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SmashTheState's avatar

Why has Fluther gotten dumber?

Asked by SmashTheState (14220points) April 14th, 2015

After having been gone for a while, I recently stuck my toe back into Fluther to test the water. While I’ve had my differences with Fluther, it has always been a generally intelligent, thoughtful place. There was always what I call the “Fun Brigade” of vapid, thoughtless flibbertigibbets, but they generally confined themselves to Social questions and were easy to ignore except when they descended en masse and hijacked someone’s question.

I’m noticing, however, that Fluther’s intelligence level has changed a lot since I left, and not for the better. It’s still not Y!A, of course, but the Fun Brigade appears to have become the dominant social force here. One of the things which appealed to me about Fluther was the large number of well-read, well-educated professionals here who were able to give qualified answers to questions. Those people appear to be in short supply now, and the number of one-sentence Dunning-Kruger MEEE TOOOO answers have proliferated.

What changed here? And has anyone else noticed the slide towards Idiocracy?

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82 Answers

Judi's avatar

After auggie left there was a lot of struggles with the moderation as it worked out exactly how it would work without their amazing leader. A lot of petty crap started happening and that’s about the time I left. (I also recently have been tipping my toes back in the water.)
I’m wondering if that was about the same time a lot of others left too. I’m not sure because I wasn’t here. I hope some people who stuck around for the duration will be able to give you some better answers.

ucme's avatar

1) You sound like a miserable old git.
2) Fluther has always been dumb… frizzer, babby , clitoris nose
3) There is no 3 coz 1&2 were so good.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I won’t be quite as harsh as you in my use of language, but it’s definitely different now. I left for quite a while, too, and it’s not the same place. But it’s also a much, much smaller community now. I don’t know why a lot of the people left (since it happened after I was already gone), but I do miss some things about the old days…

JLeslie's avatar

LOL. So, basically anyone who answers this Q, who is still here, is likely part of the less intelligent group. ~

A lot of our most interesting, intelligent, well read jellies left or were banned.

I also think some of the more complicated and thought provoking questions were asked to death from many different angles. Those topics became very heated and then some jellies didn’t like the heat, and some jellies just became bored with it.

canidmajor's avatar

Because, you know, wording a question in just that way is so likely to inspire intelligent, well thought out responses.
That’s why.
(I’m guessing that that fits within the expected parameters?)

stanleybmanly's avatar

I have a paranoid suspicion that our society itself is dumbing down. And I don’t exclude myself.

thorninmud's avatar

There are many ways of being intelligent. There’s the kind of intelligence that can contemplate anti-entropic stars. There’s the kind of intelligence that understands how to interact with others in a way conducive to harmony and well-being.

They’re not mutually exclusive, of course, but being strong in one by no means guarantees the other. I’ve known quite a few people with very impressive intellects who seem to lack any sense of how to navigate social situations without stepping on everyone’s toes and alienating them. They may be smart, but are they wise?

Fluther has had varying proportions of people intelligent in these ways and others. It’s both a forum for discussing factual matters and a group of people interacting socially. Which aspect one values most depends, I expect, on where one’s strengths lie.

Pandora's avatar

I agree with @JLeslie . As to why people come and go is another story. Fluther has been up for a number of years. I believe most questions have been asked or if you can’t find an answer here, you can usually do a web search and find it has been answered somewhere. Eventually all the interesting topics will lessen.

Social questions tend to be the reason most people come on chat sites. Just because questions can be social doesn’t mean they are idiotic. Some people need unbiased opinions from strangers to navigate everyday life. I’ve known some very intelligent people. They don’t ask questions on things that they know or can navigate and learn about from the internet or books, but social behavior remains a mystery to them. So often, they are more likely to ask those questions you may consider dumb.

I believe people have attempted to ask this question in the past without being so insulting.
Are you really trying to get an answer or just be antagonistic?

dappled_leaves's avatar

Sure, a lot of us have noticed it. I think part of the problem is that the traffic is so low here now, that the stupid stands out very clearly. I’m not entirely convinced that the smart:dumb ratio has changed. Maybe there’s just no longer a way to focus solely on the smart stuff and ignore the rest.

I will add that a lot of the people asking thought-provoking discussion questions have left, partly because they were told not to ask certain types of questions. But we also don’t tend to get as many direct, “information” type questions, which are what I really miss. I’d like to be able to solve problems for people – the opportunities are now few and far between.

@JLeslie‘s answer is pretty much on point, but I think the “boredom” she describes was directly caused by the banning of certain types of questions. Sticking around after that was kind of futile for some. Having people tell you that they don’t want you to ask “those questions” makes you not want to hang around on a Q & A site. This shouldn’t be a surprise.

thorninmud's avatar

What types of questions have been banned?

dappled_leaves's avatar

Really, @thorninmud, you have no idea what I’m talking about?

thorninmud's avatar

I know the events you’re referring to, but I don’t see how you conclude that certain types of questions are now banned. The issue was always the way the questions were framed and the overall pattern they presented (specifically, the “baiting” behavior).

dappled_leaves's avatar

@thorninmud Sure, it was the overall pattern. In other words, a question could be asked by one person, but the same question could not be asked by a different person, because it apparently fit into their “agenda”. Whatever. Effectively, it meant that certain people could not ask questions about certain topics. It was effectively a ban. I understand that you didn’t and don’t see it that way. Some of us disagree.

thorninmud's avatar

It was never a matter of topics. It was never Member X isn’t allowed to ask about Topic Y anymore. That has been exhaustively explained. People have chosen to interpret it in ideological terms, and as you know, ideologies aren’t often tractable to reason. So here we are.

SmashTheState's avatar

@dappled_leaves Getting censored for asking a provocative question was one of the first things which happened to me on Fluther, and I very nearly just walked away. It wasn’t that I had broken any particular rule; my question had just caused snivelling butthurt in so many people who reached for “flag as…” to assuage their poor little feelings that the mods decided to throw my question down the memory hole.

jca's avatar

To specify, it seemed specifically that the types of questions that were not welcomed were along the lines of “Why are you such a moron that you believe in god, and if you do believe in god, here are pages and pages of explanations as to how you are just an idiot.”

nutallergy's avatar

This has been asked before in the most polite way.~

dappled_leaves's avatar

@thorninmud “It was never Member X isn’t allowed to ask about Topic Y anymore. That has been exhaustively explained.”

Thanks, I needed a good laugh today.

Lawn's avatar

As a new user I can’t comment on the supposed brain drain. But I have some ideas why a new user might mistake this place for a lighthearted discussion community where high-intelligence is not a prerequisite.

1) The site’s branding resembles a kindergarten classroom
2) There’s a smiling jellyfish family riding in a submarine (a fun brigade?)
3) “We’re All Experts”
4) “Lawn received a Starfish award” Wheee!

I’m not saying it is a bad thing. I like it. But when you put a plastic statue of Grimace outside a 5-star restaurant, you’re going to attract a diverse crowd.

josie's avatar

One of the first questions that caught my eye on Fluther was this one. Almost exactly six years ago.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’ve noticed it. It’s been happening for over a year now. I stay around to ask my random questions and to piss people off point out the asinine comments and questions.

Berserker's avatar

I think one of the main issues is because the community is so small now. When I first joined, it was much bigger. Automatically then, you get more varied discussion. There are only a handful of regulars left, and most are close knit, and newbies often feel intimidated. (often, with just cause)
This will reduce discussion. Light hearted just as much as big heavy discusion. But if you look around a little, there is still a lot of big talks going on. I see them often.

But as a small community, I guess the flow changes, as does how we react with people we’ve known for quite a while. I think there might be something to say for that. Just online names, but still people we interact with on a daily basis. Mostly just throwing a guess here, though.

As for the light hearted stuff…well, keep in mind not everyone always wants to have big serious talks all the time. When I come back from work or school I can’t be arsed to start discussing big ass subjects, maybe I just want to chill and shoot the shit. I do agree, thread jacking kinda sucks, although I have done it myself, I admit.

I really don’t care to lament the Fluther of the past, or who the fuck I should blame for so many people leaving. But the fact remains, it’s not the same Fluther, and I can’t deny that not all users here have been treated equally by staff in the past. It has happened.

Therefore, we now have a smaller community, at least this is a result of…some shit. Us being hated by Google is another. So what I think is how a small community reacts with each other as opposed to a bigger one is what you’re seeing. I don’t think it’s fair to call Fluther “dumb”, but @ucme makes an excellent point; what you criticize here is nowt new. Light hearted discussion, one liners and jokes have ALWAYS been present here. I guess there was just much more of everything before.

Still lots of non dumb discussion though, as I say. We still get the same old shit; holy wars, political warfare, just look around a bit, man. Lots of in depth stuff.

janbb's avatar

^^ Hear! Hear!

ucme's avatar

@Symbeline Props for saying “nowt” :D

longgone's avatar

I haven’t noticed, no. I was and am drawn to Fluther because of its interesting users, along with the feeling of belonging to a tight-knit community. If I only wanted debates, I’d frequent one of the many other sites out there. I do not only want debates – I want an extended circle of “real” people. Fluther does not just consist of different profile pictures to me – it feels real, because I am able to get to know most users. I’m happy to have trusted people to go to when I need some help.

On Fluther, I have found people to go to for advice on

* Parenting
* Family relationships
* Dog training
* English
* Health
* Cooking

I’m a very interested observer on all discussions of

* Philosophy
* Maths
* The U.S.
* Politics
* History

That’s just of the top of my head.

I learn something new here every day, just by browsing the threads and paying attention to what I don’t yet know.

cookieman's avatar

I’m feeling you’re a bit judgemental.

Coloma's avatar

Hmmmm…no, not my highest choice to join in here. lol

Blondesjon's avatar

<—Making Fluther dumber since Christmas of 2008.

janbb's avatar

@Blondesjon How do you do what you do to me, I wish I knew?

SmashTheState's avatar


Hated by fools
and fools to hate,
Be that my motto
and my fate.

[Jonathan Swift]

Quakwatch's avatar

Too much glue sniffing I suppose.

cookieman's avatar

@StS: Wow! You can quote the writings of other people. Clearly, you are more intelligent than the rest of us dumb jellies.

Hey, here’s a thought. Instead of being devisive almost immediately upon your return to Fluther, why not take a little time to thoughtfully explore commonalities and look for inroads to these conversations you seek? Ya know, foster intelligent conversation instead of damning the very people you claim to want to have intelligent discourse with.

trailsillustrated's avatar

It’s not dumber it’s just a lot smaller.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

What changed here? And has anyone else noticed the slide towards Idiocracy?
I have noticed it way back and tried to aim high, however, it has not worked. One of the main reasons I have seen was people bullied away. Someone asks a real, you-have-to-think question, or a question that challenges what the masses thought, and people would pounce, questioning the questioner’s reason for asking the question. Toss in some slights, and other crass comments, by the time the mods got to the melee there was blood everywhere, a carcass that had been stabbed repeatedly in the neck and kidneys, and bloody shanks all over the yard. The only way to have piece was to have some brain dead like should I clean the needles on my cactus one at a time, or should I just put the plant in the dishwasher? Real questions became too real and hard, so fluff took command.

longgone's avatar

@SmashTheState Just as a sidenote…why are you referring to the Dunning-Kruger-Effect in your details? If I recall correctly, Dunning and Kruger researched the ability to correctly asses one’s own talents, skill, and knowledge. Did they also deal with herd mentality? That would be an example of somethingvI learned here today – could you clarify?

ucme's avatar

Another fine example of how some people take this site way too seriously.
The funniest aspect is that they believe only the “clever intelligent” folks have left because the place was dumbing down. Some fun, positive, easy going jellies left too, mostly down to the moaning, miserable, self righteous fuckers who think they own this tiny corner of the internet.
As I said earlier, Fluther has always had its fluff element, remembered affectionately by the same people that deride it now, when it fucking suits them.
The real problem with this place, negativity fuelled cliques, bent on devious gossip mongering toward those who are perceived as undesirable to their precious little site.
Get over your fucking selves, truly pathetic mentality.

Coloma's avatar

@ucme Don’t lump me into that boiling cauldron of swill.
I do not see any negativity fueled cliques and devious gossip or I am not privey to it.
A little behind the scenes communications on rare occasion does not make ne a negative gossip monger.

I consider myself to be one of the fun, positive and easy going old timers that still swims in this pond. I think your assessment is pretty harsh.

ucme's avatar

@Coloma Err, I didn’t “lump” anyone into anything, you just did that yourself, strange comment.

fundevogel's avatar

I’ve had several long hiatuses (hiatum?) since I’ve been here, but I never left because of the content or character of fluther. I see less debate now, though I’m less interested in debate currently as I’ve already said my piece on those matters many times over and haven’t seen anything new come of those debates for a long time. Maybe I’ve just missed the drama, but I have seen very little of the momentus clashes people reference. Most people here have always seemed well-behaved most of the time in my experience. Of course I like the goofiness.

Chances are I’ll amble off again in the future, but I always come back, for the community. For me the questions have always been a means of initiating a conversation within a group of people I like interacting with. I wish we hadn’t lost so many fine jellies, but that’s no reason to write off the people that stuck around and newbies we’re just getting to know.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Strange that a place so anal and haughty about spelling and grammar, and often perturbed about question context and content it is like the barber never wearing a mac in the poring rain.

Coloma's avatar

@ucme “get over your fucking selves..” sounds lumpy to me.

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DominicY's avatar

@Coloma I believe @ucme was addressing a specific type of user and mentality here. So if you aren’t of that type, then you weren’t being addressed by his post and there’s no reason to take it personally. I agree completely with @ucme. Many “fun” users have left as well and the negativity is largely what drives people away.

Anyway, the reason why the site dumbed down recently is because I left for a little while. Duh.

Coloma's avatar

@DominicY I intended to say ” does not make one a negative gossip monger.”
I did not take it personally, I was defending the “get over your fucking selves” remark that was blanketing everyone IMO.

For the record, my sharings towards @ucme were not a personal “attack” simply an obvious, observational fact, but hey…mod away, truth always rises above censorship.

DominicY's avatar

Yeah, I wish this site had less modding. I post regularly on other sites with less modding and they have more members, so…just saying. But I know that’ll never change. Fluther has a long history of heavy moderation.

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2davidc8's avatar

Hey, instead of bemoaning the losses and the “low level” of intelligence, why don’t we turn this around and brainstorm ways to increase the membership? We need to look to the future and just move on.

OK, so maybe Google isn’t friendly to us. But these days, Google isn’t the be-all and end-all. I’d like to introduce this idea: What about Facebook? What if a group of concerned jellies banded together to maintain a Facebook page for the main purpose of directing people to Fluther? Would this be doable? If not Facebook, then something else maybe? A YouTube video maybe?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

OK, so maybe Google isn’t friendly to us.
Why would they be with the average question level to be so deficient that a garble would seem like a MENSA genius and a goldfish would not pay it any mind? I can see why Google dubbed content farm, with near dead livestock.

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SmashTheState's avatar

@longgone When I mentioned Dunning-Kruger, I was referring to people here giving answers to questions solely on the basis that they possess an opinion on the subject. In Social that might make sense for some questions which are essentially just straw polls, but when someone is asking for advice on things like medical problems, there’s always a line-up of unqualified people giving totally inaccurate answers. This is not unique to Fluther; our culture has become one ruled by Dunning-Kruger with the loudest voices generally being the most ignorant. But Fluther used to be much better at driving the Dunning-Kruger crowd away.

@ucme You know, I remember a time when you used to give intelligent, factual responses. Some time between then and now you took out a membership in the Fun Brigade. And that’s a shame, because I think you actually have expertise to offer.

CugelTheClueless's avatar

Because, STS, when you left, all the smart people got discouraged and left and found other hangouts. Just us dumb people are left now.

But seriously, I expect that many of the smart people who used to spend time here have gone on to better things—writing books, doing research, inventing things, raising or educating children, suing major corporations, treating ebola patients, composing symphonies, or whatever it is that smart people do when their lives are on track. Smart people don’t spend several hours a day farting around on social media year after year unless something is wrong with them. At least the ones over 30 don’t.

The ones who left have not been replaced perhaps because there are more options now. Or maybe they have been replaced, but we can’t tell because their replacements are younger and still have a lot to learn, and also have a different take on how social media should be used, and so we dismiss them unfairly.

janbb's avatar

@CugelTheClueless is one of the smart ones still around.

ucme's avatar

@SmashTheState I think you got lost somewhere between Confused Town & Bewildered Village.
I’ve remained me from the very beginning, always had fun & maintained a decent balance between laughs & intellect. I think this is perhaps a case of seeing what you want to see, or, as I said, just plain confusion in your head.
Still, it matters not a fucking jot when all’s said & done, so…

tinyfaery's avatar

Guess us old timers are losers with nothing else to do.

Blondesjon's avatar

@tinyfaery . . . at least we don’t spend the time feeling butt hurt over being modded every now and then, right?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

With the way in which some Jellies speak to other Jellies, no wonder so many have left, they can get insulted better if they took up jobs as telemarketers.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I really don’t get you people sometimes. You’ll get all butt-blasted over some unkind words, but no one gave a shit when one of our veteran members (in both senses of the phrase) deleted his account and ran away in fear because people threatened to snitch him out to the Secret Service for daring to express a negative opinion on gun control.

Blondesjon's avatar

What do you mean “you people”?

SmashTheState's avatar

@Blondesjon “You people” = The ultra-sensitives who get the vapours when someone expresses her- or himself in a way which might hurt someone else’s self-image… but only so long as it’s a self-image consistent with the ruling hegemonic belief structure. Fluther has rather a reputation at this point for being priggish. The priggishness ends, however, at certain informal boundaries. It’s okay here to shit-blast someone who is religious or conservative, for example. That seems to be tacitly permitted. But have someone aim the same vitriol at one of the euphoric fedora-lords and watch how quickly they’re modded.

janbb's avatar

(One wonders why sometimes someone joins or rejoins just to take a dump all over the place.)

SmashTheState's avatar

“What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal: what is lovable in man is that he is an over-going and a down-going. I love those that know not how to live except as down-goers, for they are the over-goers. I love the great despisers, because they are the great adorers, and arrows of longing for the other shore.”Friedrich Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra

canidmajor's avatar

Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Locke et al…I guess I’m too dumb to understand why quoting great philosophers on a site that is, by your own words too dumb to get it, will help.

Your impled annoyance and impatience with this site is belied by your continuing participation here. To my knowledge, Fluther has never presented itself as a site for Great Thinking and Great Discussion. Your denigration is not new, just puzzling. Are you not, yourself, one of the Thought Police by continuing to to try to alter our concepts to match yours? The techniques you employ are as old as the concept of dissent, belittling, diminishing, insulting, and such.

If no one here is worthy of you, why are you here? I honestly am curious, @SmashTheState. You display moments of interesting and highly intelligent discourse, it’s a shame that you then destroy your own credibility with many more moments of arrogant ass-hattery.

longgone's avatar

@SmashTheState Thank you for clarifying.

Blondesjon's avatar

@SmashTheState . . . This is true but it is a big Internet out there I’m sure that you can find a site that does things just the way you like them done. In fact, it sounds like you are trying to find a “Fluther” that thinks and believes just like you do.

“One wonders why sometimes someone joins or rejoins just to take a dump all over the place.A Penguin, Just A Few Comments Back

cheebdragon's avatar

“Arrogant ass-hattery”....ahaha I love that!

I think I’ve flagged maybe 10–15 answers or questions in all of the years I’ve been on fluther. I’ve been flagged by others hundreds of times though, lol, especially in the beginning.

Fluther is far from perfect, but I’d hardly consider anyone here dumb…..(okay, maybe a couple of people)….....However, in comparison with Yahoo answers, Fluther is nothing less than Harvard or Yale material.

Coloma's avatar

@cheebdragon Haha, same here, I think I have flagged maaybe 5 or 6 spam posts and maybe 3–4 rude remarks from others in over 5 years.
Infact 2 of my flags were in the last 2 days, one spam, one a dumb fuck. lol

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@SmashTheState You’ll get all butt-blasted over some unkind words, but no one gave a shit when one of our veteran members (in both senses of the phrase) deleted his account and ran away in fear because people threatened to snitch him out to the Secret Service for daring to express a negative opinion on gun control.
I don’t care if people express their opposition to the NRA, gun ownership and/or usage. The 2nd Amendment is still in force, people can arm themselves to the hilt if they want, and without breaking any laws. Those who want to whine about gun control can go ahead. I am not going to fault them for it, I hardly care enough to make comments on it unless they are really crazy.

Berserker's avatar

Random, but I miss CaptainHarley.

Blondesjon's avatar

^^ I know, right?

Berserker's avatar

He was the one user “who I never agreed with on anything but got along quite well with”. Him and HC, of course.

thread derail done, sorrah

fundevogel's avatar

I have a certain respect for the members that are pretty much always at odds with majority here, but have still undeniably made themselves a part of the community. It takes tenacity to be in perpetual dissent.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Symbeline Him and HC, of course.
We do agree on 3–8% of things, but when we don’t at least you are respectful and use some panache.

Even being unevenly yoked I would marry you, but you don’t like being in heels and a mini daily ~~~ LOL LOL

Kropotkin's avatar

A bit late to this one.

@hominid There’s a few research papers that suggest the Flynn Effect has stopped and even reversed in numerous countries.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ A bit late to this one.
Don’t worry, you have not missed anything, still has not gotten smarter.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)

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