Step 1: ask about bread Step 2: wait two weeks; Step 3: Ask about mayo. Step 4: Wait two weeks. April 1, 2007 8:56 PM   Subscribe

What is the policy on questions like this? Is ask.me the proper venue for asking questions that are serial in nature? Is helping someone through every specific aspect of their life (and at 2 week intervals) something that is condoned?
posted by Stynxno to Etiquette/Policy at 8:56 PM (95 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Note: this particular question has been answered before in many other employement related threads.
posted by Stynxno at 8:59 PM on April 1, 2007


I'm not against serial questionning, but if it's all questions we've done 10,000 times, I'd rather pass.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:01 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's nothing specifically wrong about asking questions that have a mundane narrative, I don't think; and "at 2 week intervals" is at least somewhat overstating the case even here.

That's completely independent of the search-before-you-post argument, which is something yellowbkpk could probably benefit from a bit more of.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:13 PM on April 1, 2007


Do "I Saw U" ads in The Stranger really work?

Help me prepare for my hot date tonight!

What are the actual odds of getting a girl pregnant from a one night stand if a condom wasn't used? I thought she might be on the pill, and she's never had a boyfriend before.

There seems to be a rash on my privates. Is this invariably VD or could it just be an allergy to nylon?

Is there any real harm done in not taking the full course of antibiotics prescribed for a bacterial infection?

A girl I saw once three months ago called me today (message) to say she's pregnant. Frankly, I have doubts that I might be the only man she was seeing at that time. Should I return her call?

QuickWeddingFilter: Where can a couple get married cheaply in Seattle? Is there any chance of getting a backdated certificate (complicated issues with her family inside).

How often does an average married couple have sex? Is twice a year about right? It feels like it should be more. We've been married six months.

DivorceFilter: My wife of four years says she wants out. Turns out she's been seeing someone the entire time we've been married, and "our" baby is actually theirs. Help.

Do "I Saw U" ads in The Stranger really work?
posted by maxwelton at 9:22 PM on April 1, 2007 [127 favorites]


The sad thing is that we've seen nearly all of those on Ask Me, albeit not posted by one single person.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:23 PM on April 1, 2007


If it is offensive, flag it.
If it is not your cup of tea, just move on.
If it somehow annoys you, contact the person privately.
Wait for a while.
Then, maybe, after exhausting these options, bring it up on MetaTalk.
posted by Dizzy at 9:29 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


There was a really sad example of these serial questioners recently. It went from honeymoon advice to how to deal with a broken enagement. It seems like a person who asks one really lengthy personal question has no barriers to asking more.
posted by smackfu at 9:35 PM on April 1, 2007


Why are you even asking this? I don't get it.

Is there a guideline saying this shouldn't be done?

Has anyone ever indicated this might be against the rules?

Have there ever been metatalk threads dealing with this issue?

The answer, I'm pretty sure is no. So why would it be against the rules? I mean, just because it bothers you? Why not just complain directly?

I just find the whole thing baffling. Why would there be a rule against something no one's ever complained about? What's up with people assuming that rules just exist?
posted by delmoi at 9:36 PM on April 1, 2007


It does seem like it's getting old, maybe we should drop the guy an email.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:51 PM on April 1, 2007


I nominate Styxno.
posted by Dizzy at 9:06 PM on April 1, 2007


I hate it when people use a website designed for asking questions about stuff you want to know to ask questions about stuff they want to know.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:26 PM on April 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I really don't get this either. You mean he's asking a question every two weeks? What a bastard!
posted by puke & cry at 9:36 PM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Helping those who need it and ask for it embiggens us all.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:43 PM on April 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Dizzy If it somehow annoys you, contact the person privately.

delmoi [blah, blah, blah, blah] Why not just complain directly?

This is horrible advice. Metafilter is a community. Issues should be discussed in Metatalk.
posted by mlis at 9:49 PM on April 1, 2007


This is horrible advice. Metafilter is a community. Issues should be discussed in Metatalk.

I didn't mean the poster should email the asker, in fact I don't like that idea at all. What I meant was that Stynxno should have just said "I don't like this guy asking serial questions" rather then asking "is there are rule against serial questions"
posted by delmoi at 9:54 PM on April 1, 2007


Oh. Very good.
posted by mlis at 10:00 PM on April 1, 2007


You mean he's asking a question every two weeks? What a bastard!

Well, it's a community, and if more than one user stepped through their life two weeks at a time using Ask MeFi, it'd get old really quick. A lot of the stuff brought to metatalk is like this: it seems innocuous on the surface, but really, it's about one user kinda hogging the resource and not simply using the search functionality for questions that have been asked numerous times before. The beef seems to be they're not showing discretion when asking questions.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:05 PM on April 1, 2007


Well, he didn't ask if there were a rule (of which there are, happily, few), he asked if it should be condoned.

Which may amount to the same thing, depending on who the implied subject of the passive voice is meant to be.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:06 PM on April 1, 2007


That dude seems to have a lot of problems with German-made cars.
posted by spiderwire at 10:06 PM on April 1, 2007


The beef seems to be they're not showing discretion when asking questions.

Hmm. I'm not sure I'm following this, now. The user can't 'hog the resource' -- none of us can ask a question more often than once every two weeks. If it meets the guidelines -- solvable, not particularly hypothetical or poll-esque (although enforced conformance to those guidelines have notably gone by the wayside to some extent as time has gone on, so it's hard to understand exactly what is acceptable and what isn't any more) -- then in what way is serially questioning unworthy?

I (for one) freaking loathe relationshipfilter questions and therefore stay the hell out of them, but they've been positively encouraged lately. This is a far 'better' and more answerable question than any of those. I find it hard to see any way to justify letting people ask those 'my girlfriend caught me looking at doglove.com what should I do' questions but not giving a pass to someone who wants to query the community on ongoing situations in their life, questions which do not transgress the guidelines, and in fact hew more closely to them than many other questions that stay up.

I realize this is the flipside of trying to minimize the number of rules as a Guiding Principle, that things are never clear cut, and that's good, but I don't understand why it might be argued that this user shouldn't ask whatever they please, if it's within the guidelines.

*shrugs*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:17 PM on April 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


I find it hard to see any way to justify letting people ask those 'my girlfriend caught me looking at doglove.com what should I do' questions

entertainment value!
posted by spiderwire at 10:20 PM on April 1, 2007


Well, true, there is that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:22 PM on April 1, 2007


This is brilliant.

I'm tempted to create a sockpuppet and write my next story in bi-monthly AskMe installments.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:27 PM on April 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


If a question has really been asked many times before, point to the older ones and delete the new one. If answering this person's every question gets old for people they'll stop responding. Other than that, what're you gonna do? If a poster was really showing a total lack of independent thought ("I did precisely what you told me to. Now tell me what to do next!") then someone dropping a line might be a nice thing to do ("Hey, maybe you could talk about these things with your friends?"), but it's not really an issue for the usability of AskMe. I mean, is it?
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:52 PM on April 1, 2007


I thought the asking limit was returned to once a week at the end of February. Did that change again?
posted by delmoi at 10:54 PM on April 1, 2007


Yes -- totally. Do it.
I will leave comments in all your posts saying either (a) that you are terrible for asking the question, or (b) that you dont really want what you think you want, with great pleasure.

Is it a story about a suicide, or a serial killer?
posted by Methylviolet at 11:00 PM on April 1, 2007


Is it a story about a suicide, or a serial killer?

Both! Both!

Ooh, or maybe:

"I get the feeling that I'm being followed by someone from work. What's the quickest way to get a restraining order in Atlanta?"

Two weeks later:

"Where's the best place / what's the best method to stash the body of a no-good tattletale in downtown Atlanta? [more inside]"

"Is it made more difficult if the rat had a restraining order on you? What about if they're not all in one piece? Also, does anyone know where this 'stavrosthewonderchicken' that gave all that wonderful restraining-order advice in the recent AskMe thread lives? I'd really like to thank him. P.S. This is all for a totally fictional story I'm writing"

posted by spiderwire at 11:24 PM on April 1, 2007


I'm oddly reminded of an ex-coworker who drove me barking mad by asking questions as a work avoidance method. I don't mean questions about work, but stuff like which cell phone should she buy and did I think she should dump her boyfriend du jour and where was a good place to buy fresh flowers on tuesdays and did this color nail polish look good on her toes and my.god.she.never.fucking.shut.up. I tried being polite, I tried being direct, I tried pleading with my boss for different office, and in the end, I snapped "Spain" when she asked where she should go for flamenco lessons right before I slapped on my newly purchased pair of noise-canceling headphones.

And yet, here I am now, lurking on AskMe as a work avoidance method.
posted by jamaro at 11:34 PM on April 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Speaking of bad advice, I laughed at this:
Wait until you have about 3 or 4 weeks of vacation and sick time saved up, then quit.

In every entry-level job I've seen (in the U.S.), that would sentence the asker to at least eight years at the one he's got. Since he's already told his boss that he wants to move to a different city, I kind of doubt he's going to reach that vacation/sick time goal.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:02 AM on April 2, 2007


I don't understand why it might be argued that this user shouldn't ask whatever they please, if it's within the guidelines.

Seconded. Why on earth shouldn't a person keep asking questions about their personal life? (Questions that have already been covered are a separate issue.) I think this is a lame callout, and I don't understand why mathowie doesn't seem to think so. But there are many things I don't understand.
posted by languagehat at 5:37 AM on April 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Agreed, l-hat---
I didn't know that questions should be vetted for entertainment value as well as adherence to the other guidelines.
But then, my advice in this situation is "horrible".
posted by Dizzy at 5:44 AM on April 2, 2007


What I meant was that Stynxno should have just said "I don't like this guy asking serial questions" rather then asking "is there are rule against serial questions"

Right, because personal callouts go SO WELL here in Metatalk.

This isn't about pointing out one person and saying OMG BAD BAD BAD- it's saying, here's a line of behavior (that we've seen in more than one user, so this isn't about one guy) that we might not want to encourage, for a reason people have already said- it sets a bad precedent. Particularly if the user is posting general questions we've already done again and again, where the only unique point is that they're linking them back to their history. I'm also vaguely uncomfortable with the idea of AskMeta as end-all, be-all for ALL the major decisions in someone's life. A few things, ok, but when it gets to be a habit, that's when I start to feel... strange about the whole thing.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:54 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, when you articulate it that succinctly it seems pretty reasonable after all...
The tough part is applying this law evenly and fairly to all the flavors of "serial" posters, yes?
(and ThePSuHero gets my vote for official "Translator")
posted by Dizzy at 6:03 AM on April 2, 2007


Maybe the AskMe limit should be changed from two weeks to four weeks. That'll help keep (serial) questions to a minimum.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:07 AM on April 2, 2007


Hasn't this already been condoned in the past?
IIRC, there was a AskMeFi poster who asked serial questions to help build his theater, whose results were posted to MeTa. I don't remember a peep of, "OMG, SERIAL POSTER," but rather received comments of, "OMG, AWESOME!!!"

Well, it's a community, and if more than one user stepped through their life two weeks at a time using Ask MeFi, it'd get old really quick.

A good section of questions already are of them "I don't know what to do at x point in my due to y reasons. What should I do? Help me, hive mind!" What difference does it make as to who is asking the question? So what if a few posters ask the same type of question every two weeks. I suspect the average user wouldn't even notice or care that certain users use the majority of their questions asking about how to make important decisions.
posted by jmd82 at 6:20 AM on April 2, 2007


I somewhat agree with styxno that this is annoying behavior. But I have no clue how this can be regulated without draconian or unnecessarily time-consuming intervention by the mods. Seems like it s just something that goes with the territory.
posted by googly at 6:20 AM on April 2, 2007


The serial questions read like an epistolary novel. Not saying that he's writing one, but someone could...
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:28 AM on April 2, 2007


Seems fine, and just what AskMe is for. Getting sick of the otherwise legitimate questions seems like a dubious reason for censure.
posted by OmieWise at 6:40 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I'm also vaguely uncomfortable with the idea of AskMeta as end-all, be-all for ALL the major decisions in someone's life."

That's what MeCha is for.

or, alternately—

Just think of the power!

(He should be encouraged to search, lest Matthowie decide that the limit should be one per month. By the way, weren't we evaluating that policy come April? It's April.)
posted by klangklangston at 7:07 AM on April 2, 2007


"By the way, weren't we evaluating that policy come April?"

We? Are you the mouse in Matt's pocket?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:19 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Speaking of bad advice, I laughed at this:
Wait until you have about 3 or 4 weeks of vacation and sick time saved up, then quit.

In every entry-level job I've seen (in the U.S.), that would sentence the asker to at least eight years at the one he's got. Since he's already told his boss that he wants to move to a different city, I kind of doubt he's going to reach that vacation/sick time goal.


That's not necessarily true at all. My job is entry-level, and I get 4 weeks of vacation plus Christmas week every year. Obviously this is a pretty sweet deal but the point is that different employers do vacation differently. We don't really know what yellowbkpk's industry is, as far as I can tell, so that's only bad advice if he tries it without first finding out if it's possible with his employer's vacation policy.
posted by lampoil at 7:19 AM on April 2, 2007


Is helping someone through every specific aspect of their life

Doubt that. He hasn't asked any sex questions yet.
posted by desuetude at 7:47 AM on April 2, 2007


Once, metafilter was considered a place where the community policed itself. Rather than shitting that thread, I posted a question here about serial posting - specifically where one user decides to point out his history in every single question he asked. The questions have been asked before, the user isn't using the search function, and they are using ask.me as their own version of friends only livejournal entries. We've ratted on people for not being members of the community before and yellowbkpk only posts questions to the green and not many answers. He is only using ask.me to hold his hand. He's not contributing to it.

I ask this question not to rag on this guy (even though he does annoy me) but rather to see if the community feels that this use of ask.me is valid and acceptable. If it is, then I'm sure that the community will enjoy seeing 20 or other acting in the same manner. I personally think that would change ask.me from the resource it is now to something that would make even teeny bopper girls cringe. Ask.me isn't your bartender or your friend who is too polite to say anything while you vent, whine, and squirm, through every minor decision in your life.

I tried to keep my personal bias out of the initial question to see if anyone else picked up on what I did. Mathowie, thepinksuperhero and a few others did. Others didn't. Such is life and such is metatalk.
posted by Stynxno at 7:56 AM on April 2, 2007


Well I think your bias came through nonetheless, which is fine. This is as much about style as it is about anything. Self-referential banter kind of questions read a bit dorky but the serial nature of them is allowed. I don't think it's abuse, it's just not quite as stylish as most.

Oh...asking questions is contributing, although I don't really rate completely personal questions as much of a contribution. I still side with those who think a question:answer ratio is a poor metric in determining whether someone is behaving well or whatever. I'm just saying that dragging in the contribution index is not really called for when your complaint enquiry is about serial questions. I do think that you don't like the poster and perhaps you should just skip 'em. To summarize: I think you raising this is fair; I don't really see a problem.
posted by peacay at 8:34 AM on April 2, 2007


I tried to keep my personal bias out of the initial question to see if anyone else picked up on what I did.... thepinksuperhero and a few others did.

Well, that's a shocker.

I'm also vaguely uncomfortable with the idea of AskMeta as end-all, be-all for ALL the major decisions in someone's life.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero


And yet you favorite every single 'major decision in someone's life' that's posted, including this one. Strange, that.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 8:44 AM on April 2, 2007


Oh, don't get me wrong, I like reading "human relations" questions. But if I look into a poster's history and that's all they ask and it's serial in nature like a soap opera, or even worse, I see the username and think, oh no, so and so is spilling their guts AGAIN, I feel strange about it. Sort of embarassed on their behalf.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:51 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


We've ratted on people for not being members of the community before and yellowbkpk only posts questions to the green and not many answers

Who is this "we?" Yes, some people feel that users who post questions to AskMe should also contribute by posting answers. Other people, myself included, very strongly feel that people's questions shouldn't be judged on the basis of how many answers they've contributed in the past. I can't stop you from checking the posting history of every Asker to make sure they have contributed enough answers to meet your standards before you provide an answer, but I wish to retain the ability to answer questions of people who have posted 100 questions and no answers (assuming the questions are otherwise legitimate).

If it is, then I'm sure that the community will enjoy seeing 20 or other acting in the same manner.

Except that serial questions are already allowed, and we don't have 20 or so other people acting in that manner, thus demonstrating the fallacy of your slippery slope argument. The argument holds as much water as "We must forbid all questions about Boston, because if we allow questions about Boston, many people will ask them and this place will turn into BostonFilter."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:56 AM on April 2, 2007


I fucking hate BostonFilter.

"I can't stop you from checking the posting history of every Asker to make sure they have contributed enough answers to meet your standards before you provide an answer, but I wish to retain the ability to answer questions of people who have posted 100 questions and no answers (assuming the questions are otherwise legitimate)."

Who's talking about taking that away? Use your inhaler; you're hyperventilating.

"Except that serial questions are already allowed, and we don't have 20 or so other people acting in that manner, thus demonstrating the fallacy of your slippery slope argument."

As AskMe grows, while the percentage may not increase, the absolute number is likely to.

Further, I don't think Styxno is asking for a diktat, but rather a soft policy, or a disincentive. There are plenty of things that are discouraged in AskMe, but still kosher to ask. It just requires people to put some thought into their questions prior to hitting the post button. But, since you like the straw men, I suppose you're also against people having to think about their questions or consider community norms.
posted by klangklangston at 9:04 AM on April 2, 2007


Doubt that. He hasn't asked any sex questions yet.

Wait till he's finally living in Minneapolis with his GF.

I was pretty annoyed with the last in this series by this poster, and in general want to yell at 1/2 of the relationship question askers, living your life by proxy is not really living. However, I also think there should be a good, objective, reason before deleting them. Like, if the question has been asked and answered a sufficient number of times already...
posted by edgeways at 9:07 AM on April 2, 2007


Further, I don't think Styxno is asking for a diktat, but rather a soft policy, or a disincentive.

Presumably the soft policy or disincentive he's asking for is something stronger than "if you don't like the question, don't answer it," since that already exists. I'm having trouble understanding just what he's asking for, though, if it's not outright deletion of such questions.

As AskMe grows, while the percentage may not increase, the absolute number is likely to.

As AskMe grows, while the percentage of questions about Boston may not increase, the absolute number is likely to.

Why would an increase in the aboslute number of serial questions be a problem, above and beyond the obvious problems which might be caused by an overall increase in the number of questions of all types?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:28 AM on April 2, 2007


Flag it and move on?
posted by desuetude at 9:28 AM on April 2, 2007


Yeah, that's pretty weak. If the individual doesn't realize the ridiculous nature of their incessant inquisitive reveries they should be shamed out of the habit forthwith. I'd also say Blazecock is onto something here; if an individual has to wait an entire month for the next regressive coddling session they may get used to going without them all together, which would be ideal.

mathowie has expressed similar sentiments in the past, if every user account consumed their alloted quota for the specific periods allowed in a constantly recurring fashion the site would be broken. I see no reason this perspective cannot include questions of a fairly watered down, generalized or overly specific lifestyle/career variety expressed in the most asinine context... "See my posting history to catch up on my life story!"
posted by prostyle at 9:36 AM on April 2, 2007


What's it called when you post a MetaTalk thread and then you have your girlfriend comment a minute later to support you? Cock puppet is probably too harsh, but something like that maybe.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 9:47 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd also say Blazecock is onto something here

Sorry, I was poking lighthearted fun. Next time, I'll suggest getting rid of questions altogether and just allowing answers. This will help answer the answer-to-question ratio question.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:48 AM on April 2, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm having trouble understanding just what he's asking for, though, if it's not outright deletion of such questions.

It's the Why Are You Bringing This Up dilemma. It's damned hard to broach a subject in here without generating a kind of default defensive response, a sort of assuming-the-worst vetting process that has good effects and ill.

And it goes something like this:
- if it is a problem, what would we do about it?
- and if there isn't something sensible to do about it, why are you bringing it up?
- and if it's not a problem, why are you bringing it up?

I'm pretty sure Stynxno wasn't going for the attack or for a ban. "Soft disincentive" is a good phrase, though what we have at our disposal for such things isn't always clear. Matt suggested what seems like the most practical approach to this situation in particular: emailing the user with a "hey, so, check it out" advisory and watch out for copycats.

Plus, simply have the discussion in Metatalk can help get people thinking more directly about a specific issue, which helps to evaluate whether or not it is an issue or just an aberration. I suppose that's an effective sort of communal soft disincentive: more eyes actively on the situation for the next short while, at least, and probable followup discussion if it turns out to be an issue and not just an outlier.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:50 AM on April 2, 2007


desuetude writes "Doubt that. He hasn't asked any sex questions yet."

Those kind of questions tend to be anonymous.
posted by Mitheral at 9:59 AM on April 2, 2007


Why can't we just flag-delete the questions that have already been asked and answered by others, and let him ask the new-strange ones, even if they are serial-y?
posted by that girl at 10:01 AM on April 2, 2007


DevilsAdvocate writes "The argument holds as much water as 'We must forbid all questions about Boston, because if we allow questions about Boston, many people will ask them and this place will turn into BostonFilter.'"

I don't know about Boston but the noob rush seems to have dampened the constant NYC love.
posted by Mitheral at 10:14 AM on April 2, 2007


lampoil wrote:
That's not necessarily true at all. My job is entry-level, and I get 4 weeks of vacation plus Christmas week every year. Obviously this is a pretty sweet deal but the point is that different employers do vacation differently.

Did I say it was universally, necessarily, true? No- I said that no entry level job I'd seen came with anything like that kind of vacation/sick time package. Obviously, I didn't see yours, which you admit is "a pretty sweet deal." And your having Xmas week off is not going to get you anywhere if you try to apply the advice I laughed at - if you give your notice December 7 and say you'll be using vacation time up to Xmas, you won't get paid for Xmas week. Nor will you likely get any accrued sick time, regardless of when you quit. The point is that the chance the advice would be of any use to the questioner is vanishingly small.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:16 AM on April 2, 2007


Y'know, although the poster points to his question history, his use of AskMe isn't at all confined to questions about his personal life. The last one was Jan 15th, and out of 19 questions asked over 13 months (in other words, far fewer than the allowed number), only 5 might be considered overtly personal. Some of his others mention people in his life (a question about his gf's car, for instance), but that's a matter of style and not of substance.

All of that to say that aside from not using the search function, which is annoying, I'm not sure what this user did wrong. It's simply false that he's using the resource as anything akin to a livejournal account, and so we come back to the notion that he's annoying, and that his questions are therefore annoying. After taking a closer look at his posting history, I still think that finding the guy annoying is a poor platform for either a MetaTalk thread or administrative decisions.
posted by OmieWise at 10:22 AM on April 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Presumably the soft policy or disincentive he's asking for is something stronger than "if you don't like the question, don't answer it," since that already exists. I'm having trouble understanding just what he's asking for, though, if it's not outright deletion of such questions.

it's like the stupid name my baby/name my band/ name my left testicle questions. I can't really stand them and believe they should all be nuked from orbit. Other people thing otherwise, they're allowed on the site, and I accept it. This is beyond the 'flag and move on' - it's more like 'should I even bother flagging this because it's going to be allowed anyways' kind of thing. I can flag every question I dislike but if I know before hand that it's not going to change, I'll save the clicking for something useful.

The Boston Analogy only works if the same user was posting questions such as 'what's a good neighorhood to stay in boston?' then asking 'okay. now what's a good hotel in that neighborhood' followed by 'what's a good restaurant near that notel in boston?' and then another question like 'okay, so after i eat at that restaurant, can i still make it to see the Boston Pops?'. yellowbkpk's posting behavior reminds me of that rather than just a guy posting several semi-related questions.
posted by Stynxno at 10:35 AM on April 2, 2007


All of that to say that aside from not using the search function, which is annoying, I'm not sure what this user did wrong.

Ah, another sensible person.

It boggles my mind that some people are bothered by other people's asking more than one question about their life. But hey, if you have no worse problems in your own life and need to keep your bile ducts working, go for it!
posted by languagehat at 10:41 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


LOL, you're one to talk about bile ducts, languagehat.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:48 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seriously though, this thread has been very civilized (who are you people?). And I cannot help but laugh when anyone in Metatalk says Why Do You Care, You Silly Losers? It sounds ridiculous (pot = kettle). If you are here, you, too, are a silly loser.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:07 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Please add me to the "this is not a problem" column. In fact, I quite enjoy a narrative arc to a series of questions.

Too bad tamin's no longer around.
posted by timeistight at 11:24 AM on April 2, 2007


s/b "tamim"
posted by timeistight at 11:33 AM on April 2, 2007


Next time, I'll suggest getting rid of questions altogether and just allowing answers. This will help answer the answer-to-question ratio question.


1. Get rid of askme questions.
2. Divide by zero.
3. Panic!
posted by found dog one eye at 11:59 AM on April 2, 2007


This looks like one of those times when you're only bothered because the poster pointed out what they did. Chances are that, if someone had come up to you and asked "what do you think about the idea that someone would come to askme and regularly ask for community advice on their life," your answers would all be varied, but almost none of you would say "I think there should be a policy against it." And even if you WOULD say that, it simply wouldn't have occurred to you to check on it if this person hadn't posted a link to their askme history and specifically called attention to what said history showed.

Personally, I think relying that heavily on the metafilter community for guidance is FOOLISH, but that's his problem, not ours. The only reason I could see anyone emailing the poor soul, whether its mathowie or joe-user-number, would be to say "Hey, I know it's none of my business, but we really aren't the people to be getting life lessons from. I, for example, have developed the eyesight of an aged mole because I spend too little time in daylight and too much time WORRYING ABOUT HOW OTHER PEOPLE USE THEIR TIME ON ASKME."
posted by shmegegge at 12:11 PM on April 2, 2007


because I spend too little time in daylight and too much time WORRYING ABOUT HOW OTHER PEOPLE USE THEIR TIME ON ASKME.

your desire to illustrate your elitism is pretty funny since you're posting it to the grey. And it all caps too. Someone learned how to hold the shift key down today.
posted by Stynxno at 12:19 PM on April 2, 2007


it was meant as a joke, sir. i hereby wholeheartedly offer my apologies if what I intended as simple ribbing in any way wounded or otherwise damaged your pride.
posted by shmegegge at 12:27 PM on April 2, 2007


Thought I'd chime in as the author of the example "serial questions."

I suppose I'd like to see a definition of serial posts, but if it would make everyone feel better if I did not post references back to my previous questions (and their answers) in my questions, I certainly can stop doing that.

I perform multiple searches for each of the questions (and variations thereof) before I post them. I don't post questions if I find an answer that helps me on the first couple pages of results. For every question I have posted, I was not able to find a satisfactory answer to the question I had in mind. If the question seems like a dupe of a previous question, then it could be that I was not articulating my thought clearly enough, because if I post it, I wasn't able to find an answer.

Furthermore, I believe that each of the questions that I posted could stand on their own as individual questions. Each of them are about something that I view as a significant, answerable, and "bigger-than-me" question about life. Others seem to agree, because they have offered answers that have helped me move forward. By no means do I use these people's answers as the map for my life, but rather as an input into a complex function. I've always been taught that the more you know, the better off you are, so when I found AskMetafilter I immediately sent in my $5 so that I could participate and get more input (and give more, too).

Finally, if there's an issue with over-use of this resource, how about we change to a different metric to determine how often you can post. I don't like the answers/questions ratio for reasons already given by others. How about a "percentage of lame-flagged questions" type of solution?
posted by yellowbkpk at 12:34 PM on April 2, 2007


i really wouldn't lose any sleep over it, ybkpk.
posted by spiderwire at 1:04 PM on April 2, 2007


Did I say it was universally, necessarily, true? No- I said that no entry level job I'd seen came with anything like that kind of vacation/sick time package. Obviously, I didn't see yours, which you admit is "a pretty sweet deal." And your having Xmas week off is not going to get you anywhere if you try to apply the advice I laughed at - if you give your notice December 7 and say you'll be using vacation time up to Xmas, you won't get paid for Xmas week. Nor will you likely get any accrued sick time, regardless of when you quit. The point is that the chance the advice would be of any use to the questioner is vanishingly small.

Well, regardless of the details of my employer's vacation policy, I just think that whether it's bad advice or not depends not on how long it would take him--it seems just as unlikely to me that it would take him 8 years to save up 3 weeks as it is that it would take him 6 months to save up 3 weeks, but whatever--but rather on whether it's allowed by the policy and whether it's condoned by the work atmosphere. In some workplaces, people do stuff like that all the time. In others it wouldn't fly, and even if it were technically allowed, you might lose a good reference because people would see it as being in bad taste. I'd be more worried about that. Anyway.
posted by lampoil at 1:16 PM on April 2, 2007


yellowbkpk - I agree that there shouldn't be a metric based strictly on the answers/questions ratio, because it would encourage people to post nonsense in order to up their answer ratio.

However, I think there is (or at least should be) some sort of honor system at work here. Unfortunately, it isn't really working.

I'm all for public shaming. If people ask a bunch of self-validating, shallow questions without providing any real answers, we call them out on it in the thread.

"I know exactly how many mgs of vasodilators you need to stop your cat's heart attack, but you haven't posted enough good answers to this website yet, and I think you're just abusing it rather than participating in the community."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:18 PM on April 2, 2007


The Boston Analogy only works if the same user was posting questions such as 'what's a good neighorhood to stay in boston?' then asking 'okay. now what's a good hotel in that neighborhood' followed by 'what's a good restaurant near that notel in boston?' and then another question like 'okay, so after i eat at that restaurant, can i still make it to see the Boston Pops?'.

No, that would not be a "Boston Analogy," that would be the same situation you are describing with the additional element that all of the questions are about Boston (hence, not an analogy, in the same way Michigan is not an analogy to a state, Michigan is a state). What you describe is a Boston Example, not a Boston Analogy.

The Boston Analogy was intended as a demonstration that your argument that "a lot of people will start doing it, and that would be bad" was incorrect, becuase a lot of people aren't doing it, and there's no reason to believe that a lot of people are going to suddenly start doing it once they see that a few people are doing it. I see no more reason to believe that a lot of people will now suddenly start posting serial questions, than I have to believe that a lot of people will suddenly start posting questions about Boston.

I'm pretty sure Stynxno wasn't going for the attack or for a ban. "Soft disincentive" is a good phrase, though what we have at our disposal for such things isn't always clear. Matt suggested what seems like the most practical approach to this situation in particular: emailing the user with a "hey, so, check it out" advisory and watch out for copycats.

Thanks, cortex, that puts my mind at ease. I'm still not sure it's a problem at all, but if something has to be done, that seems a reasonable thing to do.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:49 PM on April 2, 2007


Put me in the column of: "don't get me wrong, I like reading 'human relations' questions. But if I look into a poster's history and that's all they ask and it's serial in nature like a soap opera, or even worse, I see the username and think, oh no, so and so is spilling their guts AGAIN, I feel strange about it."

With regard to: "I'm not sure what this user did wrong. It's simply false that he's using the resource as anything akin to a livejournal account, and so we come back to the notion that he's annoying"

...don't know much about yellowbkpk but he/she is hardly the only one. There are plenty of AskMe addicts who I picture just sitting around frozen with indecision for 13 days and 23 hours till they can pounce on the keyboard to get help with things like "I'm a completely average 26-year-old with a dead-end boring job and an unexpected financial windfall, should I go to Europe?" "I want to lose weight. How to go about it?" "Should I buy a car?" "Should I sell my car?" "Am I a summer or a winter?" "Should I eat this sandwich?" "I've got a weird relationship with my mom/dad/girlfriend/boss, and I think I might like to talk to someone who knows about weird relationships, but I just can't figure out how to go about that?" "What is this bump on my elbow?" "Am I a bad cat mom?" "Is my cat a summer or a winter?"

It clutters the site and makes me want to altogether stop answering the sorts of questions that do make AskMe interesting. It's different when it's one, occasionally... but when it's 100% of the poster's participation on the site, it turns this place into LookAtMe.

Ergo, "If the individual doesn't realize the ridiculous nature of their incessant inquisitive reveries they should be shamed out of the habit forthwith."

It doesn't have to be done cruelly. But I also don't think that private emails are going to work on people who are seeking constant public validation and interaction. A pattern of polite, brief, public redirects to the more appropriate resource (Google, Nolo, the forums at QuarterLifeCrisis, WebMD, Yahoo Answers, whatever) ...especially when delivered by mods, old-timers and the alpha posters from whom the approval is being sought... might work though.

ALSO P.S. HAVE BEEN HERE 24 HRS AND HTIS PLACE SUX I WANT MY $5 BACK
posted by Side Pony at 9:07 PM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is not a problem.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:19 PM on April 2, 2007


Plus, simply have the discussion in Metatalk can help get people thinking more directly about a specific issue

This is very true. As a mefi noob, lurking in the grey has helped alot when I've been confused or made an ass of myself. Directing posters whose actions are in doubt over to Metatalk seems like a good start.

I think there is (or at least should be) some sort of honor system at work here. Unfortunately, it isn't really working.

I think some of this is due to ignorance/ inexperience. People (like ylwbkpk and myself) find askme, jump for joy, sign up and want to make use of it before they're as seasoned as the long-time mefites. If somebody's serial posting, or doing something that is somewhat discouraged but not stopped by community policing, it couldn't hurt to email them and tell them that they should follow some of the discussions here at metatalk. I know it's not easy, but there's no big fix-all for this kind of thing, so you kinda have to just encourage individual users to develop their sense of mefi. That gets people thinking critically about the community value of their posts.
posted by conch soup at 9:46 PM on April 2, 2007


It clutters the site and makes me want to altogether stop answering the sorts of questions that do make AskMe interesting.

OK, that makes zero sense to me ("Ooh, A asked a dumb question, so I'm not going to answer B's good one—that'll show 'em!"), but hey, if you want to drop out of AskMe, I'm sure we'll survive somehow.

when it's 100% of the poster's participation on the site, it turns this place into LookAtMe.

It does? How does that work, exactly? Because when I see a question, I don't click on the poster's name and go into their posting history to determine what portions of the site they frequent and what their ratio of questions asked to questions answered is or anything like that. If I find the question interesting, I click on it; if not, I move on. I submit that if you insist on peering into people's posting history, the problem lies with you more than with them. You may also have too much time on your hands.
posted by languagehat at 5:33 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are plenty of AskMe addicts who I picture just sitting around frozen with indecision for 13 days and 23 hours till they can pounce on the keyboard to get help with things like "I'm a completely average 26-year-old with a dead-end boring job and an unexpected financial windfall, should I go to Europe?" "I want to lose weight. How to go about it?" "Should I buy a car?" "Should I sell my car?" "Am I a summer or a winter?" "Should I eat this sandwich?" "I've got a weird relationship with my mom/dad/girlfriend/boss, and I think I might like to talk to someone who knows about weird relationships, but I just can't figure out how to go about that?" "What is this bump on my elbow?" "Am I a bad cat mom?" "Is my cat a summer or a winter?"

I'm now imagining you spend a lot of time thinking about all of the questions that "bug" you so that you can be bitchy about it. This whine posted via sockpuppet, I presume?
posted by desuetude at 5:53 AM on April 3, 2007


OK, that makes zero sense to me ("Ooh, A asked a dumb question, so I'm not going to answer B's good one—that'll show 'em!"),

It's not cherry-picking, out of spite, which would be petulant and pointless. It's about an overall fatigue when seeing an increasing pattern of banal, self-indulgent questions.

but hey, if you want to drop out of AskMe, I'm sure we'll survive somehow.

I'm not the owner of this place but I have a hard time believing that the path to world domination includes "let the banal attention-seekers run off the more substantive contributors." Matt has acknowledged that there's not nothing to Styxno's complaint.

when it's 100% of the poster's participation on the site, it turns this place into LookAtMe.

It does? How does that work, exactly? Because when I see a question, I don't click on the poster's name and go into their posting history...
I submit that if you insist on peering into people's posting history, the problem lies with you more than with them. You may also have too much time on your hands.


Sorry that you seem to have less memory capacity than I do; I can remember things for two weeks and longer. I don't have to go into a person's history and analyze their activity to note a behavior pattern.

As earlier stated, it's more a case of merely seeing the question on the green and involuntarily eye rolling and thinking, "If [username] is looking for a community of Best Friends and Warm Fuzzies, there are hundreds out there. AskMe isn't one of them."

Still, I'll allow that if I'm the only one that can just remember that certain people seem to be constantly attention-whoring... whereas other commenters here are combing through posting histories to find people to whinge on at MeTa... that it's an issue of "those people need to get a life, and I just need to stop coming or stop caring."
posted by Side Pony at 5:58 AM on April 3, 2007


Well, as I pointed out before, the premise that he used all of his questions for this kind of thing is simply false. So we must be talking about something else.

Posting to substantive conversations in which you actually disagree with folks and make snide comments about other users (real and assumed) with a sock puppet is very bad form. It's hard to imagine that you could actually have the courage of your convictions when you don't have the requisite courage.
posted by OmieWise at 6:06 AM on April 3, 2007


"Posting to substantive conversations in which you actually disagree with folks and make snide comments about other users (real and assumed) with a sock puppet is very bad form. It's hard to imagine that you could actually have the courage of your convictions when you don't have the requisite courage."

That's certainly one way to look at it.

I want the site to continue to be good and interesting, and I have an opinion to that end, and I agreed with the original post and thought to share it. I guess I don't see where it matters what username is attached to that sharing. I pointed out distinctly that I don't have an opinion on the poster called out up thread, just an opinion on the pattern of behavior.

Is my opinion only valid in MeTa if I offer up my own background for detractors to assess and deride... and then only if that background is considered hefty enough? Or if my user number is low enough?

If so, why?

I think if you look at my posting history, it's blatantly obvious why I might have needed a different account. My original comments fall squarely under the headers of appropriate reasons to sock-puppet. It's surly to suggest that the mere act of having one at all somehow precludes my participation in this MeTa thread. And if I'm misunderstanding the guidelines, I'm sure one of the mods will contact me at the very real and functional email address I registered with.

OmieWise, I don't agree with you that courage is somehow defined by choosing one anonymous, fictional Internet name over another, in order to post about the posting at a recreational blog. Nor that having an opinion about the posting patterns at a blog somehow represent anything as lofty as convictions.
posted by Side Pony at 6:28 AM on April 3, 2007


My comment has nothing to do with user numbers or with any metric which measures site participation. It's clear from the posting history attached to the Side Pony account that you had something to say in a sensitive thread, and a sock puppet seems like an entirely appropriate way to make those comments.

You haven't provided any justification for using it to comment in this thread, however. Since the conversation here is about, roughly, community and the best ways to foster community, the issue of anonymity is a canard. What matters is not that anyone knows your real name, but that there is some consistency within your anonymous identity. While there are philosophical differences about this which have been previously rehearsed in MetaTalk, that's the argument that you're making when you suggest that remembering a poster's past questions informs your response to current questions.

So why use a sockpuppet in this thread unless you want to circumvent the very processes of judgment about which you're posting? Of course this conversation has nothing to do with 'real' courage (perhaps you've never heard the common phrase 'courage of your convictions' used to describe the stance a person takes in discussion?), and in the grand scheme of things this conversation means nothing. But if those things are true (which they are), why not post under your usual username?
posted by OmieWise at 6:51 AM on April 3, 2007


recreational blog

Heh.

I'm as pro-sock puppet as they come, but this does seem an odd use. My theory? Well, since you asked, Side Pony just to forgot to switch names and got its cackles raised when called on it.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:11 AM on April 3, 2007


What matters is not that anyone knows your real name, but that there is some consistency within your anonymous identity. While there are philosophical differences about this which have been previously rehearsed in MetaTalk, that's the argument that you're making when you suggest that remembering a poster's past questions informs your response to current questions.

I simply don't hold this view. I disagree that the mental ability to remember a poster's past questions is somehow arguing that there must be consistency within my anonymous identity.

Nor do I agree that my opinion of how to participate best in this community has to parallel everyone else's.

(In fact, talk about meta: there are comments here supporting the annoying attention-seekers "because, well, they're within the guidelines so who cares, be annoyed and get over it." Yet here I am getting flack for using a sock-puppet... within the guidelines but in a manner that seems to annoy some. Maybe Alanis will do a cover of this thread.)

Would my opinion on this be any more or less valid if I had been lurking for the last five years, instead of actively posting? I'm not being snide, I'm genuinely curious. Does a certain amount of activity qualify one to observe trends?

The primary reason I didn't post in this thread under another username is that I happened to be logged in with this one. (on preview: Uranus for the win)

The secondary reason is that I do not make a habit of posting in MeTa... because usually, by the time I have an opinion that would be worth posting here, I decide instead that I'm far too involved in the Internet and maybe it's time for a walk in the park.

I have been frustrated for a while with the LookAtMe tendencies that seem to be prevailing in AskMe, but not found a place to articulate that in a discussion. Apparently, I chose poorly, as the thread is now derailed onto my username (Which I created in order to stay under the radar, but obviously failed. Lesson learned about MeTa and sockpuppets. It's probably not all that prudent to be sharing orgy stories anyway.)

On preview: "recreational blog" as in, I'm not here for work purposes or to save the world or to collect material for a novel or to analyze the psychographics of Internet communities or what have you. I come here for fun and to waste time... but within limits.
posted by Side Pony at 7:18 AM on April 3, 2007


I can remember things for two weeks and longer. I don't have to go into a person's history and analyze their activity to note a behavior pattern.

I guess I don't see where it matters what username is attached to that sharing.

Now you're just trolling, and you know it. "I happen to remember usernames from older questions, and that influences my perceptions of whether their questions are worthy or not, yet I demand that my comments be judged independently from my identity."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:31 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]




Side Pony, a canter in the park is looking good about now I'd be thinking.
posted by peacay at 7:34 AM on April 3, 2007


Wait, who is Side Saddle?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2007


The one in the chaps.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:10 AM on April 3, 2007


Assless, one assumes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:56 PM on April 3, 2007


Please stop the asslesschappery.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:02 PM on April 3, 2007


BOHICA!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:51 PM on April 3, 2007


Assless, one assumes.

Butt off course!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:57 AM on April 4, 2007


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