AskMe feature suggestion November 19, 2007 6:45 PM   Subscribe

I think it'd be cool if when posting as anonymous on AskMe, you had the option to provide a separate password which would let you log in as anonymous just for the thread you're creating and post comments. The main benefit is that it would allow responders to ask for more information. The main risk I see is that someone could out themselves by accident if they forgot to log in as anonymous before commenting...
posted by Coventry to Feature Requests at 6:45 PM (51 comments total)

There have been cases where anonymous questioners felt they needed to respond to questions, and it's been dealt with by having the anonymous questioner mail their answer to one of the mods, who post the response for them.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:48 PM on November 19, 2007


MEETING ADJOURNED!
posted by klangklangston at 6:56 PM on November 19, 2007


Steven C. Den Beste: the man with the answers.
posted by katillathehun at 7:13 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


The mod workaround is good and all.. but there are some anon questions for which it's totally understandable that the asker wouldn't want to break their anonymity at all. Plus, if they're asking about something that's grey-area legal, better not to involve Mattamyntex, no?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:27 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Glad that meeting's over. Are there any cruellers left?
posted by SassHat at 7:30 PM on November 19, 2007


It costs $5 to ask a question that you can respond to.
posted by tellurian at 7:31 PM on November 19, 2007


DNBB, the mods know who the anonymous questioners are anyway; they know when they approve the anonymous post.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:36 PM on November 19, 2007


the mods know who the anonymous questioners are anyway

Note to self: quit pissing off the mods.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:37 PM on November 19, 2007


BTW, is its just me, or does it sounds really odd to call Matt, Jess, and cortex "mods"? Maybe I've been here way too long, but it all sounds so formal and clinical. Back in the day, we used to just call out Matt by name, with the informality of a family gathering, despite the fact that he has no idea who most of us are, and the sort of familiarity that was brandished about was a bit creepy. ::sigh:: Those were the days...
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:40 PM on November 19, 2007


DNBB

Wait, it's Dirty Num Bangel Boy? Who knew?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:45 PM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


DNBB, the mods know who the anonymous questioners are anyway; they know when they approve the anonymous post.

I'm fairly certain that's not the case, which is actually part of the reason given for why implementing this feature would be non-trivial.
posted by Frankieist at 7:47 PM on November 19, 2007


Steven C. Den Beste: the man with the answers.

AskSte?
posted by phatkitten at 7:48 PM on November 19, 2007


Or rather, the lack of connection between asker and question in anonymous posts is why it would be non-trivial to set up MetaMail for anonymous posters. I imagine that setting up temporary logins would also be difficult, but probably for some other set of reasons.
posted by Frankieist at 7:50 PM on November 19, 2007


Plus, if they're asking about something that's grey-area legal,

Uh, if so, we wouldn't approve the questions in the first place. We kinda have the whole "don't ask about illegal stuff" rule.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:55 PM on November 19, 2007


Well, they do know in that before the question is approved, they see it under your name, so whoever sees it in the queue can associate it with you. They don't 'know' in that there is no database record connecting an approved anonymous question with the asker. So, if you can't stand even the mods knowing that you are asking about how to hide your sockpuppets, anonymous questions are not your solution.
posted by jacalata at 8:01 PM on November 19, 2007


We kinda have the whole "don't ask about illegal stuff" rule.

Alas.. Who said the slippery slope was a fallacy?
posted by Chuckles at 8:02 PM on November 19, 2007


Well, they do know in that before the question is approved, they see it under your name, so whoever sees it in the queue can associate it with you.

No, that's incorrect. We see it in the queue without attribution; while we can do some legwork to figure out who submitted it, the default situation is that we have no idea who is asking what.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:09 PM on November 19, 2007


FWIW, I think a more featured anonymous-asker setup would solve a lot of problems and probably make things easier for the mods overall. I don't think I've ever posted a question where I didn't eventually feel the need to follow up or clarify, and I can't imagine that anonymous askers would be any different. Also, when dealing with particularly sensitive subjects, anonymous posts have a tendency to devolve into massive pile-ons that either get deleted or massively pruned. Even though allowing anonymous users to post in-thread might not solve the problem, at least it would give them a chance to defend theirselves.

Also, this same suggestion was made less than a month ago in the anonymous MetaMail thread.
posted by Frankieist at 8:11 PM on November 19, 2007


...the default situation is that we have no idea who is asking what.

I stand corrected. I thought I'd seen a post by one of you saying you did know who they were.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:43 PM on November 19, 2007


We kinda have the whole "don't ask about illegal stuff" rule.

Hah! And by "hah," I mean LOL.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:15 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think this is a great idea. I have seen it with some "help desk"-type systems (Joyent/Textdrive, for one): after you fill out your form and submit it, you get a page with an alphanumeric "key" (12-16? chars), which is also emailed to the email you supplied in the form, and you are redirected to a page where the "key" has already be pre-filled (appended to the URL or something, so it is bookmarkable).

On the upside, it doesn't seem too tough to do, and would make anonymous posts a lot less of a guessing game.

On the downside, this might result in a wave of anonymous questions, since there is very little incentive to NOT be anonymous. Right now you need to weigh your desire for anonymity against your desire to ask an "interactive" question. Too many anonymous questions would suck from a community standpoint, IMO.
posted by misterbrandt at 9:24 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hah! And by "hah," I mean LOL.

It was all cute and funny when, upon visiting the local police station with his Cub Scout troop, little Steve Elvis America was given a badge proclaiming him to be an "Honorary Patrolman". He took it so, so seriously - he'd round up tardy students and march them into the principal's office, he'd help the teacher regain order when the class got unruly, and he had his first ever orgasm right after calling the "real" police on two 16 year olds he saw smoking a joint in an alley near his house.

Little did anyone know that decades later, Steve would still be wearing that fucking badge. The local cops long ago grew tired of breathless 3 a.m. phone calls reporting stereos 2 dB too loud. They stopped filing Steve's home made artist's renderings of disobeyers of the leash law and started throwing them in the trash instead.

After a while, when he'd call 911, no one would answer. Steve was low. How the heck was he supposed to pass the time in a productive manner if no one took his civic duty seriously?

Then, one day after idly searching for cases of left wing bias on the internet that he could report to the Department of Homeland Security, he found a website with all sorts of illicit activities being discussed by nogoodnicks right out in the open. No one was protesting that this was going on and the place seemed completely unmoderated, despite the lack of Viagra spam. He was flabbergasted, and he knew what he had to do.

Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America shined up his badge, paid five dollars, and joined the ranks of Metafilter.
posted by item at 11:18 PM on November 19, 2007 [6 favorites]


is its just me, or does it sounds really odd to call Matt, Jess, and cortex "mods"?

You prefer rockers?
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:09 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Or was that rods and mockers? The past, it grows so dim.
posted by Bruce H. at 2:59 AM on November 20, 2007


I prefer "mockers".
posted by timeistight at 3:01 AM on November 20, 2007


There have been cases where anonymous questioners felt they needed to respond to questions, and it's been dealt with by having the anonymous questioner mail their answer to one of the mods, who post the response for them.

That's hardly what I'd describe as ideal. Coventry's idea is not a bad one (nor original, for that matter). Especially as the user base continues to grow. The real question is how hard would such a thing be to set up. I'm not a programmer, so I have no idea. Is misterbrandt's idea feasible?
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:11 AM on November 20, 2007


And could I possibly use the word idea any more times in that sentence? Notion, suggestion, concept, hypothesis, theory, postulate... I'm in science for chrissakes.
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:12 AM on November 20, 2007


Why are we even discussing this again? If I wanted to ask an anonymous question (and I'm assuming that some follow up would be needed) I would just pay $5. There is no other advantage to asking an anonymous question other than avoiding paying $5. The premise seems to be that you are a current member and so shouldn't have to pay any extra $5 to ask a question anonymously. This means mathowie has to jump through hoops to allow you to do it and provide you with a way of responding to it, and as evidenced by this request, and many other posts on the same subject, to provide users with a way to get around paying for an extraordinary circumstance. I say, mathowie, stand up for yourself. Make them pay. No more anonymous.
posted by tellurian at 4:34 AM on November 20, 2007


kisch mokusch: "I'm not a programmer, so I have no idea. Is misterbrandt's idea feasible?"

I'm a programmer, and I say it's definitely feasible. But I also use websites from time to time, and I say it's stupid and it's virtually guaranteed to result in people outing themselves by mistake.

I'm also not sure if making it so that anonymous askers can comment in a thread is a feature we want. Right now, people who want to post anonymously know that it's a one-way door and I think that it's part of the charm. Usually you're not sure if you're answering a real person's real question (I'm sure there's a certain amount of not-real just-wondering see-if-this-will-get-deleted questions on Ask). With an anonymous question, there's the extra layer of "did the asker even come back to see the answers?"
posted by Plutor at 4:46 AM on November 20, 2007


Far more valuable (if you're going to jump through hoops) would be the ability to comment anonymously. I have seen posts that I would comment in but don't, because it would reveal too much about myself. The motivation to spend $5 to comment anonymously is extremely slim [has there ever been a case, I wonder?] compared to the practice of paying $5 to post anonymously [which I have seen].
posted by tellurian at 5:15 AM on November 20, 2007


Then, one day after idly searching for cases of left wing bias on the internet that he could report to the Department of Homeland Security...

I don't know if it's the cough medicine, but thanks for the laughs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:28 AM on November 20, 2007


it's virtually guaranteed to result in people outing themselves by mistake.

Unless it's possible to create safeguards around it (again, not a programmer, don't know).

I'm also not sure if making it so that anonymous askers can comment in a thread is a feature we want.

But that is a feature we have. It just requires making Jess do the legwork. So it's not necessarily a one-way door, but it comes down to how much time and effort gets saved? I know this is a great deal of community imput into these decisions, but I think it's mostly a question of efficiency, and therefore is more of a mod-decision.

Although that being said, I do wonder how many anonymous askers read the comments, see a pertinent question and think "Oh, I forgot about that! But I don't want to bother any of the mods, so I'll just ignore it and not add the information".

And there's no charm in trying to answer a question that begs for more information. It's just frustrating.

Far more valuable (if you're going to jump through hoops) would be the ability to comment anonymously.

I agree. Provided there's no anonymous asshattery. Which there would be.
posted by kisch mokusch at 5:31 AM on November 20, 2007


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America shined up his badge, paid five dollars, and joined the ranks of Metafilter.

At least I don't write fan fiction.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:36 AM on November 20, 2007


phatkitten: No, but he gets the check for Beste answer, surely.
posted by absalom at 6:41 AM on November 20, 2007


Methinks the Doctor doth protest too much.

Not really. Fan fiction low-blow mocked for comedy purposes. And where do we go from here? LARPing humor? Slippery slope, Mr. President.
posted by cgc373 at 6:47 AM on November 20, 2007


Yep. Anyone should be able to comment anonymously in the thread, which will include the original poster.
posted by bonaldi at 7:16 AM on November 20, 2007


DEAR AXE ME, I FURGOT MY PASSWERD, WHEN WILL THE PUSS STOP OOZING? HOPE ME!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:19 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wait, it's Dirty Num Bangel Boy? Who knew?

Wow. My speed reading brain always read it as "dirty numb bagel boy." Never noticed the "n." Weird.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:37 AM on November 20, 2007


What we really need are anonymous answers so that people could post embarrassing answers anonymously.
posted by delmoi at 7:39 AM on November 20, 2007


What we really need are anonymous answers so that people could post embarrassing answers anonymously.

And then we could implement it on the blue too. Anonymity for all!
posted by scalefree at 8:43 AM on November 20, 2007


At least I don't write fan fiction.

Yeah, um, see, I'm sorry if you misinterpreted it to think there's a 'fan' aspect. Better go back to creative writing class.
posted by item at 9:03 AM on November 20, 2007


We really need the ability to make anonymous comments for $1 each.
posted by agropyron at 9:18 AM on November 20, 2007


I don't want to pay $5 to ask about anal sex. :(
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:12 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


The motivation to spend $5 to comment anonymously is extremely slim [has there ever been a case, I wonder?]

No, never.
posted by you have no idea at 1:19 PM on November 20, 2007


YHNI, did you just pay $5 to complete a very in-depth pun?

*checks user history*

yes... yes you did.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:58 PM on November 20, 2007


Yeah, um, see, I'm sorry if you misinterpreted it to think there's a 'fan' aspect.

Don't be bashful. You wrote a whole story about me! I thought it was quite OK.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:37 PM on November 20, 2007


Why are we even discussing this again?

Because I wasn't aware of the previous discussions. Sorry.
posted by Coventry at 7:42 PM on November 20, 2007


maybe typing with my left hand only will make this message anonymous ....
nope.
*sigh*
posted by captaincrouton at 10:04 PM on November 20, 2007


I had a really great night tonight.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:00 PM on December 17, 2007


Do tell.
posted by tellurian at 9:56 PM on December 18, 2007


Yeah, frecklefaerie. What's Recent Activity for, if not for such an occasion as "a really great night"?
posted by cgc373 at 12:40 AM on December 19, 2007


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