There has been recently (oh, who am I kidding, there always has been) a lot of discussion going on around the vine that I would define as meta-discussion: how to improve the Vine, how to improve writing on the Vine, how to stop acting like assholes and improve discussion on the Vine, etc, etc, ad infinitum.
In Thinking Rocks' recent article about "showcasing quality content on the Vine," a suggestion was made by Scott Butki: "I think it would be helpful to define meta because the way I've seen Brian use and the way I use it and the way Pev use all seem different."
And he's right. Some people do include in the definition of "Meta" articles and subjects that I would describe as "memes," i.e. "8 Things about Me"; community-driven articles i.e. "What was your favorite concert ever"; and community-building series or events like Newsvine Survivor or our ever-popular Newsvine Drinking Contests.
But are those things properly classified as "Meta?" Are they a sub-classification of Meta we could call "Community-based?"
Many have suggested that meta-content not appear on the front page, or be specially set off in its own module. But in order to do that properly, I believe we need, as a community, to define exactly what we mean by "meta."
And if we do decide that community-based articles, series, and events are not to be defined as "meta," then we need to decide what to do with them.
A quick Google search ("define: meta") brings up some interesting results:
"A Greek prefix meaning hind or posterior; used with Latin, latinized, or Green words to indicate the posterior (usually third) part of a structure)." (www.uky.edu/~mjshar0/HI/glossary/)
"Something on an abstraction level higher than the current. To go meta means to take a step back and look at the bigger picture - which can be done indefinitely in an arbitrary number of ways." (www.nada.kth.se/~asa/Game/Dragons/jargon.html)
"Prefix; after; changed, higher." (www.thepeacefulplanet.com/glossary.html)
"This is not an acronym. This is how posters flag the Subject: line of a post that relates to the newsgroup itself as opposed to BDSM." (www.mindspring.com/~frites/m.htm)
"A prefix used in computer science meaning "relating to" or "based on." For example, a metadirectory would be a directory relating to, or about directories. More simply put, a directory of directories." (www.scotsmist.co.uk/glossary_m.html)
"A prefix meaning "information about"." (www.armandproductions.com/Glossary.html)
"In epistemology the prefix meta- is used to mean about (its own category). For example, metadata is data about data (who has produced it, when, what format the data is in and so on). Similarly, meta-memory in psychology means an individual's intuition about whether or not they would remember something if they concentrated on recalling it. Any subject can be said to have a meta-theory, which is the theoretical consideration of its foundations and methods." (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta-)
So the question goes to you, the Newsvine community: What is Meta? How do we define it in the context of this site? And what in the hell should we do with it once we've defined it?
A few suggestions:
All of this requires a lot of personal responsibility. Meme-y articles and community-driven articles tend to get a lot of response, a lot of hits, a lot of comments. (Isn't that why we write them?). And of course, the natural inclination is to get as much exposure for those kinds of articles as possible. But it's not like they'll disappear into the ether if they don't appear on the front page. They will get noticed, they will garner a lot of attention and comments, even if they don't spend 24 hours on the front page. Most people do not find what they read on the front page anyway--they have watchlists and conversation trackers to do that work.
There's also been much discussion about categories--how on earth should I categorize this article? I'd love a "Meta" or "Community" category in the category list, and a separate module for these things. But before we can ask Newsvine staff for a change like this, we have to define the subject for ourselves, and commit ourselves to properly classifying our content.
Now it's your turn: What do you think?