Rusty gets it right
March 25, 2004 10:27 AM   Subscribe

K5 membership willl now require new users to be sponsered by current users. Rusty's implementing this system as a way to deal with trolls and crap flooders who have taken over K5 in recent months.
posted by tiamat (80 comments total)
Taking the good idea of closing random registrations and making it even better.
posted by tiamat at 10:30 AM on March 25, 2004

Who is Rusty and what is K5?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:31 AM on March 25, 2004

Rusty is the admin, K5 is a discussions site.

Lots of people here know what he/it is/are because a while ago Matt and Rusty ran a prank about combining the two sites that was, well, priceless.
posted by tiamat at 10:36 AM on March 25, 2004

It'll be interesting to see how well the system works... it certainly makes a lot of sense, but the trick will be (if you're a newbie without existing contacts) getting yourself sponsored. This is especially the case given that you can do *nothing* until you get sponsored.
posted by lowlife at 10:37 AM on March 25, 2004

It's a good implementation of something I considered a while ago here (but can't seem to find in the MetaTalk archives). Essentially, it's the "hot tubbing" community growth method where new members can only join when someone vouches for them.

Like any control method, there are potential problems. As any longtime LiveJournal member knows, you get lots of random people emailing members begging for a way in (same thing happens at Orkut). You also possibly exacerbate the echo chamber problem, where if most members skew one way politically, they'll tend to have friends of similar stripes.

I'll watch k5 and see how it goes, I'd consider doing it here as well.
posted by mathowie at 10:40 AM on March 25, 2004

What if metafilter deactivated you if you don't post or comment for three months?

Then we keep the people (however annoying) who want to post (or actually, metafilter keeps them, I shyly acknowledge) and ditch the people who just showed up to register because they wanted to be hip.
posted by ewkpates at 10:41 AM on March 25, 2004

Posting shouldn't be a requirement for membership.
posted by todd at 10:48 AM on March 25, 2004

I used to really like K5 (I even paid!) but haven't been checking it recently. The signal/noise seems to have gotten quite low, and with the community voting that has more effect than just crappy comments that can be ignored. There was a lot I really liked about it though, and I'd love to see it get back closer to what it was.

Come to think of it, I stopped going there when it erupted into a constant battle over what made a good Post and other metawankery...
posted by freebird at 10:54 AM on March 25, 2004

In many non-virtual communities, privleges are awarded for services to the community. Why not allow posting for those who have donated money or have perhaps done some other service for the good of the community?
posted by tommasz at 10:55 AM on March 25, 2004

"What if metafilter deactivated you if you don't post or comment for three months?"

The publish or perish model in use at Metafilter? Well, okay, I can manage a quarterly inane comment , I'm sure.

Hey, just saying this pays my dues for spring! Cool!
posted by mkhall at 11:02 AM on March 25, 2004

I used to really like K5 (I even paid!). . .
posted by freebird at 12:54 PM CST on March 25

I as well. I once read the site, subscribed, etc.
The depth of the stories is often very good - but the discussion functionality is defunct in my view, completely overtaken by detritus.
posted by the fire you left me at 11:03 AM on March 25, 2004

No, posting shouldn't be a requirement, but posting or commenting should. Otherwise, just read the site like anyone else.

I read some of the K5 commentary on what was happening, and I don't really understand. I've never been to K5 before. It doesn't look as interesting to me as metafilter, maybe I should spend more time there.

But, Rusty started this site. Then he let people participate. Now he wants to keep out objectionables. But what is really objectionable? To my mind, its only something that shuts down the site, or that deprives the general usership of participation.

Naked photoshop pictures sound like KKK rallies to me. Either there's free speech or there isn't. K5 as an online community may become RustyLand. But, I guess if that's what he wants, then that's okay too. They are his servers.

I'm wandering, but it doesn't look like I need to worry about sharing this thread. Remember that post about Sims Online? Are all online communities basically just experiments in Democracy? What have we discovered so far?
posted by ewkpates at 11:05 AM on March 25, 2004

APRIL FOO.... ohh, not quite that time yet huh?
posted by banished at 11:06 AM on March 25, 2004

" Either there's free speech or there isn't. K5 as an online community may become RustyLand."

Since Rusty runs it, and it's not a government-funded entity, then I guess it is Rustyland, right? You're more than welcome to create ewkpatesland. I bet it'd be swell.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:10 AM on March 25, 2004

Naked photoshop pictures sound like KKK rallies to me.

Uh, not when the head photoshopped on that body is your wife. His site, his rules.
posted by mkultra at 11:14 AM on March 25, 2004

If you really have that opinion of what "free speech" is just try going into a library or some other social/academic venue and yelling profanity at the top of your lungs. You bet your ass you'll be arrested or asked to leave. It's not censorship, it's just good social management.

There are things you can't say in certain places. Not that you can't say them at all, but you can certainly be asked to leave without it being censorship. That's what Rusty is doing and frankly, it's been a long time coming.
posted by tiamat at 11:17 AM on March 25, 2004

Hmm. Can I just say that now I belong to two exclusive clubs? Metafilter I got lucky back when there were 15 signups allowed each day. K5 I just wanted to buy an ad, and the only way I could was to register. Now I belong to two exclusive clubs. Yay for me. (I'm just being silly)
posted by Grod at 11:25 AM on March 25, 2004

Well, mr_crash is just silly. Originally, it was supposed to be a more or less democratic community, and now its rustyland.

I try to stay open minded. I think of everywhere as ewkpatesland. {breathes deeply} ahhh, good clean air of freedom.

I'm not objecting to removing the porn posters from the membership roles. I'm just suggesting that if you want to be inclusive, you are bound to end up including people you don't like.

Community is not about respect, its about tolerance. I know I said that already.
posted by ewkpates at 11:26 AM on March 25, 2004

Try bringing a life-sized naked photo of the spouse of the host of the next dinner party you go to. Then try using the "free speech" defense.
posted by 4easypayments at 11:27 AM on March 25, 2004

It's pretty easy to get busy enough that a couple months lapse before you have the time to comment on something. If you force people to comment to retain membership you'll see a deluge of "what he said" comments around the purge period.

I'm not sure why there's a desire to purge lurkers. I would think that they don't take up any more resources than an anonymous surfer would but they at least have the opportunity to speak if they want. I could understand if Metafilter's problem was that it was running low on storage because of all the registered users but I doubt that's the case.

As far as free speech goes you're always at the mercy of the good graces of your host. At Kuro5hin that host is Rusty. Here that host is Matthowie. At some point you've stopped making speech and started making noise. For instance posting links disguised as something valid or engaging in your own personal vendetta against another user.

If Matthowie or Rusty started deleting users for having a conservative or liberal bias than that would be censorship. If they delete a user for being an asshole because of their liberal or conservative bias then it's keeping the signal/noise ratio greater than 0.
posted by substrate at 11:31 AM on March 25, 2004

Community is not about respect, its about tolerance.

Community is also about choosing to partake by the social norms and mores instilled by the group. Trolls and flooders by action choose not to be part of the community.
posted by pedantic at 11:32 AM on March 25, 2004

Either there's free speech or there isn't.

I think this is a false dichotomy. At least in theory, more-or-less, Americans enjoy free speech. Nonetheless, I feel entirely justified in asking someone to be quiet in a movie, setting an agenda for meeting, and so forth. Are these impositions on free speech? Not in any meaningful sense.
posted by freebird at 11:35 AM on March 25, 2004

pedantic has it right. In so many words.

on preview, so does firebird.
posted by tiamat at 11:35 AM on March 25, 2004

"Well, mr_crash is just silly."

You're just now figuring that out?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:46 AM on March 25, 2004

so does firebird.

Given my druthers, I'd rather you mistake me for a Toyota or Mozilla, but call me what you like, just don't call me a pie and eat me. Or late for dinner.
posted by freebird at 11:50 AM on March 25, 2004

well crap. I thought that norms and mores got us racism and misogynism when they were enforced by an authority. Now I find out they were a benefit in disguise.

In a theater, the owner can ask you to leave. But you don't get kicked out of a theater for life, and you don't get banned from that theater for life, either. People who deny others the ability to use a resources should be excluded from that resource, but people who contribute something that the overlords don't like are just part of a community.

... on review, I didn't type fast enough and saw mr_crash's comment about my comment and now I realize I'm silly too, but in good company.
posted by ewkpates at 11:51 AM on March 25, 2004

ewkpates: It's not an issue of people with unpopular opinions getting banned from the site. rusty addresses this. As he said, People with stupid opinions, whether real (Baldrson) or pretend (John Asscroft), are not inherently unwelcome, provided they play by the basic rules of social interaction. "I think you're wrong, because numerous studies have shown that black people are less intelligent and more athletic than white people," is a dumb opinion, but does not inherently violate the site's rules. "You stupid nigger fag" does.

It's not about denying people the ability to post or be part of the site, even if most people think they're misguided at best. It's about keeping the "omgfuckingrorfaggot" gibberish, paaaaaagewidening posts and gay sex stories to a minimum.

Also, having seen the picture in question, I can assure you it was pretty fucked up.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 12:01 PM on March 25, 2004

people who contribute something that the overlords don't like

Whoah whoah whoah - posting naked pictures of someone's wife is somehow just "something the overlords don't like?" and is "part of [being a member of] a community"?

No. Being a part of a community goes both ways, and this is beyond the pale of acceptable behavior for that community. I have to run and can't get into the deep and interesting issues about what "Free Speech" is right now, but in short: saying "Free Speech" means the right to say whatever I want, where and when and how I want, with no regard for consequences whatsoever trivializes this incredibly important concept and in fact makes defending it harder in the cases where it really matters.
posted by freebird at 12:04 PM on March 25, 2004

Furthermore, spamming discussion boards doesn't really constitute speech per se; it's more of an attempt to either shut the speech of that board down, or provoke the legitimate posters. Similarly, posts which are one really long line of text (which makes the page almost unreadable) or are a single picture repeated over and over in a column, make it harder to hold a discussion around them.

Many of the newsgroups which were great resources in the 80's and early 90's were ruined by this sort of behavior. They had completely free entry; they tried and failed to self-police. I'm not sure that just allowing "friends of friends" into his site is the best method, since it seems like it will get rather clique-y rather fast. Perhaps combining that with a $2 membership charge to those who don't have friends there already? That would keep spammers out, and help pay for server time... (its cheap enough to be fair, but high enough to not be worth it for a spammer)
posted by Spacelegoman at 12:19 PM on March 25, 2004

righhhhhhhhhht freebird (I tried to pagewiden but got tired of it).

Naked people doing naked people stuff is a good reason to cut short free speech. So is being offensive, rather than stupid.

If only we could define offensive somehow. Then we'd be bucks up. Oh wait, what offends me. That's easy... it's Stupid. Now I know why ewkpatesland was a bad idea. I'd, like, be alone there, with like naked girls.

Sorry. Free speech ends when it directly results in physical harm. Porn doesn't do that.
posted by ewkpates at 12:21 PM on March 25, 2004

On a site not devoted to porn and the dissemination of porn, which K5 isn't, posting it isn't striking some blow against puritanical oppression or something, its more like going to a mall in a trenchcoat and flashing old ladies. Maybe this happens all the time in ewkpatesland, but it's not really welcome in everyone else's world.
posted by Spacelegoman at 12:44 PM on March 25, 2004

Sorry. Free speech ends when it directly results in physical harm. Porn doesn't do that.

Free speech ends when the government says you can't. It isn't about whether people such as Rusty must listen to every yapping sound.

That said, he is not attempting to stifle discussion, but encourage it. The people (I use the term loosely) stifling it are the ones who abuse the amazing opportunity given to them.
posted by pedantic at 12:46 PM on March 25, 2004

Is it just me or do the people talking about free speech seem to apply rules relating to government to what is, essentially, a private entity?

I like the idea of an upgrade/downgrade system based on contribution to the community. Seems like the karma system of old on slashdot. It used to be that the higher your karma, the more access you had. The downside of that is that cabals (yes, I'm using a word out of the usenet world :) ) could force down a particular user or viewpoint. From there, communities tend to loose something.

Somehow, Matt has managed to avoid that on MeFi. Matt: care to share your secret?
posted by TNLNYC at 12:52 PM on March 25, 2004

Sorry. Free speech ends when it directly results in physical harm. Porn doesn't do that.

This wasn't just porn, it was a picture of the dude's wife photoshopped onto porn. It wasn't intended to be salacious, satirical, or even obscene. The photo was meant to insult and provoke outrage. It's defamation, the stuff of libel— how can you defend that as free speech?

Anyway, there but for the lack of new user signup goes Metafilter. The last few months have seen an outburst of crapflooding. In fact, the recent Trackback flood could probably be traced to one of these "trolling groups" like GNAA who are promoting FloodMT. (You might have seen this guy's "Why your Movable Type blog must die.")
posted by eatitlive at 12:52 PM on March 25, 2004

If Stern really wanted to protest, he could go on conducting his show exactly as he has been, obscenity and all, but substituting the words "Bush", "Cheney", "Ashcroft" and "Condoleeza" for the actual profane terms. It wouldn't take much imagination to make it at least as effective and frankly far more obscene than ever.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:57 PM on March 25, 2004

That you have the right to speak freely doesn't oblige me to provide you with a forum, and there are a huge number of great institutions (Harvard, the Smithsonian, every television, radio, or movie company, etc etc) that would collapse if it did.

I absolutely agree that the government has no legitimate right to tell anyone they can't say anything they want, and I'm troubled by the idea that there are fewer and fewer legitimately distinct forums for getting a message heard, but none of that has any bearing on whether a private citizen has to let people post naked pictures of his wife on his own bulletin board.
posted by jacobm at 12:58 PM on March 25, 2004

Oh, great. wrong thread. First time for me...
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:59 PM on March 25, 2004

But you don't get kicked out of a theater for life, and you don't get banned from that theater for life, either.

Private property laws here in the United States would argue otherwise, as any proprietor of a privately owned company can refuse to do business with anyone for any length of time for any reason. You can absolutely be banned for life from a theater. I think this is very reasonable and in no way a threat to my rights of free speech.

Also, Rusty set up K5 as an experiment in democracy, not free speech. Free speech is not required to run a democracy, as many democratic nations do not have any free speech statutes in their founding documents. And free speech, as defined by one of the only founding documents which codifies it into law, is only protected from acts of government.

Rusty is not limiting free speech anymore than a gas station which refuses to serve people who do not wear shirts or shoes. Go somewhere else. It's your right.
posted by botono9 at 1:01 PM on March 25, 2004

I tried to pagewiden but got tired of it

I'm curious why you needed to pagewiden - is my post not wordwrapping for you or something? Is everyone seeing that?
posted by freebird at 1:02 PM on March 25, 2004

requiring posting and such for membership, i think, most ppl agree, is a bad idea.

i almost never post unless i have something meaningful to say. tbh, whatever i had thought of saying 99.999% of the time is said by someone else on this board, and almost always much, much, better.

however, that is not to say i don't have anything unique to say, i'm just waiting for the posts on operatic singing, maintaining gaming clans/communities for older folks, and/or mixed race to show up to post something. trying to cut down on the signal to noise ratio.. which i guess i really botched up with this post, sorry :)
posted by eurasian at 1:08 PM on March 25, 2004

Is it just me or do the people talking about free speech seem to apply rules relating to government to what is, essentially, a private entity?


The way I like to think of it is: You have the right to free speech, but I have the right to kick you out of my house.

on preview:

I'm curious why you needed to pagewiden

Page-widening is one of those slashdot things. There was a tech war between one set of griefers/trolls, and the site developers over control of the horizontal scroll bar.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:25 PM on March 25, 2004

Interesting timing. I've been reading a lot about the recently announced Typekey, which is intended to cut down on the amount of spam, trolls and crap flooders on blog entry comments. ( previously discussed on MeFi ).
posted by Stuart_R at 1:27 PM on March 25, 2004

Free speech? Rusty can do whatever he damn well pleases with his website. If you don't like it, don't go there. As has been pointed out elsewhere in this thread, people seem to be confused about what "free speech" is. Private parties limit "speech" all the time. Ever sign a non-disclosure agreement? And the government can also limit speech, just look at the thousands of 1st Amendment cases throughout our history, there are tons of restrictions on speech (commercial speech, fighting words, etc.). But this is beside the point. It's 100% Rusty's choice. Maybe living on an island has turned him all Lord of the Flies!
posted by anathema at 1:35 PM on March 25, 2004

Stuart_R: About Typekey, I've been reading that stuff too, and it's interesting to see. It seems like Typekey will basically duplicate K5's existing open account system across any blog that chooses to use it, which I think is a fine idea. And for blogs where the comment volume is low enough for the author to reasonably pre-screen every comment, it should work great.

When you get into higher volume sites, or sites where ther author doesn't necessarily want to pre-approve everything though, it's eventually going to face the same problems we're having with persistent jerks. I'm interested to see what they come up with, if anything, for controls.
posted by rusty at 1:36 PM on March 25, 2004

anathema: Come here, Piggy!
posted by rusty at 1:37 PM on March 25, 2004

Metafilter is hip?
posted by graventy at 1:48 PM on March 25, 2004

rusty: Squeal like a pig!
posted by Captain_Tenille at 1:51 PM on March 25, 2004

i don't think anyone should have a problem with this...or with anything the Matt does here. This isn't "public space", neither is k5.

in a real world example, on the weekends i get together with a dozen or so people at a friends house to paint, draw, and drink scotch. It is an open thing, it is collaborative. If it gets too big, or if people show up who harass other members of the syndicate, then people are driven away. exclusion by inclusion. Recently we have had to remove the map from the website, to make sure that you can only find the place if you are Known [or sponsored]. My friend is the host, and while it is an open thing, his word is law. If someone brings a friend that hassles some girl to the point where she won't come back...that person needs to have a talk with their friend, or just not bring them anymore. Sounds a lot like a sponsored membership, right?

Is that a violation of free speech or the right to assemble? Or is that a host exercising his right and responsibility?
posted by th3ph17 at 2:09 PM on March 25, 2004

free speech is not just something in the american constitution. it's also an ideal. something that we generally hold as an important target to aim for.

it might be true that free speech only guarantees you the ability to say things unhampered by the govt in america, but that doesn't mean that the same division automatcally applies to k5.

yes, the servers and rusty are probably (i'm guessing) situated in america, but that doesn't mean that just because he doesn't have to respect free speech, he shouldn't.

i'm not saying i think he's wrong or right in doing so (i've not thought much about it yet), but just because he's legally within his rights to ban people doesn't make doing so a morally correct or courageous decision. american law is not a moral code.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:04 PM on March 25, 2004

hmmm. i'm not sure that comparisons with small, private, meat-space gatherings are that appropriate. you're comparing small social groups with a big online community.

wouldn't a better comparison be to compare rusty's role to the government of a country? if you make a photoshop naked picture of the president's wife, can you be forcibly expatriated?

again, i don't think this really helps decide anything, it just seems to show that people's arguments here are not very useful.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:06 PM on March 25, 2004

free speech is not just something in the american constitution. it's also an ideal. something that we generally hold as an important target to aim for.

Sure, noone's saying free speech isn't a more important and deeper concept than the legal implementation. But I disagree that all speech should be protected as free speech in every case. And I think I can distinguish the cases based on the effect upon your continued ability to communicate outside the given context:

If a government throws you in jail for saying something they don't like, you can't communicate those ideas anywhere to anyone anymore. Free speech abridged. Similarly, if your ability to get a job or go to school is affected, there's a 'chilling effect' on your ability to communicate outside the given context.

If I'm kicked off K5, I can still post pictures of Rusty's wife elsewhere to my heart's content. Free speech not-abridged - there is no impact whatsoever on my communications outside K5.

Otherwise, you're basically arguing that for newspapers to not print every letter to the editor they receive is censorship, which is clearly ridiculous.
posted by freebird at 4:05 PM on March 25, 2004

Abstract arguments about the rightness or wrongness of posting photoshopped images of Rusty's wife are ridiculous. Anybody who argues that this should be permitted on k5 has obviously not been a part of an on-line community for any meaningful amount of time, nor have they ever run an on-line community.

I'll be damned if I'll let any of my on-line communities be used as forums to deliberately anger me or slander loved ones. Life's too short for that shit.
posted by waldo at 4:37 PM on March 25, 2004

My favorite part: "...if a user gets kicked off the site, their sponsor does too..."

It's so Donnie Brasco!
posted by Fofer at 5:01 PM on March 25, 2004

So then, does the sponsor's sponsor also get kicked, and a chain reaction occur to the very innermost reaches of Kiro5hin????? OMG
posted by Spacelegoman at 5:09 PM on March 25, 2004

Community is not about respect, its about tolerance.
Community is about respect and tolerance. It is about respecting the rights of others and tolerating their differences. It is quite possible to respect someone else's point of view while strongly disagreeing with them and, as a member of a community, you do not have the right to carry out insulting acts on any member just because you do not like them or disagree with something they have said or done. You have the right to disagree with them and to make your feelings known just as everyone else has the right to disagree with you.

wouldn't a better comparison be to compare rusty's role to the government of a country? if you make a photoshop naked picture of the president's wife, can you be forcibly expatriated?
andrew cooke, while not disagreeing with your basic concept, if I owned a country, which is a different thing to being President, and you distributed a naked photoshop picture of my wife, you would be more than forcibly expatriated. The comparison you made is only fully valid where the assets of the community are owned by the community. In K5 as in MetaFilter or any number of on-line communities, the community itself only exists in the goodwill of the members and makes use of a venue provided by a private citizen. In the same way that if I own a hall I can allow a group of people to use it while retaining the right to set rules on how it can be used.
posted by dg at 5:29 PM on March 25, 2004

Sign, sign everywhere a sign, blocking out the scenery,
breaking my mind. Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign...

Too many rules - take your damn ball and go home!
posted by LowDog at 6:20 PM on March 25, 2004

The signs, in this case, are for the benefit of the inconsiderate-- and in many cases, antagonistic-- fuckwits. The vast majority of users are already following these rather modest requests out of common courtesy.
posted by 4easypayments at 7:17 PM on March 25, 2004

Folks, this is NOT about free speech or the lack of it. The real problem is that people aren't going to be allowed to join the site unless someone on the site allows them to. In short, people are going to be assumed to be jerks unless they can convince people otherwise, before they even get to post.

I didn't have to do that when I joined K5. I didn't have to do that when I joined here. And frankly, I wouldn't have done it.

When the Madrid bombings happened, lots of people from Spain joined up to make commentary that was intelligent and offered information and perspective that we wouldn't have had otherwise. Now that won't happen. Most people just aren't going to be willing to get someone to sponsor them.

There's plenty of other places they can post without that hassle, right? And if someone turns out to be a photoshopping jerk, well, get rid of them.

OBMETAWHINE - You know, I think it would be good if membership was opened here, too. I don't like elite clubs ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:27 PM on March 25, 2004

I have considerable respect for Rusty. If he makes K5 over into Rustyland, I expect it will be a great place to visit.
posted by SPrintF at 7:35 PM on March 25, 2004

A vastly better system would be a one-paragraph essay on why you should be allowed in.
posted by abcde at 7:53 PM on March 25, 2004

K5 had several technical reasons going against it: the edit queue made story-posting actually *too* hard: the frequency of new FPPs became unbearingly low, which kept around only very-dedicated contributors: genuine ones and trolls. That was in effect a positive-feedback-loop where the bar for posting FPPs kept rising and more casual members kept dropping off. In the last few months, I've been able to check K5 once a week and catch up in an hour.

Secondly, the /.-like forum mechanism of nested, separate threads didn't help either; Matt had a stroke of genius when he decided to leave MeFi's threads in single, non-nested view that forces everybody to become part of the same conversation and encourages self-policing. K5 not only went down the same beaten path as Slashdot, but actually made things worse with "dynamic" comments, which although super-cool technically, actually encouraged even less forum participation. And to finally nail the coffin shut, K5 left out Slashdot's minimum-threshold setting, making the forums near-useless (/. is at least readable at +3 and above).

K5 and MeFi IMHO where great experiments on how to establish and keep an online community going; although I was a huge K5 fan in the very beginning (I believe I had the first MeFi FPP on K5, on its 2000 blackout), I think K5 did almost everything wrong, while MeFi kept mostly on the right track. I credit Matt for this, as he didn't implement every nifty feature on the book before thinking what the implications on the feel of the site and its community aspect were. I hope Rusty sees the light and starts actually taking features *off* K5, including this new-fangled sponsorship deal... My $0.02...
posted by costas at 8:21 PM on March 25, 2004

Wow I don't understand how you guys can continue to hammer your point in when the people that are for "free speech" blah blah blah just continue to post their "arguments" so that it continues. Trolling but on a slightly higher level, I suppose.

You're not going to change one person's opinion, especially in politics or religion or things of that sort. Save mathowie's bandwidth. Some people have messed up perspectives on what constitutes "free speech" and so forth. They think they are right. Let them think so, and if and when they experience it by making their own sites or hosting their own sort of get together virtual or real, maybe that will help them understand. Otherwise this talk is doing nothing.

Just reading it back and forth between people is sooo dreary and tedious... I don't know how one can be involved in it, as just reading it makes me wanna send some liberal into 1984.

no one will probably read this down here anyway...
posted by spidre at 8:22 PM on March 25, 2004

Excellently stated, costas - in particular your second paragraph. Function follows form in the case of discussion sites, I think, and the form that Matt chose (through luck or design, I'm not sure!) for MeFi threads does indeed have a very significant effect on the dynamic of the conversation. The reasons you state are the same reasons I've never been able to get into K5, although I've been a member there for roughly the same number of years I have here.

I'd add though, in light of what seems to me to be the recent spike in jokestery noise here at MeFi, that the flat thread also encourages quips and flippancy, which is not always a bad thing, but can and does get out of hand. It feels a little like a tipping point has passed, and what once served to deter people from posting 'hahah that's teh suck!' stupidity now encourages them to do the same, as many (most?) threads now consist entirely of blather and oneupmanship, or do so through the first 10 or 15 comments before someone makes a substantive comment and an actual discussion begins.

The last spike in quippage saw the transplantation of much of the goofiness (and the goofs, me among them, I admit) over to, and there was a Pyrite Era where things calmed down a bit here. Lately I've noticed another whitehead building, and I wonder what will happen, if anything, to drain the Comedy Pus.

What was I talking about again?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:33 PM on March 25, 2004

Stavros: I think Matt lucked out in the beginning, but I do remember him in MeTa refusing to implement non-flat views in MeFi, or ratings, or other such nonsense. Having said that, I think MeFi needs another influx of new blood: random opening of signups seems like the best alternative out of many bad ones (and much, much better than the sponsorship shiny-widget K5 is implementing; that will pretty much kill the site dead: it needs new blood and a new outlook and signing up more of the same is a road to nowhere).
posted by costas at 8:40 PM on March 25, 2004

I like the paragraph about why I should be allowed to join, but then someone has to read them. Also, it would be cool to have them submit links they would have liked to seen posted as examples of their potential contribution. But again, someone has to read them.

BUT... what if there was a page where these paragraphs and links could be read by the community (METAJOIN) and if you got enough votes from the community, you could get in...?

On review, I believe mr. cooke is being helpful, mr. chicken is more pessimistic than I am, and mr. spidre is obviously a communist. What, people are never convinced of something new and change their minds? If you don't like the back and forth, then why read it? Don't complain though... the freedom to be objectionable is what has made this country great... But even people whining about other people whining has a value for me... I'm a glutton for, among other things, anyone's opinion on anything.
posted by ewkpates at 5:51 AM on March 26, 2004

One of the wonders of the Internet is the number of people who cry "free speech!" or "censorship!" when the host of an online community exercises his right of free association. (I did this, embarrassingly enough, for many years.)

I'd be willing to bet that ewkpates has never offered any kind of online forum. Once you do, the notion that the world deserves unfettered right to free speech -- on your dime no less -- tends to fade pretty quickly.

K5 has always been RustyLand. He pays for the servers; members use his site at his discretion. He has every right in the world to invite or disinvite his guests for any reason he likes.

Anyone who doesn't like it can form their own community, and he even provides the software to do it.
posted by rcade at 6:59 AM on March 26, 2004

i almost never post unless i have something meaningful to say. tbh, whatever i had thought of saying 99.999% of the time is said by someone else on this board, and almost always much, much, better.

eurasian, I was thinking of posting something just like that...
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:52 AM on March 26, 2004

1. Rusty has every right to excluded people, it is his dime.
2. If Rusty wants an open forum, he has to put up with jerks. Its no good saying some are worse than others. People who spam or shut down the service are a different order of problem.
3. A partially open forum is an not open forum. Unless almost is good enough.
4. Not only is it difficult to uphold the freedom of others to talk trash on your webserver(s), it is difficult to uphold the freedom of others to talk trash in your country. The tax payer "dime" for freedom of speech is huge. So be it.
posted by ewkpates at 8:37 AM on March 26, 2004

How do you know that it's difficult, ewkpates, when you've never done it yourself?
posted by rcade at 9:42 AM on March 26, 2004

ewkpates, you do not seem to understand the difference between a country and a website, no matter how many people try to explain it to you. The government of the United States is forbidden to suppress speech; this is a Good Thing. An owner of a website has the right to do whatever he wants with it; this is also a Good Thing. If you don't like the rules at k5 (or here, for that matter), take your computer elsewhere. Simple as that. You seem to have an amazing sense of entitlement.
posted by languagehat at 9:47 AM on March 26, 2004

hehehe. well. ewkpates - i DID come from a communist country. but i am far from a communist. i enjoy my freedoms, but i think too much of them is unhealthy and makes people slow, dimwitted, lazy and unproductive.

but as languagehat said, you have an amazing sense of entitlement. there is no constitution that provides "free speech" to everyone on someone's forum or server. the owner can do whatever the hell he pleases.
posted by spidre at 10:38 AM on March 26, 2004

A) The guy's paying to host a virtual party on his webserver. He can decide who to invite, and who not to invite.

B) If you don't like it, go to someone else's webserver.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:05 AM on March 26, 2004

wow. My point is about what is involved in trying to have an open forum, NOT whether or not you are obligated to provide one, or whether people are entitled to participate.

I'm saying if its open its open, if its not its not.
posted by ewkpates at 1:03 PM on March 26, 2004

ewkpates: It's not open. I don't think anyone was arguing that with you. More interesting, to me, are the questions of how to manage limited openness, the reasons total openness failed, and whether those reasons are limited to one site, or show something about social interaction online.
posted by rusty at 1:31 PM on March 26, 2004

ewkpates: In a theater, the owner can ask you to leave. But you don't get kicked out of a theater for life, and you don't get banned from that theater for life, either.

Replace Theatre with Bar and that is exactly what can happen.

A problem with Rusty appearing to take a "K5 is mine I'll do what ever I want with it" stance is this is at odds with the supposed democratic ideals of K5. Contrast with here where Matt is obviously a benevolent dictator and this is his playground. We accept Matt's control and agree to play by his rules even if bizarre or byzantine (not that they are). K5 is supposed to be much more democratic with the members voting on everything from stories and comments to site features. Even ratings play up the democratic nature of K5. If enough people dislike a posting it disappears. The only time something disappears from MF is when Matt doesn't like it.

Rusty I'm not saying you shouldn't have banned the users involved in the snapping point events. Heck I would have bitch slapped them into next week. But unlike a lot of the K5ers I think you need to do something to drastically reduce the number of new members signing up each week. But because of the feel of K5 some members are feeling uncomfortable with this new restriction. The same chain of events here wouldn't barely raise an eyebrow because of the different atmosphere.

In Heinlein's book _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_ Earth contemplates sending huge numbers of involuntary colonists to the Moon. The protagonist reasons that most of them will die because there won't be enough natives to coach the newbies thru their first year and a mistake in vacuum is fatal. Same reasoning should apply to web communities. The established members can only train so many newbies. Once the veteran:newbie ratio drops below a certain point chaos invariably ensues and the community is a victim of it's own success.
posted by Mitheral at 2:41 PM on March 26, 2004

More interesting, to me, are the questions of how to manage limited openness, the reasons total openness failed, and whether those reasons are limited to one site, or show something about social interaction online.

Be respectful of others
Technical abuse is grounds for banning (intentional page widening/lengthening, posts designed to crash someone's browser, attempts to crash the site or interfere with other people's use of it, etc)
Crapflooding, or posting repeated offtopic spew is grounds for banning
Threats against or harassment of another user is grounds for banning
Modstorming is grounds for banning
All decisions are made by admins and are final, and you can be kicked out for any reason whatsoever. Whining about something not being explicit in the rules is not a defense.

FEAR is a good thing Rusty. as languagehat said this is not a government and one is free to leave at anytime.
see, that the great thing, what does it matter in the long strech, that is the question to ask. Is being banned from a meassage board that bad?
posted by clavdivs at 9:25 AM on March 27, 2004

how about editing, any rules about editing....
posted by clavdivs at 9:27 AM on March 27, 2004

All of the online forum censorship debates I've seen from my BBS days onward have always taken the same path. I think the best middle-class geek line is "if you don't like it, start your own service!" Yes yes, everyone has the disposable income, disposable time and technical skills that you do. While you're at it, start your own electricity company if you don't like your local monopoly and start your own government if you don't like your local government.

The real bottom line here is that rusty's reactionary policing of the troll situation has killed the usability of K5 dead. K5 was founded on community policing principles, attracted a similarly minded (lowercase l) libertarian userbase and has now K5 has turned its back on these original users. Rusty's lost his most loyal userbase.

Ironically, destroying the usability of K5 was the trolls' goal all along. Trolls and other preadolescent bullies are ultimately seeking attention, so just about any lame, reactionary stance will encourage their antics. Rusty needs a good lesson in teaseproofing.
posted by Skwirl at 9:57 PM on March 27, 2004

I think the best middle-class geek line is "if you don't like it, start your own service!" Yes yes, everyone has the disposable income, disposable time and technical skills that you do.

Yeah, and those of us who use such lines were just given those things -- we didn't work for them or anything.
posted by kindall at 11:17 PM on March 27, 2004

Rusty : Are you The Rusty? That's so neat!

1. how to manage limited openness
What about my idea of voting for new members based on a posting resume? In principle? How can the community expand to include nonmembers without a reference? How could you get a reference if you don't have one?
2. the reasons total openness failed
Human nature involves the desire to destroy. Without laws restricting behavior, a certain percentage will destabilize any attempt at order.
3. are those reasons limited to one site
Nope. Public access generally guarantees someone will ruin it for everyone.
4. [Does this describe] social interaction online.
I think political society is mirrored in online society. I wonder what Machiavelli would have said in a book titled "The Citizen". Isn't the internet a global political community that responds the way any geographical political community would, but faster?

I remember how long it took me to get a metafilter login. Years. The first time I tried to register I failed because I didn't fill in the form fast enough. Membership aside, I read metafilter daily, and still would.

What does this demonstrate? If nothing else, patience is a selection technique, and delayed gratification stymies destabilizing elements.
posted by ewkpates at 7:09 AM on March 29, 2004

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