Constructive (or not?) Criticism on Metatalk September 6, 2001 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Constructive (or not?) Criticism on Metatalk
MeTalk is the place where we gripe about what we think is wrong with certain posts. So what happens when you're a little too straightforward about your opinion? Hurt feelings and accusations of flaming. Was I over the line with my comments? What can we do to ensure that posters don't take offense to criticism doled out in MeTalk? [more inside]
posted by daveadams to Etiquette/Policy at 10:15 AM (29 comments total)

I had enough of talking about it over there, but in my defense:

I was not being sarcastic or mocking. Using disaster's original language in my analagous moving-to-Portland post was essential in making my point that the two posts are equal in merit and that if one is not okay, the other cannot be, either.

It's just my opinion, and anyone and everyone is free to disagree, but disaster got a little flustered (what newbie is prepared for a quite-active MetaTalk thread about their first frontpage post?) and accused me of flaming, when I was only talking about the post in question. In fact, until her response I had not even noticed which user ID has posted the original link.
posted by daveadams at 10:18 AM on September 6, 2001


I've looked several times and I can't find the scathing personal attack in your post, Dave. However, it's entertaining as hell to read all the different ways in which you are a terrible, terrible person.
posted by rcade at 10:35 AM on September 6, 2001


Can't we just agree that Dave is a terrible, terrible person and leave it at that?
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 10:42 AM on September 6, 2001


If you're not careful I'm going to start another MetaTalk thread about this thread that's about that other thread.

error! error! Nomad! error!

Seriously, though. disaster over-reacted. And no, disaster, that's not a personal attack either. I'm sure disaster is a cool person, just took something the wrong way. God knows I've done it a couple of times. This is about the time she should laugh and say "OK, let's forget it" and we can all go back to being the amiable rogues we always are.

here's hoping

k
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:43 AM on September 6, 2001


The only thing you've done wrong, daveadams, is continue to belabor this point when everybody except disaster knows you weren't flaming her. Let it go, Dave; it's clear that she never will.
posted by harmful at 10:44 AM on September 6, 2001


I agree. Terrible!

Maybe what we all need to do is burn Dave in effigy.

I know I would feel better.

k
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:48 AM on September 6, 2001


Let it go, Dave; it's clear that she never will.

Yes, that's good advice, which is, of course, hard to take when it's my own self (poor me!!!) under attack. However, I am past that. This thread is about something different.

Kind of.
posted by daveadams at 10:51 AM on September 6, 2001


Someone should Metatalk the discussion about my own problems letting this one go.
posted by daveadams at 10:52 AM on September 6, 2001


So, back to the point:
What can we do to ensure that posters don't take offense to criticism doled out in MeTalk?
posted by daveadams at 10:53 AM on September 6, 2001


The following can be seen as an excercise in rampant elitism. If you choose to dismiss it as such then I am sorry I wasn't able to clearly illustrate my argument. Also, please note that this is not regarding any specific user, there are many who, hopefully, will see themselves cast in my negative light.

Here's the way I see things. There are people who are fucking up our clubhouse. There are people who are contributing to our clubhouse.

Some of the people fucking up our clubhouse have been here for a long time, and have been fucking the place up for a long time. Some of the people fucking up our clubhouse have been here for a short time, they see the older members fucking up the clubhouse and they think that that's the way to behave, and some of the people fucking up our clubhouse are completely new and fucking it up in completely new ways.

Have you ever been in a mall and watched a parent try to bribe their 2 year old into stopping their temper tantrum? That's what we're doing to the people who are fucking up our clubhouse.

We're trying to be nice to them, we're trying to make them see how their behaviour is not acceptable to the goals of the site, but they're going to continue to ignore us and fuck up our clubhouse until we roll our eyes and buy them an ice cream cone.

So if people can't handle perfectly benign suggestions about what does and doesn't make a good post here, well fuck 'em.

It is exceedingly rare that a MetaTalk conversation is started because of a person, they're almost always started because of mistake. If people can't see the difference, I fail to see why we should buy them an ice cream cone.

To those who accuse me of wanting to police the site: Get some fucking perspective. Wander through the MetaTalk archives and take a look at how many times I've done something inappropriate and been brought out on the carpet for it.

It's about making this place better, damn it, it's not about getting our jollies off by picking on someone. That's not what we're about here, and the fact that people think that is what we're about is mildly disturbing.
posted by cCranium at 10:58 AM on September 6, 2001


You can't do anything.

In the immortal words of two guys with Casios "People Are People." Some are going to get pissed off. Some won't. I'm amazed people get along as well as they do here, given the amount of participants. I've only had to take hostages once, maybe twice in my time here.

k, who is agonizing over which Togo's samich to have for lunch this fine day. Now that's a debate I can get into.
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:02 AM on September 6, 2001


What can we do to ensure that posters don't take offense to criticism doled out in MeTalk?

Dave, you're so cute when you're naive. Obviously, there's nothing we can do to eliminate posters taking offense. Some people are just thin skinned.

The appropriate response to the easily offended is almost always to walk away. It's almost always misguided to defend yourself after such a blow up. If you were in the wrong, you can't really defend yourself. If, as in this case, the other person was in the wrong, everyone else will realize that. Defending yourself generally encourages an irrational person to escalate. Dignified silence is where it's at.


posted by anapestic at 11:08 AM on September 6, 2001


I am stymied as to how to respond to Dave. I feel that anything I say will be too "doom and gloom" oriented, and that's all been said, but that's how I feel. The old guard is no longer welcome at MeFi. Once, MeFi believed that "an unexamined life wasn't worth living", now, to examine is to attack another individual. The term policing isn't appropriate - the older members are simply trying to teach the newer members how to behave, how to post, what to do - because MeFi was something different than it now is. Better? Perhaps. More original is the appropriate term, I think. MeFi used to be the place to get the latest link/meme/idea weeks, even months before it hit big. AYBABTU? It was here months before it hit Salon, or certainly the NYT. That used to be cool.

Now, MeFi has become more about current events. The interesting links don't generate discussion, and since that has now become the cred, instead of how cool and well crafted the link is, inflammatory posts and topics are the norm. That's fine. But let's not kid ourselves - the reason that people think "MeFi has gone down hill" is that it is now controlled by the new majority - new people with new ideas and new ways of using MeFi. Clearly, Matt is accepting of this evolution. If we are not, then we should move on and find a new place, create a new place, to be like the "old" MeFi. But all this railing against the wind will get us nowhere. Each day a new person shows up, and each day that person is trained by the posts they see, not the ones they don't.

I'm not giving up on MeFi, I'm just relegating it to a place like Salon. Still a step above Slashdot, but no longer a true community.
posted by J. R. Hughto at 11:19 AM on September 6, 2001


It's about making this place better, damn it, it's not about getting our jollies off by picking on someone.

Amen! here here! Bravo!

<hysterical rant>

The whole concept of MeFi elitism has taken on the character that "political correctness" did a few years ago. If it's happening, it must be bad. If A suggests that B is wrong, A should piss off, because they're stifling B's crea-fucking-tivity or something.

Just because A believes this community should live up to the standards that MeFi, itself, has set, doesn't make A elitist. It just means A cares.

Post a friggin' link to Stile.com (not a link about its "sale", mind you, but a link to its content), or to the front page of the Onion and you should be beaten with bags of coins. End of story. If you don't have the common sense not to do something like that, too bad. There were plenty of times in the past where I didn't have that sense, posted poorly, and was thrashed for it. Such is life as a grown up.

Matt grants virtually anyone the right to post to the front page, and to comment on those posts. It is an inclusive forum, and a very wide variety of perspectives is encouraged, welcomed, appreciated. People do not have a god-given right to post whatever they feel, or to say whatever they want to each other in comments. They do not have the right to consistently FUCK THINGS UP. And they certainly do not have the right to fuck things up with impunity.

</hysterical rant>

Also....I just had the turkey club with Swiss, K. Highly recommended.
posted by jpoulos at 11:35 AM on September 6, 2001


Of course, maybe I've just wasted my breath (and about 20 minutes I should have spent working). Consider this quote from disaster, who happens to be a "newbie" and who happens to have sparked this whole debate with a seemingly innocuous front page post:

disaster: It's just a weblog. It's a nice thing, and eventually it will cease being a nice thing. This is how all good things on the internet come to their demise.
posted by jpoulos at 11:41 AM on September 6, 2001


cCranium: It's nice and simple unless you do something silly like consider the possibility that the people messing up your clubhouse see you as the ones messing up their clubhouse.

But really, anything that won't possibly offend somebody (especially given how many people go through life looking for something to find offensive) probably isn't worth saying. The best you can hope for is that they're sufficiently offended to go away instead of sticking around and moaning.
posted by harmful at 11:54 AM on September 6, 2001


Harmful, if I'm fucking up someone's clubhouse I would greatly appreciate being told. I didn't say I wasn't one of the users who has been around for a long time and was unknowingly fucking the place up.

In fact, I've been asking whether or not I'm fucking up someone's clubhouse for months, and no one has been able to tell me that I am, or how things are being fucked up.

So if I am, please tell me exactly how I am.
posted by cCranium at 12:09 PM on September 6, 2001


So if I am, please tell me exactly how I am.

This can come across as being much more confrontational than I meant it to. It was written with more of a pleading tone than an aggresive one.
posted by cCranium at 12:15 PM on September 6, 2001


The best you can hope for is that they're sufficiently offended to go away instead of sticking around and moaning.

I hope that when I'm offended by an opinion, I can chalk it up to a difference of opinion, and respond in an appropriate manner (which could include not at all). And I hope that if I am offended by the manner of a post (and not the content) directed at me, that apologies are made and the community becomes better for it. I've always tried to apologize for the manner of my posts when it offends, and to never apologize for the argument I'm making. If I make you go away, you'll never have the opportunity to hear my opinion.
posted by iceberg273 at 12:15 PM on September 6, 2001


I meant "you" in the most generic sense possible. My real point was, how do we go about determining whose clubhouse it is, and therefore who sets such rules?

And I draw a distinction between disagreeing with someone else's opinion, however strongly, and being offended by the fact that they hold it.
posted by harmful at 12:46 PM on September 6, 2001


My real point was, how do we go about determining whose clubhouse it is, and therefore who sets such rules?

It is Matt's clubhouse. Matt sets the rules. In lieu of his voice, we can only guess. The old users prefer to think they're in the right because they were here first. The new users think they are right because they outnumber the old users. Each side has valid points, and, unfortunately, cannot coexist.

I believe this is a problem caused by a glut of traffic, which has caused basic respect between users to dry up. When that happens, little, if any movement is achieved. MeFi no longer listens to MeTa, let alone shows that its discussions can be valuable, users get in pissing contests, and basic decency is thrown by the wayside.

At this point, I would rejoice over a simple return to basic decency in the majority of the posts, instead of it only occuring in the minority.
posted by J. R. Hughto at 1:00 PM on September 6, 2001


OK, OK! Please stop calling now!

I had the Turkey, Ham and American Cheese, hold the Pepperoncinis and Onions. On White.

Damn Papparazi!
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:21 PM on September 6, 2001


how do we go about determining whose clubhouse it is, and therefore who sets such rules?

'tis a good question.

Ultimately, of course, it's Matt's decision so I guess I really should just shut up about these things.
posted by cCranium at 1:39 PM on September 6, 2001


Ultimately, of course, it's Matt's decision...

Technically, it is, but it's pretty apparent that Matt doesn't want to be too involved in steering MeFi in any particular direction. I don't claim to speak for him, but it appears to me that he's sort of watching to see how the chips fall.

I say we have a war between the families...Corleone-style. Exterminate the brutes!!!!

We could turn this place into Lord of the Flies.

How's that for mixed cinema metaphors?
posted by jpoulos at 1:51 PM on September 6, 2001


We could turn this place into Lord of the Flies.

There are some who say that this has already happened.
posted by harmful at 2:27 PM on September 6, 2001


I see it more as Children of the Corn.

"Molochai! He wants you too!"

love and kisses from

he who walks behind the rows
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:07 PM on September 6, 2001


The appropriate response to the easily offended is almost always to walk away. It's almost always misguided to defend yourself after such a blow up.

Some people get handed a clue, see it, understand it, but have "debater's disease" which means they will defend their initial action to the death. When the cluedesk offers you something its probably for the best.

I don't think we're just getting newbies, we're getting a few net newbies. Thin-skinned, assumes everything is just like an AOL chatroom or an IM conversation, and will make little or no concessions for "the man" when he explains in plain terms why you're wrong. Just a few, but evidently enough to warrant two metatalk threads.

Dave, don't worry about the thin-skinned either they're going to get it or make a fuss and leave.


posted by skallas at 7:47 PM on September 6, 2001


I :heart: cC - Your first post says everything I wish I could say only better.

It's everyone's clubhouse, but by the same measure, Matt is the ultimate arbiter of what is acceptable since he holds the power to delete posts.
Why is it that on the internet, people feel free to do what they wouldn't do in RL?
When you arrive in a new job, do you immediately tell all those people around you, many of whom have been there a long time that what they're doing is wrong? Do you tell them that they should all change the way they work to suit what you would like them to do? Do you react the way disaster did to constructive (for that is what it was) criticism? If you did, you'd not last a week.

To those who spend more time reacting badly to constructive criticism than thinking of something worth posting: No-one is trying to stop you from expressing yourself, stop being so reactionary and grow the fuck up. No-one can come here, post a couple of times and have the whole party hanging on their every word. If you thought that was going to happen or that you were going to make a splash by telling us all what's wrong with our community you're bound to be disappointed.
You might like MeFi the way it was meant to be rather than the way you think it should be, if only you took your head from up your arse long enough to try it.
posted by Markb at 3:52 AM on September 7, 2001


skallas, I think you may have hit the nail on the head there.

I'm not saying that I normally contribute a whole hell of alot around here. But is it possible that recent Media attention has brought far more new-to-the-net types than just new-to-MeFi types than previously thought?

I'm not saying that having one is better than the other, it's just a higher learning curve for net newbies.
posted by tj at 10:35 AM on September 7, 2001


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