Author Topic: The 'Meh'tuaition, from Pseudopod 197: Set Down This  (Read 15589 times)

Robin Sure

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Wasn't terribly impressed, as wasn't horror in my eyes. However, did make me think

My problem with it is more philosophical, as I don't agree with the message. Not sure I disagree, but I've always considered "meh" to be a reasonable response. I'd like to think myself a humanist, but this made me re-evaluate that. Why should we all be in it together? There's no innate reason to help others, only to improve your standing to get things for yourself. Rambling now, but relative morality kind of destroys the idea of this story.



Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Reply #1 on: June 11, 2010, 04:56:21 PM
Hello:)
Not sure I disagree, but I've always considered "meh" to be a reasonable response.

It seems a lot of people do, but, for me at least, I've always viewed it as actually something of an insult, and a paradoxical one at that.  If you feel negatively enough to comment, you should explain why but know that there's a social contract inherent in the author/reader relationship to comment civilly if nothing else.  If you liked something enough to comment, you should explain why too.  It's a dialogue, a give and take between reader and author.

But if you don't emotionally connect with something enough to comment about it (You in this case being the royal 'you' not you personally) then that's fine too just...don't comment about it.  That social contract only holds if you feel an emotional connection and, for me, commenting with 'meh' can have a real undercurrent of cheap point scoring, of the sort of snarky oneupmanship that makes the net more about single users and less about the dialogue, less about the conversation.  And I like the conversation:)




Robin Sure

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Reply #2 on: June 11, 2010, 05:13:08 PM
Ah, rambled a bit too wildly obviously. I wasn't replying to the story with meh, as I said, it made me think about a couple of things. The meh I mentioned was as a response to the wider situation. I'm not of the opinion that we need to respond to all the things we know about with some degree of action, and don't feel that being informed places a responsibility on you. The "meh" response is one I wouldn't typically give (at least out loud), because, as you say, there's no point in that. But I do feel that it's not an invalid internal response, and is one that it's acceptable to give if someone specifically asks you about something.

Hope that clears it up a bit.



Millenium_King

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 385
    • Ankor Sabat
Reply #3 on: June 11, 2010, 06:45:43 PM
That's a good point, Al.

But, speaking as an author, I like to hear from people who say "this got no reaction from me" (or, more colloquially, "meh").  If I'm not able to raise a response, even if that response is negative or dislike, I'd like to know.

Visit my blog atop the black ziggurat of Ankor Sabat, including my list of Top 10 Pseudopod episodes.


eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #4 on: June 11, 2010, 07:25:32 PM


But if you don't emotionally connect with something enough to comment about it (You in this case being the royal 'you' not you personally) then that's fine too just...don't comment about it.  That social contract only holds if you feel an emotional connection and, for me, commenting with 'meh' can have a real undercurrent of cheap point scoring, of the sort of snarky oneupmanship that makes the net more about single users and less about the dialogue, less about the conversation. 

No disrespect, Al, but I find this an extremely troubling point of view, especially coming from an editor. It is unfair - both to the audience and the authors - to ask that only those that have been moved by something, positively or negatively, comment about it. Knowing that a story failed to engage a certain percentage of the audience is valuable feedback. As a listener - and a rather opinionated one at that - I damn well want the decision makers to know when they select a story I find unengaging. Now, you can't stop me - "meh" has been outlawed, so I have taken to express the same with more words.

Now, you may argue, that is the desired result - the few people like myself that are not emotionally invested in a story, but are intellectually invested in the feedback process, will post anyway. But you are depriving me, and my fellow posters, and the authors, and yourself, of any sense of how many people have been unmoved. I am of a sincere belief that the prohibition on "meh" responses has adversly affected the dialogue here.


Quote
And I like the conversation

As do I. And thus I dislike the forum's policy against "meh", because it aims to silence part of it. Not a particularly eloquent part, but an important part nonetheless.

I wouldn't mind so much if the policy were consistent. But you (by which I mean the moderator/editors as a group, not you individually) allow positive posts that are equally empty of content - I have yet to see anyone reprimanded for saying "I love it!" and leaving it at that. But empty praise is just as empty as empty apathy - and, I would posit, flattery is a bigger insult than snarkiness, any day.



Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Reply #5 on: June 11, 2010, 10:45:53 PM
You make some really interesting points here and I'll respond to them but I've got a very early start tomorrow so it'll have to wait.  One thing I would like to makeclear is I've never been editorial staff at EA prior to taking the Escape Pod reviews gig.  Low level slushwrangling, sure, but never a final say.



SanguineV

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Reply #6 on: June 12, 2010, 12:39:36 PM
Hello:)
Not sure I disagree, but I've always considered "meh" to be a reasonable response.

It seems a lot of people do, but, for me at least, I've always viewed it as actually something of an insult, and a paradoxical one at that.  If you feel negatively enough to comment, you should explain why but know that there's a social contract inherent in the author/reader relationship to comment civilly if nothing else.  If you liked something enough to comment, you should explain why too.  It's a dialogue, a give and take between reader and author.

As the one who introduced "meh" to this thread I would like to comment that no insult was intended. In the social groups I would usually use it "meh" simply conveys apathy. So apologies to any who were offended by it, none was intended.

I tried to cover in my previous comment why the story didn't reach me. To summarise (restate?): the story was too close to everyday news and too disconnected as a story to grab me in any way. Further, none of the ideas of message was new to me.

To further emphasise the points; The Apple Tree Man, Reservation Monsters and Wearing The Dead are all stories I enjoyed that are horror from the real world and every day. The horror of war is done well in Acceptable Loses, Spirit of Nationalism and The Western Front. Even disconnected/disjoint storytelling is not necessarily an issue; for example The Sultan of Meat, Killing Jars and Clockwork. So technically I just don't think the components came together for me. Perhaps it was made harder by the message/concepts not being new or horrifying for me.

I tried to also convey that I could say why others might find it horror and that I saw some place for this kind of work at Pseudopod.

Perhaps I missed the mark, or chose a first sentance that isolated the other commentors...?

« Last Edit: June 12, 2010, 01:06:13 PM by SanguineV »



Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Reply #7 on: June 14, 2010, 09:47:07 AM


No disrespect, Al, but I find this an extremely troubling point of view, especially coming from an editor. It is unfair - both to the audience and the authors - to ask that only those that have been moved by something, positively or negatively, comment about it. Knowing that a story failed to engage a certain percentage of the audience is valuable feedback.

   Moved is maybe the wrong word, more engaged then, either on an emotional or intellectual level.  And yes, you're right, knowing that you failed to engage a percentage of the audience is very valuable but surely there's a dialogue required there too?  Meh, as an example, is three letters and it's three letters which, at the very best, say 'I wasn't engaged by this story.'  It doesn't say why or how.

As a listener - and a rather opinionated one at that - I damn well want the decision makers to know when they select a story I find unengaging. Now, you can't stop me - "meh" has been outlawed, so I have taken to express the same with more words.

   And the decision makers want to hear it, they just want to hear something slightly more in depth than 'meh'.  But again, and I'm aware I'm playing devil's advocate here, surely that's a good thing?  If a story doesn't engage you, then surely the act of explaining why not only tells the author a lot more than 'meh' but also gives both the listener and editor a better look at their own critical faculties?

   
Now, you may argue, that is the desired result - the few people like myself that are not emotionally invested in a story, but are intellectually invested in the feedback process, will post anyway. But you are depriving me, and my fellow posters, and the authors, and yourself, of any sense of how many people have been unmoved. I am of a sincere belief that the prohibition on "meh" responses has adversly affected the dialogue here.

   From my point of view, that doesn't quite work that way.  Every listener's reaction to every story is valid, but the fundamental dichotomy present in being unengaged in a story enough to just post 'meh' but at the same time being engaged enough TO post 'meh' damages discussion and, from the point of view of some authors I suspect, could come off as cheap point scoring.  I'm not saying it is, but I am saying that it's sometimes difficult not to perceive it as that.


Quote
And I like the conversation

As do I. And thus I dislike the forum's policy against "meh", because it aims to silence part of it. Not a particularly eloquent part, but an important part nonetheless.
I wouldn't mind so much if the policy were consistent. But you (by which I mean the moderator/editors as a group, not you individually) allow positive posts that are equally empty of content - I have yet to see anyone reprimanded for saying "I love it!" and leaving it at that. But empty praise is just as empty as empty apathy - and, I would posit, flattery is a bigger insult than snarkiness, any day.

   
I think there are three points here:

-I feel that I understand a lot more why you feel 'meh' responses have value.  I can't say I agree with you but you've certainly made me re-evaluate my own approach and that's actually petty great.
-This is going to sound confrontational and it's not meant to be, but, regarding the 'empty' positive comments I'm honestly curious where you'd draw the line?  How would you try and steer the dialogue?  Do you think it needs steering at all?  I'm honestly curious.
-I have to say, I disagree with you completely that flattery is a bigger insult than snarkiness.  Flattery isn't useful, certainly, but it's also not hostile which snarkiness categorically is and that's possibly the crux of my own personal problem with 'meh'.  I've had responses like that to my work in other fields, a lot, and it's very difficult to not feel that it's point scoring rather than genuine critique or response.  I'm very aware I'm basically alone in this, MK's response upthread and your own speak to that, but, speaking for me, not for the company, that's how I feel.  Based on this discussion it would seem I need to rethink that a little.



Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Reply #8 on: June 14, 2010, 09:48:14 AM
Ah, rambled a bit too wildly obviously. I wasn't replying to the story with meh, as I said, it made me think about a couple of things. The meh I mentioned was as a response to the wider situation. I'm not of the opinion that we need to respond to all the things we know about with some degree of action, and don't feel that being informed places a responsibility on you. The "meh" response is one I wouldn't typically give (at least out loud), because, as you say, there's no point in that. But I do feel that it's not an invalid internal response, and is one that it's acceptable to give if someone specifically asks you about something.

Hope that clears it up a bit.

Absolutely does and, yes, I'd say as an internal response it's an entirely valid one.  Likewise, I'd agree that if you're directly asked about something then it's also a valid response.



Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Reply #9 on: June 14, 2010, 09:54:50 AM
As the one who introduced "meh" to this thread I would like to comment that no insult was intended. In the social groups I would usually use it "meh" simply conveys apathy. So apologies to any who were offended by it, none was intended.
   Which is another indicator that my compass at least, doesn't point to the same North as everyone else's.  No slap down was intended, don't worry:)

I tried to cover in my previous comment why the story didn't reach me. To summarise (restate?): the story was too close to everyday news and too disconnected as a story to grab me in any way. Further, none of the ideas of message was new to me.

To further emphasise the points; The Apple Tree Man, Reservation Monsters and Wearing The Dead are all stories I enjoyed that are horror from the real world and every day. The horror of war is done well in Acceptable Loses, Spirit of Nationalism and The Western Front. Even disconnected/disjoint storytelling is not necessarily an issue; for example The Sultan of Meat, Killing Jars and Clockwork. So technically I just don't think the components came together for me. Perhaps it was made harder by the message/concepts not being new or horrifying for me.

   I actually really like when we run Lavie's work because it's pretty clearly what's referred to in England as 'Marmite fiction'.  Marmite for those that don't know, or Vegemite as I believe it's called in the States is a spread once described as being made from 'Salt, yeast and PAIN'.  It's like black butter crossed with road tar and salt and it utterly, UTTERLY divides people.  I hate it, some people love it and I feel Lavie's work is the same.

I tried to also convey that I could say why others might find it horror and that I saw some place for this kind of work at Pseudopod.

Perhaps I missed the mark, or chose a first sentance that isolated the other commentors...?

   I really don't think you need to worry.  I think Lavie's work, as I say, divides the audience and hear dovetailed with a couple of other ongoing discussions.  So like I say, no worries:)



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #10 on: June 14, 2010, 02:20:29 PM
I wouldn't mind so much if the policy were consistent. But you (by which I mean the moderator/editors as a group, not you individually) allow positive posts that are equally empty of content - I have yet to see anyone reprimanded for saying "I love it!" and leaving it at that. But empty praise is just as empty as empty apathy - and, I would posit, flattery is a bigger insult than snarkiness, any day.

From an author point of view, I disagree.  Positive comments empty of content can be very valuable to the author, while negative comments empty of content are not.

An empty negative comment is like a drive-by bitch slap.  Clearly this person was not moved by the story, but why?  If they're not going to bother to type something more than what was the point other to try to bring down my self esteem?  Negative comments that explain WHY they're negative can be very valuable:  "I hated this story because the protagonist was devoid of emotion and the entire plot hinged on the assumption that God is an elephant."  It's too late to change this story, but I can keep criticisms in mind for future stories.  If the criticism has merit, then I can say "Hmmm, maybe not everyone assumes that God is an elephant.  I should keep that in mind."  And if I feel it doesn't have merit then I can shrug it off.

An empty positive comment, on the other hand, can help boost the ego if it seems to be sincere.  For the 4 stories that I've sold to date, I've received over 300 rejections, sometimes as many as 4 in a single day.  Some are complimentary, most are form-letter neutral, but sheer weight of them piling up on me feels oppressive when I'm having a bad day.  If someone reads a story and says "I loved it!" then if that can help counterbalance the mountain of rejection, then that can be positive.  There have been a few times when the negativity just heaped up to the point that I felt like anything I wrote would be shit, and that I was just wasting my time, and comments like that really can help.  On the other hand, a specific positive comment is even more helpful, but it just depends on whether the reader has the ability and will to put their thoughts into words this way.  For instance, if someone tells me "The story is well-written, disturbing, compelling and creepy as hell... I have been reading science fiction and horror for more years than my friend David has been alive, and yet in just two pages he managed to creep me out more than some of the giants have done in a whole novel..."  This tells me a whole lot more than just "I loved it." and helps me find my strengths in order to compound on them.



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #11 on: June 16, 2010, 08:56:05 PM
-This is going to sound confrontational and it's not meant to be, but, regarding the 'empty' positive comments I'm honestly curious where you'd draw the line?  How would you try and steer the dialogue?  Do you think it needs steering at all?  I'm honestly curious.

I don't really think it needs steering - or more accurately, I definitely support the rules as far as banning trolling and explicit rudeness to people - either other forum members or authors/production staff - but I guess my view is that "meh", whether or not it is meant rudely, is still a comment about the story itself, and not about any of the people involved.

Quote
-I have to say, I disagree with you completely that flattery is a bigger insult than snarkiness.  Flattery isn't useful, certainly, but it's also not hostile which snarkiness categorically is and that's possibly the crux of my own personal problem with 'meh'.  I've had responses like that to my work in other fields, a lot, and it's very difficult to not feel that it's point scoring rather than genuine critique or response.  I'm very aware I'm basically alone in this, MK's response upthread and your own speak to that, but, speaking for me, not for the company, that's how I feel.  Based on this discussion it would seem I need to rethink that a little.

You're right - I sort of let the argument carry me away there. Obviously, snarkiness can be way wrose than flattery. But flattery can also be point scoring - specifically, and I've seen this on other forums (though very rarely here), people sometimes get very liberal with their praises not because they believe in what they say but because they want to get on the good side of the authors/creators/people in charge. Nonetheless, you're right that hostile point-scoring is way worse - but then, I guess I never interpret "meh" that way. I certainly never posted a "meh" post - and I had my share of those when they were permitted - with any intention of being snarky. I guess that's a matter of personality - when I feel petty, I try to score points by posting something subtle and clever that would make me sound cleverer than the people I'm arguing against. "Meh" is neither subtle nor clever; if I post "meh", it's simply because it accurately describes my emotional response to the story.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 11:53:00 PM by eytanz »



Bdoomed

  • Pseudopod Tiger
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5891
  • Mmm. Tiger.
Reply #12 on: June 19, 2010, 09:01:52 PM
Topic split!  Hope I got all of them, the forum software was being buggy with me.
The 'Meh'tuation is now in 'Meh'tachat! :P

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #13 on: June 19, 2010, 09:19:24 PM
Topic split!  Hope I got all of them, the forum software was being buggy with me.
The 'Meh'tuation is now in 'Meh'tachat! :P

You missed my last post in the thread, which was definitely part of this conversation.



Ben Phillips

  • Lich King
  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 299
    • Pseudopod
Reply #14 on: June 19, 2010, 10:30:12 PM
But if you don't emotionally connect with something enough to comment about it (You in this case being the royal 'you' not you personally) then that's fine too just...don't comment about it.  That social contract only holds if you feel an emotional connection and, for me, commenting with 'meh' can have a real undercurrent of cheap point scoring, of the sort of snarky oneupmanship that makes the net more about single users and less about the dialogue, less about the conversation. 

No disrespect, Al, but I find this an extremely troubling point of view, especially coming from an editor. It is unfair - both to the audience and the authors - to ask that only those that have been moved by something, positively or negatively, comment about it. Knowing that a story failed to engage a certain percentage of the audience is valuable feedback.

Well, okay.  Although bear in mind that an underutilized story thread can communicate that at least as well as comments devoid of content -- although this is something of an academic point, because I don't think we're inundated with content-free posts or anything.  We challenge our forumites to be eloquent -- which is admittedly a lot to ask, especially of someone who wasn't really inspired to have much of a response in the first place -- and I think you folks generally rise to the challenge admirably.  It would be more efficient for us, reading the thread, to just see very few responses to a story over time and let that speak for itself.  But whatever.  It's your forum too.

No story thread is going to stand out because it got few responses, of course.  I daresay the majority of short stories, on EA podcasts or anywhere else, are not going to inspire rambling threads of debate.  If I want to see which ones do, I can pretty much just scan through looking for a high page count, and there are your provocative pieces.  (Whether that's a good commentary on the quality of those stories is another question entirely.)  All the ambivalent responses everyone here can collectively summon the motivation to produce are still unlikely to amount to enough to confuse me when using this metric.

"meh" has been outlawed

Is that true?  I'm not aware of any such rule.  I don't see it in these rules, and I'm not sure where else it has been said.  Of course, regardless, you'd certainly be correct if you guessed it's become something of a shared pet peeve among many of the volunteers (including mods) and staff.  Speaking strictly for myself here, though, I say "meh" it up all you want -- just understand that no reaction is still no reaction, however you may choose to dress it.  If the story didn't really make the news for you, you could always post elsewhere on the forum about something that did, and it'll probably be more engaging for all involved.  It isn't really like this is our day job and we need to gather accurate statistics.  We're basically here for our entertainment too.  We just happen to be the masochists who put way too much work into our playtime.



goatkeeper

  • Guest
Reply #15 on: June 19, 2010, 11:10:40 PM
This is a really interesting thread!

It's intriguing the things we do on the internet to try to bring out all the various nuances of actual social interaction.  Anyone whose ever made the mistake of having an argument with your significant other online (me!) knows that no amount of lol's rofl's emoticons fonts can keep you from misunderstanding others and being misunderstood.  A friend of mine with Aspergers once told me that the text/chat generation is the perfect one for someone like him to grow up in, because everyone's finally on the same playing field as he is.

I agree with those that have said the value of meh is capricious and circumstantial and therefore often misinterpreted. 
I suppose the emoticon that would have to get associated with the word meh is:  :-\ right?
and while that cute lil yellow face is supposedly supposed to signify "undecided," (certainly an OK reaction,) to me (and to most, probably) it's definitely more of a decided "nonplussed" face, negative reaction.  And unsupported negative remarks don't seem like they can be equated with unsupported positive ones.

That being said, these discussion forums are at their best when they closely resemble writers crit groups and creative writing classes that I've had where saying both "I liked it!" or "Meh, nonplussed" without explanation either wasn't allowed or simply caused one to look embarrassingly dim.

Banning the word seems a bit strong, but reinforcing the normative idea that thoughtless posts make one seem, well, thoughtless isn't a bad idea.  Let the sweaty vapid fangirls squee and the snarky doltish amateurs meh-- you kids go off and play, daddy and the grownups will be in here playing cards and having grownup talk.



deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #16 on: June 20, 2010, 01:50:06 AM
i spearheaded the anti-meh side last time.  my position remains much the same but the situation has changed.

last time the meh comments were really beginning to add up.  you could skim through some story threads and find three or four people trying to say meh in clever ways ('this got meh all over the place,' 'a big meh from me') and a couple comments making a case that the story doesn't fit their definition of the genre.  once you got through all that you might only be left with a couple people trying to talk about the story.

this time around we have a couple meh comments in a reasonable sized thread, and those comments made the effort to explain why the story left them unaffected.  edit: as Robin said, and it bears repeating, the comment that kicked off this thread wasn't even saying meh to the story.  the story was about online culture and Robin was saying that sometimes you just have to accept what's going on and avoid becoming too involved.

i'm actually a big fan of snark but i have my own reasons to dislike the whole meh movement (cotton candy comments that can quickly degenerate into non-constructive criticism).  there is no rule against the word and there shouldn't be.  threads like this are exactly what should be used to raise the issue when it becomes a problem.  strong-arm moderation always as a last resort.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2010, 02:32:24 AM by deflective »



Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Reply #17 on: June 20, 2010, 02:01:02 AM
I must confess that a couple years back (maybe a bit less) I was amongst the Meh-ers, at least to some degree. And then one story I responded to with something like "Meh.. was ok, not my favorite", it turned out the author was actually in the forums, and I felt like a gigantic jerk. Which is when I realized just how uncomplimentary the term really sounded. I haven't used it since (at least not in story commentary). Instead, if I think a story is just OK, or vaguely mediocre, I just don't comment (unless there's a particular point that moves me to comment). Now meh & other snarky type comments set my teeth on edge a bit.

I think there's something of an urge to comment on each story- to engage in the discussion - even if you don't really care for the story, there's the urge to participate in the community conversation. Its a bit of an adjustment to think well, no, you don't really have to participate this time, and move on. I feel it sets a better atmosphere, though. And for me, its much more comfortable to not post than to make a post without any particular point.(I find this true even with stories I vaguely liked, but didn't have anything particular to say about them).




Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2230
    • Journey Into... podcast
Reply #18 on: June 20, 2010, 03:36:24 AM
OK.  Since this has been given its own thread, I will comment.  First off, I think if someone wants to say "meh", they cwrtainly can.  However, I am usually unimpressed by the usage.  My first reaction (and I know it is totally unfair and probably not true in most cases) is to assume the person is arrogant.  They listened to the story, and didn't feel very impressed or moved (heck I've felt that way often enough), yet they feel compelled to comment with a 'meh', as if the whole forum would be dissappointed if they didn't weigh in.  Like I said, this is unfair and unfounded, but that has been my first reaction. 

Hearing others in this thread explain their motivation, help me see things in a different light, but I'm still not a fan, personally.

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


kibitzer

  • Purveyor of Unsolicited Opinions
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2228
  • Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice
Reply #19 on: June 26, 2010, 05:01:07 AM
A friend of mine with Aspergers once told me that the text/chat generation is the perfect one for someone like him to grow up in, because everyone's finally on the same playing field as he is.

Folks, if this is a little OT forgive me, but this comment right here struck really deep. To me, it strikes right to the heart of online communication since it is so context-free. I find this often in real life -- I don't know why people say the things they do, or understand their motivations. And I often make comments I intend as simple statements of fact where people say, "Wow! You really unloaded both barrels there!" And that's when all my communication facilities are engaged. How much worse, then, online where it's just plain words?

(BTW I'm not claiming to have Asperger's)

The whole "meh" thing seems to me to hinge on context, intent, and cultural perception. Lemme try an example which may be specious, but I hope is helpful. I've done work for an open-source Twitter client written in Adobe AIR (well, HTML and Javascript). I did online support for the product for about a year which was very instructive. The name of the program is "Spaz" which has hugely differing meanings in the US and the UK. (Let's leave aside the propriety of choosing such a name, please).

In the US, "spaz" is pretty harmless. It's not exactly a term of endearment but it generally means someone who is awkward, geeky or a bit uncouth. Hence, "Woah Summers, you drive like a spaz!" is an actual line of dialogue in Buffy and noone bats an eye.

In the UK, it's generally construed as a contraction of "spastic" and is therefore considered not only actively offensive but dreadfully non-PC -- a bit like "nigger" perhaps.

The number of times I had to explain this to people was understandable, if surprising at first. What shocked me was that even when I explained the choice of name and the differing meanings (prominently inserted into the FAQ), people often disbelieved me or accused me (us) of lying, or of trying to explain away "obvious" facts.

Now, I'm not at all trying to assert the latter of this group (i.e. folks are stubbornly clinging to one point of view). It's just an example of how one man's "meh" might be another man's "fuck off".


Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
Reply #20 on: June 28, 2010, 08:39:37 PM
I've actually been meaning to weigh in but haven't had enough time to do so until, well, now.

As a moderator, I haven't minding seeing Meh in the context of a larger comment on a story, but when there's a post that just says Meh and maybe another line (but more often not) I've always found that to be dismissive of the story in a way that's felt a bit rude. I don't remember ever outlawing Meh in the PC forums (though honestly it sounds a bit like me and I wouldn't mind doing it). In my time moderating Podcastle there hasn't been another word whose usage has caused me to roll my eyes and wish I had a smite button more than Meh (Well, an easier to access smite button. It's up a hill and there's this dog you have to create a pocket universe for and, well, honestly it's too much of a bother for most days.) If we got a Meh every few months on a story it would be different, and like Swamp this thread has made me see it somewhat differently, but I still think it's a singularly annoying bit of the english language.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Mister Freign

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 15
  • Hungry Flower
Reply #21 on: January 23, 2011, 01:06:45 AM
Hm.  Troublesome indeed.  I truly despise any will toward abrogation of thought - no matter how insipid a given individual may find it.  I am troubled by the slow inexorable transformation of the frontier that was once the internet message board into yet another bastion of intellectual conformity and the psychically violent will of the herd to enforce it.  Particularly in regard to a literary form that regularly defies convention and expands thought as a matter of course, that will is chilling when it appears.  Polite, perhaps, but is it healthful?  Is it not just a way of feeling comfortably unchallenged in one's bias?

So.

How about "enh"? 

Some stuff actually does fail to please or provoke in just that way, causing one to bring a "meh" or "enh" up from the depths, and eruct it all over some hapless joy-bunny squealing "I <3 it" or whathaveyou. 

Must we truly all pretend to feel and think in a broadly acceptable way? 

I think it's a bad sign when people feel justified in abrogating thoughts and the public communication thereof.  It's nearly a tragedy, in my opinion, whenever it happens.

I feel strongly about this will to silence those who don't feel all that strongly and want you to know about it.  Do they not bleed?



Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4904
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Reply #22 on: January 23, 2011, 01:22:05 AM
Politeness is not silencing.  Self-restraint is not censorship.  There is no guidance save that we assign to ourselves; the will of the herd is the only will there is, in the end. 

Communities are formed in part by the rules that they assign to themselves.  One of the things we do here is not to just say "Meh, I didn't like this."  The problem is not the word itself, but the failure to engage or provide meaningful feedback; one-word "Yuck!" or "Awesome" responses are also frowned upon, though "Awesome" is often allowed to stand, as it involves the fewest additional negative repercussions.  I think this is a good and sensible rule to take; however, the goodness and sensibility of this particular rule is not the issue you addressed. 

You rail against conformity and abrogation of thought, and this is patent nonsense.  All communities require a sacrifice of individual freedom in return for the benefits of group protection.  If you want the benefit of public services and the legal rights of citizens, you in turn must agree to abide by the laws of the country you reside in and pay the taxes that government requires.  Complaining about this while partaking in the benefits of the community is hypocritical at best, particularly in the context of a new user necroing an old argument.

Which is a roundabout way of saying, "If you don't like it, lump it."  You don't have to be a part of a community that enforces rules or has codes of behavior and cultural expectations.  You can be as free as you like; you'll just have to do it alone, or with whatever group you find that supports your ideals.

Good luck finding such a place, btw.  Any community site that hopes to remain stable tends to develop at least some unspoken rules about what is and isn't okay in that particular microculture.  Even 4chan has moderation.



Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Reply #23 on: January 23, 2011, 01:59:04 AM
Hm.  Troublesome indeed.  I truly despise any will toward abrogation of thought - no matter how insipid a given individual may find it.  I am troubled by the slow inexorable transformation of the frontier that was once the internet message board into yet another bastion of intellectual conformity and the psychically violent will of the herd to enforce it.  Particularly in regard to a literary form that regularly defies convention and expands thought as a matter of course, that will is chilling when it appears.  Polite, perhaps, but is it healthful?  Is it not just a way of feeling comfortably unchallenged in one's bias?

So.

How about "enh"? 

Some stuff actually does fail to please or provoke in just that way, causing one to bring a "meh" or "enh" up from the depths, and eruct it all over some hapless joy-bunny squealing "I <3 it" or whathaveyou. 

Must we truly all pretend to feel and think in a broadly acceptable way? 

I think it's a bad sign when people feel justified in abrogating thoughts and the public communication thereof.  It's nearly a tragedy, in my opinion, whenever it happens.

I feel strongly about this will to silence those who don't feel all that strongly and want you to know about it.  Do they not bleed?

Well here's how I see it. Saying "i dont care about this story in the least," which is my take on "meh,"  is vaguely degrading to the author, without the potential benefit constructive criticism provides. And to fellow readers? well, who really wants to read about that? My suggestion RE: not caring is simply to not bother commenting. I mean, if you really are "meh" about a story isn't it in your best interest to simply forget about it and move on? What's your motivation for posting such a message? If you feel ambivalent about a piece, that's fine, but rather than limit your message to "meh" or equivalent, explain why you're ambivalent. That at least leaves room for discussion of your points. :)



Wilson Fowlie

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1475
    • The Maple Leaf Singers
Reply #24 on: January 24, 2011, 10:17:21 PM
Re Scattercat and Talia: this forum needs Like buttons. :)

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham