Why no deletion? July 19, 2010 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Why was this post not deleted?

It seems pretty unambiguously chat filter to me. I think it's a pretty interesting question, and I've enjoyed reading some of the responses, but there's no problem to be solved or question to be definitively answered and it clearly doesn't meet the guidelines for Ask MF questions.

I know there was a discussion of a similar thread here, but the reasons given by the mods in that thread for not deleting the post in question don't seem to fit here. I feel like allowing posts that break the guidelines so long as they're sufficiently interesting seems like a bad way to go. I, and I'm sure others, can think of tons of different questions that could result in really fascinating Ask MF threads, but posting all of them would pretty severely dilute the site.

I'm not terribly distressed by the thread's existence--hell, I even posted in it--but its non-deletion seems inconsistent.

(It's almost three hours since it was posted, so I assume its non-deletion isn't because the mods just haven't seen it.)
posted by resiny to Etiquette/Policy at 11:59 AM (82 comments total)

Seems answerable to me. Seems in the guidelines to me. (Even if not I'm not seeing a meta-call-out-worthy infraction here.)

Contact or FIAMO.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:05 PM on July 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


It has a lot more direction to it than those questions that typically are labeled "chatfilter", and it's far less open ended than the "suggest a book/album/movie I might like" that are allowed.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:07 PM on July 19, 2010


cjorgensen,

Really? It seems totally unanswerable to me. I feel like it fits the template of so many of the "tell me something interesting about yourselves" questions that are often deleted.
posted by resiny at 12:12 PM on July 19, 2010


"I'm curious if others have gone through something similar. " Please tell me some anecdotes!
posted by smackfu at 12:14 PM on July 19, 2010


What book(s) did you once adore and now cannot stand? And why?

Anything by Lawrence Watt-Evans. I'm not 14 anymore.

Seems answerable.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:19 PM on July 19, 2010


The base question is totally answerable. The add on statement explaining the question is probably unnecessary, and does sort of sound chatfilterish out of context. That does not negate the fact that "What books did you once adore and now hate" is both answerable, and pretty damn interesting though.
posted by COD at 12:20 PM on July 19, 2010


I deleted it. OP emailed me and asked what was wrong with it. I explained chatfilter. The OP rewrote it with their "why I am asking" bit attached to it. Not really psyched with it, but didn't seem fair to delete it again. So, yeah, imperfect system, but I didn't feel like going back and forth with the OP trying to explain the nuances of chatfilter questions with them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:20 PM on July 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


suggest a book/movie/album/tv show are always going to be in the gray area of chatfilter - flag it, move on.
posted by nadawi at 12:21 PM on July 19, 2010


We seen it, yeah; Jess may have had some sort of conversation with the poster, I'm just guessing from context.

I think it's on the chatty side, definitely, but it's at least going after a fairly specific phenomenon that hopefully people will be able to address substantially, so as much as anything "here is why I think I stopped liking book x..." rather than just "book x!". So, borderline, I can see going both ways with it, but the admin log shows jessamyn got there already by the time I saw it and I'm gonna go ahead and run with keep it up.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:23 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Timing!
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:23 PM on July 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


What is the secret to modding?
posted by Babblesort at 12:25 PM on July 19, 2010 [20 favorites]


Total chatfilter, even (or especially) with the explanation.
posted by Forktine at 12:25 PM on July 19, 2010


I demand either perfect systems or excruciatingly long back and forth discussions of the nuance of meaningless policy!

Oh wait, I'm in MetaTalk. Nevermind I'm good.
posted by ND¢ at 12:26 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


By unanswerable I mean being incapable of being definitively answered.

"What's a good spaghetti recipe?" or "how on earth can the USPS afford to deliver letters for 44 cents?" are definitively answerable. With a question like this there are an indefinite number of answers. It seems to me that if a question is such that there could never be a "best answer" then it's probably chat filter.
posted by resiny at 12:29 PM on July 19, 2010


What is the secret to modding?

Calgon.

take me away!
posted by The Whelk at 12:33 PM on July 19, 2010


Since the Beavis and Butt-head thread, my new metric for flagging is "can I read this question as though I were Andy Rooney, with some giant axe to grind and a need to uselessly fill airtime running my probably-toothless gums."

It works surprisingly well.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2010


I don't see how "a good spaghetti recipe" is different from "a book you liked but now hate". The merit in answers to both questions is the explanation. I think the answers to the current post would make a dandy literary analysis if collected and written up. Like spaghetti recipes would make a dandy meal if prepared.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2010


The first answer to that is pretty terrible and sets it off in a bad chatfilter direction. Some of the other answers are mores substantive, although a lot are "I found out I didn't like the authors politics" which isn't that interesting.
posted by smackfu at 12:36 PM on July 19, 2010


to me: "What's a good spaghetti recipe?" is also a question with no clear cut right answer, only to be determined by the asker's whims.
posted by nadawi at 12:38 PM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Amusingly the first answer was left over from the pre-deletion question, so it's not that surprising that it might look that way. Again, the original question was total chatfilter and I felt that the amended one was permissable if just. Options were: tell the OP that their amended question is also not okay and wait around for more email back and forth, approve the not-great question rewrite. This is one of those things that comes up maybe a few times a year and seems to almost always make it to MeTa. Short of having an approval queue for AskMe questions [not an option] I think it's just going to come up every once in a while.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:39 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


A psychic once told me that question would be deleted. It was not a positive experience.
posted by box at 12:40 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The very lame first answer in that thread is a great example of why its not a great question. Of what value to anyone except dfriedman that he went off to college and got a big head? Super chatty.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:41 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


if you want a thread deleted, don't post an answer. the more comments in good faith a thread has, the less likely it is to be deleted. i can't find it now, but once upon a time a mod said something like - the reason the "list the best X" questions stay around is that people seem to really enjoy them and they garner good conversation and solid answers, even if the question seems too chatfilter-y on its face.
posted by nadawi at 12:41 PM on July 19, 2010


I'm kind of mentally rewording that question as: "What are some of the typical reasons why people go from loving a book to hating it, and are there specific books or authors where this happens a lot? I'm asking because it seems like this happens with some books my literature professors are teaching, and I'd like to understand why."

At which point, while it's still kind of afloat on Lake ChatFilter, it's at least touching the shoreline with the tip of one toe.
posted by FishBike at 12:45 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


By unanswerable I mean being incapable of being definitively answered.

Things get muddy when we try and draw this line, though, as much as we get some good use out of the basic "is there such a thing as a wrong answer" metric as a chatfilter litmus. Definitive answerability runs along a continuum with most questions on askme falling somewhere toward the middle rather than at the end points. "What is the solution to this math problem" is about as definitively answerable as it gets, but e.g. "how should I deal with this relationship issue" tends not to be like that at all and there are lost of legit questions of that form.

So we look at answerability in that sense as part of our analysis—and, again, I think we both agree with you that this is a case where it's on toward the chatty, anecdotal side of the spectrum, all else aside—but it's not really sufficient to divide questions into acceptable vs. not. We'd have to cull a lot more questions fairly robotically to make a standard like that function on its own and I think askme would be worse for it.

Other things that come into include whether the answer/anecdote/opinion be grounded in useful experiential context ("I like the color blue!" vs. "I painted my living room that's similar to your blue at one point, and in the end I was (un)happy with the choice because of x, y, z..."), whether the question seems primarily an excuse for the asker themself to chat/rant/complain about the topic, the degree to which there's some actual likely benefit to Joe Future Reader in the answers that'll come out of it, etc.

Which, again, not in love with this question and I don't think the answers to the above come out to any sort of clearcut exoneration of the chattiness. It's a borderline question, we're being soft touches about it this time out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:45 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Contact or FIAMO.

this is not helpful.
posted by shmegegge at 12:53 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a question about ethics that I'm trying to articulate that is probably too chatty. Jess, would you prefer I just post it and see what happens, or run it by you privately first?
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:55 PM on July 19, 2010


I have a question about ethics that I'm trying to articulate that is probably too chatty. Jess, would you prefer I just post it and see what happens, or run it by you privately first?

Send it to the contact form if you want, though we'd prefer people learned to calibrate their internal chat-o-meter so maybe run it by a few people you know on the site first?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:56 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is not helpful.

Yes it is. Your turn.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:59 PM on July 19, 2010


If you think it's too chatty, maybe it is.
posted by box at 1:02 PM on July 19, 2010


What book(s) did you once adore and now cannot stand? And why?

Obviously, I need to know because I'm writing a book.
posted by found missing at 1:04 PM on July 19, 2010


Anything by Lawrence Watt-Evans. I'm not 14 anymore.
Seems answerable.


And see, I agree with your conclusion (the question is answerable) but your example illustrates why it's sitting squarely on the ChatFilter line. If the whole thread is just, ["What books do you dislike now?" "Tom Clancy."], then it's useless ChatFilter. On the other hand, if people can give some examples and articulate what went through their thinking or how their interests evolved, then maybe this can help the OP understand what he's noticing about his literature professors.

(The "I'm curious" part doesn't really help, though.)
posted by cribcage at 1:07 PM on July 19, 2010


i think "i'm not 14 anymore" is a great reason behind "books you liked before but now don't". i mean, if you're trying to figure out if there's a standard set of reasons why people go from one end to the other than i think everyone can relate to "i'm not 14 anymore" - even if it's not for that specific author, haven't we all felt that way at some point?
posted by nadawi at 1:13 PM on July 19, 2010


Tell me why you love to hate this post, with examples.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:16 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


i think "i'm not 14 anymore" is a great reason behind "books you liked before but now don't".

Why? It seems incredibly vague to me. Why must people not like the books they liked when they were fourteen?
posted by Bookhouse at 1:16 PM on July 19, 2010


Why?

if you're trying to figure out if there's a standard set of reasons why people go from one end to the other than i think everyone can relate to "i'm not 14 anymore" - even if it's not for that specific author, haven't we all felt that way at some point?

i'm not saying that you MUST not like what you liked at 14, but that, be it music, art, books, movies - everyone has the "~cringe~ i can't believe i was ever so young" with regards to not liking something anymore.
posted by nadawi at 1:23 PM on July 19, 2010


Because people (hopefully) grow up, change, and/or mature? Was that a rhetorical question?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:25 PM on July 19, 2010


I don't think it's everyone--some folks, I think, continue to like everything they liked when they were 14 for the rest of their lives.
posted by box at 1:25 PM on July 19, 2010


found missing:

What book(s) did you once adore and now cannot stand? And why?

Obviously, I need to know because I'm writing a book.


So hints from this thread to authors who want long lasting relationships with their readers:

Don't write incestuous tales filled with Objectivist-philosophizing vampires, especially if you're going to let your conservative/homophobic flag fly.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:26 PM on July 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


"...didn't seem fair to delete it again"

Who ever said AskMe was fair?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:35 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It isn't just spaghetti and other recipes that get a pass. Also questions like, "suggest to me some new phone aps", "what should I play on my wii now" seem to always fly passed the chat-o-meter. (Yeah, I know some such questions are more specific than that, but some aren't. )

Unless it is "Here's the plot, what's the name?", however, every literature question has to be defended first in the post and then again in MeTalk.

I don't have a problem with people looking for new aps and games, the ways I waste my time are better than no others, but I'd like to hear who people think the heirs to Calvino and Eco are (because I've been busy for twenty years), and it is harder to ask the than it is to ask who the heir to WoW is.
posted by Some1 at 1:42 PM on July 19, 2010


It's all chatfilter; it's just how you frame it.

"My friend's doing her PhD in English Lit and she was telling me about this book she used to love and now she hates it. She's currently on Safari, and out of phone contact and I really really want to remember what it was because it's the crucial element of a presentation I'm giving tomorrow. Can you think of any similar books that I could substitute in (with reasons!)?"
posted by doublehappy at 1:46 PM on July 19, 2010


The holiday, not the browser.
posted by doublehappy at 1:46 PM on July 19, 2010


but I'd like to hear who people think the heirs to Calvino and Eco are (because I've been busy for twenty years), and it is harder to ask the than it is to ask who the heir to WoW is.

For what it's worth, that seems totally askable to me in principle. Framing could doom it a bit if badly done, but e.g. "I enjoy the works of Calvino and Eco very much, particularly for qualities x, y, and z; I would like to read some work from newer authors whose work shares strong similarities with that stuff. What authors or titles would you recommend I check out?" would be a grade-a, unambiguously kosher question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:54 PM on July 19, 2010


need input
posted by fleacircus at 1:55 PM on July 19, 2010


Actually, forget my dumbass ethics question, which I am getting horribly bored with anyway, having reframed it a half dozen times now.
Here's one of my favorite AskMes from back in the day, that I've been wanting to re-ask our much larger userbase for a while now, but which I doubt would still fly.
Is there any way to reword it to make it pass muster?


Have you, personally, seen a ghost?
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:00 PM on July 19, 2010


> some folks, I think, continue to like everything they liked when they were 14 for the rest of their lives.

And the rest of us do our best to avoid them.
posted by languagehat at 2:19 PM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a horrible atheistic cynic and so find such questions personally pretty much ridiculous, but it's not actually all that problematic as a good-faith question if someone's looking for experiential responses from folks.

What it is is a guaranteed headache for us, because a lot of other folks will not like it either and that will manifest in some mix of

- bad behavior in-thread that we have to delete
- borderline behavior in-thread that we'll be damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don't on deleting and so will probably have to watch like a hawk and shepherd responses to
- emails from folks wanting to know why we didn't delete the question
- emails from folks wanting to know why we did delete their non-answer
- a metatalk thread discussing the whole thing from one angle or another
- a flag queue that, because of all of the above, we'll be glued to for the first hour or so of the question's life

See, as a pretty much textbook perfect example, this thread from today.

So my very personal take on it is not so much "you can't ask that" as it is "please, for our sake, you had better really have a good reason for asking, you'd better take care in how you ask it, and you pretty much owe us a coke" if it's something you really feel a legitimate need to ask the green about. I realize that access to the userbase is the whole driving motivation for asking about something here, but there are probably far, far friendlier sites/forums for the credulous discussion of psychic/paranormal/etc phenomena than here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:20 PM on July 19, 2010


There are some books I liked when I was 14 (and 10, and 20) and still like, and some I don't. Sometimes I picked better books, and sometimes I picked terrible books. This has held true for pretty much all of my reading life.
posted by rtha at 2:26 PM on July 19, 2010




"please, for our sake, you had better really have a good reason for asking, you'd better take care in how you ask it, and you pretty much owe us a coke"

I now like to imagine that the mod interface has a button next to AskMe questions
Positive Energy, please
July 19, 2010 10:47 AM
Does anyone have any positive experiences with psychics?
...
posted by Wayman Tisdale to society & culture (26 comments total) [add to favorites] 12 users marked this as a favorite (Flagged as "breaks guidelines" 13 times) [Owes us a Coke]
And pb made a widget that allows the mods to print out a short "Owes Us a Coke" list to any Meetup any of the mods attends, so debts can be paid and Almost-Chatfilter-But-Not-Quite questions can go on living.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:36 PM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks, ND¢! My new answer to the question on the existence of g(h)osts:
You can't make them go away..
But, what works for me is that if you sense them or something, just face that direction and smile. It works a lot.
They don't want to hurt you either. They might just be stopping by to say hi or just kind of chilling in your room.
If anyone asks who I'm talking to in my bedroom, it's the ghosts. They check in with me every now and again, making sure I'm well, so I'll take some time and chat with them. At least, I assume that's why the sheets have been torn off my bed, the dresser is flipped over with all my clothes strewn about the room and there's a lingering smell of brimstone in the air. Crazy ghosts, so concerned about my personal safety and well-being.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:41 PM on July 19, 2010


Here's the ghost that lives in my house.


OK, I'll wait until tomorrow before I post my Modern Lit question since Cortex and Jessamyn have had enough headaches today (but you'll probably have to wait until SXSW before you get your cokes.).
posted by Some1 at 2:44 PM on July 19, 2010


There's a ghost in my house
posted by Burhanistan at 2:45 PM on July 19, 2010


There's a ghost in my house
posted by rhizome at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2010


Haunting AskMe with credulous chatfilter. BOOGETY BOOGETY!


I like the answers to paranormal questions here precisely because there is a smaller percentage of moron. Does anyone remember this classic? But if it's going to give people agita, no worries.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:52 PM on July 19, 2010




And the rest of us do our best to avoid them.

I had pretty awesome taste at 14. Lots of Frederick Pohl and Andre Norton and (perhaps the worst out of all of them, but her early books were good) Anne McCaffrey. My book-choosing methods were pretty similar to what I do now: wander around in the SF/F section till I spot something good. Though I read much more YA now then I did then.

I've only read Stephen King as an adult (and, mostly, post graduate degree), so I don't quite understand the hatred for him. He's not particularly masterful in terms of stylistics, but his character building and ability to create suspense and, well, ookiness, is unmatched. Gerald's Game was one of the best books I read while in grad school (not for any classes, mind). Is it great literachooor? To that I can only say, how the hell should I know? I read what I like, and I liked that.

Music is another story. Listened to NOFX's "Heavy Petting Zoo" recently and was surprised by how many tracks I hated. But still, on the whole, I don't loathe who I was or what I liked. And I don't think I should, either.

All that being said, that question sure did seem pretty chat-filtery to me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:15 PM on July 19, 2010


Because people (hopefully) grow up, change, and/or mature? Was that a rhetorical question?

No, it wasn't. If you don't know anything about an author, the fact that a single person lost their taste for the author after admiring them in their teenage years contains zero useful information. When I was fourteen I was reading far more "real literature" than I do now. I grew up, changed and matured in a way unique to myself, just as all of us do, and that's why I find answers like the one I quoted above totally useless and chatty.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:44 PM on July 19, 2010


Having a stepdaughter and another young one on the way, I am much more interested in finding what books exist for kids/teens that will remain appealing throughout someone's life. Ok, so in that thread we've identified a bunch of books that have weird racism/sexism/whatever- but what's the good stuff that a kid could enjoy? Wouldn't knowing that be a million times more useful?
posted by Jpfed at 3:51 PM on July 19, 2010


A thing I found interesting in that thread is people who talked about getting tired of an author because their books were always the same. I have only in very recent years discovered mystery novels, and if I like a writer one of the reasons these are working so well for me right now is that I feel like I know what to expect with that next novel I pick up. That's just where I'm at right now, needing stuff that is not super-challenging, that is fun and engaging and reasonably well-written, and that delivers. I'm just not in the mood to take a lot of chances.

I thought the question seemed like chat-filter, too. But I'm OK with not always getting it.
posted by not that girl at 3:53 PM on July 19, 2010


Answerable? I didn't think that was the standard. I thought the standard was that there could be a correct answer.

"Answerable" questions:

What's a good name for an orange tabby cat?
Do you like strawberries?
What's in my pocket?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:27 PM on July 19, 2010


What's a good name for an orange tabby cat?

Orangina.

Do you like strawberries?

Yes.

What's in my pocket?

A big banana!
posted by ericb at 4:45 PM on July 19, 2010


What's in my pocket?

Nothing, you're just pleased to see me.
posted by pompomtom at 5:29 PM on July 19, 2010


Seems in the guidelines to me.

From the FAQ's description of chatfilter:
- Questions where everyone's answer is equally valid along the lines of "What's your favorite X?". ...

- Questions with no problem to be solved or where the problem is some variant of "I'm curious if other people feel like I do"
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:32 PM on July 19, 2010


Once in a while, a chatfilter question slips by, and gets lots of responses. This one was borderline, and the mods seem to have let it go. They are not perfectly consistent. I can live with that.
posted by theora55 at 6:45 PM on July 19, 2010


Yup. I think threads like this are often employed in service of pointing out the obvious: people like chatfilter. You know which ones are popular? The ones that stick around long enough to become popular.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:52 PM on July 19, 2010


Pony request: from now on, can all askmes have a little snarky message from a mod in a box at the top explaining why they didn't delete it?
posted by hattifattener at 8:14 PM on July 19, 2010




And can we do it in perfect harmony?
posted by hattifattener at 9:41 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you do it in perfect harmony you run the risk of a tantric explosion that would erase the universe. Sex always has at least hint of disparity.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:49 PM on July 19, 2010


The way it works is that the next time you try to click "Post" on a MetaTalk post, instead of posting it, you are served up an animated gif of Santa drinking a Coke. The Santa has Mathowie's face. In glittering letters it says DELICIOUS, THANK YOU!, and you are locked out of posting for a month.
posted by fleacircus at 9:53 PM on July 19, 2010


DAMMIT

some folks, I think, continue to like everything they liked when they were 14 for the rest of their lives.

I have a cousin like that, he was quite the class stud back in the eighth grade. Don't see him much these days.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:21 PM on July 19, 2010


The way today has gone on the site, I'm seriously beginning to suspect that I only imagined that harmony was a thing that existed.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:22 PM on July 19, 2010


Isolated Keith Moon will do that to a person.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:08 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


from now on, can all askmes have a little snarky message from a mod in a box at the top explaining why they didn't delete it?

Just say to yourself "Jessamyn found it to have some redeeming qualities." for all non-deleted threads and you'll be pretty much on course.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:47 AM on July 20, 2010


What are the redeeming qualities of this one?

I can see that it's popular, which, as I understand it, is sometimes be a redeeming quality, but, on the other hand, it seems to combine do-my-homework and chatfilter.
posted by box at 3:11 PM on July 20, 2010


is sometimes be considered a redeeming quality
posted by box at 3:12 PM on July 20, 2010


The person didn't grow up in a Disney culture, has to do a homework assignment about it and is looking for other people's experiences with this (from when they were kids) to help get their head around it. Any others?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:24 PM on July 20, 2010


Yeah, and the homework thing is sort of tricky, we're more worried about "answer these questions for my paper/exam" than we are about "I'm looking for some direction/grounding/resources on this topic".

In weird synchronicity, I had deleted this question as seemingly very clearcut homeworkfilter stuff until the asker wrote to me to clarify that they weren't writing a paper for a class they were taking at their university, they're (as the now rewritten question makes totally clear) putting together a writeup in their capacity as an employee of same. So, my goof there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:30 PM on July 20, 2010


The first draft of my question actually said something about helping people understand different cultures. Thanks for the additional clarification.
posted by box at 5:12 PM on July 20, 2010


(Not that you asked, but I think that, as yardsticks go, 'does this help someone understand another person's perspective' scales a lot better than popularity.)
posted by box at 5:29 PM on July 20, 2010


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