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January 22, 2007 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Should questions like this be deleted?
posted by matthewr to Etiquette/Policy at 2:22 PM (72 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

The question asks for the author and date of a poem, and where to get a copy of it.

The author can be found in the first (and only) Google result for the first line of the poem. Then, the first result on Amazon is a compilation of her poems, including the relevant one. The book's table of contents narrows down the date.

Obviously this would have required no Google skills whatsoever to find. Should it be deleted, either as a disincentive to other lazy questions, or just because it breaks the guidelines?
posted by matthewr at 2:24 PM on January 22, 2007


Delete. For crying out loud, why people can't use Google is beyond me.
posted by agregoli at 2:25 PM on January 22, 2007


as a disincentive to other lazy questions

sweet, naive kid
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:27 PM on January 22, 2007


On the other hand, I just figured out a new way to promote my writing... I'm going to start pasting excerpts into Ask questions, with text along the line of, "Can you help me find this essay?" Suckers start googling teh text, find me, and the sweet, sweet attention pours in. I can't lose!
posted by COBRA! at 2:29 PM on January 22, 2007


Delete and punish (6 months loss of askme privileges). Also this post about smelly leather is a naughty one - previous Ask Metafilter threads on the subject are in the first page of Google results if you search for "leather smell". Well, they are if Safe Search is on, as per this machine at my workplace.

Ask Metafilter would be made much more useful by ruthless deletion of these "I'm too lazy to google please do it for me right now" questions.
posted by nowonmai at 2:32 PM on January 22, 2007


If it should be deleted, why did you answer it?

Since it has been answered, why delete it? It'll now be easier to find via Google.
posted by loquacious at 2:34 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you Google the first line without quotes, it's a little harder to track down. I even added a Google search to the "post a question" page to head this sort of thing off at the pass but tdeleting the question seems excessively punitive.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:37 PM on January 22, 2007


If it should be deleted, why did you answer it?

I didn't know it was easily Googleable until I easily Googled it. Having put in the (admittedly minute) amount of effort required to answer it, I may as well post the answer.

Since it has been answered, why delete it?

Because it breaks the guidelines and, hopefully, if enough easily Googled questions are deleted then we may see a reduction in their number.

It'll now be easier to find via Google.

Googling the first line of the poem in quotes gives one result which answers the question. It doesn't get any easier than that.
posted by matthewr at 2:39 PM on January 22, 2007


I would compromise and answer the question with this link. Note that if you click "google" on that page it will take you to the right search (or waits 15 seconds and then proceeds with the search). It answers the question, and gets your point across in a sneering and condescending way. The best of both worlds!
posted by splice at 2:42 PM on January 22, 2007


Googling the first line of the poem in quotes gives one result which answers the question. It doesn't get any easier than that.

Some people may not be familiar with phrase searching in Google. I know that's hard to believe for ol' searchhands like you and I, but there it is.
posted by WCityMike at 2:43 PM on January 22, 2007


"The website you've just visited has tried to provide you with search results from Google. Unfortunately, the site violates our terms of service so your search could not be completed. If you would like to continue with your search, please click the link below, which will take you directly to Google and the results you've requested."

Huh.
posted by chrismear at 2:44 PM on January 22, 2007


No. I've posted questions easily found on google before, usually because I used the wrong/too specific search terms. Thanks to people explaining how they found it, I've learned to use google a bit better. Perhaps the poster did not know to put the line in quotes?

It might help to throw a note in the posting page to google the song lyrics/poem lines in quotes first, but I haven't observed that this is a huge problem.
posted by Manjusri at 2:45 PM on January 22, 2007


Ask Metafilter would be made much more useful by ruthless deletion of these "I'm too lazy to google please do it for me right now" questions.

Or, we could assume good faith about our Metafilter brethren and imagine that they're not as web savvy as some of us. If the internet was a library, I would ask this question at the reference desk (AskMefi), and they would help me find an answer, I wouldn't go off trawling through a card catalogue. Of course, we know the internet isn't a library, but not all users might.
posted by muddgirl at 2:48 PM on January 22, 2007


chrismear: If you're talking about my link, that's quite strange. It works fine for me. It worked when I posted it, and it still does. Perhaps there's something funny going on.

But then again I don't use that site often at all. Thankfully.
posted by splice at 2:49 PM on January 22, 2007


jfgi comments will be deleted with extreme predjudice the same way comments calling the OP an asshole will generally be. If you think the question is beneath you, leave it alone.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:50 PM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't know.

If I was matthewr, and I searched for the appropriate text and found it on Google, I would just post an answer and pretend I didn't find it on Google. That way I would look super-smart rather than gloating, the person asking the question wouldn't feel super-stupid, and AskMetafilter would turn up in the Google results in the future, making us look like the fount of all poetry knowledge instead of "www.daves-not-here.net".

But that's just me.
posted by Jimbob at 2:53 PM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think it's a slightly tricky search, actually. You need to google the first line in its (nearly) entirety and nothing but the first line. "Death did not come to" is no good, and neither is "Death did not come to my mother like". I can see how the asker missed it, even with some time spent searching. It might be a dumb mistake, but it's not necessarily negligent laziness.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:54 PM on January 22, 2007


The Dave of "Dave's Not Here" sounds like a character:
This 35 y/o resident of Richardson, TX was married until his spouse discovered that he enjoyed the selfless generosity of supporting Single Moms through charitable organizations convincingly disguised as Gentlemen's Clubs.
posted by exogenous at 3:05 PM on January 22, 2007


Obviously this would have required no Google skills whatsoever to find.

Not everyone knows that you can put quotation marks around a phrase to search for that specific phrase. I would not call that knowledge "no Google skills."

Googling the first line of the poem in quotes gives one result which answers the question.

Googling the first line of the poem without quotes gives "about 10,400,000" results.

There's a difference between "not Googling at all for an answer" (which I am perfectly fine with deleting) and "Googled but lacked sufficient Google skills to know how to best search and find an answer which is easily findable by someone with greater Google skills than mine" (which should stay, not to mention that we should give the benefit of the doubt if it is unclear which is the case).

agregoli, I'm glad to see you never ask easily Googleable questions.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:05 PM on January 22, 2007


jessamyn: "deleting the question seems excessively punitive"

OK. Do you think there are too many questioners who don't use Google or AskMe searching prior to posting their question? If so, what is there we can do about it?

mr_roboto, to locate a poem's author, knowing only its lines, surely the first thing anyone (with Google-fu or otherwise) would do is to put the first line into Google as a phrase?

Jimbob, I like the scheme you suggest. But I certainly didn't intend to 'gloat' or make the asker 'feel super-stupid'.
posted by matthewr at 3:10 PM on January 22, 2007


oh, snap!
posted by blue_beetle at 3:14 PM on January 22, 2007


Do you think there are too many questioners who don't use Google or AskMe searching prior to posting their question? If so, what is there we can do about it?

Increased funding for technical education, better prenatal nutrition, putting a Google search box on the "post a question" page (I did that already) and possibly adding a link to some Google search tips (within my power, I'll try that next), also smart drugs and a complete gutting of the bullshit No Child Left Behind legislation. Also, more hugs.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:17 PM on January 22, 2007 [15 favorites]


Well I was probably being a bit general, matthewr. These "Did you fucking Google it?" questions come up often, and often people treat the person asking the question like a douche.

I've had it happen to me. I spent a week trying to find something on Google, finally went to AskMetafilter as a last resort, and someone pointed out (rudely) what I should have been searching for within 10 minutes. That's fine. They were right, I was searching for the wrong thing. But sometimes, "no Google skills whatsoever" really means missing something quite simple, like quotes around the question.
posted by Jimbob at 3:18 PM on January 22, 2007


perhaps AskMe should provide a Google-guide to enlighten research noobs?
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:21 PM on January 22, 2007


Another question that comes to mind is Should MetaTalk posts be $5 each ?
It could be like posting a bond--posts which pass the Was this really necessary ? bar earn a refund. Those which don't--*ka-ching!*
posted by y2karl at 3:27 PM on January 22, 2007


ka-ching! would be a cool user name.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:31 PM on January 22, 2007


Pretty much the ideal way to answer one of these questions.
posted by Manjusri at 3:33 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


matthewr: "Should questions like this be deleted?"

No. ask.metafilter isn't swamped with that kind of question. There have been some utterly obvious ones-- I'm no expert, but it seems like one every three days or so-- but they're certainly not out of hand. It's not a big deal; let it go.

However, I think it would be a good idea to add a sentence on the 'post a question' page so that it says:

"Please make sure you have asked Google your question before you Ask MetaFilter. Try putting quotation marks around exact phrases or sentences that you're looking for."

Is this possible, jessamyn?
posted by koeselitz at 3:43 PM on January 22, 2007


deleting the question seems excessively punitive.

How so? The poster already got his answer, and "deleting" the thread doesn't actually delete the thread.
posted by cribcage at 3:43 PM on January 22, 2007


(I suggest that merely because the vast preponderance of easily-googleable questions are about song lyrics or poems. Just the use of quotation marks would fix these, I think.)
posted by koeselitz at 3:47 PM on January 22, 2007


Another question that comes to mind is Should MetaTalk posts be $5 each ?
It could be like posting a bond--posts which pass the Was this really necessary ? bar earn a refund. Those which don't--*ka-ching!*


I'm all for that, if answers are $5 each, too, and subject to the same rules. Asinine answer? JFGI? *ka-ching!*
posted by dw at 3:48 PM on January 22, 2007


There is a widely accepted belief that there are too many questions in AskMe, which means that they don't get enough time on the front page. The current experimental solution is to penalize all users by giving them a question only once every two weeks.

I think perhaps we should try to eliminate questions of this nature as well, despite the fact that it will be a drop in the bucket.
posted by grouse at 3:48 PM on January 22, 2007


This particular AskMe question turned me on to an important poet I'd never heard of, so I'm glad it was asked and didn't get the chop.

Also, you helped somebody reconnect with a poem that meant so much to him or her that s/he remembers it nearly intact a decade later. Can't you just enjoy that and not work yourself into a lather about normative googleability?
posted by Nahum Tate at 3:50 PM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Are there any good "Search engines and search terms for dummies"-type FAQs out there we could link to and embed in our FAQ or in the AskMe posting page?
posted by loquacious at 3:59 PM on January 22, 2007


Of course, we know the internet isn't a library, but not all users might.
posted by muddgirl at 5:48 PM

Wait. The internet isn't a library? Oh, this changes EVERYTHING. DON'T SHUSH ME!

/proceeds to scream and run around, knocking shit over.
posted by exlotuseater at 4:05 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm all for that, if answers are $5 each, too, and subject to the same rules. Asinine answer? JFGI? *ka-ching!*

Well, I was talking about MetaTalk posts and not AskMetaFilter posts.

And as for AskMetaFilter answers--free advice should be free advice.

But we could make flameouts and grudge matches pay-per-view.
posted by y2karl at 4:06 PM on January 22, 2007


No refund. We just hold the $5 as a damage deposit. If it's still there when you get banned, you get it back.
posted by cortex at 4:16 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


YOU BREAK METAFILTER, YOU BUY METAFILTER
posted by koeselitz at 4:25 PM on January 22, 2007


If I get a weekly viewing schedule I'd be in for pay-per-view access. The one who flames out gets a scrimy cut of the viewer action. img tags are limited to the PPV flameout zone only. Oh Joy!
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:26 PM on January 22, 2007


Are there any good "Search engines and search terms for dummies"-type FAQs out there we could link to

There's Google's search cheat sheet
posted by jamaro at 4:53 PM on January 22, 2007


jfgi comments will be deleted with extreme predjudice the same way comments calling the OP an asshole will generally be. If you think the question is beneath you, leave it alone.
posted by jessamyn at 2:50 PM PST on January 22

JFGI: QED
posted by jessamyn at 8:40 AM PST on December 19


I know, I know, MeTa != AskMe. And I really don't have a problem with JFGI deletions, but that post was the one that drew my attention to that site, so. JUST SAYING IS ALL.

posted by wemayfreeze at 4:56 PM on January 22, 2007


There's Google's search cheat sheet

Thanks. I added a link to that on the posting page.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:05 PM on January 22, 2007


The Google is strong in this one.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:14 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


to locate a poem's author, knowing only its lines, surely the first thing anyone (with Google-fu or otherwise) would do is to put the first line into Google as a phrase?

I can think of at least one example that suggests that no, actually, not everybody in the world knows enough about Google to do that. By an AMAZING COINCIDENCE, the example I'm thinking of is the very same post we're discussing right now.
posted by flashboy at 5:46 PM on January 22, 2007


If the internet was a library, I would ask this question at the reference desk (AskMefi), and they would help me find an answer

Spot on!

This particular AskMe question turned me on to an important poet I'd never heard of, so I'm glad it was asked and didn't get the chop. Also, you helped somebody reconnect with a poem that meant so much to him or her that s/he remembers it nearly intact a decade later. Can't you just enjoy that and not work yourself into a lather about normative googleability?

I agree. I consider all aspects of MetaFilter akin to conversations one has in the "real world." Often the spontaneity and serendipity of the interaction here leads to learning something new. No need to suppress such. As in the "real world," I submit that "there are no stupid questions."
posted by ericb at 5:51 PM on January 22, 2007


if enough easily Googled questions are deleted then we may see a reduction in their number.

I honestly don't see how that's supposed to work. And I tend to agree with ericb.
posted by languagehat at 5:55 PM on January 22, 2007


How can a question that no longer exists on the site serve as a disincentive?
posted by staggernation at 6:47 PM on January 22, 2007


How can a question that no longer exists on the site serve as a disincentive?

By its absence. Part of the reason that Yahoo! Answers attracts stupid questions is that its front page is plastered with stupid questions. For example, right now I see "What would you do for a Klondike bar?" and "Would you ever want a dress like Melanie Trump?" on its front page. Having dumb, jokey questions on the front page is liable to attract more dumb, jokey questions — whereas if you see a website filled with pointed, substantive queries, you're less likely to be spurred toward posting, "What color car should I buy?"

No, you can't prevent weeds from appearing by keeping your garden weed-free — but where there's one, others are likely to appear.
posted by cribcage at 6:56 PM on January 22, 2007


jfgi comments will be deleted with extreme predjudice the same way comments calling the OP an asshole will generally be. If you think the question is beneath you, leave it alone.
posted by jessamyn at 5:50 PM EST on January 22 [+ 1 favorite] Favorite added![!]


Sanity prevails!
posted by caddis at 6:58 PM on January 22, 2007


Did you ever notice that their is no "Help" link on the Google front page? If you did find the help page did you realize that the topic that what you wanted help with was called Web Search instead of Google Search? Why not a friendly link for beginners to:

The Essentials of Google Search
or
How do I find what I'm looking for with a Google search?
posted by shoesfullofdust at 7:19 PM on January 22, 2007


By its absence.

Yes, by all means, no questions about poetry or literature. They definitely aren't pointed or substantive enough. Give me a break. Of all the questions to complain about, this is one of the mildest offenders, if it indeed crosses any lines at all. AskMefi is about helping people find answers to their questions. If you don't want to help, don't. But there is no reason to delete valid questions from the front page. He got an excellent answer that solved his problem, and managed to ask his question taking up only two lines of the front page. He also got some helpful hints about how to find answers to his questions on his own in the future.

This is a stupid callout.
posted by Roger Dodger at 7:25 PM on January 22, 2007


I even added a Google search to the "post a question" page to head this sort of thing off at the pass but tdeleting the question seems excessively punitive.

Do not delete the question. Add a comment (*FROM A MODERATOR*) that it was easily googleable, with a link to instructive stuff, and close the thread.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:04 PM on January 22, 2007


It's not that easy of a search. I probably would have found it, and half of MeFites probably would have found it. This is a very tech savy crowd. However, more than half of the people I know in the real world would never figure out the quote search part, and neither would plenty of MeFites. There is no use rubbing their faces in it. Rather than castigate the OP, I think it would be more appropriate for someone to point out that the best way to find lyrics, poems, etc. is to use a quote search - they needn't tack on "you lazy, ignoramous."

As for the thread, hey I found a new blog and a new poet - not bad. Close, delete? no.
posted by caddis at 8:27 PM on January 22, 2007


My only observation is that more mefites than I thought seem to have really bad taste in poetry.
posted by vacapinta at 8:46 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh man, making MetaTalk payperview would be a serious drain on my resources.

Don't bogart the crackpipe, man! I'll go into withdrawal!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:29 PM on January 22, 2007


I would imagine that saying "google and amazon gave me the answer to your question, here are links to both. if you're not familiar with these resources, you'd get your answers much quicker doing what I did, which is [blah]." would be a fine way to answer such a question, yeah? near as I'm aware, there is no way to discourage a growing user base from ever posting an easily researched answer, but individuals can be taught in individual instances to research better.
posted by shmegegge at 10:52 PM on January 22, 2007


agregoli, I'm glad to see you never ask easily Googleable questions.

That's funny you say that, because I never did get a satisfactory answer to that question, via Google OR AskMe. But it must have been fun to use that extra time on your hands mucking around in my posting history, huh?
posted by agregoli at 7:18 AM on January 23, 2007


Can't you just enjoy that and not work yourself into a lather about normative googleability?

Now there's a great username. normative googleability.
posted by Kwine at 8:27 AM on January 23, 2007


That's funny you say that, because I never did get a satisfactory answer to that question, via Google OR AskMe.

And now you do, so it's a win-win situation!

But it must have been fun to use that extra time on your hands mucking around in my posting history, huh?

Yeah, actually it was. Was it fun for you to use the extra time on your hands to complain about easily Googled questions here?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:43 AM on January 23, 2007


As long as people are happy to answer it (indeed, 3 of them stepped all over each other to answer it first) then I don't understand the harm.

Oh yeah, I guess this kind of question does kind of suck up the only-one-answer-every-two-weeks-allowed rule. So I guess those 3 people are now fucked.

Wait... no... precious AskMe front page real estate? Meh. You made my things-to-do-in-NYC question scroll down faster! Damn you!
posted by scarabic at 11:58 PM on January 23, 2007


If you think everyone has the Google knowledge to think of using quotes around the first line of the poem, you're probably not hanging out with a very diverse group of people.

Also, Google should bloody well do this automatically when you don't use any quotes in the search term.
posted by teleskiving at 6:03 AM on January 24, 2007


MORE HUGS!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:17 AM on January 24, 2007


Also, Google should bloody well do this automatically when you don't use any quotes in the search term.

WTF? So if I try googling roosevelt, gaulle, stalin, Google should automatically make it "roosevelt, gaulle, stalin"? Are you on crack?
posted by languagehat at 6:23 AM on January 24, 2007


A non-crack proposal: google should automatically do, in addition, a quoted search, and if the results seem to be at all meaningful, return some of them with a link to "more results for phrase literal".
posted by cortex at 7:10 AM on January 24, 2007


A non-crack proposal: google should automatically do, in addition, a quoted search, and if the results seem to be at all meaningful, return some of them with a link to "more results for phrase literal".

This is more or less what I meant. If there are matches for the full text entered they should appear at the top of the list (so long as they haven't been ranked as spam or whatever). It just seems silly not to do this. Of course I don't mean that other results should be excluded.
posted by teleskiving at 7:40 AM on January 24, 2007


Sorry for misreading you. Ok, the revised version makes sense.

*puts down crack pipe, staggers off*
posted by languagehat at 8:39 AM on January 24, 2007


It is a lot lazier, in real effort terms, to Google (TM) a question than to go through the various steps (and the delayed response) of posting to AskMe, so the laziness belongs to those who glibly refer to these as "lazy" questions. Rather like when Mill Maher correctly said "whatever the 9/11 terrorists were, they were not cowards." Of course, he got shitcanned for it.

AskMe is only partly about getting questions answered. It is also a forum for a certain kind of self performance. And there are people out there with poor Google chops, as well as people who are visually impaired in ways that make search-engine surfing the hardest thing you can do online, because it requires parsing so much text to find the best results. And then there are the strange, serendipitous great responses that go above and beyond the easily Google-able aspects of the question. A few bits on Matt's hard drive would seem a small price to pay for not foreclosing such possibilities for kharmic payback.

The open-ended chatfilter questions for which there are no good answers are clearly not in the spirit of AskMe (for those of us who are foundationalist about such things). But on the other side, there are a lot of things that some people know very well and others don't know well at all. One poster's stupid question is another's chance to learn something.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:04 AM on January 24, 2007


I never realised my question was going to cause such uproar. I am not stupid nor am I lazy and I did not post the thread for want of nothing better to do as infered in some of the comments. My intention was not to ask such a low-brow question on the site that supposedely even a moron could have answered. As I mentioned in my OP I had googled the entire poem albeitedlywithout speech-marks.

Lastly, I am glad I did ask however as not only did I source the poem I was looking and none of the negative comments can devalue this but I now also know to use quotation marks in the future to aid such a search.
posted by mycapaciousbottega at 2:44 PM on January 25, 2007


I now also know to use quotation marks in the future to aid such a search.

Excellent! Hugs all around!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:01 PM on January 25, 2007


* hugs everybody *
posted by matthewr at 3:15 AM on January 26, 2007


lol, my answer in that thread is no longer marked best answer.
posted by matthewr at 3:17 AM on January 26, 2007


Petty.
posted by grouse at 3:14 PM on January 27, 2007


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