I disagree with the decision to close this MeTa thread. March 7, 2005 10:35 AM   Subscribe

I disagree with the decision to close this MeTa thread. I understand that you made a decision regarding the topic, and I understand that it could have devolved into name-calling, but as it stood, the comments were reasonable and without personal insults. A better discussion could have ensued regarding flagging etiquette and how to deal with obnoxious comments; in fact, the makings of a good conversation regarding what constitutes a flaggable offense existed. I just felt that the closing was premature.
posted by BlueTrain to Etiquette/Policy at 10:35 AM (92 comments total)

MeTa has, in recent memory, existed to air out grievances and create some sort of natural closure to policies, if such a closure exists. In this case, I got the feeling that you were done discussing it, so it ended. But flagging is an incredibly new feature and I think that we should be allowed to come to some sort of consensus, if one exists, about how and when to use the system, through our own volition.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:38 AM on March 7, 2005


troll.
posted by jonmc at 10:47 AM on March 7, 2005


derailer.
posted by goatdog at 11:18 AM on March 7, 2005


Drama queen.
posted by tristeza at 11:21 AM on March 7, 2005


But flagging is an incredibly new feature and I think that we should be allowed to come to some sort of consensus, if one exists, about how and when to use the system, through our own volition.

But I think the real issue is how flagging works for the end users (forgive the corporate-speak!) -- which in this case is Matt and Jessamyn, not any of the rest of us. Matt stated previously that the "troll" flag, when it initially existed, was not particularly useful or relevant for his purposes of determining when to delete comments or threads -- which is why he coded that particular pony in the first place.

On preview: name caller!
posted by scody at 11:22 AM on March 7, 2005


At the risk of providing a serious answer ... Matt said he tried the "troll" flag and it didn't work. Not "I don't think it will work" but "I tried it it and it didn't work," which is pretty definitive. So what's the point of continuning to discuss something that has already been tried and failed?
posted by pmurray63 at 11:23 AM on March 7, 2005


So what's the point of continuning to discuss something that has already been tried and failed?

But I thought that's what MetaTalk was all about!
posted by goatdog at 11:25 AM on March 7, 2005


I'm glad I'm not Matt. Lately it seems like he's been getting more than his fair share of second-guessing. I'm not saying I always agree with his decisions, but if I were him, I'd be getting pretty damn grumpy with all of you trolls.
posted by Plutor at 11:26 AM on March 7, 2005


what pmurray said. Question was asked, answer was given. This is how Metatalk works now - when it is something that kind of directly relates to Matt, and he answers it (or responds), he usually closes it. The open ended stuff generally stays open until it becomes a train wreck. This isn't an example of Matt being trigger happy. I see your point BlueTrain, but it is something that could have been handled via email.
posted by Quartermass at 11:31 AM on March 7, 2005


open threads lead to fun, and fun leads to dancing baptists, and mathowie hates dancing. and baptists. and fun.
posted by quonsar at 11:31 AM on March 7, 2005


I'm not going to add a "troll" option.

I stated why.

I already had one previously and it was useless to me.

What else is there to discuss?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:36 AM on March 7, 2005


Also, keep in mind this is an odd feature because I'm the only one that ever sees it (Jessamyn does not, and doesn't delete anything anymore). People telling me how my private tool should work doesn't help me, especially if I've already tried it and it didn't work.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:40 AM on March 7, 2005


[This thread is closed to new comments.]
posted by Specklet at 11:41 AM on March 7, 2005


Mathowie, would you prefer I flag this post as noise, derail or double post?

BlueTrain, I see no problem with the previous thread being closed. Reasons pro and con were given -- mostly con -- and mathowie himself said the troll flag didn't work. I don't see any need to keep the thread open just so we can debate implementation of something that has been proved not to work.

If you're really looking for a replacement for "troll," "offensive comment" probably would do just fine. Give it a try.
posted by me3dia at 11:44 AM on March 7, 2005


Listen, that particular thread wasn't my pet project, nor is the topic of flagging a huge issue for me. But I think you closed the thread without everyone putting their two cents in, which I think is in conflict with the idea of discussing things on MeTa. The purpose of this site that has evolved over time, or so I thought, was that the community could comment about policy, features, and bugs. But if instead of discussion you make this site (MeTa) more like AskMe (with more definitive, closed discussions), then you're changing the scope of this site. Which is fine, but I think that you should make that clear. Quite frankly the linked discussion was not abusive, abrasive, or off-topic. The people involved were all polite and could have sustained a conversation without causing alarm. Therefore, I think it should have remained open.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:58 AM on March 7, 2005


I would just like to know why NinjaPirate decided to invoke my name for no apparent reason.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:03 PM on March 7, 2005


To distract you so that his armies of PirateNinjas can plunder your booty.
posted by sciurus at 12:07 PM on March 7, 2005


Damn it!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:10 PM on March 7, 2005


To distract you so that his armies of PirateNinjas can plunder your booty

So they..

On second thought, nevermind.


On-topic: I don't think this was something that needed to be visited again. The first thread, BlueTrain, asked a specific question; #1 answered it, and no more discussion was necessary. That doesn't seem to be a change in the way MeTa works to me. If flagging etiquette is something you want to discuss, email me ([myusername]@gmail.com) and I'll be happy to post the topic here so we can all figure out what flags are appropriate in which circumstances.


Suggested, clearly, because of the one-a-week limit.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:13 PM on March 7, 2005


Y'know, if even with the lighter hand approach we have MeTa posts about thread closings, deletions, etc. (and we have), then Matt may as well go ahead and delete with a lead hand. I mean, come on, count to ten before you post to MeTa.
posted by anapestic at 12:23 PM on March 7, 2005


Troll, noun,
     1. a person whose beliefs you find uncomfortable;
     2. a label to be applied to such a person, in order to make them shut up without the inconvenience of answering their arguments or claims.
cf "calling Godwin".
posted by orthogonality at 12:30 PM on March 7, 2005


S@L: I often invoke your name for no reason. In fact, today in traffic I was cut off by this old woman driving a Honda Civic. She didn't even use her turn signal. I punched my steering wheel and yelled STEVE AT LINWOOOOOOOD!

I felt much better.
posted by xmutex at 12:33 PM on March 7, 2005


S@L: I often invoke your name for no reason. In fact, today in traffic I was cut off by this old woman driving a Honda Civic. She didn't even use her turn signal. I punched my steering wheel and yelled STEVE AT LINWOOOOOOOD!

Whoa, you do that too?
posted by Quartermass at 12:38 PM on March 7, 2005


mathowie writes "People telling me how my private tool should work doesn't help me"

Look guys, I know it's tempting, but keep your hands off Matt's private tool.

He doesn't need our advice on how to work it.

Ob. on-topic:
mathowie also writes "What else is there to discuss?"

Well, nothing, but people apparently still wanted to blow off steam, have their say, get the last word in, and by closing the thread you prevented that happy release. I guess you left some people with the mental equivalent of blue balls. Might be simpler to leave it open and let people feel they got their chance to have their say. You can still, having stated your position, ignore the remainder of the thread.
posted by orthogonality at 12:38 PM on March 7, 2005


All these calls for a lighter hand for Matt's private tool in order to get a happy release....uh, what are we talking about again?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:46 PM on March 7, 2005


STEVE AT LINWOOOOOOOD! is the new KHAAANNN!
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:52 PM on March 7, 2005


But I think you closed the thread without everyone putting their two cents in, which I think is in conflict with the idea of discussing things on MeTa.

Not necessarily. There are open-ended questions and close-ended questions, which means there are different types of of answers. "Many users are frustrated by the way in which comments and threads are being deleted -- what are some solutions?" is an open-ended one that was implicitly at the heart of what led to the creation of flagging in the first place. By its nature, this question led to a long, involved, and important discussion because there was no immediate yes or no answer re: functionality.

By contrast, "Does Matt need to see a 'troll' flag to help him make his deletion decisions?" is a close-ended question that A) can only be answered by Matt and B) has already been answered NO. Plenty of people might find it personally satisfying to flag someone as a troll -- but that is utterly separate from the functionality of the feature, and no amount of discussion was suddenly going to make it work for Matt now in a way it didn't last week.
posted by scody at 12:58 PM on March 7, 2005


MetaFilter: the mental equivalent of blue balls.
posted by casu marzu at 12:59 PM on March 7, 2005


I punched my steering wheel and yelled STEVE AT LINWOOOOOOOD!

STEVE AT LINWOOOOOOOD! is the new KHAAANNN!


LOL. KHAAAAAN!

btw, before that other thread was closed I was about to admit that I once used a [!] to flag a post I liked, thinking maybe it was a bookmark or a [this is good] type thing. Oops.
posted by Shane at 1:00 PM on March 7, 2005


jonmc wins
posted by matteo at 1:06 PM on March 7, 2005


Damn. I just went back through that Khaaaaan! thread, Shane, and my oh-so-brilliant Piiiiiike! comment now links to a dead image file.

Matt, can you re-open that thread so I can replace that pic with this one? Thx.
posted by soyjoy at 1:08 PM on March 7, 2005


All these calls for a lighter hand for Matt's private tool in order to get a happy release....uh, what are we talking about again?

*titters* This entire waste-of-a-thread has been vindicated!
posted by naxosaxur at 1:32 PM on March 7, 2005


This post is even more ridiculous than the original. It's another example of a trend that may just make closing MeTa threads more trouble than it's worth-- threads about closed threads seem more messy than just leaving them all open regardless of how pointless the comments become. How many more new & exciting ways do we really need to complain about each other?

dirtynumbangelboy: You might want to check out this post before offering to post MeTa threads for others.
posted by obloquy at 1:34 PM on March 7, 2005


why is this thread still open?
posted by andrew cooke at 1:36 PM on March 7, 2005


why is this thread still open?

Because as I said earlier, threads should end of their own volition. In this case, not enough people have gotten their cheap shots against me. Whoa is the life of the victim, BlueTrain. Poor guy.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:42 PM on March 7, 2005


I thought I was the only one who yelled STEVE@LINNWOOD!!!! all the time.
posted by exlotuseater at 1:54 PM on March 7, 2005


Very droll, BlueBallsTrain.

That's droll with a 'd'.

Private Troll. Wasn't that Gomer Pyle's nickname?
posted by wendell at 1:54 PM on March 7, 2005


or was that Private Tool?

I'm not feeling well today.
posted by wendell at 1:55 PM on March 7, 2005


I'm not feeling wendell today.


(I might be more willing tomorrow.)
posted by soyjoy at 2:10 PM on March 7, 2005


dirtynumbangelboy: and no more discussion was necessary.

Here's where we'll have to agree to disagree. Proof of BlueTrain's point is the couple of comments made after Matt's last comment but before the closing. amberglow's[1] comment/question was perfectly valid and on topic as were grouses's and mine. If Matt had closed the thread immediately at a minimum it would have left amberglow hanging. My response wasn't cannon but I'm sure it was a viable option for what to choose if multiples apply. And in a group this large if one person's asking you can bet there are at least a couple people hanging in the wings who are also wondering.

Shane: btw, before that other thread was closed I was about to admit that I once used a [!] to flag a post I liked, thinking maybe it was a bookmark or a [this is good] type thing. Oops.

I hit the thing accidently all the time. It's a good thing there's a page between hitting the ! and matt getting anything or I would be so banninated.

[1] For all the style experts out there should you capitalize a proper name that does not start with a capital if it is the first word of a sentence?
posted by Mitheral at 2:15 PM on March 7, 2005


I'm disappointed nobody has been called a Nazi yet.
posted by Kleptophoria! at 2:24 PM on March 7, 2005


I think that dirtynumbangelboy (dude, get a shorter name) said that no more discussion was necessary, not possible. The fact that there exist potential on-topic comments is not sufficient to keep open a discussion when the dispositive comment has been made.
posted by anapestic at 2:35 PM on March 7, 2005


before that other thread was closed I was about to admit that I once used a [!] to flag a post I liked, thinking maybe it was a bookmark or a [this is good] type thing. Oops.

One of the reasons for flagging is "great post" so this is quite alright.

I use those to consider posting them to the sideblog.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:35 PM on March 7, 2005


mathowie writes "One of the reasons for flagging is 'great post' so this is quite alright."

Hey, I have an idea: if you want to flag comments as "troll", why not flag them as "great post" instead, but do it while concentrating on projecting a sarcastic demeanor?

When you click the little exclamation point, be sure to think to yourself, "Oh yeeeeeah, that's a great comment." Then roll your eyes when you hit the flag submit button.

If you see that matthowie has posted that flagged comment to the sidebar, be sure to shake your head and lament in a jaded, been-there-done-that-seen-everything voice, "What has the world come to?" Then disgustedly heave a sigh.
posted by orthogonality at 2:50 PM on March 7, 2005


Kleptophoria is Hitler's nephew.
Close enough?
posted by me3dia at 2:52 PM on March 7, 2005


Okay, that's good, now insist that I've been oppressing you. Really scream it, too.

Oh, you've been a naughty little trade unionist haven't you?
posted by Kleptophoria! at 3:04 PM on March 7, 2005


dirtynumbangelboy (dude, get a shorter name)

we call him dnab when communicating in the arcane protocol which cannot be named here.
posted by quonsar at 3:13 PM on March 7, 2005


I'm tending to agree with BlueTrain here, for what it's worth. The question "what was left to discuss" from mathowie kinda pisses me off, to be honest. And it's abundantly clear lately that closing Meta threads inevitably spawns more, like this one. The pointless yammering of the Great Metafilter Unwashed is going to happen, no matter what you do, it seems. Parse that last how you will, pro-yammer or anti. I don't even know where I stand anymore.

Also, q: 'troll' is more closely related to 'flyfish' than 'balrog' I'd say, notwithstanding the leap to deploying it as a noun. 'Trollerman' just doesn't leap off the tongue, sadly, and it's BAD and SEXIST besides!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:48 PM on March 7, 2005


I, too, suggest leaving threads open if only to keep this stupid cycle from occurring and bumping even more stuff off the MeTa front page. It's just a waste of space, though I completely agree that the question in the previous thread was not open-ended, had been sufficiently answered and discussed, and probably should have been closed, it's obvious that some people simply can't accept that the topic is closed, and insist on re-opening a new thread.

Leave threads open, stop hurting america. and... and the children.
posted by odinsdream at 4:00 PM on March 7, 2005


People telling me how my private tool should work doesn't help me...

I just wanted to see that again. Goodnight.
posted by i_cola at 4:20 PM on March 7, 2005


The question "what was left to discuss" from mathowie kinda pisses me off, to be honest.

Why? I could maybe see in pie-in-the-sky philosophical terms, but it was a) a very specific question with b) a specific answer for c) a specific user (me) involving a suggestion that I d) already tried, and deemed to not do the job.

If ever there was a reason to close a thread that was directed at me, for something I do everyday with it that I already tried and determined it didn't help or work, and didn't involve anyone else using it, then that thread was it.

I'm kind of baffled why you'd be pissed off by that. Are you pissed by the thought that I even close threads that have run their (very specific) course?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:38 PM on March 7, 2005


More in general than in particular, Matt. I've always gotten prickly when people tell me 'the conversation's over because I say it is', in any situation. I'm not sure community standards can properly emerge when discussion is limited. In almost all cases I understand why you close threads when you do, and I understand why you started doing it, and agree with the reasoning, but I can't help but think it may not be addressing the root causes of why it became necessary in the first place.

Also, I posted that before my first coffee this morning, when I am legendarily cranky.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:57 PM on March 7, 2005


So, MetaTalk threads get closed by default, unless there is a reason to keep them open. This is a change from what I have understood and observed to be the policy of the past, which was that MetaTalk threads remain open by default, unless they turn ugly for one of several reasons. If this is the case, MetaTalk has become less interesting to me.

Even a thread with a question addressed specifically to the admin is a fine place to read the opinions and input of other users. The troll flag thread was open only 3.5 hours, and I was diappointed to see that some of my favorite users didn't have a chance to weigh in.
posted by squirrel at 5:07 PM on March 7, 2005


One more bit. One of the reasons that I love MetaFilter is I often enter threads thinking that I have my mind made up about some topic or other. But this place, despite its weenies and trolls, is chock full of intelligent, articulate people who compose arguments that can change my mind, or get me thinking about something in a different way.

Matt, as the only user here with the ability to stop conversations, I would urge you to be aware of the impact this power may have on your inclination to entertain new perspectives.

Case in point, the troll tag thread. What if someone would have posted a comment to that thread that presented a way of looking at the issue that you hadn't considered before? By ending that conversation, you implied that you weren't expecting anything new, and weren't open to having your mind changed.
posted by squirrel at 5:21 PM on March 7, 2005


So, MetaTalk threads get closed by default, unless there is a reason to keep them open.

That's a complete non sequitur, aka unsupported whining, squirrel. What he said was they get closed if there's a reason to do so.

I don't get the argument that we should leave the threads open just because when we close them people behave badly. People behave badly when they're left open. Read the ends of a lot of MeTa threads. Also, people should grow up and act like adults rather than feel like it's their right to act out somewhere. Which, I believe, I have seen some of y'all say here before.
posted by anapestic at 5:21 PM on March 7, 2005


So, MetaTalk threads get closed by default, unless there is a reason to keep them open.

Where on earth did you get that idea?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:24 PM on March 7, 2005


orthogonality : "Might be simpler to leave it open and let people feel they got their chance to have their say. You can still, having stated your position, ignore the remainder of the thread."

I think orthogonality may be right. Matt, there's no logical reason why you shouldn't be able to close a thread consisting of a question directed at you once you've already answered it. Unfortunately, reality is that people will bitch about it. Some people like to discuss, even when there's nothing to discuss. ("Hey, let's go get a taco from Taco Bob's" "Uh, they're closed today." "Yeah, but it would be a good idea to get a taco from there now. Maybe we should go to Taco Bob's and buy some tacos. I feel like a taco today, and I like Taco Bob's tacos best, so I think we should go buy some tacos from Taco Bob's, right now!") So while the logical response is "I've answered your question to me, there is nothing left to discuss.", the most effective approach from a results-oriented standpoint is to answer the question and then move on, and let the people who need to flap their lips (or fingers, as it were) get it out of their system. No need to read the rest of the posts in that case, of course.

But I do have to agree slightly with squirrel, which is that, while I don't really complain about deletions / closures, I do kinda prefer the concept of closure as a means to prevent trainwreckage, and that there's no real point in closing something that looks like it will stay trainwreck free.
posted by Bugbread at 5:26 PM on March 7, 2005


squirrel:

Case in point, the troll tag thread. What if someone would have posted a comment to that thread that presented a way of looking at the issue that you hadn't considered before? By ending that conversation, you implied that you weren't expecting anything new, and weren't open to having your mind changed.

Well, even in that thread people were starting to say "Because it doesn't work. Why are we still discussing this?" and "Because the other negative post flags cover it. Why are we still discussing this?" This thread is now filling with people saying "Because Matt said it doesn't work. Why are we still discussing this?" I agree that generally the discussion should GET bad before it's closed rather than closed so it doesn't get that way. However, ponies are direct questions to Matt, right? I mean, we post them on MeTa for discussion and input, but that issue had already been brought up and treated before. How much can Matt defend himself for something completely reasonable before it just makes sense to say, "case closed?"

$.02
posted by shmegegge at 5:27 PM on March 7, 2005


shmegegge, people who post "why are we still discussing this?" to MetaTalk threads bewilder me. It's akin to getting out of bed, driving downtown and asking people at a bar why they're still partying. If a person has nothing more to contribute to a thread, then they shouldn't post there. That seems pretty clear to me.

How much can Matt defend himself for something completely reasonable before it just makes sense to say, "case closed?"

This is a good point. I wasn't thinking of the continuing conversation as something Matt had to defend himself from. That's not the way I saw it, but you're right that Matt may have seen it that way. I've been various kinds of admins over the years, and I agree that it can be a pain in the neck to have all your decisions questioned ad infinitum.

So, MetaTalk threads get closed by default, unless there is a reason to keep them open.

Where on earth did you get that idea?

From your "What else is there to discuss?" comment. Perhaps I was the only one to infer that you closed the thread because there was no specific reason to keep it open--hence my inference of the new closing policy. Actually, I was more trying to check-in than declare. I take it from your reply that this is not your policy, and that's good news.
posted by squirrel at 7:04 PM on March 7, 2005


That's a huge leap in reasoning, squirrel.
posted by me3dia at 7:21 PM on March 7, 2005


Lately a number of my posts have been labelled as trolls and even worse those who've engaged me in discussion have scolded for doing so. I feel as though I'm being excommunicated from this community for having the gall to express a dissenting viewpoint.

I would of defended myself in the blue but trying to refute the troll label almost certainly results in a thread derail as has been seen with dios. I think we should create a new flag "meta-troll" to be used for people who call out "trolls" in the blue.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 7:49 PM on March 7, 2005


If this is the case, MetaTalk has become less interesting to me.

Whaaa? Why is MetaTalk supposed to be interesting to you?
posted by smackfu at 8:05 PM on March 7, 2005


That's a huge leap in reasoning, squirrel.

Maybe. It seems pretty clear to me: "What else is there to discuss?" as a reason to close a thread is miles away from "the thread was getting abusive." That's the point I was trying to make. I inferred from Matt's comment that he was moving toward a close-if I think-it's-over policy. I've already acknowledged that I may have been the only one to interpret it this way.

On preview: smackfu, I won't nibble.
posted by squirrel at 8:14 PM on March 7, 2005


excommunicated from this community for having the gall to express a dissenting viewpoint. I would of defended myself...

no. you are being excommunicated for writing "would of".
posted by quonsar at 8:36 PM on March 7, 2005


quonsar's in rare form tonight. Or is it that I'm having my first drink in a week?
posted by orthogonality at 8:52 PM on March 7, 2005


Wow. Not to be bitchy, but some of you just don't get it. Let's try this again:

1) A specific question was asked of Matt.
2) The question was very definitively answered, indicating that no, nothing is going to change, this is how it is, like it or lump it.
3) Thread closed, no further discussion necessary.

Where's the difficulty?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:20 PM on March 7, 2005


There's not necessarily a difficulty, it's simply that for approximately five years MetaTalk threads have not been closed to further comments, so there is some discussion about the new paradigm.

My personal feeling is that threads that are headed for nastyland (pileons, particularly) are good to close, but other matters that people want to talk about will simply be reintroduced in new MeTa threads if the ongoing discussion is severed. The conversation about "trolls" will certainly be taken up again, somewhere, I imagine, because there's so much sniping back and forth in blue threads about this term*.

* overworked to the point of exhaustion — let's retire it.
posted by taz at 9:40 PM on March 7, 2005


no. you are being excommunicated for writing "would of".

I went to the trouble of spell checking my post but the spell check doesn't catch stupid grammar mistakes. :( Not that I thought anybody would of have cared.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 9:51 PM on March 7, 2005


Might be simpler to leave it open and let people feel they got their chance to have their say.

This is the main purpose of metatalk, in my opinion. That's why it's so fucking *brilliant*. Give people a place to spew endlessly (or mostly endlessly), and they blow off the steam that would otherwise explode in the blue, or in private email to matt. Fantastic strategy, really.

Of course, closing threads stifles this.

Seriously, I do feel letting people "have their say" is a wonderful way to let them stay satisfied enough with the site to stay. Imagine what this place would be like with no metatalk at all. Heh.
posted by beth at 10:29 PM on March 7, 2005


By the way, Matt, I think you're a little bit of a softie about this kind of thing. Let me expain.

You seem to have no problem with closing the thread in question here. Case closed. Done.

Yet, although that decision is an easy one for you, you leave this thead, ostensibly about that decision, open for a long time. Eventually/inevitably the thread about why you closed threadX winds up being twice the size of threadX. That's silly.

If you're going to close a thread, then close/delete any knee-jerk follow-up threads. I say this not because I want to see less knee-jerk crap in MeTa, but because I'm tired of seeing you make one well-considered decision to close a thread, and then tolerate a nearly-endless SECOND thread about said closure. I think your tendency to tolerate criticism of your decisions is admirable, but kind of a smoke screen in a way. You do, after all, make decisions on your own. That's the way it is, and letting people debate it forever doesn't change that. In fact, the selective closure starts to feel a bit patronizing. The decisions are yours and you don't hesitate to make them. Letting us discuss them without closing the thread is starting to feel like a consolation prize.

Be consistent. Stand by decisions once you make them. Don't let people bully you into second-guessing yourself every time you make a decision. Allowing them to do so doesn't make you magnanimous and wise, it eventually makes you - forgive the adjectives - weak and inconsistent.
posted by scarabic at 11:52 PM on March 7, 2005


My personal feeling is that threads that are headed for nastyland (pileons, particularly) are good to close, but other matters that people want to talk about will simply be reintroduced in new MeTa threads if the ongoing discussion is severed.

Exactly. Perfect example: when people wanted to continue to talk about u.n. owen and this thread was closed, a new thread was started ostensibly to discuss 'the issue as a whole', but it quickly picked up right where the other thread left off.

That said, I think Matt did the right thing with the first thread, because it was getting ugly in a way the followup never did. Closing the first thread gave people a chance to stop, catch their breath and not get carried away. Conversation on the original topic resumed, and it still wasn't pretty but it didn't have the earlier venom.

In my mind, nipping threads right at the tipping point where they go from ugly to AlexReynolds (sorry, Alex, but . . .) ought to be the beginning and end of how that feature is used. It's Matt's site, and it's not my place to dictate how he runs it, but apparently a large number of users feel the same way.
posted by Ryvar at 12:09 AM on March 8, 2005


Scarabic: Matt has better things to do with his life than playing whack-a-mole every time a topic comes up that the community wants to discuss but he doesn't want discussed. Actually, scratch that - I can't speak for him, I'm just assuming he does.

The hardest lesson I ever learned was that as an admin attempting to act as the hammer, rather than the rudder, only serves to turn your userbase against you.
posted by Ryvar at 12:12 AM on March 8, 2005


If you're going to close a thread, then close/delete any knee-jerk follow-up threads.

I disagree, scarabic. The first thread was about troll tags, the second about thread closure policy per se. The fact that some people abused the second thread to pick up where the first thread left off doesn't matter; derailing comments about the previous topic should be deleted. Yet it should be noted that there were a few comments in this thread that really should have made it into the first thread, demonstrating that people felt that there was indeed more to say on the matter. Notwithstanding, posting them here still isn't right.
posted by squirrel at 12:32 AM on March 8, 2005


Yet, although that decision is an easy one for you, you leave this thead, ostensibly about that decision, open for a long time. Eventually/inevitably the thread about why you closed threadX winds up being twice the size of threadX. That's silly.

If you're going to close a thread, then close/delete any knee-jerk follow-up threads.


With all due respect, you're wrong and there's a reason why I'm letting this one dangle in the breeze. When I close something, and close a followup, then I look petty, like I'm stifling conversation in a selfish way. You may not have noticed it, but a few weeks ago I did exactly this and that's when the shit really hit the fan, where a good number of users got riled up and several acted out on this site in various ways, due to my "strong-arm tactics" and "control issues." The other thread was a personal suggestion to me and the issue was open and shut. This one is about folks complaining about the closing and the concept in general, and though I don't really care to discuss any longer, it would hurt more than it would help to close it off. I'm positive of this, as I've seen what happens in the past.

Be consistent. Stand by decisions once you make them. Don't let people bully you into second-guessing yourself every time you make a decision. Allowing them to do so doesn't make you magnanimous and wise, it eventually makes you - forgive the adjectives - weak and inconsistent.

Oh man, this is so wrong on so many levels. Have you ever run a community site or even led a small group of friends on an outing? No human can ever be perfectly consistent, we're not robots. And subtle inconsistency combined with "standing by decisions no matter what" doesn't make you appear to be strong, it makes you look stubborn. I'd also ask if you were pushing for me to change my mind on the suicide girls thing and happy when I did, but I don't recall if you were, but that's another instance where firm, but tough would have been the wrong path to take.

Stubborn admins that don't admit they are ever wrong are assholes. I've explained to the person that started this thread and all those that thought the first one didn't need to be closed why I closed it. I'm not going to re-open it here no matter what, and no one is making me second guess that.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:34 AM on March 8, 2005


Lately a number of my posts have been labelled as trolls and even worse those who've engaged me in discussion have scolded for doing so. I feel as though I'm being excommunicated from this community for having the gall to express a dissenting viewpoint.

It was a few posts of yours (drscroogemcduck) that inspired me to start the other thread, frankly. I flagged them but didn't complain in-thread, and started seeing that most of your comments were just incendiary for no good reason except to, seemingly, be a jerk.

But-- I will say this-- some users who started out as trolls turned it around and won back respect by being good and valued members of the community.
posted by norm at 9:22 AM on March 8, 2005


Fair enough, Matt. I think users that give you shit for having "control issues" need to understand that you're in charge and that's the way life is. If they're placated by talking about it in a follow up thread, great. Let 'em spin their wheels until they cool off. But that's really all they're doing, though, isn't it? A 100-comment thread about a closure isn't going to un-close the thread. There are times when it seems a little cruel to let people chat on and on about a decision you're clearly not going to change. But you're right - if you clamped down twice in a row it would surely be worse. I am wrong.

I didn't encourage you to keep the SG ad no matter what the objections, but I did encourage everyone to learn to live with it because it would help support the site.
posted by scarabic at 12:32 PM on March 8, 2005


Let 'em spin their wheels until they cool off. But that's really all they're doing, though, isn't it? A 100-comment thread about a closure isn't going to un-close the thread. There are times when it seems a little cruel to let people chat on and on about a decision you're clearly not going to change. But you're right - if you clamped down twice in a row it would surely be worse. I am wrong.

Actually, you're doubly wrong. If people posting that they disagree with closing threads and recent deletions hadn't persisted, Matt never would've agreed to back off on the heavy-handedness, as he did recently. There may be a greater objective in mind than reversing deletion/thread closings or mere venting and you have to acknowledge that fact. Regardless of whether you believe it constitutes 'progress', change of some kind is happening. The fact that there are still thread closings that seem, frankly, a bit arbitrary means that those who object to thread closing except in the most extreme circumstances still have to work to convince Matt of their position. But change towards that goal has been made, and perhaps with enough calm, rational arguments towards that end further policy change may be achieved.

As I said above, it's easy to write off the people with this goal in mind as 'whiners' or 'malcontents', but this is a fallacious assumption. If the community takes issue with Matt's policies then the only means by which to change them is to voice them calmly, rationally, and frequently. What else can those of us interested in change do?
posted by Ryvar at 2:42 PM on March 8, 2005


What else can those of us interested in change do?

There's always "shut up and start your own version of utopia, if you're so smart"

:)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:48 PM on March 8, 2005


I really disagree with your point of view, scarabic. I find Matt's willingness to listen to all points of view, and, for the most part, allow things to take their own path the very opposite of "weak". In fact, if this is weak, I don't ever, ever want to be "strong".
posted by taz at 3:05 PM on March 8, 2005


Matt: As I've said a few times, the last time I played admin for a site, I wound up doing the whole 'hammering the community into the shape I want' thing, the 'wishing a group of users deadset against me didn't exist' thing, the 'afraid to go to sleep because the site will go to shit as soon as I do' thing, etc. etc. It lead to the point where I finally cracked and just deleted the whole thing because it was literally destroying my life and sanity.

While I learned a few things from that experience (what NOT to do), you'll understand if I'm in no hurry to start another community website - and if I do try to prevent other admins at other community sites I enjoy from repeating my mistakes. There are better, or at least more productive schools than the one of hard knocks. Also, it would take a lot of doing to replicate the community you created here while you were, you know, hands-off.
posted by Ryvar at 3:30 PM on March 8, 2005


Ok I am doubly wrong. I am triply wrong! I am so WRONG you can't even be sure who I am anymore. Maybe I'm you, in which case you're wrong!

There may be a greater objective in mind than reversing deletion/thread closings or mere venting and you have to acknowledge that fact.

Okay, and you may have to acknowledge the fact that closing threads, as a feature, becomes slightly more pointless when any closure can spawn a much larger thread about the closure. I thought closures were about capping conversations that had reached end-of-life for usefulness. There is a certain retardation in defending the utility of having a meta-discussion about something useless.

Please forget the business about it being weak. I didn't mean that. I just groan every time I see a new thread started up to continue rehashing something that was just closed.
posted by scarabic at 4:32 PM on March 8, 2005


Ryvar, I was just joking around.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:45 PM on March 8, 2005


mathowie : " There's always 'shut up and start your own version of utopia, if you're so smart'

":)"


Damn. You just got smacked down, bitch!
posted by graventy at 4:47 PM on March 8, 2005


(Personally, I thought the smiley gave that away...)
posted by graventy at 4:48 PM on March 8, 2005


Ryvar, I was just joking around.

I honestly cannot tell. Sorry.
posted by Ryvar at 5:10 PM on March 8, 2005


Actually, you're doubly wrong. If people posting that they disagree with closing threads and recent deletions hadn't persisted, Matt never would've agreed to back off on the heavy-handedness, as he did recently.

Which was the wrong decision and the wrong people to listen to in my view, but hey-ho.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:47 PM on March 8, 2005


Ok I am doubly wrong. I am triply wrong! I am so WRONG you can't even be sure who I am anymore.

But I-I-I-I sure love the sound of my own voice! Think I'll post again in in five minutes! See ya soon! Me-e-e-e-e-e!
posted by y2karl at 6:06 PM on March 8, 2005


I'm sorry. Am I talking to people? Are people talking to me? I thought I was having a fucking conversation.
posted by scarabic at 6:17 PM on March 8, 2005


Let 'em spin their wheels until they cool off. But that's really all they're doing, though, isn't it? A 100-comment thread about a closure isn't going to un-close the thread.

This misses the point, scarabic. As others have pointed out, the purpose of this thread isn't to unclose the troll tag thread, but to discuss the larger issue of thread closure policy, itself.

closing threads, as a feature, becomes slightly more pointless when any closure can spawn a much larger thread about the closure

That hasn't been the case so far. Many threads have been closed without any resulting new thread. But because thread closure is a relatively new thing with relatively unestablished policy, people are going to want to talk about it. Again, this thread isn't about extending the troll tag discussion, but about policy. And Matt has participated in the discussion, so I hardly think you can call it wheel-spinning.
posted by squirrel at 6:18 PM on March 8, 2005


mathowie, possibly you need to check in on any answers given in this post.
posted by graventy at 6:35 PM on March 8, 2005


Matt has participated in the discussion, so I hardly think you can call it wheel-spinning.

Well, he lodged the opinion that leaving this conversation open pleases people, but he also said he wouldn't let anyone make him second-guess the closure decision. So I'm not sure his participation means what you imply: that this conversation has meaning and could have an impact on something. Sounds like he's made up his mind but is willing to let it be aired publicly

I am of the *opinion* that this may be wheel-spinning. It's arguable. I go through periods of thinking "Why discuss anything? All the decisions belong to Matt." And I go through periods of trying frantically to affect his decision making process. I guess I'm more in the former mindframe on this one.
posted by scarabic at 10:13 AM on March 9, 2005


I hear you, scarabic. It may well be wheel spinning after all. But, if nothing else, having these policy threads remain open gives some of us an opportunity to articulate (and thereby explore and refine) our positions and arguments on the matters under discussion. The questions is a sticky one: is having a forum for our peers (that the admin doesn't listen to) better than not having the forum at all? I'm the sort of person who posts to threads that maybe only one other person will ever read--or maybe no one. It's worth it to me to be able to put my ideas out, even if they never get read by anyone else. I guess my tree falling in the empty woods makes a sound.
posted by squirrel at 8:28 PM on March 9, 2005


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