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Best time to post a question?
February 20, 2011 5:39 PM   Subscribe

When is the best time to post to "Ask" in order to have the most looks with the least number of new posts pushing my question off the page? Has anyone figured this out? Is this "cheating"?
posted by flummox to Feature Requests at 5:39 PM (71 comments total)

Others will chime in with the many times this has attempted to have been answered before.

Dear AskMe community: If you don't want to have your post pushed off the front page, flag everything that uses more than 2-3 lines in the q, wthout (more inside) written on it. No q needs to use more than that real estate.
posted by lalochezia at 5:42 PM on February 20, 2011


Yep, this has been discussed several times before on MetaTalk.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:43 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a frequently asked question and yet I still can't remember the answer. i think writing a better question is more important than when exactly you ask it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:43 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a tag for this question
posted by aubilenon at 5:50 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The answer, as I recall, is that times that have a bigger flood of posts also have a bigger flood of readers, and times that have a slow trickle of posts have a slow trickle of readers. It all evens out, basically. Doesn't matter.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:50 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps as a frequently-asked question this should have an entry in the FAQ?
posted by killdevil at 6:03 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


When is the best time to ask the MetaTalk question about when is the best time to ask a question on Ask?
posted by birdherder at 6:07 PM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


The best time to ask a question on AskMe is when you have a question to ask.
posted by crossoverman at 6:09 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


12 noon EST, Mon-Fri.

That's my guess for the eastern time zone going off to lunch and might take a look and the west coast is kinda just getting to work and might take a quick peek and it leaves enough time for most of America (which Mefi is mostly made of) to hopefully see it it.

If it lived in Australia or England I'd probably post at different time, 'cause I'd want to hear what my country peeps had to say more than those filthy Americans.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:11 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


P.S. That is to say that the difference is not so much in the number as it is in the rate.

Obviously, during peak hours, you'll get your answers in quicker succession. That may be desirable in emergency situations, when you need an answer right away. But the advantages are outweighed, I'd wager, by crosstalk, real-time arguments, and "whoops, someone just said that, nevermind"/"whoops, someone just debunked that, nevermind"; a slower rate would allow more time for careful consideration and may therefore yield better answers.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:11 PM on February 20, 2011


If you don't want to have your post pushed off the front page, flag everything that uses more than 2-3 lines in the q, wthout (more inside) written on it. No q needs to use more than that real estate.

What on earth does this even mean? Do you think the bottom of the page is a fixed length from the top? It's not. Your screen is not a piece of paper. It's 40 questions, regardless of how long they are. If you're flagging questions because they have too many sentences, you're a headache for the mods.
posted by dobbs at 6:13 PM on February 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


But looking back at my own AskMe questions, I don't always follow this. Particularly if it's a computer question, I know AskMe is stuffed with people that know about all about computers and sleep odd hours so trying to pin them down to a certain time is impossible, just ask the question, someone real smart will find it. Relationship questions? Hell, someone will always find them, no matter if it's 2am EST or whenever.

But really, it's the quality, not quantity that maters. That and you sticking around for a bit to see if anyone has questions about details you may have forgotten to include.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:17 PM on February 20, 2011


4:20
posted by birdherder at 6:22 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


"ear"

The thing about AskMe is that we have people everywhere that answer questions rather quick regardless the time of day
posted by clavdivs at 6:28 PM on February 20, 2011


4:20

Only if it's a mixtape question.
posted by nasreddin at 6:29 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


What I don't get is: When someone thinks of a question, they don't then think to themselves "I wonder if anyone else might have thought of this same question. I think I'll search the archives."
posted by DU at 6:35 PM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The best time to ask a question is after you have searched to see if has been asked previously. This is doubly true for Talk.
posted by COD at 6:36 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


When someone thinks of a question, they don't then think to themselves "I wonder if anyone else might have thought of this same question. I think I'll search the archives."

Probably because everyone is a special snowflake and wants to talk about their problems as opposed to look them up, IMO.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


When is the best time to ask the MetaTalk question about when is the best time to ask a question on Ask?

Even this question has also been debated.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 6:51 PM on February 20, 2011


It's 40 questions, regardless of how long they are.

What with Ask having kinda blown up over the last few years, I wonder if there might not be some value to increasing the size of the front page? Is there an official line on this? I mean, it seems like right now the front page of Ask moves along at a pretty good clip (much faster than the blue) and judging by the number of times that people have inquired about optimizing their asking time, it seems like this is causing a bit of anxiety.

What exactly would the drawback be to extending the size of the green's front page so as to allow comments to hang out there longer?
posted by Scientist at 6:52 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


When is the best time to scratch my junk?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:19 PM on February 20, 2011


Before you eat it, before it turns green and falls off, and after the break-up.
posted by axiom at 7:24 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


AHHH!!! THIS QUESTION HAS A REALLY EASY SIMPLE ANSWER!!!!

IT DOESN'T MATTER!!!

THE TOTAL NUMBER OF EYEBALLS THAT SEE YOUR QUESTION IS A SIMPLE FUNCTION OF [VISITORS TO NEW QUESTION ASKERS WHO PUSH YOUR QUESTION DOWN THE QUEUE] FOR THE PERIOD UNTIL YOUR QUESTION PASSES INTO OBSCURITY. SO LONG AS THAT RATIO DOESN'T CHANGE SIGNIFICANTLY OVER TIME, AND IT DOESN'T, YOUR QUESTION WILL GET THE EXACT SAME NUMBER OF EYEBALLS NO MATTER WHEN YOU ASK IT!

tl;dr, Use of AskMe does change over the course of the day, but there are not periods where there are more questions being asked than visitors (bad for you) or periods where there are more visitors than questions being asked (good for you)
posted by Blasdelb at 7:25 PM on February 20, 2011


Man. Caps-Lock Day came early this year.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:34 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is one of those frequently asked questions. I wish there could be a repository of them that people could check and see what the answer is without having to ask it again.
posted by crunchland at 7:40 PM on February 20, 2011


Well, you know what they say - there's no time like the present (other than the very recent past and immediate future, which resemble it somewhat due to their proximity in a kind of cosmic cause-and-effect chain, apparently).
posted by Abiezer at 7:48 PM on February 20, 2011


Too Loud; Didn't Read
posted by Babblesort at 7:53 PM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's what confuses me. I'm not especially bright or attractive, nor am I or rich, or likely to become so. My very existence is a mockery of all that human potential contains. So, why is it, then, that I can't think of a single thing to ask, here, ever?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:11 PM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Use of AskMe does change over the course of the day, but there are not periods where there are more questions being asked than visitors (bad for you) or periods where there are more visitors than questions being asked (good for you)

Well, no, there are always many more visitors than questions being asked.
posted by John Cohen at 8:17 PM on February 20, 2011


I suppose an equally relevant question is what time of day/day of week/time zone time will get you the most appropriate eyes on your question.

If it is an easy general question, it doesn't really matter which segment of the ask.me readership reads it, but if it is more complicated or requires a specific background to respond to it, you may be better off posting it when that segment of the population reads most frequently, not when the page cycles least frequently.
posted by arnicae at 8:30 PM on February 20, 2011


Whatcha wanna know, kid?
posted by cashman at 8:40 PM on February 20, 2011


How babbys are formed for starters.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:44 PM on February 20, 2011


So, why is it, then, that I can't think of a single thing to ask, here, ever?

Looks like you just did.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:00 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are there really people who only read the front page (and exactly the whole of the front page) and then stop? Did no one teach them about the "older questions" link? I can understand if you don't have time to read back into the archives, but then why would you read exactly the whole of the front page?

Sometimes I read just the previous three or four questions, and other times I dig back until I get to a question I already read. At no time does whether something is on the front page figure into my habits at all.

Am I unusual in this?
posted by lollusc at 9:07 PM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Y'all who're clamoring for an update to the FAQ haven't really paid much attention to how it's assembled, have you?

Those entries don't magically appear out of nowhere. Someone writes them. Oh yeah, users write them, and then jessamyn kindly cuts/pastes/edits them into place. Saying 'gosh this is a frequently asked question shouldn't it be in the faq' is as mindlessly annoying as the people who can't be arsed to check the FAQ before posting the zillionth iteration of a given MeTa.
What's the best time to post my question to AskMe?
There is no good answer to this question. No matter when you post your question, you can expect about the same rate of answers and about the same amount of time it's visible on the front page of AskMe. Theoretically, in order to maximize front page exposure of your question, it would be best to ask it during the middle of the night EST on a weekday, but again that's a theory unsupported by evidence. Evidence submitted in <a href="http://metatalk.metafilter.com/tags/besttime">previous inquiries</a> supports the idea that there is no time better than the present to ask your question.
posted by carsonb at 9:10 PM on February 20, 2011


Oh, my tense is a bit wack in there.
posted by carsonb at 9:11 PM on February 20, 2011


I used to have a bitwack. Came in handy for those long days slogging in the data fields.
posted by cashman at 9:25 PM on February 20, 2011


I hate to hear your bitwack is tense. Let me rub your shoulders...
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:32 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those entries don't magically appear out of nowhere. Someone writes them. Oh yeah, users write them, and then jessamyn kindly cuts/pastes/edits them into place. Saying 'gosh this is a frequently asked question shouldn't it be in the faq' is as mindlessly annoying as the people who can't be arsed to check the FAQ before posting the zillionth iteration of a given MeTa. --- You know, someone really ought to add an entry to the FAQ about how to add an entry to the FAQ.
posted by crunchland at 9:51 PM on February 20, 2011


What with Ask having kinda blown up over the last few years, I wonder if there might not be some value to increasing the size of the front page?

I find it very useful myself. Nowadays, this option is built into your web browser's functionality, too, which is nice. Be careful though...you can lose entire days with your work sitting behind this enhanced window.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:54 PM on February 20, 2011


Best time to post is right when you remember to do it, and before you forget again.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:13 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just word your question so it gets the most views. Here, I'll start you off with an example:

I've been trying to lose weight because I want my boyfriend to break up with his wife and propose to me, but I don't want to ask for marriage myself. However, I'm having trouble finding time in between installing keylogger software on my boyfriend's child's computer and scheduling declawing appointments for his cats. More detail inside. [more inside]

So can anybody recommend a good plumber in Cleveland, OH? My kitchen sink keeps dripping.

posted by schroedinger at 10:37 PM on February 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


Y'all who're clamoring for an update to the FAQ haven't really paid much attention to how it's assembled, have you?

I'm doing something wrong -- just checked the FAQ and don't see What's the best time to post my question to AskMe? listed there.
posted by Majorita at 10:56 PM on February 20, 2011


When the hell will someone look up shit themselves before asking others for help.

Is it possible to become a republican that believes people arent working and just asking others for handouts, by just reading the same damn question over and over again on metatalk?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:11 AM on February 21, 2011


1. Think of the three frequent question-answerers here whom you'd most like to answer your question.

[Short cut: send your question directly to them. But that probably isn't encouraged around here, so...]

2. Analyze their posting habits to determine the block of time during which the three of them are most likely to answer Ask Me questions.

3. Post at the beginning of that time range. Make sure your tags are set to alert the sort of people who should answer your question.

4. Turn off your computer and listen to the room return to silence. Put on your hat and coat and boots and go out for a long, long, long walk over a route you haven't walked before. Think about the little animals under the hard winter ground. Their hearts have slowed and their breathing is almost imperceptible.

5. When you return home, strip to the waist, apply generous amounts of honey to your arms and torso, and sprinkle yourself with birdseed.

6. Step back outside and stand utterly still and quiet for as long as it takes to slow your mind to the pace of winter. Then the birds will come.
posted by pracowity at 12:37 AM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


1) Drive to Sioux City (or something). Post at 2 in the morning. Your question will be up on the front eternally. Eeeeveryone who will see it will think "oh that old question again, I'm not even gonna read it."
2) Post directly after every New Yorker has come home from work. whatcartobuy myboilerleaks myauntiscrazy mydogeatsbooks mygunieapigsingsmozart myfiveboyfriendsfight. Zam zam zam, there walks your question off the front page.
Metafilter: you can only lose. [time, most of the time]

[tl;dr. we can srcoll]
posted by Namlit at 12:49 AM on February 21, 2011


Think of the three frequent question-answerers here whom you'd most like to answer your question

I want baby_balrog back
posted by Namlit at 12:50 AM on February 21, 2011


Don't worry. There are plenty of us people with a pathological obsession to read every question since our their last visit, regardless of how far back that goes. Or so I've heard.

Dear AskMe, I reload the green several times an hour so that I don't miss any questions. Do I have an addiction?
posted by ellenaim at 1:12 AM on February 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Post your question at a time when the people most capable of answering it are most likely to have the time to do so.
posted by Ahab at 2:32 AM on February 21, 2011


Is it ever appropriate to eat pie for breakfast?
posted by fixedgear at 4:00 AM on February 21, 2011


When is the best time to scratch my junk?

Never been a better time than right now.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:36 AM on February 21, 2011


I've never asked a question here since signing up. So I'm probably not the one to ask but if you did ask me I'd say anytime between the moon and New York City. I know it's crazy but it's true.
posted by Sailormom at 5:40 AM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


lollusc: Are there really people who only read the front page (and exactly the whole of the front page) and then stop? Did no one teach them about the "older questions" link?

I do. I mean generally I read Ask every day several times a day, but there are periods (like recently) when I am just not here at all for a number of weeks. At that point, I am not going to go back through two weeks of archives, so I just catch up by reading whatever is on each section's home page.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:53 AM on February 21, 2011


Thankfully, we have two or three users here who stay awake for days drinking Google-Aid - whatever it is about, they'll get to your question before it falls even slightly down the front page.
posted by honey-barbara at 6:25 AM on February 21, 2011


Is it ever appropriate to eat pie for breakfast?

It is always appropriate to eat pie for breakfast.
posted by sonika at 6:34 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best time to ask a question is the use the nethernet trans- chornal wifi to post your question to the Ask Metafilter of the distant future.
posted by The Whelk at 6:47 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are there really people who only read the front page

There are people who don't necessarily even read the whole front page. If the amount of time I want to spend on Mefi gets used up on answering a couple of questions near the top I may not get around to even looking any further down.
posted by philipy at 7:13 AM on February 21, 2011


"What I don't get is: When someone thinks of a question, they don't then think to themselves "I wonder if anyone else might have thought of this same question. I think I'll search the archives.""

I notice a certain percentage of these are presumably the same reason google didn't work for the asker: They couldn't come up with the "correct" noun or phrase to get the right hits. If you don't know what the thingie is called, all the googling and archive searching in the world for "thingie" is not going to help, even if you're asking the exact same question as someone else.

(Once I was trying to google up a bug I didn't know the name of, and I described it as "bright blue and hot pink" but in fact it was "teal and fuchsia" in all the literature ... it was maddening because I knew the bug was out there, but since I neither knew the name of the bug nor, apparently, the proper name of its colors, I couldn't get any closer to it ...)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:27 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Asking and answering this question will change the answer. If we all decide it's 17:00 EST, then everyone will start posting at 17:00 EST and it might actually become something like 19:00 or 4:00.
posted by J. Wilson at 7:51 AM on February 21, 2011


What I don't get is: When someone thinks of a question, they don't then think to themselves "I wonder if anyone else might have thought of this same question. I think I'll search the archives."

But there's a major dose of confirmation bias going on there, since there's no way of knowing how many people think about asking a question, but search either the web in general or the AskMe archives specifically, then don't post their question because they found the answer.

In fact, I came here just now because I decided I'd like to read Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, but wasn't particulary happy with the translation on Project Gutenberg , and I was going to ask for recommendations of a translation. But I said to myself, "I should Google that first," and the second hit when googling for marcus aurelius meditations translations was this thread. Heh, I had thought my question was narrow enough that it wouldn't have been asked here before. I should know better than that. Question aborted. Thanks, AskMe!

There's also a time issue. While I doubt the answer to my question would have changed during the intervening 2.5 years, there's many other questions whose answers would change over that period, so it's legitimate to re-ask them.

And in fairness, we do see questions sometimes that say, "I searched the archives and found these other questions which are similar but not exactly what I'm looking for."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:56 AM on February 21, 2011


We should encourage people to use 'my ask'. That keeps relevant questions in front of people for a lot longer.
posted by empath at 8:09 AM on February 21, 2011


If everybody asked their question at the best time to ask a question, then suddenly, it wouldn't be the best time to ask a question anymore.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:15 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


We should encourage people to use 'my ask'.

Yeah it really improves my AskMe experience and doesn't seem to get used as often as it should.
posted by The Whelk at 8:19 AM on February 21, 2011


//And in fairness, we do see questions sometimes that say, "I searched the archives and found these other questions which are similar but not exactly what I'm looking for."//

And 75% of time, the answer in those previous questions is the correct answer. It's just not the answer the asker wants to hear.
posted by COD at 8:29 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best time to ask your question is when:

1) I'm not actually working at work OR
2) I'm at home and my husband is otherwise occupied AND
3) I'm not sleeping.

Generally this tends to be sometime between 8 AM and 8 PM CST. Make sure your question is about one or more of the following:

1) cats
2) Wisconsin
3) maps
4) Buddhism
5) maps of Buddhist cats in Wisconsin
posted by desjardins at 9:57 AM on February 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know something, honey? You shouldn't give your pie away with breakfast! It makes you look cheap!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:29 PM on February 21, 2011


Umm.. I did look in the wiki, faq's and searched, perhaps my search abilities are lacking, very possible, considering that after following the links here and then the links within the links I found 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 discussions of this subject. I think having this in the faq is a good idea, perhaps with all or some of the links above.


I also concur that the first page of Ask could be longer. It is disheartening to compose one's very special snowflake question and see it go away so fast. I almost never read past the first page either.
posted by flummox at 6:12 PM on February 21, 2011


I don't think there's enough green to make it longer.
posted by Sailormom at 9:13 PM on February 21, 2011


That's easily dealt with, by making it longer only for people who have selected the professional white background.
posted by flabdablet at 11:24 PM on February 21, 2011


The underlying question of "When's the best time to post to Ask in order to get the most responses" has been asked many times and doesn't have a very good answer.

However, the answer to your specific question about the best time to post to have the least other new posts pushing your question off the page is much simpler-- overnight US time. (Of course, there are also less people reading and commenting then, which is why that's not the answer to "best time to get the most views/the most comments.") I feel like this has been graphed somewhere at some point, but all I can find in quick perusing is analysis of number of comments, not number of posts.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 10:20 AM on February 22, 2011


We updated AskMe to have 60 questions on it now and we're looking at the possibility of one of those "infinite pages" setups where you can just click a link at the bottom to load more past questions. Will keep you posted.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:51 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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