AskMeFi: The Key to True Happiness May 27, 2008 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Is it wrong to call out a post that's trying to find happiness?

I responded to this thread with a "previously" link to the "happiness" tag. These questions come up on the green a bunch and, while they're extremely open-ended, they rarely get nailed for being chatfilter.

Usually, I just move on, without even flagging it as breaking the guidelines. After all, the person is trying to find happiness and having their question deleted wouldn't really bring that. But I kind of feel like a jerk for answering this particular question with the "previously," and I'd like to hear what the mods/power users think about those kinds of threads.
posted by sjuhawk31 to Etiquette/Policy at 9:34 AM (56 comments total)

As I'm reading the responses, I think maybe we should link to these threads every time someone on the gray really really needs a hug.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 9:39 AM on May 27, 2008


The post is totally chatfilter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:40 AM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree that it's totally chatfilter, but happiness questions are the hardest to call out or reprimand because, you know, the OP is depressed and sad. I say leave it up, plus there are some good comments in there.

One day I'll post the following AskMeFi question:

What will make me happy?
________________

My wife left me and I got fired from my job yesterday. Usually the only things that cheer me up are derails about politics (which reminds me, Hillary's a total bitch, amirite??), obscene language and images, and people promoting their own businesses and schemes under false pretenses. Please discuss. I'd love to hear about your opinions, lewd actions, and business ventures. I'm really sad because I feel like everything I've done in life has been just wiped off the face of the earth, deleted from existence. I can't take another rejection like that again.


Of course, cortex would delete it, say something witty, and link to this comment. But wouldn't that make it worthwhile in the end?
posted by farishta at 9:53 AM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is it wrong to call out a post that's trying to find happiness?

depends on the lulz.
posted by Stynxno at 9:56 AM on May 27, 2008


farishta, you forgot the "I'll go first" part.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 9:59 AM on May 27, 2008


I fucking hate posts like that. I consider myself one of the grouchier users here, but these kind of "hug me" posts have become increasingly common in spite of the fact that they (a) have no "answer" and (b) contribute nothing to the community, since they have zero use to anyone other than the poster. I wish they were nuked more regularly.

ASK METAFILTER IS NOT GROUP THERAPY.

Don't even get me started on the rash of broad "So, what's a good book/tv show/movie?" questions...
posted by mkultra at 10:00 AM on May 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


Chatfilter is a weird word. The more subjective jargon a group of people use the more insular they become.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:00 AM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am a happiness-hater and flagged it, because it is one of those vague-yet-asked-before questions. I don't think people can really find out that much new from that type of thread, anyway. We all sort of know intrinsically what makes us happy, perhaps excepting the cases where we are clinically depressed, which seem to block off the happy-finding abilities. Then you need professional help from a professional.
posted by that girl at 10:06 AM on May 27, 2008


If you're searching for happiness on AskMe, you're totally fucked.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 10:10 AM on May 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


Burhanistan: "Chatfilter is a weird word. The more subjective jargon a group of people use the more insular they become."

I don't think that's a very cromulent opinion. Hugs embiggen the smallest Mefite.
posted by Plutor at 10:17 AM on May 27, 2008


If you're searching for happiness on AskMe, you're totally fucked.

Speaking from experience: If one's happiness depends on how much delicious cheddar cheese one is consuming, your statement is entirely untrue!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:21 AM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Deleting things makesd me happy.
posted by Artw at 10:38 AM on May 27, 2008


I have been enjoying the answers - good little reminders I might want to use myself sometime because when I'm in a foul mood, I'm terrible at remembering what fun is.
And the answers are more useful to me than say, many specific relationship questions (which I also enjoy so it's not just about what I can get from the answers).

And sjuhawk31, I actually read your "previously" link as trying to be helpful, not as snark.
posted by pointystick at 10:41 AM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


pointystick, it wasn't meant to be snark, so I'm glad it didn't come off that way. But my original concept for an answer, "Chatfilter does not cheer me up," would not have been helpful.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 10:43 AM on May 27, 2008


If you're searching for happiness on AskMe, you're totally fucked.

Speaking from experience: If one's happiness depends on how much delicious cheddar cheese one is consuming, your statement is entirely untrue!


In all seriousness, I think AskMe really does help people in meaningful ways. Once in a while someone will post a story like this one explaining exactly how AskMe helped them, but I'm sure for every one of those there are 10 that we never hear about.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:52 AM on May 27, 2008


What cheers you up?

As the Prince of Darkness, Father of Lies, and the First Among the Fallen, I'd have to say; 'The misery of others'. From the moment their damned souls fall into my kingdom, to the endless tortures I conduct on them to ensure that their eternal damnation remains mercilessly unforgettable. Their screams as I hurl them from the top of a mountain of rotting skulls into a sea of boiling feces, and the agony with which their faces contort as I flay them with rusting barbed wire.

These are the things that cheer me up.

And little fuzzy ducklings. I just love them so.
posted by quin at 10:56 AM on May 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


In all seriousness, I think AskMe really does help people in meaningful ways. Once in a while someone will post a story like this one explaining exactly how AskMe helped them, but I'm sure for every one of those there are 10 that we never hear about.

That's a question with an actual answer, though- "Where can I take 3 small children for a fun, inexpensive afternoon in LA?" The update is also an objectively helpful addition to the original post.
posted by mkultra at 11:02 AM on May 27, 2008


since they have zero use to anyone other than the poster

That's absurd: broader questions are far more likely to be useful to more people. I totally see that the majority of people round here might prefer AskMe to be about answering highly specific XML-related queries than questions about how to be happy, and of course maybe that's a better role for AskMe. But don't kid yourself that more people have a compelling interest in the questions about XML than the questions about how to be happy. (My two cents, by the way, is that 'Chatfilter' should apply only to questions where the poster appears much more interested in the process of shooting the shit on AskMe than in getting the answer, which clearly isn't the case here.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:17 AM on May 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


If it's a temporary funk, the Asker just needs some patience (A watched pot, etc.)

If you're in a permanent funk, you're probably George Clinton and waaaay to high to give a shit about pert near anything.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:28 AM on May 27, 2008


game warden, you're right, the broader posts get more answers and seem to be popular, and I like your definition of Chatfilter, but I'm not sure that's the point of AskMe. I think the general "how do I get out of this relationship" questions and the "Things to do in New York if you like X and Y" questions have a place on AskMe just as much as the XML queries do. Sure, they stretch the definition of "question with an absolute answer," but sometimes things get way too broad, and I think the post in question falls in the latter category.

Again, I'm not against anyone searching for happiness, and I hope that thread cheers the OP up, but I don't think it's a productive use of AskMe. Nor is this really a productive use of my workday, but let's try to squeeze the most out of Memorial Day Weekend that we can, hm?
posted by sjuhawk31 at 11:47 AM on May 27, 2008


Pony request: hugs.metafilter.com
posted by junkbox at 12:28 PM on May 27, 2008


Is it wrong to call out a post that's trying to find happiness?

Yes. Don't you have anything else to do during your day than examine other people's misery under a microscope and criticize it?

Also, "chatfilter" is another word for "we are anal people who want to control and judge anyone who isn't talk about what doesn't interest us." It's an old word, it's a lame word, and it needs to be put to bed without its supper now, thank you.

You can't claim integrity on a site that allows so much other "chat" in the comments, on every page/post/question, and then bitch about it here because one AskMe question offends you.

So yeah, boo on you for raining on someone's parade by putting this here. Go hunt down some SEO assholes or something.

Oh, and you need a hug. I need a hug too, but I doubt I will get one for being honest.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:16 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think they should stay up. You never know how much having someone simply acknowledge your general sadness can really help. And not everyone can afford therapy. And as someone else mentioned, there are almost always some thoughtful, insightful comments in those threads.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 1:35 PM on May 27, 2008


I think that either the AskMe guidelines should be revised, or the moderation should more closely follow the guidelines.
posted by box at 1:51 PM on May 27, 2008


You have to admit it's better than those loathesome "Should I break up with my girlfriend because blahblahblahblahblahblah" questions that are showing up with increasing frequency.
posted by cmonkey at 1:55 PM on May 27, 2008


Also, "chatfilter" is another word for "we are anal people who want to control and judge anyone who isn't talk about what doesn't interest us." It's an old word, it's a lame word, and it needs to be put to bed without its supper now, thank you.

Well, on AskMe, where there are guidelines about what kinds of questions are good for the site that we've discussed over and over again, you're absolutely right that there are controls over what people talk about. That's how the site works.
posted by LionIndex at 2:06 PM on May 27, 2008


So, um, how can I keep a thermos of G&T chilled during a ninety minute lecture?
posted by fixedgear at 2:18 PM on May 27, 2008


Happiness is a warm call-out.
posted by GuyZero at 2:22 PM on May 27, 2008


Fapping myself unconscious tends to make me happy but I don't go telling a bunch of strangers about it.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:41 PM on May 27, 2008


Wait...
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:41 PM on May 27, 2008


game warden to the events rhino: "broader questions are far more likely to be useful to more people"

They may get more attention, and more interest. And so do car wrecks. But is the rubbernecking "useful"?
posted by meehawl at 5:07 PM on May 27, 2008


I am having trouble expressing myself today so I will suppress the rant I have, but I like the "I want a hug" threads better than the "I want free professional-level advice on a project I am being paid-to-do" threads. I particularly dislike the IT and consumer electronics advice threads (I suppose the legal and medical advice threads belong here too), but this a community and like my physical community there are things about it I don't like but on the whole its the best place for me.
posted by Deep Dish at 7:21 PM on May 27, 2008


So what? It's a specific question. People will have specific answers.

Just ignore the weeping like I do.

Although if someone set up hugs.metafilter.com, that would be awesome. All the "why don't she lurve me" and the "I'm sad, cheer me up" and other vile and fey "community building" could go there. And ask can remain what I though it was- a recipe boasting site.
posted by gjc at 7:21 PM on May 27, 2008


deep dish, if ask got rid of everything you say, what's left to ask questions about?

Dear ask.metafilter,
Hey guy, what's new?
posted by gjc at 7:23 PM on May 27, 2008


deep dish, if ask got rid of everything you say, what's left to ask questions about?

Easy. What colour of car looks the fastest?
posted by Deep Dish at 7:26 PM on May 27, 2008


How about grouptherapy.metafilter.com?

Or what gjc said.
posted by WalterMitty at 7:31 PM on May 27, 2008


Easy. What colour of car looks the fastest?

HA! I stand corrected. And there are two answers:

The colour green, or the color red.
posted by gjc at 7:52 PM on May 27, 2008


I fucking hate posts like that. I consider myself one of the grouchier users here, but these kind of "hug me" posts have become increasingly common in spite of the fact that they (a) have no "answer" and (b) contribute nothing to the community, since they have zero use to anyone other than the poster. I wish they were nuked more regularly....

Don't even get me started on the rash of broad "So, what's a good book/tv show/movie?" questions...


I hate the, "I've got half an onion left over from dinner tonight. What are some cool/neat/tasty things I can do with it?" posts.
posted by jayder at 8:49 PM on May 27, 2008


Just stop visiting AskMe if it gives you so much diaper rash.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:51 PM on May 27, 2008


"The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters."

that genghis khan knew how to live, didn't he?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:03 PM on May 27, 2008


It's not the visiting that gives diaper rash, but the pissing and shitting there.
posted by mkultra at 9:04 PM on May 27, 2008


Also, "chatfilter" is another word for "we are anal people who want to control and judge anyone who isn't talk about what doesn't interest us." It's an old word, it's a lame word, and it needs to be put to bed without its supper now, thank you.

That way madness lies.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:40 PM on May 27, 2008


Well, questions that fall under the parameters labeled as "chatfilter" can still be deleted mercilessly, it's just that the word itself is, well, kind of silly sounding. When people start bleating "chaaaatfilter" like some spooked sheep, then it seems like a bunch of shut-ins frequent this site and get their sense of personal validation from things that are external to them.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:44 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


When people start bleating "chaaaatfilter" like some spooked sheep, then it seems like a bunch of shut-ins frequent this site and get their sense of personal validation from things that are external to them.

You mean like trolling?
posted by dersins at 10:07 PM on May 27, 2008


Dude, trolling is not synonymous with hurling easy insults.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:09 PM on May 27, 2008


It is when you don't really believe the easy insults but you hurl them anyway just to try to stir up some shit.That's pretty much the definition of trolling right there.
posted by dersins at 10:24 PM on May 27, 2008


Well, I actually do believe them, easy or otherwise. But I can see your point, and will concede the matter.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:16 PM on May 27, 2008


I've not been around that long and I don't get the 'chatfilter' thing. Does this mean 'raise the question in Metalk?' or 'you should probably go find someone in real life to discuss in person' or 'hey, why not head over to some kind of IM forum'? cause I don't get what you mean. I know being part of a community is about observing social codes but I'm a bit lost on this one.

Also, because of the anonymous option, I think AskMe would be hard pushed to stop the 'hug me/help me' questions.

I actually *love* these threads, but I'm an unabashed feely type with hugs to spare.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:58 AM on May 28, 2008


I don't see the harm in the thread. I also don't see harm in the AskMes that ask for recommendation on books and movies and whatnot, though that seems to irritate people too. I think those threads are useful.

Chatfilter seems like a more nebulous word than I thought it was. I guess I've only been reading the site for a year now -- and signed up for it much later -- but I always thought Chatfilter referred to stuff like, "What do you think about _____?" I never considered that it might extend to stuff like, "What are some ideas to cheer myself up?" and "I like ____, can anyone recommend something similar?" The former doesn't aim to help solve or accomplish anything, but the latter two questions do. Even though they're broad, there is a focus to them. It's more than just chatting and people do find it helpful.

I guess it also seems to me that everyone who reads AskMeFi is inevitably going to skip over the majority of the questions, either because they have no answer to give or because the subject is not interesting to them. This is just one of those, at least to me.

I didn't think you were a jerk by answering with "Previously," though. It seemed genuinely helpful. If anything, I would say the problem with that question in particular wasn't that it might be "chatfilter" -- however we define that -- but that it had been asked before in many forms, and probably didn't warrant yet another post. When people post, they're instructed to check the archives, after all.
posted by Nattie at 3:46 AM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just stop visiting AskMe if it gives you so much diaper rash...

...So yeah, boo on you for raining on someone's parade by putting this here. Go hunt down some SEO assholes or something...

See, that's the thing. I wasn't really calling the thread out...after all, I both read it and answered it, and I've read happiness threads before and found them deliciously smile-inducing. But in a time when so many things get called out on MeTa, I was curious what some of the top Mefites thought about the happiness posts. Mine is truly more of a "question about Metafilter" post than a "delete this thread" post. If it were the latter, I probably would have flagged it and moved on, or MetaMailed a mod.

Interesting thoughts on the definition of "chatfilter" - when I first arrived here I was very wary of it and tried to ask specific questions as much as possible, but now I've broadened my questions because I think the community is a lot more willing to help with SuggestionFilter (versus SingleAnswerFilter) than the whole hullabaloo over chatfilter would suggest.

filterfilterfilter...the word has stopped making sense now. Back in a little while after I've typed things that don't end in "filter."
posted by sjuhawk31 at 4:37 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hate those questions where people ask you things. I'm all like, FIGURE IT OUT LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE CHOAD
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:53 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Chatfilter is a tricky thing. There's no bright-line border between chatfilter and non-chatfilter—while there are things that are very definitely chatfilter and things that are very definitely not, there's also a lot of stuff that occupies some weird swampy middle ground.

Imagine chatfilter as a jet black circle on an otherwise snow white plane. Now apply the blur tool like crazy. All that varyingly grey stuff in the gradient around the circle? That's the weird middle stuff, and if you want to argue either side of the argument—that it is vs. that it isn't chatfilter—you've got some ammo, even if it's more of a light grey than a dark grey or vice versa.

It's convenient verging on tautological, but for the sake of argument I'll put forth the idea that (barring massive, massive misunderstandings of how askme and/or metatalk work or the occasional slam-dunk-deletion-took-too-long escalation post), metatalk threads about chatfilter are basically always the grey area ones.

Also, I have a part of my head, just behind the left temple, that throbs in the presence of the grey stuff. I think the happiness question being discussed here is okay, and obviously so did Jessamyn and Matt, but I agree with a lot of the arguments against here too—it is really sort of vague and open and Make Me Feel Better in a way that pushes well into the darkening grey regions of Outer Chatistan in my opinion. But it doesn't seem pitch black to me and I don't feel like shitting all over dude's day, so I'm just letting it be.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:02 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now apply the blur tool like crazy.

Actually in CS3 they added a new filter for this (a chatfilter filter).
posted by sleevener at 9:32 AM on May 28, 2008


freya_lamb: "I've not been around that long and I don't get the 'chatfilter' thing. Does this mean 'raise the question in Metalk?' or 'you should probably go find someone in real life to discuss in person' or 'hey, why not head over to some kind of IM forum'? cause I don't get what you mean. I know being part of a community is about observing social codes but I'm a bit lost on this one.

Chatfilter is simply shorthand for "You want to discuss a topic more than you want to get an answer to a question". People aren't just trying to shut down topics they don't like. The moderators have specifically decided to try and keep AskMe as a useful resource for getting questions answered, and so they try to keep things out which don't jibe with that mission. This includes removing questions that would be better suited to a simple message board. The gray area usually lies between the line of "I like Guinness. What kind of beer do you guys like?" vs. "I like Guinness. Is there a similar style of beer brewed in Portland that I might also like?" One's just polling the audience for their opinions. The other is asking a specific question that someone with specific knowledge can answer.

Also, because of the anonymous option, I think AskMe would be hard pushed to stop the 'hug me/help me' questions. "

All anonymous questions are approved by a moderator before they are posted.
posted by team lowkey at 9:41 AM on May 28, 2008


Chatfilter is simply shorthand for "You want to discuss a topic more than you want to get an answer to a question". People aren't just trying to shut down topics they don't like. The moderators have specifically decided to try and keep AskMe as a useful resource for getting questions answered, and so they try to keep things out which don't jibe with that mission.

Aye. And that's specifically why I ended up putting together Big Big Question—we don't even as mods particularly dislike chatty stuff, but it's just not what AskMe is intended to host.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:28 AM on May 28, 2008


This includes removing questions that would be better suited to a simple message board.

Ok, thanks for clearing that up.

All anonymous questions are approved by a moderator before they are posted.

This much I do know, I meant that people may be more likely to ask 'hug me' questions because they *can* do it anonymously, but yes I get you, deleting them at point-of-mod would discourage people from hitting post so often.

I am feeling slightly foolish though. Oh, that smarts. Can I have a hug?

*ducks*
posted by freya_lamb at 12:40 PM on May 28, 2008


« Older Stinking of gin...   |   MeFi Projects getting public comments Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments