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What criteria do the mods use for allowing anonymous posts.
August 30, 2010 7:30 AM   Subscribe

What criteria do the mods use for allowing anonymous posts.

This seemingly innocuous post made me start wondering if there are any criteria by which the mods decide on accepting an anonymous request.

I understand, every situation is different, every person is different, and we don't know the facts behind all posts. I am not here to discuss the merits of anonymity, I am just curious about how mods deal with anonymous requests.

Are all requests granted?
posted by TheBones to Etiquette/Policy at 7:30 AM (49 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Let me reiterate, I am not debating the post I linked to (as I got called out on that the last time I did so), I am curious as to the criteria, if there are any, for accepting anonymous posts (if there are any).
posted by TheBones at 7:34 AM on August 30, 2010


I was just wondering the same thing about the same post (and almost left a comment along with my answer, but decided against it). I don't really care that it got approved anonymously, but I was a little surprised at the latitude of what could be deemed worthy.
posted by slogger at 7:39 AM on August 30, 2010


Yeah, this one is pretty strange - I'm guessing it's a celebrity chef with their own restaurant, TV show and line of books that finally broke down and admitted they just can't fake it any more.

Also, the standard answer to your question is to trust the mods are using their modly powers for good and not for evil. I can't say I entirely agree with the reasoning, but they seem to have enough grar in their lives already without people trying to second-guess their every decision.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:40 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that one is bizarre. And it's an almost exact double too.
posted by smackfu at 7:40 AM on August 30, 2010


I actually emailed the throw-away email address. I was a cook, in a former life, and LOVE talking food shop, but the details were so scant that I felt obliged to email asking what exactly the guy/girl wanted to do, with what ingredients, and how.
posted by TheBones at 7:43 AM on August 30, 2010


We approve maybe 80% of the anonymous posts. Usually my thought process goes like this.

- Has the AnonyMe queue been full lately? If so, we'll be a little more hardline on approval, otherwise we'll be more lax. This question, yeah, it's really not a great AnonyMe question, but I was in "benefit of the doubt" mood.
- Is the question going to be a total trainwreck? We're approving fewer trainwreck posts lately.
- Does the asker include enough information for people to give them answers?
- Does the question seem to be a "just wondering" sort of question that's more chatty than an actual problem that needs solving.
- Is the asker someone who has been around for a while? We don't have the user's personal info [you can see older MeTas for how the anonyme feature works] but we have an indicator of how long they've been a member because we were worried a lot of bad AnonyMe questions were from brand new users, doesn't seem to be true actually.
- Is there are reason for the question to be anonymous? Sometimes people ask Anon because they can't wait for their "weekly question" this is a problem and not something we encourage.
- Is the question likely to bring the heat down on the site [i.e. I broke a sort of important law or help me break a sort of important law]?
- Is the question time-sensitive and needs to be approved RIGHT NOW, but I only saw it the next day?
- Questions about revenge and/or suicide are never okay

Generally, we like to approve as many as we can, but sometimes the queue gets crazy full and we'll either postpone approvals on some and/or not approve them. I tend to check at least once per day, usually a few times per day. Since the MeTa I posted about there being a few too many questions, the volume seems to have died down some which has been nice. And, for the record, here are a few sorts of questions we didn't approve lately....

- please tell me how to defeat this certain type of lock [nominally to prevent break ins, but really??]
- Who is this model in Maxim? [use the google]
- what does this acronym stand for in the kink community [the google, again]
- suicide-ish question [emailed the OP directly, they are ok now]
- odd trollish sounding question about Jehova's Witnesses
- complicated pharmacy question
- general "how do I find good fiction online" question
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:44 AM on August 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Thank you jessamyn, I appreciate the response. I guess I could have pm'ed you and asked you or cortex privately, so if you want to close this thread, please don't hesitate to.
posted by TheBones at 7:47 AM on August 30, 2010


It's a post asking for recipes, therefore anything goes because everybody likes recipe threads. There are no rules when there are recipes at stake, and the only guideline is post the yummiest ones.
As for why the poster would want it to be anonymous, I am guessing they have enough favorites already. This question would have gotten at least 500 without the MeTa highlight and is now destined to get almost as many as a "recommend books that teach awesome stuff" question.
posted by nowonmai at 7:50 AM on August 30, 2010


Nah it's fine, I think it's good to have this sort of stuff be as transparent as possible.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:51 AM on August 30, 2010


I was wondering that too, especially since enn was upfront about not knowing basic cooking skills and asking for help.

I dunno. I don't think there's any shame in not knowing how to "take it to the next level" in cooking (and there isn't in not knowing the basics, either - we all have to start somewhere).

The answer to the anon question is "More butter. More salt."
posted by rtha at 8:09 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm imagining anon and an SO or friend are both mefites, and anon has been less than honest about their kitchen deficiencies and doesn't want to get found out. But then, I watch a lot of sitcoms.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:32 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just assumed it was Rachel Ray.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:42 AM on August 30, 2010 [23 favorites]


Sometimes people ask Anon because they can't wait for their "weekly question" this is a problem and not something we encourage.

I figure that's probably the reason that the cooking question is anonymous. It kind of bugs me in a "hey, no fair!" way, but what-ev.
posted by amro at 8:43 AM on August 30, 2010


I just assumed it was Rachel Ray.

No way. That's totally Anthony Bourdain.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:45 AM on August 30, 2010


It's a little frustrating though, because the question is so nebulous. Not that I mind them asking at all, but how can I advise as to to what the "next level" is, when I don't know what level they're on?

Are you trying to move up from Mac & cheese on an electric hot-plate, or are you wanting to explore locally-grown seasonal produce and wild game?

My stock answer is MOAR GARLIC, unless it's MOAR CHOCOLATE, or sometimes both, but I don't know if that's of any utility to the asker.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:47 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I figure that's probably the reason that the cooking question is anonymous.

Again, if this smells funny to us, we'll investigate, but if we see someone doing this we won't approve the question [or even delete it] and we'll tell people it's totally not okay. We don't investigage every single odd looking question however.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:48 AM on August 30, 2010


Lord god, I capitalized mac. Let's not have an OS war in a cooking thread - it was Pavlovian, I swear.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:49 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


More chocolate covered garlic? My sentiments exactly. I look at the anonymous option as the chance to ask more detailed questions, not less detailed questions. In general I have noticed that the answers are only going to be as good as the questions asked here.
posted by TheBones at 8:59 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe they are one of those foodie types on the site and don't want "I don't know how to cook" to come back and haunt them in the next big Hamburger Helper Eaters vs. The Foodies throwdown.

But really, people take food hyper serious. Not being a great cook makes some people feel shame.
posted by cj_ at 9:41 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else get that sense of cognitive dissonance when they read a long questioning sentence that ends in a period.
posted by Plutor at 9:41 AM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Does anyone else get that sense of cognitive dissonance when they read a long questioning sentence that ends in a period.

Yes?
posted by marxchivist at 9:48 AM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Does anyone else get that sense of cognitive dissonance when they read a long questioning sentence that ends in a period.

No idea what you're talking about;
posted by rtha at 9:49 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else get that sense of cognitive dissonance when they read a long questioning sentence that ends in a period.

Is this performance art?
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:55 AM on August 30, 2010


My stock answer is MOAR GARLIC.

I know you jest, but I used to think that was true and then I dated someone who hated garlic and I'm amazed how much better a cook I became once I learned how to cook without so much of it.
posted by aspo at 10:06 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The answer to the anon question is "More butter. More salt."

You ruined my Jello. Thanks a lot!
posted by owtytrof at 10:08 AM on August 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


More chocolate covered garlic?

*furiously registers domain*
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:23 AM on August 30, 2010


I feel slightly embarrassed about the aside question about why the anonymous post. But, it's such an innocuous and non-specific question that it sorta boggled me that the person at least didn't indicate why they wanted it anon.

That said, add fresh coriander. It makes jello that much nicer.
posted by michswiss at 10:29 AM on August 30, 2010


Shallots for the king.
Onions for the peasants.
Garlic for the CHAMPIONS.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:49 AM on August 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Does anyone else get that sense of cognitive dissonance when they read a long questioning sentence that ends in a period.

I just hear it in a robotic voice with no inflection at the end.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:56 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else get that sense of cognitive dissonance when they read a long questioning sentence that ends in a period.

I'm Ron Burgundy?
posted by sonika at 11:03 AM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else get that sense of cognitive dissonance when they read a long questioning sentence that ends in a period.

I just hear it in a robotic voice with no inflection at the end.


The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:08 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or ".", rather, but when you already have the voice in mind...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:09 AM on August 30, 2010


This MeTa post WOULD come along right after the recipes thing got old and is now heavily discouraged.
posted by JanetLand at 11:35 AM on August 30, 2010


I just figured that it was anon because the poster is a cannibal. At the very least, it makes the question read much more amusingly.
posted by quin at 11:45 AM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


No way. That's totally Anthony Bourdain.

Tony Bourdain not only doesn't seem really concerned about taking his food "to the next level", but if he did, he would do it neither anonymously nor sober.

It totally could be Rachel Ray, though. We should be on alert for "EVOOExtraVirginOliveOil" drops.
posted by mkultra at 12:23 PM on August 30, 2010


I suspect the poster is in the witness protection program, and hiding for fear of some sort of reprisal. While holed up somewhere, you've got a lot of time to think about what matters most. In this instance it's food. Perhaps the asker was witness to a grizzly mob-hit using a watermelon, perhaps they saw someone baking their spouse in a pie. We'll never know. All we can do is help out the poor unfortunate soul who can't even express their love for food publicly.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:24 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait am I to believe there's more to cooking than mac & cheese on an electric hot plate?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:40 PM on August 30, 2010


Please forgive me if this has been covered in previous MeTas- I looked, but couldn't find an answer. How do these two statements from Jessamyn's comment work together?

- Is the asker someone who has been around for a while? We don't have the user's personal info [you can see older MeTas for how the anonyme feature works] but we have an indicator of how long they've been a member because we were worried a lot of bad AnonyMe questions were from brand new users, doesn't seem to be true actually.

- suicide-ish question [emailed the OP directly, they are ok now]

I am all for mods being able to identify and email users who may be suicidal, or otherwise pose a risk to themselves or others. But it seems that if this is possible, anonymous questions are not actually anonymous at all. So how does that work?

(Genuine curiosity, not snark)
posted by charmcityblues at 2:28 PM on August 30, 2010


I believe it's something along the lines of they have access to the IP address of the asker as well as a database of everyone's IP address, so with a bit of legwork they can easily figure out who the asker is, but it's impossible to glance at any given question and go 'Oh look it's that nutter shakespeherian again.'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:31 PM on August 30, 2010


But it seems that if this is possible, anonymous questions are not actually anonymous at all. So how does that work?

They are anonymous to the database, there is nothing linking your anonymous question in the database to you, period.

That said, when a new question is queued, mathowie and I get an email that says "new anonymous question from USERNAME, go approve it." It does not contain the text of your question or any other information about the question. I send these straight to a folder and don't look at them. But, we can look at the queued questions and look at the timestamps on the emails and correlate who asked what pretty well, and we could try to correlate IP addresses if something was really sketchy.

So, we've asserted in the past: Mods can figure out who asked the AnonyMe questions. This is by design. The database does not know who asked the AnonyMe questions. Human eyes need to make the link. If you need to be anonymous even to us, you shouldn't use this feature.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:37 PM on August 30, 2010


From the mod explanations page on the wiki: How anonyme works
posted by smackfu at 2:38 PM on August 30, 2010


I clicked through the link smackfu linked to above and read through it, very interesting I must say, and found this posted by jessamyn:

So, maybe we haven't been clear about that aspect of it. The percentage of anonymous questions relative to all questions overall is creeping up [it hovers at around 10% now] and we don't want to see that number getting much higher. There's a slight ding to the community aspect of the site when questions are asked anonymously. We really want people to be able to do it, but we don't want people to think of the site as a place to go ask questions anonymously. So there are some hurdles built in.

I found it interesting enough, and relevant enough, to this discussion to post it here.
posted by TheBones at 4:09 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: “So, we've asserted in the past: Mods can figure out who asked the AnonyMe questions. This is by design. The database does not know who asked the AnonyMe questions. Human eyes need to make the link. If you need to be anonymous even to us, you shouldn't use this feature.”

And this isn't just a technical difference, for what it's worth. The point is that if the mods feel like there's some danger in a question that's just been posted, they may do the digging and figure out who posted it; however, most importantly, if (for example) the FBI, the CIA, and the ghost of Joe McCarthy all show up at mathowie's door and demand to see a history of all the anonymous questions koeselitz has ever posted on metafilter, he will legitimately be able to shrug his shoulders and say: ‘I couldn't tell you. Honestly, I don't know, and there's no record of that anywhere.’

Obviously, if I'm wrong on this, please correct me.
posted by koeselitz at 5:18 PM on August 30, 2010


Actually, I'm pretty sure I am, now that I think of it.
posted by koeselitz at 5:20 PM on August 30, 2010


Because the emails are still around.
posted by koeselitz at 5:22 PM on August 30, 2010


Well shoot. It was a secret up until your last comment.
posted by niles at 8:28 PM on August 30, 2010


Someone else would have to know the email-database link, yeah. That said, we try to protect people's privacy but we sort of like to not have to worry about the CIA-at-the-door questions in the first place. But of the gmail-law-enforcement backdoor is in use in the US, they have access to that email anyhow.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:38 PM on August 30, 2010


"Sometimes people ask Anon because they can't wait for their 'weekly question' this is a problem and not something we encourage.
"I figure that's probably the reason that the cooking question is anonymous. It kind of bugs me in a 'hey, no fair!' way, but what-ev."

You can't actually do it this way because anonymous questions use the same form as regular questions and the form is blocked during the seven day time out period. If you have the foresight to ask your anonymous question first then you can short circuit the waiting period but not the other way around.
posted by Mitheral at 9:28 PM on August 30, 2010


The answer is to dump a lot of Sriracha Sauce on it. Rooster sauce makes everything better.
posted by cj_ at 10:57 PM on August 30, 2010


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