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Metatalktail Hour: Giving Thanks

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 02:05:16 GMT

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! Tonight's topic: What are you thankful for? Big or small, silly or serious, share the things you're thankful for this year.

The Great Metafilter Cookie Swap 2017: sign up today!

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 23:38:25 GMT

It's been A Year, and we here at cookie swap central would like to bring baked joy to as many MeFites across the globe as possible. If you'd like to bring edible tidings of cheer to people's lives this month, read on.

To sign up, please take a few minutes to fill out and submit the google form by Wednesday, November 29th. If you're gluten-free, vegan, suffering from an almond allergy, etc., don't worry—we'll find you a swap group.

As in past years, I will arrange bakers into swap groups of ~4 and send out group assignments by December 1st. You will then be tasked with sending at least 6 cookies to each of your group's MetaBakers. While this means you are on the hook for a minimum of 18 cookies, you should likely bake extra for yourself, your loved ones, or your housemates, as they can get cranky when only strangers benefit from your baking. To maximize the chances that holiday travel won't ruin everything, the mailing deadline for this year's swap is Friday, December 8th. Let the baking begin! 

mefiscripts github repository

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 16:28:08 GMT

Mefites use a bunch of userscripts, stylesheets, and bookmarklets to customize the site, but we don't have a place to collaboratively maintain them. What if we had a shared Github organization where authors could contribute their scripts for community maintenance? I've put one up over at, and if folks think it's a good idea I'd love to have you join.

This is inspired by the recent meta on switching to https, which means a number of scripts will have to be updated.

The idea is to run it very much like the mefiwiki scripts page:

  • No official mod endorsement of the platform or its contents, and hopefully no additional burden on the mods.

  • Authors have to opt in to have their scripts hosted.

  • Once they do, any active Mefite can join the Github organization and help to maintain the code.

If you check out the readme, you can see there are some concerns I'm trying to balance here:

  • Code review: the repo is set up so authors can't push directly to master -- you have to send a pull request and have someone else accept it. I don't want much ceremony around that, just a sense that there's a quick sanity check happening. (Downside: this could be annoying for authors who are used to hosting their own stuff, and if we don't end up with quick and easy approval I'll probably change it.)

  • Generous commit privileges: as a flip side of the previous point, I'm planning to give anyone who asks, and isn't obviously sketchy, permission to review and accept pull requests. (Downside: trust in the kindness of strangers.)

  • Authorial permission: we'll only include existing scripts that were published under an open license (if there are any?), or where the original author says it's OK. (Downside: this will end up excluding some scripts where the original author has moved on, even if context suggests they wouldn't much care.)

  • Open license: contributions will be licensed under the MIT open source license, so if this stops working for whatever reason, the work isn't orphaned and other folks are clearly allowed to pick up the torch.

  • No extensions for now: I think it makes sense to include userscripts, stylesheets, and bookmarklets, but not extensions yet. Extensions have to be officially published in the browser app stores under someone's account, and I'm not sure how to handle that so everyone feels good about it yet.

If you have thoughts about ways to do all this stuff better, please share! And (assuming it's not a totally bad idea), jump in and get involved: send me a Memail with your github handle to be added as a committer; send a pull request to contribute scripts (with permission); or file an issue if you'd like help importing scripts or fixing issues with scripts that are already there.

Secret Quonsar thank you thread (2017)

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:34:52 GMT

This is the official Secret Quonsar thank you thread.

MetaFilter is moving to https as a default

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 20:58:08 GMT

A week from now, we'll be updating MetaFilter to always serve https pages instead of http! You most likely don't need to care at all that this is happening, but I'll explain what it means below. Come on in!Super brief primer, if you're not really clear on what the hell https is about: It's a more secure way of transferring information on the web. The web was designed around http, HyperText Transfer Protocol, as a standard method for serving up requested web pages when you're browsing. https is a variant on that (s as in "secure", eyyyy) which incorporates encryption using an SSL certificate to avoid moving page text, form content, etc around in plain text over the internet. Which means that a third party can't snoop on what you're sending and receiving via your web browser. https has been around for a while and so is common and well-supported; traditionally it had been used specifically for security-sensitive portions of web traffic (stuff like login/password forms, financial transactions, private communications, etc.) where the specific content being moved around was especially sensitive, but in recent years it has become increasingly common for sites to deliver all their content via https as a general good practice. So what's changing now? Short version: we're making it so that MetaFilter will be delivered to you in secure https format, unless you personally specifically need it to not do so. MetaFilter already uses https for the obvious stuff (e.g. the login process, so your password isn't being sent in plain text across the internet when you sign in to the site), and we have for several years now provided logged-in members a Preferences item ("Use secure browsing?") to opt-in to using https on the site. This change, starting a week from now, will mean two things: 1. For logged-in members of MetaFilter, the opt-in for secure browsing will become an opt-out; everyone will be on https unless they go to their Preferences and switch the preference off. You are very unlikely to need to opt out, but if there arises some specific technical issue with your setup that makes it necessary, that option will still be there. 2. For non-logged-in readers, everything will now be delivered as https instead of http. This shouldn't affect many active MeFites and shouldn't actually affect anyone as the change should be essentially invisible. Do you need to do anything? Probably not! My expectation is that this will be pretty painless, and for most MetaFilter users will be an essentially undetectable change. If something does break with the change, you may want to temporarily uncheck "Use secure browsing?" in your Preferences while you/we figure out what's up. The main case where the difference between http and https could cause hiccups—and this has been a point of concern when we've discussed this possibility in the past —is that users who rely on custom browser extensions or user scripts may find that those scripts weren't written to account for the possibility of https URLs and so will behave incorrectly or not at all after the update. Changing those scripts is thankfully usually very simple—sometimes as simple as literally changing "http" to "https" in the script or extension's code—but we'd like to identify any common scripts ahead of time so we can try to make sure updated versions are available to users in advance of us throwing the switch on this next week, instead of requiring everybody to individually edit their installed copies. What you can do to help? If you use any scripts or extensions, please consider changing your Preferences now to enable the "Use secure browsing?" option early, and keep an eye out for anything that breaks in your normal browsing process. If you run across something wrong, please note it in this thread or drop us a line at the contact form. If you are a script author, please take a look at the currently available version of your scripts/extensions and check t[...]

This pony is mostly decorative

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 21:38:24 GMT

On the Recent Activity page, where it says "X Comments. Y since your most recent comment." Could it also say "Most recent: Z time ago." or somesuch?

I know that the Recent Activity page is a already heavy for the servers, so I totally understand if the answer is just a flat out no. I thought it might be fairly doable just because the information is already on the page, and it might be possible to duplicate it further up in the display without significantly adding to server load or page weight.

As it is now, when I open the page on relatively slow moving threads, I have to scroll past 9 comments to see if the last one is new. Then if there's something new in the first thread, I do the same thing again to see if there's something new in the second thread. I can stop once I get to a thread that has nothing new, but it would be nice to be able to just not scroll past that last thread because I could see from the top of it that there is nothing new since I last looked at Metafilter based on a timestamp.

This is admittedly a small thing, and it never bothered me on desktop, but I have been reading MeFi on the bus lately and on mobile, scrolling past a few longish comments can take awhile.

Revisit https discussion?

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 18:44:33 GMT

Can metafilter force https? It looks like this as discussed a few times, the last being was just over a year ago. A couple specific things I find troubling:
  • When I navigate to, or any other metafilter site, it removes the https and takes me back to http
  • Forms (except for login) seem to be submitted via http POST (even anonymous asks)

I understand the arguments about it being detrimental to user experiences and certain widgets won't work, but surely an announcement "Hey, we're switching to HTTPS on July 1, 2018 - this might break your greasemonkey scripts" and maybe include a link to a guide on how to update them, would be an adequate warning?

Note that I only just realized there was an option to "use secure browsing" in the preferences, but in my ideal world, https would be on for everyone, and that option would be "don't use secure browsing"?

2017 Winter Wishes Gift Drive: MetaFilter STILL Cares!

Tue, 14 Nov 2017 18:08:15 GMT

Yes, it's here! It's that beautiful time of every year where the MetaFilter community comes together to fulfill wishes for people as part of New York Cares' Winter Wishes program (and sometimes more). This year, we have kiddies, we have teens, we have seniors... and all we need is you. [Skip the details, show me the list!]This year, our recipients are from three different organizations: - seniors who attend a senior program in Brooklyn - preschoolers from a Head Start program in Brooklyn (who went SUPER DECORATIVE with their cards! Stay tuned for photos!) - several teen girls who attend an after-school program in Manhattan You can participate by visiting the wish list HERE and purchasing something. You can ignore the names and codes under each item; they're there so I can keep track of what's going where. Everything should be wrapped and delivered to our three organizations by December 8, and this is the year I will definitely remember to take more than two photos. Yes, it is. I'm still working on adding all of the items, but I should be done by this evening. The list contains gift items, a few wrapping supplies, and gift cards that can be used to buy unpurchased items, given directly to the organizations we're working with, or... see below. This year's senior and teen letters are super succinct and the kiddie cards are elaborate craft projects with Post-Its inside with wish items listed on them. Unfortunately, there aren't really any gift cards to write, but if you're not able to send a gift, you can still participate just by sending good wishes to your fellow MeFites and discussing things in the comments here. Every year, people write to express how great it feels to see this miracle of generosity happen every single year. Join in! Re: gift cards: So, 1. this has been a demanding year for giving, and 2. I had a big surgery a week ago today, so I requested fewer wishes than usual -- an equal number of kids and seniors and a handful of teens. But last year's giving exceeded what I could have reasonably imagined, and at the end, even after donating to our recipient organization, I was left with a number of gift cards and had to figure out what to do with them. (We donated them to a program that distributes them directly to women in shelters after leaving abusive situations.) I'm not sure what to expect this year. In thinking about the last year, the word "dignity" comes to mind for me. Dignity lacking in those in positions of power, dignity wrenched from and regained by those finally able to shed light on decades' worth of abuse and harassment, dignity needed for those who have lost so much in this year's numerous natural disasters. My idea for any excess gift cards funds (and even perhaps adding to the wish list) is to use them in furtherance of dignity. There are several organizations that collect and distribute menstrual supplies where they are very much needed. Menstruation is expensive, as something needs to be done about the "blood coming out of [her] wherever." Food stamps don't cover supplies, most states charge sales tax on them, and they can be hard to come by for homeless people and where disaster has left every kind of supply hard to find. When I delivered items post-Sandy, I was greeted with extreme gratitude and excitement every time I'd show up with pads or tampons. They were the first things to disappear from donation room shelves. If it's all right with you, I'd like to donate extra gift card funds to #happyperiod. Of the orgs that distribute menstrual supplies, they are the only one that acknowledges that women are not the only people who menstruate. If there's enthusiasm for this idea, I'll add some supplies to the wish list, too. Please, please let me know your thoughts. I want to be a good caretaker of your generosity. Finally, here's the link to last year's WW drive, which contains links to all the yea[...]

Metatalktail Hour: Pre-Holiday Chatter

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 01:05:43 GMT

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! Now that Halloween is over, I am ready to GET HYPE for the winter holidays, and with the SUPER-INTENSE SNOWSTORM we had on Friday that made it impossible to drive, but only for an hour, I think the universe is telling me it's time to talk turkey. (And trees and menorahs and festivus poles and kinaras and champagne and red envelopes and logs and orbital mechanics and any other holiday accoutrements that may be common to your culture, family, or religion!) So what is up for the next couple months, what are you looking forward to, what are you making cunning plans to avoid, tell us everything holiday.


Fri, 10 Nov 2017 18:58:22 GMT

There is quite a bit of serious and depressing going on right now: U.S. politics, sexual abuse/assault/harassment in Hollywood, etc. I thought it might be good to have a place to just post happy things. Share something that's made you happy. A photo of a pet. Tell us about a good piece of cake that you just ate. Or maybe you went for a long walk and connected with nature. Whatever it is, just something happy, to remind ourselves that we'll be ok and we'll get through this, whatever that may be. Love to all of you.

What counts as a credible news source in comments?

Thu, 09 Nov 2017 03:21:39 GMT

[CW: linked thread contains graphic descriptions of assault.] First let me say this isn't meant as a callout, this isn't personal in any way. How do people feel about comments linking to the National Enquirer as a primary news source? In the Kevin Spacey thread, this comment links to a National Enquirer article claiming Charlie Sheen was one of Corey Haim's assaulters. I think we should have higher standards for news sources. (Bat Boy is fine!) There is support for it in the thread and it's not really a big deal to the mods, but I'm curious what the community thinks. (I know they occasionally break a real news story, but why is this story so urgent that we can't wait until a credible source reports this?)

Most Popular Song 15 Years Ago: "HOW YOU REMIND ME" - Nickelback

Thu, 09 Nov 2017 01:43:25 GMT

I noticed that I just passed my 15th anniversary on Metafilter, and I imagine I can't be the only one. Congrats to all you other old geezers.

The traditional gift is crystal.

cortex + donuts =

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 22:34:52 GMT

At the end of October our fearless and inimitable leader gave a talk called Keeping Web Communities Healthy in a Dark Timeline at a Donut meetup. It included copious amounts of swearing and the observation that "the web can be not shitty." I highly recommend that you take 17 minutes out of your week and watch. Warm fuzzies likely but not guaranteed.

Was there a substantial MeFi/MeTa discussion of using the word "guys"

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 13:19:35 GMT

I thought there was a discussion of the propriety/potential sexism of using "guys" to refer to mixed gender groups, or even groups of women. It is impossible to search for such a thing. Thanks.

MeFi Mall 2017

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 18:13:01 GMT

It's that time of the year again: the MeFi Mall is open for 2017. If you'd like to be listed there, add your shop now.

If you had a shop in the mall previously, re-adding it should still be a one-click step. Just check if you'd like to make any changes and click add.

If this is your first year, welcome! The MeFi Mall is for things that you make and sell online. Please only add your shop if it's stuff that you created: not your friends, family or the company for which you work. We'd like it to be a place where people can buy personal gifts hand-crafted by other MeFites. Thanks and have fun.

Holiday card exchange?

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 17:38:04 GMT

Would anyone be interested in a holiday card exchange? I'd also be happy to have a list of people who are interested in receiving holiday cards, even if you don't want/can't send any out this year - I love sending mail!

I haven't ever organized a card swap, but would be happy to try, if people are interested in participating.

I've been in them before where the list is split, either equally in half, or by groups of 20 or so - if you're interested, how many people would you want to send to?

Sidebar for hot button topics

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 15:39:45 GMT

This is a grim, dispiriting pony, but would it be useful to have a sidebar listing most recent threads for various ongoing issues? We have that for US politics but things being as they are of late, should we open that up and also point to the most recent sexual harassment/assault threads, the most recent mass shooting threads, etc.?

I'm not proposing there be permanent entries there, but when ongoing matters get repeated posts, it might be useful to be able to see from the front page where the most recent thread for X is.

This need not always be a depressing thing, as it could also be a way of directing to people to popular current threads that have fallen off the front page (new Doctor Who casting threads usually fall off the front page well before they slow down, for example).

Though I admit even as I suggest this that most uses for this are depressing. In fact, the very idea that this might be practical is depressing as hell. In fact, I am going to crochet "The very idea that this might be practical is depressing as hell" on a pillow and put it in my rec room after I stock it with canned food and board it up so that I can hide in there forever.

"Is you takin' notes on a... criminal conspiracy?!"

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 15:26:57 GMT

In the poster's defense, kinder eggs are delicious and almost as addictive as heroin. But still, maybe memail or email would be a better choice for composing a list of businesses who sell illegal goods? Especially since helpful answerers are including some phone numbers and addresses on a publicly-accessible and search engine-indexed thread?

Metatalktail Hour: We Solved the Problem, So Everything Is Awesome

Sun, 05 Nov 2017 01:32:39 GMT

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! Quietgal asks, "What's the best bit of troubleshooting or problem-solving you've ever performed or watched?" I expand it to, What problem have you solved recently that has improved your life in tiny or huge ways? Feel free to link to problem-solving products!

Best of the Web?

Sat, 04 Nov 2017 01:11:15 GMT

Hi, all! Question: I've been away for a bit and am an infrequent user. Just wondering, is the old saying "Best of the Web" still the motivation for MetaFilter? I might be missing it but I don't see it anywhere. One of the reasons I ask is I've been seeing a lot of posts from the New Yorker, Guardian, etc. and, although these might be interesting articles, I wouldn't consider them "Best of the Web". Perhaps the days of WWW innovation and post-worthiness (because of that fact, that being innovation) are gone and the subject matter alone determines the decision to post.

And full disclosure: I've been around here for I'm guessing 12 years or so in different incarnations. I see that some of the old-timers are still here, but many of my favorites are gone and I'm wondering why. Of course, being gone, they can't answer the question but those who are still here can. There's obviously an inherent criticism in this post but I'm being sincere. I have a lot of great memories of what's gone on here over the years and MetaFilter has enriched my real-world life quite a bit. Frustration too, but that has been some of the fun of it. So I guess the bottom line here is I would like to know what everyone thinks about the state of Metafilter and the direction it's going, some stories about how it has affected your life and a mention of people here of whom you have fond memories. Number one on my list is vronsky.