When is there too much chat? May 12, 2010 4:05 PM   Subscribe

Here be a callout / question: Considering this question and the poster's history of chatfilter-esque questions, it leads me to wonder... can people get banned for extensive dubious use of Ask?
posted by youcancallmeal to Etiquette/Policy at 4:05 PM (279 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

If abbat is posting a chatty question, it must be Wednesday.
posted by Duffington at 4:08 PM on May 12, 2010 [25 favorites]


I just commented in the open thread about his last question. This question is just as offensive as the last and really pisses me off. On the other hand, the poster does seem sincere. So I don't know.
posted by amro at 4:09 PM on May 12, 2010


omg so glad this one got toasted. That question just made me sad.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:09 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I read that question and had an immediate GRR ARGH STAB reaction and was on the brink of writing a furious response, then noticed who the poster was and remembered last week's disaster and closed the tab with the question in it. I(gnore)IAMO, I guess?

It's been deleted now. Thanks, cortex!
posted by bewilderbeast at 4:09 PM on May 12, 2010


If abbat is posting a chatty question, it must be Wednesday at ten to 7 EST.
posted by gman at 4:09 PM on May 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I just feel like this is venturing really close into troll territory and was shocked when I looked at his history how many chatty threads had been allowed to stand by the same poster. Surely there has to be a limit.
posted by youcancallmeal at 4:10 PM on May 12, 2010


Is it wrong that I've been anxiously waiting for 3:50 PST to see what he's come up with this week?
posted by lilnublet at 4:10 PM on May 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


That question isn't gonna work, and if abbat really can't figure out a way to rework this aspect of his use of askme then ultimately, yeah, it could be an unworkable situation. It's rare that we see someone not able to turn things around with AskMe, but it's possible for it to be an issue if nothing changes.

In this specific case, I'm not sure if abbat is really aware of Metatalk or whether he's likely to show up here; I do know that Jessamyn exchanged some mail with him recently trying to get some of the "this is problematic, this is what needs work" stuff across, so she'd have a better idea what if any specific guidance he's gotten when she has a chance.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:13 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought that posting a question every single time you were allowed was frowned apon, possibly even actively discouraged. The mods have said several times they don't want to enable this behaviour, so where is the line drawn? Just because you have to wait seven days doens't mean you should be posting every seven days on the dot.

Then this question, well this is pretty damn offensive. And chatty. It feels like we've gone beyond someone asking things they really need to know in good faith and well into the trritory of some guy taking advantage of the community here. Can we please put a stop to this crap?

In the end all I can really do is not answer his question ebcause I don't think he's worthy of my time (and as someone with a mother who is overweight thanks to Very Important medication she takes I probably could have given some extra insight for the guy) and roll my eyes and move on. If that ends up being the only recourse here then I'll live with that.
posted by shelleycat at 4:14 PM on May 12, 2010


shocked when I looked at his history how many chatty threads had been allowed to stand

youcancallmeal, this is the thread I referenced. Just so you know, this has been discussed before.

cortex, shouldn't someone tell a member when they are being discussed on MetaTalk? Seems only fair. Maybe whoever posts the MetaTalk thread?
posted by amro at 4:15 PM on May 12, 2010


I believe with knowledge and preparation I will understand what lead to the events above.

Aaaargh.
posted by Kinbote at 4:16 PM on May 12, 2010


Hmm, on no-preview looks like we are at least in the region of the line with this guy if not fully way over. I don't really know how he'd need to change things to make it work. I kind of hope he does because clearly he needs guidance somewhere, but I also can't help thinking that getting out and having a life with real people around him will end up being the best medicine for whatever's going on inside his head.
posted by shelleycat at 4:16 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh sorry yccma, I see you did post a link to this in that thread.
posted by amro at 4:17 PM on May 12, 2010


I'm sure he's aware of Metatalk, since there's a link to it in all of his AskMes as of late. Like this one. How could he miss that?

Most of his questions are offensive. Please put a stop to this crap.
posted by iconomy at 4:19 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had missed that earlier MeTa thread. Yeah, this is ridiculous. I'm pretty stinkin' tolerant, but assuming there's already been a Come to Jesus exchange with this poster, this seems to be up for bannination if there ever was one. Just because you're inexperienced doesn't give you the right to be repeatedly offensive.
posted by youcancallmeal at 4:19 PM on May 12, 2010


short version of my rant: Christ, what an asshole. I don't even know where to start.
posted by theredpen at 4:20 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


He certainly seems to have misogynist tendencies.
posted by amro at 4:22 PM on May 12, 2010 [21 favorites]


During the previous discussion of this person, I set an alarm on my phone for today at 6:55.

Sure enough...
posted by Houyhnhnm at 4:22 PM on May 12, 2010


cortex, shouldn't someone tell a member when they are being discussed on MetaTalk? Seems only fair. Maybe whoever posts the MetaTalk thread?

It's a good idea in general, yeah. In this case, there's a link in the current now-deleted question, and I believe that's happened before, but people don't necessarily notice or pay attention to that stuff and I have know idea if abbat has or not. In any case, I mentioned the thread in a mefimail just now, so I'm positive he's aware of it if he wasn't before.

I thought that posting a question every single time you were allowed was frowned apon, possibly even actively discouraged

Yeah, if we see it happening over the long term we'll generally say something. It doesn't come up that often, actually. I just mentioned as much to him, and I'm guessing Jessamyn broached the subject previously as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:23 PM on May 12, 2010


Man, wait till he finds out what menstruation is. Poor guy.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:24 PM on May 12, 2010 [55 favorites]


It does not appear that abbat has changed much in the past week.
posted by box at 4:24 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


As was mentioned last time, his reliability is pretty crazy, this post was 1 week and five minutes after his last one. If nothing else, he is serious about AskMe and getting his $5 worth.

Now I can only picture him in a room with a whiteboard full of wacky questions and a 7 day countdown clock, pacing back and forth until it hits zero and he pounces on his keyboard to ask: "Why do people use curtains? Is it worth the extra cost? Wouldn't taping some garbage bags against the windows serve the same purpose for much less money? Is it really just about decorative appeal or is there something I'm missing?". After pressing the post button, he scrambles across the room to reset the clock.

And the waiting begins anew, such sweet sorrow.
posted by dnesan at 4:25 PM on May 12, 2010 [108 favorites]


Y'all are being entirely too harsh.

This young man has turned my life around. Inspired me to change my life for the better.

I've got an MCAT guide sitting next to my keyboard here. In a few short years, I'm going to get to look at women's vaginas all day.

Don't worry. I won't forget where I came from.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:27 PM on May 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


The problem with these questions is not that they are unanswerable chatfilter, but that they're increasingly misogynistic. "Seriously what's the deal with vaginas?" and "Why do men stay married to fat women?" are not just innocent ponderings, and I'm not ok with them being asked, simply because of the implied attitudes they express.
posted by albrecht at 4:27 PM on May 12, 2010 [16 favorites]


Yeah, but dnesan, it's not just about curtains, unfortunately. I would call such a person bored, or a moron, or both. This guy has, as amro said, some misogynist tendencies. Some pretty strong ones, IMO. I'd say he's taken them into asshole territory with this one and the lolgynecologists-so-stupid question, at the very least.
posted by theredpen at 4:28 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


How is babby formed?
How is babby formed?
How girl get pragnent?
posted by oinopaponton at 4:28 PM on May 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have his next question: Why do bad things happen to good people?
posted by Dick Laurent is Dead at 4:28 PM on May 12, 2010


I guess, as a community, our ability to tackle uncomfortable and complicated questions breaks down with abbat -- as we become offended and look down on his curiosity -- someone who is clearly being sincere, but perhaps misguided. We'll get there one day.
posted by whiskeyspider at 4:29 PM on May 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


We should hook this dude up with sixcolors and see what happens.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:29 PM on May 12, 2010 [24 favorites]


abbat appears to be that robot from the 50s: "what is this love you speak of?"

Good luck, mod squad.
posted by boo_radley at 4:29 PM on May 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


not just innocent ponderings

Yeah, and as a fat woman with a vagina AND a hot husband, I could totally freak him out. Maybe I can just get his brains to esplode and problem solved!
posted by theredpen at 4:31 PM on May 12, 2010 [18 favorites]


youcancallmeal: "can people get banned for extensive dubious use of Ask? "

If sixcolors were an art project, that would be the first line of the artist's statement.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:32 PM on May 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


I guess, as a community, our ability to tackle uncomfortable and complicated questions breaks down with abbat -- as we become offended and look down on his curiosity -- someone who is clearly being sincere, but perhaps misguided. We'll get there one day.

I don't know, is it our job to educate? When someone says something unintentionally anti-semitic to me, am I supposed to explain to them why it's offensive? When someone says something sexist, is it my responsibility to explain why it's wrong? I'm not saying I'll never do it, but I didn't sign up for that.
posted by amro at 4:33 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess, as a user, abbat's ability to tackle simple facts about how the site works... well, you see where I'm going with this.
posted by box at 4:34 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Labeling that question misogynistic seems a bit much. We have no idea if he'd ask a similar question if the sexes were reversed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:35 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I stand by my statement of almost precisely 168 hours ago: it's pretty clear that abbat is either shamelessly trolling askme or setting new standards for human cluelessness. And I am now leaning pretty strongly strongly toward the former.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 4:35 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Abbat, you seem sincere, and knowing the general answer to your question(s) is pretty much instrumental in life, so:

People have varying reasons for doing the things that they do, and no two people are alike. This is the reason your questions border on "chatfilter"--there is no correct answer for why a man would be married to what you consider a heavier woman, or why a person would become a gynecologist, because people are extremely complex. Just because you perceive this woman one way does not mean her husband would agree. His reason for being with her could be literally anything we could imagine, as simple as "he loves her" or as complex as "it's all a sham, part of the Witness Protection Program arranged by the U.S. government after he turned states' witness as a young kid and ratted out a mafioso."

More specific answer: Many people love others for more than looks. Sure, sometimes one partner loves another in spite of her looks or because of her looks, but to build a life with someone you mostly need to think his/her other traits are fantastic too. If all you know about her is what she looks like, you know close to nothing about her, or why someone would marry her and love her, or who had the "upper hand" in their marriage.

Maybe she was Miss America, and now she's put on some weight. Maybe he thinks she's the most beautiful woman alive and perfect how she is. Maybe she's a hilarious genius. Maybe she's blackmailing him. Maybe she's a goddess in bed. Maybe he's gay and she's his beard. Maybe they're staying together for the children and he bitches to his buddies about his nagging wife. Maybe they make love every night on the kitchen table with Barry White playing in the background.

But all you know is what she looks like. You don't know her.
posted by sallybrown at 4:37 PM on May 12, 2010 [18 favorites]


My money says this is a sockpuppet account for someone who thinks that the auto-post-an-AskMe-question pony that gets requested every so often is SUCH a bad idea that they're willing to put on a weekly performance art display to prove it.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:38 PM on May 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


I would really love it if abbat could explain himself a little bit. Is he on the autism spectrum? Is he from an extremely sheltered, conservative culture? I mean, in theory, some of these questions are interesting in the way having to explain seemingly obvious, taken-for-granted things can be interesting - after all, why DO people fall in love, get married, and stay married, even when neither person is "perfect"?

However, the reality is that he offends people, and he does not seem interested (or even able?) to understand why his behavior is so bizarre and hurtful to some. I know we throw around "see a therapist" a lot on this board, but seriously, you guys, this guy should see a therapist and direct his questions to that person. There are some fundamental misunderstandings about human behavior that shape all of his questions, and even if we were to give a series of terrific answers to this latest one, there is no guarantee that he'll come back next week with something equally off-the-wall, chatty, and insulting to some new segment of the population.

That said, I do look forward to all of his threads, so...something.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:39 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess, as a community, our ability to tackle uncomfortable and complicated questions breaks down with abbat -- as we become offended and look down on his curiosity -- someone who is clearly being sincere, but perhaps misguided.

The whole "ew vaginas!" and "ew middle aged fat ladies" tone aside, what makes me impatient about some of his questions is that if he used his brain for five seconds, he wouldn't need to ask the questions. Like the one about why corner stores exist? Five seconds of brain use would lead one to think that they exist because there's a demand for them. Enough money can be made to make it worthwhile for people to open/maintain corner stores. That is why there are corner stores.

His overall trouble seems to be an inability to see how blinded he is by his own assumptions (Corner stores can't possibly make money! Vaginas are weird and shameful! Fit men can only love/be attracted to fit women!), and I'm not sure how many additional weeks' worth of questions it will take to jolt him into understanding that. Or if it will ever happen.
posted by rtha at 4:41 PM on May 12, 2010 [12 favorites]


We have no idea if he'd ask a similar question if the sexes were reversed.

From the question:

I didn't want to mention this in person for obvious reasons. I am asking the above questions here out of curiosity. (The lack of people that I can ask without causing offense or can able to give me a straight answer without jokes also has something to do with it). The minor secondary reason is as follows: I reason if it can happen to someone else it can happen to me.

Seems to indicate pretty clearly that the question could only go one way.

Anyway, abbat can add me to the list of people he can't ask without causing offense. I think that with enough evidence in that direction, he might begin to understand that the question itself is offensive.
posted by albrecht at 4:42 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


PLEASE STOP THE ABBATTERY

Love, Jessamyn
posted by mattdidthat at 4:43 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Trollololo.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:48 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know, is it our job to educate? When someone says something unintentionally anti-semitic to me, am I supposed to explain to them why it's offensive? When someone says something sexist, is it my responsibility to explain why it's wrong? I'm not saying I'll never do it, but I didn't sign up for that.

You're not required to answer any question.
posted by grobstein at 4:48 PM on May 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


His overall trouble seems to be an inability to see how blinded he is by his own assumptions (Corner stores can't possibly make money! Vaginas are weird and shameful! Fit men can only love/be attracted to fit women!), and I'm not sure how many additional weeks' worth of questions it will take to jolt him into understanding that.

This.

Strangely, a lot of his questions look like they could have been written by one of my old bosses. Think about it: abbat could be in a chair across the desk from you and be the dude who signs your paycheck. In comparison, being able to see the question and think to myself "bzzzt, not going there, moving right along" is a blessed relief.
posted by ambrosia at 4:48 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"someone who is clearly being sincere, but perhaps misguided"

Clearly? Really? This all reads like a classic troll to me.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:50 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am actually surprised at how viscerally upset that question made me. It's not pleasant being reminded that for so many people, women can be entirely summarized by their looks. I'm torn between a desire to help this person see women as complete, complex people and a desire to punch him in the nose. Hard.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:51 PM on May 12, 2010 [45 favorites]


I'm sorry, but I LOVE this guy. Honestly, I have had more laughs imagining his crazy secret lair under the earth, him coming up every few weeks for food and to empty his nightjars, posting to AskMe to poll the humans so that HE TOO MAY LOVE SOMEDAY....
posted by tristeza at 4:54 PM on May 12, 2010 [36 favorites]


This is a Turing test, right?
posted by lukemeister at 4:56 PM on May 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


My other thought is that I hope he got all his IRB ducks in a row before he started all this.
posted by rtha at 4:59 PM on May 12, 2010 [18 favorites]


You're not required to answer any question.

I was responding to whiskeyspider, who seems to be implying that we have failed as a community in some way by not "tackling" his question appropriately.
posted by amro at 5:02 PM on May 12, 2010


Clearly? Really? This all reads like a classic troll to me.

I honestly don't think so. I realize that in the metagame that makes it an even more attractive explanation, but I don't believe he's trolling so much as just really, really not clueful. It'd be easier if he were just a troll.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:04 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Assuming he's not 100% troll, I feel sorry for him rather than offended. What if he goes around in real life asking people stuff like that? Jesus.
posted by frobozz at 5:07 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I wish Ask Metafilter had a lot more questions of the "What tool do I need in order to most efficiently perform X task?" and a lot fewer questions of the "Airplane food is terrible, what's up with that?" variety.
posted by Justinian at 5:12 PM on May 12, 2010


why do assholes even exist? they just squeeze poop all the time. not even all the time--if you really liked poop, you shouldn't be an asshole, because you only get to work like once a day.
posted by timory at 5:25 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm intrigued by the abbat questions. Sure, it's possible that he's a troll and he's having a laugh at the expense of AskMe, but he mostly comes across as cluelessly sincere, as if the workings of the world and everyone in it are really just one big mystery to him and he's trying desperately to make sense of it all.

He seems to at least be grasping that his questions make people uneasy, as he said in his most recent post: I didn't want to mention this in person for obvious reasons. I am asking the above questions here out of curiosity. (The lack of people that I can ask without causing offense or can able to give me a straight answer without jokes also has something to do with it).
posted by amyms at 5:26 PM on May 12, 2010


I guess, as a community, our ability to tackle uncomfortable and complicated questions breaks down with abbat -- as we become offended and look down on his curiosity -- someone who is clearly being sincere, but perhaps misguided. We'll get there one day.
posted by whiskeyspider at 4:29 PM


I disagree about the level of sincerity here. I think he's just gaming AskMe. Different strokes for different folks, I guess, but IMO he's really just trolling.
posted by diocletian at 5:31 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey Abbat!

Yeah, it's the same joke, but really, isn't this the same complaint?
posted by klangklangston at 5:33 PM on May 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


He is not a terribly productive member of the group-at-large, 15 of 26 AskMe responses are just replies to his own Asks, of the other 9 some are kinda helpful, some are just above the noise line. No idea just how many deleted threads, but dude seems to be pushing a lot of buttons intentionally or not.

fwiw, I'd be willing to pony up the $5 refund for a polite, "this may not be where you need to be" email.
posted by edgeways at 5:39 PM on May 12, 2010


I'm loathe to crack jokes about him 'cause it sounds like there are issues.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:45 PM on May 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


How about this -- instead of banning him, everyone just freaking ignores his ridiculous questions. Zero answers. Zippo. Pretend he's not there.
posted by inigo2 at 5:46 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sure, it's possible that he's a troll and he's having a laugh at the expense of AskMe, but he mostly comes across as cluelessly sincere, as if the workings of the world and everyone in it are really just one big mystery to him and he's trying desperately to make sense of it all.

As I said in the previous thread, it's the functional equivalent of trolling, and the question becomes whether the mods want to set a weekly timer to deal with it or not.
posted by holgate at 5:48 PM on May 12, 2010


Is there a policy on banning people because the userbase feels they're ineffective, versus them just breaking a rule that results in banning?
posted by biochemist at 6:02 PM on May 12, 2010


I'm intrigued by the abbat questions. Sure, it's possible that he's a troll and he's having a laugh at the expense of AskMe, but he mostly comes across as cluelessly sincere, as if the workings of the world and everyone in it are really just one big mystery to him and he's trying desperately to make sense of it all.

Which is more likely: that he's actually cluelessly sincere as to the workings of the entiere world and everything in it -- it's all a magical mystery tour and he only needs some gentle guidance -- or he's just dicking around?

It's almost like there's a bias toward not calling a troll a troll around here... I understand sensitivity, but come on folks, this is the internet, after all. Who honestly thinks "why do gynecologists want to look at vaginas all the time?!" is a legitimate question?
posted by diocletian at 6:04 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's a good policy to ban well-intentioned people asking misguided questions. I mean, if he's been asked repeatedly to take a more sensitive, less chatfiltery approach, and he still refuses, we can brand him TROLL and that's another issue. But yeah, I don't think we have conclusive data yet that his questions aren't in good faith. Give him another chance to improve.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 6:10 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've known people like abbat. Well, actually, they were worse--they were clueless to the point of asking questions like this in face to face conversation. They were always verbally eviscerated by everyone around them and didn't really seem to understand why. I think what made me the saddest about them is that they rarely fought back, even though they didn't understand why people were upset with them. They just accepted all the hostility and dismissive treatment they got as their lot in life.

Maybe he's nothing like those people I knew. Maybe he is just messing with us. And maybe he won't change his question asking habits, which means that at which point he won't be allowed to ask questions here anymore. But, given the possibility that he is that clueless, I'm glad the mods are giving him a chance to ask his questions here, where there are at least a few sympathetic people who will patiently give him an answer, and work with him a bit about why his questions are offensive.
posted by millions of peaches at 6:11 PM on May 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


*which means that at SOME point
posted by millions of peaches at 6:12 PM on May 12, 2010


diocletian asked: Which is more likely: that he's actually cluelessly sincere as to the workings of the entiere world and everything in it -- it's all a magical mystery tour and he only needs some gentle guidance -- or he's just dicking around?

If he's on the autism spectrum, it's highly likely that other people are a mystery to him.

None of us really knows what's going on with abbat, although it sounds like jessamyn and cortex probably have more insight since they've been in contact with him. I think it's worth giving him the benefit of the doubt, especially since his questions usually elicit some very good answers.
posted by amyms at 6:17 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Which is more likely: that he's actually cluelessly sincere as to the workings of the entiere world and everything in it -- it's all a magical mystery tour and he only needs some gentle guidance -- or he's just dicking around?

Based on trying to have discussions with him via email, and trying to check out what we can in terms of paper trail elsewhere on the internet and so on, the chances that he's actually clueless and tonedeaf feel pretty solid, yes.

The possibility exists that he's actually a gonzo troll shitheel who is just really, really dedicated to this persona and is laughing about it all behind the scenes. No way to fundamentally dismiss that possibility. But there's no way to be sure with what we have to work with, and in the absence of evidence our policy is basically to take someone at face value and just concentrate on making things work on this site.

Who honestly thinks "why do gynecologists want to look at vaginas all the time?!" is a legitimate question?

You would apparently be surprised by the kinds of questions lots of real people out in the world ask. Not everyone has the same set of cultural street smarts that you do.

I don't think it's a good policy to ban well-intentioned people asking misguided questions.

We don't really have a policy like that. What we do have is the pragmatic policy that if someone is just repeatedly and aggressively not functioning successfully on the site, we'll try to work with them to fix that, and if that doesn't work we may have to send them on their way just to avoid having to deal with a weekly mess. It sucks to ever have to do it, and we have had to do so very, very rarely fortunately, but eventually a problem either gets solved or we have to step in and prevent it from recurring the hard way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:18 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Who honestly thinks "why do gynecologists want to look at vaginas all the time?!" is a legitimate question?

Why isn't it legit? Is it legit to ask why people become long distance truck drivers? Why do people become prostitutes? Why do people spend their life doing x thing that seems undesirable to do?
Possible answers include: x isn't undesirable to everyone. Or it is, but it makes great money, or they don't have other options, and probably some others.

You guys are all so unnerved by the idea that there are actually people who don't understand society that I'm beginning to doubt all the self-diagnosed Aspies here.
posted by jacalata at 6:24 PM on May 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


I vote stuntposting sockpuppet.

I may open up another account just to use that as a name.
posted by slogger at 6:27 PM on May 12, 2010


It's not a troll, it's a cunning stunt.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:37 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Not clueful"

I love that. Thanks.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:44 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given his naivete regarding society and how other people think, and his eagerness to ask as many questions as possible, I'm going to assume he's the robot from Short Circuit. Bless your mechanical heart, Johnny 5, and may you never run out of input.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:47 PM on May 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


What iconomy said: Most of his questions are offensive. Please put a stop to this crap.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:53 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clueless or troll, I think he's reached a limit here. Although, I do think it's highly suspect that this cluelessness is so frequently expressed in offensive ways. How do irons work? Why do people stand up on the subway when there are seats available? Why do people like to eat hot food when it hurts their mouth? These are all clueless questions that don't have offensive overtones. You've got to kind of hunt for the shit he's posting.
posted by OmieWise at 6:55 PM on May 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


As I said in the last thread about this user, I have known people who were just as sheltered and non-pragmatic in real life as he appears to be in writing. Yeah, I'm irritated by the tone of the questions too- I even asked him in a long-ago thread if he set an alarm to ask questions on the dot once a week was up. But it also seems weirdly sheltered to act as if people like this don't exist IRL. I also find the idea that one can't ask questions that imply misogynistic tendencies very strange. How do people learn to accept the idea of the equality and humanity of women if their idiotic assumptions are never confronted? Are clueless men just supposed to grow out of it somehow?
posted by oneirodynia at 6:57 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


there are enough neurological conditions out there (enough = 1 or more) to account for this level of cluelessness that I can see him not being a troll.

that said, I mean there's only so many times a guy can ask something like "what's with guys dating fat chicks" before he's just not a good fit. I figure cortex and jessamyn can deal with working out when that is. something tells me this is not a pattern of behavior he's going to be able to entirely get out of in time.

of course, he could also be the most awesome troll ever. up there with my personal favorite for sheer enjoyable ridiculous community baiting.
posted by shmegegge at 6:58 PM on May 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, I'm not totally dismissing the possibility that he's genuine, though I'm pretty opposed to armchair aspergers diagnoses. I'm just saying what's more likely? Sounds like the mods have some communication with him that makes them believe he's not just playing us, in which case, whatever, they're in a better position to know.

But the whole gynecologist question was much more obviously inflammatory than the little quip I used to summarize it. Nearly everyone who commented about that question mentioned the offensive way it was phrased. It wasn't simply "what's up with gynecologists?" but rather "why would any self-respecting man want to look at THAT all day, amirite?"

Anyway, I trust the mods to diagnose troll or not troll, I suppose, I just don't agree with all the hand-wringing about how we must assume that he's just got aspergers or something and ignore the fact that he's been called out for this crap before.
posted by diocletian at 7:09 PM on May 12, 2010


Well, Abbat says about this question, "I didn't want to mention this in person [to the roommate or his parents, one assumes] for obvious reasons," so he's clearly got enough of an operational social interaction tact filter to realize that this subject could upset or offend people and adjust his behavior accordingly. He just believes that those limits don't apply on AskMe or that his need to know trumps them.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:15 PM on May 12, 2010


Every time someone brings up Asperger's whenever someone is acting anti-socially it hurts the ability for people with the condition to be 'out' and not have the first thing people assume about them is that they are offensive and clueless. Please leave Asperger's out of it if you don't have a good reason not to.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:18 PM on May 12, 2010 [22 favorites]


The dude joined on January 1st - obviously this is some sort of New Year's Resolution.

I look forward to the grand reveal on Dec. 31st and the subsequent book deal.
posted by dismitree at 7:19 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I made two jokes his expense, but now I wish I hadn't. Some of you appear to be having too much fun ridiculing this boy. Will there be a MetaTalk thread devoted to mocking him every Wednesday? I don't think this is okay.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 7:42 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


if someone is just repeatedly and aggressively not functioning successfully on the site, we'll try to work with them to fix that

The fact that a vocal contingent of the community finds Question 14234 offensive doesn't particularly move me. They could just as easily ignore his questions. They don't need to flag them or post MeTa threads, and there doesn't need to be a dramatic to-do about the guy except that you and Jessamyn have fueled it. If he's posting ChatFilter every 168 hours on the dot, that's a problem. But a lot of the sentiment in here amounts to, "This guy doesn't fit with our attitudes. BURN THE WITCH!!" Not cool.
posted by cribcage at 7:43 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is such a blatant troll. Nearly every one of these questions is masterfully crafted to push all the right buttons here. Two blatantly misogynistic posts, a post that shags on doctors, lawyers, immigrants running convenience stores. If he were really so clueless about the working of the world, there'd be more questions like the dishwasher one. His latest post he even acknowledges that he is asking here because for "obvious reasons" it would be offensive to ask people to their face. Come on already...

What will it take? A "seriously guys, why do jews own everything?!" post? How about "How come my friends furniture is always messed up by their cats when they can just get them declawed?!"
posted by cj_ at 7:43 PM on May 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wasn't it Arthur C. Clarke who said that any sufficiently advanced cluelessness is indistinguishable from trolling?
posted by Greg Nog at 7:46 PM on May 12, 2010 [34 favorites]


It does make me wonder who discussed these issues with him before metafilter.

After all, it's only the questions in relation to people that are...wince worthy. Personally, I have always wondered why department store ceilings are so high, so you know, overall, I feel like I learned something.

But everyone has a choice - abbat to respond to people's concerns, and people, not to respond to abbat if you're just through. Personally, I'm not touching the "why do rich people kill themselves" type of questions, and view it as I have when people have asked me questions such as "why do all black people/Americans have guns?" or "can I touch your hair?" or "why do you think God made women inferior?"

You may have the right to ask, but I have the right to decide that while you might get an answer, it won't be from me. But I think that's okay because if you have access to the internet, then you have access to those answers:

  • Why Do Rich People Commit Suicide (associatedcontent.com)

  • Why do people become dentists (collegeconfidential.com)

  • Why do we defend guilty people(The Colorado bar association)

  • Choosing a mentor has several steps (Southwest Community Extra)

  • Job satisfaction among gynecologists (National Institute of Health)

  • Should you marry an overweight woman? (Askmen.com)

    I hope one way or the other, you get what you apparently need, abbat, whatever your motivation.

  • posted by anitanita at 7:50 PM on May 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


    We should hook this dude up with sixcolors and see what happens.

    I think that would be a bad idea, Peter.
    posted by Ghidorah at 7:51 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


    there doesn't need to be a dramatic to-do about the guy except that you and Jessamyn have fueled it.

    Excuse me? I'm not sure what you're suggesting, that we close this MeTa thread and just keep closing his posts until he wanders off of his own accord?

    Both cortex and I have MeMailed with the guy and we're working through this with him. This may not be fast enough for some people, but that's how long this sort of thing takes. To the best of our knowledge he's not a sock puppet and to the best of our knowledge he's not trolling. You don' thave to believe either one of those things, but that it what we believe and how we are treating this.

    And my feeling is just like cortex's

    "What we do have is the pragmatic policy that if someone is just repeatedly and aggressively not functioning successfully on the site, we'll try to work with them to fix that, and if that doesn't work we may have to send them on their way just to avoid having to deal with a weekly mess. It sucks to ever have to do it, and we have had to do so very, very rarely fortunately, but eventually a problem either gets solved or we have to step in and prevent it from recurring the hard way."
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:03 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


    To continue the dog-pile: IMO one of the bigger themes/trends in American pop-culture is the fat dude dating a gorgeous, self-sacrificing, always tolerant, and always forgiving woman who happens to have model good-looks. Think: King of Queens, that Jim Belushi show, pretty much anything involving Judd Apatow but especially a chumpy/chubby Seth Rogen getting it on with Katherine Hegl, etc.

    So not only is this guy a douche-nozzle, he's also surprisingly out of touch with both the way things really are and the ways things Hollywood would like it to be re: the wish fulfillment that is television and movies.

    The mods are being their usual tolerant selves (thanks for that, seriously) but they might need to pull the plug on this one.

    And if it's a troll, I gotta admit it's kind of brilliant. But equally ban-worthy at that.
    posted by bardic at 8:31 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


    cribcage writes: "But a lot of the sentiment in here amounts to, "This guy doesn't fit with our attitudes. BURN THE WITCH!!" Not cool."

    Wrong. The mods have been on him from the beginning regarding his "un-answerable" questions/chat-filter tendencies. The gist of Cortex's in-thread comments to him have been along the lines of "we talked about how you need to give more information and be less vague, please stop doing that."

    So no, once again this isn't your opportunity to throw another oppressed conservative pity-party.
    posted by bardic at 8:36 PM on May 12, 2010


    If anything, it's time to tighten up on the no-chatfilter rule. It's not like there is a shortage of good and great solvable questions.
    posted by five fresh fish at 8:43 PM on May 12, 2010


    it's a cunning stunt
    If you spoonerize this you get a crude answer to why someone would want to become a gynecologist.
    posted by DanielDManiel at 8:47 PM on May 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


    I have a cousin who is three years older than I am, which makes him *COUGHCOUGHCOUGHfortysomethinCOUGHCOUGHCOUGH* and I could definitely see him posting any of abbat's questions. He is just completely baffled by things that seem totally obvious and perfectly normal to everyone else. It's almost impossible to describe how clueless he can be about a given subject to someone who has never had try to hold a conversation with him. It's very much like explaining something to a space alien who has just landed on the planet but who somehow speaks perfect English.
    posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:48 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Just to be clear, some of the offensive questions would have been totally under the radar if they had been phrased slightly differently:

    "How do gynecologists deal with family members and friends who are uncomfortable with the profession? What are some reasons for becoming a gynecologist?"
    "How do corner stores turn a profit? With most people shopping in larger stores, do people still visit corner stores? If so, why?"

    Other questions are breaking the "Please try google first" guideline. If you literally type his question into Google (1 2 3 4 5) you can get very good answers from reputable sources.

    In other words, we're not annoyed at what he's asking but how he's asking it.
    posted by yaymukund at 9:00 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


    One more vote for the dude being a genuine, clueless, non-troll. His weird questions should stay. People can ignore them if they want or answer if they want. I honestly don't understand how everyone is jumping to assume troll / demand banning. Have you all really never known someone like this? Are these questions really that outrageous? Look at the full history. Dishwashers, corner stores, Internet Explorer, computer chairs, dentists, defense attorneys. He covers all kinds of stuff. Two arguably misogynistic questions in a row shouldn't condemn the guy.
    posted by Perplexity at 9:07 PM on May 12, 2010


    Well I think very few folks are seriously asking for him to be banned. The mods seem to just want him to rephrase his questions to they're more useful (both to himself and to the community) and I agree. But hey, I explained my reasoning above.
    posted by yaymukund at 9:41 PM on May 12, 2010


    What really gets me about situations like this is not only is there a general tonedeafness, but even when it's pointed out, business goes on for an individual like normal. I would think that even if I wasn't aware that I had a behavior that was poorly received, and someone pointed it out to me, I'd at least be self-conscious enough to not reproduce activities that would potentially bring the same response, even if I didn't understand where it was coming from. It doesn't take a metacognitive superpower to know that 1) when I ask questions, I tend to have problems with others ; so 2) perhaps I better hold off on asking questions of a certain type. It's not simply a problem with social awareness, but it seems to be an internal disposition that for some reason, disregards feedback to the point that there is no due caution for the future, even in the face of evidence that one should consider it.
    posted by SpacemanStix at 9:46 PM on May 12, 2010


    It's to the point where it might be an equitable solution to always have his questions filtered through a mod. "Hey, abbat has another question. He wants to know what the deal is when men are married to women who don't literally look like Maxim centerfolds. Who wants to field this? How can we explain to abbat how normal people work when it comes to love?"
    posted by Sticherbeast at 9:49 PM on May 12, 2010


    This is a Turing test, right?

    I think it's more along the lines of a Voight-Kampf or possibly a variant of the Bonelli Reflex-Arc Test.
    posted by P.o.B. at 9:56 PM on May 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


    SpacemanStix, knowing what classifies as that "certain type" of question can be harder than you think. Things that can seem painfully obvious once you get past them/understand them can be really painfully opaque until then.

    He probably has been told that he needs to not do A B C and so he has written a question which does not involve A B C. Tragically, he has failed to realize that D E F are also bad things to do, and when he is told to avoid those three, he'll just accidentally stumble upon more bad things until something explodes or someone finds the right way to tell him the right things to do. Which is possibly also really hard.
    posted by that girl at 10:23 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I honestly don't understand how everyone is jumping to assume troll / demand banning.

    Because people constantly revise and filter things into an edible narrative for themselves. The position of antagonist takes on many different faces changing from moment to moment and is usually dependent on context. As the everlasting story goes, these people represent an obstacle requiring a triumph over.

    it seems to be an internal disposition that for some reason, disregards feedback to the point that there is no due caution for the future, even in the face of evidence that one should consider it.

    Sure, but I would say that falls well into the range of normal human response. How common is:
    "Hey, you know that guy/girl that keeps backstabbing you and is a complete asshole to you all the time? Yeah, you really shouldn't continue dating/being friends/giving them money to/etc. them. Oh? (S)He is a good person and you think (s)he can change?"

    Sometimes situations exist so far inside people's heads they don't have the ability weigh it objectively without constantly inserting reasoning that is detrimental to that process.
    posted by P.o.B. at 10:27 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


    FWIW, I have known a few people (both male and female) who have been confused about similar issues and asked similar questions in conversation, then been completely perplexed that their question was offensive because they'd heard so many times some variant of "there's no such thing as a stupid question."
    posted by Jacqueline at 10:42 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I'll side with not a troll, the questions are genuine and he has no idea why the reaction is what it is. You can see him trying in this most recent one - he explains why he can't ask someone he knows, he asserts the question is genuine. He knows he's on thin ice, but I don't think he knows why.

    My first reaction to this and the OBGYN question was offense, too, but he seems to actually want to know. Maybe it's just my librarian-ness spilling out, but I feel like helping him find the answers he seeks isn't a bad thing at all. Better here than Yahoo Answers where he'll get more than a couple "yah fat chicks are grosss amirite?" answers.
    posted by donnagirl at 10:43 PM on May 12, 2010


    I feel like he's forgetting that ask.me is actually a bunch of people rather than some abstract program or research service or something. He can't ask the fat wife question of people he knows because they'll be offended but it doesn't occur to him that, actually, many of us will be offended too. He sees this website with a seven day limit and figures that means he can post every seven days on the dot, focussing on the 'website' aspect and forgetting that actually it's a community of people, many of whom are have found that having his particular brand of questions appear every single week has become tiresome. It's that standard internet disconnect where people are rude to each other because it's just the internet and they forget about the hurt feelings on the other side (and would never be that rude in person), except it's expressing itself as someone using ask.me as a personal research robot instead of some message board flame war.

    I'm much more bothered by feeling like he's taking advantage of the community, treating us like dancing monkeys for his amusement rather than a group of people helping for no reason, than I am by the offensiveness of his questions. People are idiots everywhere, I get that and I don't think he's weird or a troll or whatever. I'd generally much rather see someone with stupid ideas be enlightened a little than just ban them for being stupid. But I'm done with helping this particular guy unless he somehow figures out that we're people just like those he sees in real life and treats us accordingly.
    posted by shelleycat at 11:35 PM on May 12, 2010 [20 favorites]


    Knowing the right question to ask is 50% of the battle. This individual is obviously working through this part. I am just glad that a college-aged guy hasn't had the basic need to know and ask about things slowly beaten out of him like so many others of our modern generation.
    posted by polymodus at 11:47 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


    And I've just decided that, actually, *I* want my own personal research robot. That would be awesome. That kind that calls me master and goes and looks things up for me, not the boring mixing and measuring kind we have in the lab. Someone needs to get on that.
    posted by shelleycat at 11:51 PM on May 12, 2010


    This is clearly just a false flag operation by the Guess Republic to discredit and foment ire towards the Ask Axis.
    posted by Drastic at 1:10 AM on May 13, 2010 [18 favorites]


    I'm finding that people's reaction to these questions is much more interesting than the question itself.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:17 AM on May 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Metroid Baby: "Bless your mechanical heart, Johnny 5, and may you never run out of input."

    More input!!!

    Seriously when I saw that gynecologist question, I did think it was sincere. But I also thought it was odd that he didn't think that almost all GYNs are OBs as well. When I was young I wanted to be an OB (later a labor-delivery nurse) and looking at vaginas all the time, even those of non-pregnant women, was just part of the job.
    posted by IndigoRain at 1:58 AM on May 13, 2010



    Godf, that' question's sad - both for the sentiment expressed and for the poster. I don;t think he knows very much about the world. Jessamyn said she spoke to him a bit and is pretty sure he isn't a troll, so...it just makes me sad that he clearly has such skewed and awkward expectations of life/

    I think someone needs to sit him down and explain a few things to him. Vaginas aren't nasty. People grow old. Women put weight on, because of hormones, pregnancy, or just working in a sedentary job with too much cake around. None of this is what you need to be thinking about when forming a good relationship or relating to humans in general. Sadly, this isn't the job of AskMe to tell him.
    posted by mippy at 3:05 AM on May 13, 2010


    "Every time someone brings up Asperger's whenever someone is acting anti-socially it hurts the ability for people with the condition to be 'out' and not have the first thing people assume about them is that they are offensive and clueless. Please leave Asperger's out of it if you don't have a good reason not to."

    Yes, this. See also: casual use of mental health conditions as adjectives.

    I think deleting questions inappropriate for the site is probably a good way to send a message if the mods don't want to take it further.
    posted by mippy at 3:08 AM on May 13, 2010


    We should hook this dude up with sixcolors and see what happens.

    "When the Lamb broke the seventh seal on the bag of trunk cookies, there was silence throughout heaven."


    Also, I'm finding that people's reaction to these questions is much more interesting than the question itself.? YES. With each question I am more and more certain that this is a particularly cunning sociological experiment.
    posted by elizardbits at 3:40 AM on May 13, 2010


    diocletian writes "Which is more likely: that he's actually cluelessly sincere as to the workings of the entiere world and everything in it -- it's all a magical mystery tour and he only needs some gentle guidance -- or he's just dicking around?

    "It's almost like there's a bias toward not calling a troll a troll around here... I understand sensitivity, but come on folks, this is the internet, after all. Who honestly thinks 'why do gynecologists want to look at vaginas all the time?!' is a legitimate question?"


    Nothing really wrong with that question and if he'd left it at that we wouldn't be here. There are many jobs that I'm amazed they can get anyone to do and alot of them pay way less than gynaecologist. I think that applies to most of his questions; it's the "reasoning" that he puts in the question that gets him in trouble. Even the latest question wouldn't have generated much GRAR if a) it wasn't posted seven days after the last and b) he had phrased it "Why don't people stay married when one member radically changes their appearance?" If he would just post the question and skip the internal dialogue he'd be flying under the radar.

    diocletian writes "Well, I'm not totally dismissing the possibility that he's genuine, though I'm pretty opposed to armchair aspergers diagnoses. I'm just saying what's more likely? Sounds like the mods have some communication with him that makes them believe he's not just playing us, in which case, whatever, they're in a better position to know."

    30K+ active users? We probably have at least a couple users in a similar vein they just haven't made the mistake of being so regular. Take six colors as an example; I don't remember extensive calls of troll levelled at that user though they appeared to be just as clueless.

    bardic writes "Wrong. The mods have been on him from the beginning regarding his 'un-answerable' questions/chat-filter tendencies."

    The questions that have everyone upset aren't unanswerable rather they are offensively worded.
    posted by Mitheral at 4:24 AM on May 13, 2010


    He can't ask the fat wife question of people he knows because they'll be offended but it doesn't occur to him that, actually, many of us will be offended too.

    I'm not sure it doesn't occur to him but rather he doesn't to meet us or deal with us after asking such questions, so that makes it easier.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:08 AM on May 13, 2010


    This week's question has been asked before without any problem. The only difference this time is social awkwardness of the asker and AskMe's need to read misogyny into everything.
    posted by and hosted from Uranus at 5:12 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Aw man, he still hasn't come into one of these metatalk threads about him yet, has he? I can only imagine the pitchforks and calls to banhammer if he did... maybe next Wednesday!
    posted by Grither at 5:33 AM on May 13, 2010


    Or perhaps that callout will have to wait until he publishes his "How I totally punked Ask.Metafilter" manifesto...
    posted by Grither at 5:35 AM on May 13, 2010


    "The only difference this time is social awkwardness of the asker and AskMe's need to read misogyny into everything."

    Honestly, you think that's the only difference between that question and this? 'My friend's potential date is model material, how worried should she be' vs 'My friend's mom is a sea cow, how can I avoid any hot chick wife puffing out?'
    posted by mippy at 5:40 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I've been picturing Dora the Explorer as a new main character on South Park.

    You know she'd be Butters' girlfriend too.
    posted by fourcheesemac at 5:44 AM on May 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


    I don't get the request for banning. Other than the headache for the mods, is it really a huge problem to have someone ask questions that get deleted? It seems kind of harsh to ban the guy because he can't read the room correctly. His questions are borderline offensive, but IMO there's a big difference between "clueless" and "malicious" and he definitely falls into the former category as far as I can tell.

    Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by ignorance and whatever. I'm also firmly for believing that this guy is just clueless and not an evil genius because, as a family friend once said, "Stupidity is so vast, it makes god look like a neutrino."
    posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:47 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


    and AskMe's need to read misogyny into everything.

    I dunno. I thought abbat did a pretty good job of being more misandrist than misogynist in the "why stay married to a dumpy woman" question.
    posted by rtha at 5:50 AM on May 13, 2010


    His questions are borderline offensive, but IMO there's a big difference between "clueless" and "malicious" and he definitely falls into the former category as far as I can tell.

    Therein likes the problem; the community has no idea who this person is or what their intentions are. They could be 14 and clueless or 20-90 and playing a prank, and there is a subsect of the community who value their time and the signal/noise ratio here enough to think the risk of banning the former is outweighed by the benefit of banning the latter.

    I mean, what does the community lose by eliminating a bunch of questions which are either offensive or clueless? Anyone who wants to know why someone would become a gynecologist or marry a less-fit person could do a 5 minute google and mefi search and be done with it.
    posted by Hiker at 6:18 AM on May 13, 2010


    there is a subsect of the community who value their time and the signal/noise ratio here enough to think the risk of banning the former is outweighed by the benefit of banning the latter.

    We have a pretty codified set of procedures for when and if someone gets banned from the website and "asking clueless questions" is not one of the current reasons.

    I don't mean to make light of this, but it's pretty important to us that there be a process for figuring out what to do when someone seems to be having trouble interacting with the site appropriately and banning them because they're clueless is not okay. Banning them because they can't seem to get it together to ask questions that don't reliably piss off a whole bunch of people, possibly. But, as I said upthread, that sort of thing takes time and it takes some trial and error ["Please try again. Hmmm that last attempt wasn't really that much better than the one before it. Let's see if we can explain this in a different way..."] and we're partway through that process right now.

    My hope is that abbat can get it together and figure out how to ask questions here the same way he seems to be clear that these are not questions he can ask his friends. I'm not real confident that will happen, but that is my hope. As shellycat says, AskMe is made of people the same way his real life is. And for all the people who have been bringing up sixcolors, I've said before that I'm unhappy at the way that turned out, how people just made fun of her as soon as she turned up, how she became a running joke at the same time as she was emailing us trying to figure out why her questions were deleted. At some point we decided to close her account because she was Just Not Getting It but it was only after we'd felt that we'd exhausted all of our other mod potions for dealing with her. And it feels bad to ban someone who truly doesn't get it. So I'd like to ask people's patience as we work through this,
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:32 AM on May 13, 2010 [21 favorites]


    I second Grapefruitmoon's comment just above.
    posted by Hobgoblin at 6:38 AM on May 13, 2010


    I think he clearly sounds like someone who -- for whatever reasons I'm not going to speculate about -- genuinely doesn't understand some fundamental things about other people, especially in the areas of sexuality and human relationships, and doesn't have anyone in his life he can talk to to help him understand.

    His questions aren't unanswerable, and they aren't even that chatty. They're based on ill-informed premises. And they're often on touchy subjects, precisely because those are the subjects people least like to talk openly about, so those are what he's going to find most difficult to puzzle out on his own.

    It's easy to read this question as a malicious "LOL fatpeople amirite?" But I think he tried really hard to make it clear that what he's really asking is more like "help me understand how people reconcile love in longterm relationships with declining physical attractiveness over time." Which is a totally reasonable question to ask; it's just difficult to word such a question inoffensively if you don't already know the answer.

    He's not anything like sixcolors. Sixcolors was clearly enjoying the negative attention, and obviously stirred up the shit deliberately. Abbat looks totally sincere to me.

    How about if we try to help the guy? Take him at his word, as someone who isn't screwing with us but just Doesn't Get It, and do our best to answer his questions -- which includes, if necessary, explaining how and why they may be offensive questions -- with as little GRAR as possible. Can we not handle that?
    posted by ook at 6:47 AM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


    How about if we try to help the guy? Take him at his word...

    Easier to herd cats than MeFites, methinks.
    posted by fish tick at 7:12 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    AskMe's need to read misogyny into everything.

    Maybe you should go curl up in the fetal position and clutch your penis while the bad women finish taking care of this poster.
    posted by hermitosis at 7:35 AM on May 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


    Anyone who wants to know why someone would become a gynecologist or marry a less-fit person could do a 5 minute google and mefi search and be done with it.

    I don't it's the answer he wants as much as the participation. He's an odd duck who probably has difficulty interacting in real life. Wednesday evenings are probably a big deal for him.
    posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:43 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Maybe you should go curl up in the fetal position and clutch your penis while the bad women finish taking care of this poster.

    I'd like to politely ask you to not start this sort of shit here.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:44 AM on May 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


    God. I don't think it's the answer he wants as much as the participation. (I can never proof my own work.)
    posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:46 AM on May 13, 2010


    He's an odd duck who probably has difficulty interacting in real life. Wednesday evenings are probably a big deal for him.

    Kip Drordry has left Facebook and joined Metafilter!
    posted by emelenjr at 7:46 AM on May 13, 2010


    I think askmetafilter is a unique and wonderful resource for someone like abbat, but he needs a translator: many responses upthread provide good examples of this. I don't know if this is an appropriate job for the mods, or if teaming up with another sympathetic and experienced user in an informal way would work. But it would be fantastic (if abbat is indeed operating in good faith) if he could be able to ask his questions in a way that didn't set off the community so badly. He might even benefit from the opportunity to ask questions like "I asked a question about X and it offended some people. Can you explain to me why?"

    "Let's try to give this guy the benefit of the doubt" is a great solution, except that many users don't read MetaTalk. If they haven't noticed his weekly posting of oddball questions (especially given their range of topics), they are more likely to have a new GRAR reaction every week, and derail the threads into discussion on why the question is offensive.

    There are reasonable questions in there (I think), and a unique opportunity to help educate someone who apparently has a thick enough skin to hear that certain assumptions or question-phrasings of his are offensive to people. He should probably be encouraged to use Google for some of his questions, but some of the links cited above (especially "Should men marry overweight women" at askmen - good grief!!) make me think that someone like abbat is not necessarily going to emerge a more sensitive and knowledgeable person from indiscriminate googling about interpersonal relationships, especially if his search terms are phrased like his questions.
    posted by heyforfour at 7:47 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Hiker writes "I mean, what does the community lose by eliminating a bunch of questions which are either offensive or clueless? Anyone who wants to know why someone would become a gynecologist or marry a less-fit person could do a 5 minute google and mefi search and be done with it."

    Half the questions posted to AskMe can be googled. Heck my last question was somewhat googable but I just wasn't combining the right terms.
    posted by Mitheral at 8:04 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    He's the Andy Kaufman of AskMe.
    posted by Obscure Reference at 8:07 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    it's a cunning stunt
    If you spoonerize this you get a crude answer to why someone would want to become a gynecologist.


    It saddens me that the explanation for an obvious joke gets more favourites than the joke itself.
    posted by five fresh fish at 8:20 AM on May 13, 2010 [31 favorites]


    At some point we decided to close her account because she was Just Not Getting It but it was only after we'd felt that we'd exhausted all of our other mod potions for dealing with her.

    *imagines jess and cortex in the dungeons at Hogwarts, stirring ingredients into a cauldron* "Do you think we need more essence of schmoopy in the potion this time?" "Hmm, essence of schmoopy is good for reducing GRAR levels, but I think in this case we need something to help with misreading the community." "Bark of cluestick?" "Ooh, that could work." "Okay, and then let me just add a sprinkling of Bean-o, and we'll see if this one does the trick..."
    posted by EmilyClimbs at 8:26 AM on May 13, 2010 [14 favorites]


    I smell a cognitive fallacy when people label a question as "offensive", while all they really know is that they were offended by it. Because certainly, there are MeFites who are not offended by sincere, albeit naive/undiplomatic, questions. Labeling an utterance in this way, I don't find to be very constructive.

    /endrant
    posted by polymodus at 8:37 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


    If you want some of my essence, just ask. I usually just leave it in the subway, though.
    posted by Schmoopy at 8:38 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


    It saddens me that the explanation for an obvious joke gets more favourites than the joke itself.

    The best way to avoid that problem is to accompany each joke with a simple diagram.
    posted by FelliniBlank at 8:39 AM on May 13, 2010


    I sort of feel like abbat could really benefit from getting involved in some of the other parts of the site. Assuming that all of the above speculation is correct, and he really is just the magnetic North of cluelessness, getting some exposure and interaction with other people might be a cure.

    At the very least, it would give him the opportunity to communicate more than once a week, and I think that would go a long way towards establishing whether or not his intentions are harmless but poorly worded, unintentionally harmful by virtue of not understanding what bothers people, or intentionally jerky.
    posted by quin at 8:40 AM on May 13, 2010



    Half the questions posted to AskMe can be googled. Heck my last question was somewhat googable but I just wasn't combining the right terms.


    The point is, the community is there to fill in where you fail, not to be the one to type your exact question into Google and paste the results from the first page.
    posted by Hiker at 9:03 AM on May 13, 2010


    This guy doesn't even make the top ten clueless people I've interacted with this month. There's a whole clueless world outside the wonderful self-selecting (and let's be honest, somewhat elitist) bubble that is Mefi.

    Personally I think he's genuine but at the same time obviously the site can't function smoothly with such an outlier and no scalable mechanism to moderate that dissonance.
    posted by Skorgu at 9:09 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    It's all my fault. I dated abbat once. I kept sending him across the street to get me some chips and stuff from the convenience store, I don't have a dishwasher, I kept trying to get him to recycle, and I expected him to interact with my vagina regularly. Then I gained ten pounds, so he dumped me. I thought he'd just moved on, but apparently I scarred him for life and now he haunts the community I love, hoping to get through to me about the error of my ways.
    posted by orange swan at 9:17 AM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


    Posting like that to other parts of the site would provide "exposure and interaction", yes.
    posted by Wolfdog at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I guess orange swan explained the mentor question.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:31 AM on May 13, 2010


    I smell a cognitive fallacy when people label a question as "offensive", while all they really know is that they were offended by it.

    I've read this three times and I still don't see what you mean. How else is anyone supposed to determine anything offensive? I can see your point if I (someone roughly the colour of 1% milk) flagged something as offensive to black people, but a) many of those objecting to the gyn post were female b) it was fairly clear what people might find offensive there, rather than it being a matter of perspective or interpretation.

    When I was two, I thought it was OK to 'speak Chinese' in a funny accent, because I genuinely thought that was how to communicate with people who had accents. Not knowing any different didn't mean my mother was happy for me to do it in stores when I saw a Chinese person.
    posted by mippy at 9:36 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I wrote abbat a chatty, positive Mefimail suggesting he fill out the user profile page a little more to help the community answer his questions. I'm hoping that will be beneficial to everyone.

    His questions are chatty, no question, and include some uncomfortable assumptions, but I really am glad we aren't the kind of community, thanks to the efforts of the mods, to ban people just because we don't agree with them, provided they are asking their questions in good faith.
    posted by misha at 9:44 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I imagine a person...young maybe, like 15, or maybe 19 and know-it-all. And he/she's really got all these questions, and possible some actual real social issues---and she doesn't have anybody to ask these questions TO.

    I mean, we're all enlightened or whatever to know what we should and shouldn't ask and how to best see the world, and we got here somehow...some combination of family and friends and community---and we've all changed and grown and become whatever it is that we are today.

    The point is, we didn't get here alone.

    So I say we give her/him the benefit of the doubt, and instead of ragey BOO GET AWAY FROM THE COOL KIDS TABLE attitude, we address, week by week or month by month the foundations of the questions asked, and/or we help this person see why their viewpoint isn't entirely...well, right---if we're in a position to even decide who's "right."

    I mean, I'd say---that we invite this person to start a MeTa called something like "Please Hope Me", where we talk to him/her about ... life, and we delete the ragey responses and the flamers.

    Not really our job, as a community, I think---but I prefer a community who tries to help its members reach a standard---not one where we push away the black sheep.
    posted by TomMelee at 9:45 AM on May 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


    This abbat person's a total troll. Bring back sixcolors - at least they were genuinely clueless.
    posted by pompomtom at 9:48 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


    And way more entertaining in the metatalk threads!
    posted by Grither at 9:54 AM on May 13, 2010


    At some point we decided to close her account because she was Just Not Getting It but it was only after we'd felt that we'd exhausted all of our other mod potions for dealing with her.
    >w
    What do you want to wield? [fAEJ or *?]  J
    A -2 thoroughly rusted speculum
    Jessamyn wields a +2 Banhammer! Jessasym hits! Jessamyn hits! Jessamyn hurls a potion of mod! -more-
    You feel bound by the shackles of community standards! You die...
    Do you want your possessions identified? [ynq] n
    
    posted by Mayor West at 9:55 AM on May 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


    > The problem with these questions is not that they are unanswerable chatfilter, but that they're increasingly misogynistic.
    > "Seriously what's the deal with vaginas?" and "Why do men stay married to fat women?" are not just innocent ponderings,
    > and I'm not ok with them being asked, simply because of the implied attitudes they express.
    > posted by albrecht at 7:27 PM on May 12 [10 favorites +] [!]

    Misogynist? I can see the second question as anti-all-fat-people but how is it anti-all-women? Unless "is fat" is a characteristic of every woman the way "has vagina" is. Are you saying that's true, or soon will be?
    posted by jfuller at 10:39 AM on May 13, 2010


    I can see the second question as anti-all-fat-people but how is it anti-all-women?

    He's assuming that a woman's only value as a human being is being attractive. Anyone can be offended by that, even if they're not fat! Funny how feminism works.
    posted by oinopaponton at 10:42 AM on May 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


    This is why Stephen Hawking warned us against talking to aliens.
    posted by backseatpilot at 10:49 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Wow, looking at that poster's history, I'm really unimpressed that the last question was allowed to stay up. It's completely offensive, and comments get removed here regularly for doing a hell of a lot less than calling women's genitals unrespectable. And many of the other questions border on chatfilter.

    Frankly, I don't think that we should tolerate users who pay $5, ask a question every week or two, and contribute nothing else to the site, but that's a different discussion. This idiot breaks actual guidelines.
    posted by Dasein at 10:56 AM on May 13, 2010


    Misogynist? I can see the second question as anti-all-fat-people but how is it anti-all-women?

    He didn't ask why people stay married to fat spouses. His question is not about "all fat people," just look at the title: "Question about middle-aged women and being overweight."

    Would abbot have even entertained this question if it had been a fit attractive wife with a husband who got fat and dumpy? I don't know, but I think that to deny the sexism of the question, as phrased, is to be willfully obtuse.
    posted by applemeat at 11:02 AM on May 13, 2010


    He's assuming that a woman's only value as a human being is being attractive.

    No. The question suggests that, out of many factors, attractiveness is non-zero, and that, after a certain point, the minuses of the turn-off beat out the pluses of the other factors. He places himself in the man's role because he himself is a man, and that's the first role into which he might fit himself.

    A range exists between "only attractiveness is of value" and "attractiveness is never of value." Placing everyone who does not swear to the latter into the former and shouting "viva la feminism!" is excluding the middle and not particularly helpful to dialogue.
    posted by adipocere at 11:07 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


    For all of the folks speculating that this poster may be in his mid/early teens, just want to point out that this last question was about last year's college roommate's mom.
    posted by amro at 11:13 AM on May 13, 2010


    The bending over backwards to coddle this fucking moron is mind blowing.
    posted by The Straightener at 11:13 AM on May 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


    Unless it's specified in one of those threads, you're pretty much all assuming it's a "he."

    I know no shortage of women who believe women have defined roles and shapes.
    posted by TomMelee at 11:17 AM on May 13, 2010


    I know no shortage of women who believe women have defined roles and shapes.

    I don't know many women who are so digusted at their own vaginas that they consider gynecology a disreputable profession.
    posted by Dasein at 11:25 AM on May 13, 2010


    Hey abbat!!!
    posted by jonmc at 11:35 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Dasein, I know women who won't even masturbate because they're icked out by their own parts. I knew one who would spell out the name of her gynecologist and curl her lip. Now, that's sad, but it points to something: people vary, widely.

    Which is part of the problem here. Most of this thread is rolling on the assumption that people just ... don't ... can't think like the questioner does. Jesus said, "He who is not with me must be trollin'!"

    Human wetware, experience, and outlook just don't come in the same uniform package. You've got clusters in the graph, but the irony of people who come out so heavily in favor of diversity yet are so quick to assume that those who do not think like them must be putting them on is thick on the ground here. Just a thought experiment here — imagine joining some fun right-wing forum. How much you want to bet that they think you are a troll, despite your sincerity?

    The more a group reaches for "troll," the more of an echo chamber that group becomes.
    posted by adipocere at 11:38 AM on May 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


    Placing everyone who does not swear to the latter into the former and shouting "viva la feminism!" is excluding the middle and not particularly helpful to dialogue.

    Sorry if you find feminism off-putting (?), but I was trying to explain why so many of us are offended by abbat's question (or at least the wording of it). And that's why I was offended.
    posted by oinopaponton at 11:39 AM on May 13, 2010


    Unless it's specified in one of those threads, you're pretty much all assuming it's a "he."

    I'm assuming it because both cortex and jessamyn have referred to him as he, him, and guy in their comments about him.
    posted by iconomy at 11:44 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    It's been a week and a day and he hasn't posted a new one! Or he's posted a new one which got deleted. Hmm
    posted by WalterMitty at 11:44 AM on May 13, 2010


    Did I say I found feminism off-putting? I did not.

    I said that the rhetorical tactic of transforming a question about attractiveness having a non-zero impact on the future of a relationship into a statement that querent assumed the only thing of value about women was their attractiveness was 1) excluding the middle, 2) not particularly helpful to dialogue.

    Big difference.
    posted by adipocere at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2010


    The bending over backwards to coddle this fucking moron is mind blowing.

    I don't think it's "coddling" the guy to delete his questions. That really should be the end of the story, IMHO. You ask a stupid question? It's deleted. The bending over backwards to call him a troll and request that he be banned is blowing my own particular mind at this point. His questions aren't being tolerated from the point of view that they're not allowed to stand on their own - either he's had to rewrite them or they've been axed. It's a website, he paid his $5, and he's not explictly violating site policy (yet).

    I rarely, if ever say this, but this is a situation that just begs for it: FIAMO.
    posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:56 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Okay, I'm definitely not saying that attraction has no place in a relationship, and you're reading my words incorrectly if you think that's what I said. Attraction has a big place! Dating someone you're not attracted to is a stupid thing to do! But this:

    I have to ask, and I will be direct, why does the man still stay with her? With divorce culture so strong I would have expected they would have split already. Does he really find her attractive? I am serious. Maybe they are staying together for the children; he told me he has two other siblings. Is he happy in such marriage? Is he truly happy with such a woman? Would he lust for other women? Would he put pressure on her to lose weight? Is such a relationship healthy? The balance seems to be off; the man seems have the better hand. Would he be tempted to cheat with other attractive women behind her back? What are some of the possible reasons a man might stay with a wife like herself? It just doesn't make sense to me.

    isn't saying that attractiveness (not even subjective attractiveness, but mainstream, quantifiable attractiveness) isn't just a non-zero factor, but the only reason a man would be with a woman. It makes no sense to him-- in his own words!-- that an attractive man would ever be with a woman who lost her looks. And that's offensive to me, because (again, from the text of the question itself) it appears that abbat does not understand that women are more than their looks. Hope that makes sense.
    posted by oinopaponton at 11:58 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    No. The question suggests that, out of many factors, attractiveness is non-zero,

    Sorry, but I'm not seeing the "many [other] factors" in the question. He mentions that the father is fit and handsome; the mother is overweight. That's all he says about them.

    Does he really find her attractive? I am serious. Maybe they are staying together for the children; he told me he has two other siblings. Is he happy in such marriage? Is he truly happy with such a woman?


    Since the only thing he mentions about either of the parents is their physical appearance, and goes on to ask if someone can be truly happy with a woman so much less attractive than [one's self] [other, attractive women], I'm at a loss to see these many other factors.
    posted by rtha at 12:01 PM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Everytime we have a three-digit-plus comment kvetcvhy thread about a touchy issue, I'm going to cut off a finger.

    I haven't decided whose.
    posted by jonmc at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


    I am serious.

    I wonder just how many times he has to reiterate this?



    Anyways... same time next week?
    posted by edgeways at 12:09 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    My mind is kind of blown by the apparent need of some folks to insist that one cannot extrapolate from a set of questions suggesting that women, or even some women, are icky, to the notion that the poster has a problem with women and his view of them.

    I truly don’t understand this kind of hyper-defensive stance, which seems to only work if predicated on a willful blindness to the well-documented history of oppression that women have (and continue to) experience. I’m not sure what’s lost by admitting that some groups, as groups, have long histories of oppression that make some statements and questions about them essentially non-neutral. Even choosing to differ on whether Question X or Statement Y is misogynist does not preclude gracefully accepting that there might be reasons to view it as such. Relentless logical parsing with the goal of erasing history is absurd and paradoxically ends up making those who engage in it look like idiots. The goal seems to be to show that those who are charging “misogyny!” are ruled by emotion rather than logic and tolerance, but if one cannot see the forest for the grammar parsing trees, if one spends one’s time (every time) in threads where misogyny (or racism, or classism) comes up defending the possibility that this could (and therefore should) be understood as a legitimate question or statement, one comes to seem to be ruled by emotion and intolerance.
    posted by OmieWise at 12:11 PM on May 13, 2010 [13 favorites]


    It makes no sense to him-- in his own words!-- that an attractive man would ever be with a woman who lost her looks.

    Nah, it's more like he's confused by the striking difference in attention to looks that each member of that couple seems to have.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:13 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    transforming a question about attractiveness having a non-zero impact on the future of a relationship into a statement that querent assumed the only thing of value about women was their attractiveness

    He says he can't understand why a fit man would stay with a fat woman. In other words, he's discounting all factors other than attractiveness, and thinking attractiveness trumps all, at least when it comes to fit man/overweight woman relationships. I'm not really seeing where you're getting your "non-zero impact" reading -- it certainly seems to me, when he asks whether a man can "truly be happy with such a woman," that he's saying there's nothing else about her that could possibly matter enough to overcome the fact of being overweight.
    posted by palliser at 12:20 PM on May 13, 2010


    I'm not really seeing where you're getting your "non-zero impact" reading -- it certainly seems to me, when he asks whether a man can "truly be happy with such a woman," that he's saying there's nothing else about her that could possibly matter enough to overcome the fact of being overweight.


    I'm not the person this question is directed at, but I happen to agree with the spirit of their argument. I do agree with you that "he's saying there's nothing else about her that could possibly matter enough to overcome the fact of being overweight."

    What I'm having difficulty with is the conclusion being drawn. I don't think that because abbat thinks fat women are not worth staying married to, we can conclude that abbat thinks that the only worthwhile feature of a woman is her looks.

    What I am not seeing him say: Women are only worthwhile because of their attractiveness.
    What I am seeing him say: Having a committed relationship with an unattractive woman is not worthwhile, from abbat's point of view

    To me, these are two different things. He does not make any statements in his question about how women are inherently worthless if they aren't good looking. Yes, it is offensive that he is expressing how shallow he is, but I hesitate to call that a sexist point of view. He doesn't want to be in a relationship with a woman he doesn't find attractive. That's not the same as him wanting women to have fewer rights than men because he thinks they're inferior. Perhaps my reading of him is too literal?
    posted by millions of peaches at 12:35 PM on May 13, 2010


    I don't think that because abbat thinks fat women are not worth staying married to, we can conclude that abbat thinks that the only worthwhile feature of a woman is her looks.

    I think that someone who is very clueless, who has never been in a relationship, and who has serious problems mind-mapping could easily come to this conclusion, esp. if his main referents are pop culture and such.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 12:39 PM on May 13, 2010


    He says he can't understand why a fit man would stay with a fat woman. In other words, he's discounting all factors other than attractiveness, and thinking attractiveness trumps all, at least when it comes to fit man/overweight woman relationships. I'm not really seeing where you're getting your "non-zero impact" reading -- it certainly seems to me, when he asks whether a man can "truly be happy with such a woman," that he's saying there's nothing else about her that could possibly matter enough to overcome the fact of being overweight.

    So is it not therefore a perfect 'teachable moment'? I said this in the last thread about him -- he strikes me as an earnest individual who is genuinely confused about the way he is coming across, and simply cannot understand how people might take offence. Rather than have the community tearing itself apart over this in an attempt to get him metaphorically tarred and feathered, I think the far better opportunity is explain some of this in the answers to his questions.. EXPLAIN to him why asking why someone would stay with someone fat might come across offensively.. EXPLAIN to him why being an ob-gyn is an important medical job, etc.. and if you can't bear to even try to EXPLAIN things to him as though he was a child, then just stay out of the thread. As far as Im concerned he's got the mind of a 10 year old boy, and I don't tell 10 year old boys to shut up and go away when they ask the kinds of weird questions that 10 year olds do.
    posted by modernnomad at 12:39 PM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


    I think that someone who is very clueless, who has never been in a relationship, and who has serious problems mind-mapping could easily come to this conclusion, esp. if his main referents are pop culture and such.

    I suppose it's possible that he can come to this conclusion, but if he's asking us about it, it sounds like he's open to the possibility that he's wrong.
    posted by millions of peaches at 12:44 PM on May 13, 2010


    If jessamyn and cortex didn't think otherwise, I'd really be starting to think this guy is a troll after all. The questions seem designed to offend, as mentioned above. I'm thinking someone this clueless wouldn't usually have this much genuine interest in clearing up said cluelessness by asking this type of question, once a week, immediately upon being able to do so. Not saying it's impossible, just increasingly unlikely, IMO.
    posted by theredpen at 12:44 PM on May 13, 2010


    It does certainly seem that his questions of late have been getting increasingly offensive in a way that may be intentional.
    posted by NoraReed at 12:47 PM on May 13, 2010


    This dude clearly lack a ton of clues about how stuff works in society, and I think rather than banning, judging, or ostracizing him for asking stupid questions, we should tolerate them and just deal.

    I would humbly suggest that the haters in this thread take a moment to imagine the kind of life someone would have to lead to honestly wonder about the things that abbat wonders about. If I had the kind of life that had me turning to the internet with questions like these, I'd surely appreciate some help.
    posted by Aizkolari at 12:57 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I'm going to be embarrassed if it comes out that this guy is intentionally pushing our buttons, but I really do think this guy is legit. People this clueless very much exist, and there is often an attendant reason why they keep failing to grasp certain subjects.

    His questions may have gotten more offensive because his inoffensive questions are answered quickly IRL, but his offensive questions get laughed off, or get him yelled at, etc.

    I don't think it's that ridiculous for someone, especially someone who has problems relating to others, to repeatedly not grasp what are, to us, normal subjects we don't discuss in a certain way. Not only does he not grasp why a man would remain married to someone who is not literally a supermodel, he seems to understand only on a surface level why that question would be inappropriate.

    Personally, I think he should stay, but maybe with his questions having heavy editing to prevent the inevitable weekly shitshow. I also think he should enter some sort of counseling, because he needs some heavy lifting to really understand the answers that he's getting. This group is just a band-aid for him unless he works to understand the world around him.

    Then again, maybe he is a troll, in which case he is a master troll, a grand master troll, in which case he is the fucking Red Baron of trolls, and we are all merely doomed British biplanes swirling around him.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 1:08 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    How do we know that abbat is a dude? I mean jessamyn used the pronoun, and she had been communicating via email, and perhaps a manly name was used in that communication. I don't know.

    Does framing the questions the way they are framed make any kind of difference if we throw away the assumption that abbat is a man? Does it change the equation from a naughty boy who deserves to be lynchbanned to one of confused girl who needs some help and good advice?
    posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 1:11 PM on May 13, 2010


    If jessamyn and cortex didn't think otherwise, I'd really be starting to think this guy is a troll after all.

    While I think the mods are smart as hell, I think that this may be an extremely sneaky troll exploiting their blind spot and/or general kindness. I'm just not buying it. And I mean, look at this thread right here: this is a troll's wet dream. MetaFilter is kind of the holy grail of troll-dom, methinks...it's more difficult to troll than many sites because of the excellence of the mods and some of the self-correcting features of the site (um, us). But this user has found the crack in which to jam in their troll-wedge and push hard, so to speak (er, sorry, that metaphor was pretty bad, but hopefully you get what I mean...).

    Seriously folks, I think this is a troll disguising themselves as a no-really-I'm-just-dense questioner. I feel like writing like this:

    The balance seems to be off; the man seems have the better hand. Would he be tempted to cheat with other attractive women behind her back? What are some of the possible reasons a man might stay with a wife like herself?

    ...is too sophisticated for someone who was so poorly read that they hadn't been exposed to a larger world of perspectives and would think it reasonable to ask questions like "why do people become gynecologists." Just having a basic grasp of proper semi-colon use to me screams "I'm fucking with you guys, ha-ha!" "abbat" is just a relatively smart troll, at this moment reading this thread in their basement chuckling away...

    I agree that it's a nice feature of MetaFilter that allows people to ask naive questions and grow out of their naiveté, but I don't that's what we have here folks.
    posted by dubitable at 1:11 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Just having a basic grasp of proper semi-colon use to me screams "I'm fucking with you guys, ha-ha!"

    Agreed. And I am totally putting this on my business cards.
    posted by theredpen at 1:17 PM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Good moderation should respond to the posts themselves and not to the inferred mental state of the poster. If abbat posts ChatFilter, it should be deleted. If abbat asks a question that is not ChatFilter, but is offensive, then it should be reworded to take out the zany parts. I feel like there were a million ways to turn his last question into an interesting discussion, but the way it was worded was so exasperating and offensive that it didn't work.

    Could his questions go directly to a mod for editing before they get posted? Because it's basically gotten to that point. Is that too annoying for the mods? If it is, then he may need a boot.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 1:19 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I think he's a dude because his college roommate is male, and because (in that same question) he says I reason if it can happen to someone else it can happen to me. I believe with knowledge and preparation I will understand what lead to the events above, which I take to mean that the hot woman you marry can end up being overweight and unattractive - that is, I read the "someone else" as meaning the husband, not the wife. Neither of these is totally conclusive proof that he is male, but that's how it sounds.

    And regarding the teachable moment, there were several answers that I think count as such in the askme thread. Ditto in the ob/gyn askme, and the corner store one, and the dentist one, and the defense attorney one, and the why do rich people kill themselves one. Plenty of teaching is going on. Is learning happening? That remains to be seen.
    posted by rtha at 1:24 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    How do we know that abbat is a dude? I mean jessamyn used the pronoun, and she had been communicating via email, and perhaps a manly name was used in that communication. I don't know.

    I thought he used to have it listed in his profile that he was male. Anyone else remember this?
    posted by millions of peaches at 1:26 PM on May 13, 2010


    While I think the mods are smart as hell, I think that this may be an extremely sneaky troll exploiting their blind spot and/or general kindness.

    Again: it's generally impossible for us to know with absolute certainty that someone is not a troll. It's a given.

    Given that we don't know, we're going to take it at face value and treat the guy like a decent, confused human being. The only risk here is pride and patience: if it's all an act, we've wasted some energy doing the right thing and may end up feeling like suckers. That's a possibility I've made my peace with; I'd rather do the right thing whenever possible and feel like a sucker occasionally than default to less generous interpretations of things just to protect my own sense of pride.

    Could his questions go directly to a mod for editing before they get posted? Because it's basically gotten to that point. Is that too annoying for the mods? If it is, then he may need a boot.

    This is basically where we're at, yeah. On the short term, I'm basically saying "run this by me first and we'll see if it's doable", and if things improve thanks to a little of that, great. If not, it's not a long-term solution; I won't babysit the guy indefinitely, and if he can't figure out how to fix the mega-posting and the bad framing, then this place just isn't for him.

    In the mean time, while Metatalk is certainly here as a place for people to talk about what's going on on the site, it would be nice if we could try to collectively avoid turning this into the same sort of crappy dynamic that happened with sixcolors, of folks being hyperreponsive and sort of cheering/jeering the whole cult-of-abbat thing. I know weird is entertaining, but it really feels like something that can get out of hand and be counter-productive, not community policing so much as community bear-baiting.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 1:33 PM on May 13, 2010 [16 favorites]


    Walter Mitty: It's been a week and a day and he hasn't posted a new one!

    What, exactly... do you think we're discussing?
    posted by kate blank at 1:35 PM on May 13, 2010


    Could his questions go directly to a mod for editing before they get posted?

    Ugh, this is a terrible idea even if the mods would do it, which I'm sure they wouldn't.

    Is it possible to turn off someone's ability to post questions without banning the account?
    posted by Justinian at 1:39 PM on May 13, 2010


    I feel like there were a million ways to turn his last question into an interesting discussion, but the way it was worded was so exasperating and offensive that it didn't work.

    Is askme there for interesting discussions, or for answering questions that a member needs answered?

    Could his questions go directly to a mod for editing before they get posted

    Seriously, the mods don't deal with enough crap to have to deal with that every single week?
    posted by inigo2 at 1:41 PM on May 13, 2010


    Jessamyn: Both cortex and I have MeMailed with the guy and we're working through this with him. This may not be fast enough for some people, but that's how long this sort of thing takes. To the best of our knowledge he's not a sock puppet and to the best of our knowledge he's not trolling. You don' thave to believe either one of those things, but that it what we believe and how we are treating this.

    Cortex: In the mean time, while Metatalk is certainly here as a place for people to talk about what's going on on the site, it would be nice if we could try to collectively avoid turning this into the same sort of crappy dynamic that happened with sixcolors, of folks being hyperreponsive and sort of cheering/jeering the whole cult-of-abbat thing. I know weird is entertaining, but it really feels like something that can get out of hand and be counter-productive, not community policing so much as community bear-baiting.

    Then I'd like to nominate this thread for closure.
    He hasn't replied here and most of what I'm reading is either:
    -he's a troll and here's why
    -he's not a troll and here's why
    -he's a misogynist and here's why
    -he's not a misogynist and here's why
    -some jokes at his expense

    There is a problem, mods are aware and working on it. What more is there to do?
    posted by NoraCharles at 1:43 PM on May 13, 2010


    sooo...

    if this poster is, indeed trolling/engaging in performance art/gaming the system, then I wonder whether posting outragey GRAR-filled longthread-is-long argumentative callout threads isn't giving them EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT.

    if, on the other hand, as jessamyn and cortex pointed out, this is just a clueless individual being supplied with some "teachable moments", then why can we not just trust the site admins to do their jobs and determine what's truly going on here without piling onto them as well?

    I mean, forgive me, but offensive questions or no, continuing to project one's issues / personal opinions onto this particular situation after multiple reassurances by the admins that "hey, we've got it handled, thanks!" doesn't seem all that productive or helpful.

    I agree with the "cool kids' table" analogy above. Granted, misogyny is a hot-button topic on this site (it seems all you have to do is stand in the middle of MeTa and shout OMGMISOGYNY!!! and You, Too, Can Have Your Very Own Thousand-Post-OutrageFilter Thread!!!". So, if your need for validation is that great, especially after being told "it's being handled" well, then... perhaps you should investigate why that is. Arguing with the site admins who happen to be engaged with the OP and who are armed with better information seems to me like the very definition of pissing up a rope.

    Not that anecdata is statistical or anything, but I coach a REAL (not-self-diagnosed) Asperger's case, and I can tell you that the kid in question is in grad school at the moment, and unbelievably intelligent, yet is perfectly capable of asking any/all of these questions, and would potentially do so on a tracked schedule with no intent of "gaming the system". There do indeed exist people this socially inept and clueless, and not all of them even have medical issues, sadly.

    *shrug*
    posted by lonefrontranger at 1:45 PM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Is askme there for interesting discussions, or for answering questions that a member needs answered?

    The latter, but if the question is on the level, then it is indeed a question that a member needs answered - a question with a cloud of cognizable, helpful answers.

    Nobody gets paid enough to deal with a weekly shit session like that.

    I would happily edit his posts for free, not that anyone asked (or needs to ask).
    posted by Sticherbeast at 1:50 PM on May 13, 2010


    Is it possible for someone to just skip any question they see posted by this person?
    posted by Sailormom at 1:53 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    posted by NoraCharles There is a problem, mods are aware and working on it. What more is there to do?

    Tune in to Ask Metafilter, Wednesday at 6:50p EST.
    posted by mattdidthat at 1:59 PM on May 13, 2010


    One way to settle this.

    Abbat, I'm going to ask you a series of questions. Just answer them as simply as you can. Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention. Now, answer as quickly as you can.

    1. It’s your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet. How do you react?

    2. You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar. What do you do?

    3. You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm.

    4. You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, Abbat, it’s crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back, Abbat. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that, Abbat?
    posted by spinifex23 at 2:16 PM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


    it's a cunning stunt...

    Ah, memories of two sixth-grade jokes:
    Q: What's the difference between the Barnum & Bailey circus and a strip club?

    A: One is a cunning array of stunts.

    Q. What's the difference between a tribe of pygmies and a girls track team?

    A: One is a cunning bunch of runts.
    posted by ericb at 2:18 PM on May 13, 2010


    So is it not therefore a perfect 'teachable moment'? .... if you can't bear to even try to EXPLAIN things to him as though he was a child, then just stay out of the thread.

    You quoted me, but why are you saying all this to me? I've never answered an abbat question, and I have no desire to see him banned; I just didn't agree with a particularly generous reading of one of his questions.

    Also, I don't not-answer him because I can't bear to EXPLAIN things to him; it's because I have a loose policy of not answering questions by people who basically contribute nothing to any part of the site but their questions. The questions can be about anything; if they have 15 AskMe posts, and nothing much else, I just don't like answering.
    posted by palliser at 2:22 PM on May 13, 2010


    Tune in to Ask Metafilter, Wednesday at 6:50p EST.

    Same Abbat-time, same Abbat-channel!
    posted by gman at 2:30 PM on May 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


    I think I've got the reason for the regularity of posting a question every week at about the same time. After he hits post, abbat immediately types in the number sequence 4 8 15 16 23 42 and is required to do so EVERY 108 MINUTES, so that the television series LOST will never come to an end. Or, so he believes.
    posted by ericb at 2:36 PM on May 13, 2010


    I feel like there were a million ways to turn his last question into an interesting discussion, but the way it was worded was so exasperating and offensive that it didn't work.

    Isn't the goal of AskMe to answer questions and not engender discussion (aka chat)?
    posted by ericb at 2:49 PM on May 13, 2010


    "Ah, memories of two sixth-grade jokes..."

    yeah... posting that kind of thing is so very helpful here.

    /sarcasm
    posted by lonefrontranger at 2:53 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I had missed that earlier MeTa thread. Yeah, this is ridiculous. I'm pretty stinkin' tolerant, but assuming there's already been a Come to Jesus exchange with this poster, this seems to be up for bannination if there ever was one. Just because you're inexperienced doesn't give you the right to be repeatedly offensive.

    And just because something offends you doesn't mean the poster should be banned from the site. The idea that you seem to feel it does is more worrisome to me than a possible troll.

    The problem with these questions is not that they are unanswerable chatfilter, but that they're increasingly misogynistic. "Seriously what's the deal with vaginas?" and "Why do men stay married to fat women?" are not just innocent ponderings, and I'm not ok with them being asked, simply because of the implied attitudes they express.

    I get that, but you can just FIAMO. The mods had no problem deleting that question because apparently the community agreed it was chatfilter and/or offensive.

    He is not a terribly productive member of the group-at-large, 15 of 26 AskMe responses are just replies to his own Asks, of the other 9 some are kinda helpful, some are just above the noise line. No idea just how many deleted threads, but dude seems to be pushing a lot of buttons intentionally or not.

    fwiw, I'd be willing to pony up the $5 refund for a polite, "this may not be where you need to be" email.


    Wow, I had NO idea we were being graded on our productivity! I should be at least a B- by now.

    The bending over backwards to coddle this fucking moron is mind blowing.


    The latest question was deleted, and at least the OP never called anyone on the site a "fucking moron." How is he being coddled?

    Is it possible for someone to just skip any question they see posted by this person?


    Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

    Seriously, I really love Mefi, but I'm starting to see why we have had a lot of folks leaving over what has been termed the "sanitizing of the site." I'm really glad the mods are not going along with the lynching here and deciding to ban this guy.
    posted by misha at 3:02 PM on May 13, 2010 [20 favorites]


    We coddle many morons.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:40 PM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


    The only risk here is pride and patience: if it's all an act, we've wasted some energy doing the right thing and may end up feeling like suckers. That's a possibility I've made my peace with; I'd rather do the right thing whenever possible and feel like a sucker occasionally than default to less generous interpretations of things just to protect my own sense of pride.

    Just to be clear cortex, I didn't mean to call into question your choices as admins or overall strategy; by suggesting this poster may be exploiting your "blind spot and/or general kindness" I merely meant to point out the loophole I am theorizing this possible troll may be using. I do also apologize if I was being rude, I didn't mean to be, sincerely.

    In fact, I don't know how you could handle this situation differently and applaud this approach--part of the reason I love MetaFilter is that you admins give people the benefit of the doubt and really think hard about these sorts of questions. It's nice.

    I was just posting my opinion of what is going as another point to consider...and honestly, I find it kinda fun to be all suspicious and imagine someone is plotting against MetaFilter in this way.
    posted by dubitable at 4:09 PM on May 13, 2010


    No worries, I didn't think you were trying to be rude. Just wanted to be clear that it's not a blind spot so much as a considered approach that allows for the fact that a malicious jerkoff might exploit it if they're willing to go to the effort.

    Such jerkoffs are a mystery to me and I prefer not to spend my energy worrying about them, basically, and I think in any case that, yeah, this place is going to be in better shape if policy-wise we focus on the good-faith stuff and extend the benefit of the doubt where possible. So while it occurs to me that someone may be trolling, I'm gonna worry mostly about what I know for sure and not gamble on the maybes.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 4:21 PM on May 13, 2010


    We coddle many morons.

    I understand that such practice is considered haute cuisine in these locales of the world wide web, but—have you tried vegan?
    posted by polymodus at 4:23 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, or some paraphrase thereof.

    If I've ever seen a case for an immature user on metafilter, this is it. These are questions I might have asked my buddies when I was in junior high. Seriously, thinking this is a 12-year-old kid helps me sleep better at night.
    posted by jabberjaw at 4:47 PM on May 13, 2010


    One thing is certain: abbat isn't worth 200-plus comments. This is a mountain being made out of a mole hill.

    I think there may be a mohel joke wanting to be found there, but I'm not arsed.
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:06 PM on May 13, 2010


    five fresh fish: "I'm not arsed."

    What, you can't make time for a mohel pun? Why, is it... Sh-abbat?
    posted by boo_radley at 7:08 PM on May 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


    but I'm not arsed
    posted by five fresh fish


    Fish are not known for their buttocks generally.
    posted by fish tick at 7:09 PM on May 13, 2010


    I'm not arsed.

    But do you want to be? 'cause I know some people...
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 PM on May 13, 2010


    yeah, everybody loves a good ass joke.
    posted by boo_radley at 7:18 PM on May 13, 2010


    Is it time for a recipe yet?
    posted by jgirl at 7:43 PM on May 13, 2010


    For what, Fish Ass Chowder?
    posted by jonmc at 7:57 PM on May 13, 2010


    Is it time for a recipe yet?

    For what, Fish Ass Chowder?

    How about Fish Balls?
    posted by amyms at 8:02 PM on May 13, 2010


    Is it time for a recipe yet?

    HOW ABOUT SOME SUPER QUICK AWESOME GARLIC SPINACH SOBA NOODLES

    You will need to get yourself:

    - some soba noodles
    - some olive oil
    - some garlic
    - some baby spinach
    - some salt
    - some red pepper flakes
    - a wedge or block of decent Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
    - an lemon

    You will then do as follows:

    - Put a big pot of water on to boil.
    - Mince as many cloves of garlic as suits your attitude toward garlic. I usually start at four and go up depending on mood and how many people I'm feeding, but tastes differ. By the way, feel free to use a garlic press to save time. I know people say there's a difference between using a press and a knife, but if your press is any good there really isn't. They're just being precious about it.
    - Pour a few glugs of olive oil into a large skillet or sautee pan and heat on low.
    - Add garlic, some salt, and some crushed red pepper flakes, and heat slowly. Basically what you're doing is making the olive oil taste super awesome, and slowly cooking the garlic. Don't let the garlic burn, though, or you'll totally fuck this part up.
    - When the water boils, throw in the soba noodles and cook as directed on the package-- probably 4 minutes or so.
    - While noodles are cooking, add baby spinach to garlic and olive oil, and squeeze about half a lemon over it.
    - Stir spinach 'til it wilts, then cover & remove from heat.
    - When soba noodles are done, drain and toss into the pan with the spinach. Toss with a bunch of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
    - Put it on plates or in bowls, then top with little squeeze of lemon and some more grated cheese.
    - Eat that shit up because it will be fucking delicious.

    Serves 1 - 4 depending on how much you make and hungry you are
    Total time: Like 15 minutes, tops
    posted by Nothing... and like it at 8:10 PM on May 13, 2010 [153 favorites]


    Just wanted to be clear that it's not a blind spot so much as a considered approach

    (<snip>)

    An important distinction. Point taken.
    posted by dubitable at 8:17 PM on May 13, 2010


    HOW ABOUT SOME SUPER QUICK AWESOME GARLIC SPINACH SOBA NOODLES

    HOLY FUCK YES OMG I JUST MADE THESE!!!

    No, seriously, I came home with an impending head cold, feeling like hammered shite and was moping around the kitchen wondering what I could make with limited motivation and almost no appetite. I felt so shitty I didn't even bother logging into my iMac so I'm typing this on my iPhone. Dude(ss), this recipe is so fanfuckingtastic that you have officially made life worth living again, and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my cold, black cynical heart.

    Jesus I love MetaFilter!
    posted by lonefrontranger at 9:25 PM on May 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


    Udon = 10x Soba.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:59 PM on May 13, 2010


    Udon = 10x Soba

    Except see the thing is that soba noodles, being made from buckwheat flour, have a really distinct flavor-- totally different from udon-- and that buckwheat flavor works really, really well with the garlic and lemon and spinach, which is the reason that this is called SUPER QUICK AWESOME GARLIC SPINACH SOBA NOODLES. (Also since they're so thin they cook super fast, hence the "SUPER QUICK" part.)

    Now if it's that you want a thicker noodle, well, udon sure is thicker but it doesn't have that flavor, that buckwheat flavor, see, so you should maybe go ahead and use pizzocheri instead, but good luck with that because they're pretty hard to find. I guess you could use regular old whole wheat linguine or fettucine or something which would get you part of the way there, but whole wheat ain't buckwheat, not by a long shot.
    posted by Nothing... and like it at 11:02 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Both udon and soba are kind of icky.
    posted by shelleycat at 11:13 PM on May 13, 2010


    Why do soba become gynecologists?
    posted by NoraReed at 11:44 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I guess you could use regular old whole wheat linguine or fettucine or something which would get you part of the way there, but whole wheat ain't buckwheat, not by a long shot.

    Let me stop you right there and I'll tell a recipe that is very close to yours but damn tasty with linguine:

    SUPER SUPER EASY AND KINDA QUICK LINGUINE AND CLAM SAUCE.

    You'll need:

    - Olive Oil
    - Garlic
    - Linguine
    - Chopped Clams (found right next to the cans of tuna fish at the market)

    Cook like so:

    - Boil pot of water including about a teaspoon of olive oil for anti-noodle sticking
    - Linguine into boiling water
    - Pour Olive Oil in pan, it's your base but you won't need a lot. Enough to move around in the pan to coat the ingredients.
    - Turn pan to medium-low heat. You're really just heating up these ingredients.
    - Garlic & clams in pan. 3 or 4 cloves per person and 1 to 2 cans of clams per person. Drain clams well before adding.
    - It's too hot or too long if the garlic browns or the clams start popping. That'll just make everything chewy.
    - When the linguine is finished strain and toss it in with the sauce for a minute or so.
    - Pour onto plate, eat that shit up, and enjoy.

    Cooking time - around 20 minutes

    Slices of fresh french bread goes perfect with this, you can soak up the extra garlicky olive oil as you eat. It's pasta so you can add cheese but I've never really thought it went well. You can also try slight variations by adding butter, capers, or red pepper flakes, but I'm always content with the simple version.
    posted by P.o.B. at 2:01 AM on May 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


    SUPER SUPER EASY AND KINDA QUICK LINGUINE AND CLAM SAUCE.

    Holy crap I can't wait to make this.
    posted by owtytrof at 6:07 AM on May 14, 2010


    Let me just represent that it's the soba that makes Nothing's Noodles so very damn awesome.

    SOOOOOOOOOBAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

    well that plus the fact that the mister's grandma sent him home from LA with roughly nine hundred lemons in the back of the new 240Z.
    posted by lonefrontranger at 7:19 AM on May 14, 2010


    I was betting proctologist, but this is so much better.
    posted by fixedgear at 12:45 PM on May 14, 2010


    Can someone funnier than me please take the low-hanging clam gynecologist joke? Thanks.
    posted by NoraReed at 1:26 PM on May 14, 2010


    QUESTIONING: HOW MANY CLAM DOES TAKE SCREW IN GYNECOLOGIST?
    ANSWERS: SEVEN. I MEAN NONE. I MEAN ALL. CLAM
    posted by Sticherbeast at 1:30 PM on May 14, 2010


    KEEP CLAM.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:02 PM on May 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


    If someone would make a

    BEEP
    CALM
    AND
    TENORI
    ON

    poster I would be most appreciative.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 2:03 PM on May 14, 2010


    well that plus the fact that the mister's grandma sent him home from LA with roughly nine hundred lemons in the back of the new 240Z.

    When we visit my grandparents in LA, we bring an extra suitcase for the lemons. They are so fragrant and delicious. *cries*
    posted by palliser at 2:41 PM on May 14, 2010


    the low-hanging clam ...

    Yes, that is probably something you should see a gynecologist about.

    sorry
    posted by Bookhouse at 2:48 PM on May 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


    well that plus the fact that the mister's grandma sent him home from LA with roughly nine hundred lemons in the back of the new 240Z.

    Wow, you must be having quite a lemon party there.
    posted by FelliniBlank at 3:46 PM on May 14, 2010


    Wow, you must be having quite a lemon party there.

    YES WE ARE... err

    I see what you did there

    HAHA I MEAN NO, BUT WAIT, WE KINDA ARE!!!

    if for values of "lemon party" you mean "inviting all our friends over to make lemon meringue pie and watch Star Trek on Sunday", that is.
    posted by lonefrontranger at 3:58 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


    HOW ABOUT SOME SUPER QUICK AWESOME GARLIC SPINACH SOBA NOODLES

    Holy shit I improved that from scratch once during college and everyone thought I was HUNGOR - GOD OF COOKING.

    I'm making spicy bay scallops in pan-fried in panko tomorrow - no idea what to serve them with. Crab is in season....
    posted by The Whelk at 4:18 PM on May 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


    improvised, I mean, cause that's all that was there (I picked the spinach out of the remains of a mostly uneaten take away salad)
    posted by The Whelk at 4:23 PM on May 14, 2010


    I'm making spicy bay scallops in pan-fried in panko tomorrow - no idea what to serve them with

    What about a thai-ish fruit salad? Either the classic green papaya / long beans / cherry tomatoes or something with easier-to-get ingredients like julienned apples, green beans and grapes? Either way add some chiles, garlic and peanuts and dress it with lime juice /fish sauce / tamarind / palm sugar (or honey).

    I dunno, seems like that might be nice with fried scallops.
    posted by Nothing... and like it at 5:06 PM on May 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Ham Stew
    Serves 2
    You will need:

    * 70g sugar
    * 110g ham

    Instructions:

    1. sift the sugar
    2. barbeque the ham
    3. enjoy

    Yum.
    posted by notswedish at 6:13 PM on May 14, 2010


    Nothing....and like it: That reminds me of my favourite Italian recipe
    posted by Jofus at 3:37 AM on May 17, 2010


    I love how all contentious MetaTalk threads seems to eventually end up as recipe swaps. Metafilter is the best!
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:29 AM on May 17, 2010


    I know! I just made a salad from romaine, heirloom tomatoes and bacon ( and a stalk of celery for fun and fiber) It was surprisingly filling!.
    posted by The Whelk at 11:31 AM on May 17, 2010


    What's a good garlic press? Could do with one.
    posted by WalterMitty at 7:44 AM on May 18, 2010


    The OXO goodgrips one is pretty good, especially for the price. Ditto Zyliss.
    posted by Nothing... and like it at 8:16 AM on May 18, 2010


    Zyliss seconded.
    posted by five fresh fish at 11:29 AM on May 18, 2010


    I'm not a fan of garlic presses, ever since I started using a garlic twist.

    I tend to break garlic presses through overzealous use.
    posted by jabberjaw at 3:01 PM on May 18, 2010


    I tend to break garlic with my fists!
    So I do not need a garlic press. It also helps get the skin off -- no need to peel, as it cracks and comes off in one or two pieces.
    posted by grobstein at 9:04 AM on May 19, 2010


    I crush garlic just by looking at it!
    posted by The Whelk at 9:06 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Oh my god his question is 28 minutes overdue is he head???
    posted by mudpuppie at 4:25 PM on May 19, 2010


    Erm, dead?
    posted by mudpuppie at 4:25 PM on May 19, 2010


    Nooooooooo. Was looking forward to today's question in an unhealthy, have-my-popcorn-made way.
    posted by cj_ at 4:36 PM on May 19, 2010


    On the one hand, I really do understand and sympathize with the sense of "here is a thing that makes an entertaining spectacle" angle and I can't really blame folks for feeling that way; but on the other hand, public cheerleading of weird trainwreck questions is really a pretty bad dynamic, and it'd probably better all in all if that frisson of excitement about the tiny doom on the horizon was more of a thing folks quietly think about to themselves than a thing that gets any ado made of it on the site.

    Sorry to be a grump about it, but it's honestly kind of a potential problem, and was definitely an actual problem back when we were going through this with sixcolors for example.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 4:58 PM on May 19, 2010


    Fair enough. Feel free to delete.
    posted by cj_ at 6:38 PM on May 19, 2010


    that frisson of excitement about the tiny doom on the horizon

    Ooh, neat! Finally, a cool new sockpuppet name!

    *whistles tunelessly, sneaks off to steal Dad's wallet*

    I mean, "Move along. Nothing to see here!"

    *rubs hands together, gleefully*
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:12 PM on May 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Never fear, abbat is here. This question looks to be much improved upon his previous ones; I wonder if he read the thread?
    posted by armage at 11:34 PM on May 19, 2010


    Also I just want to say in my defense, that I sincerely enjoy his threads (NOT meta callouts, which I find tedious most of the time). Some of the answers to his questions are the best things I've read on here in ages. Something about people trying to explain obvious-to-most-of-us stuff that is so fundamental we haven't come up with the boilerplate for it. Like, I don't even know how to answer these questions even though I Know the Answer. Having people lay it out eloquently is great reading.

    I still kinda think this is a bit of performance art, but the threads are totally worth a read, and not just for the popcorn-popping value. Then again I'm a big fan of "chatfilter" threads, which are verboten, so what do I know.
    posted by cj_ at 1:33 AM on May 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


    My understanding is that another mefite basically rewrote it for him, armage. Which is nice of them to do, and if that sort of thing works out and keeps the future questions from being trainwrecks, that's keen.

    And I hear you, cj_. I have complicated feelings about chatfilter, the now-basically-dead Big Big Question came out of my own fondness for the genre, but the interesting-discussion ends don't really justify the everything-is-a-mess or the askme-is-a-chatroom means for us. Stack on top of that normal chatfilter problem something like a cult-of-troublemaker thing and it becomes really tricky and not-great to try and deal with, which is a big part of what makes this an odd case and me more of a finger-wagger than I'd prefer to be. So, that; and, yeah, I dig it and its nothing personal.

    My general thinking is that as far askme goes, interesting answers don't trump bad questions and fun does not trump utility; if folks are looking for fun, keen discussion of a tricky or odd question, go find some good links and make a decent post on the front page and see what happens in the discussion there, where all that can in theory happen without butting up against the guidelines or community expectations. No guarantees, obviously, and to a degree it takes more care to make a discussion-of-odd-personal-viewpoint stuff work on the blue where we're not going to be as like hawks about thread drift or antipathy or what not, but it's a possible venue.

    There's also the aspect from our perspective that what for any number of askme-watchers may be a sort of "oh sweet, it's Wednesday, time for some fun!" expectation becomes in equal and opposite parts for us an "oh fuck, I guess I can't make any plans Wednesday night" sort of thing. Guaranteed clockwork trainwrecks fuck up my life down to the minute, which is not something I enjoy at all.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:59 AM on May 20, 2010


    bondcliff, 5/18:
    fatbird: I'm thunderstruck at how a guy in his fifties who looks like a pudgy wad of butter that fell of the counter, manages to have an affair with an attractive younger woman.bondcliff: Stick around, there's a pretty good chance there will be an Ask Me question about this at 6:58 PM tomorrow.
    abbat. 5/19:
    Right now, I am attracted to some fairly specific looks in women. I worry that if their looks change, my feelings will change and I won't know what to do. Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner's looks changed? Can you give me advice on how to get beyond my initial reasons for being attracted to someone?
    o_O!

    The questions aren't exactly similar, but they're close enough to give me pause.
    Was abbat's question inspired by bondcliff's snark? If so, is abbat yanking our chain?
    Is bondcliff privy to the inner workings of abbat's mind?
    posted by chara at 8:07 AM on May 20, 2010


    abbat's question yesterday was inspired by abbat's deleted question last week that this thread was about in the first place. bondcliff was making a marginally sly joke about this whole thing.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:11 AM on May 20, 2010


    Oh duh! You're so right. For some reason, I thought this thread was about the gynecology question. I forgot about the deleted question.

    Carry on, folks. Nothing to see here.
    posted by chara at 8:19 AM on May 20, 2010


    The funny thing is, the deleted question was rewritten and re-asked, but the new version doesn't really tackle the issue that inspired the original question... inappropriate as the "issue" may have been.

    I believe his questions are sincere. I think there may be a basic human understanding of how the world works that is missing. Asperger's, maybe? Something else?
    posted by 2oh1 at 8:19 PM on May 20, 2010


    His current profile comments are sort of facepalm material.
    posted by anazgnos at 11:43 PM on May 20, 2010


    the new version doesn't really tackle the issue that inspired the original question

    Hi, I'm abbat's ghostwriter. I rewrote that question based on his explanation to me of what he was trying to figure out. His issue isn't weight, per se, based on that explanation, but changeable physical attributes.

    Either I'm the biggest sucker on earth (possible), or his questions are 100% genuine. His approach to Metafilter is utterly different than mine, so I'm not certain I'm the best person to help him, but it seems to be going ok so far. I'm approaching it like I approach helping freshmen research a paper in the library: they have no idea what makes a good topic, or what is even actually researchable, so my job is to take their vague and confused statements of what they want to write about, and distill it to something they might have success looking up in a database. Abbat doesn't seem to understand what makes a good or answerable AskMe, but there are parts of his questions (we've discussed several future questions now) that fit the guidelines and can be asked with some more careful wording.
    posted by donnagirl at 9:36 AM on May 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


    Donnagirl, you're a nice person.
    posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:48 PM on May 21, 2010


    Or she's also abbat. Muahaha.
    posted by five fresh fish at 11:06 PM on May 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Can't I be both?
    posted by donnagirl at 1:58 PM on May 22, 2010


    Hence the "also."
    posted by five fresh fish at 2:38 PM on May 22, 2010


    Perhaps the idea is that she is both donnagirl and donnagirl and abbat.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 2:53 PM on May 22, 2010


    But the "or", it kind of negates the "also", or at least weakens it a bit. In any case, "ask-mefi-trolling evil genius sockpuppet" isn't on my resume. Unless...I'm actually also five fresh fish, and the time of the unholy Troller-Helper-Accuser trinity is nigh.
    posted by donnagirl at 3:13 PM on May 22, 2010


    But the "or", it kind of negates the "also", or at least weakens it a bit.

    Among the layfolk, perhaps, but in this case there are enough nerdfolk around to achieve a sort of jargonistic critical mass in which an explicit XOR is an XOR and anything else is up for debate.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 3:44 PM on May 22, 2010


    I had to go look up XOR. Even though I'm sitting inside on a lovely spring day watching episodes of Buffy, I'm not nerdy enough for this conversation. Sigh.
    posted by donnagirl at 4:17 PM on May 22, 2010


    No shame, donnagirl. At least you're not bitmasking your ignorance.

    okay i'll stop
    posted by cortex (staff) at 4:28 PM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


    "Or she is abbat" is not "or she is also abbat." I just don't get the alternative reading.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 PM on May 22, 2010


    Here's what I read: "Or is the metafilter username "donnagirl" also held by the same person who holds the metafilter username "abbat". Being someone who would not only troll AskMe but then cover for the trolling by creating a helper identity would truly be the mark of an evil genius and therefore not the mark of a nice person. (plate, beans, etc)

    I'm now greatly preferring a scenario where I'm not only donnagirl and abbat but also ThatCanadianGirl and five fresh fish. And we're all just characters in cortex's snowglobe.
    posted by donnagirl at 11:56 PM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Darn, I wanted to be ThatCanadianGirl.
    posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:14 AM on May 23, 2010


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