Edit removes questionable joke: poster would appreciate some followup March 23, 2005 4:37 PM   Subscribe

A questionable joke (in terms of humor, not [I think] taste) was edited out of my post. I'm not questioning the decision, I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to email or otherwise message to the poster saying "I edited your post because..." so that we can all learn and do better next time.
posted by Capn to Etiquette/Policy at 4:37 PM (87 comments total)

Have thought the same about my last aksme question which in the end just e-mailed jasmyn. Though she had no clue as why she did try answering it. (thanks)

Heh! how else can we all learn and then chat.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:52 PM on March 23, 2005


Yeah it's a question of push and pull. If you want an explanation, you email them and you'll get one, unles you're a dick about it or the issue is overwhelmingly obvious.
posted by scarabic at 5:04 PM on March 23, 2005


I guess I was an overwhelmingly obvious dick because my "How much do you make?" question was removed from the 'what to talk about on a cross-cultural first date thread."

I started an MeTa talk thread about it which was quickly closed ("Matt: I know a bad answer when I see one."). Anyway, my re-phrased "What do you do?"" question (a thinly veiled version of "How much do you make?") was allowed to stand, so I guess I sorta got the point.
posted by fixedgear at 5:12 PM on March 23, 2005


I didn't follow all of that, but I just meant not to be a dick *when you email* to ask for your explanation.
posted by scarabic at 6:29 PM on March 23, 2005


Your post was edited?

WHAT THE FUCK MATT?

This is about the biggest no-no possible. As soon as editorial control is exerted on posts, the site owners open themselves to litigation.

The telephone companies have "common carrier" status, which basically means, afaik, that they have no responsibility nor authority to control the information that is carried over their networks. The legal consequence is that the telcos are not held liable for criminal activities organized via use of their network.

Most of the Internet operates under the same sort of idea, with the important distinction that the actual legality hasn't been carved into stone. AFAIK, operators of messaging systems have not been found liable for the postings made by their members, so long as the operators do not claim editorial control over content. (They have, however, been successfully pressured to give up IP information so that said members themselves can be prosecuted.)

If editing of individual posts continues, Matt himself becomes liable for any actionable statements made by MeFi/AskMe members.

That would be a very foolish choice.

It would be a right royal bitch to become the test case for the law.

I sure hope I'm dead wrong about what has happened here. I'd very much hate to be right in this case.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:14 PM on March 23, 2005


At the bottom of every page is: "All posts are © their original authors."

FFF may be right.
posted by Ryvar at 7:25 PM on March 23, 2005


Matt's always edited FPP. How is that different?
posted by smackfu at 7:29 PM on March 23, 2005


FFF -- get a grip, man! Matt deletes stuff all the time. Deleting stuff is editorial control. The cat has been out of the bag on the editorial control front for several years, dude.

Also, I think as long as Matt takes reasonable precautions to keep defamatory stuff off the site, he is pretty ok.

Come to think of it, though, Matt should probably get himself some insurance for that sort of thing. Or incorporate.
posted by Mid at 7:39 PM on March 23, 2005


"FFF -- get a grip, man! Matt deletes stuff all the time. Deleting stuff is editorial control. The cat has been out of the bag on the editorial control front for several years, dude."

IANAL, but I think what FFF is saying is that Matt's certainly entitled to pick and choose between what copyrighted works (posts/comments) are published on his own website. What he isn't entitled to do, however, is to modify the content OF that published content (without the express permission of the user) because it is copyrighted by the user.

In other words, he can unquestionably delete but unless a user gives him permission he cannot simply edit their works and continue to publish those.

I have no idea if this is at all correct, but it seems pretty reasonable.
posted by Ryvar at 7:58 PM on March 23, 2005


What was edited out?
posted by schyler523 at 8:27 PM on March 23, 2005


Does anyone seriously care about their posts being copyrighted? I mean, half the people here are probably just happy that there's a single person out there that actually reads their post and thinks about it long enough to make a comment, let alone what type of intellectual property rights are attached to it.
posted by Arch Stanton at 8:42 PM on March 23, 2005


Arch: I sure as hell don't. But then if I was a lawyer with some time to spare and a few of my posts got edited over a short period of time, I could see myself doing it if for no other reason then to scare Matt into never doing it again.

I'm not , my posts haven't been, and what's more I really don't care - and I bet that goes for everyone else on the site as well. Just pointing out that FFF may have a point. Maybe.

There are, by the way, a lot of lawyers around here.
posted by Ryvar at 9:15 PM on March 23, 2005


There are. I can't wait for the commercials: "Been injured by an edit? Call 1-800-LAWFI. We get you cash for your pain and suffering."
posted by amberglow at 9:17 PM on March 23, 2005


so now I have no way of knowing if someone's comment is even their actual words???

Holy shit. That's WAY beyond deleting. I'm sorry that I can think of know more diplomatic way to express what's in my head right now, but what the hell were you thinking, Matt?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:18 PM on March 23, 2005


so now I have no way of knowing if someone's comment is even their actual words???


'Twas ever thus. We've never had any way of knowing that.
posted by trondant at 9:23 PM on March 23, 2005


But we had no reason to suspect such an abuse of power before, 'least not that I ever heard.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:27 PM on March 23, 2005


Well, it would be a bad thing to read a thread here and have to wonder if the comments I'm reading are genuine.
posted by clevershark at 9:38 PM on March 23, 2005


What he isn't entitled to do, however, is to modify the content OF that published content (without the express permission of the user) because it is copyrighted by the user.

Not because it's copyrighted, but because it implies that Matt takes editorial control and is thus liable for anything he doesn't delete from a post.

In other words, if Matt never edited an FPP, he could say "I let them say what they want, I only delete entire FPPs when I deem it necessary." Since he edits them, he could be implicitly endorsing what remains. The post has gone past his desk, as it were.

For this to matter, someone would have to commit libel, incite illegal activity, or some other crime of speech. It is not in anyone's best interest to test this.
posted by NickDouglas at 9:52 PM on March 23, 2005


so now I have no way of knowing if someone's comment is even their actual words???

Well, it would be a bad thing to read a thread here and have to wonder if the comments I'm reading are genuine.

I'd like to point out something rather obvious: at no point in time do you know who any of the people behind the keyboards around here actually are. Every other Ryvar post could (and it sometimes feels that way) be by someone else entirely. This is not as 'morally wrong' or whatever as someone editing my posts, I guess, but it should be an indicator that on the Internets you never know who is actually writing anything.

That said, it would be nice if we had any of the actual lawyers around here stop by and clear up this whole thing. I'm genuinely interested in what the laws and established prescedent are for this sort of thing.
posted by Ryvar at 9:54 PM on March 23, 2005


Not because it's copyrighted, but because it implies that Matt takes editorial control and is thus liable for anything he doesn't delete from a post.

Ah. OK. Is it also illegal because of the copyright reason I put forth as well?
posted by Ryvar at 9:55 PM on March 23, 2005


We are all posting to Matt's wholly owned personal site.
Some people have paid to have the priviledge to be allowed to post to this site.
But as Matt owns the site surely he can do what he wants with it, whatever is sent to the site.
Contributers have copyright i.e no one else can claim their comments. But whether Matt edits ignores, colours or expands these comments is entirely up to him.
Go for it Matt! stir the buggars up.
whinerfilter or maybe winerfilter at this time of night
posted by adamvasco at 9:57 PM on March 23, 2005


But whether Matt edits ignores, colours or expands these comments is entirely up to him.

Is it? I mean, that's my copyrighted content, but modified in a manner I never gave permission for and then published without my explicit consent (because I only consented to the original version being published). Doesn't that pretty flagrantly violate copyright law?
posted by Ryvar at 10:02 PM on March 23, 2005


We've already decided that nobody really cares about the copyright thing, so now we're just discussing semantics simply for the sake of having somthing to argue about.

I can even cliche my own post.
Metafilter: Discussing semantics for the sake of having something to argue about.
posted by Arch Stanton at 10:09 PM on March 23, 2005


*rolls eyes*
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:10 PM on March 23, 2005


Arch: you're entirely correct. I suppose I just dislike people with terrible punctuation shouting "Rah! Rah! Rah! Go get 'em, Great Leader!" regardless of the context. It's stupid and it doesn't change the truth of a situation.
posted by Ryvar at 10:11 PM on March 23, 2005


adamvasco : " Contributers have copyright i.e no one else can claim their comments. But whether Matt edits ignores, colours or expands these comments is entirely up to him."

In the same sense, murder is illegal, but whether I kill my next door neighbor or not is entirely up to me.

Not that I'm comparing this to murder, at all, in any way whatsoever, but the logic behind your statement, adamvasco, while accurate, it also, just as the murder example, pretty meaningless. Obviously, it's up to him, otherwise it wouldn't have happened. We knew that from the first post. The question is whether it's legal (which I'm not so concerned about) and ethical (which I'm much more concerned about), and whether we individually like it or not.

Personally, I vote [this is bad].
posted by Bugbread at 10:12 PM on March 23, 2005


I doubt it's illegal. At least you couldn't successfully sue him for infringement. You'd never convince a judge that he robbed you of profit from the publication of your work by editing it. If he twisted your meaning, you could claim defamation, but he hasn't done that to anyone, so I'm pretty sure he's within legal bounds there.

So, although IANAL and I don't know if you could find a crime in there, it's at least not a tort. Matt doesn't add content; he only taketh away. And the content's value as intellectual property is nil.

Oh, and Matt could/should cover his butt by adding "or edited" to the list of things that could be done to your FPP.
posted by NickDouglas at 10:14 PM on March 23, 2005


I agree with you Ryvar, in stances like this I wish there was some type of notation (edit: Matt 10:45pm -click here for original post) type of thing so that the original item doesn't fall into the memory hole. Same problem I have with deleted AskMe and MeTa posts. I don't mind that they're edited or deleted, I just want a record. Deleted comments I have no problem, they're not important. Posts are, however.

I don't care if it's illegal what Matt does to the posts or not. Frankly, if something like this ever went to court I'd hope the lawyer gets disbarred for wasting everyone's time.
posted by Arch Stanton at 10:20 PM on March 23, 2005


I doubt it's illegal. At least you couldn't successfully sue him for infringement. You'd never convince a judge that he robbed you of profit from the publication of your work by editing it. If he twisted your meaning, you could claim defamation, but he hasn't done that to anyone, so I'm pretty sure he's within legal bounds there.

Bing! That's the sentence I was looking for, although I pretty much figured out the defamation one on my own. I'll shut up about this now and eagerly await someone's authoritative yea/nay on FFF's comment.

Sincere thanks, Nick.
posted by Ryvar at 10:21 PM on March 23, 2005


If you send copy to a print magazine, the editer may alter it to his / her discretion. Where is your contractual agreement to have nothing edited? Anyway who are you? just a pseudonym. Is "Ryvar" going to sue someone?
RAH RAH RAH Is it really so important if something is ripped out or edited or deleted? or is just bruised ego. The chances are it was a load of crap anyway.
posted by adamvasco at 10:21 PM on March 23, 2005


The issue isn't really the legality of the editing. It's more that, generally, posts are seen by readers as being written by the person after the "posted by" below them, and with the copyright notice at the bottom of the page, that feeling is reinforced. Regardless of the legality, editing without notice is just deceptive.

adamvasco : " RAH RAH RAH Is it really so important if something is ripped out or edited or deleted? or is just bruised ego."

Well, if that's the only choice you present me: since my comment wasn't the one that was edited, then it cannot be my bruised ego. By your logic, then, it is really that important. It's good to see that we agree.
posted by Bugbread at 10:30 PM on March 23, 2005


It doesn't matter whether it is legal or illegal for our posts to be edited. Any issues arising out of that are entirely between Matt and the user, which is to say pretty much inconsequential to either.

What does matter is whether a third party can sue the ass off Matt for defamation, incitement of illegal behaviour, or whathaveyou, due to Matt's editorial control of content.

Whether a "hands off" system operator could be held accountable for his users' comments has always been somewhat up in the air.

What is damned certain is that sysops have, for decades, agreed that performing editorial work on users' posts is a very poor idea, precisely because an editor could ultimately be held responsible for the content.

I have not made any effort to search for case law evidence that sysops who engage in editorial control of content have been found responsible for said content. This worry could indeed be entirely unfounded.

But as a guy who once ran a BBS, I sure as hell would limit my editorial control to outright deletion of messages. Especially were I living in the USA, where the legal system is by all appearances quite insane.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:35 PM on March 23, 2005


If you send copy to a print magazine, the editer may alter it to his / her discretion. Where is your contractual agreement to have nothing edited?

There are different rules for works-for-hire, etc. and that's a morass I neither fully understand nor care about nor applies to this situation.

Copyright.gov wrote:
When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.


Anyway who are you?
Only the Shadow knows!

just a pseudonym.
Same to you, mack.

Is "Ryvar" going to sue someone?
You really don't know much, do you? IIRC, you'd file a suit, and if the judge decided there was sufficient merit to your claim to procede with a case, you'd subpeona Matt's hosting company and your ISP for the traffic logs necessary to determine that your account with your ISP (which you are responsible for) was the one with (at the time) the IP address responsible for your post according to Matt's logs. It's pretty straightforward.

All of the above is entirely worthless and we can now drop it simply because Nick is right - you can't demonstrate loss of profit because Matt edited your posts, and the judge would immediately state that you case has no merit, goodbye. The exception might be someone like Miguel, who just might publish his comments in his latest book, "The Collected Metafilter Musings Of Miguel Cardoso." Fortunately Migs is a pretty standup guy.

RAH RAH RAH Is it really so important if something is ripped out or edited or deleted? or is just bruised ego. The chances are it was a load of crap anyway.
Well there's one thing we can agree on: your comments are worthless.
posted by Ryvar at 10:40 PM on March 23, 2005


RAH RAH RAH Is it really so important if something is ripped out or edited or deleted? or is just bruised ego. The chances are it was a load of crap anyway.

Maybe Matt should just start posting using other people's names. That way he won't even have to delete or edit anything.
posted by c13 at 10:51 PM on March 23, 2005


five fresh fish, I'm sorry, but you're almost a decade behind the law.

Case law generally traces back to Cubby v. Compuserve, which exonerated ISPs as transmitters rather than publishers of utterances such as libel, or Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy, which held that Prodigy was a publisher since it exercised editorial control.

But Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act [text], passed in 1996, created "safe harbor" protections for ISPs and operators of websites. Although different rules hold for intellectual property violations (mathowie could be an accessory, so watch the torrent links), in terms of libel it looks to this layman as if editing posts is perfectly OK and does not increase his liability.

Note that ss.230 remains in effect although other parts of the CDA were struck down.

(c) PROTECTION FOR `GOOD SAMARITAN' BLOCKING AND SCREENING OF OFFENSIVE MATERIAL-

(1) TREATMENT OF PUBLISHER OR SPEAKER- No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

(2) CIVIL LIABILITY- No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of--

(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).


Additionally, asserting copyright control over retransmitted content is very iffy. Nobody is under any obligation to retransmit in the entire; otherwise every USENET reply-with-quotes would be a potential copyright lawsuit.
posted by dhartung at 10:56 PM on March 23, 2005


I'm no expert on the USAian litigeous society. Certainly it seems a safe idea suggested by NickDouglas above.
As to the ethics of removing or editing a post surely that is subjective.
In some societies Matt, as head honcho could offer me your wife to sleep with, but somehow I dont think that would be correct here. Ethics are made by group consensus. and there are 20,000 + members of this group and under 10% seem to post regularily if at all.
A minority make all the noise, some with more politesse and humour than others. Ryvar has had a great career as a critic but has submitted little for judgment or apreciation.
On preview - nice one c13
posted by adamvasco at 11:00 PM on March 23, 2005


well, what got edited?
posted by sockpuppet at 11:45 PM on March 23, 2005


Your post was edited?

WHAT THE FUCK MATT?

This is about the biggest no-no possible.


There was a dumb joke referencing an old post people dragged into metatalk and it had a couple extra line breaks, so it took up lots of vertical space. Removing it didn't change the meaning of the post or the links, it just took some joke off that was taking up space.

I very, very rarely edit anything remotely related to content, but I always trim vertical space when I can, when folks abuse the br tag to take up too much space. This is one of the very few times, and it was just a tiny reference to an old goofy thread on mefi that took up too much space.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:47 PM on March 23, 2005


I'm not questioning the decision... so that we can all learn and do better next time.

If you're not questioning the decision, you know it was a lame in-joke, and you know why it's gone, so I'm not sure why you posted asking for an email if you agree with the decision.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:52 PM on March 23, 2005


Matt wouldn't dare edit my posts. He's such a fu
posted by dodgygeezer at 2:00 AM on March 24, 2005


adamvasco writes:
Ryvar has had a great career as a critic but has submitted little for judgment or apreciation.

As far as being a critic goes, thank you, and that's "appreciation."

As far as appreciation goes - the one time Matt edited one of my posts was when I fucked up a some quotation marks in a hyperlink and he set it right. That was very nice of him.

Furthermore, he has only once deleted one of my comments in a manner that really, really pissed me off, which is pretty good considering the amount of criticism I've leveled his way. That's something, I guess.
posted by Ryvar at 2:13 AM on March 24, 2005


mathowie writes "Your post was edited?

"There was a dumb joke referencing an old post people dragged into metatalk and it had a couple extra line breaks, so it took up lots of vertical space. Removing it didn't change the meaning of the post or the links, it just took some joke off that was taking up space.

"I very, very rarely edit anything remotely related to content, but I always trim vertical space when I can, when folks abuse the br tag to take up too much space. This is one of the very few times, and it was just a tiny reference to an old goofy thread on mefi that took up too much space."



With all due respect, mathowie, I'm not sure you're being consistent here.

If the issue were solely the vertical space, why do you even mention that the joke was "dumb" and a "reference to an old goofy thread"? If your motivation was just to remove vertical space, why did the content matter at all?

Why not just do that minimum: leave the joke without the vertical space, replacing the line breaks with ellipses or, as in quoted poetry or song lyrics, slashes?
Bad joke: Knock-knock/Who's there/Meta/Meta who?/Meet a Filter! or
Why'd the Chicken cross the road?... Why?... To go to MetaTalk to complain!
The problem here is that dumb or not, the joke was part of the poster's (compelling or not) auctorial voice. By changing the poster's words, you substituted your voice and your meaning for his, while retaining his name on the final product.

I've mentioned before that this is different from deletion, the difference being that deletion, while annoying, doesn't attribute to the author something he (or she) didn't actually write.

Now in this case the effect is minor, but such editing has the potential to change the author's meaning in a substantial way, inadvertently or not:

Author: "I do not like green eggs and ham."
Minor but wholly bad edit: "I do like green eggs and ham."

Sarcastic author writes a long message: "Ohhhh suuuurre!
         Yeah, I really beeeeeeeeelieve that!"

Well-meaning, space persevering but meaning altering edit: "Oh sure, I really believe that!"
posted by orthogonality at 3:59 AM on March 24, 2005


so now I have no way of knowing if someone's comment is even their actual words???

Holy shit. That's WAY beyond deleting. I'm sorry that I can think of know
[sic] more diplomatic way to express what's in my head right now, but what the hell were you thinking, Matt?

I'm sorry that I can think of no more diplomatic way to express what's in my head right now, but you are an idiot. Deleting a sentence from someone's post does not mean that what remains is not the poster's actual words. How is deleting "WAY beyond deleting"?

And, orthogonality, I'm sure that we can all think of examples of deletions that would severely compromise meaning, but if they aren't the deletions that happened here, the examples are meaningless.
posted by anapestic at 5:18 AM on March 24, 2005


ortho, you really don't need to explain all that to matt. he simply doesn't give a flying fuck.
posted by quonsar at 5:24 AM on March 24, 2005


but you are an idiot .... This is true.
posted by JohnR at 5:35 AM on March 24, 2005


Now in this case the effect is minor, but such editing has the potential to change the author's meaning in a substantial way, inadvertently or not:

if you credit matt with intelligence (ie it's not being done automatically with code), then won't he be able to tell when the meaning is altered significantly?

your argument sounds a lot like "you're driving a car? oh my god what if you mow down old people and children and cute fluffy kittens and then reverse over their remains again and again until they are red sticky goo you bastard kitten killing monster".
posted by andrew cooke at 5:36 AM on March 24, 2005


andrew cooke writes "if you credit matt with intelligence (i[.] e[.] it's not being done automatically with code), then won't he be able to tell when the meaning is altered significantly?"

It's been claimed in other Meta Threads that mathowie hasn't much time to spend on individual posts; if that's the case, then the time constraint could lead to edits that unintentionally alter meaning.

It's also the ease that meaning is not always obvious to everyone, as in the call-out of my own (sarcastic) posts by a user who didn't see the sarcasm.

In any case, mathowie's argument was that the edit was done to preserve vertical space -- my comment only suggested that there are ways to do that without altering meaning.

Whatever my argument "sounds... like" to you, I hope you'll agree that it didn't use emotionally loaded terms like "bastard kitten killing monster", so I'm not sure why your response so characterized it.
posted by orthogonality at 6:00 AM on March 24, 2005


Sometimes I love you, andrew cooke. But this time is...

definitely when I've loved you most vigorously.
posted by taz at 6:10 AM on March 24, 2005


You people don't seem to understand that orthogonality alone comphrehends the true meaning behind other's words. Do not question what you do not understand.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 6:36 AM on March 24, 2005


for what its worth, I wasn't calling you out, despite your obvious and desperate need for the attention.
posted by crunchland at 6:39 AM on March 24, 2005


please, taz, i'm delicate!

besides which, orthogonality just threatened to beat me pulp, grind me into little pieces, and feed me to the five year olds. as god is my witness. [on preview - it looks like matt just deleted that bit.]

but yes, orthogonality, you're right. what you say is not emotive at all. your posts are repressed to almost iceman levels; to the point where passive aggressive [punctuation corrections] are the only nervous ticks that reveal the raging torrents of FIRE, ANGER AND DEATH that course through your veins.

ok, i'm trying too hard. taz has got me going. i didn't mean to imply that you were accusing matt of killing kittens or otherwise being a bastard, just trying to illustrate how your argument was broken.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:40 AM on March 24, 2005


Man, you should have seen what orthogonality wrote before it got edited. I didn't even know you could fit a chainsaw in a smurf, never mind doing that part about the mayonnaise.
posted by Bugbread at 7:00 AM on March 24, 2005


If I Had An Anus writes "You people don't seem to understand that orthogonality alone comphrehends [sic] the true meaning behind other's words. Do not question what you do not understand."

You joined Mefi yesterday, and you're snarking me already? Congratulations, and welcome!


crunchland writes "for what its worth, I wasn't calling you out, despite your obvious and desperate need for the attention."

crunch, you misread my sarcasm, and you had the grace, in the call-out thread, to admit as much. That call-out happened to be a good example of the misapprehensions I was talking about here.

But if there's another reason for your hostility, let's get it out in the open. Otherwise, hey, you misread my posts and well, we all make mistakes, but lay off the gratuitous snide insults. Your misreading wasn't my fault -- plenty of people understood the same comments you failed to get.


andrew cooke writes "what you say is not emotive at all. your posts are repressed to almost iceman levels; to the point where passive aggressive [punctuation corrections] are the only nervous ticks that reveal the raging torrents of FIRE, ANGER AND DEATH that course through your veins.... i didn't mean to imply that you were accusing matt of killing kittens or otherwise being a bastard, just trying to illustrate how your argument was broken."

It's fine to disagree andrew, but you're not pointing out my argument is broken by misrepresenting it. That's neither effective nor intellectually honest. You can do better and be more convincing at the same time. As far my corrections of quoted material, as I said to crunchland, either come out with why I piss you off or lay off with the gratuitous insults -- it's a bit rich you're accusing me of passive aggression. By making the correction I prevent my spell checker from flagging it the next time I spell check (I often go through several spell checks per post).
posted by orthogonality at 7:01 AM on March 24, 2005


It's fine to disagree andrew, but you're not pointing out my argument is broken by misrepresenting it. That's neither effective nor intellectually honest.

Although Andrew used hyperbole to (very effectively) make his point, he did not misrepresent the substance of your argument. You were saying "this is what could happen if you edit," and he was making an effective parallel.
posted by anapestic at 7:05 AM on March 24, 2005


I am very, very uncomfortable with the idea of our posts and comments being edited. Delete if you want, just don't mess around with someone else's voice.
posted by orange swan at 7:09 AM on March 24, 2005


orthogonality, relax. a lot of what i'm doing - what we're mostly doing - is playing, teasing. it's fun to write like i did and people here are smart enough to understand both what i am doing and what you are doing.

even if you don't believe me: when you're in a big hole, please, stop digging.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:30 AM on March 24, 2005


You joined Mefi yesterday, and you're snarking me already?

Do I not please Master? Yes, I am only a lowly newbie and I do not know what this "snarking" means. But since you must bring up your "callout" in every MeTa thread since, I wished to save you some trouble next time by admonishing, for once and for all, those who would question the all-seeing all-smiting Ortho. Please forgive my inexperience for I have not the wisdom of your venerable 60 days of registration.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 7:34 AM on March 24, 2005


Arch Stanton: Does anyone seriously care about their posts being copyrighted?

I care. I trust Matt to do the right thing but I don't _know_ Matt. He could suffer a blow to the head next week that alters his personality or take up drugs or just be offered a butt load of money. The copyright notice at the bottom of the screen offers no real protection but it sets a ground rule.

Anyone hear feel burned when CDDB went pay? Anyone hear remember the flap over at /. when Jon Katz assembled a collection of postings there into a book? Anyone feel they got taken by K5? I'd like to think the copyright notice will be followed in spirt around here.

Personally I'd much rather see entire comments be deleted than selective passages. Also I'd like to see some method in place to alert users that their comment was deleted. I'm never sure if some of my comments were deleted or if I just never actually pressed post after previewing.
posted by Mitheral at 7:38 AM on March 24, 2005


My vote is for only deleting comments and posts as a whole, not individual words or sentences. I self-deleted my more strident comments on the matter.

On the other hand, I now have plausible deniability for any of my posts.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:42 AM on March 24, 2005


I am very, very uncomfortable with the idea of our posts and comments being edited. Delete if you want, just don't mess around with someone else's voice.

You do realize, I hope, that if Matt had followed this advice and deleted the entire post because it took up too much space on the front page and had an unnecessary dumb joke in the middle, then we'd be having a different discussion now about how deletions are awful, and why should you throw out an entire post because one little part of it is bad? All or nothing is not often a good solution, and we'd get lots of posts asking for a lighter hand.

In a perfect world (note: not the one we're living in), Matt would see a post with objectionable elements, temporarily remove it from the front page, email the poster (in cases where the poster has a listed email, and they don't always) with the proposed edit and offer him or her the choice of having the edited post or no post at all on the front page. But then, of course, the post would be missing for a while, and there'd be MeTa posts asking where the post had gone to.

I think Matt is entirely too nice about this whole thing. He should put a notice on the posting page saying that he reserves the right to edit posts as he sees fit and that people who can't handle this level of oversight should not post on MeFi. The people who regularly post here would know that he very rarely exercises the editing option, and the every-bit-of-my-personal-expression-is-priceless crowd would have less reason to whine.
posted by anapestic at 8:03 AM on March 24, 2005


I think Matt explained himself well, and I see no reason to think that he is or would abuse what editorial control he has chosen to exert. A lot of the comments here have been very confined to a narrow and personal perspective. Matt is responsible for the whole site, of which, front page real estate is relatively precious. There was recently a whole MeTa thread about FPP space for an FPP that was not really all that long. I can imagine a much greater outcry if the FPP had been deleted and Takes Up Too Much Space had been listed for the reason.

I trust Matt to make decisions for the good of the site as a whole, and he's shown himself willing to change his mind about what that is when he gets enough feedback. (SG anyone?) This type of edit seems wholly within acceptable boundaries, and I can't see a slippery slope.

On preview: I think there are some serious tense and grammar issues (of which...is?) with this post, but for some reason I can't figure them out right now, so have at it.
posted by OmieWise at 8:07 AM on March 24, 2005


Must actually use preview to read other comments as well. Must actually...
posted by OmieWise at 8:09 AM on March 24, 2005


the wisdom of your venerable 60 days

GNFASPA
posted by anapestic at 8:16 AM on March 24, 2005


anapestic writes "the wisdom of your venerable 60 days

"GNFASPA"


What?
posted by OmieWise at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2005


GNFASPA?
posted by If I Had An Anus at 8:28 AM on March 24, 2005


Sorry, I forgot that we don't play that game here.

It means "good name for a sock puppet account."
posted by anapestic at 8:34 AM on March 24, 2005


...why should you throw out an entire post because one little part of it is bad? All or nothing is not often a good solution, and we'd get lots of posts asking for a lighter hand.

Matt could have emailed the poster suggesting that he could take out the offending material and repost it.
posted by orange swan at 8:40 AM on March 24, 2005


.. or put that suggestion in his reason for delete, since emailing people about their posts seems like too much extra work.
posted by orange swan at 8:42 AM on March 24, 2005


Oh come on. Matt has a busy enough day like the rest of us without writing schoolmarm emails about waste of space. He is always contactable for an explanation if the poster can't do the arithmetic and work out that crap sometimes get's deleted. anapestic seems to have said it right.
posted by adamvasco at 8:46 AM on March 24, 2005


five fresh fish, I'm sorry, but you're almost a decade behind the law.

I'm so relieved to hear that.

Matt: this is all about removing vertical space? Yeeeesh. One can hardly get in trouble for that. (I'm surprised the software doesn't automagically remove multiple CRs.)
posted by five fresh fish at 8:49 AM on March 24, 2005


Are they really still called carriage returns? I would have thought that term was an anachronism by now.
posted by raedyn at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2005


Oh come on. Matt has a busy enough day like the rest of us without writing schoolmarm emails about waste of space.

Right, that's why on second thought I posted that if a post was borderline he could just put the suggestion in his reason for delete, since he already writes those. It's not any extra work and he's not changing someone else's words.
posted by orange swan at 8:59 AM on March 24, 2005


raedyn: Are they really still called carriage returns?

Yep though in this case it would have been LF/CR
posted by Mitheral at 9:20 AM on March 24, 2005


mathowie's argument was that the edit was done to preserve vertical space -- my comment only suggested that there are ways to do that without altering meaning.

No it wasn't. I mentioned that there were TWO reasons for the edit. To begin a post by referencing an old jokey post that was pulled into metatalk colors an entire post. The sentence was mocking the earlier post, then had some other stuff in it that had nothing to do with the old thread. It colored the thread as one giant joke, and the comments that would follow would join in on the pile-on, so I removed the reference that seemed out of place.

Also, as a side issue, it took up vertical space which is a pet peeve of mine, and another reason why I took out the sentence. But there are two reasons for the edit, not one. I shouldn't have even mentioned the vertical space issue, but I wanted to explain away the claims that "I often edit" posts. 99.9% of the time, it's not for content, just for formatting.

Very rarely (once every 3-6 months?) I change a URL to something better or lop off an extraneous sentence or two from a post to MetaFilter. They're rare, and I take special care not to change the meaning or intention of the original post, if it was made in good faith. In this case, the joke was pre-emptively going to ruin the thread.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:47 AM on March 24, 2005


See? He's here to HELP US, you boobs.
posted by crunchland at 10:33 AM on March 24, 2005


Or, edited:

See...boobs!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:45 AM on March 24, 2005


hey, that's kinda like the back cover of MAD magazine, only with words.
posted by crunchland at 10:50 AM on March 24, 2005


For the record, my original post here was "I would like to be notified if my post is modified" not "my post should not have been modified"

The sentence was mocking the earlier post
My intention was not to mock, but rather to indicate that this post was like that post (which I liked), namely a collection of links about something I've been thinking about.

AGAIN, I don't argue the decision, although I agree with a lot of what's said above, and worry that exercising editorial control opens Matt to liability.

HOWEVERS, I really really think if a post is edited, the poster should be informed. If content one thinks one's put in to the world is changed, one has a right to know. This isn't a wiki. Now you can say "just reload the page", but for how long? What's the statue of limitations on an FPP being modified? A day? When it falls off the front page?

Furthermore, it was suggested to email the mods. Surely you would do this if you were really interested in finding out why your post was edited! Well, where, outside of this thread is that written down? Which mod? If it's the blue, probably matt, if the green probably j, but who knows?
posted by Capn at 11:01 AM on March 24, 2005


See? He's here to HELP US, you boobs.

We're aware of that.</orange swan's boobs delurk
posted by orange swan at 11:26 AM on March 24, 2005


See?.. boobs!
posted by graventy at 12:03 PM on March 24, 2005


I'm just going to agree with several others above that I'd like to name individually, but lack the time to do so at this moment:

Whole deletions = acceptable.
Editing anything but the formatting of a post = not acceptable, ever.

If whitespace is a concern, it should be simple enough to automatically strip out whitespace under the right conditions. I'd personally handle it with a regular expression, but I'm sure there are countless other ways to do it.
posted by odinsdream at 1:50 PM on March 24, 2005


"If you don't like it, you can giiit out!"
posted by gigawhat? at 2:47 PM on March 24, 2005


Metafilter: See?... Boobs!

(What?)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:19 PM on March 24, 2005


Mountains of molehills.

Mountains of little tiny city-residential zone cracks-in-sidewalks four-year-olds-step-on-them-on-the-way-to-preschool anthills, even.

Anybody have any substantive evidence of Matt actually subverting the intended meaning or context of comment or post of any substance? Of misrepresenting via editing the voice and intent of a MeFite? Of considering doing so? Of having any reason whatsoever to even be inclined to?

Anybody have any grounds whatsoever for painting Matt a sleeper revisionist sociopath? For likening a maybe-quarterly feather-light editorial touch to post content/layout to Severe Badness? For making ridiculous analogies and self-important declarations vis-a-vis Posting Free Or Dying and predicting the fall of the sky upon us all, lo, lo, the apocalypse cometh?

Anybody? Bueller?

Bueller?
posted by cortex at 4:22 PM on March 24, 2005


cortex : " Anybody have any substantive evidence of Matt actually subverting the intended meaning or context of comment or post of any substance? Of misrepresenting via editing the voice and intent of a MeFite? Of considering doing so? Of having any reason whatsoever to even be inclined to?

Anybody have any grounds whatsoever for painting Matt a sleeper revisionist sociopath? For likening a maybe-quarterly feather-light editorial touch to post content/layout to Severe Badness? For making ridiculous analogies and self-important declarations vis-a-vis Posting Free Or Dying and predicting the fall of the sky upon us all, lo, lo, the apocalypse cometh?"


The answers are: No, no, no, no, no, maybe, and no. But it doesn't have to be the end of the world for it to be bad, just like an injury doesn't have to be life-threatening to suck, and a fine doesn't have to be astronomical to be annoying.
posted by Bugbread at 9:32 PM on March 24, 2005


I don't think this is as huge of a deal as some of you are making it out to be. As long as matt puts something on the submit-a-fpp page that says minor edits may happen, I don't see it as a huge catastrophe that Changes Everything OMG. If matt were going to be a dick about editing posts, he would have shown that before now. I, for one, trust his judgment on this.

If an edit happens and the person doesn't like it, they are free to email matt and ask for an explanation. Maybe a pre-emptive explanation emailed to the person when the edit happens would avoid some of the histrionics in metatalk, so I would perhaps suggest that it might be a good idea to do so.
posted by beth at 11:32 PM on March 24, 2005


shouldn't posters have the right to know what is posted under their name? there are several reasonable ways to handle this, but that simple point seems important.

1. just delete the post
2. email poster: "your post has been edited."
3. email poster: "your post has been deleted. feel free to resubmit."

if it's true that Matt edits content only 2-4 times per year, this is not too much to ask.
posted by nequalsone at 9:30 AM on March 25, 2005


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