AskMe etiquette - What are the norms about showing appreciation of people for answering your questions? January 15, 2011 8:00 AM   Subscribe

AskMe etiquette - What are the norms about letting people who answer your question know that you are reading and appreciating their responses?

I haven't been a member that long, and yesterday asked my third ever question. One thing I've felt uneasy about every time I've asked a question is whether I should be giving some kind of acknowledgment to answerers to show "Yes, I'm listening, I found your input helpful, thanks for answering".

It doesn't sit right to be saying nothing while people are talking to me!

Other sites I've used have up-voting or threaded comments where it would be easy and unobtrusive to indicate that I found an answer helpful, but in the AskMe format it'd seem like cluttering up the thread unless I had more substantial remarks to make, like follow-up questions for example.

What I've done so far is wait a couple of days, then select best answers and favorites, and thank all the answerers in one comment.

How do other people handle this, and are there any unwritten rules re thanking etiquette I should know about?
posted by philipy to Etiquette/Policy at 8:00 AM (31 comments total)

Your approach is appropriate, there's no reason for you to continue to comment in the thread unless you're supplying more information or the question is answered and you don't need any additional input.

Marking it resolved, marking "best answer", and thanking people at the end is a good thing. Sometimes it's appropriate to make a "here's how it was resolved" response for the reference of someone with a similar question in the future.
posted by HuronBob at 8:04 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a serial answer-giver in AskMe, I think you're on the right track. This behavior you've described:

"whether I should be giving some kind of acknowledgment to answerers to show "Yes, I'm listening, I found your input helpful, thanks for answering"

drives me absolutely mental. It's well-intentioned, but ultimately it's just clutter and noise. When 50% of the comments in an AskMe are the OP, you're doing it wrong.

Obviously in a case where clarification is being requested and the OP needs to provide additional information, his or her participation is critical... but otherwise, it's simply not necessary.

Keep on doing what you're already doing ("wait a couple of days, then select best answers and favorites, and thank all the answerers in one comment").
posted by pineapple at 8:09 AM on January 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


MeMailing these people songs, happy words, book recommendations, funny links, and other fantastic prizes seems like your best bet.
posted by gman at 8:11 AM on January 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


That's how I do it, and I think it makes sense. Sometimes I don't want to chime in prematurely as I worry it will keep people from further replies.

"Oh, the OP seems happy with that answer. Okay, on to the next thread."
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:12 AM on January 15, 2011


I sure hope it's appropriate because I end almost all of my AskMes with a thank-you note and a follow-up.
posted by biochemist at 8:19 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's totally fine to drop in a "hey, thanks so much for your help" (or "your help so far") note, yeah. Not mandatory, but totally a nice gesture and not a problem or anything. You're doing fine.

About the only thing we discourage people from doing with followup comments is (a) getting argumentative with answerers or (b) getting super chatty in a thread. For the former it's more of a flag-and-move-on thing, maybe drop us a contact email if there's a problem you think needs specific mod intervention; for the latter, we don't really want askme to be a chat session so if you find you want to keep talking to someone at length about something related to the question or answers that's a good time to switch over to email or mefimail.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:20 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


whether I should be giving some kind of acknowledgment to answerers to show "Yes, I'm listening, I found your input helpful, thanks for answering".

Don't do this every 5 or 10 comments just to be nice. That clutters the page and can be redundant. If you do it at all, do it after your question has gone off the front page of AskMe.

It doesn't sit right to be saying nothing while people are talking to me!

An internet thread is different from a live conversation.
posted by John Cohen at 8:22 AM on January 15, 2011


What I've done so far is wait a couple of days, then select best answers and favorites, and thank all the answerers in one comment.

That seems perfect. Unless people are asking for other input, it's totally okay to just say something as the thread settles down. I'm always sad when people prematurely put in a "thanks for everything, these answers are great, keep 'em coming!" and then it's the last comment in a thread. Likely coincidence, sure, butI always think it's a better idea to let the thread evolve on its own at least for the first few hours or day.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:29 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My preference is for the askers who come back after their question has been up for a day or so, and provide a wrap-up of which of the answers they're going to try or have tried. Including a brief note of thanks in these comments is also good. Marking best answers, whether then, or later when you've had time to determine that a couple of answers specifically worked, is also good, as it describing the results of any efforts you made.

That way, you're thanking people literally, but you're also thanking them figuratively by making the thread more useful for others -- giving back to the community that helped you.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:31 AM on January 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Without getting too chatty, participate in the discussion and that will let people know what you think. Another vote for Best Answer and Resolved flagging too.

My take on AskMeFi questions is that there is a pretty short shelf life on answers if the question is specific enough.
posted by lampshade at 8:51 AM on January 15, 2011


Relieved to hear this. I too feel funny about just letting the answers roll....what a relief to just let that happen and THEN do the thanking!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:55 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unless it's a timed question I like to walk away for a hour after making any kind of meta post. Then I'll come back se how it's going and if further info or commentary is required. I think that's a good rule for any of the meta sections.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:17 AM on January 15, 2011


I would not be at all put out if you sent me a MeMail asking for my home address so that you could mail me cash.

Really, not at all.
posted by griphus at 11:30 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You should find every answer or comment the person has given on any mefi section and mark it a favorite.

No, I don't have a problem. I can stop checking my favorited comments any time I want.


*twitch*
posted by plinth at 11:46 AM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


My attitude to answering AskMes is "You asked a question, here's my view, take it or leave it, good luck." I don't think answerers expect anything. They certainly shouldn't.
posted by Decani at 11:48 AM on January 15, 2011


philipy: "One thing I've felt uneasy about every time I've asked a question is whether I should be giving some kind of acknowledgment to answerers to show "Yes, I'm listening, I found your input helpful, thanks for answering"."

Absolutely 100% yes. Like others said, you don't have to supply feedback for every single answer, but it strikes me as rude when people ask questions, get all this free assistance and advice, and then don't follow-up to indicate whether any of it was correct or even helpful. So IMHO, it's always good to drop by a few hours or a day or so later and mark a Best Answer, or at least let people know if they're on the right track or not. Both for the benefit of the answerers, and for anybody who might come across the question later looking for the answer themselves.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:52 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the only assumption is that the asker is always reading everything. Especially if they have gone back and marked best answers. That's your feedback.

But for questions with concrete solutions, it is always gratifying to see "Hey guy, I tried X Y and Z, and Z worked best for me. Thanks!" Especially to future readers of the question, since part of the purpose of Ask is to be a resource to others.

And yes, it is annoying for askers to leave useless feedback. Maybe other people need cheerleaders to feel good, but normal people just want to know if they were right and/or helpful.
posted by gjc at 12:54 PM on January 15, 2011


A lot of comments from you in the middle of the thread would be annoying. A note saying how you resolved the issue and saying thanks once, at the end, is nice.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:04 PM on January 15, 2011


You can thank me with cash. I think that's in the wiki. No need to look it up. Just trust me on this -- cash.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:27 PM on January 15, 2011


It definitely doesn't pay to argue, but you do want to head off bad responses.

For example if you ask, "What car should I buy, bearing in mind I detest Nissans because a Nissan ran over my father when I was six," you will inevitably get answers recommending a Nissan.

You want to correct that asap, before other people chime in to agree. A lot of time people read the other responses more than they read the question itself.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:33 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thirding the cash option
posted by lampshade at 1:42 PM on January 15, 2011


Absolutely 100% yes. Like others said, you don't have to supply feedback for every single answer, but it strikes me as rude when people ask questions, get all this free assistance and advice, and then don't follow-up to indicate whether any of it was correct or even helpful.

To me the exact opposite is true: it seems rude to tell people "You didn't read my question based on your answers" or "All of your answers suck".
posted by 23skidoo at 3:58 PM on January 15, 2011


We used to really view the OPs follow-up answers as inviolate until people started replying with "thanks for nothing!" sorts of snarky answers. Or worse yet, replying to most of the commenters concerns and then saving their last two sentences to take a potshot at someone whose answers they disliked. Now we're more likely to apply the same "don't be jerks" guideline to both the original question asker and the commenters. There are polite ways to say "I don't think you understood my question/conditions" and I know it sucks when people tell you things that you don't want to hear, but if you can't follow up at least chillily politely, don't bother replying until you can is my advice.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:08 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


> chillily politely

I prefer pseudo-cordiality myself.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:21 PM on January 15, 2011


Like mah momma always was sain', "Doncha have nuthin' nice ta say, doncha be sayin' nothin' at awl."
posted by carsonb at 4:22 PM on January 15, 2011


In lieu of cash, please send cookies.
I'm considering founding a government based on cookies as currency.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:24 PM on January 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I actually really like the questions that evolve as the askers say what's helpful or ask follow-ups that build on what's there so far. It's a very delicate thing, but done right, it's pretty cool. ... Wish I could think of an example offhand.
posted by salvia at 7:25 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I don't want to chime in prematurely as I worry it will keep people from further replies.

Yep, Premature ThankYou Syndrome does occasionally seem to end threads earlier than they would have ended.
posted by mediareport at 12:34 PM on January 16, 2011


Personally, I live for the slight quiver in my loins at the thought my humble answer may've been of use. That thought does not require acknowledgement, as it happens at posting. My ego is twitchy and easily amused, apparently
posted by Redhush at 5:19 PM on January 16, 2011


Summary of responses as I understood them...

1) It seems people mostly like the general approach I've been taking, with the possible addition of a later "this is how it actually worked out" note, when relevant.

2) Give clarification when required, but don't be a jerk about it.

3) Mefites dream of cash, cookies and having their comments favorited.
posted by philipy at 9:07 AM on January 17, 2011


3) Mefites dream of cash

Well to be fair, I am pretty hot.
posted by cashman at 4:09 PM on January 18, 2011


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