All take and no give! June 25, 2010 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Forgive me if this was asked before (I searched the FAQ), but I see a lot of people asking questions in AskMeFi who have never commented. Why are the guidelines different from MetaFilter (where you have to comment a certain number of times before you post)? I understand that some people are lurkers and we want to be accepting of that, but it seems like a lot of the questions which break the guidelines could be avoided. Maybe I'm just a whiner?
posted by Lizsterr to Etiquette/Policy at 11:01 AM (28 comments total)

Because it will encourage people to leave unhelpful/inaccurate answers just to meet their quota for posting a question. AskMe needs a lot less of those sorts of answers as it is.
posted by K.P. at 11:03 AM on June 25, 2010 [15 favorites]


We thought about this a lot and felt that requiring some sort of participation level would lead to more throwaway comments which would add to the overall noise of the place. I also find it frustrating when there are people who seem to use AskMe as a question-asking service and don't pitch in to answer questions but I find them to be in a small minority. Also there are some people, again a small minority, who have a sock puppet account for asking questions they don't want associated with their username and those accounts may have little to no other activity on the site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:04 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


<just_say_no_archetype>Clearly, Lizsterr, you haven't been a pusher to junior high kids. The green is the best gateway drug you've got.</just_say_no_archetype>
posted by adipocere at 11:05 AM on June 25, 2010


Why are the guidelines different from MetaFilter (where you have to comment a certain number of times before you post)?

With askme, the most important thing to us is to avoid noisy comments. Compelling someone to provide several answers before they can ask their first question would likely just prompt extra noise because folks would skim for questions they know some superficial stuff about and toss in chaff to fulfill the requirement.

The reason we have that limitation on the blue is because we've historically seen a lot of spam take the form of front-page posts; putting a commenting barrier between a driveby spammer and his ability to shill his whatever the hell on the front page is useful for a number of reasons. And because comments on the blue are less utility-driven and chatter is more okay, inducing a bit of that now and then is less of a problem.

We still see spam on askme sometimes, but it's more often in the form of linkfarming comments than spammy questions. Different sort of culture of spammers, I guess.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:07 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, see, I didn't even think of that! That makes complete sense, and it wouldn't solve my mentioned problem at all. Thanks K.P. and the all powerful mods. Now you can go tell the folks in this thread that I really am not that bright. :D

adipocere: The green is oh so addictive (if that's the point you were trying to make. I'm not the brightest, see above.) Luckily I don't get in trouble with the bosses for surfing the web all day.
posted by Lizsterr at 11:16 AM on June 25, 2010


Also, if you hang around, you know who contributes (for the most part, with the exception of sock puppets and such). I'd think many folks are willing to put in more effort for a question from a name they recognize.
posted by QIbHom at 11:19 AM on June 25, 2010


it seems like a lot of the questions which break the guidelines could be avoided.

I'm not sure that's justified, but even if it is, what's wrong with FIAMO? Most guideline-breaking questions get deleted pretty quickly; if a tiny fraction stay up for six hours or so before a mod gets to them (and even that's pretty rare), what's the harm?

If a question doesn't break the guidelines, what difference does it make how much that user has answered? I understand that it takes both questions and answers to make AskMe a useful resource, but it's not like we're suffering a shortage of answers. Whether the numbers of questions and answers are suitably balanced should be judged only on a site-wide basis, not on an individual basis. Some people will have more questions and fewer answers (perhaps even none) than average, while others will have more answers and fewer questions (perhaps even none), and that's fine.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:23 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also there are some people, again a small minority, who have a sock puppet account for asking questions they don't want associated with their username and those accounts may have little to no other activity on the site.

Just to be clear, you were just bringing this up as a data point to explain the observation, right?

'Cause I was pretty sure that we were now supposed to be using a sockpuppet for semi-anonymous AskMes.
posted by Netzapper at 11:31 AM on June 25, 2010


I knew that this was about that stupid bubble handwriting question. Next question: Can uptalkers ever be perceived as bright?
posted by fixedgear at 11:40 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


There really aren't that many questions that need deletion, to begin with. Poorly-worded, or otherwise problematic questions, yes, but very little can ever stop that.
posted by meese at 11:50 AM on June 25, 2010


I agree with DevilsAdvocate that FIAMO is the stronger strategy.

fixedgear: I did notice that the asker of that bubble handwriting question had asked a few questions but only answered one, and it reminded me to ask my MetaTalk question. I thought his question was interesting at least, if not a little misunderstood. My reference to it was to disprove his hypothesis because I am one of the non-bright folks with the "normal" hand-writing. The worse question was yesterday's "Another relationship question..." which was (as DevilsAdvocate noted) deleted less than two hours after it was posted.

I have been schooled. Thanks folks!
posted by Lizsterr at 11:54 AM on June 25, 2010


'Cause I was pretty sure that we were now supposed to be using a sockpuppet for semi-anonymous AskMes.

Did you mean "not" here? And yeah that bubble handwriting question was super annoying.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:54 AM on June 25, 2010


'Cause I was pretty sure that we were now supposed to be using a sockpuppet for semi-anonymous AskMes.

Did you mean "not" here?


Wait, wasn't getting a sockpuppet for questions being encouraged rather than using anonymous? Like, if there's a question someone doesn't want associated with their username, but they're fine with it not being super anonymous, I thought the sockpuppet was the way to go? Is that not the case? Is my reading comprehension made of fail?
posted by stoneweaver at 12:02 PM on June 25, 2010


No no, you're totally right stoneweaver, I just wasn't sure what Netzapper was getting at and the not/now typo is common enough that I wanted to make certain I was reading him right.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:04 PM on June 25, 2010


DevilsAdvocate writes "If a question doesn't break the guidelines, what difference does it make how much that user has answered? I understand that it takes both questions and answers to make AskMe a useful resource, but it's not like we're suffering a shortage of answers."

My beef is with users who have dozens of questions and not a single comment. IE: they've never felt the need to follow up or clarify.
posted by Mitheral at 12:10 PM on June 25, 2010


*pets sock puppet*

Good boy, goooood boy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:10 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


You'd get a lot of:

computer problem --> "Try restarting."

relationship issues --> "Communicate."

dating advice --> "Be yourself."

personal problems --> "Therapy."

music recommendations --> "Try using Pandora."

recipe question --> "Try Tastespotting."

food question --> "Should be OK to eat unless it looks/smells/tastes weird."

trying to find something online --> "Try Googling it."

Not that these are necessarily bad. I've given answers like these myself sometimes. But I don't think we particularly need more of them.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:17 PM on June 25, 2010


'Cause I was pretty sure that we were now supposed to be using a sockpuppet for semi-anonymous AskMes.

Assuming that "now" means "not," this comment by cortex may be of interest.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:19 PM on June 25, 2010


My beef is with users who have dozens of questions and not a single comment. IE: they've never felt the need to follow up or clarify.

Well, I'll agree with you that it's annoying when the OP fails to respond in their own thread if clarification is asked for. However, I don't think that people should be expected to have some minimum level of contribution to other people's questions to ask questions themselves. YMMV, but I consider it a point of pride not to be one of the folks such as QIbHom describes.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:27 PM on June 25, 2010


Another thought. The number of answers I've given in AskMe is just over 100 times my number of questions. I'm happy with the fact that I mainly answer and rarely ask. But I -- and I'm sure all of us regular AskMe answerers -- do it because I like to. I have no desire to create a sense of obligation for anyone who doesn't already want to do this, even if they frequently post questions.

Just about every day on the site, we see at least one question from someone dealing with very, very heavy issues in their life. Sometimes they're openly desperate. We hear from people struggling with trauma, disease, death, abuse, unemployment, poverty, depression. Often it's an ongoing issue or cluster of issues that leads to numerous AskMe questions.

Of course, many of these people are also regular commenters, but I'm sure some of them aren't. I don't really see what difference it makes. If they have these issues, good for them for seeking help. If they don't feel they're particular adept at the niche skill of answering strangers' question in plain text, or even if they're frankly uninterested in doing so, that really doesn't bother me at all.

The site already costs $5, and the occasional question-asker who hasn't commented and seems out of step with the community will be discouraged either through the comments or deletions or a ban if necessary. (There was a deleted question like this yesterday from someone with zero posting history outside the question.) I wouldn't want people to feel they had to cross any additional threshold before posting a question. We should simply be glad they turn to us for caring advice.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:41 PM on June 25, 2010 [12 favorites]


I like answering questions. I live in hope of getting to a question about literature before anyone else does.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:49 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because it will encourage people to leave unhelpful/inaccurate answers
That'd be a change from the answers about how a car battery can electrocute you to death, right?
posted by Jon-o at 4:58 PM on June 25, 2010


No, I meant "now".

"Use a sockpuppet" is what I took away from the there're-too-many-anon-askme thread.
posted by Netzapper at 10:48 AM on June 26, 2010


The sockpuppet speaks:

Well, I recently posted a question that spawned a metatalk thread about whether it was a real question. The two answers associated with this account are 1) a response to a previous anonymous question linked to my regular account and 2) an answer comment that I made after forgetting that I was logged into this account and not my regular account.

My question was badly phrased... a combination of trying to be humorous and posting during my break at work.

Posted from the sockpuppet account instead of my regular account, because well, the whole idea was to avoid linking my regular account and the question.

In using a sockpuppet in the first place, I was indeed relying on cortex's recent comment. My regular account uses a part of my real name (and is explicitly linked to it on my profile) and I know people in real life who read/use Metafilter. Since I'd found myself with two questions this year that I didn't want linked to my name, I went with the sockpuppet.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 3:32 PM on June 26, 2010


Oh, and I left out my sort of rant that caused me to post here. Don't make assumptions about others' contribution/non-contribution. Under my regular account, I have more than 3 times as many answers as Lizterr. (I realize that it's not quantity that counts, but quality and I'm not judging, I'm just saying, I do contribute.)
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 3:35 PM on June 26, 2010


A q/a ratio shouldn't even be a thing at all. I love to read AskMe but I try to only offer an opinion when I feel like I'm adding something worthwhile to the discussion. It's embarrassingly rarely. Most of the time someone beats me to it. There's a huge pool of expertise here; why add unnecessary noise?
posted by Camofrog at 9:24 PM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why are the guidelines different from MetaFilter (where you have to comment a certain number of times before you post)?

Can someone explain the how many comments you're supposed to have before you post? I wasn't aware this existed, and I'm somewhat new to the MeFi community. I've only made 3 FPPs but I often don't comment because, by the time I get to the thread, someone else has already said what I wanted to say (in which case, I "favorite" instead). Have I been breaking guidelines without my knowledge? I couldn't find anything about it in the FAQ.
posted by a.steele at 4:19 PM on June 29, 2010


Nah, it's a hardcoded thing. If you haven't made, I think it's three, comments you won't be able to make a FPP. If you're permitted by the site's coding to make a post, then you're good.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:32 PM on June 29, 2010


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