Wasting Away September 30, 2007 5:29 PM   Subscribe

On the green people sometimes refer to 'wasting a question'. Am I missing something here ?

I've been a meta-filter user for < 1 year and I wonder if there's some point of etiquette I'm missing.

On the green some people refer to 'wasting a question' (when they consider the subject matter to be trivial for instance). Is there some sort of established number of questions or ratio of questions to answers that is considered 'right' ?

I would ask this on the green but I wouldn't like to waste a .... ;-)
posted by southof40 to Etiquette/Policy at 5:29 PM (41 comments total)

You get one every week. For some people this is not as many as they feel they need or might need. So, if they ask a question that is easily googleable or otherwise considered "easy" sometimes they worry that something more urgent, more needing of AskMe's particular attention will come up. So, the simple question they asked early would be "wasting" the one-per-week allotment that they could have used on something more deserving.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:31 PM on September 30, 2007


1. The "wasting a question" refers to the one question per week limit - this limit places a value on the ability to ask a question, so some people don't like asking trivial questions for fear something life threatening such as a mix-cd quandary or a kitten naming conundrum comes up.

2. This question isn't appropriate for AskMe, as it is a question about AskMe (that's what MetaTalk is for, as you obviously know)
posted by davey_darling at 5:31 PM on September 30, 2007


Way to waste your MeTa comment for today, d_d.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:35 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Way to waste your MeTa comment for today, d_d.

Ah, crap.

By the way, southof40, the #2 in my comment above wasn't meant as a snark or insult - just a point of info.
posted by davey_darling at 5:41 PM on September 30, 2007


On the green some people refer to 'wasting a question'

rule one about the quiz kid mafia is that we never talk about the quiz kid mafia
posted by pyramid termite at 6:06 PM on September 30, 2007


I CAN HAS QUESTION?
posted by oxford blue at 6:35 PM on September 30, 2007


Is there some sort of established number of questions or ratio of questions to answers that is considered 'right' ?

Absolutely not, though it's probably considered good form to have more answers than questions, as it shows you're taking part as opposed to just using the community.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I CAN HAS QUESTION?

Yes, but now you have to wait until next week to ask another.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:44 PM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Honestly, there are probably enough questions. I'm sure someone has asked any given question already, or close enough, anyway.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:15 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is there some sort of established number of questions or ratio of questions to answers that is considered 'right' ?

People do look a bit askance at people who only ask questions, and have no other participation in the site, but that is a rare breed indeed.
posted by smackfu at 7:49 PM on September 30, 2007


it's probably considered good form to have more answers than questions, as it shows you're taking part as opposed to just using the community.

I'll call gentle bullshit on the above. We've been over this many times. Asking is contributing to the community, too - and if all you have is questions, that's always been perfectly fine.
posted by mediareport at 8:14 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


People do look a bit askance at people who only ask questions

Who are these people? Are you one of them, smackfu? Because I don't see much evidence that many folks here look anything close to "askance" at folks who join solely to ask an occasional question.
posted by mediareport at 8:16 PM on September 30, 2007


I asked my lawyer:
May I ask you a question?
He said: sure
I asked: How much do you charge?
He answered: $50 for 3 questions - What's your third question?
posted by growabrain at 8:17 PM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Because I don't see much evidence that many folks here look anything close to "askance" at folks who join solely to ask an occasional question.

Who needs evidence on metatalk?
posted by smackfu at 8:42 PM on September 30, 2007


There is no such thing as a wasted question.
posted by pokermonk at 9:00 PM on September 30, 2007


mediareport writes "Who are these people? Are you one of them, smackfu? Because I don't see much evidence that many folks here look anything close to 'askance' at folks who join solely to ask an occasional question."

I'm one for extreme cases. There is a "member" who only asks questions who I'll no longer be answering. And I mean they only ask questions. they have no comments anywhere. They don't respond to follow up questions. They don't mark best answers. They don't respond to let people know what worked. Nothing. They could be a 'bot for all I know. So I won't be responding to any of there further questions. I've submitted an answer to one of there questions twice but I won't be in the future.
posted by Mitheral at 9:33 PM on September 30, 2007


I'm with Mitheral on this one. I hate it when people do that.
posted by philomathoholic at 10:06 PM on September 30, 2007


You people need to back the fuck off Anonymous. Favorite envy, no doubt.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:20 PM on September 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Contributions
MeFi: 0 posts, 0 comments
MetaTalk: 0 posts, 0 comments
Ask MeFi: 2297 questions, 0 answers
Music: 0 songs, no comments, no playlists
Projects: 0 posts
Jobs: 0 posts
posted by philomathoholic at 12:12 AM on October 1, 2007


What's with all the '.' comments?
posted by blenderfish at 12:36 AM on October 1, 2007


They're all from the mid to late 90's dot-comment boom. Don't worry about it. There's a second dot-comment 2.0 boom happening now, but it's just a bubble. Invest your favourites elsewhere.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:20 AM on October 1, 2007 [5 favorites]


blenderfish: It's the sound originality makes when it keels over dead.
posted by tehloki at 2:34 AM on October 1, 2007


We've been over this many times.

Musta been when I made a grape soda run.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:54 AM on October 1, 2007


smackfu: "People do look a bit askance at people who only ask questions, and have no other participation in the site, but that is a rare breed indeed."

I remember a thread or two about this, but I can't seem to find them. It is interesting to note, though, that half the visitors to MeFi never hit anything bug the green.
posted by Plutor at 4:03 AM on October 1, 2007


I think "looking a bit askance" is a good way to describe how we react to people who only ask questions without contributing anything else to the community. As long as the question is a suitable one to ask, and the asker isn't a jerk with entitlement issues, we'll oblige with answers and not criticize the asker. After all, good questions add to our database of knowledge. However, if the asker posts a terrible question or takes a "hurry up, I paid $5 for this service" attitude, those gloves are very likely to come off.
posted by orange swan at 5:48 AM on October 1, 2007


how we react

How *you* react, you mean.
posted by mediareport at 6:00 AM on October 1, 2007


They don't respond to follow up questions. They don't mark best answers. They don't respond to let people know what worked. Nothing.

Well, yeah, not responding to follow-up questions is rude, and then expecting folks to answer your next question is even more rude. I wouldn't bother with that person, either. But claiming that members who post questions aren't "taking part" in the site, as Brandon did, is silly.
posted by mediareport at 6:03 AM on October 1, 2007


But claiming that members who post questions aren't "taking part" in the site, as Brandon did, is silly

I think claims is a bit strong, but whatever.

Generally, it's good form to help out by trying to answer a few questions. You don't HAVE to, if you don't you're not the first child of satan, but it strikes me as the polite thing to do. Take it with a grain of salt.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 AM on October 1, 2007


it's good form to help out by trying to answer a few questions.

I really don't understand why you're insisting on creating social pressure to answer questions. The last thing AskMe needs is social pressure on new folks to answer questions just for the sake of some ridiculous concept of an "answer-to-question" ratio that the site doesn't use in the slightest.
posted by mediareport at 6:36 AM on October 1, 2007


It's more of an indicator. Anyone who reads the green regularly will answer questions of some sort. So someone who doesn't answer any questions at all, ever, is probably not reading the site, except when they need a problem solved. They're a question leech.
posted by smackfu at 7:17 AM on October 1, 2007


If everyone only asked questions, or even if only a large minority only asked questions, that would be bad, because many questions wouldn't be answered. So there is a certain sense in which those who only ask are freeloading from those who answer. But you'd have to be a person who really liked getting offended to view things in that particular sense and get offended. Additionally, it is only a very small minority who only ask, so it doesn't really matter, but that fact has never stopped us from arguing about things before.
posted by Kwine at 7:17 AM on October 1, 2007


What's with all the '.' comments?

Vulture droppings. That's why they mainly show up in obit threads.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:20 AM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I really don't understand why you're insisting on creating social pressure to answer questions.

We're misunderstanding one another here. It's a good idea for people who ask questions to poke around a bit and see if there's anything they feel they can answer, much like if you're offered free food, to go ahead and wash a few dishes. Like I said, it's the polite thing to do. No, you don't have to do it, but it's good pratice in any community. I am not nor have I ever advocated "creating social pressure to answer questions" and I'm at a lost as why you think I am advocating that, but I. am. not.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:32 AM on October 1, 2007


Well, establishing that it's polite to look around and see if you can answer some questions (and hence impolite to not do so) is, in fact, creating a bit of social pressure to do the polite thing.

I don't really disagree wholly with either side of the argument. Functionally, I see it as two separate issues:

1. Askme needs questions to exist.
2. Askme needs answers to exist.

I don't think there's anything that fundamentally requires both of those issues to bind to each and every user. If we had a dearth of answers, then we might want to worry about the social capital that comes with providing answers and how to tie that to the model of asker behavior. Until then, it's not worth making a big deal about.

So in that sense, it's understandable why folks might get their askancing on, but there's nothing actually problematic about the situation as it exists now so they should probably try to take it easy on the subject.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:57 AM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I know that I am, in fact, more apathetic than the average joe. Metafilter sometimes makes me feel like I'm more apathetic than the average corpse.
posted by phearlez at 8:14 AM on October 1, 2007


The last thing AskMe needs is social pressure on new folks to answer questions just for the sake of some ridiculous concept of an "answer-to-question" ratio that the site doesn't use in the slightest.

Heartily seconded, and even though you say you don't want to create such pressure, that's exactly what the "politeness" concept does. We all want to be polite, don't we? (Well, lots of us, anyway...) So we dutifully pop into AskMe threads with "helpful" remarks like "I don't really know, but off the top of my head..." And that raises my blood pressure, and I don't need that on top of the Mets disaster. So please don't encourage people to answer questions. If they want to ask, they should ask; if they actually know an answer, they should answer. Answering things because it's "polite" is counterproductive.
posted by languagehat at 8:26 AM on October 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm just noting, Brandon, that what most of the folks who object here are doing is conflating bad AskMe behavior in general - $5 entitlement assholes, failing to answer follow-up questions, etc. - with the broader issue of folks who just come to ask questions and read answers. There's no forbearance required for those folks, and it should be perfectly fine for people to participate at exactly that level.

Unless you're prepared to say that lurkers in the blue are "post leeches," attacking folks who participate by asking questions is absurd.
posted by mediareport at 8:28 AM on October 1, 2007


I have about a dozen questions I want to ask metafilter at any given time, but most of the time I hold back because I'm terrified that something IMPORTANT will happen and waiting until I can post again will have terrible consequences. Of course, thing important ever does happen, and eventually I get drunk or whatever and post idiotic questions that aren't even on my list because my mental filters are gone.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:16 AM on October 1, 2007


I see your point LH. Didn't think the "see if there's a question you can answer" idea was that bad, but oh well. It was very much meant with the "ah, if you're asking questions, see if there's some you can answer", not just offering blanket advice in whatever thread.

attacking folks who participate by asking questions is absurd

Not sure what you're talking about here MR, but I'm not attacking anyone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:14 AM on October 1, 2007


That part was at smackfu, Brandon. I figured the leeches hanging onto that sentence were enough of a giveaway.
posted by mediareport at 4:06 PM on October 1, 2007


I asked my first question yesterday, and it was promptly deleted. Today, for the first time in the history of my Metafilter use, I actually want to consult the community about something! But I can't, because I blew my question yesterday!

That's what we call "wasting a question."
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:04 PM on October 1, 2007


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