Pony Request: MyAskMefi to Track Anonymous Questions (or Track Users' Questions?) June 9, 2009 1:21 PM   Subscribe

Pony request: can following all anonymous posts (or maybe, more widely, following a specific user) be integrated into MyAskMefi?

I find anonymous questions are usually interesting regardless of subject, so I keep an eye on that RSS feed.

But, since MyAskMefi's purpose is to aggregate, I wonder if that could be expanded to follow anonymous posts.

A "quick hack" to do this might be to autotag any anonymous post with "anonymous" -- then all you'd do is add 'anonymous' to your tags to follow.

A larger-scale method might be to allow MyAskMefi to let you follow certain users. It'd not be a new ability, as people already have AskMefi post RSS feeds.
posted by WCityMike to Feature Requests at 1:21 PM (29 comments total)

I approve of this pony.
posted by desjardins at 1:31 PM on June 9, 2009


You can (as I have just now) add anonymous as a contact, and then their posts should show up in the contact activity sidebar.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:33 PM on June 9, 2009


ocherdraco: "You can (as I have just now) add anonymous as a contact, and then their posts should show up in the contact activity sidebar."

Yes, but it's a matter of how people look at the website. The contact activity sidebar isn't really seen that often by people hitting Mefi through its RSS feeds – which the customized MyAskMefi page has (thank you very much whoever made sure of that little detail).
posted by WCityMike at 1:36 PM on June 9, 2009


Actually, nevermind what I said before. It doesn't seem to work.

Okay, I want this pony, too.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:12 PM on June 9, 2009


You can subscribe to all anonymous questions with this feed like you can with any other user. I can see that it'd be nice to sort of splice them into your My Ask feed as well, but I picture that as a tool for following interests rather than people.

Anonymous isn't a person either, it's a special system account. That's one of the reasons we filter it from Recent Activity. Following Anonymous would quickly overwhelm the sidebar with posts from dozens of people each day, and that tool is for following people rather than interests.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:53 PM on June 9, 2009


I'm aware of the anonymous feed, and subscribe to it. But it's one more feed, and combined with my MyAskMefi RSS feed, I get a good share of dupes.

And, as you point out, anonymous isn't a person – it's actually a categorization of questions – questions that for one reason or another have a quality to them which makes it better for them to be asked anonymously. That quality usually makes them especially interesting – they have a certain flavor to them.

Also, there are not dozens of anonymous posts every day: today, 8; yesterday, 10; Sunday, 4; Saturday, 9; Friday, 1; Thursday, 8; etc. I really don't think they'd overwhelm anything.

I understand there's this certain model in your head of how things should work (people here, subjects there, etc.), pb, but I think the system as you and others have developed it is fully featured enough that alternate methodologies have arisen ... and I respectfully put forward to you that it's not entirely valid to dismiss those methodologies out of hand.
posted by WCityMike at 3:19 PM on June 9, 2009


Very true, MeFi is a collaborative effort and I was just giving my take on things not laying down the law. People use the site in ways we don't anticipate, and that's very cool. And we're open to changing things as we go. Just wanted to note that we do put thought behind the features and we don't include/exclude things arbitrarily.

If you want to splice your My Ask feed with the Anonymous questions feed you could always turn to something like Yahoo Pipes to put it together yourself (if we don't add it here). That'd solve your repeating posts problem.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:38 PM on June 9, 2009


That'd solve your repeating posts problem.

That's a harsh way to refer to his pony requests.
posted by gman at 3:42 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


gman: "That's a harsh way to refer to his pony requests."

A pony request is looking at the site, thinking about it, and saying, "I wonder, could the site be a better experience for its inhabitants if [idea] was to happen?" Do you see that sentiment as something that's worthy of your scorn, gman, Burhanistan, and if so, why?
posted by WCityMike at 4:07 PM on June 9, 2009


I'm aware of the anonymous feed, and subscribe to it. But it's one more feed, and combined with my MyAskMefi RSS feed, I get a good share of dupes.

Also, there are not dozens of anonymous posts every day: today, 8; yesterday, 10; Sunday, 4; Saturday, 9; Friday, 1; Thursday, 8; etc. I really don't think they'd overwhelm anything.


Well, which is it? A good share of dupes or not an overwhelming number?
posted by desuetude at 4:10 PM on June 9, 2009


pb: "Just wanted to note that we do put thought behind the features and we don't include/exclude things arbitrarily."

Thanks. What do you think of the other part of what I said – that the quality of a question being asked anonymously makes it worthy of handling using the mechanisms you've set up for grouping subjects (MyAskMefi), as opposed to the mechanisms you've set up for grouping people (contact sidebar)?

pb: "If you want to splice your My Ask feed with the Anonymous questions feed you could always turn to something like Yahoo Pipes to put it together yourself (if we don't add it here). That'd solve your repeating posts problem."

Thanks. I hadn't thought of that, and it would solve my own personal situation, should this "pony" go nowhere ... :)
posted by WCityMike at 4:11 PM on June 9, 2009


What do you think of the other part of what I said...

I definitely see your point. At the same time I also think we have to treat the anonymous questions feature very carefully. Even though they're anonymous, they are sensitive questions by their very nature. And something that gives extra publicity to those questions should be implemented carefully. It's one of the reasons we don't devote a separate tab to anonymous questions, for example. They're part of the normal flow of Ask MetaFilter now, but could look different in new contexts. It might be fine as an option in My Ask since that's not public, but it's something we have to consider.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:23 PM on June 9, 2009


pb: "And something that gives extra publicity to those questions should be implemented carefully."

I see what you're saying. However, both of those suggestions would be relatively "quiet," publicity-wise. Automatically adding an "anonymous" tag to any anonymous question would let someone add that to MyAskMefi if they thought about it -- but they'd have to think about it. Or, with the other suggestion, the ability to add any user's questions to your MyAskMefi -- well, someone would have to actively think of adding the Anonymous account. In both cases, the anonymous account isn't singled out in particular; it's just newly connected to the MyAskMefi feature in a way that facilitates the inclusion of its questions.
posted by WCityMike at 4:28 PM on June 9, 2009


As we've seen with other "automatic" tags like resolved, anything that we set for people or encourage will jump up quickly in the list of popular tags. Adding the tag option would put "anonymous" as one of the top tags, giving those questions extra visibility.

And because the contact system here is transparent, I'm hesitant to add a feature that allows you to "follow" a particular user without that transparency. If you're interested in my posts and you want to follow me via Contact Activity, that's fine. I can see who is following me and so can everyone else. But a private "follow" feature in My Ask for specific users without that transparency is something new, and we'd need to weigh how that might affect the community.

Neither of these approaches are slam-dunk obvious without downsides to me personally.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:36 PM on June 9, 2009


pb: "But a private "follow" feature in My Ask for specific users without that transparency is something new, and we'd need to weigh how that might affect the community."

Doesn't Metafilter already provide that by providing the RSS feeds for a user's Mefi/Meta/AskMefi posts? There's no transparency there.
posted by WCityMike at 4:40 PM on June 9, 2009


There's no transparency there.

True, but feeds are used offsite with 3rd party tools. It might be a subtle distinction, but once we build a feature into the site it takes on a different significance, has a different convenience, and is available to a wider audience.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:47 PM on June 9, 2009


pb: "True, but feeds are used offsite with 3rd party tools. It might be a subtle distinction, but once we build a feature into the site it takes on a different significance, has a different convenience, and is available to a wider audience."

Well, given that, I suppose this pony be dead. I'll go the Yahoo Pipes route for myself then – thanks for that tip.
posted by WCityMike at 5:00 PM on June 9, 2009


Do you see that sentiment as something that's worthy of your scorn, gman, Burhanistan, and if so, why?

I'm thinking you have no specific knowledge as to why Burhanistan favorited gman's comment, and thus it's rather of a dick move to call him out by name.
posted by desuetude at 5:42 PM on June 9, 2009


desuetude: "I'm thinking you have no specific knowledge as to why Burhanistan favorited gman's comment, and thus it's rather of a dick move to call him out by name."

Please feel free to e-mail me if you'd like to discuss the issue further, desuetude. Otherwise, have a pleasant Tuesday evening.
posted by WCityMike at 5:58 PM on June 9, 2009


I thought we were in MeTa, WCityMike. Did I stumble into private correspondence between you and pb?
posted by desuetude at 6:20 PM on June 9, 2009


Burhanistan was clearly happy I called pb out on his comment.
posted by gman at 6:27 PM on June 9, 2009


desuetude: "I thought we were in MeTa, WCityMike. Did I stumble into private correspondence between you and pb?"

Perhaps I should have included the words "with me" after the word "further". I have no say in, and no objection to, the idea of you spending your Tuesday evening composing MeTa comments describing how you feel I am a dick (or, rather, do "dick" things).

But if you would like any input from me regarding the issue of my dickitude, my belief is that you would probably then need to contact me via e-mail, as it's my understanding that the moderators usually frown, even in MeTa, on one-on-one verbal disagreements that have escalated to one party resorts to calling the other party a dick.

Still, if you'd prefer to risk discussing it here, please go ahead and put forward whatever statement you've spent time composing. I'm all ears.
posted by WCityMike at 6:56 PM on June 9, 2009


yay! I just figured out what a pony is.
now, on to 'pancakes'...

(*raises eyebrow, strokes chin)
posted by candyhammer at 10:19 AM on June 10, 2009


pancakes on the wiki
posted by philomathoholic at 11:27 AM on June 10, 2009


are there any terms for a n00b attempting to refer to something like that (eg beans/pancakes/pony), but doing so incorrectly?

I was about to actually do it (and ironically-- which would have been especially painful if done wrong) .. but I then became more interested in what it might be called.


....if there is no such term, I suspect that my requesting the establishing of such a term* could actually be considered an act of 'pony pancakes' on my part-- because it would be a... well, there, I've gone and done it anyway, I guess.

aren't you glad this isn't an OP?

*...I hope they don't start saying "you totally candyhammered that."

I need to go lie down for a while.
posted by candyhammer at 1:01 PM on June 10, 2009


Well, you did kind of candyhammer "OP". It usually refers to the Original Poster who started the thread, or sometimes to the "Original Post" when talking about a post on the blue that has been called out in MeTa. It's never used to refer to just any regular old post. And mathowie doesn't like it, anyway, because it confuses the newbs. Like it did you.
posted by team lowkey at 2:01 PM on June 10, 2009


I am totally using "candyhammer" every chance I get.
posted by desjardins at 2:26 PM on June 10, 2009


I'd candyhammer it.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:32 PM on June 10, 2009


You totally candyhammered that.
posted by desuetude at 2:41 PM on June 10, 2009


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