AskMe is not talk therapy. May 22, 2007 1:09 PM   Subscribe

AskMe is not talk therapy.
posted by solid-one-love to Etiquette/Policy at 1:09 PM (87 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I've picked this one post in particular, but there have been a pretty significant number of other such AskMe posts recently. In this specific case, the OP actually only asks one question -- a question which cannot be answered by anyone but a lawyer. The OP then, in essence, holds a therapeutic conversation with people who are answering.

This is not the purpose of AskMe, I think.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:12 PM on May 22, 2007


As an aside: I am sympathetic to the OP, who clearly needs help, although it's help that we can't really provide. And, I suspect, needs more help than has been requested.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:17 PM on May 22, 2007


This is not the purpose of AskMe, I think.

It is or else 90% of the relationship questions wouldn't be allowed to be asked. It's a necessary evil to generate a fan base that asks "real" questions, which are then answered, indexed by google, and helps create a brand new day.
posted by Stynxno at 1:27 PM on May 22, 2007


[NOT RELATIONSHIPFILTERIST]
posted by loquacious at 1:29 PM on May 22, 2007


I don't see what you're seeing in that thread. They ask one question, which is far too complicated to be asked without providing some background info. therefore, background info is provided. lawyers CAN answer the question, but so can anyone who has been in a situation similar to hers (or in other words, the kinds of people that are supposed to answer askme questions in the first place) and who would be able to tell her what worked or didn't for them.

no offense, but there's a reason that we don't enforce a character limit on askme questions, and posts like this are examples of that reason. there's a lot more here than just venting.
posted by shmegegge at 1:43 PM on May 22, 2007


I can think of at least a dozen threads that are, if not talk therapy, should be relegated to gossiping with your friends over brunch over whether a current crush "likes you" or "like likes you." This is not one of them. You could have picked a better example.
posted by geoff. at 1:49 PM on May 22, 2007


This post is fine. Some people are way wordier than others and some topics need a bit of back and forth, or maybe that's what's helpful to the OP and what some of the commenters don't mind doing. What guideline do you think this is breaking?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:54 PM on May 22, 2007


MetaTalk is not talk therapy. You should work out your need to be an intolerant asshole with your therapist, not on MetaTalk. Thanks.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:59 PM on May 22, 2007 [7 favorites]


What Metafilter is not about.
posted by kosem at 2:02 PM on May 22, 2007


That's my line, dammit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:10 PM on May 22, 2007


Yeah, I have been thinking that a lot of these relationship posts are clearly, unambiguously chatfilter, but somehow they are allowed to remain.

There was one, about a week ago, that was really ridiculous, and I thought about making a MeTa post about it, but then I thought it would be assholish so I didn't.
posted by jayder at 2:25 PM on May 22, 2007


That's my line, dammit.

I'll give less subtle dap next time.

Read REFI. cortex wrote it, lol.
posted by kosem at 2:27 PM on May 22, 2007


Dr. Jennifer Melfi and Tony Soprano this specific AskMe thread is not.
posted by ericb at 2:28 PM on May 22, 2007


For some reason, hypothetical unanswerable questions are verboten ("Who would win in a fight, Yoda or Batman?"), but long, unanswerable personal questions ("Should I get married? Let me tell you about my fiance...") are acceptable. Like, really long questions. Did I mention long?
posted by Gamblor at 2:32 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


What guideline do you think this is breaking?

I think it's ChatFilter. There's one question, it can't really be answered, and the rest of the discussion dances around the question being asked, serving more as an emotional sounding board than anything else.

(And, shmegegge, I think the question could have been asked in 50 words or less. Maybe even 20.)

You should work out your need to be an intolerant asshole with your therapist, not on MetaTalk.

By our respective MetaTalk posting histories, EB, I guess you'd be 13 times the intolerant asshole that I am.

Assuming that there was anything intolerant about my callout, which there wasn't.

But, hey, keep on keep on, especially as how "keepin' on" in your case is merely that latest in a long parade of comments which display the glaring deficit between how witty and intelligent you think you are, and how witty and intelligent you actually are.

Yeah, jayder, I've done my level best to avoid making a MeTa thread; this is my first ever. But I think this is one of the most egregious examples of "therapeutic chatfilter" in recent memory.

But two mods disagree, so that's that. ChatFilter bad, except when about relationships, or the law, or the intersection of relationships and the law.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:32 PM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


ChatFilter is making (online) conversation for conversation's sake. Asking a relationship question—even if it's vague, even if it includes lots of detail, even if answerers provide validation—is not conversation for conversation's sake.

People complain about relationship questions even though there's clearly a problem to be solved and the asker is asking a question about how to solve it. The only thing I can conclude from this is that such people think that talking about relationships is necessarily non-serious and only the sort of thing that some people do because they want to have a "frivolous" conversation with other people about all that silly relationship stuff that people who need to recall cartoon they saw fifteen years ago don't have time for.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:37 PM on May 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


If you have to write a novella to explain all the drama in your life, then you need a therapist, not AskMe.
posted by Gamblor at 2:39 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


One frustrating thing about relationship questions is that the most frenzied, desperate ones are posted anonymously, and we never end up hearing what the poster decides. So, if there was in a fact a problem to be solved, we never end up hearing what the poster figured out the problem was, and how they solved it. And, if we do happen to hear back, it's usually someone hitting back in the "How dare you suggest my drug addicted thief boyfriend is no good!!! You just don't know him like I do!!!" vein, which isn't exactly good for commenter morale.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:44 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's nice that you're capable of analyzing a situation in your own life and determining what's an emotional issue, what's a legal one, what can be handled by the courts, what should be handled by the courts and what should just be left alone. I'd like to think I am too.

Maybe the poster is not, or not at the moment.

You look at that question and see chatfilter. I see someone in a tough situation looking for guidance, and said guidance may be very vague since the 'problem area' is big and vague.

It would be nice if all questions were well-phrased and all problems boiled down to solvable quantities, but not everyone is always up to it. Sometimes you need help in the details, sometimes you need help in the basic plan of attack.

I think AskMe should be usable for either.
posted by phearlez at 2:54 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you have to write a novella to explain all the drama in your life, then you need a therapist, not AskMe.

Really? Why does lots of included detail mean you really need an expert, and not the AskMe answerers, in the case of relationship questions and not, for example, in the case of computer questions?

C'mon. Your inclusion of the phrase "relationship drama" indicates your real mindset here.

By our respective MetaTalk posting histories, EB, I guess you'd be 13 times the intolerant asshole that I am.

Maybe. And by "maybe", I mean "if you're so stupid you only compare the number of posts without looking at them, then, maybe". But, regardless, I'm not the one patronizingly reprimanding a poster in AskMe with "AskMe is not talk therapy" and—for extra piquancy—posting a MeTa callout on it, too.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:58 PM on May 22, 2007


lawyers CAN answer the question, but so can anyone who has been in a situation similar to hers (or in other words, the kinds of people that are supposed to answer askme questions in the first place) and who would be able to tell her what worked or didn't for them.

Yes. This is true. There are pro se litigants in Family Court who have been fighting their cases for years and know more about their options than many lawyers.
posted by amro at 3:00 PM on May 22, 2007


I assume the staunch defenders of these relationship questions are the ones asking the trainwreck Anonymous ones, and it is satisfying.
posted by smackfu at 3:03 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


You can't convincingly say that a question can only be answered by a lawyer and then say that the question is unanswerable.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:04 PM on May 22, 2007


People complain about relationship questions even though there's clearly a problem to be solved and the asker is asking a question about how to solve it.

This definition is so vague, it would allow the countless questions ("What would a zombie's scientific name be?" "What should I put on my road trip mix CD?") that have been deemed inappropriate by the moderators and the overall community. If you have a problem with this, that is a different topic all together, and is a question about the fundamental purpose of the site. It is not an invalid or stupid question to ask, but one that I don't believe you are addressing.

The only thing I can conclude from this is that such people think that talking about relationships is necessarily non-serious and only the sort of thing that some people do because they want to have a "frivolous" conversation with other people about all that silly relationship stuff that people who need to recall cartoon they saw fifteen years ago don't have time for.

Again I disagree with the false narrative you've constructed for the reasoning. I believe that some, if not most, relationship questions are pointless simply because they are incredibly complex situations, the amount of variables and characterization of the people involved are so numerous, that such a question could never be answered in the context of a web forum. The amount of incomplete information, even in the most verbose of questions, is so great that we only get a small, bias view of the relationship that often is intended, purposefully or not, to confirm the askers answer. Relationship questions by friends, ones I know in real life, and ones I know how they react in previous relationships, and ones where I arguably have a very complete set of information on both parties, are often the sources of idle gossip, or motivation. One thing I do know about relationships, they are almost inherently unanswerable except for those actually involved.

There are some exceptions, such as when a person is in an incredibly abusive, manipulative relationship and due to the nature of such a relationship, most likely lost all friends and family as they no longer wish to deal with the substance abuse or whatever, and they probably need a wakeup call by someone telling them to get out of the relationship and call a hotline or whatever the consensus is. There are also some general questions I am not oppose to.

Of course I will admit a lot of this is pure speculation based on past experience and the efficacy of such questions are hard to determine. I think if anything, the ability to determine efficacy should be the basis of whether a question is good or not. Some are binary, others have degrees, and some questions are nothing more than motivation by a diverse community.
posted by geoff. at 3:07 PM on May 22, 2007


Also, this is not a relationship question. It's a legal question, but it's also the biggest thing happening in this person's life and it involves her kid. She's frustrated. She may be hoping for a little sympathy with her legal advice, but I don't think she asked the question for that purpose.
posted by amro at 3:09 PM on May 22, 2007


I think mistandrain's question is making people uncomfortable (is making me uncomfortable) because our entire society does not remotely begin to know what to do in situations like hers.

Lawyers and counselors are not the answer, either. I've known several of both with very similar problems, and they were way more lost than mistandrain is.

But if some little five year old is having to live through it-- and he is-- I guess I can stand to read about it and hope that someone might come up with something to help that little boy.
posted by jamjam at 3:13 PM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think the thread we're in right now is less worthy of a thread than the original question.
posted by misha at 3:14 PM on May 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


OK, EB, you're only four times the intolerant asshole that I am.

But, regardless, better to be patronizing when the occasion warrants it than to consistently be a hypersensitive, ego-inflated douchebag, y'know? I'm sure your friends would have pointed this out to you by now if you had any.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:20 PM on May 22, 2007


This is not the purpose of AskMe, I think.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:12 PM on May 22 [+]
[!]


And this ain't the purpose of MeTa.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:22 PM on May 22, 2007


I'm sure your friends would have pointed this out to you by now if you had any.

I think someone needs a timeout.
posted by smackfu at 3:28 PM on May 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


23skidoo, this is part of the purpose of MeTa. solid-one-love is much better off posting here about any difficulty concerning some AskMe than he is posting in the AskMe thread. MeTa is supposed to discuss aspects of policy for the other Meta-sites, so this discussion is right where it's supposed to be.

As far as whether AskMe should or shouldn't work as talk therapy, I'm inclined to say it does work as talk therapy a significant proportion of the time. A lot of questions fit the guidelines more or less closely, but serve as a way to chat about the subject of the question more than they serve as specific questions with specific answers: That is, a lot of questions are borderline "ChatFilter." It doesn't bother me most of the time, but apparently it bothers solid-one-love.

So here we are.
posted by cgc373 at 3:31 PM on May 22, 2007


Wow, solid-one-post is smackin all our asses down,

FEEL THE PAIN PEOPLE !

FEEL THE PAIN !
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:32 PM on May 22, 2007


I agree with everyone who has posted after 2:58 p.m., to one degree or another.

This wasn't a stellar callout; there were probably better posts to pick on (although if I ran the zoo, it still would have been nuked, and with a snotty deletion reason).

RelationshipFilter questions are, well, usually questionable. ChatFilter questions are bad, LegalFilter questions are bad, MedicalFilter questions are bad, IMHO. None have a place in AskMe, and this question checked off three boxes on that list, which is why it activated that atavistic reptile section of my brain.

I agree that it's a tough situation, but disagree that professionals (like lawyers and counselors) are not the people to be helping -- they're a damn sight more capable than we geeky few. I definitely don't believe that "but think of the children!" is a compelling reason to give an AskMe post a pass; that way lies dragons.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:33 PM on May 22, 2007


You know that some of the geeky few are lawyers and counselors, right?
posted by amro at 3:38 PM on May 22, 2007


The poster just needs to stop writing w/ instead of with. Really really damn annoying.
posted by reklaw at 3:42 PM on May 22, 2007


Not working in their professional capacities who has a professional relationship with a client and a great deal more information about the situation than can or should be posted to AskMe, amro.

Those are conspicuous and important distinctions. No matter how good ikkyu2 is, his advice should never be considered a substitute for your own doctor's advice, for example.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:43 PM on May 22, 2007


Oy. "Not working in their professional capacities and who have professional relationships with their clients and a great deal more information about the situations..."
posted by solid-one-love at 3:44 PM on May 22, 2007


You're looking for problems that aren't there. No one believes Internet advice equals seeing your doctor. We don't need nannying, thanks.
posted by geoff. at 3:47 PM on May 22, 2007


This definition is so vague, it would allow the countless questions ("What would a zombie's scientific name be?" "What should I put on my road trip mix CD?") that have been deemed inappropriate by the moderators and the overall community. If you have a problem with this, that is a different topic all together, and is a question about the fundamental purpose of the site. It is not an invalid or stupid question to ask, but one that I don't believe you are addressing.

My response was to the characterization of it as "chatfilter", which it addresses. I didn't claim that asking an answerable question is sufficient to qualify.

Again I disagree with the false narrative you've constructed for the reasoning. I believe that some, if not most, relationship questions are pointless simply because they are incredibly complex situations, the amount of variables and characterization of the people involved are so numerous, that such a question could never be answered in the context of a web forum. The amount of incomplete information, even in the most verbose of questions, is so great that we only get a small, bias view of the relationship that often is intended, purposefully or not, to confirm the askers answer.

That may be true. But if it is, it's arguable about other kinds of question that we accept, as well.

Relationship questions by friends, ones I know in real life, and ones I know how they react in previous relationships, and ones where I arguably have a very complete set of information on both parties, are often the sources of idle gossip, or motivation.

I'm not sure why you include this, especially since it seems to validate my narrative, which you claim is false. You seem to be saying that you're certain that relationship "questions" are usually just gossip.

One thing I do know about relationships, they are almost inherently unanswerable except for those actually involved.

Why are they so special? There's truth to what you're saying, but then that truth applies to a great many other things, as well. What seems to me to be peculiar is this claim that relationships are categorically dissimilar from almost everything else. Frankly, I think that's simply wrong.

Life is full of ambiguity. It's often the case that the more knowledge and experience one has with a technical subject, the more one is aware that almost any question about it involves a great deal of ambiguity and is difficult to answer. So this idea that all these other things are self-evidently answerable in a web-forum is simplistic. And on the other side of things, this idea that a relationship question is so enmeshed in ambiguity that it couldn't be answered in any way which is helpful is also simplistic.

I want to avoid the strawman thing, so I'll try to be careful. What I see, and what I think actually exists, from some complaints against relationship question is a contempt, an equation of it to gossip, and I think this contempt is also a mindset that is more associated with men than women. It seems like it's more men than women that complain about relationship questions—though this perception of mine could be selection bias, especially because there's more men than women on MetaFilter.

So, anyway, this really annoys me because a) I think this kind of privileging of one thing over another (for example, questions involving intellectual matters are acceptable and answerable but questions involving emotional matters are not acceptable or answerable) is both intellectually and ethically wrong; and b) some people express their view of the matter by being contemptuous of those who ask and answer (and are interested in) relationship questions.

I assume the staunch defenders of these relationship questions are the ones asking the trainwreck Anonymous ones, and it is satisfying.

I've never asked such a question, anonymously or not, and, in fact, I hardly ever participate in AskMe at all. I'm just sick of the way in which (some) people denigrate relationship questions, and those who ask them.

solid-one-love is much better off posting here about any difficulty concerning some AskMe than he is posting in the AskMe thread. MeTa is supposed to discuss aspects of policy for the other Meta-sites, so this discussion is right where it's supposed to be.

Yet he said the same thing in the AskMe thread.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:51 PM on May 22, 2007


I think it's pretty clear that some people believe that Internet advice equals seeing your doctor or lawyer, Geoff. Pretty much the same thing -- I used ikkyu2 as an example of a professional who responds to AskMe. I couldn't think of an appropriate lawyer example.

The problem *is* there. People use AskMe as a substitute for professional advice, often. Very often. Outrageously often. I'm waiting for the day when someone asks for geotechnical engineering help on how to fill their lot as the base for a home foundation. Then we'll have hit the Professional Services Trifecta.

No one believes Internet advice equals seeing your doctor? Not a lot of evidence for that. Not even a lot of evidence for that in the last 24 hours.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:56 PM on May 22, 2007


Anyone who takes legal advice from non-lawyers is an idiot.
Anyone who relies on legal advice from from a lawyer who is not representing them and is not aware of all the facts of their case, isn't much brighter.
Anyone who takes medical advice from non-doctors is an idiot.
Anyone who takes medical advice from a doctor who is not treating them and is not aware of their medical history isn't much brighter.

There are reasons why these things require licenses to practice.

I've answered legal questions in the past, but it occurred to me that given all of the stipulations I have to put on my answer and all of the assumptions I have to make to give an answer, that it ultimately wasn't productive because what I could say probably shouldn't be relied upon anyhow.

Asking about how to proceed with respect to custodial rights without an attorney from unknown strangers is as about as intelligent as asking a bunch of strangers how to remove one's own tonsils at home.
posted by dios at 4:02 PM on May 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


I think it's pretty clear that some people believe that Internet advice equals seeing your doctor or lawyer, Geoff.

It's also pretty clear that 'some people' believe that the Warren Commission has tapped into their brainwaves. I don't let them dictate my behavior or utterances either.
posted by jonmc at 4:03 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


...but disagree that professionals (like lawyers and counselors) are not the people to be helping -- they're a damn sight more capable than we geeky few.

That anyone could go through the last six and a half years on this continent and retain such a child-like faith in duly constituted authority is dismaying, yet extremely illuminating, I suppose, if you're trying to understand how we could have gotten ourselves into such a mess.
posted by jamjam at 4:06 PM on May 22, 2007


She has a lawyer. If you're going to analogize to the medical questions, it's the equivalent of the AskMes that are along the lines of, "I know, I know, YANMD, and I'm going to see my doctor, but I couldn't get an appointment until tomorrow and in the meantime I want to get as informed as possible and I may be obsessing a little."
posted by amro at 4:06 PM on May 22, 2007


Anyone who takes medical advice from a doctor who is not treating them and is not aware of their medical history isn't much brighter.

I just read a study which showed that doctor's given relatively little information on a patient were just as effective than those who were given much, much more information. It was an interesting study, I would have thought the opposite.
posted by geoff. at 4:10 PM on May 22, 2007


I think solid-one-love is justonegirl's suspicious internet friend from Vancouver.
posted by nasreddin at 4:21 PM on May 22, 2007


I really enjoyed flagging a post on this thread. Isn't it wonderful to have that option?
posted by konolia at 4:29 PM on May 22, 2007


S'funny, jamjam, but your criticism comes across as exactly the kind of anti-intellectual, anti-"expert" thinking that has resulted in the mess to which you have alluded.

She has a lawyer.

Yes, she does, and she makes plain that her lawyer is too expensive. Thus, asking AskMe is, for her a substitute for professional legal advice.

IMHO, LegalFilter and MedicalFilter questions should be verboten. Just above the "Post" button should be a note that medical questions should go to your doctor and legal questions to your lawyer.

Nasreddin, I live in Vancouver. When I play "creepy Internet friend", I tell them I'm from Winnipeg. Duh.
posted by solid-one-love at 4:30 PM on May 22, 2007


I just read a study which showed that doctor's given relatively little information on a patient were just as effective than those who were given much, much more information. It was an interesting study, I would have thought the opposite.

I can tell you why that's true. It's because medicine is so hugely inexact that doctors are 99.99% of the time working on probability. Luckily, most of the ailments that most people have are a relatively small set compared to all possibilities. So it takes a lot for a doctor to go outside that set.

When that's necessary, often the patient is annoyed that it took so long for the doctor to do so. But they don't understand that a) if the doctor were more eager to look for obscure things, he/she would have been more likely to misdiagnose that flu the patient got three months ago; b) all those other possibilities are so numerous that spending time looking for them when they're not likely means a lot of time not spent treating the more likely cause; and c) very often all those other things are things the doctor has little knowledge or experience of anyway.

So, basically, a doctor doesn't really need tons of information to make the right diagnosis most of the time. It only makes a difference on the margins. But that's a very important difference for the particular patient whose life is saved because of that extra information.

I say this as someone with an extraordinarily rare disease (as in only a few hundred people known worldwide "rare"). It's genetic, and it took three generations—in particular, my case—before a doctor looked more closely and (more) correctly diagnosed it. I don't really begrudge them this. Of course, that's easy for me to say being as I was the first who was given more appropriate treatment and follow-up. My father and uncle, who spent years of their lives in hospitals in fruitless treatments, might say/have said otherwise. But I doubt it—I learned from my father to both respect doctors and to understand how ambiguous this all is and how fallible they are, and that's it's okay.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:30 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm married to a solicitor who practices family law, and this is one of her biggest issues -- people who, on the one hand, can't afford the cost of a lawyers time for all of the many questions and problems that they have about their situation -- many of which are often emotional rather than strictly legal -- and yet have an ongoing need for support around the situation that they find themselves in.

My understanding of the question was that the poster wasn't actually asking for legal advice -- she's already getting that from her lawyer -- she was asking advice from other people who have been in that same situation about how best she can help herself.

That seems to me like a perfectly appropriate question to be asking on Ask Metafilter, and one that lay people may well have useful advice that they can contribute.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:33 PM on May 22, 2007


S'funny, jamjam, but your criticism comes across as exactly the kind of anti-intellectual, anti-"expert" thinking that has resulted in the mess to which you have alluded.

Solid-one-love, you might want to ask yourself (if, indeed, you are able to countenance questions of any sort, about which I think you may have raised doubts in the minds of many readers of this thread) who on this planet has had advice from the most experts and best-paid experts of any person in history, and how well that has worked out for any of us-- including him.

But even if that is beyond you, I still might expect you to be capable of recognizing that the cult of expertise is more profoundly anti-intellectual than any fundamentalism we have so far seen, and at least as dangerous.
posted by jamjam at 5:02 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


We get it, jamjam, you don't like Bush, or his buddies. The fact that some of the administration claims credentials that are questionable doesn't mean all credentials are as worthless. There are plenty of experts that deserve their labels, and plenty of reasons that expertise in one area doesn't mean expertise in every area. I wouldn't live in a highrise engineered by Jonas Salk, any more than I'd let Im Pei give me heart surgery.
posted by nomisxid at 6:07 PM on May 22, 2007


I respect and admire (and tend to believe) experts and expertise itself very much, nomiaxid; I only draw the line at slavish devotion to them and the unwillingness to think for oneself which that particular form of worship seems to foster in its adherents.
posted by jamjam at 6:27 PM on May 22, 2007


Wow, my first mention in MeTa. I guess I should feel special.
posted by justonegirl at 6:47 PM on May 22, 2007


People use AskMe as a substitute for professional advice, often. Very often. Outrageously often.

I was with you up to "very often."

Seriously, kids, here's your proof: next time you feel like questioning the existence of an AskMe thread, the problem is almost certainly you, not the thread.
posted by mediareport at 6:58 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


assuming speacial's into it.
posted by jonmc at 6:59 PM on May 22, 2007


Solid-one-love, you might want to ask yourself (if, indeed, you are able to countenance questions of any sort, about which I think you may have raised doubts in the minds of many readers of this thread) who on this planet has had advice from the most experts and best-paid experts of any person in history, and how well that has worked out for any of us-- including him.

Wait. Hitler!

Right?
posted by furiousthought at 7:01 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


This thread motivated me to search ask me for "legal aid" and look at the scenarios for which it is recommended and by whom and with what reason. It's about half and half, responsible to verging on irresponsible. If there's a problem with this thread and a lot of other legal oriented threads in ask me it's the "go to legal aid" thing. Dude, legal aid resources are not free one stop shopping for all your legal needs. Why would you start a post with "IANAL" and then tell someone to go to legal aid with a problem legal aid won't touch, in fact (in Philadelphia, at least) never touches as a matter of policy? Are you a social worker? Some other type of social service provider? Were you recently in contact with legal aid for some other personal purpose? If people are going to make legal aid recommendations they really should start qualifying their recommendation with what experience they've had using their local legal aid resources, for what, and why they think those resources are appropriate for the asker's scenario that is likely different from their own.

Sorry, rant over, continue.
posted by The Straightener at 7:02 PM on May 22, 2007


OTOH, I bet the easiest way to find out what legal aid doesn't cover is to call them about it. So what's the harm in trying?
posted by smackfu at 7:06 PM on May 22, 2007


I respect and admire (and tend to believe) experts and expertise itself very much, nomiaxid; I only draw the line at slavish devotion to them and the unwillingness to think for oneself which that particular form of worship seems to foster in its adherents.

I find that I agree with this strongly. But using phrases like "cult of expertise" in a reasonable discussion like this one, which includes pretty smart and well-informed people, is a strawman.

To some degree you're right—solid-one-love's desire to axe all medical and law questions is an extreme view that seems to deny that anyone other than doctors or lawyers could know anything at all about those subjects. Which is just plain silly. So maybe he's an example of this, though I think it's more likely a case of a kind of narrow over-zealousness coupled with a particular example which annoyed him.

On the other hand, it's also true that people overestimate their own competency (thought his applies to professionals, as well) and on AskMe we see a lot of the so-called "male answer syndrome" and where some call to deference to actual expertise is appropriate.

But presenting either extreme as if it characterized the whole AskMe experience is a strawman.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:16 PM on May 22, 2007


Frankly AskMetafilter often gets on my NERVES; if it ain't the bloody stupid questions it's the bloody stupid answers.
posted by davy at 7:20 PM on May 22, 2007


Well, I think that Straightener's point (with which I agreed, wholeheartedly) was that engaging Legal Aid in a long-winded emotional, therapeutic chat about a matter that policy expressly forbids their handling is potentially an irresponsible, immoral, immature and selfish waste of underfunded resources that could be better dedicated to the types of severe quality-of-life issues that the aid/funds/resources were earmarked to address in the first place. That is to say, and do please forgive my paraphrasing and extrapolation, that in a scenario where funds are extremely short, time is limited and corners must be cut, society is net-harmed by mis-allocating those funds to mistsandrain's therapy session rather than their intended purpose of preventing, say, the wrongful eviction of a grandma on social security or the wrongful termination of electricity for a medical-lifesaving-device dependent child. As a lawyer fairly well, but not intricately, informed of the shortfalls of legal aid (but not adequately informed with respect to their express policy against handling certain family law matters) and similar legal assistance for the poor (deserving or otherwise), I'm sensitive to this issue. Whether individuals with no topic-specific particular expertise (resulting from either education or experience) choose to continue to make un-called for referrals is a matter of personal choice, but I certainly see the logic in thoughtfully considering, as a community, whether doing so might rightfully be discouraged.
posted by bunnycup at 7:21 PM on May 22, 2007


Seriously, kids, here's your proof: next time you feel like questioning the existence of an AskMe thread, the problem is almost certainly you, not the thread.

Egregious nonsense. You know who else said that? That's right. Hitler said it. Yes, Hitler.

I've nothing to add to this topic that I haven't said before, so I will doff my cap and take my leave.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:23 PM on May 22, 2007


It's because medicine is so hugely inexact that doctors are 99.99% of the time working on probability.

That's far too charitable. They work on intuition, while believing that they are thinking probabilistically.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:24 PM on May 22, 2007


As someone who has worked for Legal Aid, I feel you, Straightener. I have therefore drafted a boilerplate AskMe answer, for askers with legal questions and limited means. Tell me what you think:

(1) You may consider calling your local Legal Aid office, however you should know:
(a) Legal Aid clinics have limited resources, and only take certain kinds of cases. These tend to have to do with domestic violence, landlord-tenant law, civil rights, and public benefits.
(b) Legal Aid (and its umbrella organization, the Legal Services Corporation) are designed to help the poor. As such, even though you may feel that you have little money, you may still make too much to qualify for assistance. (Certain very limited types of cases may be exempt from the income restriction. Call your local office to find out for sure.)
(c) Even though your local Legal Aid clinic may not be able to represent you, calling them may prove to be a good first step. You might get a useful referral to another attorney, or to a source of information that will allow you to handle your problem yourself. You can use the LSC website, linked above, to find a program in your county.

(2) A law school in your state may have a clinic that can help you. Law school clinical programs help law students to get practical experience by allowing them to take on clients, under the supervision of a faculty member. Some schools offer specialized clinics in areas such as taxation, business development, immigration, and federal Indian law. Law school clinics generally are limited both in terms of resources and in terms of time-frame, as they generally are staffed only during the school year.

(3) If you are a student, your school may have a legal clinic that you can use. College legal services offices (which are usually, but not always, different from law school clinics) can advise students about a variety of issues. Check with your college or university to find out if they offer such a service.

(4) Your state bar association may be your best resource. Many state bar associations can give referrals to attorneys who will represent people for a relatively low fee, or on a sliding scale. If your case involves issues such as business, real property, contract law, or family law without domestic violence, or if you work full time and do not have a large number of dependants, your first step should be to call your state bar association.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 8:30 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


People with relationship questions tend to think others won't understand unless they give soap-opera-like details. Myself included. There is a great need for people in difficult situations to want to feel understood.

However, comma, that is no sin. And giving the person the room to vent can reveal important facts and feelings along with possible excess verbiage. If a question of any kind interests me, I'll read it. If not, I skip it.

It doesn't take me any more time to skip a long question than to skip a short one.

Yeah... nothing to complain about. Move along.
posted by The Deej at 8:35 PM on May 22, 2007


Sometimes I'll look at and even offer a comment in the RelThreads, most times not. The ones that truly make me want to go lie down in traffic are the serialized thread askers, "Should I propose?" "How should I propose?", "She said yes, now what?".... They don't happen often but when they do I really want to travel to wherever they are living and take them out for a drink and explain the ins and outs of living a life. That, or scream until I lose my voice... course the two actions could be combined.

*sigh* I suspect a good % of RelThreads could be resolved without AskMe, often advice is so scattered it is just an exercise in justifying what the asker wants to do in the first place.
posted by edgeways at 9:34 PM on May 22, 2007


Even though I disagree with solid_one_love about the poster's intent, and also about seeking legal advice from non-lawyers and medical advice from non-doctors, I think posting on MeTa was appropriate. I'm a bit more concerned about a callout inside of an anonymous thread, because the poster has no way to explain themself without breaking cover.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:59 PM on May 22, 2007


Sorry, that wasn't an anonymous thread, I had too many tabs up :(
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:05 PM on May 22, 2007


My sister sure has a horrible roommate, am I right?

Lets talk about whether or not I should have a baby!

I like a boy but he is leaving, hlep me!

Three relationship chat filter questions in three hours.

Now personally I don't mind these questions. As a misanthropic voyeur, I find nothing more entertaining than watching people flounder about baring their intimate personal dilemmas with complete strangers, so that these strangers can give them such contradictory answers that the questioner is inevitable worse off for the asking.

What pisses me off is that we can have relationship chatfilter, where the vaguest of questions will get a pass, but we cannot have hypothetical chatfilter. If "why doesn't the Cutey like me?" is ok, then why can't we have "Monkeys Vs. Bears"?
posted by afu at 11:35 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I should perhaps point out here that a whole range of Family Law issues including divorce and child custody issues *are* still covered by the Legal Aid system in England and Wales, which means that people are means tested and can get such services for free, or on a sliding scale, depending on income.

However, proposed changes to the Legal Aid system mean that many such services are unlikely to last for very much longer.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:17 AM on May 23, 2007


These kinds of threads always make me think of a story my friend told me about trying to leave her abusive husband in the 80s. She wasn't really sure if she should leave him because she wasn't sure if their lives were normal or not. She didn't have a lot of close friends, being a shy person whose social life was even more curtailed by her husband. She felt that something was drastically wrong, but it was more emotional than physical abuse, and she wasn't sure if she was over reacting. After some tentative and veiled comments to a coworker, she got the name of a professional, a psychiatrist. When she called to make an appointment, the professional poo-pooed her concerns, accused her of not being willing to take care of herself, and refused to schedule an appointment.

She'd already had her doubts, and after a similarly stymied (by a medical doctor) attempt to get her husband some extended mental health care (which his psychologist recommended but needed the medical doctor's approval for), she came to the conclusion that this was her burden to bear, that there were no resources because there was no problem, and that she should learn to live with it. She stuck around another 10 years until she realized her children's lives were in danger, and she was able to extract herself and them.



What she really needed during those first attempts to leave was a place like this where she could relatively anonymously ask for some perspective and some ideas about creative solutions. Sometimes it's really hard to see your way out of a situation you are in, but people outside that situation can offer some different ways of looking at it that help you find a solution. If she had known about things like women's shelters, if she had known that most people didn't put up with things in their marriage like she did, she might have been motivated to go beyond her initially disastrous attempts with professionals. People might have had some relatively simple solutions to small parts of her problem that would have made the whole easier to deal with.

The question s-o-l called out isn't exactly the same, obviously, but it struck me that a person paying a lot for a lawyer might want to go to an appointment with a set of questions and suggestions so as to make the most of their expensive time. Hashing out possibilities with people who may have had some similar experiences is a great way to do this, and I think, one of the great things about AskMe.

Regardless of whether the situation is as dramatic and urgent as the OP's or my friend's or whether it's a complicated-but-typical relationship/health/legal problem, there is definitely a place for gathering information, experiences, and perspectives from others in problem solving. Even if people on AskMe can't answer or solve a complex issue in its entirety, that doesn't mean they can't contribute an essential component to the solution.
posted by carmen at 8:49 AM on May 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


it seems to me like this particular poster is saying "what options are available to me" and is expecting an answer of "there are cheaper lawyers who specialize in blah and you may want to try discussig [x legal thingy] with them." she wants to ask us because if the answer is "you have no recourse and you're screwed" then she doesn't want to pay an expensive lawyer to hear that. she probably just wants to know that she isn't going to be wasting either her money on the expensive guy or her time trying to find a capable but less expensive guy.

this really feels to me like you just don't want legalfilter on askme, but legalfilter is allowed so your best bet might be to learn to live with it. i hate posts on the blue that are just links to some random guy's photo portfolio, but they are allowed so I let it go, you know?
posted by shmegegge at 8:56 AM on May 23, 2007


Answering AskMe is not a profession.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:11 AM on May 23, 2007


Oh no.... ::frantically tries to contact IRS::
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:50 AM on May 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


'If "why doesn't the Cutey like me?" is ok, then why can't we have "Monkeys Vs. Bears"?'

I'd enjoy a hypothetical filter.
posted by misha at 11:02 AM on May 23, 2007


ChatFilter bad, except when about relationships, or the law, or the intersection of relationships and the law.

Or cats.
posted by meehawl at 11:15 AM on May 23, 2007


23skidoo, this is part of the purpose of MeTa. solid-one-love is much better off posting here about any difficulty concerning some AskMe than he is posting in the AskMe thread.

I wasn't clear before. Complaining about a thread is (one of) the purpose(s) of AskMe. Insulting other posters is not the purpose of AskMe.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:19 PM on May 23, 2007


s/AskMe/MeTa/?
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:23 PM on May 23, 2007


yes

the internets is hard
posted by 23skidoo at 1:40 PM on May 23, 2007


I wasn't clear before. Complaining about a thread is (one of) the purpose(s) of (MeTa) Insulting other posters is not the purpose of (MeTa).

So why'd you call me out on it, then, instead of the first person to throw out an insult? I mean, you're wrong -- the mods tell us all the time to "take it to MeTa" when we start getting personal -- but I'm curious as to why you've directed your ignorance at me (ignorance being no vice) rather than EB?
posted by solid-one-love at 2:11 PM on May 23, 2007


Because you're the one who made a claim about the purpose of AskMe. I've never interpreted "take it to MeTa" to mean "Insulting other people is fine in MeTa".
posted by 23skidoo at 3:04 PM on May 23, 2007


Insulting people isn't "fine" in MeTa—or anywhere, really—but it's pretty normal, 23skidoo. solid-one-love didn't insult anybody explicitly that I could see, until EB proposed s-o-l had a "need to be an intolerant asshole," whereupon s-o-l returned fire. These two have a history, though, and it's not a pretty history, so their sniping seemed in character for their relationship as I understand it.
posted by cgc373 at 5:00 PM on May 23, 2007


My understanding of the relationship between solid-one-love and Ethereal Bligh: s-o-l thinks EB is a pedantic know-it-tard who overstates and overestimates his own knowledge in lecture format; EB sees s-o-l as a vindictive asshole, more inclined to fight than to think. They don't seem to hear each other, rather reading their interpretations into each other's writing and talking right past one another.
posted by cgc373 at 5:05 PM on May 23, 2007


Oh. And ignore me, please. I have no dogs in any of these fights and no reason to be yacking about them. No offense to either s-o-l or EB intended.

[said to myself]: Christ, what an asshole.

posted by cgc373 at 5:10 PM on May 23, 2007


Yeah, somewhere up there when someone slapped around solid-one-love, I should have piped up and said that I was the first one to be insulting in this thread. I thought about it and now I'm ashamed I didn't.

I'm surprised that anyone has noticed that solid-one-love and I have a history—I'll take that as a hint that I need to let it go. Internet feuds are stupid.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:31 PM on May 23, 2007


http://metatalk.metafilter.com/mefi/MF:NOT
posted by oaf at 3:31 AM on May 24, 2007


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