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Ask.mefi limit between posts?
December 18, 2006 4:17 AM   Subscribe

Didn't ask.mefi used to have a 7 day gap between posts? When/why did it go up to 14?
posted by twine42 to Etiquette/Policy at 4:17 AM (170 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I'd guess it was sometime between then and now.
posted by cgc373 at 4:24 AM on December 18, 2006


we flipped the switch last night. We'll see how it goes.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:08 AM on December 18, 2006


*cues the extra sockpuppets*
posted by dflemingdotorg at 5:10 AM on December 18, 2006


The Metafilter Next Post Timer Greasemonkey script has been updatified.
posted by Plutor at 5:16 AM on December 18, 2006


And there was much rejoicing.
posted by Partial Law at 5:30 AM on December 18, 2006


Is anyone keeping track of the stat that you're trying to skew (Less posts per day? Less posts by non-contributors? Better questions? More revenue per question? New accounts per week? ) so you can tell if this change worked?
posted by popechunk at 5:33 AM on December 18, 2006


Yay!
posted by Elsa at 6:10 AM on December 18, 2006


Everyone says "yay," but I'll bet it won't make any difference. And then people will be demanding a three-week wait, and it still won't make any difference. "We keep widening the highways, but the traffic jams are just as bad!" "Well, widen them some more!"
posted by languagehat at 6:11 AM on December 18, 2006 [3 favorites]


/look of horror
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:19 AM on December 18, 2006


See if you can guess which new account is my second one.
posted by smackfu at 6:19 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


"We keep widening the highways, but the traffic jams are just as bad!" "Well, widen them some more!"

Surely it's more like unwidening (wtf is the opposite to widening? Thinning?) roads to reduce the traffic flow. After all, what we want is less traffic (posts) per day, not more.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:21 AM on December 18, 2006


Narrowing.
posted by Khalad at 6:21 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Surely it's more like unwidening (wtf is the opposite to widening? Thinning?) roads to reduce the traffic flow. After all, what we want is less traffic (posts) per day, not more.

It's more like halving people's gas rations.
posted by delmoi at 6:35 AM on December 18, 2006


*pops a gap in your ask*
posted by cortex at 6:35 AM on December 18, 2006 [7 favorites]


I think I agree with languagehat. Just looking at the 5 most recent posters right now: For 2 of them this is their first post. The other 3 haven't posted in 2-3 months anyways.
posted by vacapinta at 6:37 AM on December 18, 2006


plutor, you know the post page has a countdown right on it, right?

And the only measure we're looking for is less questions/user for an overall reduction in new question load.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:37 AM on December 18, 2006


Embrace change! There are delicate pleasures in the limitation of things, a thrill of proximity to that which lies without, wild, yet closed from us by a sturdy blanket of regulation. Less AskMe is more AskMe to love.
posted by carsonb at 6:39 AM on December 18, 2006


Why do you want to reduce the questions? When I am slacking at work, I already read them all by like noon. You are failing in your main mission mathowie, and it makes me cry.
posted by dame at 6:41 AM on December 18, 2006


mathowie: "plutor, you know the post page has a countdown right on it, right?"

It does, now? I haven't seen the "you can't post" page in a while, and, well, it did when I created the script. Do the pages on all of the subsites have 'em, or is it just AskMe?
posted by Plutor at 6:50 AM on December 18, 2006


...it didn't when I created the script...
posted by Plutor at 6:50 AM on December 18, 2006


Do people actually think of questions to ask every week, even if they have no reason? Is it due to asshattery by those who would "test their theories" and waste our time? In the short span that I've had an account I've asked seven questions, and two of them were very stupid. Then again, I haven't made 10,000 pointless comments in the blue either... so I'm not much of a bellwether in any sense.
posted by prostyle at 6:57 AM on December 18, 2006


We'll see how it goes. There have been quite a few MetaTalk threads complaining about posts running off the front page of AskMe too quickly and when the idea of increasing the wait time was brought up it seemed to be the less onerous of several options. If it really truly doesn't change anything -- and yes we're keeping track of the numbers -- we'll consider doing something else.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:57 AM on December 18, 2006


Why don't we just make monitors taller?
posted by ND¢ at 7:03 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Surely it's more like unwidening ... roads

Dude, it wasn't meant to be a point-by-point comparison, just an example of a situation where a "solution" that looked logical didn't actually improve the situation. There are a million of 'em, that just happened to be the first one that came to mind.
posted by languagehat at 7:05 AM on December 18, 2006


Ignorance is bliss. By keeping me from knowing too much by answering too many of my questions, Matt & Jess are trying to bliss me out.

Thank you.
posted by jonmc at 7:41 AM on December 18, 2006


Is anyone keeping track of the stat that you're trying to skew (Less posts per day? Less posts by non-contributors? Better questions? More revenue per question? New accounts per week? ) so you can tell if this change worked?

Judging the effectiveness against specific variables is almost impossible given AskMe's increasing popularity. With GoogleAnswers gone and more folks recognizing how great AskMe is, it's unrealistic to expect the number of questions on the front page per day to go down. Ever. But this will at least help keep the growth controlled a little; it's about the least intrusive thing you could do in that regard.

Do people actually think of questions to ask every week

Yeah, there were a few. If nothing else, this puts the brakes on those folks, which is a good thing for the site overall. There's really no downside to this one, as long as Matt and Jess do something like a timeout for folks who use sock puppets to get around the one-per-14-days limit.
posted by mediareport at 7:44 AM on December 18, 2006


Why do you want to reduce the questions? When I am slacking at work, I already read them all by like noon. You are failing in your main mission mathowie, and it makes me cry.

I think you're in the minority, I actually stopped reading ask a while ago just because the volume was so high.

Still, it would be interesting to measure what percentage of ask me questions actually did get posted between 7 and 14 days of the previous one by the same poster. I suspect it wasn't very many.

but if people know that they won't be able to ask another question for 14 days, they might be less likely to ask unimportant questions, in case something comes up.
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2006


Wow. The lengths we will go to in order to avoid just making the page longer.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:52 AM on December 18, 2006 [2 favorites]


Narrowing

Of course! *slaps forehead*
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:54 AM on December 18, 2006


This is probably good. I always thought the site would be better if people were only asking serious questions to which they really needed the answer. I don't think it works as well when people are consulting it about every little thing in their lives.

That being said, I doubt it will change the load all that much.

I hope it is not the case, as some comments have suggested, that this will just lead to more 2nd accounts. If so, it would be spiffy if we required 2nd accounts to be identified as such. So that I would have to get "dios x2" or "dios' second account" or some similar standardized indication. That would prevent people from registering something like "Hayseed McBoobiesnuggler" or "Pirates of Fishpants" or some other forced attempt at humor that can (and typically does) end up getting used as a way troll anonymously. Just a thought.
posted by dios at 7:56 AM on December 18, 2006


if we required 2nd accounts to be identified as such

How?
posted by matthewr at 7:58 AM on December 18, 2006


I'd rather see the front page display twice as many questions. This increase is arbitrary and probably won't affect much. I hope you are tracking it though, to see if there is any worthwhile benefit.
posted by knave at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2006


forced attempt at humor that can (and typically does) end up getting used as a way troll anonymously.

Unsupported bullshit.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:01 AM on December 18, 2006


With GoogleAnswers gone and more folks recognizing how great AskMe is, it's unrealistic to expect the number of questions on the front page per day to go down. Ever.

That's not entirely true, as the solution is both obvious and highly objectionable: start charging to ask questions, if only by just enough to make stupid questions not worth it.

An inventive way might be removing the limit on asking, but making each question cost more, i.e. the first one costs a quarter, then fifty cents, then a dollar, then two, and doubling it each time. It reduces nuisance FPPs in two ways, both inititally and adding incentive to not make your next "real" question more expensive.

Not saying that should be done, just saying that would solve the problem. The question is if that's a big enough problem for you.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:03 AM on December 18, 2006


Micropayments can solve any problem.
posted by Plutor at 8:08 AM on December 18, 2006


I actually stopped reading ask a while ago just because the volume was so high.

I really don't get this at all. What's so hard about scrolling back through a 2nd or 3rd page of questions? What is it about the volume of questions that makes it difficult to scan them for anything you can help with? What is it about the increase from, say, 40 questions a day to 80 a day that is so overwhelming or annoying you have to stop reading completely? Alternately, why can't you just read the first 40 you see and stop when you get bored?

No one is forcing you to choose between reading all the questions or none of them. So what gives?
posted by mediareport at 8:08 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Matt, for fixing something that wasn't broken! Way to go!

The problem, as always, isn't that there are too many questions, but rather that there are many questions that aren't that interesting. By choking them down more, people won't ask better questions, and people won't ask fewer questions. Banning mixtape questions and the easily-googlable would be better in terms of quality, but that would mean (gasp) more moderation. Maybe even getting a third moderator! And that would expose you to MeTa whiners, which, as we all know, are just too precious to be ignored.

Metafilter would be qualitiatively improved if Matt and Jess learned to say "STFU" over all of the retarded attempts by some users to limit how others use AskMe.
posted by klangklangston at 8:08 AM on December 18, 2006


"I think you're in the minority, I actually stopped reading ask a while ago just because the volume was so high. "

And the world rejoiced.

"but if people know that they won't be able to ask another question for 14 days, they might be less likely to ask unimportant questions, in case something comes up."

Doubt it. I think any of that is already covered by the seven-day wait, and will cause people to hold off on questions that MeFi excels at in order to ask "pressing" questions about mixtapes and tech support.
posted by klangklangston at 8:11 AM on December 18, 2006


Did you also change the waiting time to ask your first question? Or can you still ask after just a week?

If you did change the waiting time, you're playing with two variables at once. You should probably tweak 'em separately first and see what effect that has.

On the other hand, if you didn't change the waiting time, you might want to try it — again, independently from the longer gap if possible.

(I'll admit, I've got my own theory. If I had to guess, I'd say nobody posts religiously every week, although a couple may manage decent streaks of weekly posting, and few people even average biweekly. I think the longer gap is going to be an occasional annoyance to the regulars but not a major constraint on the post count. Frankly, I think the best thing to do would be to make it a month before you ask your first question and a week between questions thereafter.

But I may be wrong. Do the experiment properly and let's find out. If for some reason a longer gap makes the site better, I'm all for it. Hell, if a shorter initial waiting time makes the site better somehow, I'm all for that. Just make sure you're testing what you think you're testing before you test it.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:16 AM on December 18, 2006


I really don't like this.

I have a whole crowd of questions I have been thinking of asking, but they keep fighting among themselves so much they can't get in the door; now it just seems hopeless, I can't see the point of asking any of them if I only get to do it once every two weeks.

I just don't see the logic, either. You are a businessperson, you have a unique product which people like very much and which is increasingly in demand.

What to do?

I know! Let's cut back our hours and get rid of half of our parking lot!

Good thinking.
posted by jamjam at 8:17 AM on December 18, 2006 [3 favorites]


I really don't get this at all. What's so hard about scrolling back through a 2nd or 3rd page of questions? What is it about the volume of questions that makes it difficult to scan them for anything you can help with? What is it about the increase from, say, 40 questions a day to 80 a day that is so overwhelming or annoying you have to stop reading completely?

It's not that I had stop, and I still poke around every so often. But it's just somehow less interesting to me now.
posted by delmoi at 8:19 AM on December 18, 2006


Wow. The lengths we will go to in order to avoid just making the page longer.

Clicking and having to read more hurts everyone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:19 AM on December 18, 2006


ask.me now enters the "old man, get off my lawn, the world is moving too fast I can't keep up, wolves are afte me" phase of its existence.

i'm looking forward to seniity.
posted by Stynxno at 8:22 AM on December 18, 2006


I predict that some knucklehead will "audition" his or her AskMe questions here, as has been done in recent weeks with potential MeFi FPPs.
posted by Mister_A at 8:29 AM on December 18, 2006


What nebulawindphone said. Very few regulars post every week it seems to me, and so adjusting the time between questions will, I think, have little effect on the total volume of questions.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:33 AM on December 18, 2006


I just don't see the logic, either. You are a businessperson, you have a unique product which people like very much and which is increasingly in demand.

You could do what everyone else does and if you want to use the site more than it is intended, pay the user fee of $5 and have two accounts. All sockpuppets are not created equal; some are there for this purpose.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 8:35 AM on December 18, 2006


if you want to use the site more than it is intended, pay the user fee of $5 and have two accounts

And piss off Matt. Hasn't he come out pretty clearly against using sock puppets to get around the question limit?
posted by mediareport at 8:39 AM on December 18, 2006


Yeah, both Matt and Jessamyn have suggested that sockpuppets for askme are frowned upon.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:45 AM on December 18, 2006


Every time somebody has posted a MeTa calling for fewer questions, the thread surged with enthusiasm for the idea. Now, after probably a year of this round robin, Matt finally flips the switch — and a bunch of heads pop up to cry, "This is terrible! Why do you think this will help?!"

Classic MetaFilter.

Tell you what. Before we decide the sky is falling, how about we give it a month.

I can't see the point of asking [my questions] if I only get to do it once every two weeks.

I don't understand this logic.
posted by cribcage at 8:46 AM on December 18, 2006


I think jamjam was joking. He's never posted any questions.
posted by voidcontext at 8:55 AM on December 18, 2006


It's because the internet is running out of room.

/heard over dinner the other night
posted by exlotuseater at 8:56 AM on December 18, 2006


Every time somebody has posted a MeTa calling for fewer questions, the thread surged with enthusiasm for the idea. Now, after probably a year of this round robin, Matt finally flips the switch — and a bunch of heads pop up to cry, "This is terrible! Why do you think this will help?!"

Classic MetaFilter.


I'm pretty sure that there were people in those threads who said they thought it was a bad idea at the time. And I'm pretty sure people who are interested in a change are louder than those satisfied with the status quo.

Different people have differeing opinions. Classic Metafilter.
posted by dame at 9:06 AM on December 18, 2006


This seems obligatory at this point.

No idea whose site that is, just dredged up from google images.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:10 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm a little disappointed because I have a different perspective: I feel like I paid $5 for the ability to post one question a week (if I needed to), and now my "service" has been unexpectedly cut in half.

Yeah, I know, it's only a one-time $5 and I've certainly gotten my money's worth, but I'd still be upset at my cell phone carrier if I suddenly got half as many minutes to talk but paid the same rate.

I wouldn't be opposed to micropayments to ask questions (like 10-50 cents per question), especially because I sometimes NEED to ask a time-sensitive question (like, need an answer that day) and the one-week limit was stifling.

2 weeks is just plain disheartening, and makes me less interested in AskMefi as a resource.
posted by robbie01 at 9:13 AM on December 18, 2006 [4 favorites]


I think we should all condemn this heartily before we find out if it works.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:14 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Did you pay $5, robbie01? Your user number is 1413.
posted by matthewr at 9:17 AM on December 18, 2006


STOP SAYING LESS WHEN YOU MEAN FEWER!

This thread is positively RAMPANT with it!

* dies foaming at the mouth *
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 9:18 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


I would like to second (or third, or whatever) the folks who suggested that the best remedy (to what I think is the problem we're trying to solve) is stricter moderation.

I don't understand people who say that there are "too many questions". I think what most people are worried about is that there are a lot of stupid questions, and/or a lot of stupid answers. If AskMe cranked out 1,000 great questions filled with insightful answers every day, I don't see what people would have to complain about.

I think the main problem with keeping up with AskMe is scalability. If Time Magazine put AskMe on the cover next week, and we got 10,000 new members in a few days, what would happen?

I don't believe that "Quality = 1 / Quantity" necessarily, as long as the moderators can keep up with the flow, and can raise the bar somewhat.
posted by popechunk at 9:20 AM on December 18, 2006


I love the diversity and quick flow of questions and answers we have now. I think it is a little short-sighted to try and limit ourselves this way, I really see no point in it.
posted by stormygrey at 9:22 AM on December 18, 2006


How many users post a question every week? I don't think a two week limit is going to stop the mad flow of questions, because I think it's only a small minority of people posting a question every week. The problem isn't too many questions; it's too many users.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:25 AM on December 18, 2006 [2 favorites]


STOP SAYING LESS WHEN YOU MEAN FEWER!

Get over your folkloric grammar "rule".
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:31 AM on December 18, 2006


XQUZYPHYR writes "An inventive way might be removing the limit on asking, but making each question cost more, i.e. the first one costs a quarter, then fifty cents, then a dollar, then two, and doubling it each time. It reduces nuisance FPPs in two ways, both inititally and adding incentive to not make your next 'real' question more expensive."

So five questions and then get another account?

nebulawindphone writes "If I had to guess, I'd say nobody posts religiously every week, although a couple may manage decent streaks of weekly posting,"

There are a few though I can't think of the UserIDs. Some of the heavy users have even yearned for the pony of being able to queue their questions up in order that they automatically be posted every 7 days.
posted by Mitheral at 9:32 AM on December 18, 2006


I just went to AskMefi and my monitor split open, spilling questions all over my desk.
posted by The Straightener at 9:37 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm with dame. When work is slow, the faster AskMe moves the better.
posted by amro at 9:37 AM on December 18, 2006


One way for there to be more moderation of AskMe without necessarily adding a lot more time consumed by moderation would be for Matt and Jessamyn to approve every question that hits the front page of AskMe. This is already happening for anonymous questions, so I assume that the burden to code this would not be too great.

This way AskMe would get the exact number and type of questions that Matt wants on his site. He could even hide the asker's identity from himself while in the "approval queue", so that people could submit as many questions as they wanted, but only the good ones got through.

If this is too much like Fark, forgive me.
posted by popechunk at 9:42 AM on December 18, 2006


klangklangston: did you mistype something? First you say, "Banning mixtape questions and the easily-googlable would be better in terms of quality", but then you say, "Metafilter would be qualitiatively improved if Matt and Jess learned to say "STFU" over all of the retarded attempts by some users to limit how others use AskMe." There's a pretty inherent conflict between those two statements.

jamjam: if this gets users to stop posting as many questions, then it's served it's purpose, n'est pas? matt isn't a businessperson. He's a freaking moderator.

robbie: $5 got you a sub-2000 user number?!?!?! WTF. Stop whining. Even if you DID pay (which I doubt you did), matt and every other regular has said many times that it's a donation, not a service charge.
posted by muddgirl at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2006


I assume the hope is that the longer wait between questions will help the question moderation thing sort itself out -- if you have to wait longer to post your next question, you may be more likely to double-check if you can answer your current burning question on Google or TripAdvisor or some other quick source.

I think it's a decent theory, and I think we'll only know if it's working if we give it a bit of time.
posted by occhiblu at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2006


"klangklangston: did you mistype something? First you say, "Banning mixtape questions and the easily-googlable would be better in terms of quality", but then you say, "Metafilter would be qualitiatively improved if Matt and Jess learned to say "STFU" over all of the retarded attempts by some users to limit how others use AskMe." There's a pretty inherent conflict between those two statements."

Not really. I do believe that the quality would go up if there was more moderation, but I'm also fine with being told that they're not going to do it. (And, y'know, I don't consider my suggestion retarded. That's the obvious difference ;) ).
posted by klangklangston at 9:58 AM on December 18, 2006


Did you pay $5, robbie01? Your user number is 1413.

AskMe wasn't even in existence when robbie01 became a member (for free), so someone's confused if he remembers joining for the sake of asking questions.

2 weeks is just plain disheartening, and makes me less interested in AskMefi as a resource.

You're probably one of the more frequent askers, and you asked 16 questions this year and 20 last year, for an average significantly below one every two weeks.
posted by mediareport at 10:03 AM on December 18, 2006


TWO WEEK WAITING PERIOD WILL ENCOURAGE THOROUGH SEARCHES OF ARCHIVES

*END COMMUNICATION*
posted by Mister_A at 10:06 AM on December 18, 2006


Yeah, both Matt and Jessamyn have suggested that sockpuppets for askme are frowned upon.

My apologies, I hadn't read that.

Well, then we're right stitched up, aren't we?
posted by dflemingdotorg at 10:13 AM on December 18, 2006


I've always wondered if we might increase the number of questions, without lengthening the page by having an 'asked and answered' designation. This wouldn't apply to all questions, but people who were, say, remembering a book title, and got the book title they were looking for could mark the question not just with 'bests' but with 'done' and have it drop off the page. It would work in a similar way for technical support questions.

People who ask very stupid relationship questions and get pounded on could also mark their question as 'done' to have it drop off the page. Whether that's a bug or a feature is left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:14 AM on December 18, 2006 [3 favorites]


The obvious solution is that for every change Matt makes or argument on MetaTalk, Metafilter should just split in two: one for people who agree and one for people who disagree. Orthodox Metafilter (orthodox.ask.metafilter.com) for 7 day Ask posting limits and Reform Metafilter (reform.ask.metafilter.com) for 14 days.

Then there's Eastern Reform Metafilter for people who want the old user pages and Western Reform Metafilter for people who like the new ones (and Unified Orthodox Metafilter for those who like 7 day posting periods AND the new user pages).

Western Reform Metafilter of the Disciples of Mathowie thinks Metafilter's server should only use renewable power sources, but also thinks that showing posts in the user's local time encourages solipsism and favors only using Greenwich Mean Time. Western Reform Metafilter of the Disciples of mathowie (note the small "m") thinks that it should be the Pacific Time Zone.

Eastern Reform Metafilter of mathowie-Scientist believes that Metafilter should have an IPO and that people should not use Metafilter if they aren't wearing shoes. Western Reform Metafilter of the Apostles of mathowie believes that Metafilter should be operated for the sole purpose of funding eccentric political candidates and that meetups should only happen in places that are lacto-ovo vegetarian and smoker friendly.

The United Orthodox Metafilter of Mathowie thinks that posting is a sin and should be avoided at all costs. Anyone who does post is piled upon until they repent and then they are excommunicated. Most of those who are excommunicated choose to join the United Orthodox Metafilter of the Covenenant of Mathowie which says that we are all posters and we that Mathowie posted for our posts. They visit catscans.com a lot.
posted by milkrate at 10:18 AM on December 18, 2006 [14 favorites]


*joins Metafilter Liberation Front, clashes in street with Liberation Front of Metafilter*
posted by cortex at 10:48 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


I am angry and upset. My face curls in a ball of unhappy. I don't know what I'll do now that I don't get to ask lots and lots of my questions, because my questions are awesome, and everybody else's questions do not interest me, because they're not my questions. I judge the worth of Metafilter by the attention I receive online, because this validates me as a human being.

All you Mefites who think that I'm silly, and who have low question/answer ratios, and who comment a lot and post only the very best stuff you find, are boring. Metafilter is about providing me with the information I want now, not about communal information-sharing or common interests or any of that other bullshit. I paid five dollars because I thought it was a good investment, but I'm not getting a return here, and I'm pissed about it.
posted by koeselitz at 10:58 AM on December 18, 2006


Thanks for peeing in our cornflakes evil mod-bots! I hate youse and your entire ilk. I am going to Brazil and need to know whether to bring iPods or Xboxxim down there to sell!! Thanks old pals! At least I know what to bring back: street kids for slave labor.
posted by Mister_A at 11:08 AM on December 18, 2006


Sorry, that's iPodi, not iPods.
posted by Mister_A at 11:18 AM on December 18, 2006


Ban all medical questions with an automatic "See a doctor" answer. Problem solved.
posted by Mwongozi at 11:23 AM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's been about 12 hours since the change. Why don't we wait maybe slightly longer say, 14, 15 hours, maybe an entire fucking week and see how it plays out before we jump down Matt's throat and start rolling out arguments of how recent trends clearly show this is the wrong move to make.

I know, "But I'm indignant now! Wah!" but come on, folks.

It's not a matter of space, I don't think, as it is making sure members don't take the resource for granted and fill it with dross (Surprising and a little disappointing to see you play the "Lazy Mod" card, klangklangston.).

While I support a hack and slash AskMe deletion policy, making the questions a more valuable commodity is better than making members feel like stupid turds by deleting their NameThatTune/DumpMe/IThinkISwallowedAToothpick AskMes - I hate all that crap, but AskMe would lose a lot of diversity if blanket bans were implemented, and answerers seem to love those topics. Putting the onus on the Asker to consider whether or not their question is worth asking is better policy than flatly saying "It doesn't matter."

Anyhoo, there's always Yahoo & Google Answers if you can't wait the 14 days.

robbie01: You're a stinking 4 digit liar, and your answers to questions ratio sucks.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:31 AM on December 18, 2006


people who were, say, remembering a book title, and got the book title they were looking for could mark the question not just with 'bests' but with 'done' and have it drop off the page.

I like the idea, but, of course, there are plenty of people currently who ask a question, receive the answer(s) they were looking for, return to the post to thank everyone for how fast askme is...and then not mark a best answer. Naturally, I have no citations to support this sexy gripe.
posted by dorisfromregopark at 11:33 AM on December 18, 2006


What we need is more askme callouts on dumb questions. Heads must roll before we see this issue resolved!

Mmmmm, Barbeque.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 11:58 AM on December 18, 2006


errrrrrr. meta callouts.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 12:00 PM on December 18, 2006


re: robbie01 - he's probably talking about his other account wubbie, found via wubbie following up to robbie01's question here -- I remember being very confused as I was one of the answerers on that question and it stuck in my brain. So he's not a stinking 4-digit liar, his other personality is :)
posted by neustile at 12:15 PM on December 18, 2006


For everyone saying "don't complain yet, wait to see if it works," whether or not it works isn't the point. The point is that it's not at all clear why reducing the number of AskMe posts should be a goal at all, regardless of whether this change makes it happen.

I'm one of the people who can't imagine why there could ever be "too many" questions on AskMe. Why? Does any non-moderator person feel compelled to read every single AskMe post or otherwise keep up with AskMe in some way? There are plenty of good ways to use the community resource even if there are zillions of posts you never see. For people who genuinely want to learn stuff and share their knowledge with the community, any marginal effort you make, any question you read and/or post to, is helpful and it doesn't matter how many you don't ever see. For people who are just hitting F5 while idle at work, obviously more is better.

Since AskMe does have a dross threshhold, since you can't just come along and post anything, plainly increased volume means increased moderation. And of course no one can command that mathowie & jessamyn put up more time for moderation just to keep the volume up. So I understand their impulse to (try to) reduce the volume for that reason. But it seems like increased volume would be good for a whole host of other reasons.

How about some automatic quasi-moderation? Maybe people could subscribe to certain categories and/or tags if they want to reduce thier experience of AskMe traffic. I mean, I know there are already RSS feeds, but I'm talking about a reduced presentation on the AskMe page itself.
posted by rkent at 12:30 PM on December 18, 2006 [2 favorites]


Matt, can we please amend this policy to include a few freebies that people can use when they have asked a question less than fourteen days ago but have a pressing need to ask another one?
posted by caddis at 12:38 PM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


I support this change, but don't think it will have much effect. A few months back I scraped a bunch of AskMe data and calculated that at most 15% of questions would be eliminated by this change (15% if every violating question was simply abandoned, less if they were just delayed by some length of time).

I'm no libertarian, but my recommended solution would be to give every user a free question over some interval, then charge a few bucks if they want to ask another before their time is up.
posted by gsteff at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2006


I'm one of the people who can't imagine why there could ever be "too many" questions on AskMe. Why?

Because a hire rate of front-page updating correlates to a lower window of prime-time exposure for any given question.

Think of the green as having three major zones: the "top" of the front page (the Stage), the rest of the front page (the Fairway), and everything off the front page (the Archives).

The size of the Stage varies from reader to reader—for some folks, it might be the the first five questions, for others it's whatever question of the first ten or fifteen that they can answer, for others still it's as far down the page as they have time to read. The key thing is, it's a limited quantity. It's the Most Visible Portion.

The Fairway is whatever they doesn't fall on the Stage, terminated handwavingly at the bottom of the front page; the Archives is that no-mans land of Having To Click "Older".

The more questions you have flowing through the system, the less time the average question gets on the Stage, and on the Fairway. You can't make the Stage bigger, period. you can make the Fairway bigger, to a degree: show more questions on the rendered front page of the green. The Archives, of course, stretch yonder to infinity.

The Stage is where it's at. Questions get tons of eyes on them when they're onstage. They get fewer eyes the farther down they get into the Fairway. Archives traffic is negligable.

So while having more questions isn't itself a problem, the result of more questions is faster turnover, less Stage time, and as a result less answers and hence utility for the askers. That's a bummer.
posted by cortex at 12:50 PM on December 18, 2006 [4 favorites]


if we required 2nd accounts to be identified as such

How?


Hey, I know - we could mark them with a caret, like this^.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:58 PM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


BAN WUBBIE!!
posted by contessa at 12:59 PM on December 18, 2006


We should split ask.me into three subsites:

HelpmeSolve: My computer problem, my cat peeing indoors etc.

HelpmeFind: A gift, A book I once read, a website I once saw, My estranged grandmother...

HelpMe: Human Relations.
posted by vacapinta at 1:05 PM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


"pressing" questions about mixtapes and tech support

Never had a broken computer?
posted by Wolof at 1:12 PM on December 18, 2006


How about requiring a one line only statement of the problem:
"iPod is balky"
"how to make girlfriend's mom like me?"
"where to find piston for 1938 Ford?"
"recipe for fried kelp?"
"cow orker needs deodorant"

Each post would then consist of the subject on one line, and the time stamp on a second line. The fascinating details would be in paragraphs inside. Hey, I think I just invented [more inside]
posted by Cranberry at 1:14 PM on December 18, 2006 [2 favorites]


if we required 2nd accounts to be identified as such

How?


I meant, 'how would you tell if account X and account Y are the same person in the real world?'
posted by matthewr at 1:14 PM on December 18, 2006


Can someone give an example of a "pressing need" question? A question that belongs on Mefi, and that can't wait two weeks or be asked somewhere else?

The most pressing: "My arm is on fire! What do I do?" This doesn't belong on AskMe, surely!

My biggest problem is that many users seem to use AskMe blindly - they ask questions that could easily be Googled/Yahoo'd/AskJeeves, or they ask questions that would be best answered by their doctor/landlord/lawyer/HR/Union Rep. The "best" AskMe questions can surely wait 2 weeks, if necessary: questions like the "Help me track down this information about my father" that was side-barred ages ago. (Although on reflection I don't really care about the posting limit. I've never really had a problem with it).
posted by muddgirl at 1:15 PM on December 18, 2006


I don't understand people who say that there are "too many questions".

Really? It's pretty simple, actually. The more questions there are, the less face time your average question sees on the front page. Which means less people seeing your question, which means less people potentially answering your question. Thus, "too many questions".
posted by antifuse at 1:26 PM on December 18, 2006


Can someone give an example of a "pressing need" question? A question that belongs on Mefi, and that can't wait two weeks or be asked somewhere else?

"I found out today that I have a business trip to Paris next week. What should I see in my spare time, where should I eat?"
posted by caddis at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2006


Or, what cortex said.
posted by antifuse at 1:31 PM on December 18, 2006


Can someone give an example of a "pressing need" question?

"help! i've been invited to spend next weekend with my new girlfriends parents. we've been dating for a month and things are moving swiftly but we're doing great. i would like to bring a gift to the parents and i've discovered that that the parents love to collect vintage southern diner signs from the early 20th century. where can I find a good online company that does has these?"

two days later:

"i just sent out the present from my pervious question and it turns out that my girlfriend is adopted. she is white, her parents are black, and the package is a sign that is mildy racially insensitive. how can i smooth over this mistake?"
posted by Stynxno at 1:37 PM on December 18, 2006


I went to post last night (just to see how much time I had left) and was rewarded with the 14 days. I figured I had just missed the flipping of the switch a long ways back....sigh.
posted by Brainy at 1:37 PM on December 18, 2006


You know what, we always focus on what's wrong with the questions asked but we seldom address the fact that a lot of people just go to AskMe to procrastinate and therefore indulge in the most idle speculation.

I think if we tried to encourage ourselves to control our urges to throw random guesses at the askers, the askers would be less encouraged to drop even the most superficial questions at AskMe.
posted by micayetoca at 1:42 PM on December 18, 2006


I meant, 'how would you tell if account X and account Y are the same person in the real world?'
posted by matthewr at 3:14 PM CST on December 18


Matt already knows when two accounts are the same person, and so does the website. I won't pretend to understand the intricacies of tracking ips, etc. But I do know that Matt and Jessamyn have both indicated that they know when someone is using a sockpuppet. I apologize if I am not answering your question... but I don't really know what you are asking. It seems pretty easy to do: "If you have an existing account and want a second one, you much click here to get a secondary account which will be entitled '____'s' second account. Anyone with an existing account acquiring a sockpuppet will be banned along with the sockpuppet." Seems pretty straight-forward. The mechanism for enforcement already exists. The reasons for such a policy for the sake of the community have been fleshed before, and no one has every presented a good argument for sockpuppets beyond a personal desire to be funny--which has no community benefit and is nothing more than personal vanity.
posted by dios at 1:43 PM on December 18, 2006


stinky!
posted by dios at 1:43 PM on December 18, 2006


dios!
posted by Stynxno at 1:49 PM on December 18, 2006


Caddis and stinky: Thanks. I feel like we've all become askme addicts. We can't navigate a single foreign country, social situation, or gift purchase without clearing it through the hive mind. Oh mathowie, what have you wrought?
posted by muddgirl at 1:53 PM on December 18, 2006


I don't think there are too many questions, just that too many of them are so "samey."

The first dozen questions asking to "help me remember this children's book" were cute, but it gets dull wading through acres of them. Similarly the travel filter stuff can be fine, but those wanting to know what to do and where to go on their week(end) in London/Paris/Chicago/... should just buy a guide book, unless they have a real specific question.

Same for a lot of the Miss Manners, relationship, and so on questions. And can there really be any excuse for another "I'm thinking of getting a Mac for me/my mother/my dog" question? They are not really adding anything, many of them just bring out the same tired opinions, and in aggregate they are pretty dull, even if the asker feels they have been helped. Many of these people should just call the reference desk at their local library for help -- they'd get a better, speedier answer there.

Cutting the number of questions won't improve this phenomenon. Moderation could, but it's both a lot more work for the moderators and would lead to much whining.

Now, having told you you're all wrong, but without having offered a solution, I'll leave you to your bickering.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 1:53 PM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


The first dozen questions asking to "help me remember this children's book" were cute, but it gets dull wading through acres of them.

Those questions are not there for your entertainment. They are there to help people find books they remember. The answers give a great deal of satisfaction to the questioners. Why is the purpose of AskMe so hard for people to grasp? It is not a carnival sideshow or a sitcom to help you pass the time when you're bored; it is a place where people turn to get answers to their questions. If the resulting threads are entertaining and/or instructive to others, that's gravy; if you're bored by them, go do something else.
posted by languagehat at 2:02 PM on December 18, 2006 [2 favorites]


Caddis and stinky: Thanks. I feel like we've all become askme addicts. We can't navigate a single foreign country, social situation, or gift purchase without clearing it through the hive mind. Oh mathowie, what have you wrought?

people can handle their life without ask.me but if there is a resource available that can be beneficial (and ask.me can be), then it would be foolish for someone to not take advantage of it. in my example, trying to quickly find an online dealer of obscure signs would be a good use of ask.me. trying to help deal with the aftermath of a racial misque would also be a good use of ask.me. and not only is this good just for the individual involved but both situations would be useful for other members of the community. and both are quality questions in my opinion.

this 'solution' of limiting posting isn't a solution that'll last. as more members join, the issue with the frontpage will continue. i have my doubts that the issue really has to do with the number of questions on the frontpage but some perceived downgrade in "quality" of the questions being asked.
posted by Stynxno at 2:05 PM on December 18, 2006


'____'s' second account.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 2:15 PM on December 18, 2006


Those questions are not there for your entertainment

If the questions are only there for the benefit of the askers, then why are there any limits at all? Why even require an account?

If we are creating a shared pool of useful/interesting questions and answers then why is the asker the only person to be considered? Especially when in many cases a call to your library would get the question answered more efficiently. (No, not all cases, but I never suggested that this type of question should never be asked.)
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 2:26 PM on December 18, 2006


delmoi: I actually stopped reading ask a while ago just because the volume was so high.

mediareport: I really don't get this at all. What's so hard about scrolling back through a 2nd or 3rd page of questions?

Or why do you need to read all the questions? What's the difference between reading 20 questions a day when that's all of them and 20 questions a day when there are 100 posted per day?

I think the only measuring stick should be whether people are getting useful answers to their questions. If the volume is starting to affect the quality of the product (ability to answer questions), then adjustment is necessary, but otherwise the sky's the limit. I don't think it's reasonable to expect that one should be able to read every question. Do you read every article in the newspaper?
posted by winston at 2:27 PM on December 18, 2006


'____'s' second account.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 4:15 PM CST on December 18


So having a second account identified as such is equivalent to having Jewish people wear stars so they can be identified. Such a brilliant analog. Do you believe that all labels are the same as putting stars on teh j00s?

There couldn't be a more rational explanation, such the fact that we are a community and a community requires some sort of ability to identify with each other. And that by keeping identities constant, the community can develop cohesion. Nah, that can't be it.

Would you feel less like a Jew in Nazi Germany if we got rid of all signature lines on posts? That way no one is identified! That would be great for the community, for real.

You point is as lame as your username. I don't know who you are, nor do I care. But, like it or not, your lame username screams 'sockpuppet'. (Typically, all forced attempts at humor in usernames are dead giveaways as sockpuppets). So even though your lame name gives you away as a sockpuppet, you would object from formally disclosing whose sockpuppet you are?

Again, other than getting Matt more money, I'm still waiting for any valid reason for there to be sockpuppets since they typically result in being used for trolling and/or adding noise to the site.
posted by dios at 2:31 PM on December 18, 2006


neustile: "re: robbie01 - he's probably talking about his other account wubbie, found via wubbie following up to robbie01's question here -- I remember being very confused as I was one of the answerers on that question and it stuck in my brain. So he's not a stinking 4-digit liar, his other personality is :)"

So... lemme get this straight: this fucker got his account for free, and is complaining because he had to pay for his sockpuppet account? I guess he's really complaining about now having to buy a second sockpuppet so he can ask as many questions as he used to.

As jess said a while back, sockpuppets for question-limit circumvention suck. Also, Alvy is right: robbie's q/a sucks, too. He should just go to fucking Yahoo! ask if he doesn't really want to be part of a community.

prognosis: BANWORTHY
posted by koeselitz at 2:39 PM on December 18, 2006


Guys, I think robbie01 was taking the piss...

I kinda think that, instead of 1 question every 2 weeks, a better idea would be 2 questions a month. That way you can save them up, if you're worried about not being able to post desperate questions. The volume would be the same, but people could post two questions within days of each other if they planned ahead and really needed to.
posted by Jimbob at 2:47 PM on December 18, 2006


FWIW, I check AskMeFi everyday after work (around 6-7PM EST). I never look at AskMeFi during work, so the last time I visited was last night around this time (perhaps a couple hours later). There were only 45 new questions that I hadn't seen, as opposed to the usual 80-100. FWIW.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:11 PM on December 18, 2006


... I feel like I paid $5 for the ability to post one question a week (if I needed to), and now my "service" has been unexpectedly cut in half.
As already noted by others: liar, liar, pants on fire.

... I'd still be upset at my cell phone carrier if I suddenly got half as many minutes to talk but paid the same rate.
Only someone who either doesn't have a cell phone or someone who has not had one for long would make that statement, because that is what happens on a regular basis.
posted by dg at 3:18 PM on December 18, 2006


Well, it's "working" so far. A lot less questions posted this afternoon. Pretty boring. And it's not like the questions that are there are getting better answers or anything.

What a pointless change.
posted by smackfu at 3:32 PM on December 18, 2006


And it's not like the questions that are there are getting better answers or anything.

Aside from complete hearsay, do you have anything substantial to back this claim?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:35 PM on December 18, 2006


I have both rumour and innuendo.
posted by smackfu at 3:38 PM on December 18, 2006


JimBob: "Guys, I think robbie01 was taking the piss..."

Please explain: he broke the rules of the site for a joke?
posted by koeselitz at 3:39 PM on December 18, 2006


I suggested ten days as a compromise between seven and fourteen. Ah well.

Also, I still don't understand why AskMe can't have an option to show however many days of our choosing on its front page like MetaFilter does. I don't have a problem clicking back several days when necessary, but it seems some people do and this would alleviate that problem and I'd find it convenient as well.

Wait a second. I'm not seeing the "number of days" option in my profile. Am I missing it or has that option disappeared?
posted by deborah at 3:44 PM on December 18, 2006


Well, it's "working" so far. A lot less questions posted this afternoon. Pretty boring.

Er, there are a lot less U.S. students in front of their computers this Monday compared to last. Christmas vacation, remember? Not much of a valid comparison there.
posted by mediareport at 3:52 PM on December 18, 2006


The "administrators know who the sock puppet accounts are" assertion frequently made here is, unfortunately, a bit naive. The admins probably know most of the active puppet accounts. By sheer chance they might know all of them, but it's certainly not a sure thing.

Many MetaFilter users have the simple ability to create and maintain an active sock puppet account that would not be detectable by the admins from e-mail to IP to sign-up payment. Absent further details, it would take either legal machinations -- or illegal ones -- to figure it out. After sign-up, only the IP tracking would require extra effort to circumvent, and for anyone with regular access to multiple IPs that's more an exercise in keeping the right IP sync'ed to the right account. Admittedly, most sock puppet creators probably wouldn't care to make the additional ongoing effort to mask themselves, but by one definition of successful, a successful puppet account is one the admins don't know is an alter ego.

On the other hand, given the widespread exhibitionist tendencies in the sock puppet game, even masked accounts would probably post content or in a pattern which outed themselves to the vigilant here.
posted by mdevore at 3:57 PM on December 18, 2006


"'... I'd still be upset at my cell phone carrier if I suddenly got half as many minutes to talk but paid the same rate.'
Only someone who either doesn't have a cell phone or someone who has not had one for long would make that statement, because that is what happens on a regular basis.
posted by dg at 5:18 PM CST on December 18[+][!]"

No, when this happens, you drop and switch companies or get a pre-paid because your cellular provider sucks. I think his point was valid. I feel like I'm being cheated. I don't ask questions on an average of over 1 per every 2 weeks, but when I do ask questions I tend to ask a couple in a 2 week period.

If you want to limit questions, give people one every two weeks, but allow them to roll over from one week to the next. Then clear them out (say, leave at most 3 in their account) every 3-6 months. This will both lower the number of posts, and prevent any waves of posting from a mass killing of accrued posts every month/year.
posted by tdreyer1 at 3:58 PM on December 18, 2006


why do you need to read all the questions?

You've got it backwards. The point isn't that, for your entertainment, you should be able to read every question. The point is, to provide better answers, we want more users to see each question.

The idea is, "Fewer Questions = Better Answers."

the only measuring stick should be whether people are getting useful answers

This is where the idea of "Best Answer" creates problems. Sometimes, there exists one correct answer (e.g., "Help me remember the name of this book"). More often, AskMe questions can benefit from being answered more than twice. The first person's answer jogs a memory in the second person, whose answer prods a third person into responding, and his insight causes the first person to clarify a comment.

Again, the idea is that your cooking question is more likely to be answered by a professional chef if it doesn't scroll off the front page in 3 hours — but also that input from five professional chefs would be even better.
posted by cribcage at 4:13 PM on December 18, 2006


tdreyer1: cheated out of what? I'm really confused by this entire argument. I don't remember signing a contract with Mefi Inc.
posted by muddgirl at 4:17 PM on December 18, 2006


I can admit the 14days is disheartening, but I can live with it. I do agree that if people did not post search engine questions that would be better.

Dios : on a side note I don't know much about tracking IP addresses and such, but my roommates and girlfriend frequently use each others computers to check Mefi. No sockpuppets to my knowledge and we don't post for each other. I hope Matt and Jess do not think we are evil.

nebulawindphone : I completely agree that an increased first post waiting period would benefit everyone. When I originally found this web site I did not join for a long time but rather enjoyed learning how to go through the old questions. I discovered so much knowledge.

To throw my own two cents in, and be a complete hypocrite since I posted this, some questions do not need more than a few answers. A few mediocre answers can even help a person solve their question. Yet still, there are the answers that need a little backing to give the poster confidence in an answer.
posted by thetenthstory at 4:22 PM on December 18, 2006


muddgirl: Sorry; I thought it was moderately self explanatory... Not cheated in a "you're not holding up your end of the contract" sort of way, but more of a "hey?! I though I was getting _____ but I only get 0.5*_____!? WTF?"
posted by tdreyer1 at 4:29 PM on December 18, 2006


The idea is, "Fewer Questions = Better Answers."

I think we will find this to be untrue, personally. If I am wrong, I'll happily admit it, but if I am right, I hope we can go back to more questions. Because sometimes I'm really bored.
posted by dame at 4:54 PM on December 18, 2006


"FWIW, I check AskMeFi everyday after work (around 6-7PM EST). I never look at AskMeFi during work, so the last time I visited was last night around this time (perhaps a couple hours later). There were only 45 new questions that I hadn't seen, as opposed to the usual 80-100. FWIW."

This is a very bad week to use for comparison because it's the week before Christmas and volume for most online forums drops at this time. (Here in Seattle things are even quieter since so many people have had no electricity for the last few days.) So a drop in volume today and until after New Year's proves absolutely nothing. Why not wait and fip the switch then if you're going to do it? Christmastime will be quiet anyway.

I've said many times that this change should not be made, and I'll say it again. There were a lot of complainers in here wanting fewer questions and criticizing every type of question they don't like. But it's the complainers that generally speak up -- the people who are happy with the status quo do not speak up as often or as loudly.

More questions and better categorizing, that would be great. Fewer questions so they can all fit on the front page? That's backwards.
posted by litlnemo at 5:02 PM on December 18, 2006


Yeah, upon reflection, I agree with mediareport and litlnemo in that the next three to four weeks are probably not representative of a normal MeFi week. But kudos to Matt and Jess for trying something new. What's the worst that happens, really? A couple of questions that could've been asked aren't and if nothing changes, they flip the switch back.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:05 PM on December 18, 2006


The point is, to provide better answers, we want more users to see each question.

Yes, there is a point at which too many questions will reduce the quality of the answers. But that doesn't mean that it's necessary for every reader to see every question -- or even anywhere close to that.

I don't see any evidence that the number of questions has reduced the quality of the answers -- and i don't even see anyone in this thread arguing that it has.
posted by winston at 5:08 PM on December 18, 2006


Personally, I can't answer questions any better. I read them all and answer the ones I know. The obvious conclusions is that if there were more question, I could provide more answers.

As I've suggested before, it's the people who can't read all the questions that are really letting us down, not the people asking.
posted by smackfu at 5:13 PM on December 18, 2006


it's the complainers that generally speak up -- the people who are happy with the status quo do not speak up as often or as loudly.

This is a very difficult hypothesis to test, but one of the things that we do know is that it's impossible to make everyone on MetaFilter happy at once. This is something we're trying. It is supposed to address a few issues

- questions flying off the front page at breakneck speed and people feeling like if they ask a question at the wrong time of day no one will see it
- unanswered questions or questions with few answers
- people not asking throwaway questions just to use their one question per week. We don't see a lot of people doing this, but we do see some
- the "what if" question that was hangong over MetaTalk any time the above problems were mentioned.
- this is easier and kinder to the genral population than more extreme moderation. We'd rather be able to allow more mix cd and "name my fish" type questions and not feel that it was causing the above problems. Again, this is impossible to truly test.

This was a change we could make, and try, with a minimum of programming or complicated new rules to learn. As cribcage says "Fewer Questions = Better Answers." Also, it's the holiday season at Matt's and my place too and it seemed like a good time to roll something out that we thought might a) help people and b) lighten the load some.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:18 PM on December 18, 2006


I feel like I'm being cheated.
Thus confirming the oh-so-long-ago prophecy that, if people get asked to pay to gain membership in MeFi, they will consider themselves customers and start whining about the service.

To carry the cell phone analogy to a further excruciating point, how much service would you expect for five bucks? Sweet fuck all is how much. Well guess what? You've had your five bucks worth of service from MetaFilter (and then some), so anything you get from here on in is free. We all know that you only get what you pay for, so you should expect nothing more from MetaFilter than you are prepared to put in.
posted by dg at 5:24 PM on December 18, 2006


Anyone who has more questions, I recommend the SDMB. No limits at all.
posted by smackfu at 5:36 PM on December 18, 2006


In general, I don't have a huge problem with a two week wait; as others have pointed out, not many people post more frequently than this anyway. What I am worried about are the emergency or otherwise time-constrained questions that this prevents people from asking. I support the idea of "freebies," or some other means of asking an urgent question when otherwise they would have been unable to.

Also, jacquilynne's suggestion is strikingly similar to something I suggested just a few days ago. Obviously, I think this is a good idea.
posted by Spike at 5:39 PM on December 18, 2006


We'd rather be able to allow more mix cd and "name my fish" type questions and not feel that it was causing the above problems.

Sweet fucking Christ, why? Generally, I'm for lots of AskMes, but how on earth are these valuable questions? They are totally worthless, can be solved elsewhere, and, on top of all that, are boring. And you want to limit better questions so someone can choose more names for her fish?

Plus, do you in fact have any proof that fewer questions equals better answers? Is it not also possible that fewer questions equals more pointless guessing answers?

And again, NAME MY FISH????
posted by dame at 5:40 PM on December 18, 2006


no one has every presented a good argument for sockpuppets

I'll present one. Email me and I'll provide an answer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:54 PM on December 18, 2006


Anyone who has more questions, I recommend the SDMB. No limits at all.

In response to this comment, I finally went and had a look at SDMB and it looks like the perfect complement to AskMe. This 14 day limit thing made me realize that I really wanted somewhere more laid back to hang out sometimes and this seems to be it.
posted by teleskiving at 6:00 PM on December 18, 2006


There were a lot of complainers in here wanting fewer questions and criticizing every type of question they don't like.

Please don't conflate those of us who think 2 questions a month is a simple, useful limitation with the folks who delight in attacking certain kinds of questions they don't like. Thankee.

And this "questions don't get answered once they scroll off the front page" stuff really needs to be demonstrated. I just don't see it as a problem, given how easy it is to click to the 2nd and - GASP - even 3rd pages.
posted by mediareport at 6:01 PM on December 18, 2006


teleskiving - In response to this comment, I finally went and had a look at SDMB and it looks like the perfect complement to AskMe. This 14 day limit thing made me realize that I really wanted somewhere more laid back to hang out sometimes and this seems to be it.

This is the exact sort of thing I was talking about a couple days ago when this subject came up. People aren't going to be able to ask the questions they need answered, and thus take their business elsewhere.
posted by Spike at 6:30 PM on December 18, 2006


People aren't going to be able to ask the questions they need answered, and thus take their business elsewhere.

Oh, please. How many times do you have to hear that most folks don't even come close to 2 questions a month? This is such a minor change - symbolic, really, more than anything. I'm happy that it stops the few MUST...POST...EVERY...WEEK types, but honestly, it looks like very little else at the site is going to be affected.

Anyway, interesting that you have to pay $14.95 per year to post at the Straight Dope message boards after your 30-day guest membership runs out. Not bad, just interesting.
posted by mediareport at 6:41 PM on December 18, 2006


I just don't see it as a problem, given how easy it is to click to the 2nd and - GASP - even 3rd pages.

It is and it isn't. When there's tons of questions, stuff scrolls and people probably feel overwhelmed by the speed of it all. So they feel angry or "cheated" 'cause they think they're missing something 'cause too many boring questions are being asked (i.e. stuff they're interested in).

Askme exists to solve problems. But of course everyone has different types of problems and of course, theirs are a priority. It's always going to be a push and pull over what kind of questions get posted, how to answer and how many etc, etc.

Completely off the wall predication: Askme will eventually be seen as the forerunner of what ever comes after Google, i.e. an inteligent search engine either done with conscious bots, humans or a mixture of the two.

Until the 'bots take over and use us all as batteries. Thanks Matt.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:42 PM on December 18, 2006


mediareport - How many times do you have to hear that most folks don't even come close to 2 questions a month?

I understand that. In fact, I said that just a short while ago. What I'm talking about are the people who have already asked their alotted bimonthly question, when something urgent comes up.
posted by Spike at 6:56 PM on December 18, 2006


I should further clarify that I was suggesting that after a few times of this happening, people might get frustrated and go somewhere else. This would probably be considered bad for the community.
posted by Spike at 6:58 PM on December 18, 2006


As a question-a-week person, I fully support mathowie and jessamyn's intervention to my addiction.
posted by schroedinger at 7:01 PM on December 18, 2006


I have a suggestion.

If the main problem is that there are too many questions, so many that they're flying off the page, why not allow individual users to decide which categories of questions they want to read?

Some people are specialists. They have one category that interests them, one in which they can provide intelligent answers. So let them pick that category and read that one exclusively. Let "food and drink" be their entire AskMe experience. Some people hate particular types of questions. So if they can't stand TeenDramaFilter, they wouldn't be obligated to read "human relations." Some people are, as mentioned above, very bored at work. Let them read every question that pops up, if that's what they want.

What I had in mind was adding little checkboxes next to the category links off to the right. As it stands, you can look at one feed at a time but that's a little cumbersome and awkward. With these little checkboxes, you'd be able to combine four or five feeds and make them your own personalized AskMe. Or maybe one or two. Or every one of them.

I propose this in order to balance the depth and variety of questions that are now posed with some users' legitimate need not to feel overwhelmed.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:02 PM on December 18, 2006 [2 favorites]


Also--the only really urgent situations I can think of that would have no AskMe or Google precedents that could apply to the answer are probably medical ones. In which case you should be going to a doctor, anyway. And yes, I know, not everybody has insurance, but if you can't wait two weeks on it's not a question AskMe should be answering.
posted by schroedinger at 7:06 PM on December 18, 2006


...when something urgent comes up.

Goddamn, but I'm sick of reading that. You are sitting at your keyboard, talking to strangers on the Internet. This circumstance is incompatible with "urgency." If your question is urgent, turn off the computer.
posted by cribcage at 7:30 PM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


Goddamn, but I'm sick of reading that. You are sitting at your keyboard, talking to strangers on the Internet. This circumstance is incompatible with "urgency." If your question is urgent, turn off the computer.

I can't speak for anyone else who's said it, but I think you misunderstood me. I didn't mean a dire, life-threatening emergency, merely things that have a certain time frame, past which there's no point in asking.

In the interest of brevity, I left the following anecdote out of one of my earlier comments, but I'll include it now as an example:

Another user (who has asked to remain anonymous so I don't look like their mouthpiece) needed some advice on a rather specific Christmas gift project. It had not previously been covered on AskMe, and was a fairly esoteric subject that is not easily googled. These are the kind of questions MeFites excel at answering. Unfortunately, she had just asked a question a couple days ago, so under the new rules, she won't be able to ask again until after Christmas.
posted by Spike at 7:50 PM on December 18, 2006


So having a second account identified as such is equivalent to having Jewish people wear stars so they can be identified.

I thought twice about linking to that image because I thought some people might find it to be in bad taste. It did not occur to me, however, that anybody would be dimwitted enough to believe I was suggesting some sort of equivalency. Your idea to brand second accounts is like Nazi Germany in that you are scapegoating, segregating and generally making classist ass of yourself. A scarlet 'A' gif would have served the purpose I suppose, but really a Nazi image is more fitting than a Puritan one.

As for my "lame username", what does that (and the rest of your raving against sock puppet humor) have to do with anything in this thread? I missed the guideline that all humor must be dios approved. My profile clearly states who I am and has since I started using this name consistently. But if it didn't, so what? If I, or any of my legion of puppet minions, break the rules then the mods/metapolice will act accordingly. But if they are good citizens, then really it is none of your business who is pulling the strings.

And, please, for the love of Britney, save us the community crap. You spit on MetaFilter every chance you get. Unlike nearly everybody here, it's only a community to you when calling it such serves your purposes.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:59 PM on December 18, 2006


Now I'm curious. What percentage of the questions are asked by users who have asked a question within the previous 14 days?
posted by winston at 8:26 PM on December 18, 2006


Unfortunately, she had just asked a question a couple days ago, so under the new rules, she won't be able to ask again until after Christmas.

That's unfortunate. But that circumstance could just has easily have arisen 4 days later, in which case the 7-day rule would still have prohibited her from asking. Or she could have needed advice on two Christmas-related questions, in which case she'd only have been able to post one. There will always be an anecdote to prove the rule's exception, but that doesn't impeach the rule.

You've also pointed out a circumvention that has been used by others: If you absolutely need AskMe to help you bake that apple pie before your mother-in-law arrives at 6 o'clock, you can ask somebody else to post for you. It's been done before. If we're so concerned with building MetaFilter to be a "community," then don't be afraid to knock on your neighbor's door to borrow a cup of sugar.

That said, the Internet isn't for everything. It just isn't — and I'm amazed at the number of people who seem able to express outrage, with a straight face, about the fact that you have to wait 14 days between polling a bunch of strangers with your idle question.
posted by cribcage at 8:31 PM on December 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


/Dang it all.
//I had a question that I should have posted yesterday.
/Now I have to wait another 4 days.

Well, something like that.
posted by niles at 9:19 PM on December 18, 2006


There will always be an anecdote to prove the rule's exception, but that doesn't impeach the rule.

Yeah, and I understand that. I'm not arguing against the new rule, I'm advocating the same "emergency" freebies others have suggested, as I said earlier.

...I'm amazed at the number of people who seem able to express outrage, with a straight face, about the fact that you have to wait 14 days between polling a bunch of strangers with your idle question.

I'm not outraged, I'm just saying that I think it's a little irrational to assume that all questions on AskMe are "idle."
posted by Spike at 9:34 PM on December 18, 2006


Previous discussion of this issue on MetaTalk.

IMHO, it's a good idea to limit the volume of questions on Ask MetaFilter. mathowie could reprogram Ask MetaFilter to be exactly like Yahoo! Answers, but since it already exists, why bother?
posted by russilwvong at 9:38 PM on December 18, 2006


How about requiring a one line only statement of the problem:
"iPod is balky"
"how to make girlfriend's mom like me?"
"where to find piston for 1938 Ford?"
"recipe for fried kelp?"
"cow orker needs deodorant"


This exists, remember? Normally it's just the title of the question once you already have gone to the question. But this is also what you see (depending on your settings I suppose) when you read via RSS. I do think it would be helpful if this is what were shown on the front page, rather than the longer description, with a little triangly thingy to expand to a slightly longer summary. Then you actually click on the link to see the whole shebang.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 9:59 PM on December 18, 2006


My first instinct is to say that some sort of categorization or subaskmetafication would help. This point has already been made.

But thinking a bit harder makes me wonder if that's true. The "problem" is that questions are moving too quickly from the front page and presumably not being answered because they aren't noticed.

One way to see if this is the case is to see how the number of questions relates to the number of answers. If the number of answers doesn't scale linearly with the number of questions then that must mean there are questions being missed that could be answered.

So I did a quick and dirty analysis and here is a plot of Questions vs Answers (N=12).

It looks to me that even though the number of questions increase, the number of people answering questions increases as well. What bothers people is that there are too many questions for them to individually examine all of them. But that isn't a problem with respect to getting questions answered. Plenty of people are seeing the question, just in a shorter amount of time.

I still would go for some kind of web 2.0ish solution. Coloring questions by category might make it easier to scan the page. Or how about making the font size inversely related to the number of answers?
posted by euphorb at 11:29 PM on December 18, 2006


This is not good.
posted by JPowers at 11:50 PM on December 18, 2006


Why don't we, as a partial solution to the problem, try to improve the AskMe FAQ? It *might,* just might, help to limit the questions.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:59 AM on December 19, 2006


"Please don't conflate those of us who think 2 questions a month is a simple, useful limitation with the folks who delight in attacking certain kinds of questions they don't like. Thankee."

OK, they aren't always the same people, but there certainly is some overlap. I'm clearly on the other end of the spectrum because I'm for more questions and have no problem with mixtape and even chatfiltery questions. It's clear that some moderation is needed just to avoid the Yahoo! Answers situation, but being heavy-handed about it is not ideal. (Then you end up with something like Television Without Pity where everyone is scared to death of posting the wrong thing and getting yelled at. That's not my idea of a community. But then there are people who love the way TwoP is moderated, so people can obviously differ on these things.)
posted by litlnemo at 3:16 AM on December 19, 2006


IndigoRain: "Why don't we, as a partial solution to the problem, try to improve the AskMe FAQ? It *might,* just might, help to limit the questions."

Yeah, I bet a huge majority of the askers read the Mefi Wiki to make sure their question follows the guidelines.
posted by Plutor at 3:54 AM on December 19, 2006


I was talking about the page that gives links to frequently asked of metafilter questions. Post a link to it on the New Question page.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:31 AM on December 19, 2006


How many questions would that actually save? One a day, maybe?
posted by smackfu at 6:42 AM on December 19, 2006


Alvy Ampersand writes "Google Answers if you can't wait the 14 days"

Google shuttered Answers.

caddis writes "can we please amend this policy to include a few freebies that people can use when they have asked a question less than fourteen days ago but have a pressing need to ask another one?"

Just ask someone else to post it or even beg on MeCha.

smackfu writes "I recommend the SDMB. No limits at all."

Too bad their interface blows.
posted by Mitheral at 7:48 AM on December 19, 2006


I was actually making an unfunny funny re: the Google Answers.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:42 AM on December 19, 2006


Sorry.
posted by Mitheral at 12:51 PM on December 19, 2006


FWIW, I reported yesterday that the 24 total on my screen was 40 new posts, less than half of what it usually is. Today, 24 hours later, the new post total is 81. As far as two day anecdotes, the change was a wash. But I'm optimistic that people will eventually choose their questions more carefully.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:55 PM on December 19, 2006


Saving one post a day is better than nothing. It's 365 fewer posts per year. It's also one fewer repetitive thread for people to bitch about. At least it's something that WE can do, versus something only Matt and Jessamyn can do.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:49 PM on December 19, 2006


FWIW, I find now that I spend less time reading AskMe and it is less interesting. I use the RSS feed to review all the questions every day, so I'm not relying on how fast or slow questions "fall off" the front page. There's simply less -- in this case, less of a good thing, since I ignored the questions I classified as "bad things".

I am getting more work done in the day, or else watching more TV in the evenings. :-)
posted by Robert Angelo at 9:42 AM on December 20, 2006


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