Deleted AskMe trying to identify a painting via email January 6, 2007 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Earlier on AskMefi there was a question from "siahny" asking to identify a painting via email. I've got the picture (which is a Word document). The thread seems to be deleted, but should I post it up anyway? She really does want the painting identified...
posted by divabat to MetaFilter-Related at 5:39 PM (55 comments total)

You can probably just email it to her. It's in the deleted thread.
posted by dhammond at 5:43 PM on January 6, 2007


...or use your question to post for her.
posted by dhammond at 5:45 PM on January 6, 2007


Man that question put a bug in my ass, I want to see this damn freaking painting.

Please. :)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:53 PM on January 6, 2007


It's been a while since I've seen someone that oblivious to how askmetafilter works. So thanks for that.
posted by bob sarabia at 6:00 PM on January 6, 2007


just email it to her.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:02 PM on January 6, 2007


just email it to her.

As I understand it, siahny has emailed the picture to divabat, who is now asking permission (though I don't understand why, given the 'try again later' part of the deletion reason) to post the image, so as to get people to try and identify it for siahny.

Whether divabat means to post a new AskMe question or do it in this thread is unclear. The former, well, it seems above and beyond the call of niceness, but why not? The latter, not so good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:09 PM on January 6, 2007


Sorry for being unclear. Stavros has it: siahny had emailed me the picture in question, and I meant to post it in the original AskMe thread, but by the time she got back to me, the thread had been deleted. (I got the email before finding out the thread was gone.)

I also didn't anticipate it being a Word document, so on my current dialup connection it's taking ages to download. And I can't ask a question for another 5 days or so.

What do I do? Post it here, wait 5 days and post the question (I wanted to ask something else for a while now...), or just don't bother?
posted by divabat at 7:18 PM on January 6, 2007


I would guess that since the thread was deleted, the point is moot. But you could always link to the image here, and maybe someone will have siahny's answer...

...unless this thread gets deleted. In which case, you're doomed.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:27 PM on January 6, 2007


The reason for deletion said try again later. She should try again later. There's nothing wrong with the question, just the way it was asked. Blogger will host pictures online for free on a free blog. MetaTalk should not be the site to correct people's problems with constructing a proper AskMe post.
posted by nanojath at 8:01 PM on January 6, 2007




I don't think using MetaTalk to skirt AskMe guidelines would be a good idea.

Waiting is part of the game for everyone. There doesn't seem to be any urgency issue here so siahny should wait to repost her question. If you can put the image up for her in a format so that others can view it then great. That's all you offered to do in the first place.

(But if someone could send her some friendly tips on formatting her next attempt... teach a man to fish and all that.)

If it really is urgent then contact Alvy Ampersand - apparently he's very interested in seeing this treasure. Maybe he can ask the question.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 8:09 PM on January 6, 2007


YOU PEOPLE WOULD MAKE WONDERFUL BUREAUCRATS
posted by quonsar at 9:14 PM on January 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE SHOUTING THESE DAYS?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:15 PM on January 6, 2007


"WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE SHOUTING THESE DAYS?"
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:15 AM EST on January 7

'CAUSE IT'S META?

shoutin' questions through a megaphone is even more annoying, don't ya think?
posted by paulsc at 9:47 PM on January 6, 2007


THERE ARE GOATS IN THE TREES. GOATS.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:55 PM on January 6, 2007


There doesn't seem to be any urgency issue here

Well, she did say it was driving her crazy.

YOU PEOPLE WOULD MAKE WONDERFUL BUREAUCRATS

And you, baby, would make a wonderful syphilis-demented, sex crazed dictatorial despot.
posted by nanojath at 9:55 PM on January 6, 2007


THERE ARE GOATS IN THE TREES. GOATS.
sorry. that's just me up there.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:27 PM on January 6, 2007


Upload the picture, and post a link to it in this thread please divabat. Just to satisfy those of us who are curious. We can't stand the tension created by not knowing. Only you can help us now Obi Wan divabat.
posted by econous at 1:21 AM on January 7, 2007


The painting.
posted by divabat at 2:52 AM on January 7, 2007


The question.
posted by flabdablet at 3:28 AM on January 7, 2007


Oh that? I drew that.
posted by sveskemus at 6:17 AM on January 7, 2007


There were goats... in the trees...
But I never heard them bleating...
No, I never heard them at all,
Till there was you...
posted by languagehat at 6:58 AM on January 7, 2007


why is that cat puking in a bowl while aunt jemima makes pancakes for carmen miranda?
posted by quonsar at 7:42 AM on January 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


"My little lamb!"
posted by matteo at 8:12 AM on January 7, 2007


14 days is pretty long to wait to just try again.
posted by smackfu at 9:19 AM on January 7, 2007


14 days is pretty long to wait to just try again.

And the question was asked again about a day later, so the system more or less works.

I don't mean to be callous, but pretty much any number is going to seem too big in the "X is too long to wait to just try again" sentence and the OP was given almost six hours to straighten it out in that thread (if divabat had been able to get a link up in the existing thread, I would have left it there).

I'm not sure if people have noticed, but there are a ton of new people in AskMe lately which is the good news and the bad news as far as business as usual. There are a lot of fresh perspectives and people diving in to answer questions, but there are also a lot of people who don't seem to really understand how the place works. The AskMe system lets anyone ask a question after being a member for seven days but there's no "you have to post a few comments first" rule in place so sometimes stuff like this happens. We see a lot of questions being asked by people as their first participation in the community and I have mixed feelings about this but it mostly works.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:46 AM on January 7, 2007


I've noticed and I even thought about posting a Meta thread about it but fear overruled me, so I'm glad you brought it up, jessamyn. I think there ought to be an askme "you have to post a few comments first" rule just as there is in the blue. I feel like these hit and run questioners dilute the community aspect of askme. The hive mind, as I perceive it, involves answering as well as asking, commenting as well as FPPing.

It's almost a mission question: is Askme striving to be more like Google (RIP) Answers or Yahoo Answers - anyone can ask, few will answer (and some of them will be batshitinsane) - or is the idea more to be a genuine community resource with the emphasis on community? Obviously there's not a problem with a random, occasional $5 hit and run question, but it seems like they're becoming the norm instead of the exception.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:59 AM on January 7, 2007


The AskMe system lets anyone ask a question after being a member for seven days but there's no "you have to post a few comments first" rule in place...

That seems like an easy fix.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:06 AM on January 7, 2007


Well here is the problem. According to tkolar's stats, we've only had 225 people who have asked questions and never left answers and 452 users who have asked more questions than given answers. This is out of a total of 6620 users who asked questions after the one week limit went into effect, so as a fraction, it's a pretty small number of people that seem to sort of view AskMe as a "ask your question and leave" type of place.

The last time we changed the AskMe rules, with the two week limit last year, at least a few people got very seriously annoyed. tkolar ran some numbers which has sort of helped to support a change that was based more on gut feeling than math. It might be that making there be some sort of a limit (right now there is a week waiting period, but no "you have to post first" rule) would be seen by the community as affecting newer users rather than long time users and not disliked as much, but fine tuning the way things work is hard to do in terms of morale.

We still get emails like this, fairly often

"after several years of enjoying metafilter I finally thought I should post. But $5 for the privilege? Fuck that shit, good bye and enjoy your black hole."

as well as emails asking why people can't post immediately, why they're going to have huge trouble if they can't post a second question immediately, etc.

My feeling, and I don't speak for Matt, is that AskMe is supposed to be a place where an already-existing community can go to help each other out with stuff. The occasional hit and run question isn't a problem, since there are a lot of people that just enjoy answering anyone's questions. On the other hand, I'd like people to feel that, like the blue, you can sort of read the site and get a sense of what's going on generally, some sort of zeitgeist, not just feel that it's a question farm where volume is more important than actually knowing the people who are asking and answering questions.

There's no way to do it perfectly, obviously, and I'm sure the place looks mighty different from a non-admin perspective. Also, no matter what the rules are, it always stings when they affect you in a way that you feel is disproportionate. To that end we really try to make the place seem like a shared resource where we value both the time of the asker and the askee, but at the same time, try to make the place have a sense of "place" and not just some speedy fast food half-assed question mall.

So, this is a long answer to a shorter idea which is "Yeah that's something that matters" and if it looks like AskMe is becoming overrun with newer members at the expense of being useful to existing members, that's something we give a shit about. Mathowie and I, but also everyone, I think. Right now I think we're a little leery of changing the mix too much all at once.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:17 AM on January 7, 2007


Close signups, put googleads at the bottom of every page, let anyone post anything. Ban people, no time outs. Like the good old days. bah humbug.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:00 AM on January 7, 2007


My feeling, and I don't speak for Matt, is that AskMe is supposed to be a place where an already-existing community can go to help each other out with stuff.

Of the 15 questions asked so far today, 6 were asked by 40kers, and 5 by 30kers. Of the 40kers, none have made a post or comment on any other part of the site. One has only asked a question and made no comments, one has asked six questions but only made 3 comments outside their own questions, and one has asked four questions but only made 2 comments outside their own questions. Of the 30kers, three of the five have not made a post or comment on any other part of the site. The 30kers have been more active than the 40kers in answering others' questions.

None of the 40kers and only a few of the 30kers are part of the "already-existing community." I think this confirms Matt's feeling, expressed in a few other threads, that AskMe is driving new members to the site at fairly high rates, and those members aren't necessarily interested in utilizing other parts of the site. That's fine, but I think the trend is not just to members that use exclusively or predominately AskMe, but also to members that exclusively or predominately ask their own questions instead of answering.

I've been here a long time, and I think that the community feel of AskMe is rapidly dissipating. That's my own anecdotal experience, but the numbers, at least from today, seem to confirm it.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:05 AM on January 7, 2007


I think that the community feel of AskMe is rapidly dissipating. That's my own anecdotal experience, but the numbers, at least from today, seem to confirm it.

And then the obvious question -- and I ask this not in an "I have all the answers" way -- is what would reign that in some that wouldn't piss a ton of people off? I think it's true that newer members are often AskMe centric, but that they may not have the sense of the MetaFilter community that older members have.

I think about it myself, but my answers tend to hinge on more arbitrary math (comment/post ratios, comment minimums) that seems difficult to justify and even harder to maintain. Also if you start making commenting part of the price of admission, you risk filling AskMe up with (more) noise which also drives quality down. In MeFi there are a lot of people who don't mind the comment-before-posting thing but you also see people who just comment "yeah I like this" five times and then post, so the question is also how to avoid that? I'd love some discussion on this topic that didn't revolve around straw man "you're just doing this to make the ROI better" or "I hate the new whateveritis because it's different from the old whateveritis" positions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2007


... what would reign that in some that wouldn't piss a ton of people off?

Close or throttle membership. I've thought about this a lot, and frankly that's about the only thing that will reduce or eliminate drive-by questions and lack of participation without tinkering with the inner workings of the site.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:29 AM on January 7, 2007


I think there ought to be an askme "you have to post a few comments first" rule just as there is in the blue.

Wouldn't this lead to people posting crap answers just to post a question?
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:45 AM on January 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't this lead to people posting crap answers just to post a question?

birth just leads to death. why try?
posted by quonsar at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2007


None of the 40kers and only a few of the 30kers are part of the "already-existing community."

I disagree. I should note at this point that I signed up for Paypal and paid $5 just in order to do so, so that's $5 worth of disagreement.

I've read Metafilter since the beginning. No, seriously, since the beginning. I've never been remotely tempted to sign up (until now, obviously, and I'm kind of terrified and likely to regret it). You guys know we're out here, right? That there are tons of people reading your posts and comments who don't have usernames? Like it or not, you have an audience; you're opinionmakers, and people read and think about, laugh at and occasionally cry about, what you write.

And I think you know that. And I think that, to some extent, that knowledge has an impact on what you write. There's a performative aspect to posting here, and that requires an audience, and that's me. That's my role in the "already-existing community," and it's not nothing.

So those 30k+ers who are posting for the first time to Ask a question, is my point, may well have been part of the community, in this sense, for a long time.
posted by longtime_lurker at 12:06 PM on January 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


I disagree.

First, I was referring specifically to those 30- and 40kers that had asked questions so far today as of my earlier comment. Second, reading MetaFilter doesn't make you part of the community. Sorry, it just doesn't. Third, I think you're the exception to the rule. Do you really think otherwise?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:59 PM on January 7, 2007


First, I was referring specifically to those 30- and 40kers that had asked questions so far today

No, I got that, though I see now that my quoting may have made it look otherwise. I guess I'm saying that somebody's first active participation here may not be his or her first participation in the community.

Second, reading MetaFilter doesn't make you part of the community.

I think Metafilter would be different if there wasn't an awareness that there are people, a lot of them, who are listening but not talking. We (though now that I'm talking, I guess "they") are part of what makes the site what it is, and I feel like that makes us part of the community.

Third, I think you're the exception to the rule. Do you really think otherwise?

Hmm. On one hand, if somebody signs up to post a question here, I feel like they must be a fan of the site; otherwise, why wouldn't they go to a free question service? On the other, the question in question seems to have been asked by somebody who hadn't hung around long enough to inculcate the community norms. So, y'know, good point. I guess you just hit a nerve; it's one thing to hear jonmc say that there's no community, it's another to hear that there is one and that, as a lurker, I'm not in it.

(On preview: n00bs writing really long comments is also against community norms. Sorry.)
posted by longtime_lurker at 1:20 PM on January 7, 2007


You guys know we're out here, right? That there are tons of people reading your posts and comments who don't have usernames? Like it or not, you have an audience; you're opinionmakers, and people read and think about, laugh at and occasionally cry about, what you write.

No, I don't believe you. There are no monsters in that closet.
posted by timeistight at 1:21 PM on January 7, 2007


On reflection, sites like MetaFilter are an instance of a weird phenomenon where mere reading and observation can, I guess, make you feel like you're part of the community even when you don't participate. You've read the site for a long time, you know the personalities, and you feel invested in the site. I'm not sure whether that makes you part of the community or not, but I can see why my comment might touch a nerve.

On the other hand, I don't think there's more than a handful of, for lack of a better term, longtime lurkers. It seems apparent to me that many of the 30- and 40kers that participate exclusively on AskMe and don't answer a lot of questions don't fall into that category. AskMe has received a lot of positive hype from sites like LifeHacker, and I think a lot of the new members never read the blue before joining and asking questions in the green.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2007


I'm with monju - I don't think that a lot of the people posting the hit and run questions are long time lurkers or even lurkers at all. I think they got here by accident and I feel like some of them don't even know the blue or gray(ish brown) exist. And that bugs me too. Look, longtime_lurker - you have been reading long enough to know where to go, how to type up a response: you are a community member and obviously you aren't hitting up askme with a zillion questions and no answers. It's the complete drive-bys that we're worrying about here.

You're all right about the answer/question thing possibly driving up the noise ratio, though, I hadn't thought about that. Still, it seems like there's got to be some answer, short of closing off membership altogether, to return Askme to the community.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:47 PM on January 7, 2007


longtime_lurker, you write well. Please consider posting more.

What's got me down about AskMe lately is not just the sense of drive-by questioners, but an uptick in shallow, guesswork answering and most frustratingly, failure to read and comprehend the question being asked. I'm not sure how to support this assertion convincingly, but I do know it would require qualitative analysis, not the quantative stuff people have been (helpfully) posting here of late.

I will say that I agree with longtime_lurker about the performative nature of metafilter writing, and extend that to say that as a fairly constant reader, I've noticed more unhelpful performance of late, of the sort mentioned above as well as wisecracks. Also, the rush to tell the questioner what question he or she should have asked, rather than considering the question at hand. Being amusing or offering another tangentially related 2 cents worth of advice has always been an AskMe mainstay, but when it becomes a frequent substitute for actually answering the damn question, that sucks. When people complain about whole categories of questions they don't want to see because it bores them personally and go far enough to take it out in the theads, that sucks too. (So all right with the "Frank" thing already. If you don't like questions involving naming things, why not just avoid them?) When people treat give primacy to treating it as a source of drama and entertainment rather than as a way for us to help each other as community members and site readers, that sucks worst of all. Then again, I thought people would snark themselves to pieces in the ramen king's obit thread and was surprised by some eloquent and respectful tributes, and thought everyone would fall out over Polish guitar dude's skill and was surprised to read a lot of stuff about how he looks like a monkey. So what the hell do I know about what people do here?
posted by melissa may at 1:49 PM on January 7, 2007


n00bs writing really long comments is also against community norms. Sorry.

Not when they're as thoughtful and well written as yours; like melissa may, I hope you stick around.

As for lurkers being members of the community, I don't think there's a single answer to that. I know I read MeFi for a long time before joining, and I felt like I was in a real way a part of it; on the other hand, after I joined and started taking part in discussions, I realized I hadn't "really" been a part of it or known what it was like. But I hope anyone who feels the same trepidation as longtime_lurker will get over it and join up; it's really not that scary. Just don't use IM-speak or piss on the tablecloth. You'll be fine.
posted by languagehat at 2:11 PM on January 7, 2007


There's a performative aspect to posting here, and that requires an audience, and that's me.

I agree and disagree. We do write for an audience but the audience is each other, the other posters not the lurkers. Whenever someone brings up the hypothetical stadium of lurkers, it seems strange and unreal and thus clear that thats not an audience I, at least, ever had in mind.

I think you become part of the community when you begin to engage with it - as you have just done. Its a reciprocal relationship and one that relies on feedback from others. Its more than just subscribing to an RSS feed.
posted by vacapinta at 2:36 PM on January 7, 2007


I would like a once yearly limit for questions to askme. Thanks.
posted by frecklefaerie at 3:52 PM on January 7, 2007


I think AskMe is kind of the gateway drug; I believe I've noticed that people who have Asked are kind of excited and tend to hang around waiting for answers to accrue. They Answer quite a bit (even over a couple of days) and they seem to comment in Metafilter at elevated rates, too-- possibly in Metatalk, as well, but I can't say I've actually observed that.

I still don't like the 14 day waiting period for AskMe, and the argument I just made allows me to point to another problem with that: it reduces the probability the Answerers whose work I like best will be around with time on their hands to answer questions.
posted by jamjam at 4:01 PM on January 7, 2007



Wouldn't this lead to people posting crap answers just to post a question?

birth just leads to death. why try?


I'm not looking for the status quo. I just don't think the solution should contain "flood of crap answers".
posted by YoBananaBoy at 4:22 PM on January 7, 2007


I believe I've noticed that people who have Asked are kind of excited and tend to hang around waiting for answers to accrue. They Answer quite a bit (even over a couple of days) and they seem to comment in Metafilter at elevated rates, too...

As I indicated in my comment above, the numbers--at least the numbers today--seem to belie your sense. Many of the 30kers and most of the 40kers on AskMe don't participate in other parts of the site. They don't post or comment on MeFi, and many don't answer many other questions.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:31 PM on January 7, 2007


Frank's a nice name.

My next door neighbor has a very friendly dog named Frank.
posted by flabdablet at 5:33 PM on January 7, 2007


As for the drive-by askers: they don't bother me. It seems to me that in many cases it's not just the original poster who gets value from the answers.

It's also easy to check a poster's history before deciding whether to spend any time answering a question. I know I do this frequently, and I can't imagine others wouldn't, which means that there is a subtle pressure toward people with more kudos getting better answers.

I think AskMe has all the right incentives in place, and I don't think it needs to be fscked with again just yet.
posted by flabdablet at 5:47 PM on January 7, 2007


jessamyn, I'm happy to see you state publicly that you want AskMe to feel like a community and not a question mart, and I'm really happy to see that no one has attacked you for it (yet).

Unfortunately, a community can't scale indefinitely without changing how it feels. It keeps getting bigger around here, and to me AskMe slowly but surely keeps feeling more like a crowd and less like a community. My guess is that the moderation workload keeps getting bigger, too.

The only solution is to put a barrier somewhere, and that's going to piss some people off. There are two possibilities: You can put up a barrier to deter people from joining (like the $5 charge), or you can put up a barrier after they join to deter them from asking the first question that pops into their minds (like the waiting period). The best thing is to put up a barrier that mostly pisses off the people who aren't really looking to join the community.

My suggestion: make a limited number of new signups available every hour, on the hour. Once they're gone, people have to wait until the next batch comes up in an hour to try again. Even if you limited new signups to 90% of what we're getting now, people would have to make an effort to sign up, and the ones who wanted it most and were willing to keep trying would be more likely to get in. As a bonus, people in time zones outside the US would have less competition and get in more easily, which would make MeFi more international. You could adjust the throttle depending on how things are going and how bad a week you're having trying to moderate the place.

That's basically the system Matt put in place when he opened up signups for the 14K-ers, and we were the best batch of n00bs ever, weren't we? (*pats self on back, waves at other 14K-ers in this thread*)

It would send out a signal that MeFi isn't just open to anyone with $5. A little exclusivity goes a long way to fostering community. LifeHacker would keep linking to interesting questions, but AskMe would probably disappear from articles that describe five easy places to go to get your questions answered.

Another suggestion: round up people who complain about how they deserve to be able to ask more questions, take them out into the street, and shoot them.
posted by fuzz at 6:01 PM on January 7, 2007


I believe I've noticed that people who have Asked are kind of excited and tend to hang around waiting for answers to accrue. They Answer quite a bit (even over a couple of days) and they seem to comment in Metafilter at elevated rates, too...

As I indicated in my comment above, the numbers--at least the numbers today--seem to belie your sense. Many of the 30kers and most of the 40kers on AskMe don't participate in other parts of the site. They don't post or comment on MeFi, and many don't answer many other questions.


On January 6th (just to give a full day for hanging around to Answer other questions), of 41 Questioners, 15 contributed 26 Answers to threads other than their own which were posted later than their questions. I don't have time right now to check for comments to Metafilter.
posted by jamjam at 7:05 PM on January 7, 2007


Of all the concerns about AskMe brought up over the last week or so, the only thing that seems to actually be an issue of some significance is the possible diminished quality of answers *(I think the whole uproar about questions scrolling off the page too fast is pretty silly- what is "too fast", exactly?). It seems that a "self-policing" community should be able to gently steer people in the right direction inthread.

*are the sub-par answers really due to nooBs, though?
posted by oneirodynia at 9:03 PM on January 7, 2007


On the other hand, I don't think there's more than a handful of, for lack of a better term, longtime lurkers.

My gut says to disagree with this, because I was one for most of the existence of the site. But I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone can without access to the logs and the time to write a program to analyse them.

A little exclusivity goes a long way to fostering community.

Maybe. I fear that no-one is under any illusions that there is a lack of idiots or sociopaths with Metafilter handles as–is, though, and such a lack is part of why exclusivity fosters community …
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 3:04 AM on January 8, 2007


I certainly lurked around for a good period of time, until I finally got frustrated enough by not being able to answer questions that I felt that I could provide useful information for.
posted by that girl at 6:16 AM on January 8, 2007


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