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27 July 2005

Newsfilter Crap :: I was going to post this to MeTa, but I'd forgotten I only get one MeTa post per week, so you all will be subject to my rant instead....[More:]I sat down tonight to try and do a "Best of Metafilter" post for MeCha, and found I couldn't do it. Instead, I found that (discounting my own post) of the 48 posts currently on the front page of MeTa, 33 of them are wholy or partly sourced from either a mainstream news source or from a Big Corporate website. Of the remaining 15 posts, 11 were what I would actually call "independent content" (43775, 43773, 43769, 43747, 43737, 43732, 43730, 43729, 43726, 43752, and 43751) and the other four (43760, 43754, 43749, and 43738) were borderline cases - newsfilter in tone if not in actual link content.

This pisses me off. (One of the stages of grieving, I guess.) Is it just that no one gives a damn anymore? Has the web really been that completely saturated with commercial crap that its not possible to find new independent content? Does anyone but me really care?
mefi is crap. but hey, it has live preview.
posted by quonsar 27 July | 21:33
Some of us like Newsfilter, and many many many of the newest members certainly do.
posted by amberglow 27 July | 21:34
amberglow, I don't mind a balance of news, but this isn't a balance.
posted by anastasiav 27 July | 21:45
but isn't that up to us? post something non-news. steal something from here and post it. do something about it, no? that's the only response.
posted by amberglow 27 July | 21:53
Newsfilter drives out the good stuff and drives away those who don't like it. Just as conservatives have been pretty well shouted out of MetaFilter, those of us who don't like newsfilter will have to move along as well. The process is far enough along to be irreversible. Metafilter already is a left wing political blog.
posted by LarryC 27 July | 21:58
do something about it, no? that's the only response

Check my posting history and I think you'll find that I try to. I did, in fact, post just today. But one voice isn't going to make a big difference.

Doing something about it also involves saying out loud "hey, what's going on here?"
posted by anastasiav 27 July | 22:06

and hopefully doing it well
posted by ethylene 27 July | 22:08
the thing is
people don't feel they have to justify a news item against people who just say "lame" or "wtf"
and they know they will get some response
posted by ethylene 27 July | 22:10
I think that the news stuff just adds to the quantity of stuff on the front page, and encourages people to yell. There's been a big increase in front page posts since last year. I bet if you tallied up the domains of all the links included in front page posts, the top 10-15% most frequently linked domains would account for 50%+ of all the links posted to the front page, and the majority of the crud.

Maybe someone who knows about these things could set Mefi up to filter links in posts to exclude frequently appearing domains (cnn, wapost, nytimes, bbc, etc.). If people couldn't post links to those sites, they'd have to go and look elsewhere for stuff. Or go to Plastic.
posted by carter 27 July | 22:18
Exactly. My post from two days ago on the Music Hurts website barely mustered five comments, most of them "meh." Yes the flash is terrible. But in other communities I am involved with there was at least a little discussion about the content.

Which in a way I guess is fine, as I never comment in the US political axe-grinding sessions, and I rarely ever read them (unless they have been called out, or one of my favourite posters have done the post, in which case it is usually more than just a link to CNN or the NYT).

I do continue to find interesting stuff, but it has been "bad" like this since the last election cycle (save for one or two days here and there).
posted by Quartermass 27 July | 22:22
(my exactly was referring to eth's comment)

I also wanted to add that increasingly I have been spending more time here than there anyways. MeCha is so much more liberating to me. Way less rigid, and frankly, it just makes me happy. I have a feeling that this place will gradually become my new home, in the way that Mefi did a few years ago.
posted by Quartermass 27 July | 22:26
Quartermass, if it makes you feel any better, virtually all of my best posts have gotten under ten comments.

I wonder, too, if this has to do with the "GYOFBF" trend -- people with interesting stuff to say are now saying it on their own sites, rather than posting it to Mefi?
posted by anastasiav 27 July | 22:28
well, i really liked qmass' post
and i think sometimes the days start off well before they become political, then the ball seems to get rolling--

the US is very upset and yet not expressing itself well
in many ways
and people like me usually don't make a habit of meef
but if we check it once a week or every few days, it can seem like a lot of great posts that are, actually stretched out over days. Then you think "wow, it's great!" until you realize the ratio of what you care about to what you don't.
Still sometimes i take the time to scan them for gems because people always overlook things and some people just want to get a shot in a thread with a lot of comments.
And yes, i do think a lot of people just took it off site.
posted by ethylene 27 July | 22:34
posts are there, that are actually
posted by ethylene 27 July | 22:37
If it makes you feel any better, anastasiav, I still lust after your body.
posted by mr_crash_davis 27 July | 23:33
anastasiav, you might have a point there.
posted by dabitch 28 July | 03:10
virtually all of my best posts have gotten under ten comments.

ditto.ish. unless of course it's related to the US.
posted by dhruva 28 July | 04:04
I think there's a distinction to be made. I really don't mind news stories on the front page of mefi but what gets on my nerves is the nagging - the constant repitition of the same news stories again and again because of the most minor development.

I once watched a documentary about a school for autistic children. At one point there were these three kids playing a game in the playground and it all looked perfectly normal. The voice over said that these kids play the same game at the same time with the same rules everyday and the same kid always wins. For some reason that clip always plays in my mind when I see the same stories and arguments repeating over and over again.

I think there's a determination amongst some of those who want newfilter (or nagfilter if you prefer) to preach and convert - however the more MeFi turns into a liberal talking shop, the more it'll repel the people they wish to preach to and convert. Amongst the rest there is simply a love of arguing even if it's for no apparent purpose.

I've said it before - Metafilter has always been a community at war with itself, fighting for what they believe Metafilter should be. This was a good thing because it increased diversity of content on the front page and you'd often end up reading stuff you wouldn't ordinarily read. Now the newsfilter folk are winning the war, MeFi has become a less interesting place (for me anyway). It's a shame really.
posted by dodgygeezer 28 July | 04:41
Yep, and I've sort of given up. It's very clear that, as amberglow said, more and more of the new members are coming for the politics and current events posts, which means more of those posts, and very many comments on those posts in contrast to others, which now seem to have even fewer comments than before. I guess the newer people don't look at them, and the members who used to post and comment on arts/culture stuff have pretty much stopped checking out the front page.
posted by taz 28 July | 07:17
I have to agree with dodgy and taz. I take at least a passing interest in most current events, but constant political stories at the expense of interesting cultural stuff really makes mefi less and less interesting for me, such that mecha is my preferred hangout these days. I think it makes a difference not being American too ... the politics is another step removed from my caring.
posted by nomis 28 July | 07:44
Now look... Isn't this cool?

≡ Click to see image ≡

This is from a person who makes collage birds and insects from actual old bank notes. I found this site on my own, and I thought it was neato (especially on the pages that show what actual notes were used), but my post got only three comments... and I'm pretty sure I emailed shane to make one of them.

Anyway, that was one of my final artsy sorts of links; I'm not going to post any more because it's silly to continue posting things that the community is just not interested in. It's like trying to post a white paper on transport policy at Fark or something - completely unenjoyable for the readers, and a weird self-punishing exercise in futility for the poster.

So I'm taking a break from posting, though I might try a few more things just to even off my posts at 100, and leave it there.

(ps: If you're going to look at the collage site, it's probably easiest to navigate from my post. Click the images for larger views; on pictures with multiple figures, click on individual figures.)
posted by taz 28 July | 07:54
but people are interested in that post, taz, and ana's, and others. It's just that there's not that much you can say about art posts, etc. I bet thousands of people clicked on those links. For every one visible comment by a member, there are tons of lurkers who clicked too.

Is this about personal affirmation, or about sharing something?
posted by amberglow 28 July | 08:36
Is this about personal affirmation, or about sharing something?

Its not so much about personal affirmation ("Oh look at this cool thing I did") as it is about community affirmation ("Hey, here's this great thing I'm sure the commmunity will be interested in") - I post a cool thing, then Taz posts a cool thing, then someone else posts a cool thing, and we're all finding out new stuff that we wouldn't otherwise have seen. But as it is now, the cool things are few and far between, and instead its all this mainstream media madness. That's what really gets me -- its not the news -- I've actually learned a lot of stuff from MeFi discussions of the news -- its the 33 links to the same 10 or so media outlets, which leave independent voices ... where?

Taz nailed it -- it just seems futile to post the good, independent stuff because its like trying to post a whitepaper to Fark. I learned a long time ago to not worry about the number of comments I get (I used to judge community interest by trackbacks, but I can't do that anymore). Now I try to gauge things by what other things I see on the front page, but that's rapidly becoming a futile metric as well.

I'm leaving on vacation in a bit over a week, somewhere I'll be totally off-line. I wonder if I'll still be interested enough to check Mefi when I get back?
posted by anastasiav 28 July | 08:52
Mecha is like meffy was in the beginning (and yes, I was there, under deep cover). The level of discourse is high. Even when folks disagree, they can elucidate their differences.

Meffy lost it. Constant bickering, folks jumping on to derail posts as quickly as they start, the same people posting the same shit again and again, ratcheting up the outrage every time; it's tiresome. After I quit posting there, I still visited to catch a good link or two. They're hard to find on meffy, now. But easy to find over here.

Haughey treats everyone who isn't an old friend or an ass-kisser like crap, with token exceptions -- quonsar (not to single you out, q, but I think you know what I mean) has been his plausible deniability for a while now. It's not that he doesn't care anymore. It's like he's forgotten how cool he used to be. That rubbed off on the site, and made the site cool.

Now, many of the cool people from before who were attracted to meffy by the sysop's laissez-faire chilling can be found here instead, along with a gaggle of interesting new folks (who may all be alter-ego-refugees like me, for all I know). This place is probably the biggest reason why meffy's a waste of time.

I'm sure it gets difficult to run a site with that many members, and there are loads of things I haven't taken into consideration when I say the sysop turned into a moderator, then into an asshole. But I have a choice to make every time I sneak onto the internet here at work -- do I go where there are assholes, or do I go someplace fun?

Here I am.
posted by Hugh Janus 28 July | 09:10
Haughey treats everyone who isn't an old friend or an ass-kisser like crap

I had really hoped we wouldn't get into Mathowie bashing here....
posted by anastasiav 28 July | 09:14
I do like some of the news posts, but it's really the other stuff that I've go to the site for, and I do worry that it's getting thinner there. It is wierd to do a big post of stuff that seems pretty cool and then get very little response to it. There are several posts I've done that seem to me as if they should have/would have elicited more comment. (I've also done a few that were pretty crap.)

Since I like the people and the posts here, I try to keep up with what people from here post to MeFi. It would be nice to have a permanent side-bar link here where people could post their MeFi posts so that would be easier to track. There is, after all, a difference in posting here and posting there. There, the community is much larger and just by size alone is more likely to generate additional links, comments that are broader, etc.
posted by omiewise 28 July | 09:16
taz-Your collage post is great, and a perfect example of something that I completely missed due to the high volume of posts over there.
posted by omiewise 28 July | 09:20
For the most part I read askmetafilter, metatalk, and (now) metachat. I was never that interested in the blue, which was why I didn't want to join up until the green came along, but I find myself even less interested in it now that I can participate (one long post, one short post -- I'm done). Occasionally, I'll go over there and see what's happening, but mostly when I am over there in that vast sea I'm one of those silent lurker types who just clicks the art / music links and maybe says "that's cool, thanks". The idea of having a discussion over there in the blue re: news and politics, even art and music at times...It's just not for me.
posted by safetyfork 28 July | 09:27
I think it's important to add that comment so that people know that they should be pursuing posts like that. It can take a while to craft a good post, sometimes especially to an art/music sight that buries its content.
posted by omiewise 28 July | 09:29
Amberglow, it's like this: If I make my husband come look at the moon through the window because it's just so amazing tonight, or point out a cloud that looks like J. Edgar Hoover, or show him a cool art deco door or a nice handmade vintage sign, he responds. Maybe he just says, "Wow that's so beautiful/hilarious/unusual" or maybe it leads to us getting into a conversation about lunar oddities, cross dressing, or "the olden days". Maybe he points out a similar thing that I hadn't noticed before, or tells me something about what I'm looking at that I didn't know. We have these kinds of conversations every day, and that's why we stay together.

But if he were silent and taciturn, or just grunted and ignored me, I wouldn't show him those things. In fact, I'd probably find someone new who was more interested in the sorts of things that I like. In a lot of ways, I feel the same way about MeFi.

Posters who are talking about politics and current events are getting lots of conversation because that's what MetaFilter is interested in. I'm not going to chase after readers waving my funny-cloud page or my hand-painted-vintage sign page, crying and begging them to talk to me. That's silly. It's much less frustrating to be more of an observer these days. I learn stuff from some of the political posts and laugh at some of the news-of-the-weird posts, and I'm really happy when a good, new flash game pops up, but the sharing-cool-stuff romance is pretty much over.
posted by taz 28 July | 10:16
Well put, taz.
and to explain the lack of comment bumping on my part:
unless i have something to add that hasn't been said or a link or a joke or an oddity, i'm almost never going to comment or post at meef.
Trying to swing the visible tide of negativity or wrong headedness gone awry is not only moot but what got me banned.
People do think the links are cool but don't want to say "wow cool" every time. Also, people use an opposing stance as a way to validate saying anything, besides also thinking they are cool for hating something someone likes.
So are we quitters for not fighting the war on meef?
Bullshit. I say banning is an obvious message, not to me but to the community. If they don't pick up on it, that's who you're dealing with. You're left with a bunch of people who will email you directly to tell you the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe is a hoax because people who don't follow the path of least resistance will meet resistance.
or get told to fuck off.
or get banned.
the last one sticks and not all of use have five dollars to blow at whim because we want to pick on someone, or would bother if we did.
posted by ethylene 28 July | 10:55
It's not bashing, anastasiav. It's my personal experience with the site, and with the sysop. You may have a different experience, and you may have a different sense of where the buck stops.

If dismissing my experience as mere "bashing" makes you feel better, by all means, do it. I'm not arguing.

But I do think you've misinterpreted my intentions. Folks on this thread seemed to be exploring what they thought were problems with meffy. I think a big problem is how Haughey's changed. It used to be like here, there, and he used to be like, well, nice. But you don't want to hear a peep about it, and that's fine. I don't think my post was inappropriate; you do. We disagree.

I'm finished bitching about meffy. That place is dead to me, and I should treat it like the dead. With a little more respect. You're right about that.

I'll never do it again.
posted by Hugh Janus 28 July | 11:07
Hugh, I apologize, and I don't mean to dismiss your experience. Not my intent. But I actually don't think the changes that I'm talking about have as much to do with Mathowie changing as they do with the membership changing -- mayby the two things are related, I don't know. I'm just frustrated (a place I know a lot of you passed a long time ago), but I'm the kind of person who wants to fix broken things, not give up on them....
posted by anastasiav 28 July | 11:34
ana, if you really want, i'll risk another ban to make a meta post if you are convinced the timing is right. but i do use my contacts to navigate a lot, to let you know.
posted by ethylene 28 July | 11:44
ethylene, I had no idea you had been banned, and I can't imagine why anyone would want to ban you. :-)

You are all making me have an evil idea, however.... Stay tuned.
posted by anastasiav 28 July | 11:49
just keep your five bucks ready
you are such a good meefite i doubt you'll have a problem
posted by ethylene 28 July | 12:01
Has the web really been that completely saturated with commercial crap that its not possible to find new independent content?

Yes. Since MetaFilter started in 1999, the web has become much more mainstream, and there's a higher percentage of commercial content, so the percentage of sites that are unique and "best of the web" is much smaller. It's also much easier for anyone to get their own weblog now, so there are other sources for unique links. MetaFilter was the only game in town when it started; now there lots of are other sites that do the same thing.

Even if you try to contribute something unique, people will either bitch because they saw it on some other site (which is arrogant because it assumes that everyone, or everyone's who's cool, reads the same sites), or won't read any of the links and go directly to commenting about something tangentially related.

For example, I recently did this post on the first shot fired in the Civil War. I'll stipulate that most people aren't going to be interested in the Civil War, but I researched the post for a couple of hours and found what I thought was an interesting story, including some Harper's Weekly newspapers that were published during the war. Most of the people that commented in the thread didn't read any of the links and just blabbed about what the war meant in general or what it should be called.
posted by kirkaracha 28 July | 14:12
amber is the perfect representative for the pro-newsfilter direction mefi's been heading. He honestly doesn't see what the problem is.

What's interesting to me is how this discussion is running here as opposed to meta. Those of us arguing against newsfilter on meta have basically been written off as cranks.

To my mind, the reason newsfilter is bad and non-newsfilter is good is because of two reasons: first, good political news/opinion sites are ALL OVER THE NET, while good sites doing what mefi used to do are few and far between. Here's an example that might have some resonance to amberglow: this reminds of the battle fought at KUNM, one of the oldest public radio stations in the US, an affiliate of NPR. It's been very independent, it's very large (people at the station and volunteers number in the hundreds), they produce a huge amount of original content, and they have served all the diverse and marginalized communities that are otherwise ignored. However, since forever, the biggest donors have all been well-to-do people who want only CLASSICAL MUSIC and NPR PROGRAMMING. This has been opposed, even the university regents did away with all management and put in a new team to force the change (which was followed by a famous occupation of the station by volunteers for days), and it's been (mostly) resisted. Where would your sympathies lie, amberglow? Another hour of All Things Considered or a live show featuring local artists (which me and my ex-wife produced)?

The second reason is that newsfilter is really discussion filter and that, again, is something that can be found all over the damn net. And mefi was never intended to be primarily a discussion site.

The trend to newsfilter, even if news and political events and political discussion is important, is a trend toward mediocrity. Just as the trend to classical music programming and canned NPR programming is a trend toward mediocrity. You can get that anywhere. People want it, yes. The majority wants it, yes. So? Saying that we don't want to do this isn't to oppose this content generally, it's only to oppose it in this forum.
posted by kmellis 28 July | 18:14
I really worded this badly:
This has been opposed, even the university regents did away with all management and put in a new team to force the change (which was followed by a famous occupation of the station by volunteers for days), and it's been (mostly) resisted.
Community involved in KUNM programming: opposed to change. Donors: want the change. Regents: want the change. Volunteers have hung on against the change for nearly twenty years now.
posted by kmellis 28 July | 18:17
I have several times suggested a possible fix to the newsfilter plague: Create a new section of Metafilter called Newsfilter. So the sections become Metafilter, MetaTalk, AskMetafilter, and NewsFilter. My suggestion was met with resounding silence, either because I posted it late in long threads, or because it is a terrible idea for reasons obvious to everyone but myself. I am thinking about making a MetaTalk post under pony requests.
posted by LarryC 29 July | 09:01
LarryC, it was met with silence because Matt has said many, many times that he doesn't want to do it. Although, I think during the election cycle he came close to considering it. So, if you're going to ask about it in meta, be aware of the long history of the proposal. But maybe it is time to bring it up again?
posted by kmellis 29 July | 21:43
I wandered away from Mefi because it just got too mean. It used to be a nice place. There were sides to every argument, but people bothered to think about what they were saying...I think primarily because there weren't sock puppet accounts to fall back on. I think the advent of the sockpuppets started the whole "You suck!" "Nu UH! You suxors, you lam3r!" level of discussion which has seemingly become the standard there.

But's impersonal, there's no real community, there's random unannounced edits to posts and comments and now tags, the heart and soul seem to have gone out of it. It's like the PodFilter now. I miss the old MeFi.
posted by PsychoKitty 01 August | 00:51
Where would your sympathies lie, amberglow? Another hour of All Things Considered or a live show featuring local artists (which me and my ex-wife produced)?
My sympathies lie with the producers and contributors of content, just as they do at MeFi. Many members want MeFi to be open to everything online. A lot of that online stuff (good stuff too, btw) is news and politics-related. MeFi has always had breaking-news, and disasters, natural and manmade. And i think many if not most of the newer members see MeFi as a more current-events-oriented place with a higher class of members than other places. I think if you want to change that, then every single day you all have to post stuff you'd rather see on the frontpage. Crowd out the news and politics and other stuff. And don't complain if you only get 10 comments while a news post gets 100. Members post what they want, and people comment on what they want--that'll never change.

I also think MeFi has changed because Matt's busier with family and other stuff too nowadays. Opening membership needed someone who wanted to keep an eye on it, as happened when i joined after a long period of it being closed. Now it seems to be just Jess. And i think charging for membership was a mistake too--people feel more entitled since they paid for it.

It is meaner now, and no one's stopping it until it gets excessively mean, and sometimes not even then.

amber is the perfect representative for the pro-newsfilter direction mefi's been heading. He honestly doesn't see what the problem is.
This, for example, doesn't help. I see that you see it as a problem, but think you have to fix that yourself, by posting much much more all the time the links you'd rather see rather than just bitch about me, or newsfilter, etc. Even ana's money prize thing is a proactive thing, not just bitching. I first found and fell in love with MeFi because of newsfilter--the 9/11 thread. Many other members also like newsfilter.
posted by amberglow 01 August | 01:25
It's simple: Too many of the people who aren't happy with the direction of the site should start posting more. Lead by example. It's not hard.
posted by amberglow 01 August | 01:27
I'd like to see one of the more anal mefites do a survey of the past month or 2 of posts and see who's posting what types of links.
posted by amberglow 01 August | 01:31
Ask MeCha || Madness songs in commercials