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August 24, 2004

Metafilter spillover, MetaMeta, and other issues and ideas. [MI]
posted by Ethereal Bligh to MetaFilter-related at 8:19 AM PST

This morning I had an idea. My first thought was a website forum that has threads coupled to either MeFi/MeTa/AskMe threads, or individual comments within those threads. The impetus for this idea was to provide an outlet for metacomment comments and side-discussions. Then I started thinking about something included or alongside that that allows open posting.

Then I wondered what Matt would think about this.

Then I thought about bandwidth. Bandwidth I don't want to pay for, anyway. In the context of the above model, one idea I had was a single thread for each post, and a limited (say, 100) comments in each thread, open to anyone. Then, as far as metameta threads are concerned, they can be automatically and only be created (and validated) by a link from a comment, thus limiting this to members. These are some interesting ideas, but I still have concerns about administration and bandwidth.

In thinking about solving the bandwidth problem, I started thinking about using Google's cache and, um, "utilizing" some of Google's bandwidth. Enough said about that.

But that led me to suddenly think about USENET and Google Groups. So here's the idea I'd like to discuss/propose: an alt.community.metafilter (or something like that) group, perhaps moderated (perhaps not), with automated article creation (and a validation mechanism) a la what I mention above used in conjunction with a bare-bones, low-bandwidth website that points to Google News links.

What do people think of A) the general ideas of a public adjunct to MeFi and a metameta (or, um, "perimeta", maybe?); and B) implementation via an alt USENET group?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:19 AM PST on August 24


Do you mean a discussion group discussing a discussion group, just automatically? Aren't we doing that right now?
posted by dash_slot- at 8:35 AM PST on August 24


No, the idea is twofold: to allow for metameta threads (what started me thinking in this direction was the uncomfortable and misplaced discussion about me that came up at the end of the misogyny thread), that is, side-conversations so to speak; and a forum for non-members to participate in conversations about MeFi posts. Done as another discussion board on a web server is questionable (but still worth discussing); but I only got excited when it occured to me to do this via USENET where no one is (directly) paying for the bandwidth and Google Groups provides a convenient web interface.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:42 AM PST on August 24


Wouldn't threaded discussions just deal with this, without having to develop and introduce a whole new model for online discussions?
posted by LairBob at 8:54 AM PST on August 24


Well, yeah, but Matt may not want to do that. (And I'm not sure that it would be a good thing—I think MeFi's strength is in its lack of divisions.) Besides, it doesn't allow for the non-member participation thing.

Also, I'm struck with the (it seems to me, but it would) beauty of the idea of solving some of these problems in a distributed, someone-else-pays-for-bandwidth, fault-tolerant, archived, open-access manner.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:04 AM PST on August 24


Oh, for Baal's sake. Isn't there already enough of this here? I don't think that this would "vent" any of that and streamline the existing forums.

Instead, I think that what would happen is what generally happens when people take out home equity loans to pay off their credit cards--the effect is called the "debt vacuum", as the vast majority of people retire the credit card debt only to start charging away like mad, thus compounding the original debt (now transferred to the home equity) with a subsequent, equally large debt on the cards.

At the risk of starting another "uncomfortable and misplaced discussion" about you, Ethereal Bligh, wouldn't you be better off typing some of the thousands and thousands of words you put onto MeFi somewhere else--somewhere where you might actually get pay or recognition for them?

I, too, can be guilty of blathering on and on here when what I really should be doing is working on an article, essay, or novel, EB. But I have to say that even I quail at your prolixity here.

If I posted to MeFi as much as you do, the typing alone would occupy most of my workday (and I type more than 100 words a minute). And yet, here you are, suggesting more ways in which MeFi could potentially occupy your time. This can't be good.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:15 AM PST on August 24


Let's imagine a totally low-impact way of taking something offline: someone puts up a blog posting at their own site, as a placeholder, and anyone interested in joining the "offline" conversation does so in the comments, there. Would people balk at seeing a link to talk more over here in the middle of a thread? You could always trackback it, too, for permanent linkage.

Of course, an outside site runs the risk of someone posting with your name, and anything you say won't be part of your comment history, blah blah etc. But I don't foresee a pony for this anytime soon. One big side-site would be cool, if someone wants to put it together.

Wouldn't an install of MetaPhilter do the trick?
posted by scarabic at 9:17 AM PST on August 24


even I quail at your prolixity here

Well, this is a discussion about mitigating some of that, or off-loading it elsewhere. Why derail it?
posted by scarabic at 9:21 AM PST on August 24


Yes, Sidhedevil, the bulk of your comment has pretty much nothing to do with anything ontopic. You're not helping.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:29 AM PST on August 24


(But, as it happens, it's probably quite relevant to note that what I'm proposing is in no way intended to be an opportunity for me to post more, elsewhere. That had not even occured to me. What I was thinking about was relieving some of the pressure for side-conversations—and the one I mentioned as an example wasn't one I initiated—but also, quite importantly, a place for non-members to be part of the MeFi community. And other possibilities, as well. The only interest I have in this is the personal enjoyment of implementing it—not so much using it.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:34 AM PST on August 24


Why can't threads just derail and go where ever they go? You know, like conversations.
posted by ZippityBuddha at 9:37 AM PST on August 24


Why can't threads just derail and go where ever they go? You know, like conversations.

they do. and the meta part is everyone talking about how they shouldn't. isn't it all grand fun?!

look! a shiny thing! -------------------->
posted by quonsar at 9:47 AM PST on August 24


alt.community.metafilter? Too much trouble to get set up and propagated. If you really want the Usenet experience, just get a mailing list somewhere and get the folks at gmane to gateway it.
posted by kenko at 9:51 AM PST on August 24


Why can't threads just derail and go where ever they go? You know, like conversations.

Because this isn't a chat site?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:51 AM PST on August 24


Too much trouble to get set up and propagated.

I don't think so. In the contemporary world of alt.binaries, an alt.* group designed for a specific limited purpose that's not a binary group would be, I think, accepted without a second thought by all those news admins that even bother to worry about having to explicitly authorizing new alt.* groups on their servers. It'd mostly just propogate automatically and Google would add it sooner or later, probably sooner.

I'd post to alt.config soliciting discussion, of course. (Not a vote.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:56 AM PST on August 24


I think this idea merits a consideration, or, at least, the underlying issue this solution aims to solve. There appears to be an overwhelming desire to chat about things which have nothing to do with sharing things of interest, just side discussions about something that maybe only a handful of people could care about.

Now, if MeFi has become is merely a discussion board, then this solution is irrelevant.

I think of SportsFilter. If something about politics was dropped there, it would be out of place and certainly shouldn't be there. But if the goal of Sportsfilter is just to be another community to talk about whatever the community wants, then anything should go. But if you have a community that has a focus (such as a community that once existed for "the best and most interesting of the web to share with others" or a sports-oriented community like Sportsfilter), then side discussion would be better off elsewhere.

But if we are merely a general community discussion board (as Matt seems to be allowing it to become), then there is really no need to care about side discussions.

wouldn't you be better off typing some of the thousands and thousands of words you put onto MeFi somewhere else--somewhere where you might actually get pay or recognition for them?
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:15 AM PST on August 24


Is someone's right to post limited by a word count? Where do you get off telling him to leave because you find him prolix? Dare I put forth the great defense of all things Newsy: *if you don't like EB, then skip him?*
posted by Seth at 10:02 AM PST on August 24


Please, let's just not go there, okay? Please? It's not the point, it's unfun, it's boring and been done to death. I had what I think is a neat idea with potential for MeFi. This isn't about me, it's about MeFi and the idea.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:06 AM PST on August 24


but thanks anyway, Seth—I don't want to seem ungrateful. but I want to nip that line of discussion in the bud and not appear to sanction it as I have in the past.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:12 AM PST on August 24


The main problem with moving derailed topics over to a newsgroup/different server is that people just wouldn't do it. They'd continue to post to Metafilter / Metatalk. If you don't believe me, then try it. Set up a Google Group to continue this conversation, post a big sign at the bottom of this to say it's been created, and see how many people continue in that group.

On second thoughts, I'll do it.
Continue This Conversation Here
posted by seanyboy at 10:24 AM PST on August 24


So, build it already. Those who are interested will participate; the rest will not.

On preview: Damn!
posted by mischief at 10:25 AM PST on August 24


As a side note, it took me about 20 seconds to create that google group. There really is nothing stopping you.
posted by seanyboy at 10:29 AM PST on August 24


Half of my post above was completely on-topic. I think that I am absolutely correct that it would just create a "chat vacuum" here which would almost instantaneously be filled up with other chat.

And as for EB, I actually didn't say that as a slam. I really think his/her time would probably be better spent doing something that would earn him/her money or recognition.

Seth, I generally do skip EB. And you, for that matter.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:34 AM PST on August 24


I'm also interested in how Seth got from "I think X's time might be better spent doing actual writing instead of posting here" to "I think X should leave".

I'm a professional writer, and so are the majority of my family members. I just hate to see anyone giving away reams and reams of the stuff for free to people who (mostly) couldn't care less about it. And, yes, Mr. Kettle, I share your hue.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:37 AM PST on August 24


quonsar: tell me more about this shiny thing you speak of.

EB: seriously? i second the bit about mefi being a time-suck as it is. i do appreciate what you add to the mix - i'm not one to ask anyone to leave, although if you piss me off you might get me to be unnecessarily rude once in a while - but i also think that, as much as i like to talk, at some point the conversation is dead, and having a discussion about the discussion about the discussion about the discussion is just, well, that's just too many levels of wankery for it not to be sane any more.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:52 AM PST on August 24


Man, that Google Groups format is assy.
posted by scarabic at 10:58 AM PST on August 24


Response to, more about: "...X's time might be better spent doing actual writing..."
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:00 AM PST on August 24


that's just too many levels of wankery for it not to be sane any more.

You know, if you parse that accurately, it's saying we need more wankery to achieve sanity! Which means that MetaTalk, like French wine-guzzling, is good for you!

*leans back, satisfied*

On preview: while "not having a life" is an explanation, it is not a justification.
posted by languagehat at 11:03 AM PST on August 24


answered in previously mentioned location, as will anything else I have to say on this topic, which is a topic which is "off-".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:12 AM PST on August 24


Because this isn't a chat site?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:51 AM PST on August 24


I dare say you're going to be reminded of this statement more than once in your future.

we need more wankery to achieve sanity! Which means that MetaTalk, like French wine-guzzling, is good for you!

MetaTalk: It does me good like it bloody well should.
posted by biffa at 11:27 AM PST on August 24


I dare say you're going to be reminded of this statement more than once in your future.

That's fine. I'm almost always ontopic, and things like the other night with scarabic are fairly rare for me. And I didn't argue against the point that it was inappropriate. (I sort of argued that, at the time, it seemed like an innocent deviation from the rules.)

While you might argue that "meandering confessional" style is inherently chatty, I'd argue that in my case it most definitely is not. (If that's what you had in mind.)

So, the "chat site" stuff that doesn't belong are personal and off-topic off-the-cuff side-conversations. That's why Matt wanted to discourage. More to the point, it's the type of things that are very much like a chat room or irc conversation, except done via a web discussion board interface. I think that's what we strongly want to avoid. I know that there's been many a time in the past when the community struggled with this issue: with bunnyfire, then later with miguel.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:34 AM PST on August 24


Gosh, I was hoping that some other technogeeks would get excited about this idea. I was having fun speculating about the mechanisms for thread creation linked to new FPPs, validated authenticity, possible moderation, a highly-efficient web interface that piggybacks on Google's USENET interface, etc. It just seems like there's the potential for something quite useful that would have almost no admin overhead for anyone, and (almost) no cost, too.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:01 PM PST on August 24


The problem with piggybacking on Google's Usenet interface is that there's a lot of lag: posts don't get put on the web sometimes for a day. I don't understand how anyone reads news through Google. (At least, this was the case the last time I used Google Groups for anything other than checking archives, which was a while ago.)

If you're really set on a Usenet interface, I'll just mention gmane again, since it looks pretty slick.
posted by kenko at 12:15 PM PST on August 24


So, can you explain this to me like I am a five year old EB? Honestly.
posted by Quartermass at 12:42 PM PST on August 24


I'd like to step back for a minute and say that this is a process I've seen before, perhaps even a law of online communities: when there are too many rules, people want to go somewhere else. However, they want the other place to have a similar format and a good number of people from the original site posting there. You can observe this any time a community is overmoderated.

Now I don't think mefi is especially overmoderated, at least by Matt. There's just a great deal of social pressure not to do certain things. It's over-self-moderated, if you like.

Anyway, no-one's going to solve this with Google Groups. You know how I'd solve it? Set up a site that uses the RSS feed, or perhaps scrapes lofi.mefi, to show all the posts from mefi and then allow comments in a relatively mefi-like interface. This would have the added bonus of allowing non-members to comment, not to mention sabotaging the whole idea of deleted threads. It'd anything-goes, a kind of anarcho-metafilter, to act as an outlet or release or whatever else.

I'm not sure about the ethics of this (although, you know, one of the Ses in RSS is for 'syndication'), but I think it'd be pretty neat. Or at least an interesting experiment.
posted by reklaw at 12:43 PM PST on August 24


As far as the point of the idea, that's pretty much why I was thinking about this, reklaw.

Quartermass, I don't know what your level of understanding is, so I don't know the appropriate level to attempt to explain. Could you perhaps specify the things that you don't understand?

Back to reklaw: functionally, what I had in mind would, however implemented, look a lot like what you describe. In fact, the portion that was a web interface, the front-end that would be links to usenet threads dedicated to mefi threads, would use the rss feed both to build the front-end and to create the "official" group thread for the mefi post. Just so with any metameta threads spawned from coments in threads. I was thinking of some format for posting a link inthread (on mefi) that would cause an automated creation of an "official" usenet thread along with the a pointer (perhaps) to it from the web front-end.

Then, as far as these official threads are concerned, anyone with access to usenet in one way or another could post to them. But only the administered web front-end would be able to officially create them. (How could that be validated? I was thinking with a public/private key mechanism.) But, additionally, of course, anyone could, and would, be able to create any other threads in the newsgroup that they wanted. There'd be spam, of course. But if people navigated reading and contributing to the group via the web front-end, they'd never see the spam (or, unfortunately, none of the unsanctioned threads either).
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:00 PM PST on August 24


I think you're over-engineering this, EB. Usenet is pretty unreliable and completely inconducive to any kind of 'instant' conversation. I can see that you're trying to solve potential bandwidth problems, but since you'd be showing those Usenet posts through a web frontend anyway, you wouldn't really have solved much. Essentially, you'd be using Usenet as a replacement for MySQL, and I don't really see the point of that.

Anyway, bandwidth is cheap. I wouldn't expect any metameta to draw much more traffic than some random personal website; I could probably stick such a thing up on my own hosting, in fact.
posted by reklaw at 1:15 PM PST on August 24


I understand what you are saying, I don't understand why you are saying it. I know Metafilter isn't a chat site, but it is "weblog as conversation." Discussions happen here fairly naturally, so what purpose would this serve? How much more discussion do we need?

Personally, I am usually satisfied with what we have. How many people feel the need to add anything more than what they already contribute in a thread?
posted by Quartermass at 1:18 PM PST on August 24


...you wouldn't really have solved much (regarding bandwidth and it being a frontend)

What I meant wasn't that the web frontend would pull the material from Google or wherever, just that it would link to the threads. The only thing the website would be serving would be a very small page containing only links and descriptions. It wouldn't itself (other than admin, maybe) have any cgi interface or anything. Yeah, bandwidth is cheap, but as I've (perhaps "bragged") before, I have experience with the highest bandwidth sites on the net and my sense is that anything related to MeFi that I would implement, anyway, would and should be able to stand up to whatever traffic MeFi gets now and, possibly, more given that it would be open to anyone. (Well, I don't see how it would be more. But you get my drift.) The part that is implemented by me or whomever, has to be be hosted somewhere and maintained, should be as lightweight and robust as possible. The whole thing should just take care of itself, really. That's part of why I like basically putting all the content on USENET. And it'll always be archived and available via Google.

Quartermass: there is a whole bunch of stuff that people do and would like to do on MeFi that's not kosher. Either in general, or in the context of a specific thread. That's part of the idea. The other, very important part that I've only alluded to, is the public part. This would be an opportunity for all those non-members to speak up and, possibly, provide some means for shepherding them eventually into MeFi. So I think this would serve two important purposes.

And, for the nonmembers out there reading this: please email me, if you like, your thoughts on this. Or post to the Google Groups group that seanyboy set up.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:31 PM PST on August 24


Discussions happen here fairly naturally, so what purpose would this serve? How much more discussion do we need?

Quartermass - I'm right there with EB on this one because the two of us were completely burned together the other day. I don't know if you recall that huge 200+ comment thread on misogyny, but somewhere past comment #150, EB and I were both up late and digressed into a conversation. I thought it was mainly on-topic (gender, misogyny, prior accusations of being anti-fat). But numerous other people jumped all over us for dominating the site, carrying the thread away, confessing too much, and even abusing MetaTalk against Matt's wishes. It might sound illogical here, but I was moved to the point of disgust, all over exchanging half a dozen comments with another member in the middle of the night.

Personally, I thought "what the fuck? Most threads begin with lots of people having a broad conversation, and the longer ones frequently end with a small set of folks having a more specific conversation." But I think a fair portion of the complaint was people's continual (and continually boring) hatred of EB and his ways.

I can't blame him at all for contemplating a system for "let's get a (chat) room and continue this elsewhere." I would think that folks would welcome that impulse on his part, but they enjoy the cheap shots more, apparently.
posted by scarabic at 1:44 PM PST on August 24


What I meant wasn't that the web frontend would pull the material from Google or wherever, just that it would link to the threads. The only thing the website would be serving would be a very small page containing only links and descriptions.

You've so lost me. When you say "pull the material from", do you actually mean "link to"? If you're doing any kind of reorganisation or restructuring of what's on Google before you show it to people, you won't be saving bandwidth. On the other hand, if you don't do that, you'll be forcing people to deal with the icky Google Groups interface. I really don't think this thing would use much bandwidth -- perhaps as much as Monkeyfilter does.

The other -- perhaps more important -- argument against storing stuff on Usenet is that stuff doesn't show up there in a timely fashion. Things show up instantly on the Google Groups cod-Usenet thingy, I suppose, but on alt.whatever proper-Usenet it can take quite a while.

I can't blame him at all for contemplating a system for "let's get a (chat) room and continue this elsewhere."

Really, someone already did that -- the metafilter IRC channel. Unfortunately it seems to violate my little "similar interface" principle, in that it doesn't work in the same way as mefi at all. I think lots of people would like a site that has these two things:

- a place to comment on threads without censoring themselves,
- a general "off topic chat" area that works like mefi itself does.

Am I right here?
posted by reklaw at 1:55 PM PST on August 24


Yeah. (I'll follow up in a sec.)

I do mean just "link to". Best would be perhaps a choice of links: the browser "news" link that invokes the client for people that have one configured (and a news server), one to Google's usenet, and another to some alternate interface to USENET that people could use. Maybe, just maybe, we could find a newserver that could be the primary interface so that at it, at least, postings show up immediately for those for whom timeliness is important. I think for lots of other people, immediacy is not necessarily as important.

IRC serves the whole chat need well, but has the disadvantages of being a) arcane; and b) de facto very cliqueish. #mefi is really something different these days.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:06 PM PST on August 24


Reklaw - Yes, I think so, which is a good reason why IRC isn't a substitute. It doesn't work like MeFi. The most basic difference being that there's no permanent record of any conversation, and therefore, nothing to link back to the MeFi thread that spawned it.

I would add to your list, reklaw:

- something that can be linked to and from a MeFi thread in the course of a conversation there
posted by scarabic at 2:10 PM PST on August 24



IRC serves the whole chat need well, but has the disadvantages of being a) arcane; and b) de facto very cliqueish.


arcane: IRC confused him.

cliqueish: they didn't like him on IRC, either.
posted by quonsar at 2:13 PM PST on August 24


Quonsar, with all due respect, which is not much, I know more about the net, the web, and non-web protocols than you'll ever know. Do you even know what an RFC is?

Secondly, as you well know, when I did hang out at #mefi, everyone liked me just fine. Yeah, I avoid it these days because I've noticed a correspondence between my critics here and the people I know from past experience who hang out there—but when I hung out there, there was no problem. And, regarldess, #mefi is very cliquish and you know that it is. It's the same few people there all the time, 24/7. And you apparently eventually run off longtimers, like y2karl and shepd and others. #mefi is extremely independent of MeFi and is its own little community with it's own set of rules. It's not the place for all the non-members to participate, even disregarding the fact that most people haven't a clue what irc is.

I don't know why you've decided to dog me lately, but it's boring. I mean, really, it's boring me. At least be funny or something.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:23 PM PST on August 24


yer mumbling again!

also, wrong on almost every count. in fact, it's a whole new crowd in there lately. they dislike you too.
posted by quonsar at 2:28 PM PST on August 24


Whatever. You feel better now? Because that's what's important.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:30 PM PST on August 24


EB: You dislike IRC for being arcane, but you advocate using Usenet?

scarabic's addition is important, too. I think the whole thing would be easier with some pure-web PHP/MySQL hack, really.
posted by reklaw at 2:35 PM PST on August 24


I don't dislike irc for being arcane. It's just very arcane for most contemporary net users. I do think a newsreader is probably (depending upon the reader) less trouble for a newbie than an irc client is.

PHP/MySQL or anything like that is too much like building and being responsible for a whole 'nother discussion site. I think that's a bad idea for a whole host of reasons.

For this to be useful to anyone, I think it needs to be robust, lightweight, extremely low maintainance, free or so close to free that it doesn't matter, will take care of itself for long periods of time when it's abandoned by the admin du jour, and, importantly and related to all that, not closely associated with any one person.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:42 PM PST on August 24


EponymousBlargh can't dominate #mefi, can't dominate MeFi or MeTa, so now he wants everyone to join him on google. shrug.
posted by quonsar at 2:50 PM PST on August 24


"I don't dislike irc for being arcane. It's just very arcane for most contemporary net users. I do think a newsreader is probably (depending upon the reader) less trouble for a newbie than an irc client is."

Why?

Download application. Install. Enter name of server (news or irc) and enter specific location (channel or group).

Seems pretty much the exact same to me.
posted by cedar at 2:59 PM PST on August 24


It's over-self-moderated, if you like.

I first read this as : It's over-self-medicated.

Hey you in the back! Stop swilling that NiQuil!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:59 PM PST on August 24


Seems pretty much the exact same to me.

well, cedar, OBVIOUSLY you don't know what an RFC is!!!!
posted by quonsar at 3:00 PM PST on August 24


You played that card first, Quonsar, not me. Now, surely you have something better to do than to disrupt this thread? Wait, that was a dumb question, wasn't it?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:04 PM PST on August 24


Why?—cedar

I dunno. I've heard more people being mystified by irc than usenet, though. But both are pretty opaque to most web users.

Usenet had the other advantages that I mentioned: there are web interfaces for it, it's permanent via Google, etc.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:07 PM PST on August 24


Ok, I understand now (thanks Scarabic). I agree there are times (such as the cited example) where this would be useful. I just don't agree that it needs to be an ingrained feature.

Its all besides the point now anyways, as the google site is up and active, and (IMHO), a great idea for including people who are not able to post here.

Here is my concern (and not meant to be a personal attack); who is moderating that google site? Because it sort of seems like a power grab to me. Metafilter has one moderator who refuses to give up his power, or spread it around by adding more moderators (and which, like it or not, adds an interesting dynamic to this place). So as a way of circumventing that power, setting up another avenue for conversation outside of #1's authority seems suspicious to me.
posted by Quartermass at 3:17 PM PST on August 24


Yeah, that was part of what I was thinking about, too. That was another USENET reason for me, 'cause it wouldn't belong to anyone. There'd be the responsibility for maintaining the web that served as a front-end, but I was thinking that it could be distributed between enough people, and there'd be little enough to do, that it wouldn't really belong to anyone.

Seanyboy started that Google group, he's the only mod, I think. That's the problem with that. But anyone can join. If he just walks away from it, it'd still work as it has today, wouldn't it? Without anyone having any control over it.

Believe me, Q is just throwing shit at me. I have no desire to dominate anywhere. My aim here on MeFi is exactly what I've said it is, my behavior has annoyed people and in many cases rightly so, but a lot of the annoyance has been, I think, built around a whole bunch of false armchair psychoanalysis of me from afar. But, hey, I do it to other people, too.

Look at what happened with the Austin meetup Google Group I started. I emphatically didn't want to be in charge of anything or anything like that. I started the group in a very similar way as seanyboy started this one—it was being discussed and it was easy to do. I had fun doing silly things for it, like making a logo, but that was fun in itself. I could care less if anyone, anywhere, had any idea that I had anything to do with anything. I suggest this idea because it occured to me this morning and it seemed like a good idea. I'd like to implement it, because it'd be fun to do so, but I have no interest—zilch—in being the admin of some new discussion site.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:25 PM PST on August 24


As an experiment, I was thinking about writing a Perl script and hosting it on my web server that would monitor the MeFi rss feed (run as a cronjob), post to a Google Group (the one we've already used) a new thread corresponding to each new MeFi thread, then make a web page with a predictable URL (say, using the thread number) that redirects to the Google Groups thread.

Whatya guys think?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:48 PM PST on August 24


To be blunt, I think Google Groups really sucks.
posted by reklaw at 3:59 PM PST on August 24


I think I still don't really understand the need for it, to be honest. I'd like to see how it works in practice, but it sounds like it'll just either end up being full of whinging and bitching, or die completely.

And neither of those sound particularly worthwhile
posted by ZippityBuddha at 4:01 PM PST on August 24


I think that it'd get traffic once the non-members got wind of it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:03 PM PST on August 24


Reklaw: whatever the merits or problems of Google Groups, I was just thinking about implementing the web portion of the idea just to see how it works. The content side could end up being anywhere. Gmane, usenet, or something else.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:05 PM PST on August 24


Why not try it? Even if it doesn't work out, you'll have at least explored the idea.
posted by taz at 4:11 PM PST on August 24


It's just more fun to get other people's input and to get them involved, that's all. When I first thought about this idea this morning, I got up and sat down at my PC and started looking at some things with the vague intent of going ahead and implementing something immediately. But then I thought, hey, the whole point is to make something useful, so it'd be best if I solicited some other people's opinions on it.

But I think I will do what I mention above in the next day or so. I'd do it tonight, but I'm feeling sorta ill.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:21 PM PST on August 24


I have no desire to dominate anywhere.

Then wind the verbiage back a freakin' notch, motormouth. You're even starting to get up my nose, and my equanimity is legendary.

OK, not so much, but still.

I don't jump on scapegoaty bandagons, evAR!, but honestly, man, I haven't seen so many people poking someone (who in all respects seems quite rational and reasonable and intelligent) with sticks here since Miguel joined, and it was precisely his chatty-cathiness that turned many people off as well. The fact that there is animus between the two of you makes that all the more deliciously ironic!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:26 PM PST on August 24


Quonsar, with all due respect, which is not much, I know more about the net, the web, and non-web protocols than you'll ever know. Do you even know what an RFC is?

Ladies and gentlemen, he's not only stupid, but full of himself, too. More like Ethereal Gore.
posted by angry modem at 4:39 PM PST on August 24


I don't have a problem with verbosity, personally, because I tend to skim. But I had a conversation with someone the other day that made me think twice. This person said he always read all threads completely before commenting, so as not to repeat anything or respond to anything without grasping the full context of everything.

I don't worry too much about making those mistakes, but I can appreciate those who do. And, done that way, length becomes proportional to work. As we've touched on in the past, it's kind to be brief, because we do expect other people to read what we've written.

Anyway, it made me think. So I been thinkin'.
posted by scarabic at 4:41 PM PST on August 24


EB: I actually get, as in really get what you're saying. But you really need to step away from the podium for a while, or you're just going to be feeding the trolls. Let some actual discussion ensue instead of standing up there and taking bullets.

q: Truth be told, I kind of dig some of the turdy little insights you leave for us to enjoy, but seriously, old man, take it easy before you give yourself a coronary.
posted by majick at 5:00 PM PST on August 24


EB: I don't know what a RFC is. I'd like to request people for comments on this please.

The Google thing was to make a point God-Damn-It. If you're going to use them, then for god sakes use them, and I'll hold my hands up, and say - "oh - I was wrong. This really is useful."

You don't need a perl script for this, or anything. If you want to push this through, then may I suggest that you lay off the perl, and write a bookmarklet for ie/firefox that automatically creates a google group for the thread the user is on. I'm sure this is completely within the reach of your mighty technical prowess.

If you don't like that I'm the "Mod" for that group then set up another one. And link to it. My point is, and will always be; it's really easy, it does everything you want and IT WILL NOT WORK.

Prove me wrong by all means, but don't fill this thread with useless garbage on how you know so much more about the internet than anybody else.

I mean, who do you think you are. Al Gore.
posted by seanyboy at 5:10 PM PST on August 24


take it easy before you give yourself a coronary.

do i seem excited to you? shrug.
posted by quonsar at 5:13 PM PST on August 24


Seanyboy: honestly, if you had said something to the effect that irc is arcane, and someone responded "translation: irc confused him" how would you have reacted? I didn't pull out my dick until someone questioned its length for no good reason. It annoyed me. It would have annoyed you.

And you're misreading me, colored by...well, colored by whatever. I just answered Quartermass's question is all. I'm neither one way or another with regards to your modship. But I'm quite happy not being a mod myself, thank you very much.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:21 PM PST on August 24


"I think that it'd get traffic once the non-members got wind of it."

I must be missing something.

You want a metameta thing to discuss Metatalk and the rest of this site?

You want it available to non-members and to dynamically suck in the topics posted here for comment?

Why? I know you explained, but could you do it again for me, slowly and with small words.

If you want a more open community or one devoted to, say, politics, just start one. There are lots of *filters and it takes about twenty minutes to set up. However, I would prefer my membership in this hypothetical community to be optional rather than by virtue of my membership here.

It's like your adding another level to Metafilter but without the consent or active participation of either the owner or the contributers. Sounds screwy to me, we have a WiKi, we have IRC and now it seems we have a Google group. There is even a Flickr group. What more do you want and how much Metafilter does any rational person need in his/her life? My God, I can barely handle one MeTa thread without wanting to blind myself.
posted by cedar at 5:28 PM PST on August 24


Unfortunately, round here, asking someone if they know what an RFC is, is like waving your arms around and shouting "I've discovered air. Do you even KNOW what air is."

I really hope you were being sarcastic.

As for pulling your dick out in preparation for measuring, I get the distinct impression that quonsar (No capital; no capital) probably knows a little more than his usual "bargle slurp wank kitten" comments would imply.

My modship comment (There were quotes. They did mean something) was less to do with my authority, and more to do with the fact that I don't think Google Groups even have Mods.

As for how I would have reacted. Probably with a simple thankyou. Because when I'm talking rubbish, it's quite nice to be told that I'm talking rubbish.
posted by seanyboy at 5:37 PM PST on August 24


< / preemptive>
thankyou.
posted by seanyboy at 5:39 PM PST on August 24


how much Metafilter does any rational person need in his/her life?

Then Google and Yahoo and mere MSN will disappear fom the internet. The web will be Metafilter.
posted by ZippityBuddha at 5:45 PM PST on August 24


It isn't already?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:49 PM PST on August 24


I think non-members should have a forum where they can participate in the conversation. That's one of the two important benefits that I thought this might have.

The other was an outlet for things that otherwise don't belong.

And as for this: "It's like your adding another level to Metafilter but without the consent or active participation of either the owner or the contributers".

...well, for one thing, that was a huge part of the reason this thread exists and why I didn't just "do it" as some others have suggested.

On Preview: there's been bunches of comments in MeTa and elsewhere when #mefi has come up where people have asked, "what is IRC and is it complicated to do?" I wasn't talking rubbish—there'd be way, way more people on #mefi if it were a web based chat area. By web user standards, irc is arcane. It is. How you can dispute that is beyond me. Q's computing technical abilities are easily discernable from his #mefi conversations. He's not ignorant, but his insult was him attempting to box a few levels above his weight class.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:49 PM PST on August 24


#mefi is ... not the place for all the non-members to participate, even disregarding the fact that most people haven't a clue what irc is.

Not true. Come back, esmerelda!
posted by Salmonberry at 5:55 PM PST on August 24


there'd be way, way more people on #mefi if it were a web based chat area
um, eb, I access #mefi during the day via a web based chat interface set up by another member when I had expressed a want to visit there but couldn't install any software on the computer I was using. Not only that, but the guy whose server #mefi is on has provided a web browser access to #mefi. It's right there and has been there for people who want to use it.
posted by thatothrgirl at 6:54 PM PST on August 24


whenever there's a lot of people in #mefi it gets a little nuts. It's better if people who don't know the internet exists outside of a browser don't come to #mefi, more often than not.
posted by angry modem at 7:03 PM PST on August 24


Ethereal Bligh, have you ever read Viz (UK comic)? If so, does Mr Logic remind you of anyone?
posted by SpaceCadet at 7:27 PM PST on August 24


"I think non-members should have a forum where they can participate in the conversation."

Isn't this oxymoronic?

If they could participate in the conversation then they'd be, uh... members. Why would anyone without posting privileges want to participate?

Nice of you to look out for the unwashed hordes banging on the door to the Nirvana that is MeFi, but I expect you'll find your interest far exceeds any demand. Talking about people who are talking about other people is probably a little too meta for any but the institutionalized or insane.
posted by cedar at 7:37 PM PST on August 24


and some choose not to use irc, not because they don't understand it, but because they don't have the time to be typing shit into the computer all day and all night.

this morning i had an idea too. i put it in my blog.
posted by Miles Long at 7:38 PM PST on August 24


this morning i had an idea too. i put it in my blog.

Your blog, eh?
posted by cmonkey at 7:47 PM PST on August 24


reklaw, I admire your patience in this thread.

As a web app guy myself, I have to say the Google Groups interface sucks beyond belief. That's hardly the point though.....I just wonder what the point of this thread is.

Anyway, if you want to host a messageboard/chat even semi-properly, you need to spend (golly gosh!) about $200 US per year! The horror!

You want a messageboard? Go make one out of PHP or ASP, or buy a shrink-wrapped one like InVision Board (one year licence $70) and host it somewhere ($60 per year approx for most ISPs) with a cheap MySQL database ($75 per year approx, or possibly free depending on ISP). If this is a meta messageboard of meta-talk, you're not going to get a rush-hour on it - your worry about bandwidth is a little bit unnecessary.

So much talk about doing things, just do it! If it's too much money, don't do it (as you would be doing it half-assed, like using Google Groups or MSN Groups).

EB, you really do indulge yourself beyond many people's patience (I pray that they simply skip over your monologues).
posted by SpaceCadet at 8:06 PM PST on August 24


"I didn't pull out my dick until someone questioned its length for no good reason."

Dude. You really don't need more unsolicited advice, in fact you'll probably be irked by more of it, but the customary and most effective response to questions about dick size is to smile, look really, really smug, superior, and unflappable, and say nothing more.
posted by majick at 8:29 PM PST on August 24


i can't wait until tomorrow morning. i wonder if EponymousBlargh will have another idea?
posted by quonsar at 9:22 PM PST on August 24


Jesus, quonsar, you're spending a lot of your one-lining time on EB's ass. What are you, an EB hemmorhoid? You're out of nickname ideas; maybe it's time to shut up.

The only thing more boring than these abhorrent posts is the constant droning on about how boring they are. Good lord. You clearly adore crucifying this man. You should ask him to show up more often.

And yes, the only thing more boring than the constant hateful droning is my complaining about it.
/pre-emptive
posted by scarabic at 9:51 PM PST on August 24


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