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$5 wasted? December 25, 2009 9:35 AM   Subscribe

You can't use 2nd account to get around 7 day wait period on AskMe?

I was under the impression that one of the things you bought with your 5 dollar sockpuppet account was the ability to post questions with that account. Are you guys actually checking IPs or credit cards or something?
posted by leotrotsky to Etiquette/Policy at 9:35 AM (67 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

oh, merry christmas!
posted by leotrotsky at 9:36 AM on December 25, 2009


Pretty sure it's always been expressly forbidden.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:45 AM on December 25, 2009


I think the point is that you're not supposed to get around the 7 day wait period. $5 doesn't buy you a pass from the rules.
posted by fatbird at 9:45 AM on December 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


From the FAQ:

"It is against the rules to use a sock puppet to get around the time limitations between AskMe, MeFi and MeTa posts. People who do this will risk losing the sock puppet account, getting a time out on their main account and/or having their extra question or post removed. Please do not do this."

You buy the ability to post questions. But only so far as you aren't skirting the posting-time rule in the first place. So like if I wanted to give the impression to someone that I had travelled the world, fighting crime, I might create another account and post questions to reflect that - and when I needed to prove myself, I could show them this fake account. THAT's what it's for.

Now I'm unhappy about my life choices. Why aren't I doing that?
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:46 AM on December 25, 2009


Um, ok. Next time I'll read the directions.

Please ignore previous questions posted by JoeStalin and PavelDybenko.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:54 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm Brandon Blatcher's sockpuppet.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:02 AM on December 25, 2009


Just goes to show that a low user number is not a free pass towards absolute credibility.
posted by nevercalm at 10:04 AM on December 25, 2009


Wow. I'm low number now?! Awesome! Um ...THERE IS NO CABAL.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:10 AM on December 25, 2009


For what it's worth, leotrotsky, I think it's a bad policy.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:12 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


At this point since the vast majority of the site's operating expenses comes from AdSense and not signups, it seems that the real remaining purpose of the fee is to limit the floodgates of people creating multiple accounts. Thus the view that "if I want to pay more I should be able to ask more" sort of seems much less ethical to me than it would if the site was struggling and/or depended on the signup fees for a major portion of its budget.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:17 AM on December 25, 2009


I AM NOT A SOCK PUPPET! I AM A FREE MAN!
posted by The Whelk at 10:22 AM on December 25, 2009


Go home Dad you're drunk.
posted by The Bizzaro Whelk at 10:22 AM on December 25, 2009 [7 favorites]


If this is an emergency medical AskMe regarding an icepick, I'll be happy to post it for you.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:24 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, actually scarabic's post covers most of what I need. The antlers are giving me trouble, though.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:26 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are a large volume of Asks being posted. If everyone's sockpuppets posted as well, no-one's questions would get seen before they scrolled off the front page.

Also, that question was something easily solved through the application of JFGI.
posted by subbes at 10:26 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I suspect this policy had its origins in the teeth gnashing and wailing lo those many years ago over what to do about the oh so many Ask questions posted -- my gods, they'll scroll off! -- as though it were a bad thing for people to get lots of help. There were also a handful of folks who posted questions just because they could, and throttling the posting rate threw them out with the baby included for free.

While I think that question-throttling mode of thinking is obsolete, I agree that five bucks shouldn't buy you any privileges over the single-accounted.
posted by majick at 10:28 AM on December 25, 2009


However I would like to know a rough estimate of the amount of mod time and effort is spent looking for people using multiple accounts to get around the 7 day limit. Was this one only noticed because it was flagged for CROCKETY BLOAT or would it have been deleted anyway? I mean, I have to imagine that if your post gets no flags then it would be a lot easier to slide under the radar, so do you guys have any systematic approaches to detecting mal-puppetry or is it all done based on what posts catch your eyes for whatever reasons?
posted by Rhomboid at 10:34 AM on December 25, 2009


I had $5 to buy a sockpuppet, but then I got sucked into a charity auction. Now I will never be able to afford a sockpuppet.

As to this part of the question, "Are you guys actually checking IPs or credit cards or something?" I believe the answer is yes. That and more (like PayPal accounts, etc.). I believe it's been stated the mods have tools for finding out these sorts of things. Or special powers. I forget.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:36 AM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


PFF THATS NOT A LOW USERNUMBER CHECK OUT MY oh

carry on
posted by tehloki at 10:42 AM on December 25, 2009


as though it were a bad thing for people to get lots of help.

It would be interesting to see actual stats on it, but I suspect that scrolling off the front page radically reduces the number of answers you receive to your question because not too many people actually go to the second page.
posted by fatbird at 10:43 AM on December 25, 2009


Rhomboid, if I remember correctly there's a feature on the admin panel that notifies the mods when user accounts that share the same Paypal account ask questions within 7 days of each other. It used to trigger an automatic freezing of the second account (I bought a gift account for a friend when I first signed up, and when I went to ask a question after a month of silence it wouldn't let me do it because my friend had asked a question three days earlier), but since that triggered too many false positives it got rolled back.
posted by Phire at 11:42 AM on December 25, 2009


leotrotsky, only the petite bourgeoisie can afford two accounts. Ultimately, there will be only one account for everyone.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:52 AM on December 25, 2009


We stay on top of questions with linked paypal accounts asked within a seven day window. It's basically our feeling that using a sock puppet to ask a once in a while emergency question [where once in a while is like once ever, not once every few months] is okay, but people who are heavy users of AskMe who also seem to need "emergency" questions more than, say, once ever are probably overusing the system. The same is true for the AnonyMe feature which can sometimes be used for an extra question. We know who uses the AnonyMe feature more than, say, once or twice, and we'd prefer they don't do that.

We're not too concerned with questions scooting off the page, but we feel that as with a lot of community resources people should be mindful in how much they're using it and we'll add the occasional admin note if we feel that maybe that's not happening.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:02 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you realize there are some people out there that don't even have one Metafilter account? Let's not be greedy people.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:31 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]



Do you realize there are some people out there that don't even have one Metafilter account? Let's not be greedy people.


Yeah!
posted by Baby Bartfast at 12:33 PM on December 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


My wife is her own person, with her own account. But she posts questions from the same computer I do, so if we asked within the same week she would be my sock.

I'm pretty sure this is explicetly covered in the rules, somewhere.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:34 PM on December 25, 2009


Yeah, we have a pretty decent toolset for identifying possible/likely sockpuppet end-runs on the 7 day limit, so the time we spend looking for them is close to nil, and the time we spend evaluating the occasions that the system notifies us about isn't too great. It used to take more attention before we found good ways to automate it.

We also notify possible end-runners at post time, which has probably reduced the number of folks who skirt the rule in the first place, and actively tune the system to not reproduce false positives when they happen.

Jessamyn covered where we are at this point; folks who feel like this is a little different from the way things used to be aren't totally crazy, though it's never been encouraged explicitly. The big difference between now and like three or four years ago is I think we have as mods stopped ever suggesting that folks would get around the limit that way. If it happens every once in a while in an understandably emergencyish circumstance, we'll be willing to talk about it, but you're still going to hear from us almost certainly and basically hear "don't do that again, please".
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:35 PM on December 25, 2009


Could that position on anonymous questions be made more explicit in the faq? I had no idea they were supposed to be a once or twice only sort of thing, and instead used it more generally for questions that were personal enough that I'd rather they not be connected with my username. I've had conversations about this with other mefites who come to meetups on a regular basis: once meetups are part of your regular social life, you have more reasons to ask questions anonymously, since you have more questions about interactions with people who use the site.

Also, the faq doesn't make it clear that you pay attention to people who ask multiple anonymous questions.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:38 PM on December 25, 2009


Ocherdraco, I think jessamyn meant "using anonymous questions to get around the once-every-7-days limit", not "using anonymous questions, period".
posted by Phire at 12:56 PM on December 25, 2009


"anonymous questions . . . a once or twice only sort of thing"

Yeah, ocherdraco, I think what jessamyn maybe meant is that if you ask an anon question first you can ask a question under your username almost immediately after since there's no way for the system to know you've blown your wad.
posted by liketitanic at 1:01 PM on December 25, 2009


And this may be one of those things where our mod opinion [or even just mine] varies from site policy. I see that the anonyme feature is if you really need to ask a question, but it needs to not be linked to your profile. Some people, a handful, seem to use it for any sort of "sensitive topic" questions that they may be just curious about. And they do this often. So yeah using the AnonyMe feature [with the tiny uptick of extra work it takes us] frequently for "I was just wondering..." is sort of not why we created the feature though occasionally it's how it gets used.

The big deal is that around holidaytime the queue is packed full and we get emails from people "why didn't you approve my question?" or "did you not approve my question?" and it's tough to separate what's really important from someone asking their tenth anonyme "I was wondering..." question this year. So using it a few times, no big deal. Using it regularly actually does keep people getting their urgent [or necessarily anonymous] questions approved and/or answered. So really just the same old "tragedy of the commons" thing, but people may not know just how many anonyme questions are asked and since we only want to approve so many at a time, too many questions can bump other questions further down the queue, so it's good to keep in mind.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:24 PM on December 25, 2009


You can't get around the rules with a $5 sockpuppet, but you can with a $20 one, same as in town.
posted by DU at 2:32 PM on December 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow. I'm low number now?! Awesome! Um ...THERE IS NO CABAL.

And you wonder why you can't get around the seven day rule?
posted by the Cabal at 2:34 PM on December 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


I've had conversations about this with other mefites who come to meetups on a regular basis: once meetups are part of your regular social life, you have more reasons to ask questions anonymously, since you have more questions about interactions with people who use the site.

Attend Metafilter meetups and you too can learn to overthink a plate of human beans.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:57 PM on December 25, 2009


Don't freak out, guys, but I think they've made Number 6 disappear... Clearly, his sockpuppets knew too much.

Maybe we should all just focus on being model netizens in The Community Weblog.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:32 PM on December 25, 2009


That said, if anyone is holding a meetup where we dress and act like characters from the Prisoner, complete with little buttons that have our user number, I'm in if it's within driving distance.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:35 PM on December 25, 2009


There was never a number 6. There has never been a number 6. There never will be a number 6.
posted by The Whelk at 5:52 PM on December 25, 2009


666
posted by cjorgensen at 5:55 PM on December 25, 2009


There was never a number 6. There has never been a number 6. There never will be a number 6.

B-b-but I remember Number 6! *cries*
posted by pjern at 6:02 PM on December 25, 2009


I know this is the rule now, but I would swear the mods used to encourage getting a second account to ask a new question in those cases where you really needed one.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:52 PM on December 25, 2009


If someone comes to MeTa and is like "OMG I have an emergency question, help!!" that's one of the options we'd suggest to them. Things that are great solutions for a site with 20K members may be less-great ones for sites 5x that size.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:04 PM on December 25, 2009


Yeah, right here: http://metatalk.metafilter.com/12778/Policy-about-using-sockpuppets-to-skip-around-the-1-question-per-week-rule#345644

As a one-time "I will die if I can't ask a second question" thing, the sock puppet has been a recommended remedy, though I still personally think it shows a failure of imagination and resourcefulness. If that happens more than once, or if there's not some sort of crazymaking urgency, then it's super lame.

As to sock puppets to get around banning, it's lame though sometimes tolerated in our chipper BRAND NEW DAY way because mathowie and I are both huge wusses and we think everyone deserves a second chance except for self-linkers who should rot in eternal hellfire, always and forever, etc.
posted by jessamyn at 10:24 AM on September 28, 2006

posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:04 PM on December 25, 2009


Rhomboid writes "it seems that the real remaining purpose of the fee is to limit the floodgates of people creating multiple accounts. "

Matt doesn't talk much about the finances of the site but this, and setting a minor bar to spammers, was always the real purpose of the fee, the revenue generation aspect was a minor bonus. Remember that before the $5 fee signups were closed. You had to wave a rubber chicken at the right time and get lucky to get an account.
posted by Mitheral at 8:53 PM on December 25, 2009


That's pretty much what I was getting at here, OC. We're basically done recommending it at this point, compared to two or three years back when it's something that came up as more of a "well it's not a GREAT idea but you could totally do THIS" thing.

Lesson learned over time: there's no way we can stop people from deciding to try and pull that off, but there's no reason for us to suggest it and some decent reasons to generally discourage it even if we're willing on a case-by-case basis to not go medieval on someone's self-directed ass under the rare circumstances when it comes up for a justifiable reason, with the understanding even then that it needs to not be a recurring thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:01 PM on December 25, 2009


Do the mods automatically know who posts an anonymous question, or is there an automated thing that tells you when someone asks one that's already used up their question for the week?
posted by biochemist at 9:08 PM on December 25, 2009


We actually basically don't know who asked an anonymous question unless we go specifically looking. The system does a check (not a bullet-proof one, I think, due to the we-don't-know-whose-asking nature of how anony stuff is implemented) to try and prevent using the anony channel as a workaround for the limit, but that's about it.

It's rare that we have any reason to go looking, and there's only been a few cases where we've done so and needed to drop someone a line about not overdoing it. The vast majority of folks do a pretty good job of self-moderating this stuff, which is nice. Even the few folks we have dropped lines to are generally operating in good faith and without any sort of abusive intent.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:12 PM on December 25, 2009


Do the mods automatically know who posts an anonymous question, or is there an automated thing that tells you when someone asks one that's already used up their question for the week?

And just so you know how much we don't know. When someone asks an anonyme question, we get an automated email that says "hey $USER asked an anonyme question, check the queue" without the text or any indicator of what the question was about in the email. We can then go to the queue and check/approve/delete the question.

Except that we rarely even read the emails, and the queue almost always has more than one question in it and I [who do most of the approval] tend to approve questions out of order. The database, deep down, has the information on who asked what [in case of serious suicide or legal issues basically] so if we needed to ferret it out we could. There's a system-based check as cortex explains but it's hacky but also mostly works.

This is why, when people occasionally email us asking about "their" question, we often have no idea which one they're talking about. I can think of maybe 5-6 anonymous questions where I knew and remembered who asked them. Sometimes we can figure it out through basic context clues (or IP addresses, which is one other clue we have that the average user does not), but usually it's as unknown to us as it is to everyone else.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:21 PM on December 25, 2009


"The database, deep down, has the information on who asked what..."

This is different from my understanding of the feature prior to this point -- I was aware that the approver briefly encountered the non-anonymous user's identity, but was given to understand that it was not recorded after the question was disposed of whichever way. Perhaps I misunderstood the feature as it was previously described, but this is different enough from how I believed it to be that I will no longer be using it.

Thank you for clarifying!
posted by majick at 9:37 PM on December 25, 2009


That's pretty much what I was getting at here, OC. We're basically done recommending it at this point, compared to two or three years back when it's something that came up as more of a "well it's not a GREAT idea but you could totally do THIS" thing.

Thanks for the clarification. Sometimes I feel like you guys should have release notes when the rules are changed.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:56 PM on December 25, 2009


As far as that goes, majick, I'm gonna disagree with jessamyn's characterization: I don't think the db keeps any record of the asker/anonyquestion connection directly. The emails that the anony system generates at question submission time (which I think both Matt and Jess get, and neither generally read—I don't get 'em at all, no real need) makes it possible to confirm the identity of an asker when correlated with the question, I think, but the db doesn't keep a record of the userid of the asker of any given anony submission in the long term.

It's nothing I've ever dug into directly, and the main thing here is that we don't need to go looking often enough for it to be something we're super conversant on when you get down to the bare metal; pb or Matt could probably nail down the specifics, though.

Short version is that, no, by my understanding we don't even store the userid of an anonyasker.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:20 PM on December 25, 2009


but was given to understand that it was not recorded after the question was disposed of whichever way. Perhaps I misunderstood the feature as it was previously described

Yeah I may have been hasty in my explanation. I'm not exactly sure how we do the matches when we [rarely] try to figure out who asked something. It may be timestamps [between the generated email and when something entered the database] or something else that requires a few hops. I'm pretty sure there's no explicit userid to question linkup.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:04 PM on December 25, 2009


In short, as cortex says, it's something that's too esoteric for either of us to know the specifics of.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:05 PM on December 25, 2009


Please don't post stuff in all caps

Why is posting in all caps cause for reprimand, but posting in all lower case OK? Just curious.
posted by Neiltupper at 11:05 PM on December 25, 2009


because of the many-decades association of ALL CAPS = SHOUTING? (and if you look at all these old conctracts you may find the ALL CAPS = IMPORTANT thing goes way back)
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:40 PM on December 25, 2009


we don't even store the userid of an anonyasker.

Anonyasker? I hardly anonyknow her!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:20 AM on December 26, 2009


Why is posting in all caps cause for reprimand, but posting in all lower case OK? Just curious.

Posting a question in all caps is like posting a question with any other weird eye-catching formatting: it makes a bit of a jarring mess of the front pages, so you had better have a really, really good reason for doing it, and most of the time you don't. That's pretty much the whole thing. The limit-dodging was the primary issue here, the CAPS thing was just a prepended style kvetch from an annoyed moderator.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:01 AM on December 26, 2009


" I'm pretty sure there's no explicit userid to question linkup."

Okay, I'm a lot more comfortable with that. The additional step of having a human needed to puzzle stuff out from timestamps or whatever is much more consistent with the fig leaf I understood we had. And fig leaf that it may be, I like having that much more than the there being an explicit, recorded association persisting after the question has been handled.

I trust the cheerful staff here at MetaFilter. You're good people. Heads on straight, good hearts, best interests of the community in mind, and so on. I don't trust what a third party would do if they gained access to the data by whatever means. The lack of explicitly recording an anonymous question, while obviously not meeting the technical definition of perfect anonymity, is good enough to alleviate that concern.

Thanks for even more clarification. I am much less alarmed now.
posted by majick at 8:03 AM on December 26, 2009


B-b-but I remember Number 6! *cries*

But do you remember Paphnuty?
posted by languagehat at 9:24 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regarding the all-caps thing: There is a higher general density of lower-case to upper-case letters, so the all-lower-case only changes a small percentage of the letter cases, while all-upper-case changes a significantly higher proportion of letter cases from the norm.
posted by that girl at 10:50 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why is posting in all caps cause for reprimand, but posting in all lower case OK?

And it's not like posting in lower case is totally "ok". People will still think less of you. The Shift key isn't that hard to master.
posted by smackfu at 6:37 PM on December 26, 2009

And it's not like posting in lower case is totally "ok". People will still think less of you.
unless you're e.e. cummings.
The Shift key isn't that hard to master.
unless you're e.e. cummings.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:55 PM on December 26, 2009


E. E. Cummings used the shift key just fine. He used it when he typed his own name, and when he typed all proper names of persons (as in "i sing of Olaf").

He didn't use it for all proper nouns, though, as we see in "'next to of course god america...'"
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:16 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beat by Sidhedevil. I believe the lowercase of his name was a publisher thing.
posted by dead cousin ted at 9:45 PM on December 26, 2009


What is the relationship between E.E. and Burton?
posted by Meatbomb at 12:13 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I also remember getting a 2nd account being recommended as a way to post an askme. I dont see the problem. Perhaps someone being silly and then getting a 3rd,4th and 5th account would neccessitate some action but thats about it.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:24 AM on December 27, 2009


Ha! That's what I like about this place. Even the lame jokes I post have redeeming educational responses.

Well that's 'Something new every day'; my high school English teachers said it was Cummings' own affectation to indicate his smallness in the world. Must've been Armchair Psychologists.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:13 AM on December 27, 2009


Perhaps people with a legitimate unused AskMe could list it on Ebay.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:25 PM on December 28, 2009


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