Today I posted a thread in Metatalk (a part of Metafilter) complaining about useless images in threads. There I was, expecting at least some semblance of a reasonable response when what I actually found was a bunch of obscure replies full of non-answers and in-jokes. Their meaning is so opaque to Metafilter newcomers to be almost akin to the surface of a neutron star.

Then it dawned on me. Metafilter is a website of absolutes.

In Metafilter, you are either wrong or you are right. There is no room for compromise or consensus. The war in Iraq has to be either the start of a new Middle Eastern democratic paradise, or the beginning of the apocalypse.

In Metafilter, a thread is either good or bad. Those states appear to be the only two attractors in the hypothetical ‘quality’ phasespace. A thread can either find itself packed full of interesting information and civil discussion, or it will either descend into a spiral of pointless argument.

In Metafilter, people take things either completely seriously, or dismiss them with bizarre jokes. Talk about Iraq, and you’ll have a flamewar on your hands in which every comment hides a perceived insult or attack. Talk about something else, and you might equally find a thread full of impenetrable ‘funny’ nonsense.

Metafilter: I love it, and I hate it.


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