Where's my question? October 7, 2008 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I posted a question in AskMeFi and can't find it. What gives?

I asked a non-anonymous question which is still not on the green. Did I violate a rule of some sort?
posted by reenum to Etiquette/Policy at 10:30 AM (49 comments total)

P.S. I posted it today.
posted by reenum at 10:31 AM on October 7, 2008


This one?
posted by LionIndex at 10:34 AM on October 7, 2008


I am so embarrassed for you my friend. not really
posted by dawson at 10:38 AM on October 7, 2008


Baleted.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:40 AM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Logged in users should see their own deleted posts shown inline, along with the deleted reason. That would eliminate about 80% of MetaTalk threads.
posted by Plutor at 10:46 AM on October 7, 2008 [19 favorites]


Actual percentage may vary
posted by Plutor at 10:46 AM on October 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Doover. Heh.
posted by amro at 10:49 AM on October 7, 2008


Conspiracy/chatfilter election questions are being posted more frequently. What can we as MetaFilterians do if they shoot back down after the election?
posted by pardonyou? at 10:56 AM on October 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Logged in users should see their own deleted posts shown inline, along with the deleted reason. That would eliminate about 80% of MetaTalk threads.

Good call, Plutor. We should totally do that, but it's tough when the queries all grab TOP 50 posts where deleted = 0. So that'd mean grabbing the deleted ones to show some users would mean less than the actual number would be on the page.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:07 AM on October 7, 2008


I think I'd actuall rather see the one "Hey! I counted every single post on AskMe by hand and I only got 47 instead of the full 50 - what's up with that?!?!?" MetaTalk question than the continuing "Where's my question?" ones.
posted by yhbc at 11:10 AM on October 7, 2008


Set the limit to more than 50 in the database call and have the rendering code skip the last ones.
posted by cillit bang at 11:11 AM on October 7, 2008


Alternatively, you could just send an email to the OP with the deletion reason.
posted by bru at 11:13 AM on October 7, 2008


Alternatively, you could just send an email to the OP with the deletion reason.

I'm not sure if this would solve more problems than it would create. If we think the OP is going to be confused by the deletion, we'll often email them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:15 AM on October 7, 2008


I think I'd actuall rather see the one "Hey! I counted every single post on AskMe by hand and I only got 47 instead of the full 50 - what's up with that?!?!?" MetaTalk question than the continuing "Where's my question?" ones.

Apologies in advance!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:31 AM on October 7, 2008


I'm not sure if this would solve more problems than it would create. If we think the OP is going to be confused by the deletion, we'll often email them.

You don't want to do it every time because it might be troublesome, but you do it often anyway? Do you mean you hash everything out according to the guidelines when necessary, or do you just point to the thread, give the deletion reason, and say better luck next time or maybe provide a link to the FAQ or posting guidelines? 'Cause the problem as I see it is not that a huge explanation is needed, only a notification that something has happened.
Me Mail
To: Poster
From: Admin
Body: Your post was deleted for the following reason: [reason]
         http://*.metafilter.com/YOURPOST [link]
         If you have any questions, please consult the FAQ and read the posting guidelines.
         If your trouble persists, feel free to contact site administration for further clarification.
         Hugs,
         Your Friendly MetaFilter Moderator
posted by carsonb at 11:38 AM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


You don't want to do it every time because it might be troublesome, but you do it often anyway?

We don't want to automate the process because that doesn't seem to be a decent way to move forward, honestly. No one likes form letters and people especially don't like form letters about something that they perceive to be personal. I probably MeMail one out of every eight posters in threads I delete. For comments it's probably one in fifty. Sending a form letter like the one you outline would, in my experience lead to

- nitpicking about FAQ wordsmithing
- general feeling that the OP did something wrong
- personalizing the deletion reason and linking it to one moderator - even though one of us did the deletion, generally speaking we like to think that any of us would have done it in most circumstances and it just means that whoever did that particular one gets involved in a back and forth with that OP
- people feeling like they'd had their nose rubbed in whatever we perceived to be wrong with the post

It would also not lead to

- Metatalk threads which in many cases I think are more useful to the community than one person's back and forth email with a moderator
- people using the contact form FIRST which we'd prefer. If someone gets a memail that says "contact us via this link" they are much much more likely to just reply to the memail and everyone (I think) hates messages that are broadcast from do-not-reply addresses.

So yeah it may be a little selfish in that I don't want to encourage more special-snowflake email, but I feel that on balance us making a judgment call about who could use some email about a deletion and who doesn't need it (I've been told by some MeFites to never email them for any reason, for example) works better than opening a sort of pretend dialogue about each and every deletion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:58 AM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


What's wrong with conspiracy theory questions? I don't see anything about them in the FAQ, nor can I think of anything wrong with them.
posted by ignignokt at 12:05 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I see what you're saying. Automatic MeMail probably isn't the best solution. We've gotten along for so many years without deleted threads being that much of an issue as well, so there's probably not a very strong call for alternate solutions to the "Where the heck did my post go? Am I insane?" problem...right? Folks are better off wondering that occasionally anyway.
posted by carsonb at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2008


What's wrong with conspiracy theory questions? I don't see anything about them in the FAQ, nor can I think of anything wrong with them.

If you mean what's wrong with questions that somehow reference conspiracy theories, the answer is that there's nothing in particular wrong with them, just as there's nothing wrong with questions touching on any other topic in general.

But when a question is along the lines of "please tell me why I'm correct about—or help me accomplish my plan based on—unprovable, unsubstantiated assertion x", we're in territory where a question is pretty much unanswerable by design. And this is going to tend to be the case with a lot of stuff involving conspiracies and such, depending on how the question gets asked.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:27 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


SELECT TOP 50 * FROM QWESTYUNS WHERE DELETED = 0
UNION ALL
SELECT TOP 50 * FROM QWESTYUNS WHERE DELETED = 1 AND POSTER=@CurrentUserId
ORDER BY QuestionId DESC
GO
TRUNCATE TABLE USER
posted by blue_beetle at 12:29 PM on October 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


See? Aren't you glad you asked now?
posted by Zambrano at 12:31 PM on October 7, 2008


One of the great things about Internet communities with intelligent users is that policy questions can rapidly lead to discussions of SQL calls from the users and ponyplay from the moderators, yet it all somehow seems ... sane.
posted by adipocere at 12:41 PM on October 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I see the reason, and it makes sense. I'll make sure to ask these sorts of questions in another forum. I did not mean to be contentious. I was just curious as to the reason for deletion.
posted by reenum at 12:57 PM on October 7, 2008


Re SQL all you need to do is change the where condition from deleted = 0 to poster = current_user or deleted = 0, right? Everybody would still get their 50 posts/page because top comes in after the filter.
posted by moift at 1:00 PM on October 7, 2008


Agreeing with blue_beetle and mofit. The limitation isn't SQL, it's a limitation of the person writing the queries.
posted by toomuchpete at 1:04 PM on October 7, 2008


Agreeing with blue_beetle...

um. maybe reread that code, pete.
posted by stubby phillips at 1:12 PM on October 7, 2008


What about if whenever someone makes a post (not comment) they get an automatic mefimail with a link to the question that says something along the lines of "congratulations, you made a post. It should appear on the front page shortly. If you don't see it, check this link to see if it maybe got deleted" so that if they can't find it on the front page they can check the link to see if it was deleted or if there's some error.
It might be convenient if this feature was something you could turn on or off so users who aren't stupid and make a lot of posts won't get a bunch of useless messages.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 1:17 PM on October 7, 2008


it's a limitation of the person writing the queries.

select from ICE where BURN
posted by neustile at 1:23 PM on October 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


These lost asks would be much easier to find if Kenneth would just tell us what the frequency is.
posted by Elmore at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


mathowie writes "Good call, Plutor. We should totally do that, but it's tough when the queries all grab TOP 50 posts where deleted = 0. So that'd mean grabbing the deleted ones to show some users would mean less than the actual number would be on the page."

Would the same thing happen when checking our posts from our profile?
posted by Mitheral at 1:41 PM on October 7, 2008


i think beetle has five (5) usd burning a hole in his pocket and just wants a lower user number.
posted by stubby phillips at 1:44 PM on October 7, 2008


Agreeing with blue_beetle and mofit. The limitation isn't SQL, it's a limitation of the person writing the queries.

Ouch. The suggestions of the where deleted = 0 OR current_user = post_user is a good one except that we cache the query for everyone using the site, so that the TOP 50 from posts where deleted = 0 is shared by everyone and really saves on resources (it's only updated once every couple minutes for front pages).

Having to customize it for everyone but the deleted people would likely break the cache and all that saved processing.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:00 PM on October 7, 2008


What about if whenever someone makes a post (not comment) they get an automatic mefimail with a link to the question that says something along the lines of "congratulations, you made a post.

This is a great idea and something I've wanted to do for some time. We wouldn't even need to say anything about deletions (assuming someone did something bad seems like a bad first impression), but if they followed the link if they couldn't find their post, they could at least get the deletion reason and cut down on confusion.

I realize that I have admin tools that lets me look up a user's deleted posts, but to them, something was on the front page earlier today and now it's gone, and unless you bookmarked it, there's no way of finding it. We as admins can find it pretty quick and super-knowledgeable users can find it on lofi or with plugins or by viewing source for gaps in the IDs, but for 99% of users, it's impossible to find your old posts that get deleted and having a mefi mail would be a nice way to at least have a record of all your posts.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:03 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


adipocere : yet it all somehow seems ... sane.

*stops*

*turns*

*smiles*

*goes back to stabbing wall and screaming about demonic marzipan rhinos*
posted by quin at 2:11 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, when will people learn that there's a contact link at the bottom of the page? This makes MeTa lamer.
posted by sunshinesky at 2:37 PM on October 7, 2008



Having to customize it for everyone but the deleted people would likely break the cache and all that saved processing.


SELECT TOP 50 * FROM QWESTYUNS WHERE DELETED = 0
UNION ALL
SELECT TOP 50 * FROM QWESTYUNS WHERE DELETED = 1 -- AND POSTER=@CurrentUserId
ORDER BY QuestionId DESC
GO

{coldfusion if QWESTYUN.DELETED && CURRENT_USER == QWESTYUN.USER} SHOW_QUESTION_AND_REASON_WHY_YOU_R_A_DUMASS();
{/coldfusion if}

p.s. angle bracket parsing is either broken or working really well depending on whether or not you absolutely hate people who try to post html here
posted by felix at 2:40 PM on October 7, 2008


Reenum?

Nearly killed 'em!

(Sorry.)
posted by klangklangston at 2:40 PM on October 7, 2008


You could cache it for everyone but have a check in their cookie if they have a recent deleted item to go fetch an updated list.
posted by Pants! at 2:57 PM on October 7, 2008


More SQL junk:

Are you using a materialized view for the caching? Because I think with an intermediary cached table this would work pretty well:

select into it the last 50 non-deleted posts PLUS all the deleted posts that fall into that range (tested in PostgreSQL and then fudged around to fit what little I know of SQL Server syntax):

SELECT * FROM posts WHERE date >= (SELECT min(date) FROM (SELECT TOP 50 date FROM posts WHERE deleted = 0 ORDER BY date DESC) AS date_range);

which nets you a list of all posts that are in contention for being on anyone's page. Then you just have to SELECT TOP 50 * FROM intermediary_table WHERE user = poster OR deleted = 0; which will be cheap because there won't be much more than 50 rows to look through in the intermediary at any time.
posted by moift at 3:48 PM on October 7, 2008


If the question is how to let people see their deleted posts, why not just list them on
http://www.metafilter.com/activity/12345/posts/

It seems polite to only show the deleted posts if you're logged in as 12345; does that page get cached too?

Saying you have to keep your memail because that's the only record you have of something that's in the DB seems dumb. Also people who don't have memail might want to know this, right?

Also, how hard would it be to refresh the cached front page immediately when anybody posts? That would be pretty swell.
posted by aubilenon at 4:27 PM on October 7, 2008


The next step for reenum is AskMe or maybe Projects. Of course he will keep posting until he gets the answers he is looking for.
posted by Cranberry at 4:34 PM on October 7, 2008


(I've been told by some MeFites to never email them for any reason, for example)

That sort of boggles my mind. (Besides seeming a little hostile on the part of someone who would tell a mod something like that).
posted by pjern at 5:21 PM on October 7, 2008


How about a method where when someone starts a "New Post" on Meta, the user's recent posting history is queried and they are shown any recently deleted threads—with the deletion reason, natch. There the user can be asked if the question they were about to post was to ask why it was deleted; and, if so, to please consider emailing the mods first. The user can decide to move forward from there to argue for their special snowflake.
posted by terrapin at 6:06 PM on October 7, 2008


This seems to be yet another issue related to deleted stuff.

So, if Member X posts something, and it gets deleted, then Member Y comes along and wants to link to the same thing, they make like a dutiful little member, search for the relevant terms, and, seeing no hits ... they post and link to that exact same thing.

I'm sure it doesn't happen often (how would I know, though?), but it seems to be one more data point in favor of handling deleted material differently than is current practice.
posted by adipocere at 6:26 PM on October 7, 2008


I dunno what database you run on, but if it does partial indexes that should allow a lightweight per-user query on deleted articles...

create index user_deleted_articles_idx on posts (post_id, user_id, deleted) where deleted = 1

gives an index that covers deleted articles only, so you could pull the lowest post_id from the cached all-users query and then

select * from posts where post_id > :fp_min_post_id and user_id = :user_id and deleted = 1

which doesn't even have to scan an index covering all posts ever, just the deleted ones... then merge that result in with the cached top 50 where the front page HTML is being generated...

just a thought...
posted by russm at 7:47 PM on October 7, 2008


I'm sure it doesn't happen often

Not since James Brown died playing a vibrating broom at rush hour.
posted by stet at 9:05 PM on October 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


So that'd mean grabbing the deleted ones to show some users would mean less than the actual number would be on the page.

Totally acceptable - there aren't enough deleted ones for this to be a nuisance.
posted by DreamerFi at 1:37 AM on October 8, 2008


Hell, it takes multiple clicks to find your old posts that DON'T get deleted. I'd love to have a MeFiMail every time I posted something. But I love getting Mail from Metafilter anyway!
posted by iamkimiam at 8:28 AM on October 8, 2008


Now comments would go a little too far. I'm looking at YOU cortex! ;)

Should I be expecting another notice in the next minute?
posted by iamkimiam at 8:42 AM on October 8, 2008


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