's been some time since civility was a defining feature of MeFi.", and it seems like civility might never have been a defining feature of Mefi. But I'm not sure about day 1, and if it was civil at the very start, then what I posted is agreeing with you.
posted by Bugbread at 2:28 AM on January 7, 2005


It may have helped if I had put civil in better context. I meant that MeFi is quite civil for a site that has not descended into group think. There are plenty of sites out there that are more civil. But its the civility of an established clique, of homogenuity. Here, you have people disagree all the time, but it rarely descends into a series of ad hominem attacks. Ok, maybe not rarely ... but it doesn't seem like it is that bad compared to the rest of the web.

But then maybe I'm just frequenting the more rowdy places of the web, so come at it with different expectations.
posted by forforf at 8:17 AM on January 7, 2005


"MeFi is quite civil for a site that has not descended into group think"

Shows what you know, you cabal-tool you! ;-P
posted by mischief at 8:32 AM on January 7, 2005


I'm a newbie, so take the comments for whatever they're worth.

Newbies there is no reason to preface your comments like this because 1) we don't recognise your handle and 2) if we care we'll hover over your handle when we don't recognise it and discover how "new" you are. Just keep posting thoughtful stuff and eventually "POOF" you'll be yelling at kids to get off your lawn.
posted by Mitheral at 8:44 AM on January 7, 2005


Isn't one of the tenets of civilization that there are always pople who dn't feel that it's civilized enough?
posted by chicobangs at 9:38 AM on January 7, 2005


wait a sec--what did i miss? what happened? (most of the links are to "nothing to see here")
posted by amberglow at 5:42 AM on January 11, 2005


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