Deputizing the Hive Mind
December 18, 2014 6:48 AM   Subscribe

In Serial withdrawal? Well, perhaps you can help the Toronto police out. Inspired by the success of the Serial podcast, Toronto police are tweeting out clues in the unsolved murder of Mike Pimentel.
posted by Mrs. Rattery (24 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not sure I like the sound of this. Remember when Reddit solved the Boston bombing?
posted by Artw at 7:05 AM on December 18, 2014 [19 favorites]


One-half of me: Gross. This is every bit as gross as all those awful "Dateline Mystery" and "20/20" shows, all of which turn a real-life horror into something approximating a game or puzzle that people can "solve/win."

The other half of me: Well, if the internet detective squad can find out who did it, maybe that provides closure? So maybe that's a net positive, after all the gawking is over?

Very conflicted about this whole thing. Really don't know how to feel.
posted by jbickers at 7:07 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


The draw of Serial is really the reporting. This idea, while noble in intent, is doing something wholly different.
posted by penduluum at 7:12 AM on December 18, 2014 [13 favorites]


That's creepy. Do your own police work, and do it correctly.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:17 AM on December 18, 2014


Didn't Toronto #topoli just finish playing Internet Columbo with Anthony Smith and guys who fall off balconies? We didn't solve anything then.
posted by TimTypeZed at 7:17 AM on December 18, 2014


Assumption:
Collectively people on the internet will act in good faith and police out spurious and dubious facts.

Hahahahaha.

Reality: The internet is famous for giving minority crackpot conspiracy enthusiasts an equal voice. Now in the off chance that their crackpot theories are accepted - they are legitimized. In the event that they are continued to be ignored - their conspiracy theories are legitimized. Lose / Lose for law.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:20 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


The draw of Serial is really the reporting. This idea, while noble in intent, is doing something wholly different.

Serial certainly isn't going to solve anything - as an overlong NPR peice it's heading straight for an ambiguous ending that invites you to draw your own conclusions.
posted by Artw at 7:22 AM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I agree with everyone's discomfort on this, but for the record, if I get unsolved murdered, I expect you all to bust your collective hive asses to find who did it. AVENGE ME.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:27 AM on December 18, 2014 [38 favorites]


I'm not sure I like the sound of this. Remember when Reddit solved the Boston bombing?

Seriously. After that fiasco it's astounding that anyone could possibly think crowdsourcing police work could be a good idea.

The most likely outcome is the wrong person (likely some brown/black guy who happened to be nearby as in the reddit case) seized on by the online mob, their personal information splashed across the Internet, followed by non-stop harassment and threats and maybe even attacks.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:36 AM on December 18, 2014


These are the guys who apparently got out-smarted by criminal mastermind Rob Ford.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:42 AM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yeah, if you're trying to crowd-source your policework, asking the actual crowd to do it isn't the way to go about it. There are online detectives who seem to have a higher hit rate (and lower online-mob-rate) than places like Reddit. Although even then, it's problematic. (Mefi link: the article references the OFWAIHHBTN question over on AskMe.)
posted by pie ninja at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Astonishingly for a police force I don't even think they were trying to be outwitted there.
posted by Artw at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2014


One thing I know about crimes, it's never the first and most obvious guy.
posted by Flashman at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2014


I heard the officer being interviewed on the CBC this morning, and they are essentially using this as a hook to get witnesses to come forward, not to attract sleuths, although that may also happen.
posted by girlpublisher at 7:58 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


as an overlong NPR peice

Serial has nothing to do with NPR. Not only does NPR not produce it, NPR doesn't even air it.
posted by dry white toast at 8:53 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


No, but it sounds an awful lot like the kind of pieces NPR runs but longer. Which is nice, because I like that kind of piece, but the reaction it gets makes me wonder if people just don't listen to the radio anymore.
posted by Artw at 9:15 AM on December 18, 2014


One thing I know about crimes, it's never the first and most obvious guy.

Oh, O.J., I can't believe the warden lets you check Metafilter in jail.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:26 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's not entirely unusual for police departments to circulate details of cold cases every few years, especially if they have a hunch that witnesses might be willing to come forward after a long time has elapsed. I occasionally see the DC police circulate some of these things on the neighborhood listserv.

Also, Serial did reach a conclusion, which has been fairly predictable for a while now: We don't know who did it; Adnan had a terrible lawyer; the evidence that was used to convict was seriously flawed; the conviction will nevertheless be virtually impossible to overturn.

As others have mentioned, I enjoyed Serial because of the insight that it gave into the reporting and investigation process. This wasn't an accident -- it's basically the reason why TAL created the podcast in the first place. It would have been difficult to tell this kind of story, and give these kinds of insights on a traditional radio program, especially given that the "conclusion" isn't particularly compelling on its own.
posted by schmod at 9:37 AM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Serial made me very uncomfortable. It took the very real story of a person's murder and the very real story of a person's (possibly wrongful) incarceration and made them entertainment. It looks like reporting, but the goal was entertainment.

Real reporting would have been: "I researched this murder and conviction and developed serious doubts about the case. Here's my evidence."

Entertainment is: "Let's tell this as a story over the course of a whole bunch of episodes, package it like a TV script, and even compare it to True Detective when we talk about it in the media."

Meanwhile one real family still misses their daughter and another real family still misses their son. Our schadenfreude is disgusting.
posted by fremen at 11:32 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


That's creepy. Do your own police work, and do it correctly.

Police regularly make appeals to the public (aka everyone who isn't police, aka the people who actually know what happened) for information. This is basically no different; they're looking for witnesses, not the Internet Detective Squad.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:14 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


After “Serial,” Police Departments Replace Staff with Female NPR Hosts

Serial certainly isn't going to solve anything
It never claimed otherwise.

I found Serial utterly engrossing storytelling. It was well-researched, well-produced and gave me an insight of what a 1st murder case actually looks like. Its not Law and Order, Perry Mason or CSI where the police and prosecutors have state of the art equipment or a vital piece of conclusive evidence. Physical evidence is scant and trials mostly rely on conflicting and spotty eye witness accounts. It strove to provide as much relevant information as possible not only to come up with your own conclusions on Adman but on our criminal justice system overall. People are put away for life in trials where the evidence is a mess and no one is telling the whole truth. You learn that 60% of those called for jury duty in Baltimore are excused because they have been the victim of crime, have a family member in jail or have been arrested themselves. Adman admits he knows several people who take plea deals regardless of guilt because they can't take the torture of just being dragged to court every day knowing the odds of being vindicated are slim to none. Former investigators who state flat out the police and prosecutor have no obligation to the truth but only to build their case in the best possible light for a conviction. If that makes you uncomfortable, maybe perhaps you need to figure out how to reconcile how you think the criminal justice system works and the ugly truth of it.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:05 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


They managed to wrap it up in a satisfying way, but I think we are in agreement : they were never going to say "here's what happened and here's the guy that did it", and doing so was never the point of the exercise.
posted by Artw at 2:31 PM on December 18, 2014


Count me in as someone who found Serial problematic.
posted by ageispolis at 6:55 PM on December 19, 2014


Reddit is ON IT! They'll have the deets for an innocent culprit by EOD.

The real crime, they will discover, is misandry.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:35 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


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