The two-week waiting period January 2, 2007 9:59 PM   Subscribe

In which I posit that the two-week waiting period has had no impact on the volume of questions.
posted by knave to Etiquette/Policy at 9:59 PM (119 comments total)

Yeah, I dunno. AskMeFi is way too crowded. It'd be cool if it were just like, sensible questions, but folks are all vagina this and taste-me that. Don't get me wrong, I love vaginas, but AskMeFi has been really freaking crowded in the last 4 months. Yall probably came to this conclusion long before I got here though, so here's the salt shaker.
posted by BeerFilter at 10:10 PM on January 2, 2007


Yes. I would expect that, before the change, the percentage of questions asked by people who had asked a question within the previous 14 days was very small.

However, the quality of the response to questions seems to be excellent either way. The only reason to reduce the number of questions seems to be the idea that any one user should be able to read all the questions.
posted by winston at 10:12 PM on January 2, 2007


Knave, did you have anything to add? The two week waiting period went into effect three weeks ago. Were you going to present numbers or something?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:15 PM on January 2, 2007


No, I thought it was obvious. As I watched my question slide off the front page this evening, it hit me that the 2-week window didn't change a thing. So one's gotta wonder why we have it. It's such a governmental approach to a (non)problem.
posted by knave at 10:18 PM on January 2, 2007


I don't know, I honestly believe it has help reduce the flow. Usually I wake up in the morning to find that the new amount of questions to read is onto the next page, but these days it hardly ever is. Pueraly anecdotal, but that's how I feel.
posted by liquorice at 10:20 PM on January 2, 2007


Well, you could have at least added a little more so it didn't look like you fucked up the post and cut a bunch of text off. (this post, not your question)
posted by bob sarabia at 10:21 PM on January 2, 2007


So wait, do you just feel jibbed that your question only got four answers? I mean, it isn't the most scintillating of questions lingering about at the moment...
posted by liquorice at 10:21 PM on January 2, 2007


No, nothing personal like that.

And sorry for not coming here with data. Some of the overachievers here set the bar really high, I guess.
posted by knave at 10:23 PM on January 2, 2007


Besides, the entire site (not just Ask) was somewhat quiet throughout the holidays, and today things seemed to be back to normal. Maybe that's why it caught my attention.
posted by knave at 10:24 PM on January 2, 2007


Somewhat unscientific, but:
January 2, 2006: 61 questions
January 2, 2007: 73 questions
posted by knave at 10:30 PM on January 2, 2007


I was just thinking that actually, the holiday season and all that could have been what led to the dip in questions. However, I still think we need to give this a bit more time before we suggest whether it is or is not working.
posted by liquorice at 10:31 PM on January 2, 2007


And sorry for not coming here with data.

Oh, like that EVER stops anyone...
posted by frogan at 10:35 PM on January 2, 2007


Somewhat unscientific, but:

Somewhat... How many more users are there from Jan 2006 to Jan 2007? If user growth was high then your same numbers are telling us that the 2 week limit is working.
posted by event at 10:40 PM on January 2, 2007


How about we wait until a couple months go by, then I can run some numbers to see if anything changed.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:42 PM on January 2, 2007


NO! I want rash action now! or.. er, barring that perhaps a nice ice-cream sandwich... mmm ice-cream, what was I talking about again?
posted by edgeways at 10:52 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe we should split the site into AskMe and IWriteLongStoriesAndSeekValidationMe.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:59 PM on January 2, 2007 [17 favorites]


it might be simpler to call that shutupShutUpSHUTUPMe, allen (I know, I got no place to be talking...)
posted by nanojath at 11:08 PM on January 2, 2007


On that note, we could use some more flameouts around here. If we decrease the amount of time it takes for questions (minus sockpuppet effect), would the number of flameouts rise significantly?
All in the name of statistics, of course.
posted by lilithim at 11:11 PM on January 2, 2007


I was just thinking to myself that it had actually slowed the torrent. Hmph. This thread needs more statistics.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:11 PM on January 2, 2007


I think it has slowed the torrent and this dismays me, as it provides me with less reading material. Poo, I say.
posted by stray at 11:28 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


How many more users are there from Jan 2006 to Jan 2007?

Folks who joined at the beginning of last January have user numbers around 31600. We're now over user number 47000. Since Matt says only about a third of those are real new users, we've still probably added over 5,000 members during the same year the number of January AskMe questions jumped from 61 to 73. I think we're doing ok.

None of that is relevant, though, to last month's increase to a 2-week wait, though. Thinking it is goes way beyond "somewhat unscientific" into uncharted mystical territory.
posted by mediareport at 11:35 PM on January 2, 2007


Oops. I meant 21600. But never mind.
posted by mediareport at 11:37 PM on January 2, 2007


Aargh. I hate year changes. Really never mind this time.
posted by mediareport at 11:48 PM on January 2, 2007


Of course not. It's the "Long Tail". The vast majority of questions are written by posters asking months apart. Only a small minority wrote a question within a week.

So upping the question time limit only reduced the number of actual questions by a small amount.
posted by delmoi at 11:50 PM on January 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know what would be really cool? An AskMe sidebar. I don't usually mind missing the "my computer don't work plz help" questions, but some questions I hate to miss because they roll over before I'm aware they exist or before they get really interesting. I would love to be able to get the highlights from, say, a week or so.
posted by MadamM at 12:05 AM on January 3, 2007


I agree with MadamM, and for the same reasons, I don't think that there are too many questions. I just don't care about all the questions that get posted, so I skim over those ones.

Although it is a shame to see the interesting questions get buried, especially if the question was asked during a non-peak time it gets the full brunt of the new questions posted during peak times.
posted by philomathoholic at 1:10 AM on January 3, 2007


I've got a great idea for AskMe! As well as the normal comment-posting box, there should be a drop-down menu of default replies. Maybe a list like this:

1. See a lawyer
2. See a doctor
3. See a doctor, YOU IDIOT
4. Isn't the whole point of giving someone a damn mixtape that you CHOSE IT YOURSELF?
5. a link to a Google search for all nouns in the question
6. You will never lose weight
7. Dump him/her
8. Dump on him/her
9. Ladder theory
10. That 'how to hide a body' post reproduced in full
11. I don't know, something about circumcision and cats.

Anyone whose question gathered more than a couple of these would get the idea pretty quickly.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 1:13 AM on January 3, 2007 [11 favorites]


I think maybe adding something along the lines of
If this is a personal problem (i.e. relationships, life decisions, working from home, etc), then please read through the AskMe to see if something related has been asked. Your problems are not as unique as you think they are.
to the post form might help.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:48 AM on January 3, 2007


I want more posts, but with better view filtering. Give me an option to exclude ultraspecific questions like "help me remember ____ from my childhood," and "I have 24 hours in ____, what do I do" and I think the issue of questions rolling off the front page too soon is solved.

[You may exclude other questions, if you enjoy these types of questions. The point is, we need to filter views.]
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:59 AM on January 3, 2007


I like Deathalicious's idea. Maybe add something along the lines of "Ask Metafilter is not your echo chamber, don't use us to validate your preconceived and likely stupid answer."

Upping the waiting period to post for new accounts to a month might also be a good idea. Force the noobs to get settled first (or forget all about us if they were a moron), and discourage sockpuppeteering.

The questions posted by people who used to ask every 7 days always weren't a huge volume, but they sure were terrible questions, and abusive of the site.
posted by blasdelf at 4:27 AM on January 3, 2007


As I watched my question slide off the front page this evening

Man, if only there was a way to read pages that went off the front page. Some sort of "page 2" or something.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:32 AM on January 3, 2007


Your problems are not as unique as you think they are.

No one ever thinks the "you" in this sentence actually applies to them (myself included). I doubt adding this language would result in anything besides snarky comments linking to similar questions. Unless, of course, matamyn reinforced it with deletions--but it still wouldn't reduce the number of people who hit 'post.'

We should really just wait for a few months to see what the numbers look like with the effect of the waiting period increase. But I still think the better solution is to increase the hurdle for new members to ask questions (either in number of days or number of non-deleted answers).
posted by mullacc at 4:43 AM on January 3, 2007


As I watched my question slide off the front page this evening

Man, if only there was a way to read pages that went off the front page. Some sort of "page 2" or something


Knave's talking about the poor odds of getting an answer on an inside page, not the difficulty of reading there. Pile on much?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:18 AM on January 3, 2007


If only there were a way to review questions you might be interested in answering, say by category or tag.

All snark aside, though, too many people read AskMefi chronologically, like the blue or the gray. Perhaps we need some better sorting or filtering options?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:26 AM on January 3, 2007


Of course, askers need to be conscious of the most obvious tags and categories to use. This question, for example, misses the mark on both.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:29 AM on January 3, 2007


In which I proffer really promoting use of the 'stumped' tag, quickly adding an AskMe tab for it, and thanks for your quality time.
posted by carsonb at 6:29 AM on January 3, 2007


Statistical evidence, as requested.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:00 AM on January 3, 2007


Seconding the request for better sorting / filtering options for the front page and, ideally, the RSS feed.

I really liked the idea that was proposed a few months ago, where the categories in the right-hand sidebar all had checkboxes next to them. Each box was checked by default (showing all posts) but could easily be unchecked if, for instance, you were uninterested in seeing questions in the "Technology" category. Checked/unchecked state would be remembered across sessions, perhaps stored in the user profile.

As for the RSS feed, if the question's MeFi category were included within the item's RSS "category" tag then RSS users could filter categories in the same manner.
posted by blag at 7:19 AM on January 3, 2007


The real problem, as it is in almost all situations that come up on metatalk, is that there are too many users.
posted by bingo at 7:20 AM on January 3, 2007


To my mind, I see fewer questions now. I use the RSS feed showing the questions from the last 24 hours. Some days there have only been one or two dozen at most. If these questions don't interest me and I can't provide an answer, then I move on. So, I always skimmed through all the questions, but now that there are fewer of them, the site is less interesting to me and I spend less time here.
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:23 AM on January 3, 2007


Why not increase the number of answers that appear on the first page? IE, set it to 36 hours or something. If this weighs on the server, I recommened reducing the amount of posts that appear on the front page of the blue. People are much more likely to go back on the blue to find stuff that interests them should they need to, than back on the green.

I, for one, never go back on the blue and check in so often I barely scroll beyond 24 hours worth of posts. I suspect a large percentage of us work the same way.
posted by dobbs at 7:25 AM on January 3, 2007


Make the list of unanswered questions the default, or just list all questions within the last 36 hours by order of the number of answers. This both increases the prominence of unanswered questions for people to resond to, and makes longer threads which have been answered and started to devolve into chatfilter.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:42 AM on January 3, 2007


*makes longer threads which have been answered and started to devolve into chatfilter lower on the visibility rank.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:43 AM on January 3, 2007


"People are much more likely to go back on the blue to find stuff that interests them should they need to, than back on the green."

Exactly the opposite for me. There's often too much good stuff on the blue, so I get kinda bogged down (it's a good quagmire). Whereas, I'll just skip reading most of the questions I can't answer or am not interested in on the green (I wish there was a contraction for am not. Amn't?).
posted by klangklangston at 7:51 AM on January 3, 2007


I wish there was a contraction for am not. Amn't?.

I ain't sure, but I think there is one.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:55 AM on January 3, 2007


Maybe my reading habits are unusual or maybe I am just fatalistic but I think things are going pretty well right now. On any community site there is going to be a portion of dedicated contributing members alongside a greater portion of noise. You just have to hone your ability to tune out the noise. If you haven't developed this skill by this point then the Web must be a giant, overwhelming, scary mess to you.

I personally like when there is more than one page of ask posts to read. (No I really do not have anything better to do.) I skim the subject lines, and on a typical page I might only read 50-60% of the posts. I might comment on a third to half of those. There isn't a maximum number of posts per day or week, so it's not like the existence of bad or uninteresting posts precludes the ones that interest and engage me. And it's important to make that distinction -- just because it doesn't do anything for you doesn't make it a bad question, and it's always your choice to ignore things that don't speak to you. Truly bad questions -- previously posted, or chatfilter, or badly worded, or inappropriate -- just don't seem as common to me as it sounds in this thread.

The posting form has a high-profile search box and warnings to first look for previous posts on your subject. Just like anything in the world, there will always be people who ignore good sense and standards and make their post anyway. It's a hazard of having a site that's open to anyone (with five bucks.) It's also why the site has people who moderate its use.

There are frequent complaints on meta about heavy-handed moderation; there are almost as many complaints about the perceived high volume of crap posts on ask. So which is it that you really want?
posted by loiseau at 8:23 AM on January 3, 2007


I really wish people with too much to do would stop trying to ruin it for us slacking losers. Go climb a mountain or something. Or feed homeless people. Whatever.
posted by dame at 8:28 AM on January 3, 2007


Previously.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:38 AM on January 3, 2007


the volume of questions is big because this once-small site has now almost 50,000 user accounts, it's silly to try to run away from reality. AskMe is more successful than MeFi, generates more traffic and, I guess, more revenue, good for AskMe. It's already weird that we can post every day in the blue and every 14 days in the green. Getting to the point where the ratio for posts in the blue vs posts in the green becomes every day vs every 21 days is just nuts.

If Matt decides for a 3-week waiting period in the green, I suggest that it's only fair that he also adds a one-week waiting period for front page posts in the blue.
posted by matteo at 8:59 AM on January 3, 2007


When did fair enter into it? Obviously, though, you're right about the increased number of posts as an inevitable consequence of the increased number of users. No one denies that; the question is, how can we give each question a fair shot at attracting good answers before it slips below the fold or even off the front page?
posted by Mister_A at 9:12 AM on January 3, 2007


The people who won't click through to page 2 are the people you didn't want answering your question anyway.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:16 AM on January 3, 2007


How about a 30-year posting delay so we can skip all the useless quarter-life-crisis questions?
posted by GuyZero at 9:28 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Let the culling begin!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:55 AM on January 3, 2007


Back in the 70's, during the great oil embargo, they rationed gasoline based on the last digit in your license plate : those with even numbers could buy on even days; those with odd numbers could purchase on odd days.

That was an idea whose time has come again!

Everyone with an even user number can post in January.
Everyone with an odd user number can post in February.
Then we wait until next year to start all over again.

This idea will definitely stem the tide, at least once March rolls around.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:07 AM on January 3, 2007


"This thread needs more statistics."

But isn't this that "truthiness" thing I've been hearing so much about?
posted by Eideteker at 10:12 AM on January 3, 2007


based on the last digit in your license plate

Crap, mine ends in "J".
posted by GuyZero at 10:13 AM on January 3, 2007


I can't remember how they dealt with people who had letters in their license plates, but it's irrelevant. If your user number ends in a J, I think you're on the wrong website.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:24 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some sort of "page 2" or something

Noooo thanks. I don't need Paul Harvey trying to sell me a mattress, or some sorta vitamin.
posted by evilcolonel at 10:26 AM on January 3, 2007


Dave Faris/GuyZero for moderator in '08!
posted by Kwine at 10:29 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have a backlog of questions waiting for my two weeks to run out. One of them: Did Hitler have a cat? He had a dog, but what about a cat?

I will probably never ask this question because I will think of something more urgent every single time my two weeks is up, and that's probably for the best. In this instance, the system works! No stupid cat questions!

(I miss stupid cat questions.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:41 AM on January 3, 2007


My vote is that the best metric would be how long a post stays on the front page. It seems like it would be fairly easy to assess that.
posted by jasper411 at 10:54 AM on January 3, 2007


I crunched the numbers last time this was discussed. The take home message is that there are more people answering questions, as well as asking, so every question still gets answered just as well as before. AskMefi is still scaling well from the point of view of getting questions answered.

Here is the plot of questions verus answers that tells you all you need to know.
posted by euphorb at 11:22 AM on January 3, 2007


klangklangston, "ain't" is the contraction for "am not".
posted by owhydididoit at 11:50 AM on January 3, 2007


stupidsexyflanders!
posted by owhydididoit at 11:52 AM on January 3, 2007


Or "I'm not", which is almost as short.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 12:36 PM on January 3, 2007


I'm not.
posted by Wolof at 12:38 PM on January 3, 2007


In the same way that 2 is almost as small a number as 1. The fact is that ain't is the natural and original abbreviation for am not; it continues to amaze me that the pseudo-grammarians have had such success at demonizing it (for reasons I've never understood), in contrast to their pathetic failure at all the other bullshit they've tried to foist on the beleaguered speakers of English.
posted by languagehat at 12:41 PM on January 3, 2007


So what is "ain't" short for in this sentence: "This ain't my first time at the rodeo."
posted by popechunk at 12:46 PM on January 3, 2007


I have noticed lately that AskMe post are showing up in the top ten results to many of my Google searches.
posted by mds35 at 12:53 PM on January 3, 2007


So what is "ain't" short for in this sentence: "This ain't my first time at the rodeo."

Is that an actual question? It's short for is not. (If your point is that it can't mean 'am not' because it also means 'is not,' you must have a hard time with language in general.)
posted by languagehat at 12:58 PM on January 3, 2007


Are them data real data, euphorb? I'd've thunk that, with the "surface area" (page 1 real estate) staying constant, and the "volume" (number of users) increasing, the number of answers per question would decline as the rate of askage increased, since increased askage rates means decreased front-page exposure rates. And I'd've been wrong for thinking that! If yer data are real and representative.
posted by Mister_A at 12:59 PM on January 3, 2007


Ok, I'm *REALLY* sorry to post something on topic between all of the pedantic language crap, backpatting, bunnies with pancakes, wishes for the img tag, etc...

It seems to me that the question volume is going to be at or close to the same level no matter how often someone's going to post, because it doesn't do anything to raise the barrier of entry, and indeed may reduce the quality of questions on the site as users find that they can't depend on having a post to the green available, and find another home for their questions.

Knave's post is still correct in that the amount of time that a post lives on the front page of ask.me isn't correct. The filters and search options on the front page seem very rudimentary. It'd be nice to be able to filter the front page by some sort of category (digg-style), etc.

And JessaHowie, can we please have some cruft-control on metatalk threads like we have in the blue and green? I'm tired of reading through comments like the last six or so when I'd like to have some good discussion of a topic that's affecting the community.

There's several solutions that were posited in a more recent thread. I'd start looking at them, because we KNOW this community is going to keep growing.

It's about damned time that we stop sticking our heads in the sand and thinking it won't grow and do some planning and thinking about how to deal with that growth.
posted by SpecialK at 1:19 PM on January 3, 2007


(Sorry, Mister_A, your post doesn't count in the 'cruft' category... although I'll add that the reasons that numbers may be skewed include people signing up sockpuppet accounts to get more posts per period, users like myself who make a bajillion answers and ask relatively few questions, and people who are quite the opposite. I don't think that the questions/answers/users ratios can be modeled in a linear or other logical fashion without introducing more variables.)
posted by SpecialK at 1:21 PM on January 3, 2007


And JessaHowie, can we please have some cruft-control on metatalk threads like we have in the blue and green?

Yes, we should require motions, seconds, yays, and nays. Rules of order everywhere and everywhere will be in order. Q.E.motherfuckingD.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:27 PM on January 3, 2007


And JessaHowie, can we please have some cruft-control on metatalk threads like we have in the blue and green? I'm tired of reading through comments like the last six or so when I'd like to have some good discussion of a topic that's affecting the community.

I sure hope this is a joke, but if it's not, please let me know so I can derail more vigorously and hopefully cause you to turn red in the face and flame out.
posted by languagehat at 1:31 PM on January 3, 2007


I'm sorry to keep asking this (and to return to topic) but has it in fact been proven that there are too many questions?
posted by dame at 1:36 PM on January 3, 2007


that any one user should be able to read all the questions

I read all the questions. Every single one of them. And if I have an answer for one of them that seems relevant and hasn't been posted I'll post it, even if the question is no longer on the first page.

Do we really have an abundance of unanswered questions overlooked because of volume? Because I don't see it.
posted by shelleycat at 1:44 PM on January 3, 2007


Read faster.
posted by unknowncommand at 1:48 PM on January 3, 2007


Thank you Speaker. I'd like to respectfully disagree with the fine gentleman from Undisclosed Location and hosted from Uranus.
posted by odinsdream at 1:55 PM on January 3, 2007


I'll give the balance of my time to the next poster.
posted by odinsdream at 1:55 PM on January 3, 2007


If we're looking for ways to cut down on the number of questions (I'm definitely not convinced there are too many), a mandatory 24-hour waiting period could work. You'd type up your question, hit submit, then one day later you'd have to click another button to actually have the question show up. This would encourage people to actually do some work since it'd be faster to find the answer themselves than to wait for the question to show up and get answered. All of the "Help Urgent!" questions tend to suck anyway.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:58 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


has it in fact been proven that there are too many questions?

Well since "too many" is a judgment call, no. It's unprovable and this is not math class, it's a dorky website. However people had been complaining that questions flew off the front page and this was one attempt to see what we could do about that.

We also thought that upping the time between questions might cause people to more seriously consider their questions leading to fewer easily-Googleable questions, more attention to their questions and less "me and my buddies are trying to settle a bet, who is hotter redheads or blondes" type questions. If that's you question and it's important, then you should ask it, but you'll have to wait two weeks for your next one. My gut feeling is that while the quantity hasn't changed noticably, the quality seems to have, which is just another subjective viewpoint, but AskMe seems to require less attention, runs itself better, etc.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:01 PM on January 3, 2007


I'd've thunk that, with the "surface area" (page 1 real estate) staying constant, and the "volume" (number of users) increasing, the number of answers per question would decline as the rate of askage increased, since increased askage rates means decreased front-page exposure rates.

Not really. The increasing volume of users means more people asking questions as well as more people answering questions. They balance out exactly. The length of time a question stays on the front page doesn't matter because there are so many people reading AskMefi at the same hours questions are being asked.
posted by euphorb at 2:08 PM on January 3, 2007


0xFCAF's idea is actually a curious one. By delaying the gratification of having someone else answer the question for you, people may be more inclined to first find the answer for themselves. I think most things probably are not so terribly urgent that they couldn't wait a day.
posted by that girl at 2:18 PM on January 3, 2007


Buy a few sock puppets and you'll be able to post as many questions as you want.
posted by bshort at 2:19 PM on January 3, 2007


Hey that makes sense euphorb. Problem solved!
posted by Mister_A at 2:23 PM on January 3, 2007


It's unprovable and this is not math class, it's a dorky website. However people had been complaining that questions flew off the front page and this was one attempt to see what we could do about that.

Okay, let me rephrase that: Are there any compelling arguments that there are too many questions? Or are people just convinced that if their questions sat on the front page longer they would get more answers? Because there are certainly threads that continue to live on past the front page and I don't know that people aren't getting answers. I guess I just don't see how you were all convinced that this was a problem outside complaining, which is not a very useful barometer, in my opinion. And last time you said you wanted to free up room for idiotic questions (see: name my X), so I didn't get an impression that this was a quality thing.

I understand the idea that you think this is a problem because you got tired of hearing people bitch, but all these structural fixes seem a little over the top and not very helpful. And it would be a shame to go around changing things just because of incorrect perceptions.
posted by dame at 3:03 PM on January 3, 2007


Buy a few sock puppets and you'll be able to post as many questions as you want.

Why does this keep coming up? Matt has said repeatedly that he frowns on folks getting second accounts to get around the AskMe posting limits.
posted by mediareport at 3:11 PM on January 3, 2007


"Yes, we should require motions, seconds, yays, and nays. Rules of order everywhere and everywhere will be in order. Q.E.motherfuckingD."

Point of order, point of order!

No, not really.

Ain't would work perfectly in the sentence above (I'm not would have been clumsy) but it has an informal flavor that I didn't intend there.

"My gut feeling is that while the quantity hasn't changed noticably, the quality seems to have, which is just another subjective viewpoint, but AskMe seems to require less attention, runs itself better, etc."

Confirmation bias. Seriously. There are just as many dumb questions as ever.
Though I'm loathe to say it, the actual answer is more moderation, not structural rejiggering. And I'm a liberal— I love structural answers.
I know that more moderation means more MeTa whining, but y'know, that could be dealt with too— by axing stupid MeTas with a vengance. There would be an initial surge, but when they all got the cold hand of instadeath on 'em, people would learn and dry up.
posted by klangklangston at 3:16 PM on January 3, 2007


The two-week waiting period sucks and continues to suck. It has not made AskMe a better site.

Mathowie, Jessamyn, I understand that the new waiting period is a bit of an experiment. At what point do we say, "experiment failed?"
posted by Afroblanco at 3:22 PM on January 3, 2007


My personal view has been that it has reduced strain on the page, but over the holidays, when I was bored at work, the questions would seem to crawl by.
posted by drezdn at 3:24 PM on January 3, 2007


And yet again, I ask the question - why can't we just make the page longer?
posted by Afroblanco at 3:28 PM on January 3, 2007


It goes to 11.
posted by dame at 3:34 PM on January 3, 2007


who is hotter redheads or blondes

Depends who's on top.
posted by Cyrano at 3:53 PM on January 3, 2007


And finally, I must question the assumption upon which this whole debate rests - has it, in fact, been proven that an increased volume of AskMe posts leads to a greater percentage of unanswered or poorly-answered AskMe posts?

I know that there were a bunch of complaints to the effect of "my question fell off to page too soon, and as a result, was never answered." However, from what I can tell, unanswered or poorly-answered questions have always been a part of AskMe. I think that it is quite possible that the number of unanswered or poorly-answered questions increases in proportion to the number of questions asked. Thus, a greater volume of questions would lead to a greater number of complaints, but not necessarily a less-useful site.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:54 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


AskMe is fantastic. It started off fantastic and it continues to be fantastic.

However, a technical solution to the issue of overcrowding may be to ...
- Add a "not many answers" section to the javascript tab bar at the top. (Next to unanswered).
- Default to this option.

A list of all questions will also be available (via "recent posts") and the tags and search functions will allow people to find answers to questions they're interested in, but those questions which have spawned a glut of answers will be excluded from that initial view. This *may* force people to focus on those questions which still need answers and keep the amount of information overload down.
posted by seanyboy at 4:23 PM on January 3, 2007


Again, why? Maybe some questions have few answers because they are bad questions or because they are specialized. Why force people into looking at them?
posted by dame at 4:41 PM on January 3, 2007


Or maybe there are other reasons.
Like the question was asked at a time when America sleeps, or the question is difficult and needs that *one* person who knows to answer it.

dame: You should be asking "Why Not?"
This is a simple way of giving all questions a shot at an answer. And personally, I'd rather be answering questions (not that I do much of that recently) that need answering instead of the questions which bulge with a multitude of usually correct answers.
posted by seanyboy at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2007


However, a technical solution to the issue of overcrowding may be to ...
- Add a "not many answers" section to the javascript tab bar at the top. (Next to unanswered).


Simpler to sort by number of answers. Then you'd only need one tab for both "unanswered" and "not many answers".

- Default to this option.

Aye.
posted by timeistight at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2007


Add a "not many answers" section to the javascript tab bar at the top. (Next to unanswered).

"not many answers" is meaningless. Some specific questions are answered very quickly and need no further elaboration. Some questions have lots of debate and many answers and still don't get solved. The only things unambiguous is no answers at all (obviously unanswered) and marked as best answer (definitely a decent answer given, assuming the OP is using the feature correctly). Even then it's possible that I have something useful to add to a already answered question, I'm pretty sure the one answer I got sidebarred was to a question already with a best answer.

We can already see the definitely unanswered questions via the tab and there is no reason to differentiate out the others. So changing that aspect is pointless.

Extra filtering or proper use of tags would make it easier to find questions I'm interested in, sure, and I would probably support such a change (most likely while ignoring it and still reading everything). But that's a different problem than unanswered questions and I'm not convinced there's really a problem there anyway.
posted by shelleycat at 5:03 PM on January 3, 2007


OK - Tried to go to bed, but this is nagging me. Not that I've any reason to be bothered about it, but hey - what you gonna do.

timeistight: Changing the order won't bring items which have dropped off the bottom of the page back onto the page. As a default, it also wouldn't give people the ability to easily see what new questions have been asked.

re: "not many answers". I started off thinking about "<1 0 answers, but i deliberately made it less definite for a number of reasons. br> 1) If you need to change the number, then you can without people moaning about it.
2) You could potentially make it variable based on the activity on the site.
3) I read somewhere that phrases like this make more cognitive sense. Don't know where, but it impressed me at the time. It's not exactly the same, but compare with slashdot karma and the other unremembered software that does this to *great social effect*
4) Not many answers has a greater emotional resonance than <1 0 answers. br> In summary: It's meaningless for a purpose.

on specialisation: I would imagine that the askme questions which provide the greatest revenue for metafilter are those which are specialised. I'd posit that specialised questions are good and specialised answered questions are better. Part of the initial success of PVRBlog was due to the extremely narrow focus of the site. Other people have said the same. The best place to advertise is on the one page which talks directly about the problem that page describes.

On questions which need a lot of elaboration. This may be so, but most of the most popular questions are either fluff "My boyfriend doesn't like me" style questions or they're answered pretty fully within the first few comments. There is a tradeoff between highlighting questions which haven't been answered because of the speed of new questions and those which brab everyones attention. I think the preference is personal.

I've reviewed my earlier comment, and I think that I was going a bit too far. If the "unanswered questions" tab was changed to "not many answers" and this was *not* used as the default, then I think the front page of AskMe would be substantially better for question answering. This is a subjective opinion, obviously. I'd be more than happy to click into ask me, and then click into the tab. I suspect that the people who do answer questions would also not mind doing this. In this situation, the initial experience would be kept, and I suspect that the development of the project would be a lot easier.

OK - I'm sure I had a bunch more stuff to say, but I can't remember my other points. It's 1:30am and I know I'm going to be obsessing about this for a while longer.
posted by seanyboy at 5:31 PM on January 3, 2007


Wow - Weird breaks added for no reason.
Serves me right for trying to say "<10"
posted by seanyboy at 5:34 PM on January 3, 2007


timeistight: Changing the order won't bring items which have dropped off the bottom of the page back onto the page. As a default, it also wouldn't give people the ability to easily see what new questions have been asked.

Why not? It could sort the last day, week, month, whatever. It's completely arbitrary – whatever mathowie decides.
posted by timeistight at 6:03 PM on January 3, 2007


This is a hilarious thread simply for the reason outlined in jessamyn's first post.
posted by schroedinger at 6:07 PM on January 3, 2007


Metafilter: all vagina this and taste-me that
posted by The Deej at 6:25 PM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey why not make the front page of AskMe, like, a thousand questions, then there will be fewer complaints about questions scrolling off the front page too quickly.
posted by The Deej at 6:26 PM on January 3, 2007


"The next thing I say will be my theory about the brontosaurus." ::ahem:: "The brontosaurus is something I have a theory about, and here it is." ::cough:: "My next statement will be regarding..."
posted by The Deej at 6:30 PM on January 3, 2007


I suggest that the order of questions on the page be randomized on each refresh.
posted by dhruva at 6:38 PM on January 3, 2007


It would be silly to change 'no answers' to 'not many' (with any number you care to put in there, I have no issue with the specific phrase or what it means), because there is no way to tell if a question with whatever not many you've chosen really needs more or better answers and there's no reason why a question with only a few answers is more worthy of attention than one with a lot of answers. This might be different if best answer was marked the second the questioners needs were fulfilled, as then you could filter out those with the single correct answer in the first five or whatever, but this doesn't happen (and can't anyway unless each questioner is tied to the computer until their needs are met).

The only thing for sure is that if there are no answers it still needs an answer. Once you get into numbers greater than zero each question is different and it gets muddy and any arbitrary system very quickly becomes meaningless. Much better to spend effort letting people see only the questions they are interested in (e.g. filtering) than mess around with meaningless numbers.

I looked at the unanswered tab for the first time today and wasn't at all surprised by any of them. They were mostly very specific and often very short and undescriptive. Some of them would have done better by putting more on the front page and less inside while others probably wouldn't have gotten an answer under any circumstances because we simply don't know. I didn't spend a lot of time going over them or whatever, but I didn't see anything obvious that would have done better with more time on the front page.

I have no problem with the current two week wait. Lets give it some time and see how it actually works.
posted by shelleycat at 7:19 PM on January 3, 2007


Add a "not many answers" section to the javascript tab bar at the top.

Hey, that's a great idea.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:29 PM on January 3, 2007


It seems to me that interesting questions continue to get answers well after they are off the front page. Also, the number of answers does not necessarily mean the questions is not good. I would say I only answer about a fourth of the questions I feel qualified to chime in on, because my answer is the same or not as good as an answer already given. If there is only one answer, but it's THE answer, what's to add? I often go several pages previous if I have not read AskMe in a couple days.
posted by The Deej at 8:53 PM on January 3, 2007


It's about damned time that we stop sticking our heads in the sand and thinking it won't grow and do some planning and thinking about how to deal with that growth.
posted by SpecialK


See a doctor.

all vagina this and taste-me that

According to a blind-folded taste test conducted by four out of five dentists, a lot of folks' here taste like sand.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:23 PM on January 3, 2007


you must have a hard time with language in general

Bah, I don't know what the hell I was thinking. Thanks for the slap, I needed it.
posted by popechunk at 9:54 PM on January 3, 2007


Are there any compelling arguments that there are too many questions? ... I guess I just don't see how you were all convinced that this was a problem outside complaining

Are there any compelling arguments that two weeks is such an incredible burden? I don't see how it's a problem outside of complaining. You "two-week waiting period sucks and continues to suck" whiners are even worse than us "we miss the image tag" whiners and, damn, we are fucking annoying.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 5:50 AM on January 4, 2007


The limits--they chafe. Besides, I don't see the point of making things hard on a small number of folks who may have two fairly pressing questions close together, unless it is solving an actual problem. Which does not in fact seem to exist.

(I also want the img tag back, so I am superannoying, but I guess we knew that.)
posted by dame at 6:04 AM on January 4, 2007


I'm with you on the chafing, dame. Perhaps we could compare baby powder experiences sometime, but, you know, dead horse and all.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 6:10 AM on January 4, 2007


Where do you think baby powder comes from? Or, more seriously, things only get changed around here cause people bitch. So while the argument is boring, if it isn't made, then only one side gets heard, and shit gets chafe-y, and then people say, Well, where were you when we were dicussing it? Kinda no win.
posted by dame at 6:16 AM on January 4, 2007


If the issue is, that a few people are not satisfied with the quality of the responses to their question because it flew past the front page and didn't catch the eye of the 1 or 2 people on mefi who could best answer it, why not create a place for the question to get a second life. To be specific, give the poster an opportunity to kick their answered, but not to their satisfaction, question into a "Begging For Discussion" (BFD) category.

If the issue is, how to reduce the number of Help Me Name My Vagina questions, or Google For Me Mommy questions, maybe there needs to be some way to filter the oft repeated questions about errant bodyhair and suchnot. Maybe the search filter before posting could be made more mandatory, or a Mandatory FAQ? (MF). Okay, I have run out of acronyms. Sure it would be nice to be able to separate the wheat from the chafe, but sheeple need to play on the web too.
posted by SMELLSLIKEFUN at 11:52 AM on January 4, 2007


Where do you think baby powder comes from?
We all know where it comes from, what we want to know is how many babies it takes to make a canister of the stuff.
posted by dg at 2:55 PM on January 4, 2007


« Older stereotyping sucks   |   If you're young, black and alternative who or what... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments