Do I need to repeat myself? September 15, 2008 4:54 AM   Subscribe

Could we add "already in the question" or something similar to the flagging options for AskMe?

I find it a bit frustrating in AskMe when people post answers that are quite clearly already present in the original question. As in:

Q: I am looking for something like X. I've already checked out Y. Anything else?

A: Have you checked out Y?

Q: umm....

Or does this fall under the nebulous & undefined category of "noise"? I think AskMe might be a bit more effective if folks were encouraged to actually read the whole question.

Thanks!
posted by jammy to Feature Requests at 4:54 AM (33 comments total)

People pretty much are encouraged to read the whole question. However, sometimes they don't. You can always flag them as noise.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:57 AM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd flag as noise. Because often the answerer will follow up with "oops, sorry, didn't see you already tried Y, move along."

guilty
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:31 AM on September 15, 2008


You can't idiot proof AskMe because we're all idiots at times.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:35 AM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


See?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 AM on September 15, 2008


Have you thought of flagging them as 'noise'?
posted by jacalata at 5:57 AM on September 15, 2008 [10 favorites]


thanks for all your answers - i will henceforth flag such answers as "noise"

fwiw, i did check out the FAQ about flagging but there wasn't any definition or description of "noise" - nor were there any "noise" tags to be found - maybe i'm just dense but "noise" to me suggests incoherency or irrelevancy - such answers are neither, so it was unclear for me

and fwiw, also guilty
posted by jammy at 6:17 AM on September 15, 2008


Yeah, flag-as-noise is fine. I remove a couple of these a week when it's a clearcut case of just not reading the whole question.

Note to folks new to the flagging system: do not flag it as "double comment"—that doesn't mean "redundant information" to us, it means "commenter managed to post their comment twice", and when we see that flag and can't find a stutter it's really confusing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:18 AM on September 15, 2008


I've outlined this a few times before but I'll mention it for good measure. The reason we don't have a lot more specific flags is that at some level they only generate one of a few responses from us: speedy, less speedy/fixit and putting something on the sidebar.

Anything that's precipitating a trainwreck (usually breaks the guidelines or offensive flags fall into this category) we try to deal with quickly. Fixing stuff that's broken takes next priority and cleaning up various stuff is generally last (speaking for myself). There are also variations by the subsites, so "derail" in AskMe is more of a big deal than a derail in MeFi. And, again, we rarely moderate comments in MeTa at all so the noise designation here basically does nothing.

Comments where it's clear that someone didn't read the question in AskMe will sometimes get deleted, but if someone has already responded ["Hey I did actually say I've seen that movie already"] we'll leave it rather than delete more comments.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:39 AM on September 15, 2008


YES IT IS HILARIOUS WHEN YOU FLAG A MOD COMMENT ABOUT FLAGGING PRACTICES
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:48 AM on September 15, 2008 [11 favorites]


I recommend marking those types of responses as best answer.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:10 AM on September 15, 2008


Alright then, Daddy-O.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:37 AM on September 15, 2008


NO IT IS NOT HILARIOUS WHEN YOU FLAG A MOD COMMENT ABOUT FLAGGING PRACTICES THE SECOND AND ELEVENTEENTH TIMES.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:03 AM on September 15, 2008


jeez, make your minds, willya?
posted by timeistight at 10:13 AM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does it even matter which of the last 4 flagging options you pick? It seems like for those, it's much more about the # of flags than which option you picked.
posted by smackfu at 10:18 AM on September 15, 2008


Here's a little more explication

- for "this needs fixing" flags, we'll check it out if we just see one or two [double comment, HTML error]
- in AskMe we'll check it out if we see just one or two flags
- most other flags and most other parts of the site we'll go deal with it if the flags pile up
- MeTa flags don't do much but occasionally if there are a lot of them we'll investigate
- fantastic comment flags get things on to the sidebar every few days
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:34 AM on September 15, 2008


"...so the noise designation here basically does nothing."

actually, it appears to cause the moderators to yell.
posted by lester at 10:39 AM on September 15, 2008


On our side it says "Make some noise!"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:45 AM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I say "flag", you say "move on"!

Flag!
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:58 AM on September 15, 2008


What's hilarious (to me, at least) is that it sounds like jessamyn didn't read the whole question... "does this fall under the nebulous & undefined category of 'noise'?":

... You can always flag them as noise.
posted by jessamyn at 7:57 AM on September 15 [+] [!]
posted by knave at 11:12 AM on September 15, 2008


We ride our steeds swiftly toward Pragma.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:19 AM on September 15, 2008


What does "noise" mean, approximately? Not looking for any sort of exact definition, just trying to pin it down. Maybe an example might help me understand. Same with "derail."

Is a derail noise taken too far?
posted by Stewriffic at 11:52 AM on September 15, 2008


noise just means someone's dumping something in the thread which isn't really on-topic or off-topic it's just ... noise. So sometimes people post a comment that is one word repeated over and over, or like some zillion-word crapdump comment that is just copy-pasted from somewhere. A derail is when someone does something more specific, like takes a thread about Israeli paragliding and decides to try to steer the conversation towards Israel/Palestine relations. Some topic drift in MeFi is expected, but sending a thread straight to trainwrecksville is something we'd prefer people not do.

Similarly in AskMe, when someone is asking how to deal with a cheting boyfriend, saying "get over your outdated ideas about monogamy" is pretty much derail territory, to note a recent example.

However, the reason these things are guidelines and not "here is the precise definition of noise" is because there is no hard and fast guideline and overthinking this sort of thing doesn't help. If you think something is screwing up a thread, flag it. If you think a few comments are doing that, flag them. Please DON'T flag ten or fifteen comments in a thread (even if they're all noise or derails or whathaveyou) because once we check out a flag or two you can assume we're keeping an eye on the thread. We remove flags from the flag queue by hand so excess flagging is just sort of a timewaster for us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:59 AM on September 15, 2008


Hey, I have an idea. What if we had a new flag for "already in the question" or something like that?
posted by neroli at 11:59 AM on September 15, 2008


My way of thinking about it is that "noise" is essentially "not signal". Dropping a perfunctory "this will not wendlol" early in a mefi thread, or dropping a non-answer into askme? Noise.

Derail is something I think of as more meaningful in askme—someone answering in a way that pushes the thread away from the question to some side topic or otherwise sends the train off the rails. On the blue, problematic derails tend to be more specifically just of the trainwreck variety—a personal argument flaring out of hand, someone trying to forcefully inject some sort of axe-grinding into a topic.

Other people probably have different analyses of these things. We've never formally codified the stuff, and I've wondered a couple times if we should add a more explicit standalone FAQ entry on what-flags-mean-what, but to a degree I think it just plain works pretty well as an organic system. Numbers really drive the visibility of problematic stuff, and the small handful of choices in negative flags I think both gives folks a framework in which to think about how they view objectionable stuff, and forces them to pause for a moment and consider what's problematic and why instead of just hitting a catch-all "[this is bad]" button.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:03 PM on September 15, 2008


Er. Move on.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 12:04 PM on September 15, 2008


Thanks, Jessamyn. That was exactly the info I was looking for--not a precise definition, just a general idea. And it's good to know not to flag several things in the same thread.
posted by Stewriffic at 12:07 PM on September 15, 2008


And on not previewing, thanks to cortex as well.
posted by Stewriffic at 12:07 PM on September 15, 2008


Definition of 'derail' is useless without picture of choo-choo train lying on its back beside the tracks.
posted by Cranberry at 12:11 PM on September 15, 2008


OH NOES
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:33 PM on September 15, 2008




Someone needs to register FlagAndMoveOn.org.
posted by oaf at 12:50 PM on September 15, 2008


You know, if you guys would just pony up for MetaFilterPlus, you'd get an amazing menu of options ranging from "Massive derail, reaching Treaty of Westphalia level" to "This makes me think of a guy I knew in college, nice guy but a little flaky." And of course there's a free-form box if none of the standard ones apply.
posted by languagehat at 2:53 PM on September 15, 2008


My way of thinking about it is that "noise" is essentially "not signal".

Couldn't agree more.
posted by signal at 7:09 PM on September 15, 2008


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