Where should this question go? November 17, 2007 9:11 AM   Subscribe

So, apparently AskMe is not the place for this question. Where should it have gone instead?
posted by JDHarper to Etiquette/Policy at 9:11 AM (70 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I don't think there really is a place on mefi for that question. AskMe isn't really intended for survey/poll/one-liner-filter, so things like this generally get (flagged to high heaven and) nuked.

Metachat is a really fun, laidback, chatty cousin site to Mefi, where this sort of thing actually happens on a regular basis. The site isn't just a "whatever doesn't fit on mefi" backup plan, to be clear, but being a place for lighthearted chatty stuff is a big part of it's reason for existence, and there's a pretty heavy mefi/mecha userbase crossover.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:14 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


There isn't a place on the site for everyone to list their personal answers to philosophical questions. Cortex and I talked about this just a little bit ago. It's a variant of "what's your favorite x" or the surveyfilter questions we've seen. Everyone's answer is equally valid, whatever that means in this context. AskMe really isn't intended to be a place to do "poll the audience" type questions. It's an edge case question, certainly, but we both felt -- spurred by the flag queue -- that it was a little over the edge not inside of it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:17 AM on November 17, 2007


OK. I was thinking about it, and it didn't seem to fit into MetaChat, and since it just got deleted out of AskMe, it obviously didn't go there. Thanks.
posted by JDHarper at 9:20 AM on November 17, 2007


Do you mean it didn't seem to fit into MetaTalk?
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:21 AM on November 17, 2007


If the OP had taken out the "So what's yours?" focus from the question, what would have been left would be looking for answers to the OPs specific problem (a way to encapsulate and understand his midlife crisis in words).

Since the question was written in such a way as to solicit general opinions about the subject, and not specific solutions to the OPs problem, it is easier to delete.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:22 AM on November 17, 2007


And in doing so I realized that I don't have even the faintest clue of what something like that would even look like.

THAT was the problem

So, what's yours?

THAT doesn't answer/solve the problem

That's where you went wrong. Would someone else's one-liner help you find yours? Probably not. Why not re-ask it in a way that actually helps you solve your problem? Instead of "so what's yours" you should have just asked "so how did you find yours" and then it would have been a good question.
posted by necessitas at 9:26 AM on November 17, 2007


"so how did you find yours" and then it would have been a good question.

Actually, "how can I find mine" would be an even better question.
posted by necessitas at 9:31 AM on November 17, 2007


It should go to Yahoo Answers.
posted by klangklangston at 9:31 AM on November 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


OK. I was thinking about it, and it didn't seem to fit into MetaChat, and since it just got deleted out of AskMe, it obviously didn't go there. Thanks.

Actually, your question is perfect for MetaChat!
posted by ericb at 9:34 AM on November 17, 2007


Instead of "so what's yours" you should have just asked "so how did you find yours"...

I'll show you mine, if you show me yours.
posted by ericb at 9:35 AM on November 17, 2007


I enjoyed the question. I wish there was a place on Meta for this kind of topic (because I keep forgetting about MetaChat).
posted by TochterAusElysium at 9:44 AM on November 17, 2007


I don't understand why "how did you find yours" isn't chatfilter. It's just asking for a listing of experiences, none of which is going to be an authoritative method for arriving at a motto.

Perhaps I could see it being worthwhile if he gave a good and through description of his life and asked how someone in that position (or very similar) could find a guiding principle. Of course, this option would eliminate most of the responses to the former version.
posted by oddman at 9:48 AM on November 17, 2007


While we're on the subject of inappropriate AskMe's, did you guys decide to categorically ban "What should I buy my cat for Christmas" questions?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:49 AM on November 17, 2007


I was thinking about it, and it didn't seem to fit into MetaChat

You know Metafilter and MetaChat aren't connected in any way except for sharing some members, right?
posted by dobbs at 9:49 AM on November 17, 2007


Just out of curiousity, what's the difference between that question and "what is it like to feel loved"?
posted by WCityMike at 9:59 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dear Ax,
I'm writing a book in which the protagonist is undergoing an existential crisis. In the part I'm working on now, each of her friends are trying to explain how they view the meaning of life. Can you help me imagine what the friends would say, if they were giving one-sentence descriptions of their life purpose? I want this to be as realistic as possible, so your personal philosophy would be very helpful to me.
Yours truly,
fm
posted by found missing at 10:05 AM on November 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


gaspode to me at a mefi meetup:

"You should check out metachat. It's like Metafilter, but you can start threads about what you had for dinner."
posted by Greg Nog at 10:06 AM on November 17, 2007


Just out of curiousity, what's the difference between that question and "what is it like to feel loved"?

One was asking for a personal motto and one was trying to understand an emotion that they weren't sure (or were sure in the negative) that they didn't have. Basically one was on the other side of the edge case scenario and this one wasn't. There's not always a definitive answer to why a certain question was and was not over the line. We go from the flag queue, gut feeling, precedence, context (time and place), and discussion with each other.

The "loved" question was anonymous and so was already approved by one of us before it went up on the site. If you read the question, it's asking for something to solve a specific problem and answers can have greater or lesser degrees of application to that. In a "what's your motto?" question, all answers containing a motto are correct.

And, on preview, sure you could rewrite the question to be less deleteworthy, but we have to play it as it lies.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:07 AM on November 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I thought the question could have stayed if it was a bit more specific. As it was posted it was so open-ended and polling the audience that it seemed chatfiltery, but it was salvageable if you stated it as a question about how to figure out one's purpose in life (esp. if you tell us a few things you like and think are worth fighting for, and what is holding you back right now from just going after those things).

The worst thing about the question was the first answer -- when someone makes a jokey snark derail as the very first comment it dooms a thread no matter how borderline or earnest the original was.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:13 AM on November 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


what is it like to feel loved?

A long time ago, I asked, "What is it like to feel the presence of God?" I've been an atheist all my life, and I've never had that feeling or anything like it. I really want to know what its like. But my question got axed.

To me, it seems really similar to "what is it like to feel loved?"

Before going on, I feel the need to say..

-- I'm NOT complaining about that old deletion.
-- I DON'T expect the moderators to be 100% consistent and I understand that it's often a subjective call.
-- I'm NOT expecting, as I have in the past, some sort of crystal clear, scientific set of rules.

I'm just wondering, since I asked that question back in the early days of AskMe, whether it would be more likely to stand now? I ask, because since that deletion, I've shied away from asking anything that wasn't a really nuts-and-bolts question.
posted by grumblebee at 10:36 AM on November 17, 2007


grumblebee, people don't (mostly) argue about whether love exists, so at least people wouldn't be arguing about first principles in the "what's it like to feel loved" question. The god question was guaranteed to include a lot of fighting about the idea of faith and belief which made it poorly suited for the MeFi universe generally and not quite right for AskMe specifically. If you ever want to run a question by one of us if you're unclear, feel free to email us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:44 AM on November 17, 2007


I flagged it AND answered it. Slut that I am.
posted by brautigan at 11:08 AM on November 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


What is it like to feel the presence of God?
God hates it when you feel his presence - He worries you'll tell Him what you reckon they are and spoil the surprise when He opens them on Christmas morning.
posted by Abiezer at 11:09 AM on November 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Gotcha, Jessamyn. For the record (as far as I can remember: I can't consult the thread, because it's gone), I was careful to word the question to make it clear that I didn't want any pro/con God arguments. And I also remember that, before the thread got deleted, it was filled with polite, insightful responses.

But I can understand that policy is policy.
posted by grumblebee at 11:14 AM on November 17, 2007


I do think that many people have a need to ask important "chatfilter" questions. By important, I mean things more meaningful to one's life than "what's your favorite color?" Questions like, "what makes a good marriage?"

When dissenters say, "But you can't learn anything from other people's responses to questions like that," I think they're misunderstanding they way some people's minds work. While you can't get a capital A answer from such responses, you can -- IF your mind works a certain way -- start to form your own opinion via your reactions to many many different, subjective responses.

I know that sometimes, I don't have an opinion (or at least I don't have one that I can consciously access) about something subjective (like whether a particular movie is good or bad) until I have other opinions to react to.

NONE OF THIS IS ASKME'S RESPONISBILITY OR PROBLEM.

I'm content that AskMe is the way it as and that it can't be all things to all people. And I can see how allowing rampant chatfilter -- even arguably "good" chatfilter -- would wreck the site.

But I wish there was a clear alternative for people who wanted to ask such questions. What they need is:

a) a site with a large, intelligent community (similar to the community here)

b) a site with a rule that one must refrain from derails (similar to askme)

c) a site that allows serious chatfilter.

Is there such a site? Does MetaChat really fit this bill? My feeling is -- and maybe I'm wrong (I haven't spent all that much time there -- that though you can ask chatfilter questions there, you can't expect the amount of response that you'd get here, and you can't expect it to stay on topic.

One aspect of "chat" is that it can wander and be somewhat light. But I don't think that's what the "chatfilter-lovers" are looking for.

Are they just shit out of luck?

If there was a clear, viable alternative, maybe this would come up as often here. I sort of feel like if I want to ask a question, and I want it to be taken seriously by a large group of smart people (from a huge variety of backgrounds), AskMe is my only good option.

That doesn't give me a right to break AskMe's rules, but it is sad.
posted by grumblebee at 11:27 AM on November 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


I second grumblebee on that one. Metachat just doesn't cut it for me and I've often wished their was something similar as part of the Official Metaverse. Am sure it's been discussed to death and the mods doubtless have their minds made up on this but there ya go.
posted by brautigan at 11:46 AM on November 17, 2007


I think you're shit-out-of-luck, brautigan. My sense is that Matt has no interest in that sort of thing, which is fair enough.

Maybe the future will bring something like that -- on some other site.
posted by grumblebee at 12:11 PM on November 17, 2007


> a site with a large, intelligent community (similar to the community here)

Perhaps an utterly unmoderated chatfilter page — thus a much lower workload while it'd still involve the Mefi population? We refer to the blue, the green, the gray ... new one being "the wild"? :)
posted by WCityMike at 12:24 PM on November 17, 2007


It wouldn't work. If unmoderated, it would quickly become REALLY wild -- it would be a gigantic flame war. The only way I see it working is if it has the same politeness and anti-derail rules as AskMe. But then it needs moderators.
posted by grumblebee at 12:27 PM on November 17, 2007


I don't know ... although Mefi gets emphatically uncivil at times, I tend to think the civility quotient here is a good deal higher than the "normal world" ...
posted by WCityMike at 12:34 PM on November 17, 2007


Good Lord! You must live in a really different "normal world" than I do. Unless you mean that out there somewhere, some one in the real world is calling someone else a cocksucker. If so, then I'll agree with you. But in MY day-to-day world, when I'm sitting around at home, commuting to work (and I take the NYC Subway!), working at work, and spending time in the evenings and weekends with friends, there's very little name-calling, rudeness and snarkiness. If any of my co-workers, superiors or friends called me a cocksucker, that would be it. I'd leave the room. I'd return when they were able to speak to me respectfully and politely.

I DO seem to remember a certain amount of accepted name-calling and rudeness when I was a college student, living in dorms. So maybe my "normal world" experience stems from living in a 40-something, middle-class world. Still, I think it's a pretty "normal world" of that type.
posted by grumblebee at 12:42 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think the real problem is not that MeFi "gets emphatically uncivil at times," but that those times are -- within reason -- tolerated. There's a sort of "snark happens" attitude. It's an attitude that wouldn't wash with my friends and family. But once such an attitude is part of a community, it's a given that there will be a certain amount of rudeness.
posted by grumblebee at 12:45 PM on November 17, 2007


You know what? Fuck you cocksuckers, always asking for stupid shit. Code your own fucking website if you want to blather on inanely 24-7.

Fucking stupid shitbox clown shoes.

:)
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:00 PM on November 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


I apologize for the part that I played in derailing the question. I knew better and I shouldn't have posted the snark.
posted by onalark at 1:01 PM on November 17, 2007


Post it on your own blog.

Metafilter is my blog.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:19 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


A long time ago, I asked, "What is it like to feel the presence of God?"... To me, it seems really similar to "what is it like to feel loved?"

I think that's a little disingenuous. If you've ever felt the sublimity of nature, felt overpowered by love or beauty or awe, then you've probably felt what a lot of people interpret as the presence of god. Mathematicians who believe in god see god in their equations; artists who believe in god feel it in their inspiration to create... when people say "god is love" I think they kinda mean it. You just don't attribute it to a source or entity. But a question like that would become a "that's not god, that's just hormones!" type of thing.
posted by mdn at 4:15 PM on November 17, 2007


disingenuous?????

No, I really meant it. I know people who have felt the presence of God. I don't believe that what they're feeling actually IS God, but I do believe they're having a genuine feeling. I've never felt it (that I know of), and I'd like to -- or at least to hear, secondhand, how it feels. If I could press a magic button and make myself a theist (or at least feel like one), I'd do it in a heartbeat. But I can't.

Sure, I've felt awed by nature. Sure, I see things and think, "wow, that's beautiful!" IS that the same thing people feel when they feel God? Maybe not. I think most people mean feel something a bit more profound than that. But that's just a guess.

In any case, I really meant the question for people who feel they have a relationship with God. I can't even remotely imagine that. I wanted to know what that felt like? Like talking to a ghost? A flesh and blood person? A voice?

mdn, I wish you could have seen the original thread. It lasted for a long time before getting deleted. And it was full of polite and fascinating responses. No one got angry or rude or even debated anything. And I don't think the possibility of that is why the thread got deleted. It rightly got deleted for being chatfilter. Which it was.
posted by grumblebee at 4:35 PM on November 17, 2007


I know people who have felt the presence of God. I don't believe that what they're feeling actually IS God, but I do believe they're having a genuine feeling.

I sincerely hope that doesn't come across as condescending. I can't change the fact that I don't believe, so naturally when someone else does, I can't help thinking they believing in something that's not real. I don't think it's really an insult to say that someone believes in something unreal, but I understand why people feel that is insulting.

I do think that the feeling of God is VERY real for people who have it. I'm actually pretty bored by discussions about whether or not God exists, but I'm fascinated by the feeling (which presumably would be profound whether God actually exists or not). I guess some people might argue that I'm being insulting by saying God is "just a feeling." But in my world, the words "just" and "feeling" don't go together. I think feelings are the key experiences of life. (Which is why I care more about the feeling than the reality, and it's also why I'm jealous of the feeling and want to experience it.)
posted by grumblebee at 4:40 PM on November 17, 2007


This is just another case of "you didn't read the rules". Yes, some other open-ended question didn't get deleted. That was a lapse of judgement. The mods are getting soft or something.
posted by tehloki at 5:04 PM on November 17, 2007


I know people who have felt the presence of God. I don't believe that what they're feeling actually IS God, but I do believe they're having a genuine feeling. I've never felt it (that I know of), and I'd like to -- or at least to hear, secondhand, how it feels.

You do realize there are shelves and shelves of books about precisely this, from every imaginable religious perspective, right? What on earth would make the responses of MeFites more valuable?
posted by languagehat at 6:09 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


We have cameras.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:35 PM on November 17, 2007


Heh.
posted by languagehat at 6:37 PM on November 17, 2007


Sorry, meant MetaTalk, yes.
posted by JDHarper at 6:54 PM on November 17, 2007


“What on earth would make the responses of MeFites more valuable?”

That could be said about pretty much everything. And, in fact, I said the same thing, in a more specific manner, about critiques of theism.

But grumblebee's question is one where someone might prefer to look for insight among one's peers, given a useful determination of peerage. I don't know if I feel that my fellow mefites have much in the way of insight to offer me on the question of the experience of faith, but I certainly think they do in other cases.

Which, really, should have been obvious to you had you thought about the matter for more than the nanosecond you gave it before you condescended to grumblebee.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:53 PM on November 17, 2007


You do realize there are shelves and shelves of books about precisely this

For someone like me, who grew up in a totally non-religious household, I wouldn't know where to start. I've read the Bible, and I've scanned the hundreds of religious titles in Barnes & Noble, but where would I go to find descriptive, well-written, evocative descriptions of what it's like to have God in the room with you? I HAVE actually looked, but I'm not sure what book(s) to read. (And I don't want to read something old, a.k.a. Augustine for something like this, because I'm interested in the experience for a modern person -- though perhaps it would be the same as for someone long ago.)

I would have been THRILLED if someone (you?) in the thread, before it got deleted, would have said, "You should read X by Y. There's a description on page 96 that's exactly what you're looking for." Most of the books I've found explain how to live a religious life, or what lead the author to become religious -- but I've haven't found much about what it's like it have God in the room with you. But -- in that thread -- people explained EXACTLY that. I wish I'd saved a copy of it before it got deleted.
posted by grumblebee at 12:39 AM on November 18, 2007


shitbox clown shoes, so you don't have to.
posted by quonsar at 5:50 AM on November 18, 2007


Which, really, should have been obvious to you had you thought about the matter for more than the nanosecond you gave it before you condescended to grumblebee.

Oh, for god's sake. You actually agree with me, you're just pissed at me because I've been giving you a hard time and are taking the opportunity to lash out. Sorry, pardner, you're way off base. I would never condescend to grumblebee, whom I respect a great deal, but I thought his question unsuitable for AskMe for exactly the reason I said. You know as well as I do there are far more thoughtful, better written accounts of "what it's like" than you're likely to get around here. This is not "help me identify this book," it's religious chatfilter.

Or so I think...
posted by languagehat at 6:12 AM on November 18, 2007


You know as well as I do there are far more thoughtful, better written accounts of "what it's like"

Like WHAT?

it's religious chatfilter.

I agree.
posted by grumblebee at 8:48 AM on November 18, 2007


Had I thought more clearly and understood the rules better back then, I would have asked, "What are the titles of books that have well-written, non-fiction accounts of the subjective experience of being in God's presence? Please, no pro/con religion debates." I THINK that would have made it acceptable. It would have saddened me a little, because I would have missed all the really great chatfilter responses I got.

I get the impression from the voices in these threads that most people are either violently opposed to chat filter or are trying to excuse it. I am against it because ... well, because I'm a rule follower. I am against breaking the rules, and I respect that this is Matt's site and feel that what he wants should be the law here. I just wish the rules were different. Or that there was another site that had a viable alternative.

I do NOT agree that my question was a bad or silly question -- it was just a bad question of AskMe.

Languagehat, I feel like you're condescending to me a little bit, though I'm probably misreading you. It feels like you're saying, "There are good books out there, and if you just TRY a little harder, you'll find them." I actually HAVE tried and haven't felt satisfied about what I have found. Perhaps my research skills are weak.

When one has no background in a field, it's sometimes hard to go into a bookstore and pick out a good text from hundreds of alternatives. And I never see religious books that are specifically about what I'm interested in. They may contain what I'm interested in, but how can I tell that from the covers. I don't have enough years left in my life to read them all to find out what's inside them.
posted by grumblebee at 9:00 AM on November 18, 2007


I also STILL think my question has almost the same content -- from the perspective of site rules -- as the love question, which is why I brought my post up in the first place. When I did, I REALLY expected Jessamyn to say, "Well, maybe so, but the admins are human and not 100% consistent." That's true, perfectly acceptable, and I would have shut up.

But to my surprise, she said that my question was different because it was more contentious. To me, that's a really weak response -- especially given that the responses (and there were many before the thread got deleted) were courteous and insightful. And there was no snarking or argumentation.
posted by grumblebee at 9:04 AM on November 18, 2007


"What are the titles of books that have well-written, non-fiction accounts of the subjective experience of being in God's presence? Please, no pro/con religion debates."

Yeah, that seems like it'd fly just fine. You might even expand it to "books and other solid resources" or such.

I hear exactly what you're saying about trying to crack into a topic on which you have no background. Some of my askme questions have been exactly that sort of toe-dipping—I knew that I didn't really know what I was talking about, so I asked after getting into the topic, sometimes marrying that to a more specific "here's my guess/notion so far" bit if I had a specific idea I wanted to vet along the way.

Asking for resources, asking for a way to go about investigating or learning something, probably works better in general for big topics or broad areas of study than a flat out request for regurgitation of personal knowledge/experience. At least, that's my anecdotal take, from watching threads develop (and occasionally devolve).
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:22 AM on November 18, 2007


When I did, I REALLY expected Jessamyn to say, "Well, maybe so, but the admins are human and not 100% consistent." That's true, perfectly acceptable, and I would have shut up.... [S]he said that my question was different because it was more contentious. To me, that's a really weak response

I dislike being asked to explain the difference between two different questions for exactly this reason. There is always the existing caveat that we are human, inconsistent, have not become robots in the meantime, and all that other stuff. I presumed that you knew those parts and so did not include them in my answer. In short, you can't compare two questions and explain authoritatively why one was removed and one wasn't to any degree that will satisfy everyone. There are too many variables and otherwise it's not mathematics there is not an authoritative calculated answer.

I'm telling you what I remember from something that happened how long ago? You're nitpicking it. Sometimes our responses are weak; welcome to the world of real people. The best I can say is that if you (or someone else) asked the same question tomorrow in exactly the same way, it would like likely be removed as well. Your rewrite, not so much, it's a question better suited for AskMe. More answerable, less contested.

Your former question -- which to me it seems like you are contesting, no? -- was religious chatfilter, and was centered around a topic that fell further in the "unanswerable" direction than the other one. If you want to have religious chatty discussions there are other places on the web to do that. You could always Ask MetaFilter where to find them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:39 AM on November 18, 2007


You're nitpicking it.

Your former question -- which to me it seems like you are contesting, no? -- was religious chatfilter

It does seem like I'm contesting and nitpicking, doesn't it. I'm sorry. I'm actually not all that interested in my original question. I brought it up here, because I think the chatfilter issue remains an important one.

It's a somewhat unique issue (related, perhaps, only to politicsfiler). By which I mean that many other rules, such as the ban on self-linking, are close to universally accepted. When someone self-links, a zillion people pounce on him. Very few people sigh and say, "I wish self-linking was allowed."

But whenever a thoughtful chatfilter questions gets axed, many people DO come out of the woodwork and lament it. (When my question got deleted someone -- not me -- complained about it on MeTa, and many people agreed that they wish the question had stayed.) I have no idea how many people like chatfilter. It's probably a minority. But I bet it's a large minority.

I AM NOT TRYING TO GET ASKME TO CHANGE IT'S RULES ABOUT CHATFILTER. (Sorry, about the shouting. But I fear that's how I'm coming across.)

I have two points:

1) There happens to be a rule against questions that don't have hard, non-subjective answers. I respect that rule, but the rule doesn't make such questions bad.

There's a certain type of person who really likes nuts-and-bolts subjects; there's another type that prefers fuzzier subjects. (And there are many people who like both.) This site is better suited for the former, but that doesn't make the latter bad or intellectually sloppy (and it seems languagehat is suggesting). To many of us, a question is a question, and it's unnatural to distinguish between the two types. We're just aware that there's something we need to know. To people who are very aware of the distinction, this probably seems odd.

2) I wish people would stop saying, "take it to matachat." Matachat does not seem to be a place for (a) serious discussion that is FORCED to stay on-topic or (b) a site with a huge number of members. Numbers are VERY important for chatfilter questions, because as there's no cut-and-dry answer, the questioner is looking for a large sampling of opinions.

(For instance, I find Amazon reviews the most useful predictor of whether or not I'll like a book, but ONLY when there are over a hundred reviews. Six reviews means nothing. But when there are dozens, a picture gradually emerges. I can look for the people who seem most simpatico with me and see what they thought about the book. Usually, if there are 150 reviews, there are at least ten people who seem close enough to me that I can take them seriously. And if all ten of them liked the book, bingo!

Note too that derailing doesn't happen on Amazon. I'd quit reading the reviews if it they constantly got off topic.

Chatfilter may be softer than what's appropriate for this site, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily a free-for-all.)

When someone says "take it to metachat," it seems disrespectful. It seems like a parent saying to his bookish kid, "You're bored? Okay, here: read these copies of 'Parent's Journal." The parent isn't really trying to help the kid. He knows "Parent's Journal" will not alleviate the kid's boredom. He just wants to be able to say he tried to help. It would be much better -- much more honest -- if he said, "Sorry, kid. There's nothing interesting to read here. You're shit out of luck."

I suspect that chatfilter lovers are shit-out-of-luck. I really don't think there's a good site for such questions, though I'd be thrilled to be wrong. Most sites are either too narrow (hard questions only) or too broad (touchy-feely, anything goes).

It's too bad, because many people find such question deeply important.
posted by grumblebee at 10:09 AM on November 18, 2007


When someone says "take it to metachat," it seems disrespectful. It seems like a parent saying to his bookish kid, "You're bored? Okay, here: read these copies of 'Parent's Journal." The parent isn't really trying to help the kid. He knows "Parent's Journal" will not alleviate the kid's boredom.

It's possible there are folks who have said it dismissively or disrespectfully, but that's hardly the universal case. Metachat is not a perfect replacement for free-reign chatfilter on askme, but it is a better place for it, and a place inhabited by a lot of folks, both mefi coinhabitants and mecha-only folks, who enjoy chat.

So where you see dismissive "get out of my face", most of us who recommend (and also spend some time on) Metachat are actually trying to be very respectfully helpful. If you have a question that manages to be a poor fit for Metachat as well—or, really, from your criteria here, it's probably fairer to say a question for which you have expectations that neither Metachat nor askme can meet—that's kind of a shit-creek proposition, and not an indictment of the intentions or practical correctness of a Metachat suggestion.

Which sucks, I know; I think the question of how to solve the chatfilter problem is a very interesting one. But don't go putting that on folks who have and do find utility in Metachat for the sort of thing you're trying to do.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:26 AM on November 18, 2007


I AM NOT TRYING TO GET ASKME TO CHANGE IT'S RULES ABOUT CHATFILTER.

I would then like to ask, respectfully, what are you trying to do here? I am a problem-solver and I have a hard time with long "I feel this about that" comments when there's nothing I or anyone can do to actually fix anything. If you dont want MeFi's rules to change, are you just lamenting that you wish the world were different?

I get where you're coming from grumblebee, I really do. I feel like I understand your opinion and why these things are important to you. However, absent a change in site policies that is likely not forthcoming (and that you strenuously insist you are not requesting) I'm not sure why you are belaboring this point.

No one said your question was bad. And we almost never say "take it to metachat" except to note that there does exist a large friendly group of MeFites and others there who are more into free form discussion.

If you are waiting for me to tell you that you are shit out of luck, I think that has already happened. One of the things that I sort of like about this site is that everyone wishes it were a little different in all sorts of directions (even mathowie, even me) and learning to make those compromises and accept those differences seems to me to be part of the larger experience of learning to get along with people and be human. Some people take their dissatisfaction with this place and go forth and make other communities of like-minded people and flourish there. That pleases me even though it's growth borne out of discontent.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:31 AM on November 18, 2007


I think the question of how to solve the chatfilter problem is a very interesting one. But don't go putting that on folks who have and do find utility in Metachat for the sort of thing you're trying to do.

Sorry about my tone. It was impolite. It comes with frustration from hearing years of (probably more well-meaning than I assumed) suggestions of "take it to metachat." I almost never see anyone actually take that advice (and I always check), and I understand why they don't and why it's not really great advice.

I would then like to ask, respectfully, what are you trying to do here?

I'm partly trying to say that, though they're maybe not appropriate for this site, chatfilter questions CAN be something more than touchy-feely lovefests. I feel that chatfilter lovers on this site are often condescended to, as if they were the types of people who would go to a physics conference and ask everyone to share their feelings. That's not necessarily true, though I'll admit it can be true.

I also agree with cortex that "the question of how to solve the chatfilter problem is a very interesting one." I'm aware that there's a really large group of people who wants a place to ask such question. I know this site doesn't really work for them; I know metachat doesn't either. I SUSPECT that they're shit-out-of-luck, but I'm not 100% sure that's true. So I'm not quite ready to just throw up my hands. Like you, I'm a problem solver and I'd like to solve this.

But I think I've said my piece -- probably to the point of irritating several people. And I think you for taking the time to respond. I doubt there's much to be gained by me continuing, and I probably won't bring this up here again -- or participate in another discussion about it, unless someone comes up with a really practical idea that I can help with.

So I guess I am sort of accepting the shit-out-of-luck thing.
posted by grumblebee at 10:52 AM on November 18, 2007


but that doesn't make the latter bad or intellectually sloppy (and it seems languagehat is suggesting).

Just to be clear: No, I don't think it's intellectually sloppy, I think it violates the AskMe guidelines, which work tremendously well and which I do not wish to see changed in any way, even though I (like everyone else) sometimes regret seeing an interesting discussion choked off. Yours was an interesting question and I had nothing against it or you, but it was chatfilter and thus did not belong on AskMe. (Also, I apologize about sounding like you hadn't even tried looking for books on the subject. Years ago when I was reading a lot about religion I probably would have had some good recommendations, but now, alas, I don't.)
posted by languagehat at 11:12 AM on November 18, 2007


Let me say up front that I realize (and agree) that no one owes me this, but I would be really interested in knowing the actual rationale for excluding "chatfilter" questions.

Text doesn't take up a great deal of disk space and compresses well. The question load is throttled by the once-every-two-weeks rule (or whatever it is). People who don't like chatfiltery questions can easily skip them. And a substantial minority do seem to like them, or are at least tolerant.

So what is it? Is it an aesthetic issue of some kind? Do you think it will unduly increase the load on the moderators? Do you think the chatfiltery questions will drive out the practical ones (and the people who answer them)? (If the latter, you could make another section of the site.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:25 PM on November 18, 2007


CA, there has been a lot of previous discussion on this topic. Please feel free to dig around some. I'm not sure if you've done that already.

The short answer is that, as created, AskMe is a problem-solving site, not just for talking about whatever topic interests you. The answers are not just useful to the OP but to other users in the future. Chatty questions don't serve this purpose, are a pain to moderate with our existing tools and admins (what's an off-topic answer in a chatfilter question? how do you pick a best answer?) and reduce the usefulness of that part of the site overall. The load throttling you speak of (one question per week currently) would change somewhat because people wouldn't just post when they had a problem, they'd post when they wanted to talk about something with MeFites. That would likely drive traffic up in a site that is already pretty busy.

More to the point while there is a vocal minority that would like there to be a chatfilter part of the site, it's not something that any of the admins are really gung-ho on, hence no real interest in creating a new part of the site.

There are many places on the internet to talk about things that interest you, but precious few where you can ask the sort of things you can ask on AskMe with the quality of response you get here. That's what we're aiming for and trying to maintain.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:59 PM on November 18, 2007


Thanks, Jessamyn. I really wouldn't want to see anything reduce the usefulness of AskMetafilter, which is indeed a very valuable resource as-is.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:27 PM on November 18, 2007


As the OPer of the OP, all I can say is that I will try even harder to make any future questions fit within the framework of AskMe. This thread has been very helpful in understanding where I went wrong this time.
posted by TheManChild2000 at 7:48 PM on November 18, 2007


I'm with grumblebee in wishing that there was a better forum to take those serious-yet-chatfilter questions for discussion. I checked out MetaChat for exactly that reason, but it didn't seem like the right place either. The few weeks I spent lurking over there, I learned a lot about what people were angry about in THREADS FOR YELLING, a lot about what people were eating, and a lot about various members' interior decorating projects. It was entertaining, to be sure, but not the forum I was looking for. I don't expect a new subsite of Metafilter, either, but I'm wondering if anybody knows of another site that is good for these kinds of questions, someplace with the level-headed moderation and intelligent discourse that we've come to expect from AskMe. Any suggestions? (And if this would be more appropriate as an AskMe question, I'd be happy to post it over there. It just seemed germane to this discussion.)
posted by vytae at 9:33 PM on November 18, 2007


Metachat isn't for everyone, but it's not the only offshoot meta site either. If you're looking for alternatives, try monkeyfilter.com or 9622.com. If all fails it's simple enough to set up your own metafilter clone that does chat the way you like it. Feel free to contact me about software options or to chat about how you would do something like this.
posted by seanyboy at 11:16 PM on November 18, 2007


That should be 9622.net. my bad.
posted by seanyboy at 12:15 AM on November 19, 2007


cortex: "If you have a question that manages to be a poor fit for Metachat as well—or, really, from your criteria here, it's probably fairer to say a question for which you have expectations that neither Metachat nor askme can meet—that's kind of a shit-creek proposition..."
My mind boggles at the thought of a question that is inappropriate for MetaChat. Pretty much anything goes and there are a lot of smart people there (and there's also me) who are happy to do their level best to help you out. Give it a try - what's the worst that can happen?
posted by dg at 2:36 AM on November 19, 2007


Thanks, seanyboy. I will check out those other sites.
posted by vytae at 7:41 AM on November 19, 2007


I totally agree, dg; one of the things grumblebee was talking about was the issue of critical mass of the reponders, though. One thing Metachat truly isn't is Big Like Mefi—which is just kind of the nature of Metachat and, I think, a nice thing about it as far as most folks there are concerned.

So it's not so much the idea of a restriction on topics as it is the desire for mefi-scale traffic that would make Metachat not the right fit for some of the hypothethicals gb was raising. And, yeah, c'est la vie—that may be the unsatisfiable request at the core of all this, unless something else comes along.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:04 PM on November 19, 2007


Well, MetaChat may well lack the critical mass that is needed to spark a long-lasting, robust discussion of obscure hypothetical questions, but it's not as if you only get one shot at asking the question. He could ask the question at MetaChat and see what happens. Then, if the desired result isn't achieved (and I agree that it is probably not the perfect fit for that type of question, if only because threads quickly lose impetus there as soon as they disappear from the front page), he can ask it again somewhere else, if that mythical perfect fit ever appears. That's the good thing about questions - they don't wear out.
posted by dg at 12:01 AM on November 20, 2007


For what it's worth, I would have loved to participate in that "what's it like to feel the presence of God" discussion, since as a child I was brought up in a very religious home and was very religious myself, and definitely felt something. Later on, when as a jaded teen I renounced all the BS in my life (well, at least tried), I of course never felt it again, but have always been amazed at how something that seems so, true, can just disappear after a shift in perspective.
posted by papafrita at 11:29 AM on November 20, 2007


That's a bit reminiscent of Wordsworth's Prelude and fading into the light of common day, papafrita. I had similar experiences, and still do now in a sense more like that of the original Greek enthusiasm when a god speaks through you. And I've been an atheist since about my earliest memory - just a weirdo too.
posted by Abiezer at 12:26 PM on November 20, 2007


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