Lifehacker lists Ask Metafilter as third best way to find answers online.
December 18, 2010 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Lifehacker just listed Ask Metafilter third in "Top 10 Ways to Find Better Answers Online (that aren't Google)."

10. Yahoo Answers
9. Ask Reddit
8. Duck Duck Go
7. Wolfram Alpha
6. Wikipedia
5. Blekko
4. Quora
3. Ask Metafilter
2. Twitter
1. Aardvark

I've never even heard of half of these places. And Twitter is number 2? That makes very little sense to me.
posted by hazyspring to MetaFilter-Related at 11:15 AM (88 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

I'm generally pretty cynical about AskMetaFilter, but at least it's not called Blekko.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:17 AM on December 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


NUMBER ONE SHOULD BE JULIANN ASSANGE! WIKILEAKS WAS ROBBED! LIFEHACKER IS RUN BY THE CIA!
posted by Artw at 11:21 AM on December 18, 2010 [22 favorites]


See also the cowardly faliure for Assange to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
posted by Artw at 11:22 AM on December 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


AskMe truly is the second hand tweed suit of web 2.0 advice sites.

Effective and comfortable tho, despite the look.
posted by fire&wings at 11:24 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Boom! Suck it, Wikipedia!

Does this mean we can have a fifty-foot banner at the top of every page with "an urgent personal appeal from MetaFilter founder Mathowie", looking alternatively visionary and sinister against a white backdrop?
posted by Beardman at 11:29 AM on December 18, 2010 [36 favorites]


On AskMe, you have over 100,000 potential followers, and the site is moderated. Really, did you ever read Yahoo! comments?
posted by Cranberry at 11:29 AM on December 18, 2010


I think he just included Twitter at number 2 in an attempt to get more followers since he links his own account.
posted by Roger Dodger at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2010


Awesome and all, but at the same time this kind of thing reminds me that I feel like AskMe is increasingly being thought of as a completely separate community from MetaFilter as a whole. As I recall, it's the highest-traffic section of the site (right?) and we all know there are bunches of people who only ever participate on the Green. Not that people aren't allowed to decide on their own how they want to participate here, it's just always felt weird to me that people do that. It's like going to the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History all the time and refusing to look at anything but the dinosaur exhibits. Hey, you like dinosaurs, cool, whatever boils your potato, but you know, there's some seriously amazing stuff in the other parts of the building, too.
posted by Gator at 11:46 AM on December 18, 2010


I can understand liking dinosaurs, sure, but boiled potatoes? Eeeeewwwwwwww
posted by nevercalm at 11:47 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, when Yahoo! Answers is number 10 the bar is not just low, its lying in a sewage filled ditch on the side of a deserted backroad.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 11:48 AM on December 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's Wolverine to *.metafilter.com's X-Men.
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised they didn't list 4chan as #1.
posted by crunchland at 11:50 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's like going to the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History all the time and refusing to look at anything but the dinosaur exhibits.

I'm pretty sure this was my M.O. at museums when I was a kid.
posted by Ortho at 12:03 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


It must just be different circles I travel in ut I dn't think I know a single person who regularly uses Aardvark, but maybe it's sort of like ChaCha, quick info fast. Quora is great and I've spent a little time over there. Duck duck go? And I just use Google to search Wikipedia and Twitter.

tl;dr the library is not worried.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:04 PM on December 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


Set the zero usefulness line between #6 and #7. Translate #2 into "did you try asking your friends?" It all makes sense.

Except for #1. Never heard of it. Guess I should look.
posted by ctmf at 12:04 PM on December 18, 2010


I agree.. Yahoo, really???! And, askme was beat by Twitter...???? TWITTER?????!!!!!!

this list sucks....
posted by HuronBob at 12:14 PM on December 18, 2010


First of all, I love boiled potatoes, and second, since when does Google answer relationship questions? Or what was this movie/book/song I heard x years ago and can't remember the name of questions?
posted by emhutchinson at 12:16 PM on December 18, 2010


Eh, at least they didn't put that Zuckerman kid on #1.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:17 PM on December 18, 2010


Dr Dracator: "Eh, at least they didn't put that Zuckerman kid on #1."

All the same, I'd still like to punch that list.
posted by gman at 12:20 PM on December 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: First at foremost.
posted by estlin at 12:30 PM on December 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Burying AskMe at #3 is probably the best option. It's high enough on the list to be respectable, but it's not so high as to garner the 'oooh, shiny!' clickthrough. I feel for the Aardvark community right now.
posted by carsonb at 12:34 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


In and of itself, Ask Metafilter is really nothing special. You post a question, people answer it, and it all shows up in one long page of text. There really isn't a user interface to speak of, it's not particularly nice to look at, and there's information everywhere.

YEAH WELL YOUR FACE
posted by Rhaomi at 12:41 PM on December 18, 2010 [12 favorites]


Does this mean we can have a fifty-foot banner at the top of every page with "an urgent personal appeal from MetaFilter founder Mathowie", looking alternatively visionary and sinister against a white backdrop?

You know, I never noticed until now how much Jimmy Wales looks like Hank Scorpio.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:45 PM on December 18, 2010 [15 favorites]


What does it mean to talk about a web site and say there's no user interface? Is that like zombo.com? I'd make a comment over on lifehacker [and had a great one prepared about how secure our passwords are] but I haven't been able to comment there in a year, some weird login failure/error and it's only just today that I was like "oh I should fix that."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:48 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


not particularly nice to look at

They should try loading lifehacker on my old slow computer at work.
posted by JanetLand at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This article slightly irritates me. AskMe is, first and foremost a place where people ask AND answer questions. It's not just some site you can go do to get teh awnsers too life hurf durf.

On that note, it also irritates me when that minority of people ask questions and then fuck off and don't return to give any feedback, thanks, mark as resolved or best answers. What's all that about you ungrateful shites?

Anyway, I'm off for my elephant tranquillizer now.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:53 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


What does it mean to talk about a web site and say there's no user interface?

I think it just means we don't have any of those nice rounded corners that other sites have.
posted by Gator at 12:54 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Great. Now we'll be getting a new post here every week from a user whining that their completely non-responsive snarky post to a question was deleted, and how they've been CENSORED!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:59 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure AskMe would have been first on the list if it had a professional white background.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:03 PM on December 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Are we getting much in the way of hits from this "article" (which, I note, mentions nothing about the $5 cover charge)?
posted by Gator at 1:03 PM on December 18, 2010


And Twitter is number 2? That makes very little sense to me.

Twitter is great for the following types of questions:

1. Which shoes should I wear with this dress?
2. Is Dexter gory?
3. Does this or that phrase sound better in a business e-mail?

Those are not important enough to me to use up an AskMe question. They're short questions with short answers that can be best answered by real people (including a lot of people whose opinions I trust) and not an algorithm. I don't have a smartphone so I don't have easy access to Google anyway, but I can receive answers via text message very quickly.
posted by desjardins at 1:10 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I popped into the Green just now to check for a sudden influx. The very first question on there was actually answered within the source material provided by the asker; and simply Googling the item filled the entire first page with the answer. This is about to increase exponentially. The asker has been here for a couple years though.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:11 PM on December 18, 2010


I got some Lifehacker logins and passwords to trade if anyone wants to grief it.
posted by Elmore at 2:05 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


So the example they use for AskYahoo is "How is babby formed"?
posted by octothorpe at 2:14 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wolfram Alpha is undoubtedly amazing, but every time I tell a friend about it, I can never think of a demonstrable question other than "How many miles are in 18 parsecs?"
posted by clearly at 2:22 PM on December 18, 2010


Are we getting much in the way of hits from this "article" (which, I note, mentions nothing about the $5 cover charge)?

I check a distilled referrer log every morning for the day before, I'll let you know if there's anything unusual there (or a spike in signups). But we usually get a decent pile of clicks from any lifehacker writeup that mentions askme directly.

I wouldn't be surprised by a small bump in signups, but judging by the rate so far today it doesn't look like we're gonna have to worry about a flood or anything.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:42 PM on December 18, 2010


No mention of Facebook Questions? I am SHOCKED. SHOCKED.
posted by knile at 2:46 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wolfram Alpha is undoubtedly amazing, but every time I tell a friend about it, I can never think of a demonstrable question other than "How many miles are in 18 parsecs?"

Google can do that too.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:47 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Twitter is an incredibly useful resource for somebody with a huge number of followers, such as a celebrity or a tech blogger. It's not so great for somebody like me with 150 followers, including 100 cam spammers and 50 or so dormant accounts of real world friends and family who don't really use Twitter. It's asymmetric like that - most Twitter users are a resource that can be tapped by the highly-connected elite, but who don't have access to those benefits themselves.
posted by nowonmai at 2:50 PM on December 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


They didn't calculate inherent awesomeness. We're no. 1. Blech-o indeed. And what's Donald Duck Co.? [uhh, where are my reading glasses...]
posted by Namlit at 2:55 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since I came in here to say this, I will instead say "Blekko."
posted by Mister_A at 3:18 PM on December 18, 2010


I don't get why people think the MetaFilter sites are unappealing to look at. What, because they don't have excessive whitespace and linespacing and dainty little columns makes them ugly? I've always thought MeFi to be a very attractive site. I like white text on a comforting color.

No user interface? Answers have favorite counts under them, if you want to sort that way, and best answers get a box around them so you can find them easily, and asker comments get a line next to them. What more does an answer site need?

Lifehacker is a stupid web site written by people who are themselves frequently stupid and I don't know why we're bothering to congratulate ourselves for being mentioned there. We're twice as large as them. And they're stupid. And they said Twitter was an answer-finding site because obviously the average Twitter user has more than five followers, because he, like this stupid guy, spends his time writing stupid things in a blog that begin with "Top Ten" because he writes for an audience that's too stupid to read articles that begin with anything else. God Lifehacker is stupid and you have made me think about them and now my weekend is ruined. Stupid Lifehacker.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:21 PM on December 18, 2010 [9 favorites]


Uh-oh.

Brace for n00bs.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:32 PM on December 18, 2010


I find Mefi/AskMe/MeTa much more pleasant to look at with the Better Contrast Greasemonkey script. In fact, when I use another computer and access MeFi, I'm kind of surprised a bit, every time, because to me, the site's actual colors are the ones used in that script. I almost never see it without the script's colors.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:43 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Greasemonkey, Stylish, whatever.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:43 PM on December 18, 2010


I mentally translated "no user interface to speak of" as meaning "has inexplicably decided to stick with a relatively simple, clean design that is easy to read and use, rather than one which pointlessly attempts to increase mouse clicks and ad space at the cost of legibility and usefulness."
posted by kyrademon at 3:57 PM on December 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


Stopped reading lifehacker years ago because most of it's content turned to drivel like this. Do we all have to change our passwords again?
posted by arcticseal at 3:59 PM on December 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I feel for the Aardvark community right now.

I feelingly noobed up and can report that I got a quick response to my request for a good independent coffee shop in Calgary. 'Twas aight.
posted by Beardman at 4:17 PM on December 18, 2010


I don't get why people think the MetaFilter sites are unappealing to look at.

People are used to representational art. Metafilter's a Mondrian.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:29 PM on December 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have a decently respectable Twitter following, and it is okay for asking niche questions of specific users I follow--like asking a Mac expert the best way to do something I haven't tried before on the Macbook, or querying the Thinkgeek guys about why they don't have any customer reviews.

But it just can't hold a candle to AskMe. Far and away the best resource on the web.

I'm still working on Wolfram Alpha--I know there's valuable data to be mined there, too and I'm not touching its potential.
posted by misha at 4:30 PM on December 18, 2010


Buncha hacks.
posted by box at 4:35 PM on December 18, 2010


Third? THIRD?
Fuck that.
We're Number One.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:54 PM on December 18, 2010


I'm surprised they didn't list 4chan as #1.

4chan can be incredibly variable, depending on the specific board and hour, but I'd say on average it's still beating out Yahoo Answers. If you disregard /b/, it's probably beating out Yahoo Answers all the time.

Wolfram Alpha is undoubtedly amazing, but every time I tell a friend about it, I can never think of a demonstrable question other than "How many miles are in 18 parsecs?"

I know a lot of people who swear by Wolfram Alpha as a calculator for more complicated math (it's quicker and easier than poring over integral tables), but I can't imagine using it as a reference. It's a massive success as far as "How much Mathematica functionality can we get into a webapp?", but its natural language processing (which was originally the point of the project) is not so great, and its organization and collection of information is just plain odd.
posted by kagredon at 5:01 PM on December 18, 2010


Although, upon discovering this (right after hitting post instead of preview, go figure), perhaps I need to reconsider my harsh opinion.
posted by kagredon at 5:02 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Saying that AskMe has no user interface is like a bunch of Comic Sans users claiming that Helvetica is "fontless."

Also, I kind of love the spot we've got as the most popular secret on the internet. We've got tons of users, of course, but most comments and posts come from familiar names. In law school, discussing papers with professors in conferences, I'd frequently bring up MeFi as a source for something interesting that I'd come across, and without fail they'd been here at least a few times, but in general most of the people I talk to have never heard about it.

Which just strikes me as funny. Career academics know this site. Of course they do. But this is also where I come to find fun new flash games and cute videos about cats.

Also in law school I had my only experience of being on the site and then seeing someone else on it as well. I was bored during Copyright, and noticed a familiar (beautifully) green screen up on the laptop of the guy sitting in front of me. When class was over, I had to mention it to him, which is how I met inspector.gadget.

Web-savvy people know who we are, and know what we have to offer, but by and large they are not of us. I'm just fine with that being as it should be.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:33 PM on December 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter's a Mondrian.
No wonder I love it.
posted by jeoc at 7:38 PM on December 18, 2010


Quora? Blekko? Now you're just making thing up.
posted by klangklangston at 8:12 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Although, upon discovering this (right after hitting post instead of preview, go figure), perhaps I need to reconsider my harsh opinion.

OK, this is kind of fun.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:16 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was curious to see how WA did with quotes, so I tried inputting "Who said there's nothing to fear but fear itself?", with some variations (putting single or double quote marks around the quote, etc.), and got the usual frustratingly poor interpretations ("Using closest Wolfram|Alpha interpretation: fear. Assuming fear is a movie...")

Then I thought, "Maybe there's some odd syntactical requirement for it to recognize quotes?", and I tried just "who said."

Now I don't know what to think.
posted by kagredon at 8:31 PM on December 18, 2010


Well, I'll be dipped.
posted by Sublimity at 8:37 PM on December 18, 2010


This perennial problem seems to have stumped it.
posted by Sublimity at 8:42 PM on December 18, 2010


This is better, but it seems to have difficulty with significant figures...
posted by Sublimity at 8:47 PM on December 18, 2010


LH only gets half-credit on #6, for mentioning Wikipedia but not specifically bringing up the Wikipedia Reference Desk, my second-favorite general Q&A site.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:58 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


DevilsAdvocate: "not specifically bringing up the Wikipedia Reference Desk, my second-favorite general Q&A site."

Intriguing. Almost interesting enough to consider learning how to properly comment in Wiki pages. But today is not that day.
posted by pwnguin at 10:31 PM on December 18, 2010


DDG and blekko are the new google. Popular opinion is the google has lost it's way.

Ask reddit is ok if the answer to the question is "lawyer up, hit the gym, delete facebook"
posted by Ad hominem at 11:42 PM on December 18, 2010


I totally posted the same link on metalfilter. My bad... :/

I was very shocked by the list. Twitter being #2 and the reason behind it was very opinionated and it ONLY requires you to have a large group of followers. Yea, like thats easy...
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 12:19 AM on December 19, 2010


Metafilter's a Mondrian.

Show of hands for everyone who's brain went to a misspelled Ultima place right there....

No? Just me? Fine. Fuck the lot of you.
posted by Cyrano at 2:30 AM on December 19, 2010


The beauty part of AskMefi is that the q&a happens within this actual and very real new kind of "community," as hokey as that sounds. There's like, "personality" spilling over all over the place! It's sometimes like group therapy; I picture all the usernames sitting in a chair circle, smoking, and earnest or angry or eager to help, listening to the questions with skepticism and kindness and experience. It's about as far from an engine as you can get, happily.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:11 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bearded psychotic toddler.
posted by Not Supplied at 6:56 AM on December 19, 2010


Done well, user interfaces are practically invisible.

My only problem with the design are the colors. I'm always terrified when I log out. Frankly I think it's a trick by the mods to ensure I never log out. HELP ME.
posted by milarepa at 7:11 AM on December 19, 2010


You post a question, people answer it, and it all shows up in one long page of text. There really isn't a user interface to speak of, it's not particularly nice to look at, and there's information everywhere.

"Mr. Haughey, we cannot allow a messy-fucking-pile-of-cruft-and-inane-bullshit gap!"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:04 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bearded psychotic toddler.

Don't tell me how to raise my kids
posted by Beardman at 9:17 AM on December 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I downloaded Google Talk so I could sign up to Aardvark, but their registration form doesn't submit.
posted by doublehappy at 2:04 PM on December 19, 2010


It is surprising that Stack Overflow and the plethora of sites coming out of that are not mentioned. It is mentioned early on in the comments though.

Stack Overflow has just about replaced the very annoying expert sexchange for technical questions.

It would be interesting to see if even ask mefi is seeing a reduction in technical questions because people are using stack exchange instead.
posted by sien at 4:17 PM on December 19, 2010


That lifehacker article reads as though it were written by a 17 year old who earned a C- in English Composition. I take it as a badge of honor that AskMe was ranked behind a couple of sites in which your question can't even reach the length of a complete sentence. Is lifehacker always this bad? I thought a lot of people liked it?
posted by Justinian at 4:37 PM on December 19, 2010


A lot of people like homeopathy.
posted by Dumsnill at 4:46 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I picture all the usernames sitting in a chair circle, smoking, and earnest or angry or eager to help...

I picture everyone sitting in a circle, too! on couches and armchairs, though.
posted by janepanic at 5:57 PM on December 19, 2010


Well this wasn't helpful at all. Thanks a lot, Aristotle!
posted by misha at 6:22 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I mentally translated "no user interface to speak of" as meaning "has inexplicably decided to stick with a relatively simple, clean design that is easy to read and use, rather than one which pointlessly attempts to increase mouse clicks and ad space at the cost of legibility and usefulness."
Well, in a Web 2.0 world, those things are the user interface. You just need to shift your perspective on who the users are considered to be.
posted by dg at 7:17 PM on December 19, 2010


My picture of Ask.Me is more like a bar filled with mostly regulars, but some strangers, as well. And every once in a while, someone on their own at the bar will start moaning about some troubles they have until someone else shouts out, "You idiot! You need to do X!" And then maybe everyone else in the bar kind of nods and grumbles agreement, or maybe instead someone elsewhere in the room shouts out, "Don't listen to that fool! X'll kill ya -- you need to do Y." Occasionally heated disagreements start up, but in the end, everyone's just happy for their beer and the company.
posted by meese at 8:00 PM on December 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


True.
posted by dg at 10:08 PM on December 19, 2010


So, following up: we've gotten about 1K clickthroughs from the article for each of the last couple days, which is about on par with a Lifehacker mention; and signups over the last two days were 13 for Saturday, 9 for Sunday. That's average-to-high-average for a weekend day, so it's not unreasonable to speculate that a couple folks came over from Lifehacker and dropped their fivers. (We also had an email from someone complaining about the $5, so, okay.)

Note that probably the high water mark for flooding new users in modern times was the Salon writeup about askme, in which we had something like 150 extra people sign up over a couple days.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:12 AM on December 20, 2010


(We also had an email from someone complaining about the $5, so, okay.)

What exactly were the grounds for that complaint? Is that common?
posted by doublehappy at 10:15 AM on December 20, 2010


It varies. Sometimes it's "I wish you'd mentioned the $5 earlier", which, okay. I can see the stopped-short thing being annoying to someone who didn't know they had to drop a fiver. That's what this one was.

But sometimes it's more like "so I guess you want $5 to comment on you're shitty website well fuck you it's you're loss", and in that case I put a big red checkmark next to the box labeled "the system works".
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:21 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


What exactly were the grounds for that complaint? Is that common?
posted by doublehappy


"$5??? It's free in town!"

They were lying, but how were they to know cortex is expert in such matters?
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:31 AM on December 20, 2010


Great. Now we'll be getting a new post here every week from a user whining that their completely non-responsive snarky post to a question was deleted, and how they've been CENSORED!

This would be a pretty steep drop.
posted by winna at 12:54 PM on December 20, 2010


Bearded psychotic toddler.

Don't tell me how to raise my kids


You keep that thing away from my livestock.
posted by Not Supplied at 11:03 AM on December 23, 2010


I think you'll find that bearded kids are livestock.

Roast cabrito, anyone?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:03 PM on December 23, 2010


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