You don’t need to be persuaded / You are being annotated.
March 2, 2015 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Earlier this month, ...[(Rap) Genius] (previously)... quietly introduced what could become its most significant feature—the ability to annotate any page on the web. Currently in beta testing, the new functionality lets users add genius.com/ to the beginning of any URL to access a version of the page on Genius. The page is fully annotatable, so users can highlight and annotate any text on the page and view others’ annotations. The only public announcement of this feature so far is a mysterious, meme-bending billboard on Canal St. in NYC.
posted by Potomac Avenue (75 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Useful
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:23 PM on March 2, 2015


Wasn't there another website that had this as its raison d'être? It was probably posted here even.
posted by ODiV at 1:25 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


There have been many companies that did this (including Microsoft).
posted by dilaudid at 1:29 PM on March 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


I seem to remember some service that gave every page its own wiki, effectively. Was it something Google piloted once?
posted by JHarris at 1:30 PM on March 2, 2015


Ha, Web Augmentation rides again. It's going to be interesting to see it in practice. It is hardly a new idea though — I co-authored a paper presented at Hypertext 1997 demonstrating the kind of link insertion that was possible at the time (this was in the days before fanciful things like DOM existed, and Javascript only barely could modify web pages), something I later pursued in my PhD (I would have inflicted bodily harm to have access to the kind of functionality present in browsers available today).

Quite a few others, academic as well as commercial, made similar systems.

One of the main problems is solid anchoring. Augmenting static web pages is trivial, but most web pages are highly dynamic with contents moving about, making it difficult to have links and annotations stay put. Dealing with n instances of different annotation/link-layers is somethings else (I can only hope that they have different link/annotation collections — if everything is global, they are in for a world of hurt).
posted by bouvin at 1:30 PM on March 2, 2015 [14 favorites]


Wow, babycore. LOL
posted by nikoniko at 1:30 PM on March 2, 2015


I remember that Maciej Ceglowski posted on twitter about someone who used pinboard to bookmark a single file that was 50G or more, but I can't find the link to it anymore. Just saying.
posted by kenko at 1:31 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not seeing anything highlighted in fffm's example on my iPad. Am I supposed to?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:31 PM on March 2, 2015


I always wonder what the makers of web annotation tools think is the killer Use Case for the technology. Do they understand that 99% of the web annotation is going to have the quality of YouTube comments?
posted by srt19170 at 1:32 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]




I'm not seeing anything highlighted in fffm's example on my iPad. Am I supposed to?

None of us are cool enough to have the beta invite that lets you actually add annotations.
posted by Pyry at 1:35 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is the sort of thing that I hope respects a meta-disable tag.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:36 PM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Do they understand that 99% of the web annotation is going to have the quality of YouTube comments?

This is exactly the problem. Christ, it's a whole new vehicle for astroturfing and pundit-lying.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:38 PM on March 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


I know the big news here is the annotation feature, but I'm stuck on this babycore thing. It should be a real thing! Baby clothes are ridiculously cute and I want them all in my size.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:38 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Segal is a cofounder of the “trend forecasting group” K-Hole, which has among other things the distinction of coining the term “normcore”

I can't think of a better name for a "trend forecasting group" than a description of the state of catatonia brought on by a horse tranquilizer.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:38 PM on March 2, 2015 [22 favorites]


I remember two different efforts at this. One allowed sites to opt out, which I appreciated because

1. As a content creator, I liked being able to manage the information presented from my domain. If you have subject matter expertise, it's frustrating when comments attached to your page were factually incorrect, or simply strings of profanity as might be produced by a 13 year old forced to research "boring shit like the Nayan Civilization" or "useless dead jerks".

2. As a woman, having the comments be treatises on my sexual attractiveness, availability, and without regard to consent, is a real buzzkill when attached directly to my work.

Both efforts failed because they required user proactivity, relied on the masses to work for the good, and (in my opinion) were light-weight attempts at collaboration and communication when there were better mechanisms for collaboration and communication already in place.
posted by julen at 1:38 PM on March 2, 2015 [14 favorites]


srt19170: This would one of the main reasons why you would want to have separate meta data collections, rather than just having a global set.
posted by bouvin at 1:39 PM on March 2, 2015


Yes, please, absolutely. I completely want to stuff all my web traffic through genius.com. I would also like to add another layer of content to the web that is tied up in a single website, because the internet is not centralized enough. While I may have some reservations about letting yet another party track and sell every click I make, it will be worth it if there is finally a way for me to see what random people on the internet think.

Oh, wait, sorry, I phrased that wrong. I meant, "fuck this idea sideways with a chainsaw, yet again".
posted by phooky at 1:40 PM on March 2, 2015 [27 favorites]


I seem to remember some service that gave every page its own wiki, effectively. Was it something Google piloted once?

Google Sidewiki.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:42 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The only public announcement of this feature so far is a mysterious, meme-bending billboard on Canal St. in NYC.

Well, plus posts on website like this one. "Public announcements" can be an afterthought when you're catering to the web.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:42 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can anyone get it to work on Google? That was the first site I thought to try.
posted by ODiV at 1:42 PM on March 2, 2015


Those who forget CueCat are bound to relive it.
posted by SPrintF at 1:43 PM on March 2, 2015 [16 favorites]


A highlighted line from potsmokinghippieoverlord's link:
In an interview, Moghadam said that "Zuck can suck my dick."
The annotation:
"Not true! Mahbod said that he said Zuck could zuck his dick. It’s a whole order removed from an actual diss and anyway it’s a funny topical pun"
Yeah, I can see this being a totally useful, informative, pleasant experience.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:43 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not to mention that scalability issues undoubtedly will make the user experience sub-par.

The work I pursued went for a client-side solution where links, annotations, etc. were available locally rather than presented through a website or somesuch (aka “post-render decoration”). E.g., no noise, only your own or co-workers' stuff. Of course, this has the real limitation that you can't easily use it to push ads.
posted by bouvin at 1:46 PM on March 2, 2015


users can highlight and annotate any text on the page and view others’ annotations.

Can they annotate the annotations in an infinite series? 'Cause I can see where k-holes might start to figure in there.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:48 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Genius' forum culture is fairly toxic (bullying, sexism, slurs, etc.), and I think this will limit their ability to expand the site beyond the rap-fan teenage boys that make up a majority of the userbase. It's not impossible--and getting Sasha Frere-Jones was a coup--but it will require some deft behind-the-scenes maneuvering.
posted by box at 1:50 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also: for anything outside outside the rap genre, I've often found Genius annotations to be terrible. Offensive; flat-out wrong; banal; stating the blindingly obvious.

(My go-to-example: "The same as in the first verse, this guy clearly wants time to think things over." WELL THANKS ANONYMOUS ANNOTATOR DUDE for telling me what the lyrics already unambiguously say.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:52 PM on March 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


bouvin: Ha, Web Augmentation rides again.

Thanks for putting a name on this. I've read about similar efforts over the years, but didn't know how to find them again. For a comparison of existing/prior projects, see the Wikipedia page on web annotation, with 20 systems (and 7 former systems) currently listed, from the "sort of" category with the use of Firefox's "description" and "tags" fields of bookmarks, to the "seen this before" category with rbutr.com, which "tells you when the webpage you are viewing has been disputed, rebutted or contradicted elsewhere on the internet," if you install the app.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:57 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Was it something Google piloted once?

Google had something called "SiteWiki". Some people were annoyed. Dave Winer rants about it here.

A decade earlier, there was something called Third Voice. Some people were annoyed. Dave Winer rants about it here.

Microsoft launched something called SmartTags with IE6, which wasn't full annotations but could highlight known entities in the page text and link out from the site. Some people were really annoyed. Dave Winer rants about it here.

There's probably more.
posted by effbot at 1:57 PM on March 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


Doesn't appear to respect robots.txt, which is pretty sketchy. Still, it would be trivial to not serve pages to whatever set of addresses genius.com is using to snarf the page content (and trivial to build up a list of what they are, just by repeatedly trying to visit new uncached pages on a site with low traffic you control and then checking the visitor logs). If enough sites object then this is a solvable problem.
posted by figurant at 1:59 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


If enough sites object then this is a solvable problem.

The problem is that some bright spark thought that "hey, you know what we don't have enough of on the internet? Uninformed _____ist assholes spewing their bullshit!" was a) solvable, b) a problem.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:04 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hit the link to request access to the annotation beta program when I saw this post, and within a minute I got an email with the link to join.

Not sure if it made a difference that I already had a Rap Genius account, or if anyone can get in on the annotating that quickly.
posted by andoatnp at 2:19 PM on March 2, 2015


I guess I'm just not getting the best-thing-since-sliced-bread appeal of Genius. Here's a contributor's summation of Springsteen's "Backstreets": "Bruce and his ambiguously-gendered friend Terry experience what happens to the best-intentioned childhood promises to stay 'forever friends.'" Zep's "The Ocean": "The ocean refers to the sea of fans seen from the stage at Led Zeppelin concerts, to whom this song was dedicated." Eric B. & Rakim, "Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em": "This album is noted for Rakim’s deeper tone of voice and more serious subject matter." Extrapolate that type of annotation to all the pages on the web and what have you got? All of Wikipedia's agonies writ larger than life?
posted by blucevalo at 2:32 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


A decade earlier, there was something called Third Voice. Some people were annoyed.

Some friends of mine has a startup called "Kendara" which implemented the same thing around the same time. Back then it was all done with browser plugins.
posted by w0mbat at 2:32 PM on March 2, 2015


Yeah, I remember Third Voice - wow, back in 1999, huh?

I think a lot of the appeal of this stuff is that (in theory) the provider of the annotation service builds and owns (and controls) a large content database that reaches to every part of the web. Except that it's highly unlikely it will ever be used to a large enough extent for that to happen. Which is probably for the best.

You know where something like this might work? In electronic books, to correct spelling and grammar errors. I have this vague feeling that I'm showing off my ignorance here, and that there may be some kind of ebook annotation sharing service on the kindle or something. But I don't think I've heard of anything that would crowd source the correction of spelling errors.
posted by doctor tough love at 2:35 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The problem is that some bright spark thought that "hey, you know what we don't have enough of on the internet? Uninformed _____ist assholes spewing their bullshit!" was a) solvable, b) a problem.

No, it isn't.

Mefites (including me) like to moan about how online fora should be better at shutting down gross stuff and moderating their content. The fact that folks are trying to come up with new ways to communicate and have discussions on the web -a medium whose entire genius is its ability to make it easier for us to talk- is only sort of related to that problem. After all, the whole goal of annotating is to make a new kind of conversation possible, one that can help us better understand and improve extant content; Jonathan Zittrain is letting readers annotate The Future Of The Internet (and how to stop it) , and I'd be hard-pressed to say that he doesn't believe in serious discussion. Lawrence Lessig's Code 2.0 is a revision of Code based on a collaborative wiki. And how much criticism can be boiled down to one person making a very dedicated annotation of someone else's text?

Whether or not I RapGenius to be the custodians who give us web annotation (especially given their reluctance to moderate content) is debatable. But the goal of annotation is darn utopian, and hopefully someday we'll have a version of it that sticks.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:40 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hey this could be the next big th...oh wait it's already gone.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:46 PM on March 2, 2015


Doesn't appear to respect robots.txt, which is pretty sketchy.

You're not a robot, are you?
posted by effbot at 2:49 PM on March 2, 2015


Also relevant: Hypothesis, which is also tackling annotation in a smart way, but using open code and open standards.
posted by freelanceastro at 2:58 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The fact that folks are trying to come up with new ways to communicate and have discussions on the web -a medium whose entire genius is its ability to make it easier for us to talk- is only sort of related to that problem.

The utter toxicity of comment sections basically everywhere online is just going to happen here, is the thing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:01 PM on March 2, 2015


You're not a robot, are you?

I'm not, but I notice that genius.com doesn't forbid webcrawling any content they serve (except for one particular user-agent). If they're reproducing content that's meant to be disallowed on the originating domain, that means that Google and other services may index it inadvertently.
posted by figurant at 3:08 PM on March 2, 2015


Moderation is definitely a sticky point in this area. Most publishers are highly reluctant to let the youtube comment masses taint their brands with LCD web vomit.
Giving publishers moderation capabilities for these tools is also difficult in that editorial time for policing heavily trafficked pages is in short supply.
From the tech side, I'm not sure how easily http requests from genius could be blocked. Eventually a blacklist of IPs could probably be assembled, but it would be trivial for a cloud deployment to migrate periodically.
I wonder how long before they start adding their own advertisements? Supporting any sort of traffic at scale is not cheap and monetization is fundamentally necessary to pay for electricity. I guess at scale they could sell sentiment data and user profiles to back to ad networks for targeting.
posted by bastionofsanity at 3:16 PM on March 2, 2015


Is this going to be like www.deliciou.us, where I build thousands of links and labels woven into self-contained projects and then it goes away?
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:30 PM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe this is just me showing my age showing but I don't get this trend/wish to annotate everything. Yes, I do sometimes feel the urge to have an obscure reference in a song explained, sometimes I even want to know which penis jokes I've missed reading a particular Shakespeare play (although I'm a bit skeptic if genius.com is the best place to go for critical readings of literature), but... everything?

At a certain point I just feel reminded of approaching those map–territory relations mocked/criticized in post-struturalism: Yah, text leaves (deliberate) room for interpretation and it might not always be clear what the author's intend is/was. But trying to explain every little detail of the "territory" (text) makes you end up with an overwhelming huge "map" (amount of annotations), which at one point just loses it's usefulness/purpose.

(Aside from the fact that various readings of the same text can be equally "correct".)

(I know this is a bit of a derail and I also know this comparison isn't a perfect fit. But maybe the genius meta-commentary will fix that for me.)
posted by bigendian at 3:39 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is this going to be like www.deliciou.us, where I build thousands of links and labels woven into self-contained projects and then it goes away?

Oh, del.icio.us was still around last time I checked, roughly two seconds ago.
posted by effbot at 3:48 PM on March 2, 2015


Most publishers are highly reluctant to let the youtube comment masses taint their brands with LCD web vomit.
I don't know about this particular system, but annotation in general is not supposed to be a matter of anybody "letting" anybody comment on their material. The whole point of public annotation is to prevent "brands" from getting to control the discourse about them or what they post on the Web.

Many people are highly reluctant to let shills post their garbage unanswered.

These systems tend to fail because there isn't a critical mass of commenters or readers, though. And also because they're usually controlled by yet another "brand" that's beholden to advertisers or investors, and generally subject to pressure. These only really make sense as decentralized P2P applications. And they were much more interesting in the days before search engines were so powerful (at which time nobody knew how to do the decentralization either).

They're also universally opt-in in the only important way: nobody has to read or post comments. Sort of like the Web as a whole.
posted by Hizonner at 4:40 PM on March 2, 2015


Oh, del.icio.us was still around last time I checked, roughly two seconds ago.
posted by effbot


My login with the thousands of links and labels that took years to build isn't there.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:11 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hizonner: I don't know about this particular system, but annotation in general is not supposed to be a matter of anybody "letting" anybody comment on their material. The whole point of public annotation is to prevent "brands" from getting to control the discourse about them or what they post on the Web.

Many people are highly reluctant to let shills post their garbage unanswered.

These systems tend to fail because there isn't a critical mass of commenters or readers, though. And also because they're usually controlled by yet another "brand" that's beholden to advertisers or investors, and generally subject to pressure.


This does lead me to think a decentralized P2P system would be a superior implementation of useful content annotation. I guess I should do some reading on how P2P distribution works (maybe without requiring centralized directories like bittorrent).
posted by bastionofsanity at 5:41 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


the goal of annotation is darn utopian

And like many utopian dreams, probably naive and impractical in practice. I might be wrong, but I'm skeptical that annotations upon annotations upon annotations would be all that distinguishable from the infinite number of monkeys. Sure, they might cough up a Shakespeare corpus now and then but think of what you'd have to wade through to get to it.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:55 PM on March 2, 2015


the goal of annotation is darn utopian

And like many utopian dreams, probably naive and impractical in practice.


I mean, I don't consider annotation a final goal or anything. It's one more attempt at moving us towards better discourse systems. But it's true - given how many times annotation has fallen apart, it might be a dead end.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:14 PM on March 2, 2015


Google buzz innit
posted by aydeejones at 6:18 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


OK, I must be utterly without a clue. How is this not creating a derivative work of every single page they annotate?

At best they're redirecting so that the end-user's browser hits the original site's server for content, and serving up enough scripting to "overlay" their annotations. Even if that's true, I'd thought there was precedent going all the way back to HTML 4.0 frames that copyright attached to the presentation of information on the user's screen, not just the underlying files.

Do I completely misunderstand? Does Rap Genius, which only just got around to licensing the lyrics it offers up on its own servers, really have the lawyer firepower to win when the NYTimes and Fox News say to a judge "Hey! Make them stop altering our pages!"
posted by CHoldredge at 6:51 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know where something like this might work? In electronic books, to correct spelling and grammar errors.

Amazon (finally!) added this feature to the most recent Kindle, and I've been reporting errors like a madman. I've no idea whether any of my corrections have ever made it back upstream. I think there's some way to track your bugs; I'll see what I can dig up.
posted by phooky at 7:17 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remember messing around with something conceptually similar, called Hoodwink.d, that Why The Lucky Stiff put together back in the mid-2000's. It required adding weird non-standards-compliant entries to your /etc/hosts file, so it was very esoteric and only the really cool kids got to play. Thankfully, the Internet Archive lets me relive the weirdness of the setup page, at least.
posted by TheCowGod at 7:32 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I only have the Android Kindle app so I settle for highlighting errors. The one time I tried reporting typos directly to the publisher, I was roundly ignored.

I don't think it's practical to make an annotation platform that wraps around walled-garden content. My conception of a crowdsourced error site looks more like Stack Exchange, where users would submit and confirm fair-use sized snippets of wrongness. If Amazon and co. don't start correcting ebooks soon, I really am going to have to make this site (or just stop buying ebooks).
posted by Standard Orange at 9:24 PM on March 2, 2015


My login with the thousands of links and labels that took years to build isn't there.

When Yahoo sold the site in 2011, they required you to acknowledge that it was okay to move the data over to the new site owner, with reminders via mail and on the site. I guess if you weren't around at the time that might have been a problem, but it worked smoothly for me.
posted by effbot at 1:59 AM on March 3, 2015


The use on this page is a really interesting example that showcases the pros and cons, I think. On the one hand it's kind of cool that a user can respond to other people's comments outside of the main conversation through these annotations instead. On the other hand, that puts them totally outside the bounds of moderation. The number and frequency of responses here, if in-line instead of as annotations, would have had the mods asking them to cool it.

I can see that if this takes off, there might be a shift in politeness norms, in that people might think it more polite to annotate a comment so that people can choose to click and view it or skip it entirely if it's an annotation to something they aren't especially interested in reading. Unlike currently where you either choose to look at The Comments as a single entity or not.

This kind of mirrors how norms have changed around content sharing. Decades ago, you'd send letters to people in your family if they lived elsewhere, writing about your opinions, your daily life, sending photos. And they'd kind of have to respond, or at least read it. Now I think most people consider it more polite to put that sort of material in a space (like blogs, facebook, etc) where people can choose to read it if they want to keep up with your life, or skip it if they don't, or just read it now and again.
posted by lollusc at 2:30 AM on March 3, 2015


So I have some inside knowledge.... Genius aspires to be more than a giant YouTube comments section. They know that's the problem without getting expert knowledge into their production model and getting beyond annotating trivial, ephemeral pop texts that bear no intense scrutiny by experts or that have no value to most pop fans who couldn't care less about lyrics as poetry or codex ("In this song, Taylor Swift welcomes you to New York! New York is America's largest city and often called the financial capital of the world. It is also known as 'the Big Apple.' It's been waiting for you!" ).

Problem is, no one but a few nerds cares about expert opinions about pop music lyrics, if they ever did. SFJ (who has little to say about lyrics anyway) included. The commercial web is not The New Yorker. So they really need to get beyond pop music to have any legs and not blow 40-50 mil in VC in the next year. But they need mass appeal too. They are frantically searching for applications and experts to curate them as we speak.

They literally have more money than ideas. Money, however, buys ideas. But not necessarily good ones.
posted by spitbull at 3:37 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Everything about these people makes my faith in humanity wilt like a water-logged slice of wonderbread.
posted by Drexen at 4:19 AM on March 3, 2015


> They literally have more money than ideas. Money, however, buys ideas. But not necessarily good ones.

This sounds like literally almost every venture capital tech project I've seen or been involved with over the last 15 years.
posted by MysticMCJ at 6:08 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Genius annotations for this very thread have already sort of soured me on the concept. You've got some Genius folks annotating various comments in the thread and either arguing with them, or snarking at them. At one point, an annotation reads "your argument is invalid", seriously. So what I'm seeing here is a layer to disagree with or mock people in a semi-invisible way, outside of traditional commenting, without the people you're arguing with necessarily knowing about your little community-on-top-of-community. And then if they want to reply, I guess they'll have to get a Genius account and engage with this extra comment system. It's all so tiring. And it can be abused in obnoxious ways.

To put it another way, if Vox is "Actually" journalism, then this aspires to be the "Actually"-web. And that's not something I care for.
posted by naju at 10:13 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh look, it's the "add a layer of comments on the whole web" idea. Again. I'm sure this will be a resounding success, unlike the twenty* other times someone tried to implement it. Clearly this is a thing the world has been aching for and we've just been waiting for the critical mass to get it right, the same way Facebook supplanted three or four other older social networking sites.

If any of the people commenting on this page via Genius work for them, please blacklist egypt.urnash.com from Genius commenting. Thanks.

* probably more like five. I can't be bothered to actually count the times someone's built this.
posted by egypturnash at 10:35 AM on March 3, 2015


At one point, an annotation reads "your argument is invalid", seriously.

This is a tad unfair. The annotation in question is snarky response to spitbull's comment that pop music lyrics are only if interest to a few nerds. It reads:

“A few nerds” somehow got Rap Genius into the top 100 most visited websites in the U.S. before the Google debacle. I don’t know exactly where we stand now, but your argument is invalid.

Now, that's some snark, and it's certainly not something that I'd like to see as a great annotation. But it's hardly a bad response to another comment that was in itself fairly snarky.

So what I'm seeing here is a layer to disagree with or mock people in a semi-invisible way, outside of traditional commenting, without the people you're arguing with necessarily knowing about your little community-on-top-of-community. And then if they want to reply, I guess they'll have to get a Genius account and engage with this extra comment system.

Now that is a hella true statement. It's kind of depressing and weird. Most of the annotations on the page do seem to be trying to engage with the comments, but since the mefites don't even know that they're being annotated, the effort's being lost. I mean, one of the annotators marking up this thread is Genius's Tech Liason; he's putting in some interesting responses to questions in this thread about the feasibility of this endeavor. But roughly no one in the thread is reading his comments, much less capable of engaging with him. So it's a very odd reversal.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:59 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, nightpool's annotations are actually very interesting, but it's profoundly strange and quite annoying to have an invisible-until-you-put-the-sunglasses-on metalayer containing them. It's like he's responding to us, but not engaging with us.

In a way this also feels like another attempt to provide ubiquitous commenting on the web -- annotations as comments on the original content, and then annotations themselves can be replied to. It reminds me a little of Disqus in that way, and it makes me wonder if one way this could be monetized is by offering it as a commenting service to websites: rather the traditional article-plus-comments-section, instead have article plus a "view Genius annotations" button.

(Comments as annotation do seem to be the way things are going elsewhere anyway: Medium comments are attached as sidebars to the text they're commenting on, and I think Gawker's properties also do something similar.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:21 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, nightpool's annotations are actually very interesting, but it's profoundly strange and quite annoying to have an invisible-until-you-put-the-sunglasses-on metalayer containing them. It's like he's responding to us, but not engaging with us.

Of course, if Andrew Hussie wants to write a sequel to homestuck that integrates Genius comments...
posted by Going To Maine at 11:25 AM on March 3, 2015


Yeah, it's also a little weird in that there are 2-3 Genius people commenting on the annotated version of this page who (I'd venture to guess) don't have MetaFilter accounts, and most MeFites probably aren't able to post comments on the Genius annotated version, so our two parties are sort of talking past one another. I'll admit that I find the whole thing a little intriguing, especially for turning MetaFilter into a sort of threaded-comment site which it explicitly doesn't want to be.
posted by whir at 11:30 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not weird, it's creepy. If you want to join the conversation, get a metafilter account and comment openly like everyone else or fuck off. Talking about people behind their back sucks.

The main thing stopping me be utterly weirded out by this whole thing is how every other version died a quick death. This will be no different.
posted by shelleycat at 2:11 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's also cowardly. If you have something to say come over here and say it. Then we'll listen and even engage. But I guess that's too scary or something.
posted by shelleycat at 2:13 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't really agree. This post is public, and the whole world can read it anyway. Would we find it creepy if a metafilter spinoff like monkeyfilter started talking about this thread?

That said, I do think it feels creepy on some level. It falls into a strange little uncanny valley.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:52 PM on March 3, 2015


(Full disclosure: I am somewhat active on both Genius and Metafilter, though today is the first time I've commented on anything on a non-Genius site--I've been an editor, and then a moderator, on Genius since 2010, but never been super-active (I mostly just make detailed annotations of allusive Golden-Age lyrics and advocate for safe, welcoming forum spaces). I've invited nightpool to join Metafilter so that he can comment here, and offered to buy him a membership.)
posted by box at 3:58 PM on March 3, 2015


Hey guys! Sorry, I was going to sign up for an account yesterday, but I misread the page as saying the 1 week waiting period would apply to comments as well.

I do have a little bit of a problem with the "come over hear and say something" meme though—commenting on metafilter costs 5 dollars, while you don't even need an account to reply to genius annotations (try it out!). Not a huge deal, but glass houses, you know?

I will admit even doing it felt a little creepy though. We'd definitely like to set up some way people could be notified about discussion happening on a page, but again metafilter probably isn't the best demonstration of what the technology is for—in one of my annotations I linked to an article by the New Republic that was annotated by both its author and editor, as well as some Genius community and staff that found it interesting. This is how we see Genius—a tool for both the audience and the creator.

I'd be happy to answer any other questions people have about the platform, or give out beta invites if people want them.

(please excuse any typos, I'm on a friend's laptop and my muscle memory is all out of whack)
posted by nightpool at 6:22 PM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also I'd like to encourage anyone who hasn't yet to go check out the annotated page. I addressed a few of the concerns/questions people had there, hoping some of you might come and read it.
posted by nightpool at 6:30 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Welcome, nightpool. The tech does seem a little more well-suited towards a magazine article or blog post than an ongoing discussion, I agree, partly because for a site like MetaFilter the ongoing conversation is sort of the whole point. (MetaFilter is also heavily and skillfully moderated, which I imagine might make for some interesting culture clashes.)

I'm curious if you have a plan to deal with the potential for this feature to become an unholy mashup of Third Voice and YouTube comments?
posted by whir at 6:35 PM on March 3, 2015


Yooooo, nightpool! Happy to see you, hope you enjoy our little corner of the internet!
posted by box at 6:46 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, user Vesuvius kind of addressed this in an annotation, but eventually the goal (when the tech gets there) is for the "default view" of each page to only show A) users you follow, B) people who are the author (or subject) of the article, or C) people who get a lot (number tbd) of votes. So hopefully like a Reddit/HN kind of distributed moderation meme.

We also already have a pretty large group of moderators and editors already active on genius.com, and infrastructure in place for dealing with trolls, so we have a bit of a head start over anybody doing this from scratch.

In fact I think that Reddit analogy is a pretty good one. Just like with subreddits, the slash the internet community (from a going-to-the-website perspective) is inherently fractured based on what domain/page you're visiting (Except we'll hopefully be more proactive then Reddit in stepping in when communities aren't being welcoming or safe). We'll probably be giving site owners some sort of moderation tools, although what form those will take remains to be seen.

Another kind of view is the feed-oriented perspective—where you follow people and see a "feed" of what they've been annotating/sharing recently. In that sense we're more like Facebook, where if you want to stop seeing someone you just unfollow/block them. (not something we have currently but its definitely a feature we'll need before we leave beta)
posted by nightpool at 7:09 PM on March 3, 2015


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