Have we become too big to have a meaningful conversation anymore March 30, 2005 5:03 PM   Subscribe

489 comments, 207 comments, 139 comments, 129 comments, and on, and on. . . . Have we become too big to have a meaningful conversation anymore? Who can read and process 489 comments and then make a meaningful contribution? Are we becoming just like Slashdot and Fark, where only the heartiest of souls have the energy to follow the multi-hundred comment threads?
posted by caddis to MetaFilter-Related at 5:03 PM (72 comments total)

You'll notice that there's usually only about 5 people making all the comments in those threads. We call those folks "axe-grinders."
posted by Stan Chin at 5:05 PM on March 30, 2005


I generally stop reading after 10 comments. That or I fall asleep.
posted by eatcherry at 5:14 PM on March 30, 2005


Okay I admit I didn't even read those threads (because they're huuuge!). But I think a more interesting observation would be that most of the vigorous conversationalists in these threads completely agree with each other. How in the world you manage to get up to 100 comments after the first "Me Too" has always baffled me.
posted by Stan Chin at 5:19 PM on March 30, 2005


Well, in the gigantothread, I was probably the biggest contributer and my comments totaled 21 out of 492, which is slightly more than 4%. Times 5 people is about 20% of all the comments total. So Stan's is definitely an overstatement. At least with regard to that one thread.

Quite a lot of people participated in that thread, and quite a few people commented that it was a meaningful conversation. So, it's a counterexample to your premises that its length precluded "meaningful conversation" and that "no one could read all those comments".

On Preview: "How in the world you manage to get up to 100 comments after the first 'Me Too' has always baffled me."

Well, see, that's not the case in the gigantothread. But, more importantly, it's revealing that you think conversation is necessarily adversarial. You're not alone in that. Stav made a comment around these parts basically saying that the battle is the whole point. But that's not true for at least some of us. Personally, I don't get very much, if any, enjoyment from arguing. I like discussions where cooperatively people learn things they didn't already know. Which you can have if you disagree and if you agree, either way.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:27 PM on March 30, 2005


I use a firefox extension that scrolls me to the first unread comment. This means I don't spend time re-reading comments I've already seen, or figuring out which is the first comment I haven't yet seen.
posted by orthogonality at 5:28 PM on March 30, 2005


Those numbers have surprised me, definitely.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:28 PM on March 30, 2005


Which Firefox extension is this, and where might I download it?
posted by fandango_matt at 5:33 PM on March 30, 2005


This phenomenon is a big part of why I can't keep up with Mefi anymore. 20 comments is about the most I can pay attention for unless I'm deeply involved in the conversation. If I see a post that's interesting and then see that it already has 80 or 100 comments I dont' even click through.
posted by daveadams at 5:35 PM on March 30, 2005


can we at least limit threads to like 100 responces?
posted by wheelieman at 5:41 PM on March 30, 2005


I would comment on this issue, but I'm afraid of driving the numbers up and scaring people away.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 5:44 PM on March 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


How in the world you manage to get up to 100 comments after the first "Me Too" has always baffled me.

That's because the more intriguing links don't have a clear black or white viewpoint associated with them. Certain links can generate different reactions from a wide variety of individuals, and each viewpoint can have value. Just because you don't get the opportunity to comment until after 150 posts, doesn't mean your view has already been expressed, or isn't as valid.
posted by boymilo at 5:46 PM on March 30, 2005


Possibly we have a number of people among us who are...shall we say....recently free of jobly duties? Mayhap all of Metafilter is systematically being fired from their meat-world duties. Someone important must have gotten word of the impending Meta-takeover...damn!
posted by graventy at 5:47 PM on March 30, 2005


wheelieman writes "can we at least limit threads to like 100 responces [sic]?"

Can't you stop reading after the first 100, and let me read as many as I want? Why prevent me from reading comment 101 and after, just because you only enjoy reading 100?

Without being adversarial, I've never understood reasoning like yours: "I myself don't think X is good. But rather than avoid X myself, I'd like to prevent everyone else form doing X, too."

Can we limit classical music to works produced before 1800, and never record any Wagner, Saint Saens, Bartok or Shostakovich? I just don't have the time to listen to that profound flowering.

Can we agree that rock music reached its zenith with Buddy Holly, and forget The Doors and The Beatles?

After Henry James, I think we can agree no novelist is worth reading, certainly not Faulkner or Hemingway or Fitzgerald or Pynchon.
posted by orthogonality at 5:51 PM on March 30, 2005


Can we agree that rock music reached its zenith with Buddy Holly, and forget The Doors and The Beatles?

Oh, dear. Um, ortho, can we step outside for a minute? Really. Everything is going to be just fine.
posted by grateful at 6:01 PM on March 30, 2005


Can we agree that rock music reached its zenith with Buddy Holly, and forget The Doors and The Beatles?

I'd agree on forgetting the Doors, more or less, and I'd rank less than 1% of groups in rock history being in the same league as Buddy Holly. However, The Beatles are in that 1%.
posted by jonmc at 6:04 PM on March 30, 2005


Try skimming.
posted by ColdChef at 6:08 PM on March 30, 2005


Skimming works okay but some stuff sinks to the bottom of the pool. That is why you need a vaccum, I reccomend one of those robots that do it for you.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 6:44 PM on March 30, 2005


I fail to see what the quanitity of comments has to do with the quality of them. I bet that for every 100+ comment post that is potentially not meaningful, there are 50 posts with fewer than 10 comments that are more meaningless.
posted by tpl1212 at 6:46 PM on March 30, 2005


Stan Chin : "You'll notice that there's usually only about 5 people making all the comments in those threads. We call those folks 'axe-grinders.'"

I thought a person who always harps on a specific pet interest, and either only posts in threads related to that interest, or tries to swing other discussions so that they become related to that interest, "axe-grinders".

As one of the people in two of the four threads, that posts a lot, what is the axe I'm grinding?

Stan Chin : "But I think a more interesting observation would be that most of the vigorous conversationalists in these threads completely agree with each other. How in the world you manage to get up to 100 comments after the first 'Me Too' has always baffled me."

Simple.
A: "I think alpha."
C: "No, beta, because of blah blah blah."
B: "No, alpha, because of blah blah blah."
D: "No, gamma, because of blah blah blah."
A: "No, alpha, because of blih blih blih."
E: "What about delta?"
B: "No, delta is goomby goomby goomby."
A: "Yep. And it's doodlo doodlo too."
F: "You're all wrong. Omega."
B: "Omega? You've got to be kidding."
G: "Hey, it could be Omega."
A: "If it were Omega, garblo garblo. But it isn't, so alpha."
H: "Y'all suck. Beta."
B: "Ad hominem. And evidence supports alpha."
A: "Besides which, if it were beta, baggoo baggoo."

There you go. An example of how the most vigorous posters (A and B) can agree, but the conversation easily extend. If they were the only posters, it would be a different story. But as long as there is a constant stream of dissenters, the most vigorous posters agreeing does not make it odd that the conversation continues.

Besides which, since when does conversation have to end because people agree? Are all your conversations with friends debates or discussions? Haven't you ever talked about a band, or a movie, or a book, or whathaveyou, with a friend, while being in agreement about it?

fandango_matt : "Which Firefox extension is this, and where might I download it?"

Metafilthy. Just keep in mind that the tab has to stay in focus until it completely loads the page for the bar to appear. If MeFi is being slow and you click refresh and then switch to another tab while the first tab is refreshing, when you go back to it the bar will not be there. Took me a while to figure out why it was sometimes there and sometimes not. Also, Metafilthy is the reason that some folks' quotes are starting to be like the ones in this post: it's primarily a handy Mefi oriented quoter, and the "you have read up to this point" bar is an extra bonus feature.
posted by Bugbread at 7:07 PM on March 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


Our size has nothing to do with our ability to have meaningful conversations.

You forgot this classic. ha ha
posted by geekyguy at 7:10 PM on March 30, 2005


See, shit like that. Ridiculously long overexplanations that poke the other guy into responding for no particular reason. Especially ridiculous considering the fact that I'm the token "make a dumb comment and walk away from the thread guy", making that whole explanation useless. Call me back when somebody pornifies this thread.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:13 PM on March 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


can we please leave that thread in the dustbin of history where it belongs. Ive grown to respect and like AlexReynolds and find my behavior in that thread a bit embarassing.
posted by jonmc at 7:13 PM on March 30, 2005


This phenomenon is a big part of why I can't keep up with Mefi anymore.

"Keep up?" What, exactly, do you mean by that? Do you feel obliged to read every comment in every thread? And why should you it matter whether you "keep up" or not?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:17 PM on March 30, 2005


wheelieman writes "can we at least limit threads to like 100 responces [sic]?"

OT, if someone's getting all righteous about someone else's grammar, spelling or punctuation and then makes that same kind of mistake, and you're quoting it, [sic] is certainly appropriate. Or if someone has a factual error that proves your point that they're confused about their subject, like "Buddy Holly's number one hit, Tomorrow Never Knows" - again, [sic] can serve you well, if contentiously, there.

But if you're quoting a line that just has a meaningless typo or misspelling in it, adding [sic] makes you look... kind of like a [dic].

posted by soyjoy at 7:19 PM on March 30, 2005


Stan Chin : "See, shit like that. Ridiculously long overexplanations that poke the other guy into responding for no particular reason."

From context, I'm assuming that was regarding my post?
Well, sorry. I see the MeFi discussion aspect as a discussion aspect, not a guestbook where people post "first psot!" and never read what others wrote. I'm not implying you have to do the same, but I think calling an attempt at discussion in the discussion section of a MeTa post (which, unlike the blue, is not about the link, but the discussion of this issue) "shit like that" is pretty silly.

And if your comment was about something else, then, uh...what can I say? You used to have a gold star. You're the man!
posted by Bugbread at 7:30 PM on March 30, 2005


Stan Chin is a living Zen koan.
posted by painquale at 7:37 PM on March 30, 2005


I'm orthogonality on this one - just read as much or as little as you like and then stop. This reminds me of this recent AskMe thread. This isn't a case where MeFi needs to adjust itself - it's a case where you need to adjust your expectations. You're not going to read all the good stuff on here. Even Matt doesn't, and this is his job. So pick and choose wisely, and revel in such abundance, because so many, many people throughout history and in the present time never get to experience anything like this.
posted by orange swan at 7:56 PM on March 30, 2005


And the Drama Queen thread is and will always be one of my fondest MeFi memories. It's like that high school/college relationship that you'd never do over but you still don't regret.
posted by orange swan at 8:06 PM on March 30, 2005


Downloaded MetaFilthy. After downloading get cannot open because progam cannot be found? What is needed to open it?
posted by berek at 8:12 PM on March 30, 2005


If you are using Firefox:

Start Firefox. Click "Tool", then "Extensions". A window should pop up. Now drag metafilthy onto that window. Wait a few seconds for the "OK" or "Accept" or "Install" button to be clickable, click it. Then close and reopen firefox, and ipso presto, it is done!

If you are not using Firefox:

Download and install Firefox. Then follow instructions above.
posted by Bugbread at 8:22 PM on March 30, 2005


bugbread writes "If MeFi is being slow and you click refresh and then switch to another tab while the first tab is refreshing, when you go back to it the bar will not be there. Took me a while to figure out why it was sometimes there and sometimes not. "

Huh, you should write the author about that problem.
posted by orthogonality at 8:23 PM on March 30, 2005


soyjoy writes "OT, if someone's getting all righteous about someone else's grammar, spelling or punctuation and then makes that same kind of mistake, and you're quoting it, [sic] is certainly appropriate. Or if someone has a factual error that proves your point that they're confused about their subject, like 'Buddy Holly's number one hit, Tomorrow Never Knows' - again, [sic] can serve you well, if contentiously, there. But if you're quoting a line that just has a meaningless typo or misspelling in it, adding [sic] makes you look... kind of like a [dic]."


I use a spell checker than rather than go through the text sequentially, collects all the misspelled words and displays them alphabetized. (Great interface, by the way, and one of the few non-free programs I run with any frequency. The only drawback is that it's so good and fast, I sometimes select an incorrect default correction.)

Since I often spell-check, revise, and then spell-check again, I add the sic mostly to prevent myself from inadvertently correcting the misspelling. Fixing the misspelling would change the quoted text, making inaccurate, and that's unfair to the original author and to readers of the quoted text.
posted by orthogonality at 8:34 PM on March 30, 2005


That's because the more intriguing links don't have a clear black or white viewpoint associated with them.

That would be about 100 on the reasons list for these enormous threads. If that were true those with the most comments would be the better links. Not so.
posted by justgary at 8:43 PM on March 30, 2005


I use a spell checker than [sic] rather than go through the text sequentially, collects all the misspelled words and displays them alphabetized.

Next, the grammar checker.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:49 PM on March 30, 2005


orange swan said I'm orthogonality on this one

Dude, I want to be orthogonality on this one! I called it!
posted by goatdog at 8:50 PM on March 30, 2005


bugbread writes Metafilthy

bugbread, you rock. Thanks so much for posting this, and it was actually on-topic, since I myself have been dropping threads that got too long to easily find where I left off reading. This is excellent.
posted by BoringPostcards at 9:23 PM on March 30, 2005


"Fixing the misspelling would change the quoted text, making it inaccurate, and that's unfair to the original author and to readers of the quoted text."

Funny that. Since I like to err on the side of being nice, I'm kinda confounded by this problem. Sometimes I'll ignore the quoted misspelling/typo, and occasionally I'll correct it. I'm not happy about it for the very reasons you say here; but then on the other hand, the thing about quoting someone is that what they wrote will be read again (or maybe the first time if someone is paying more attention to you than the person you're quoting) and so it feels like I'm unkindly calling attention to their mistake again if I leave it alone. And I certainly don't "[sic]" it, which I agree with soyjoy is damn obnoxious. The one recapper/mod on TWoP that I despise feels the need to mark with "[sic]" quoted television dialog that is "incorrect". It's ostentatious. "[sic]" is useful for copyediting and similar purposes, mostly—it removes the ambiguity about who made the mistake when a mistake must be preserved. But no one expects dramatic dialog to be grammatically correct. These aren't typos, mind you, they're grammatical mistakes in quoted dialog, so if this person's writing is being copyedited it's clear that it's not their sentence which is incorrect. So, in the case of the writer I'm talking about, the "[sic]" serves no purpose other than indicating to the reader that the writer is smart enough to recognize the error in someone else's writing.

As soyjoy says, doing this with typos here gives the impression that you've gone out of your way to point out that someone else made a mistake. (Much more so in the case of grammar—but nobody here, so far, is that freaking obnoxious.) True, going out of one's way to point out someone else's mistake is part of the culture here, but it's not one of our better qualities.

I generally spell check what I write here (not always, but I usually remember to do so) now that I've installed the Spellbound firefox extension. And although your explanation makes some sense, I can say that I have no trouble whatsoever "ignoring" misspellings in quoted text when I spell check. So I'm not sure what you're doing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:14 PM on March 30, 2005


The inevitable outcome, short of implementing comment scoring and noise filters, which Matt has always resistant to do, is that more and more, people who don't have the time and inclination to wade through the piles of crap messages will wander away from metafilter, leaving only the blowhards to wallow in the deluge they create.

Either that, or Matt could maybe implement a 5 or 10 comment per day limit. That sure would put a cramp in some people's style, but it might be the best thing for the community.
posted by crunchland at 10:54 PM on March 30, 2005


Or MeFi could split up. Maybe even form teams like Kottke suggested a few years back.

Definitely not comment scoring. That's what makes /. a jumbled heirarchical mess.

Threading would let us organize things a bit -- if our responses to specific comments were stacked up. In a link to Schiavo, I could skip everyone's responses to "so what are the legal implications?" and read the responses to "what are the implications for those who believe in a soul?" Most big threads involve more than one chain, and separating these chains would make skimming a breeze.

Seriously, the more I write about this the better it sounds.
posted by NickDouglas at 11:17 PM on March 30, 2005


Either that, or Matt could maybe implement a 5 or 10 comment per day limit. That sure would put a cramp in some people's style, but it might be the best thing for the community.
posted by crunchland at 10:54 PM PST on March 30


Agreed , please implement this for everyone except migs and ban a few of them for persistent dullness also raising the joining fee to 20 dollars might help.

I knew Miguel Cardoso , i posted with Miguel Cardoso and from the evidence of that incredibly lame thread , sons , you're no Miguel Cardoso.
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:32 AM on March 31, 2005


"I knew Miguel Cardoso , i posted with Miguel Cardoso and from the evidence of that incredibly lame thread , sons, you're no Miguel Cardoso."

If you're referring to the plagiarism thread then I have to object to that characterization. A good number of people in the thread (and lurkers who emailed me) have said that they thought the thread was very good. It may be "lame" at being what you expect a thread to be. It's not lame at being what some other people expect a thread to be.

Anyway, I certainly am not trying to be a Miguel Cardoso. Miguel is a performer. His writing is a performance. His "discussion" is part of a performance. I try to write as well as I can to be as minimally boring as I can, but entertaining people is not why I comment. I take some enjoyment when my writing is effective and I say something pithy; but only because it's in service to the real reason I'm writing (to participate in an interesting, and hopefully productive discussion).

Miguel is partly quite earnest, but there's a reason he's a media personality and not just a well-regarded writer. He is always on stage. He writes beautiful and clever sentences for the sake of writing beautiful and clever sentences. People enjoy reading his beautiful and clever sentences. That's fine.

There are people here who are really very poor writers who are, nevertheless, frequent commenters whose contributions to the discussions are widely valued. Good writing is not the point.

Probably I'm lucky in that my writing is just often enough good enough that it's sometimes enjoyable to read what I write. That counterbalances the verbosity and the repetitiveness. Also, I am often enough somewhat insightful every now and then. My verbosity and repetitiveness, as I've tried to explain before, are sort of an intellectual compulsion for me—I mostly think we normally don't pay very good attention to what other people are saying and, anyway, pretty much everything is a lot more complicated than think. I discursively circle around an idea three times because I don't trust that I or the people I'm conversing with get any real sense of what it really is from just occasional glances in its direction. This attitude greatly overestimates how much talking about almost anything matters to most people. But I think about everything, I think almost everything is worth thinking about seriously and at length. You can ridicule that if you want to...but you shouldn't feel the need to because I'm not asserting that this should be true for everyone and I certainly don't think I'm better than anyone else because this is big part of my personality.

People engage in the conversation here for a variety of reasons. It's true that people of different sensibilities and purposes will often come into conflict. But I'm quite willing to acknowledge and even applaud the fact that public (or semi-private) discourse means different things to different people. I'm in a generous mood at the moment, so I'll even cheerfully say that just arguing for the sake of being contrary and argumentative is a valid reason for hanging around here. That's antithetical to my ethos, but so what?

I was compared to Miguel when I first showed up and even Miguel himself has compared me to himself several times, both publicly and privately. This has always seemed both sensible and absurd at the same time. He has a chatty and prolific discursive style, so do I. He very often has unusually evocative language and clever phrasings; I show a bit of the former and a bit more of the latter. So there's just a hint of similarity there, really only if my writing is compared to writing that is pretty much neither of those things.

Beyond that, though, I feel like me and Miguel are worlds apart. Miguel likes to be in the limelight. Don't get me wrong, I think he enjoys good conversation for its own sake. But the performance of it is at least as important. Me, I don't really like being in the limelight at all. I don't really want to be on a stage with everyone looking at me, but I do want to participate, especially when I'm interested in something. And I'm interested in things quite a lot. I'm very much like bugbread answering Stan Chin above—bugbread and me have very similar personalities, I think. And bugbread isn't performing, he's not posting all these comments because he likes the idea that many people are reading him. Rather, he is a little maladroit, taking Stan's question more seriously than most other people would, and thinking about it more than most other people would, and answering it in more detail than most people would. Some people are offended by this, they have the sense that this indicates hubris or self-involvement. I don't think it is, I don't think bugbread makes a value judgment about this aspect of his personality (though he might).

All this is to say is that you shouldn't assume that someone who writes a lot wants to be known as a "good writer". Someone who doesn't write a lot or contribute a lot isn't necessarily someone with nothing to say or someone with no interest. Writing a lot isn't necessarily about one's ego or one's narcissism. It might simply reflect enthusiasm. Or a kind of maladroitness. Or both.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:30 AM on March 31, 2005


You know, for once, NickDouglas may be right about something. Threaded comments might be useful here.

One could have options in the user preferences to keep it flat, as per usual, or threaded. I expect the inertia here is the coding/scripting that would need to be done, understandable.
posted by gsb at 2:03 AM on March 31, 2005


Metafilter: chatty and prolific discursive style.
posted by loquacious at 2:03 AM on March 31, 2005


I agree with EB pretty much 100% here ("pretty much 100%?). I see too many conversations here that consist of someone tossing out an opinion without any reasons, followed by someone tossing out a countering opinion without any reasons, and then each party supplying the absolute minimum of reasons for their opinion, like they're having their teeth pulled. It takes 5 or 10 posts by most people on any subject to understand why they think what they do and what the root cause of the disagreement is. That's 5 or 10 chances for snark, sarcasm, ad hominem attacks, and the like to pop up just because someone can't be bothered to clarify their thought processes and put all their cards on the table.

However, with EB and Omiewise's posts, you know, by the end of the post, not only the bare minimum (I agree or disagree with their conclusions), but why you agree or disagree, what initial assumptions you agree or disagree with, and what logical steps support and lead to those conclusions. They're the two posters (not the only ones, just the most frequent ones) who have a high probability of changing my mind on a subject or getting me to reevaluate my own opinions.

Perhaps it's precisely because of the tendency not to look at discussion as a pure battleground, where the only thing that matters is victory. Sure, I do that from time to time. I am human. But being convinced of something; realizing you are wrong; is not "losing" a discussion. Without taking the extra time and effort to clearly state one's opinions and reasons, conversation turns into the childhood discussion pattern of "You're wrong", "No, you're wrong, doodoohead", with slightly better vocabulary.
posted by Bugbread at 3:50 AM on March 31, 2005


Sorry NickDouglas, but I find threaded conversations horrible.

The only thing that I can think of that would help me find where I left the thread off so that I could keep reading as it grows is a simple


every 50 comments.

Say that you read 100 comments last time you visited, simply scroll two

Also, it would be an easy way to see when a thread tips the 100 mark while being in the thread.
posted by dabitch at 4:48 AM on March 31, 2005


This thread kind of raises something that I've been wondering about, but have been hesitant to ask. Are new signups going to be open for all time? Is there a limit?

I know only Matt can answer this question and make this decision. I've been hesitant to ask it because I'm embarassed to admit how long I wanted a username, and I'm not particularly fond of the I've-got-mine-now-you-all-piss-off school of group formation. But I do sometimes wonder how many people Metafilter can support etc.
posted by OmieWise at 5:53 AM on March 31, 2005


threaded conversations == badness

They just end up devolving into an endless series of side conversations that consist entirely of "Are so!", "Am not!", "Are so!", etc.
posted by bshort at 6:53 AM on March 31, 2005


I think the problem arises from too many commentors. The scenario is all too familiar at the likes of Slashdot and Fark where the volume of members just overwhelms the threads. A thread loses its coherence as volume of comments goes up. Commenting meaningfully on the thread becomes tough because most people will at best skim the other comments. In the smaller threads you can take in everyone else's comments and add something relevant to the conversation. Is Metafilter getting too big?
posted by caddis at 6:53 AM on March 31, 2005


I agree with crunchland.

It might be harsh, but would only effect four or five people (I am guessing, but without looking again, I can probably list the four or five people in those threads who posted at least 30-40% of those threads in post-count, and 70-80% of the word count). This isn't a problem with "lots of new signups," but it is with a few people who are too loud. I am all for having smart people having intelligent conversation, but enough is enough.

A few people are changing the tone to this place. When EB came on the scene last year, he got a lot of flack for writing too much. I was always cool with having one guy in the community like him.

Now there are more people with the same style, and you see people throwing up their hands in exasperation.

Bugbread wrote
I see the MeFi discussion aspect as a discussion aspect, not a guestbook where people post "first psot!" and never read what others wrote.

I believe most people agree with this comment. However, there has been a fairly consistent "length" to people responses. See caddis' response right above mine.
posted by Quartermass at 7:00 AM on March 31, 2005


I wonder, if the verbose, under-employed, post-mad noobs were limited to only 5 messages per day (assuming they didn't simply explode), would they just resort to alternates at $5 a pop?

The point of the whole exercise would be defeated by a bugbread2.
posted by crunchland at 7:18 AM on March 31, 2005


Close signups.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:37 AM on March 31, 2005


Know there is no rule for # of comments. Iirc, #1 and or the community have suggested a comment average per day. Any members recall this and you may see your comment average at the index page to find out. Pick up the phone if you want to discuss the thread that much as I seey commenting by one(s) with 15 plus comments in one thread alone.
posted by thomcatspike at 7:42 AM on March 31, 2005


Excuse me if the above sounded negative. Just steering away from a possible future train wreck.
posted by thomcatspike at 7:45 AM on March 31, 2005


orthogonality: in cases such as above, simply making the correction (e.g. "respon[s]es") would be less obtrusive and still serve to remind yourself not to let the spell checker replace it. Everybody wins, right?
posted by soyjoy at 8:18 AM on March 31, 2005


soyjoy writes "orthogonality: in cases such as above, simply making the correction (e.g. 'respon[s]es') would be less obtrusive and still serve to remind yourself not to let the spell checker replace it. Everybody wins, right?"

I often do do that it. Problem is, I'm a terrible speller myself, so sometimes figuring out what the correction is a pain. But really, soyjoy, we all have out styles and this isn't really a big enough deal to waste much time on, is it?
posted by orthogonality at 8:43 AM on March 31, 2005


Close signups.

I second the motion.
posted by trharlan at 9:07 AM on March 31, 2005


Let me preface: I'm not being critical of individuals here, merely making a suggestion based on an observation. OK?

How about stricter self-policing of sidebar discussions that are completely off topic or, if necessary, flagging comments that go off on a tangent?

This thread is about comment volume and it's impact on effective discussion. Yet somewhere in the middle of it, a discussion on spelling/grammar checking and the etiquette around pointing others' errors in this regard has started in parallel. Don't get me wrong - it's not a bad discussion, but if it's good for 10+ comments, then maybe it deserves it's own post under "etiquette/policy" or "feature request".

Instead it runs here as a parallel thread, bloating the comment count for this post when it doesn't have much to do with the original topic.

And this happens all the time. An easy way to reduce comment count is to take these parallel (yet off-topic) discussions into another post (be it on MeFi, MeTa, or AskMe).

Anyway, just a suggestion.
posted by 27 at 9:13 AM on March 31, 2005


can we please leave that thread in the dustbin of history where it belongs. Ive grown to respect and like AlexReynolds and find my behavior in that thread a bit embarassing. - jonmc

You personally may be embarrassed at your own behaviour. But it IS part of your posting history. Take it as a lesson perhaps. We're all stuck with what we said here, and the persistence of our past comments is meant to contribute to our desire to self-regulate in the first place.

You're not going to read all the good stuff on here. Even Matt doesn't, and this is his job. - orange swan

It's his job since when? I think you might want to check with Matt on that again. I think that might a common misconception.

Matt:But it's not likely I'll institute these changes, or depend on the site as my sole source of income anytime soon. Aug 9/04

Has anything changed since then, Matt?
posted by raedyn at 9:33 AM on March 31, 2005


The inevitable outcome... people who don't have the time and inclination to wade through the piles of crap messages will wander away from metafilter, leaving only the blowhards to wallow in the deluge they create.

Why would those people feel obligated to wade through piles of crap? No one is forced to read all of a thread, nor is anyone forced -- except by their own self-importance -- to respond to a thread. You are allowed to post a comment and then not follow up on it... even if someone responds to that comment.

Threaded discussion

In a word: it sucks. What we have in MeFi is a conversation that is very similar to that one might have in a coffee shop with friends and acquaintances. Most of the time only one person at a time speaks, and most of the time the conversation naturally evolves as contributors focus on different aspects of a subject, or even bring up new ideas and topics.

Threaded discussion destroys that. It is a highly unnatural style of conversation, one that you are unlikely to ever encounter in real life.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:34 AM on March 31, 2005


27: This isn't worth a whole MeTa thread - I for one would heartlessly mock anyone who posted a whole thread on such a small detail, and I have kept my comments in small type to convey that I'm aware it's a small thing and off-topic. But threads almost always have multiple parallel discussions that stray from the topic, so I don't see how we need to start yet another one about the propriety of this.

ortho: Sure, you're free to use whatever style you want. I was just letting you know that it makes you look like a dick. If you think my trying to help by pointing it out makes me look like a dick, that's fine too. I mean, we do all have "out styles." Heh.

posted by soyjoy at 9:38 AM on March 31, 2005


Soyjoy: I didn't realize the small typeface had semantic value. If everybody adopted this, it would others to avoid the off-topic stuff that develops within a thread. Good idea.

"...so I don't see how we need to start yet another one about the propriety of this."

I disagree on a couple of counts. First, this isn't a parallel discussion. It pertains to the topic at hand (managing comment volume). And just because it almost always happens doesn't mean that we have to accept straying's propriety as a given. Snarking happens all the time too and it's a regular discussion topic on MeTa.

I do agree that a post on spelling/grammer is probably inappropriate for MeTa. But AskMe?

You could prune a lot of (off topic) comments that way. I guess that's all I'm saying. Seems like threading and closing registration aren't a popular suggestions, so I was just tossing another one out there.

I won't blow this thread up any bigger by continuing to lobby though. ;-)
posted by 27 at 9:54 AM on March 31, 2005


It's his job since when? I think you might want to check with Matt on that again. I think that might a common misconception.

Er, I AM aware that he doesn't do this full-time nor as a sole source of income, raedyn. I only meant that he is the moderator and owner here and the one pocketing any profit the site makes, he therefore probably spends more time on this site than most MeFites with much better justification, and if he can't read everything on the site, who else can reasonably expect to.
posted by orange swan at 10:54 AM on March 31, 2005


For close sign ups--Don't forget it takes the noobies time to understand this place fully. Also new members-- don't tread on your fellow noobs or especially those members existing before you. Biggest tool at your disposal is E-MAIL. A whole thread was started about me with not one e-mail letting me know about it. Sheesh!, now members think I can't read. Excluding all those who defended me or were new on the subject. FU to those that could say it publicly but e-mail where your problems are better suited among many and to think you’re wiser here than me. You show your true self here and hope you realize that...heck we all do. JohnSmallberries showed by not responding back in a thread that he posted, he may be unable to read. Talk about a waste of a thread as a simple e-mail would have been a better solution. Is MetaTalk teaching how to post and find a conversation or the values of the site? I learned a lot yesterday, thanx!

bugbread and other members who have many and or long comments within the threads. They may naturally shorten through time which can be seen by the postings of members before you.

If you post everything here for the world to read, why would anyone have a verbal conversation with you in the future? Guess they could have you repeat yourself over and over for sound effects.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:39 AM on March 31, 2005


orange swan - 'kay. Just didn't want anybody getting the wrong idea.

You're right though. He's got more reason to read here than anybody else and even he can't keep up with all of it. It's not reasonable to expect any one person to read it all. That's why we have the flagging feature and MeTa.
posted by raedyn at 12:19 PM on March 31, 2005


thomcatspike : " bugbread and other members who have many and or long comments within the threads."

I'm longwinded. Always have been. I suppose if the community as a whole (or mathowie as an individual) told me to shut the hell up (or be less verbose), I'd struggle with making really concise posts for a while, and either warm to the challenge or leave Mefi. Regardless, it wouldn't be in disgust or anger, it would just be that I'd realize that Mefi was interesting, but that we didn't quite match.
posted by Bugbread at 6:41 PM on March 31, 2005


Regarding metafilthy--why aren't you just using the anchor tags and (XX new) links? If you're not staying in front of the browser, you load the front page and use the (XX new) links. If you are staying in front of the browser, you keep the window open, read to the end, click the last timestamp-anchortag, and reload. Seems straightforward to me.
posted by NortonDC at 12:09 AM on April 1, 2005


Well, the (xx new) links, for whatever reason, doesn't seem to show me the number of new comments. That is, I can read the page, refresh, and it still shows (xx new), no matter how many times I refresh/reload. It's not that it's never updated, by any means, but that I can't figure out how it updates, and therefore is only really accurate when I open the page after not having looked for several hours.

As for the last timestamp-anchortag, that's a pretty good idea. Thanks. As I say, the bar not showing up isn't a really big deal, but it's good to know another way to handle the issue.
posted by Bugbread at 12:52 AM on April 1, 2005


xx new doesn't work unless you have logged out or begun a new browser session between visits to the page. it's basically useless.
posted by quonsar at 4:39 AM on April 1, 2005


xx new doesn't work unless you have logged out or begun a new browser session between visits to the page. it's basically useless.

Not so. It checks to see if you've loaded the page in the last 15 (I think) minutes and gives you (xx new) based on that. The bug is that when it checks, it resets the timer, so if you reload the front page every 14 minutes all day long, the (xx new)s will never go away.
posted by gleuschk at 4:52 AM on April 1, 2005


ah! thanks gleuschk.
posted by quonsar at 5:02 AM on April 1, 2005


Should've read the RFC, quonsar.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:27 AM on April 1, 2005


Thanks Gleuschk.
posted by Bugbread at 2:51 PM on April 1, 2005


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