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Facebook via me

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:01 pm UTC
by Rorgg
Seems like the appropriate place to ferry this rant:

I've noted that if, for example, an unknown fellow Adam posts a status on Facebook, and your friend Betty shares it, it appears on your newsfeed as

Betty via Adam

That strikes me as exactly backwards. "Via" means "by way of" and should be followed by the agency of conveyance, which is, in this example, Betty. So it should be flagged

Adam via Betty

Or, as an alternative to keep the original ordering:

Betty from Adam

Naturally, the first three commenters are disagreed with me. So, naturally, I lumped them in the "WRONG" group with Facebook itself and tossed in a bug report.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:37 pm UTC
by Derek
I agree with your assessment. "A via B" means that A is the source, and B is an intermediate step.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:57 pm UTC
by goofy
Sense 2 of via in the OED is "By means of, with the aid of". So Betty via Adam makes sense: from Betty by means of Adam, with the aid of Adam.

I guess this is an extension of the usage "by means of" or "through the medium of" in contexts not having to do with travel, for instance "advertising via the screen". MWDEU reports that some peevers don't like this usage, but it's been used by EB White, Updike and Mailer.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:08 am UTC
by eSOANEM
It's certainly an acceptable usage in some cases, but here both meanings could reasonably be applied (and so which usage is meant can't be determined by context) so it seems weird to choose the less common definition.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:09 am UTC
by goofy
How do we know which definition is less common?

I interpret facebook messages like "Betty via Adam" in the sense they were intended. It doesn't seem weird to me.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:27 am UTC
by jaap
goofy wrote:Sense 2 of via in the OED is "By means of, with the aid of". So Betty via Adam makes sense: from Betty by means of Adam, with the aid of Adam.

I guess this is an extension of the usage "by means of" or "through the medium of" in contexts not having to do with travel, for instance "advertising via the screen". MWDEU reports that some peevers don't like this usage, but it's been used by EB White, Updike and Mailer.


Isn't that still saying that Betty/advertising is the originator and Adam/screen the intermediary? FB is apparently using it for messages originating from Adam.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:04 am UTC
by goofy
jaap wrote:Isn't that still saying that Betty/advertising is the originator and Adam/screen the intermediary?


No, because it's not about travel. The earlier meaning was about travel, but the newer meaning has nothing to do with travel or who is in between who. It just means "by means of". it was sent from Betty by means of Adam.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:34 am UTC
by jaap
goofy wrote:
jaap wrote:Isn't that still saying that Betty/advertising is the originator and Adam/screen the intermediary?


No, because it's not about travel. The earlier meaning was about travel, but the newer meaning has nothing to do with travel or who is in between who. It just means "by means of". it was sent from Betty by means of Adam.

"By means of" means "by the use of".
To me, "From Betty by means of Adam" still means that Betty sent a message and used Adam to get it to you, rather than Betty sent a message and used Adam as the source of that message.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:10 pm UTC
by eSOANEM
goofy wrote:How do we know which definition is less common?


The fact it's given as the second sense.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:55 pm UTC
by goofy
eSOANEM wrote:
goofy wrote:How do we know which definition is less common?


The fact it's given as the second sense.


No, that just means it's newer.

jaap wrote:"By means of" means "by the use of".
To me, "From Betty by means of Adam" still means that Betty sent a message and used Adam to get it to you, rather than Betty sent a message and used Adam as the source of that message.


Ok, I'm not sure I see that distinction. What about the other meaning given in the OED: "with the aid of". Betty sent a message with the aid of Adam.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:17 pm UTC
by Derek
goofy wrote:Ok, I'm not sure I see that distinction. What about the other meaning given in the OED: "with the aid of". Betty sent a message with the aid of Adam.

That sill sounds like Betty -> Adam -> Me to me. I can't think of any context where that would change. I think "by means of" and "with the aid of" are valid definitions of "via", but they still carry the same restrictions on order that the primary definition carries.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:04 am UTC
by dudiobugtron
I always think of it was saying that the message got to Betty via Adam. Betty (or Betty's Facebook wall) is the message's destination, and Adam (or Adam's Facebook wall) was the path it took. The originator of the message is most likely neither Betty nor Adam, but the important points are that it ended up with Betty, and it came via Adam.
Of course, after that, it came to me via Betty. If I want to advertise that fact, though, all I have to do is post it on my own wall. ;)

PS: For 'message', read: news, link, information, picture, video etc...

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:24 pm UTC
by davedrowsy
This also confused me at first, and I agree they should have come up with a better way of expressing what they mean than "X via Y." It seems like the easy thing to do would be to flip it and say "Y via X" so that it actually makes logical sense, however then your friend (Y, in this case)'s name would come not first but second, which would actually be more confusing. Twitter does this, for instance, and it kinda bugs me because at first glance, my mind's eye sees the first name stated as the "poster," and so it looks like I have a bunch of people I don't know posting stuff in my feed. If facebook did this too, it would be similarly annoying, so I'm glad they at least have the order right, if not the wording.

To solve the problem, I think we all have to invent different contexts in which this use of "via" makes sense. My context, using your friend Betty / random person Adam paradigm: it's "Betty via Adam" because Betty is posting this cool thing to facebook, and she got it "via" Adam -- i.e., she wanted to post this thing, and Adam made it possible, thus she is posting it "via Adam." It's still confusing and they shouldn't have used "via" for this purpose, but at least it makes sense and keeps me from going berserk ("DOES NOT COMPUTE") and deleting my facebook account and/or smashing my computer.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:07 am UTC
by goofy
davedrowsy wrote:it's "Betty via Adam" because Betty is posting this cool thing to facebook, and she got it "via" Adam -- i.e., she wanted to post this thing, and Adam made it possible, thus she is posting it "via Adam."


This is what via means to me, but I guess I'm in the minority on this board.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:23 am UTC
by The Mighty Thesaurus
goofy wrote:This is what via means to me, but I guess I'm in the minority on this board.

I still don't understand why everyone is so worked up about a road.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:45 am UTC
by phlip
Derek wrote:That sill sounds like Betty -> Adam -> Me to me.

That's the thing, though... it's not Betty -> Adam -> Me, it's Betty -> Adam -> Original Source(s). Or, more accurately, Original Source(s) -> Adam -> Betty. Betty is sharing some information, which she received via Adam.

It's like... if I see something in N&A here that interests me, and I go and talk on Twitter or wherever about it, and I wanted to give a hat-tip to the fora as the source of my information, I might mention that I came across the link "via the xkcd fora" or suchlike. It's just a way of crediting/plugging the (intermediate) source of your information.

In essence, thinking about it this way means thinking about the source of the information as being the important thing, rather than thinking about yourself as the audience, and how the information gets to you, as the important thing. As the person reading stuff on Facebook, you're not that important.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:14 pm UTC
by Derek
I entirely get that, it's just not how I read it without additional context.

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:45 pm UTC
by Qaanol
phlip wrote:It's like... if I see something in N&A here that interests me, and I go and talk on Twitter or wherever about it, and I wanted to give a hat-tip to the fora as the source of my information, I might mention that I came across the link "via the xkcd fora" or suchlike. It's just a way of crediting/plugging the (intermediate) source of your information.

Exactly. You would not ever write, “I got this from the xkcd fora, via the original source” to describe that situation. But you might say you got the information “from the original source, via the xkcd fora.”

What thefacebookspace does is list it as “xkcd fora via original source”. Now, it is certainly understandable that thefacebookspace desires to maintain consistency by always leading with the name of the person who just posted it in a way you can see, but that does not mean “via” is an appropriate word choice.

(Today is the first time I encountered this myself on thefacebookspace, and it definitely struck me as being phrased in reverse.)

Re: Facebook via me

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:04 am UTC
by phlip
Qaanol wrote:What thefacebookspace does is list it as “xkcd fora via original source”.

I thought, in that situation, it would be showing up as "phlip, via xkcd fora", and not mention the original source at all... at least in that part (obviously the original source is sorta-credited in that it's the thing the actual link in the post goes to).

I don't use Facebook much, more of a G+ guy, so I'm mostly working off descriptions in this thread...