If you don't know the answer, don't answer the question. It's that simple.
posted by fandango_matt to Etiquette/Policy at 7:48 PM (350 comments total)
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The etymology thread brought up an aggravating and infuriating tendency people have in Ask MetaFilter: answering with a guess without indicating it as such. People who ask specific
questions to which there exists a correct answer
are looking for exactly that: the correct answer, not a guess. Guesses do nothing to help, they're just noise, and they do not help people find answers.
For example, Steven C. Den Beste has admitted
he posts guesses that are incorrect,
and since we have no way of knowing which of his answers are just guesses, we cannot trust or use any of his answers in Ask MetaFilter. So I ignore all his answers, because I can't trust them, so I consider his answers to be just noise in the thread, and I suspect I am not alone.
People need to either stop answering questions to which they do not know the correct answer, or stop posting answers to questions. Like wisecracks, guess answers to specific questions do not help people find answers. Stavros said it best: "The best answer is always the correct answer. The skill comes into play in knowing which questions are the ones that can actually have a correct answer. Many questions on Ask Metafilter cannot be answered with anything other than anecdote, opinion, or advice. Some questions can be answered correctly. If you don't know the answer to a question of the latter variety, DO NOT ANSWER IT."
Please stop answering questions to which you do not know the answer. Thank you.