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I want to know what MetaFilter is thinking.
February 21, 2008 3:57 PM   Subscribe

I'd be interested in seeing where MeFites stand on certain things without all the requisite explanations, caveats, and general schtuff that goes along with the responses to an actual post. That all said, can we have polls?

Just a little box on the side of MeTa would be dandy. Examples for said polls could include the following:
Presidential Race (obvious)
Time spent online, watching tv, reading etc
Approval/Disapproval of various things

Ideally, it would also be anonymous, and only for registered MeFites.
posted by andythebean to Feature Requests at 3:57 PM (133 comments total)

You could always go poll yourself.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:58 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sadly, I am but one MeFite. I desire the opinions of many a MeFite.
posted by andythebean at 3:59 PM on February 21, 2008


WTF METATALK?
posted by roll truck roll at 4:02 PM on February 21, 2008


Disapproval.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:03 PM on February 21, 2008


There's a "take your poll and smoke it" joke in there somehow.

Why in heck would you want mefi without the 'requisite explanations, caveats, and general schtuff'? That's the gooey center!
posted by SassHat at 4:08 PM on February 21, 2008


Let me clarify. There are many members of Metafilter (the wiki says 65K). Many of them spend most of their time as lurkers. I want to know the opinions of those people who don't, for whatever reason, post regularly. Does no one else wonder what MeFi thinks, feels, and believes?
posted by andythebean at 4:11 PM on February 21, 2008


Other websites I visit have mechanisms for posting polls. I think this is a pony well worth asking for.
posted by konolia at 4:15 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


1. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON FEATURE CREEP?

a) I'm agin it!
b) On the whaty what now?
c) You're a creep.
posted by everichon at 4:18 PM on February 21, 2008 [12 favorites]


Who would make these polls? How would they be worded? How many thousands of threads would be spawned arguing about them?
posted by dmd at 4:20 PM on February 21, 2008


Oh, and, (a). Your ponies, they are eating my lawn.
posted by everichon at 4:20 PM on February 21, 2008


*votes no*

WTF METATALK?

SRSLY. We've had a few people asking for features that basically minimize the role of conversation here in the last few days, when Metafilter is all about the conversation.

Stop hurting Metafilter.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:23 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


(d) all of the above.

Also, some joke about polesmoking, followed by a slapdown of boyzonery.

Seriously, though, if this is a poll on if I want polls in mefi: Strongly Disagree.
posted by rtha at 4:23 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Favorite this comment if you like pancakes!
posted by Gary at 4:25 PM on February 21, 2008


No, you can not have any polls because the trolls (such ugly moles!) bake rolls to pay the tolls to fill their empty holes as they march towards their goals.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:26 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


dmd: Are threads arguing about and discussing the stances on current issues or characteristics of MeFi revealed in polls such a bad thing?
posted by andythebean at 4:27 PM on February 21, 2008


There are many members of Metafilter (the wiki says 65K).

There are significantly fewer active members of MetaFilter, and the 65K number includes people who've started the signup process but not paid the $5. There are also quite a few people who read the site but are not interested in obtaining a membership, and would be left out of your polling data.

Does no one else wonder what MeFi thinks, feels, and believes?

Not really. I have a pretty good idea already just from reading the site, and if anything, I would think that a constant stream of polling data showing up in the sidebar would just increase the echo chamber effect here, since people having minority opinions might feel left out or people in the majority might feel more entitled to pick on people with differing opinions. I don't know if I qualify as an old school mefite yet, but I've been around long enough to get a sense of the general site demographics.

I really don't think what you're talking about has much value to anyone other than marketing hacks who don't want to take the time to actually read the site but want to know about the members in order to advertise to them.

Are you some kind of marketing hack?
posted by LionIndex at 4:28 PM on February 21, 2008


Sounds like a headache,

1. how would you know the results are even remotely accurate
2. Who would choose, or make the questions
3. Is there anything other then idle curiosity driving this
4. What suggests that there would be any significant participation
5. How would you make it truly anonymous, while simultaneously ensuring people vote once
6. How will this enhance the site for the better
7. How many effing metatalk posts will be spawned by this
8. After you ask 8 or 9 questions it would just turn into a pop culture annoyance


????????????
posted by edgeways at 4:28 PM on February 21, 2008


Does no one else wonder what MeFi thinks, feels, and believes?

To expand a bit on what I said before: I guess my answer would be "not really". I'm interested if people have well-articulated reasons for what they think, and I can only get those if they type them in. I'm interested in jokes and anecdotes and good explanations of complex phenomena.

But just to know in some very general sense that 60% of the people who responded think ... um... that LOLcats is played out vs 25% think it's as funny as ever? Or that 90% think that waterboarding counts as torture and should therefore not be allowed? I dunno. Internet polls just don't hold any fascination for me. I don't feel community with people here just as a matter of course, I feel it because I can read their more fleshed out comments in their actual "voices."

I think there's a migration (lately?) in people's attention away from the blue and the green, toward "get to know you" stuff like arguments in MeTa and other gossipy stuff. This site has good discussions when (and because) the discussions stay focused on ideas or real-world events etc. Not on interpersonal grudge-checking, or popularity contests, or that other stuff. (I mean, nickyskye Meta lovefest notwithstanding -- the reason she's beloved is because she's a great contributor on the blue and the green, and graceful and articulate about it.) This poll pony has the same kind of feel to me -- a distraction, an added motivation for discussing ourselves rather than things in the real world.

So: disapproval. (Now, did you like my long explanation better, or just my yes/no poll response?)
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:29 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]



Does no one else wonder what MeFi thinks, feels, and believes?

I do, and I try to glean it from reading the threads, but I find it hard sometimes when I attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff and I don't know what is sarcasm, snark, good-natured ribbing, etc. I want to see a poll (with a big pink bow on it prettyplease) that I can refer to when I need to remind myself that MeFites really aren't a bunch of dicks trying to one-up each other.
posted by wafaa at 4:32 PM on February 21, 2008


Protip: Most of what I post? Chaff.
posted by everichon at 4:34 PM on February 21, 2008


"Are you some kind of marketing hack?"


God no, just someone curious about my compatriots.


It seems as though there are two (somewhat) conflicting ideas about what will happen if polls are allowed.
1. Having polls will hurt the quantity and quality of conversation.
2. Threads discussing the polls would be obnoxiously long and prevalent.
Which is it?
posted by andythebean at 4:38 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Both, mainly the second, and I see no substantial benefit.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:40 PM on February 21, 2008


I hate polls. No question worth asking can be easily decomposed into a handful of mutually-exclusive questions.
posted by Skorgu at 4:43 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I gotcher pole, right here!!!
posted by jonmc at 4:44 PM on February 21, 2008


Polls give you a raw number, not people. It's a cheap and easy way to lump people together under one belief/choice/answer.

I don't think that should ever be what we try to do here. MeFi is inherently people, not a thing.
posted by pupdog at 4:46 PM on February 21, 2008


when I need to remind myself that MeFites really aren't a bunch of dicks trying to one-up each other.

I've got some bad news for you.
posted by dersins at 4:52 PM on February 21, 2008 [7 favorites]


No question worth asking can be easily decomposed into a handful of mutually-exclusive questions.

"Should I shoot you, or not?"
posted by jonmc at 4:52 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does no one else wonder what MeFi thinks, feels, and believes?

When Metafilter is at its best, I get to find out just that; a subject comes up, and people who are knowledgeable or passionate or cynical or angry or curious about that subject speak up, and do it well, and go back and forth and it's really pretty goddam awesome to see in action.

I don't have any particularly harsh feelings toward your suggestion, andythebean, but I think a big part of the negative response you're seeing here is that folks who like Metafilter like it in part because of the stuff that's absolutely not reducible to a slashdot poll or a sound-byte: that what makes the site valuable is the depth of the information that individuals take the time to share with each other.

Polls can be fun, but they can also be a kind of lowest common denominator, a distraction from or cheapening of actual discourse. Doing it right would take some thought, and talking about what "right" means in that sense and trying to understand what would meet both the spirit of your suggestion and the discursive character of the site is worth doing. But I'm not at all surprised to see a first-blush reaction of "no"; in a vacuum, without a much richer understanding of how a poll system here would work and what would show up in, my reaction is "no" as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:53 PM on February 21, 2008


Does no one else wonder what MeFi thinks, feels, and believes?

It isn't sentient. I think the only thing people here agree on is that the internet is both awesome and a terrible, terrible place. True, there are trends of opinion among the outspoken people. But I really don't feel a need for a poll to reveal those.

If it is sentient, I bet it's going to go all angry-vindictive-philosophical like the Danger Room.
posted by Tehanu at 4:57 PM on February 21, 2008


False Assumptions:
People will not further discuss topics that are polled
Learning the general opinion of MeFi (ie '"get to know you" stuff") is a poor idea
Most discussion surrounding a poll would be about the wording etc rather than its topic
posted by andythebean at 4:57 PM on February 21, 2008


No. But you're welcome to start your own site for this purpose and post it to projects.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 4:59 PM on February 21, 2008


i ate a bee
posted by Dr. Wu at 5:03 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


So not to confuse anyone, but I'm told that Metafilter is a place that people go to post interesting things that they've found on the web.

Some people participate in conversations about those posts, others don't. Either way there are a lot of eyeballs arriving at the front page every day.

From there, people's thinking goes: Hey, there's a lot of eyeballs all in the same place. How can I use that fact to either This particular pony falls into category (C). Polling people's ideas on random topics has nothing to do with the main point of this site; It would merely be an opportunistic add-on to take advantage of the pre-existing audience.

That isn't to say that opportunistic add-ons are always a bad idea. AskMe, Projects, and Music have all done pretty well for themselves -- but they've all done it as essentially separate sites with some crosslinks. If there really is some desire to do polling, I would say that it should take the form of a "PollMe" subsite.
posted by tkolar at 5:04 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


to the left of, on the burning deck, up and cheer...
Dear andythebean, Did you ever read anything on the MeFi suite (except AskMe, usually) that wasn't filled with gags, snarks, and tongue in cheek lies? Just look at what the residents posted as pictures of themselves and apply that to prose.
posted by Cranberry at 5:10 PM on February 21, 2008


The only way this is a good idea is if, when implemented, thousands of people sign up AND create sockpuppets to dominate the polls, making the cabal VERY RICH in 5$ bills, allowing them to by all of us actual ponies.

I'd like my pony in the form of old scotch, please.
posted by vrakatar at 5:10 PM on February 21, 2008


yes  [  ]
no   [x]
posted by loiseau at 5:10 PM on February 21, 2008


damn. buy us . damn!
posted by vrakatar at 5:12 PM on February 21, 2008


People will not further discuss topics that are polled

How, then? In a purposefully made "This Week's PoleMeTM" post? That would completely do away with your original intention: without all the requisite explanations, caveats, and general schtuff that goes along with the responses to an actual post.

Learning the general opinion of MeFi (ie '"get to know you" stuff") is a poor idea

About controversial subject? Yes. Very poor idea. It would provide quantified evidence and fuel for any future "You people are SO ANTI-[BLAH]! See this poll? It shows that N% of you are against [X aspect of BLAH]!" ragefests. I say this with things that could possibly put me into a rage in mind as well.
posted by CKmtl at 5:13 PM on February 21, 2008


Please stop trying to stuff the organic flow into a sausage making machine.
posted by peacay at 5:13 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


what do you have against organic sausage, peacay?

FERAL SWINE!!
posted by jonmc at 5:16 PM on February 21, 2008


Why doesn't Metafilter just convert over to phpBB? Then we'd have polls and animated avatars and stupid signatures and dancing bananas and all kinds of crap. And it would suck and it wouldn't be MeFi anymore.
posted by octothorpe at 5:17 PM on February 21, 2008


Why stop there? Let's just ditch the computers entirely and start writing on restroom walls? It'd be cheaper and we wouldn't have to wear pants.
posted by jonmc at 5:22 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


gauchodaspampas said: "No. But you're welcome to start your own site for this purpose and post it to projects."

Honest for-true question about this. I am neither skilled enough nor smart enough to execute the following, but would like to know for posterity:

Let's say one requested a pony, and was told "not right for MeFi, but take it to Projects." Is there an API or other accepted way to work with existing data/users for one's project? Example: let's say andythebean did in fact decide to make a pollmefi.com site; is there a way that he could allow only [registered MeFites] as his user base?

How do unofficial spinoffs like BBQ and MetaChat handle this? (Or, do you rely on the word-of-mouth here at the Mothership as your only advertising, assuming that reduces "passersby off the street" to nil)
posted by pineapple at 5:23 PM on February 21, 2008


posted by andythebean It seems as though there are two (somewhat) conflicting ideas about what will happen if polls are allowed.
1. Having polls will hurt the quantity and quality of conversation.
2. Threads discussing the polls would be obnoxiously long and prevalent.
Which is it?


It's #3: Polls are stupid, pointless, a complete waste of space and time, and if you think posting a bunch of meaningless and useless statistics would improve MetaFilter, then you clearly do not understand the value of MetaFilter.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:23 PM on February 21, 2008


rtha: "Also, some joke about polesmoking, followed by a slapdown of boyzonery."

Don't you mean... pollsmoking???
posted by jonathanstrange at 5:24 PM on February 21, 2008


False Assumptions:
People will not further discuss topics that are polled
Learning the general opinion of MeFi (ie '"get to know you" stuff") is a poor idea
Most discussion surrounding a poll would be about the wording etc rather than its topic
posted by andythebean at 7:57 PM on February 21 [+] [!]


I am not interested in knowing what "Mefi in general" thinks. Why would I be? It's a semi-arbitary group of people I don't know. What could I gain from knowing what such a group thinks about some reductively-worded question? Nothing.

Now, I am interested in hearing reasoning for people's views on things. Hearing the reasoning might make me change my mind, or allow me to understand people who are not like me. And I am interested in people whose articulateness and thoughtfulness I can judge by their prose (i.e., this moves from "semi-arbitrary group of people I don't know" to "ok, I know that person has smart things to say about politics, let's take a closer look at what she has to say").

Lucky us, we already have a way of getting this latter thing.

But if we have a bunch of chatfiltery stuff like polls, it draws people (who are killing time at work or whatever) away from the better discussion in the blue and the green. There starts to be less good discussion in those places, and more discussion in the gray and in where-ever these polls would be discussed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:24 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


How do unofficial spinoffs like BBQ and MetaChat handle this? (Or, do you rely on the word-of-mouth here at the Mothership as your only advertising, assuming that reduces "passersby off the street" to nil)

Pretty much your "or" there, with the expectation that over time the userbases will probably diverge to a greater or lesser extent.

At one point, someone set up a mefites-only external site—I can't remember what the project was—that required users to add a special string (temporarily, at least) to their own mefi profile page as a manual-verification step. Onerous but workable; the same thing could work maybe a little more easily these days via mefimail. But there isn't any API, any automatic way at this point to sync up to and verify against the mefi userbase data.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:29 PM on February 21, 2008


I was wondering that as well, pineapple
posted by andythebean at 5:30 PM on February 21, 2008


what's BBQ?
posted by jonmc at 5:30 PM on February 21, 2008


what's BBQ?

Either a whole hog or pork shoulder slow-cooked over wood coals, with a vinegar-based spicy sauce without tomatoes added at the end.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:36 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


what's BBQ?

Well, Jon, I'm delighted you asked.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:37 PM on February 21, 2008


And andythebean, I don't want you to get a completely "your idea is bad and you should feel bad for having it" take-away from all this; while I agree with a lot of the "heck no" sentiment in this thread for the reasons I explained above, I'm personally really fond of social experiments and data gathering and I don't find the core idea of polling repulsive or anything. It's just that there's a couple of very different ways to look at this proposal:

1. Let's add polls to the site.
2. Let's add polls to the site, with focus on x, y, and z; taking into consideration issues j, k, l, and m; here's why some of the issues that came up in previous discussions a, b, and c about this and related ideas wouldn't have to be a problematic in the new system; what am I missing?

The answer to (1) is pretty much going to be no, because everybody has run into polls, everybody has seen polls on other websites, and a whole lot of people, to say the least, aren't going to like the idea of combining their past experiences with Polls On Websites with their sense of what Metafilter is and does well.

The answer to (2) might be a lot different; with a clear proposal of something really considered in the context of mefi, taking into account the limited and rocky history of one-off polls the site has had, addressing some of the objections we're seeing here, and altogether putting out a really well-considered specific idea of something that would work? Hey, who knows. My eyebrow would be hitched, at least.

So don't get too discouraged, but maybe realize that it's kind of an uphill battle to put something like this forward, and part of that battle is understanding where the objections are coming from and answering them rather than just rebuking them on the basis that you disagree.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:45 PM on February 21, 2008


Thank you cortex, I'll get thinking on that.
posted by andythebean at 5:49 PM on February 21, 2008


I dunno about this, this isn't really the kind of place where people like to talk about themselves.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:52 PM on February 21, 2008


Oh yeah, forgot about that.
posted by jonmc at 5:57 PM on February 21, 2008


MEFI HOT OR NOT HOT OR NOT
posted by klangklangston at 5:59 PM on February 21, 2008


"Presidential Race (obvious)
Time spent online, watching tv, reading etc
Approval/Disapproval of various things"

Running on the Lemon Party ticket
Seven, tv watch soviet russia, I rarely read "etc"
Bob Seger Strawberry Nerds Death Rays Snark freeverse poetry YOU
posted by klangklangston at 6:02 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


what's BBQ?

This is a question that in 7 lifetimes of MeFiting I'd ever have imagined jonmc asking.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:06 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


2. Threads discussing the polls would be obnoxiously long and prevalent.

That's my purely selfish opinion. So, in short, I personally like your idea andythebean, but I get a headache thinking about what it would be like to implement realistically on this site. I mean I'd just love some demographic data like m/f, age, etc, that we don't even have. The fact that this site allows us to participate without revealing more than we want to reveal is, I think, one of its charms even if sometimes it's also its undoing.

I think some people would think the polls were

1. marketing attempts to get at the gestalt of metafilter to sell us t-shirts
2. partisan grandstanding or push polling
3. agendafilter lite for whoever posts them
4. poorly designed, so let's fight about it
5. digg-like [I LIKE DIGG but I am happy MeFi is different from Digg]
6. offensive [somehow]

And on and one. On the other hand, I think there's a good subsection of MeFites who would enjoy a spin off site that did this, so that might be food for thought.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:09 PM on February 21, 2008


"I mean I'd just love some demographic data like m/f, age, etc, that we don't even have."

It is important for a project I am working on to know which of you are from the mongrel races.
posted by klangklangston at 6:16 PM on February 21, 2008


Running on the Lemon Party ticket

Rats. I was hoping you'd be my running mate on the Guilty Party ticket.
posted by jonmc at 6:17 PM on February 21, 2008


cortex said: "And andythebean, I don't want you to get a completely "your idea is bad and you should feel bad for having it" take-away from all this;"

I am a user of zero consequence but I want to also say, thanks for making the request and please don't feel badly that people aren't embracing it. I am certainly overly sensitive because I perceive that it happened to me once, and therefore confirmation bias dictates that it happens CONSTANTLY AMIRITE... but I don't care for the tendency in most* MeTa feature request threads toward a tone of not just, "I don't think your suggestion would work here," but also "I don't think your suggestion would work here and you are stupid and a bad MeFite for having suggested it."

I'm not arguing for the death of snark... but there's the fun kind and the belittling kind.

* I don't actually mean this thread, in which the participants have been fairly gentle in their rejection, at least to my read.

cortex: thanks for the insight re API. That string-in-profile would be a nifty workaround (if not terribly automated).
posted by pineapple at 6:33 PM on February 21, 2008


We need a metafilter API so that anyone can spin up a new app for MeFites easily. Yep, that's right, Mathowie, you are now the custodian of this group of people and need to service any needs for accessing them. For life. What is the MetaFilter succession plan, anyway? Let's get that API going so we can take a poll.
posted by scarabic at 6:36 PM on February 21, 2008


Polls are great in theory, but seldom so in practice. Lots of people have questions they want to poll on, but few will take the time to craft the questions and answers well. The prescriptive nature of polling seems to kill discussion.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:41 PM on February 21, 2008


Fucking A, Cortex, I am so glad someone special asked what a BBQ was. And B & C too (old New England saying, "Fucking A! And B & C too!" sort of like, "right on, bro!").

And you should all be glad I did my yoga this morning so I am not such a hyper beeyatch, as per the norm for estrogen-laden-sexy-grandmas, cuz my poll answers would skew all yours to hell.

Lest you all pigeonhole me, I have U2, Gwen Stefani, Shakira and that group that sings "I'm a motherfucking PIMP" on my iPod. Just in case you need a demographic.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:49 PM on February 21, 2008


On the other hand, I think there's a good subsection of MeFites who would enjoy a spin off site that did this, so that might be food for thought.

This sounds better. Nomination for first question:

A plane is standing on a runway that can move (some sort of band conveyer). The plane moves in one direction, while the conveyer moves in the opposite direction. This conveyer has a control system that tracks the plane speed and tunes the speed of the conveyer to be exactly the same (but in the opposite direction). Can the plane take off?

A) Hell yeah the plane takes off. Go Mythbusters!
B) No. Mythbusters got it wrong.
posted by Tehanu at 6:52 PM on February 21, 2008


Besides which, Lore Sjoeberg's polls already permanently settled most of the pressing issues of our times.

Good or Bad part 21

(you can work out the URLs for the others from that one if you like)
posted by tkolar at 6:52 PM on February 21, 2008


Damn it Cortex! I thought we all agreed not to tell you know who about you know what.
posted by Sailormom at 6:56 PM on February 21, 2008


I'd be interested in seeing where MeFites stand on certain things

I stand foursquare for this:

Either a whole hog or pork shoulder slow-cooked over wood coals, with a vinegar-based spicy sauce without tomatoes added at the end.

posted by languagehat at 6:57 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nothanks.
posted by cashman at 6:58 PM on February 21, 2008


Klangklangston STOLE my idea for Mefi Hot or Not, so I'm going to have to go for MeFi Cute Overload.

OR we could have MeFi themed MeFi, which would blow my mind.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:00 PM on February 21, 2008


Poll questions tend to be loaded questions. Take a look at some of the Focus on the Family polls to see what I mean. They tend to phrase possible answers in such a way as to force moderates to side with them.
posted by jeblis at 7:10 PM on February 21, 2008


This is a silly feature request. Metafilter already has polls. It's called favorites.

If you think we should use favorites as a polling mechanism - favorite this comment.
posted by bigmusic at 7:23 PM on February 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


If you think polling is silly - favorite this comment.
posted by bigmusic at 7:23 PM on February 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


If you think that we should do away with comments and just poll - favorite this comment.
posted by bigmusic at 7:24 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you think that you need another beer - favorite this comment.
posted by bigmusic at 7:24 PM on February 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


The right way to do polls on metafilter would be to take a topic, say "best band ever", and write up a post phrased to encourage people to share their opinions or feelings about the topic, for example: "what do you think is the best band ever?" Then we could all respond in comments. Like "Jewel, but she is not a band because its just her and her feelings, but she really is the best ever."

The sense of metafilter - the analogue of the results of a poll on another site - would be the messy, snarky mass of comments which results.

We could call it metachat.metafilter.com and color it purple.
posted by shothotbot at 7:27 PM on February 21, 2008


MeFi LOLCATS FTW!
posted by misha at 7:27 PM on February 21, 2008


Polls are kind of fun on some websites, but as others have said, would be kind of superficial on Metafilter. It doesn't encourage much interaction.

Why not set up a poll on surveymonkey, post to Projects, and get a friend to link to it on MetaTalk?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:29 PM on February 21, 2008


a vinegar-based spicy sauce without tomatoes

heathen! tomatoes 4 lyfe!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:29 PM on February 21, 2008


Um, what? Where did the BBQ come from?
posted by Deathalicious at 7:32 PM on February 21, 2008


Man, I wish tomatoes were in season again.

Quick, poll me on that—Do I wish tomatoes were in season again?

Answer: Yes.
posted by klangklangston at 7:42 PM on February 21, 2008


I need to remind myself that MeFites really aren't a bunch of dicks trying to one-up each other.
Bwahahahahaha!

On first thought, I would like this, but I also think it would be bad for MeFi, so I changed my mind and am now violently opposed.

Do we want to add polls to MetaFilter?

[ ] No
[ ] Nuh uh
[ ] No fucking way, what the fuck is wrong with you
[X] All of the above.
posted by dg at 7:55 PM on February 21, 2008


I haven't been a member very long, but I've been lurking for a couple years. Sure, there are a lot of people who don't post anything, but are members anyway, what makes you think that doing a poll will make them want to respond any more than they did before? The people who tend to do polls are the ones who would tell you their opinion anyway.

I vote no.
posted by Gular at 8:49 PM on February 21, 2008


If you want to know what I think about something, just memail me.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:29 PM on February 21, 2008


a/s/l?
posted by Kwine at 9:32 PM on February 21, 2008


And on the subject of What Has Come Before, here's a scattershot collection of metatalk threads on the subject of site polls, demographics, and surveys, over the course of about five years:

Feb. 2002
Oct. 2002
Apr. 2004
May 2004
June 2004
Sep. 2004
Jan. 2006
Nov. 2006
Aug. 2007
Oct. 2007
Nov. 2007

It's kind of all over the board; I know for sure that there were at least a couple other occasion-specific metatalk threads regarding site polls, but I didn't find them on a quick search. (For example, Matt ran an actual little poll widget at one point, if I'm not just completely inventing that.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:13 PM on February 21, 2008


In response to this:
No question worth asking can be easily decomposed into a handful of mutually-exclusive questions., Jonmc said "Should I shoot you, or not?"

To which of course there can only be one reply. [mae west voice] It all depends big boy....whatcha got there in your pocket?" [/mae west voice]

As to polls? I vote no. If I want polls, I'll go hang out at facebook, or myspace, or livejournal or any other number of places where I could obtain some scintillating content as "what fruit are you?" "What's your love score" and the ever popular "What's that weasel doing in your jumpsuit."
posted by dejah420 at 10:20 PM on February 21, 2008


There is some ridiculously lame snark in this thread. I guess there's no point in using your A game in a straightforward, benign pony thread, eh?

I vote "yes" for a trial implementation of polls.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:47 PM on February 21, 2008


I Disapprove of "polls" as a feature to be added, but I would Approve of a comprehensive poll, to be conducted perhaps yearly as a demographic snapshot. One may reasonably speculate that Metafilter is more liberal, gayer, more educated, on more drugs, and more likely to be employed or unemployed in certain fields than the general populace, and I have been interested in seeing the quantitative measures here.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:52 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Polls with metafilter: good
Polls ON metafilter: bad

Make a project, put it in projects.
posted by tehloki at 12:02 AM on February 22, 2008


DO NOT WANT
posted by SteveTheRed at 3:47 AM on February 22, 2008


Boo. Hiss.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:08 AM on February 22, 2008


heathen! tomatoes 4 lyfe!

I ain't voting for jessamyn to be Grand Barbecue Poobah Overlord, for sure.
posted by needled at 6:03 AM on February 22, 2008


Does no one else wonder what MeFi thinks, feels, and believes?

The longer you're here, the more you WON'T want to know.
(member since sometime in 1999)
posted by wendell at 6:25 AM on February 22, 2008


It is important for a project I am working on to know which of you are from the mongrel races.

I think they do that over in Arizona, but here in California, it's strictly about the ponies. And it looks like this one broke down before even reaching the gate.
posted by malocchio at 6:30 AM on February 22, 2008


Other websites I visit have mechanisms for posting polls.

That's probably the worst reason every given on metafilter for a pony Konolia, and that's saying something. Bravo!
posted by gtr at 7:37 AM on February 22, 2008


It's actually the sort of thing that a MeFi group on another site might be good for. I don't know how big the MeFi facebook group is and I'm well aware that it's a small subsection of people who are here, but I bet polling would be easy and if there was some big poll, it could easily be mentioned over here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:42 AM on February 22, 2008


I do seem to remember there being a one-off survey of Mefites a while back. Doing something like that again could certainly provide some interesting and fun data-mining material.

I could get behind weekly polls, but only if the questions took a hint from the Wii's Everybody Votes channel, and all the polls leaned towards completely inconsequential silliness; Werewolves or Vampires? Left hand or Right? Dogs or Cats? Pink or Green?

But since all that would do is amuse and not really accomplish anything of value, it's probably not worth the time to implement.
posted by quin at 7:53 AM on February 22, 2008


Everybody Votes certainly came to mind. The triviality of the polls Nintendo runs isn't really in line with what'd interest me most about a potential poll site project, but I do like some of the metadata analysis they do and would love to see that.

I'm willing at this point to dare someone to start FilterPoll, and do it up as a weekly poll-plus-comment-thread type thing. It might fail miserably, but it might be a lot of fun; and if you just up and do it, it'll actually get done, whereas polls happening on-site here obviously aren't exactly in manifest destiny territory right now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:17 AM on February 22, 2008


"I think they do that over in Arizona, but here in California, it's strictly about the ponies. And it looks like this one broke down before even reaching the gate."

Really? No dog racing in Ca? That's kind of nice—dog racing's always, like, the lowest form of gambling readily available.
posted by klangklangston at 8:25 AM on February 22, 2008


We're eating more beets!
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:36 AM on February 22, 2008


someone needs to create one of these for pony requests on metatalk:

http://craphound.com/spamsolutions.txt
posted by lohmannn at 8:58 AM on February 22, 2008


The yankees here don't seem to realize that Boston Butt is the preferred cut to BBQ. If we had a poll I know it would be the number one choice.

Perhaps that could be a question for BBQ, or is that to self-referential?
posted by TedW at 9:04 AM on February 22, 2008


Really? No dog racing in Ca?

Nope. There are only a handful of states that still allow it.
posted by malocchio at 9:30 AM on February 22, 2008


Well, that's good. I know that Michigan had fought it out again and again, with the racing finally being banned, but I thought that was an exception rather than the rule. I know that they still allow the racing with the stupid little carts after the horses, which always seemed far dumber than regular horse racing to me.
posted by klangklangston at 10:00 AM on February 22, 2008


Michigan also allows regular horse racing. I thought the dog racing thing was just because people didn't actually go to the dog tracks so they went broke.
I'd tried to start a cat race track in Wisconsin, but couldn't find anyone willing to put 'em in the starting gate.
posted by Floydd at 10:21 AM on February 22, 2008


"Michigan also allows regular horse racing. I thought the dog racing thing was just because people didn't actually go to the dog tracks so they went broke."

Yeah, which is kinda dumb, but more because of the gambling industry behind it rather than the actual racing. I mean, on its face, it's no dumber than dressage or steeplechases. Which are, I admit, kinda dumb.
posted by klangklangston at 10:26 AM on February 22, 2008


I vote that our first poll be about barbecue. I confidently expect a victory for North Carolina pork.
posted by languagehat at 11:33 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not really an expert on BBQ; somebody should bring me some with tomatoes, and some without. Then I will decide for myself which I like best. What I do know is that I don't need some stinking poll to tell me what the the MeFi gestalt hive-mind thinks on the matter. I will form my own opinion.
*Taps foot*
I'm waiting!
posted by nowonmai at 11:44 AM on February 22, 2008


languagehat, Eastern or Western North Carolina pork?
posted by needled at 11:55 AM on February 22, 2008


I'm not really an expert on BBQ; somebody should bring me some with tomatoes, and some without.

I direct you to the Wikipedia entry on regional variations.
posted by Tehanu at 12:39 PM on February 22, 2008


Oh man. I used to work with a guy who was from North Carolina, and every month or so his mom would fedex him a few pounds of (Eastern style) barbecued pork. I'd never had that style before and fell in love with it.

But I'm pretty sure I've never met a combination of meat+fire/smoke+rub/dip/sauce that I didn't like. Not sure it exists.
posted by rtha at 12:54 PM on February 22, 2008


TCKCHRIST.

Turns ons:
Drinking in the rain. The Little Mermaid. Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Turn offs:
Jealous men. Dead puppies. Arm flab. Talking about "feelings."

Hobbies:
Not shaving. Boxing old people. Arms smuggling.

Pet Causes:
Free Brittney Spears! The Legion of Doom Asteroid Orphan Charity Fund

Hero's:
Sub Commander Marcos, Sir Richard Burton, Robocop is Bleeding, Martin Luther King (in that order)

Favorite Movie:
Planet of the Apes (original)


-----


I figure you can speculate about me to 70% accuracy from the above information.
posted by tkchrist at 3:42 PM on February 22, 2008


The fact that you spell heroes with an apostrophe S tells me all I need to know. That and the mermaid thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:39 PM on February 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


I once plotted out "Part of Your World" in my head as, not a musical soliloquy by an underwater mermaid, but a scenery-chewing boardroom lament by a too-long-underground mob kingpin played by Christopher Walken. I had him leaning over the table, looking out with ersatz calmness at his perspiring lieutenants, as he closed out the preamble:

"You want thingamabobs?"

He gestures sloppily at the rare artifacts, the fine art, the embarrassment bloody-money treasures hanging on the walls of the boardroom.

"I got plenty. But—who cares?"

Mobsters glance at each other, meet his eyes and then look away.

"No big deal."

Pregnant silence. The boardroom is still as death. Then his face erupts, he slams his fist on the table.

"I want more!"


So, you know. I'm right there with you, tkchrist.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:59 PM on February 22, 2008 [14 favorites]


From the Wikipedia entry:

The current version of this article or section is written in an informal style and with a personally invested tone. It reads more like a story than an encyclopedia entry.

That's what's going to kill Wikipedia. Not the revert wars, not the meddling poohbahs, but the prim insistence on "encyclopedia style." If it's not dry as dust, it's not worthy! Bah. Eat some fucking barbecue and drink some fucking beer, kick back a little, and let go of your stylistic preconceptions. Trust me, you'll enjoy life more, and the facts will still be there.

Oh, and no tomato.
posted by languagehat at 5:06 PM on February 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


"The fact that you spell heroes with an apostrophe S tells me all I need to know."

It represents a glottal stop!
posted by klangklangston at 5:21 PM on February 22, 2008


I have a little statistical background here, so I'll say with some confidence that it's looking like 1437% of the Metafilter populace is against this idea, with a plus/minus margin of error of 85.9% in the flyover states.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:45 PM on February 22, 2008


Select one:

[A] Well-constructed posts linking to a multitude of interesting websites.
[B] Poorly-constructed posts followed by a raucous thread.
[C] MeMail whisper rumours and private coalition-forming.
[D] Absurd polls that reflect the opinions of a self-selected minority representative of only themselves.
[E] The sanctity of apparent sanity in Askme.

I am beginning to really understand why we've so many users who live in AskMe exclusively.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:40 PM on February 22, 2008


I am beginning to really understand why we've so many users who live in AskMe exclusively.

Ouch. WTF?
posted by wafaa at 2:28 PM on February 23, 2008


I am beginning to really understand project why we've so many users who live in AskMe exclusively.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:52 PM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Surely you'll agree that MeTa is a vicious environment: you can hardly have overlooked the fact that people who grouse about things are routinely savaged to the point they close their accounts.

MeFi is almost as rough. That's why we have so many posts to MeTa about hurt feelings and uncivil behaviour and mean people and all that rot. Some people are guaranteed to be abused in MeFi (many of them deservedly so, IMO). It's not quite as wild west as the grey, but is isn't all lilacs and roses.

AskMe, by comparison, is positively sweet-natured. Sure as kittens are cute, there are many people who participate fully in the AskMe community who never dare to set foot in MeFi, let alone MeTa. They don't want to be abused, don't want to deal with foul-mouthed and foul-natured people, don't want to get beat up if they say something stupid.

Alvy, I'd love to hear your explanation for the phenomena of AskMe-only users.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:59 PM on February 23, 2008


Surely you'll agree that MeTa is a vicious environment:

The problem with having been around during Usenet days is that MeTa is a comparatively tame place.

AskMe is certainly tamer, but skipping that for a moment ...

You don't think that people are just participating in AskMe because they're interested in answering and asking questions, and don't really give a crap about the rest of the site? I participated in AskMe and Mefi for over six months before I even realized that MeTa was worth the time to look at. For a long time all I did was read the front page and then answer questions in AskMe.

People who hang out in MeTa and even in the MeFi comments sections tend to forget that a huge majority of this site's users have no idea about the drama going on back here. Metafilter's front page is just another blog of interesting web sites --- they'd no more waste their time reading users comments about each entry than they would reading Fark's comment sections. They certainly wouldn't waste their time reading the site's administration section.

AskMe, on the other hand, is a place where reading the answers (and making comments yourself) is part of the essential site.. You can't just read the FPPs and walk away -- the whole thing doesn't make sense without the comment section. So people participate there who have no reason to participate anywhere else.
posted by tkolar at 5:27 PM on February 23, 2008


tkolar: The problem with having been around during Usenet days is that MeTa is a comparatively tame place.

Y'know, I cut my teeth on Usenet, and that set my standard of 'net discourse: stupidity must not be tolerated. Ignorance is inexcusable.

Back then, I used to think that being intensely critical came hand-in-hand with high intelligence. As I've gotten older, I've begun to think there's something much greater to be said for the kind of restraint that allows a little bit of empathy, lends a little bit of kindness and grace to the situation. A quick wit is a great thing, but I appreciate it all the more when it comes with a dose of humanity, rather than at someone else's expense.

The moderators do a great (though very difficult) job around here, so this is not the most hostile community I am a part of. But sometimes I do wish that certain posters would feel less need to demonstrate how big their intellectual dick is, and pause a moment before posting to think about how they truly feel about a subject and whether or not they would speak the same way to a friend in person. (One game is to read each MeTa thread trying to predict how long it will be until someone tells the poster how stupid they are for posting the thread, or how many times it'll be said.)

This doesn't mean I'm never a jerk. Sometimes I am a jerk. But I'm reforming, and I'd like to think, growing up a bit.
posted by loiseau at 6:28 PM on February 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Alvy, I'd love to hear your explanation for the phenomena of AskMe-only users.
I don't have one and don't presume to speak for or understand the motivations of hundreds of people beyond chalking it up to different strokes for different folks.
Me, I visit Projects more often than AskMe.

Surely you'll agree that MeTa is a vicious environment
Not really; in the last while I've found it's more about teh lols than teh h8t. There's still the occasional flare-up between some who haven't seen the light of a Brand New Day, but I wouldn't compare the recent spate of insipidly nannying MeTas - many of which seem to have their roots in AskMe - to the Grey of a couple of years ago. Back then people seemed to come to MeTa because they were looking for a fight - nowadays they post because Jimmy's not colouring between the lines and used their safety scissors. Rather than Taking SidesTM and forming a ring while chanting 'Fight! Fight! Fight!', a lot of MeFites are rolling their eyes and cracking jokes. While either situation diminishes MeTa as a resource(And I admit my complicity and participation in both) far more than issues of scalability, I'll take the ROFL over the bile any day.

Honestly, I find it a bit odd that you seem to hold your nose at MeFi and MeTa and are considering confining yourself to AskMe. This isn't meant as an attack, but you can't deny that you haven't fallen into the foul-mouth, foul-natured demographic more than a few times. I've seen you at the meetings. I don't want to get all Be The Change You Want To See!!! and will repeat that this isn't a shot at you personally, but it's perverse to perpetuate the negativity you claim is driving you away. While I share your antipathy for MeTa exercises in silly narcissism and petty self-righteousness, no one's putting an affordable single-stack pistol suitable for concealed carry to our respective heads and forcing us to participate, read, or even acknowledge them. If you're sincerely concerned with the direction MetaTalk is taking, I'm not sure dropping a gripey snark or threatening to leave for the green grass of the Green is going to help get it back on the rails so much as it will consolidate MeTa's reputation as the place to spout goofy shit, regardless of whether said shit is sincere or facetious.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:31 PM on February 23, 2008


You don't think that people are just participating in AskMe because they're interested in answering and asking questions, and don't really give a crap about the rest of the site?

Indeed, I do think exactly that. I also think there are many who don't visit the rest of the site because the rest of the site is not exactly a welcoming, nice, warm-and-fuzzy place. Both reasons are true.

Honestly, I find it a bit odd that you seem to hold your nose at MeFi and MeTa and are considering confining yourself to AskMe.

I find that a bit odd, too: I don't hang out in AskMe at all and have no intention of doing so.

I've seen you at the meetings.

?!! Now you're making things up.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:01 PM on February 23, 2008


people who grouse about things routinely savaged to the point they close their accounts.

To be fair, that has happened exactly once to the best of my knowledge, with maybe a few more times where there wasn't such a tight cause/effect relationship.

AskMe is now the part of the site with the most traffic and I think the most page views. If you want my opinion why that is, I think it's because the site has a clear unarguable purpose and it's moderated relatively consistently. People know what they're getting into and random snarky bullshit isn't tolerated. I think AskMe crap winds up in MeTa about as much as MeFi crap (just gut feeling here) so that's not really a real differnce but I think a lot of people want MeFi proper to be a bunch of different things (lulz, YouTubery & music, political filter, news stories that are noteworthy, agenda-pushing issues or Neat Stuff on the Web) and it's unclear how it can be all of those things well. So people scuffle about it and what we wind up with is mostly decent. Then again, there's the scuffling.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:41 PM on February 23, 2008


As I've gotten older, I've begun to think there's something much greater to be said for the kind of restraint that allows a little bit of empathy, lends a little bit of kindness and grace to the situation.

Fair enough. While MetaTalk is far gentler with obvious newbies than Usenet ever was, this thread is a good example of how innocent feature requests can be met with personal abuse.

Definitely not MetaTalk at its best.
posted by tkolar at 8:42 PM on February 23, 2008


Oh yeah, these are not particularly spectacular results but they chewed up about 2 hours of CPU time so I thought I'd post them:

Metafilter | 15687 total commenters
Metafilter | 384 confirmed lurkers

AskMe | 13488 total commenters
AskMe | 255 confirmed lurkers

MetaTalk | 6625 total commenters
MetaTalk | 504 confirmed lurkers

Confirmed lurkers are people who have favorited a comment in that part of the site but have never commented there. These stats are just for the commenting portion of the subsite, not the posts.
posted by tkolar at 10:38 PM on February 23, 2008


On a similar note,

1603 People have favorited a Metafilter Post without ever favoriting a Metafilter comment.

1894 People have favorited an AskMe question without ever favoriting an AskMe response.

391 People have favorited a MeTa post without ever favoriting a MeTa comment.


("favorited a" means "favorited at least one").
posted by tkolar at 10:53 PM on February 23, 2008



The fact that you spell heroes with an apostrophe S tells me all I need to know.

APOSTROPHEIST!!!
posted by tkchrist at 10:31 AM on February 24, 2008


Back then, I used to think that being intensely critical came hand-in-hand with high intelligence. As I've gotten older, I've begun to think there's something much greater to be said for the kind of restraint that allows a little bit of empathy, lends a little bit of kindness and grace to the situation. A quick wit is a great thing, but I appreciate it all the more when it comes with a dose of humanity, rather than at someone else's expense.

Quoted for truth.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:01 PM on February 24, 2008


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