You have many questions, Mr. Sparkle. April 13, 2012 6:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm a prolific AskMe user, but I think I'm doing it wrong.

The most useful questions to me have basically been polls: book suggestions, music suggestions, shopping suggestions, that kind of thing. My non-poll questions can be divided into
  • questions where I know the answer already, but don't like it;
  • questions where I could figure out the answer with minimal research, but am too lazy to;
  • and questions where the matter is too nuanced or personal for strangers to make useful suggestions.
Since I can get reading and music recommendations elsewhere, I'm beginning to lose interest in AskMe functionality.

Rekindle the flames of my hope! What was the most useful or insightful response you've gotten to one of your own questions? Tell me a story of how understanding and knowledgeable MeFites saved your day (or found new glands for your cat's therapist).
posted by Nomyte to MetaFilter-Related at 6:08 AM (75 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

AskMe is the second thing I come to MeTa for. Sometimes I don't realize I needed to know a good answer to a question that I didn't realize needed asking until it is asked by someone else. Additionally, the burning question you need answered is your ace in the hole. More than once I've thought of a good question and understood that a little googling would answer it, or a nights sleep, because, what if you think of a better question in the next 7 days?

Realize that AskMe can be best used as lurking, until the time is right.
posted by efalk at 6:13 AM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm currently getting some pretty good advice in what is probably going to be a weekly series of questions about backpacking in South America.

Well, I'll guess we'll find out how good the advice is when we find out if I get robbed, killed and/or kidnapped while I'm down there.
posted by empath at 6:18 AM on April 13, 2012


The most useful answer I ever got was to this question about curtain rings, where two mefites in Sydney each offered to buy me some at Ikea and ship them to me. I got them a couple of weeks ago and now my curtains are hanging beautifully. But that's totally not what AskMe is for, so I guess I'm doing it wrong too :)
posted by lollusc at 6:18 AM on April 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


My questions are usually things I can't google, for one reason or another.

For instance, it might be that the terms are too generic (or easily confused with something unrelated, e.g. latex vs LaTeX) or where the terms are non-standard (person A calls it a collet person B calls it a chuck).

A subproblem of this is where terms are likely to lead to things I don't want to see. For instance, asking about a vasectomy might lead to operation photos whereas asking about penises will lead to porn.

Another reason I find I can't google something is because the input box is too small, effectively. I need to explain context or tell the history of a problem or give supporting evidence/hypotheses or details, not merely do a search.
posted by DU at 6:26 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


My best AskMe experiences have been when I didn't have to ask a question at all. Just a couple of days ago, I was thinking about trying the anonymous Ask feature for the first time for what I consider an embarrassing question. After a little digging around, it's already been asked and answered a couple of times!

Your instinct is right, though, about using AskMe for cat questions. When my cat was at the emergency vet, and I needed to decide whether or not he should have surgery, AskMe was an excellent resource. I didn't even have to formulate a question, just search and read. (He had the surgery, recovered well, and is happy and healthy.) There's a great question about pet insurance that got fantastic answers, and AskMe also helped me find the cat food for my cat.

So, I don't think you're doing it wrong, per se, but you might not be exploring the archives. There's a lot of useful stuff there.
posted by gladly at 6:29 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Since I can get reading and music recommendations elsewhere, I'm beginning to lose interest in AskMe functionality.

If you don't have a use for AskMe, then don't use it. It sounds like you're looking for reasons to to use it and that's not necessary.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:40 AM on April 13, 2012 [28 favorites]


I am not a heavy AskMe user, but I did recover a major portion of my publishing portfolio thanks to the hive mind. I was ready to give up entirely, but the very first answer explained that I could (seriously) just instruct my computer to "try harder" to reconstruct the file, and that did the trick. Amazing.
posted by pts at 6:42 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had an excellent dish out at a restaurant, and the expert advice and opinions of the chefs/cooks/eaters of AskMe helped me recreate it in my own kitchen. I finally just did get it right a little over a year later! (FryDaddy, leave the broccoli in for about 3 minutes, douse with soy sauce/malt vinegar/sliced chiles mixture directly after draining oil, and serve immediately.)
posted by carsonb at 6:49 AM on April 13, 2012 [6 favorites]



Since I can get reading and music recommendations elsewhere, I'm beginning to lose interest in AskMe functionality.


Yeah it's totally okay just to wait until you have a question that needs answering. We hope people view the "one question per week" thing as an upper limit and not a mandate. Things I use AskMe for

- "I think my thinking is off on this because of various reasons and I'd like some third parties to chime in"
- "I DID read the help files and now I am more confused than ever and I'd love some assistance"
- "I am going to a new place and everyone on Yelp seems nutty and/or irritable and I'd like some general suggestions."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:51 AM on April 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


It sounds like you're trying to come up with reasons to ask questions. I don't think that's what AskMe is for. Sure, it's a great resource if you have a specific need, but asking questions should be infrequent, answering questions probably more frequent, and reading awesome answers to questions you didn't even know would be asked the most frequent activity, in my perfect world.
posted by xingcat at 6:57 AM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I ask you to respond to the question as posed, please. This is not a referendum on me. If you actually look at my posting history, you will note that I hardly ask a question each week and avoid asking vacuous questions.
posted by Nomyte at 7:06 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


My kitchen woes askme was approximately 10 billion times more helpful than any of the advice given to me by any of my SO CALLED REAL LIFE FRIENDS those bastards omg, most of whom thought it was the height of sparkling and erudite wit to tell me "well you haven't unpacked yet so why don't you just move again HURR DURR DURR LOL".
posted by elizardbits at 7:07 AM on April 13, 2012


I ask you to respond to the question as posed, please.

In MetaTalk? I thought we were just supposed to keep to those standards in AskMe?
posted by xingcat at 7:12 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've been a member since 2004, during that time I've supplied 1,907 answers to askme and have asked a total of 22 questions (that works out to just under 3 per year).

I will resort to askme under the following circumstances:

1. Basic information/tech info - I've been googling the answer for a week and have NOT found it (I'm a pretty good googler, and pretty good at determining alternative terms to use for searches). I've solved a number of tech problems this way, the knowledge base here is outstanding.

2. Opinion information, such as "I'm going to city x, point me to good hotels/resturants, etc".- cases where I can find the names of the places in google, but want the good advice of the meta crew whose opinions I trust. I was able to find a great restaurant to send my kid and his wife as a gift to when they were in Vancouver

3. Flat out emergency stuff when I know that I will get the info faster from askme than I will through any other means. When my daughter was in France and needed help booking flights, askme provided me the resources to help her facilitate the process.

I consider Askme a last resort, in most cases not doing so is just being lazy.
posted by HuronBob at 7:15 AM on April 13, 2012


In MetaTalk? I thought we were just supposed to keep to those standards in AskMe?

The post is muddled, but the OP has clarified, so it's ok to respect his/her/wookian request.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 AM on April 13, 2012


I live in xingcat's perfect world. I ask now & then, I answer relatively often, and I read all the time.

I can't pinpiont a single most useful/insightful response to a question of mine, but I can tell you that the collection of responses I got to the question I paid $5 to ask and my followup question 2 months later still resonate and I continue to learn from them.

questions where I know the answer already, but don't like it;

There are a lot of questions in that category on Ask!
posted by headnsouth at 7:17 AM on April 13, 2012


I've never asked a question, I'm far too smug to admit not knowing something.
posted by Abiezer at 7:17 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In MetaTalk? I thought we were just supposed to keep to those standards in AskMe?

Well, yes, but I like to be in control.
posted by Nomyte at 7:17 AM on April 13, 2012


Is this another Meta stunt post?
posted by smackfu at 7:29 AM on April 13, 2012


If you get a cat you'll have questions.
I haven't asked any yet.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:33 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I ask you to respond to the question as posed, please. This is not a referendum on me.

Then you might have wanted to leave out this language from your question, as posed:
I'm a prolific AskMe user, but I think I'm doing it wrong.

The most useful questions to me have basically been polls: book suggestions, music suggestions, shopping suggestions, that kind of thing. My non-poll questions can be divided into
•questions where I know the answer already, but don't like it;
•questions where I could figure out the answer with minimal research, but am too lazy to;
•and questions where the matter is too nuanced or personal for strangers to make useful suggestions.

Since I can get reading and music recommendations elsewhere, I'm beginning to lose interest in AskMe functionality.

Rekindle the flames of my hope!
posted by John Cohen at 7:37 AM on April 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


I have felt similarly, Nomyte (although I use AskMe a lot less), and I would suggest that it may be a result of having too-high expectations. That was the case for me. You almost can't help it: You see all these questions on myriad topics zipping past day after day, all getting numerous responses and best-answer checkmarks, and you begin to think there's nothing AskMe cannot do.

My first question was about books on Egyptian history, and I was disappointed to only get two replies. I asked about brass-quintet Christmas albums expecting that I would get some good recommendations, but I didn't get much. I wanted a hard case for eyeglasses and got a few recommendations but nothing that fit my criteria. Most recently I asked about UChicago's editing curriculum, feeling certain that since MetaFilter is full of editors I'd get several firsthand accounts and hopefully another few "My friend went there..." answers. I got one.

But when I think about it, this is probably roughly what I should expect. I do my homework before posting an AskMe, so that eliminates the easy-answers. What's left is mostly expertise or personal experience...and the narrower the topic, the more difficult it will be to find somebody with expertise or personal experience. When I only got one answer to my last question about a particular school's program, I felt a bit surprised but not disappointed because I had learned. AskMe is a big place but it isn't huge.
posted by cribcage at 7:38 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, yes, but I like to be in control.

There's a Mefite group on Fetlife.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:41 AM on April 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Then you might have wanted to leave out this language from your question, as posed:

Just because it's a question grounded in Nomyte's personal experience doesn't mean it's an invitation to get all judgey about Nomyte's use of AskMe.
posted by stebulus at 7:42 AM on April 13, 2012


The moral is that trying to police your question in MetaTalk just will get people to start talking about your attempt to police the question.
posted by smackfu at 7:51 AM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just because it's a question grounded in Nomyte's personal experience doesn't mean it's an invitation to get all judgey about Nomyte's use of AskMe.

True, but no one was doing that.
posted by John Cohen at 7:56 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


You might want to become a prolific reader of AskMefi. Not only will that give you a feel for what kinds of questions Ask is really good at answering, and what kinds of questions generally don't go over well or don't really provide useful suggestions.

The most helpful AskMe questions I ask are things that 1) have some concrete answers and 2) where responses based on actual experience are the best. So there are some things I can google, but there is a lot of conflicting information out there or things that require a certain level of experience. If I asked about those things on AskMefi, I usually get an answer from someone who knows about or has actually done the thing I need help with and that is seriously invaluable.
posted by Kimberly at 7:56 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I asked an anonymous sex question and got fabulous answers. Not many answers, because it was about something quite unusual, but very very good ones. Plus it was a relief that someone even knew what I was talking about; it was a problem I'd searched for in vain on the internet. (In case anyone's wondering, it wasn't anything all that titillating; it was about sex with a health problem.) So I think what made the whole experience good was the combination of an obscure problem plus the fact that just having someone to discuss it with was going to be a plus if it happened.

The only other question I've asked was non-anonymous and it was a curiosity question, not a deliberative one, and that was a success to me, at any rate. I hoped someone will come along with knowledge or experience to cast some light on something, and they did.
posted by BibiRose at 8:00 AM on April 13, 2012


"It sounds as though you need to make plans to educate them about being apart. It is important -- how would they have coped if one had to be hospitalized?"

A month later, guess what happened?

We had been encouraging more separation time thanks to that thread, and I am convinced that it helped make the experience more bearable for both of them.


Other things... I'd like to think the answers in this thread are helping me to be a better, kinder and more considerate parent. I guess you'll have to ask my kids if that's the case when they're older, though. :)

My peanuts are not allergic to peanuts. However, we did find out that my son is allergic to cats and a few kinds of mold, through allergy tests.

I've also posted one anonymous question whose answers were healing and life-changing.
posted by zarq at 8:15 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The number one absolute top thing that I use AskMe for is to mentally counteract the narcissistic projections that are a major part of sites like Facebook. I deactivated my account a couple of weeks ago (never been happier!) but before that, it was this welcome mental shift to visit AskMe all day and be inspired to ask questions all day long, in my head and on Google, about stuff that only became questions in my head as tangents from existing AskMe questions. It was like an antidote to Facebook-- instead of "me, me, me" all the time (what can I post in my status to draw attention to myself? What fake me can I present so that people think my life is just as happy as the ones they're projecting?) it's -- hey, oh yeah, that thing I forgot about that I was wondering this morning in the shower-- I'm gonna go research more about it. It's a life filled with questions, inspired by AskMe and made better as a result.

That said, I can't Google matters related to my arachnophobia and it's probably those questions, for me, that have yielded the most helpful answers.
posted by mireille at 8:23 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've gotten a lot of help on AskMe, but there's one question where the answer has impacted my life almost every day of my life, and it's this one, where I learned that there's such a thing as a handle sleeve and I ordered two and haven't burned my hand since. I often think of the question when I pull something out of the oven, and put the little handle sleeve on it, and when I grasp it a few minutes later to make a pan sauce I note quietly to myself that I am not grasping a 425 degree handle and I marvel at how nice that is.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:27 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ask me has worked best for me in that I've been confused and usure of how to work my way forward. The fresh eyes of AskMe can usually get me to see the problems I've got from a different angle, which tends t help me out immensely. That, or I've got a subject I'm utterly ignorant about, and I'm appealing to the vast and impressive array of experiences and expertise available amongst the sites members.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:35 AM on April 13, 2012


I get the most out of AskMe from questions I've never asked. Reading other peoples' questions and the answers they get is also a functionality, you know? That said, the dozen questions I have asked have all gotten me excellent answers that I didn't find elsewhere.

I guess I really don't understand what problem you're looking to solve, here, but I got wicked good answers/resources to my question about learning how to draw and the one about best practices for preserving an old scrapbook.
posted by rtha at 8:35 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Llamas can cook?

You say:
1) questions where I know the answer already, but don't like it;
2) questions where I could figure out the answer with minimal research, but am too lazy to;
3) and questions where the matter is too nuanced or personal for strangers to make useful suggestions.

well, 1) is stange, what are you hoping to achieve with those questions? You don't like the date of the declaration of independance? what are you going to do about it? For 2), stop being lazy,* and with 3), how can you formulate an AskMe which strangers can actually answer?

*yeah i know, we've all been there.

The other option is to think about things that might/do interest you other than books and music, and think about them a bit, search around, and see if you have any questions.
posted by marienbad at 8:36 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had really, really good luck asking metafilter where to live. Also how to handle some career stuff. Metafilter is AWESOME for big-picture questions.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:36 AM on April 13, 2012


I can't Google matters related to my arachnophobia

Possibly it might help to disable images in your browser before doing so? Or is it even just the words and descriptions that freak you out?

Now I feel bad because maybe even thinking about the words and descriptions might freak you out.

posted by elizardbits at 8:58 AM on April 13, 2012


I wanted to buy my boyfriend a mandolin, and I got some really great direction from this question!

Also, I'm not sure I got an exact answer, but I definitely learned a lot from this grammar question

Someone joined just to answer this Powerpoint question of mine.
posted by radioamy at 9:03 AM on April 13, 2012


Well, I'll guess we'll find out how good the advice is when we find out if I get robbed, killed and/or kidnapped while I'm down there.

Dear AskMe

I am seeking recommendations for good places in South America to rob, kill and/or kidnap American backpackers. Please hope me!
posted by Hoopo at 9:19 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I asked an anonymous sex question and got fabulous answers.

Aha, that was you!
posted by Meatbomb at 9:46 AM on April 13, 2012


You don't have to ask questions in order to participate. How about posting answers to other people's questions?

You don't have to participate at al in order to enjoy reading AskMe. I only answer one or two a day (and sometimes none), but I enjoy reading a lot of the questions/answers where I have nothing to contribute.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:52 AM on April 13, 2012




What was the most useful or insightful response you've gotten to one of your own questions?

When my dog was dying, I needed to get insight from people on subjective quality of life issues that my vet couldn't or wouldn't discuss with me in a way that I considered to be adequate.

I've seen a couple responses up above that AskMe does best with questions that have concrete, objective answers. I would have to disagree. The whole reason that I needed AskMe and not Google was because my question was subjective and nobody would be able to tell me in advance what "the" right answer would be. What I needed to know was not something that one could find in Wikipedia or Stack Overflow or wherever people google around to when they need to find "the one correct answer."

I was able to do a better job of caring for my dog (who had been with me since I was a child) in his last days and making the best decisions for him because of the answers I got to my question. I find that I've gotten fantastic questions to ALL of my AskMe questions and I have never felt like I could have gotten them by just googling. But the stakes were much higher in my question about my dog because his suffering was in the balance, so that why I would say that question was the most useful.
posted by cairdeas at 10:28 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I think I have a pretty good idea of what I want, or what is possible, and then people's answers prove me I don't know the half of it. That's when Ask MetaFilter is fantastic, showing you a different way to think about things, pointing out options you never knew you had.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:29 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking a lot lately about how finding AskMe has sort of saved my life. A year ago, I was spending the majority of my time curled up in a ball on my couch in pain. The future looked small and cramped: I was only 28 but (according to my doctor) 32 of my joints hurt all of the time, and so did, increasingly, my stomach. I so tired that every excursion out of my house took a major effort of will. Hell, I was so tired that when I met someone new and cute, my fantasies about them would center around us taking a nap together. My doctors told me I had an unpredictable form of rheumatoid arthritis and kept giving me stronger and stronger meds that made me dizzy and queasy but didn't help any with the pain I was in.

And then one day I was looking through the AskMe archive for questions about sinus congestion, because I'd realized recently that my sinuses had been stuffed up for, oh, the last couple of years. And someone mentioned in an answer that sinus congestion sometimes went along with gluten-intolerance and linked to a list of other common symptoms of gluten intolerance. And I looked at that list and something clicked in my head: I had every one of the symptoms on that list. So I decided as an experiment to stop eating gluten for two weeks and see if it made a difference. After three days, my belly stopped hurting, and I started to feel better than I had in a really long time.

The crazy thing is, I'm still continuing to feel better 10 months later. A lot of my joint pain has even started to subside. I keep reaching these points of, 'Holy shit, you mean regular people feel like this all the time?' and I say to myself severely, 'That's it then: don't expect anything more. This must be as good as it's going to get,' but then a couple of months later, I realize I'm feeling even better than I was before. I'm coming up on 30, and when some of my friends complain about getting older and creakier, I just laugh with delight. It's not that everything's perfect: I still have arthritis, and I still have days when I ache a bit. But it doesn't, for example, physically hurt to get out of bed in the morning anymore. And the future no longer looks like one enormous black hole.

Without AskMe, I'm pretty sure I'd still be curled up in a ball on my couch, getting sicker and sicker, and feeling more and more hopeless about the future. So AskMe didn't pull me out of a burning building or anything, but I'm still pretty sure it's saved my life.
posted by colfax at 10:33 AM on April 13, 2012 [41 favorites]


I've found a lot of use for AskMe with a) "I would like to buy this specific thing and I cannot figure out where/I would like to purchase an item to solve this particular problem but I don't know what." (multicolored napkin rings, crib-escaping child) and b) "I need many examples of this particular thing for this use." (Foods from the Great Gatsby and Anne of Green Gables for parties; clues for a children's book game at a baby shower; conversation starters for an online class). I think those are both very hive-mind-y, especially the second one, where many people generating ideas has made my parties cooler. (Well, for such values of "cool" as include Great Gatsby theme parties.)

It's also particularly useful for things where I can't manage to google up the answer because I don't know enough to narrow it down and sort through all the SEO spam (especially things to do with home improvement and a problem I had with my phone).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:59 AM on April 13, 2012


This was a question that gave me answers that were immediately applicable to my life. I actually implemented one of the answers and got a job in a completely new field/career. However, I don't think it had anything to do with how I asked the question but rather, I needed/wanted alternatives to implement right now (vs. the idea of going back to school for yet another degree/or doing an internship for 0 $). I gave enough background info, too, so that some of the people who replied could give a response that was useful to me.

I rarely ask questions (maybe a few times per year). However, these are what usually helped me more than quickly writing a question and posting it:

• Going through the archives; most questions that I have were already formulated, asked, and have great responses about 20 to 10000000 times. I've read some other questions/answers many times to get useful insights.

• Followup with someone who had a great reply. In an odd way, sometimes I read an answer and find out that another person dealt with the same things and already has a few useful insights/suggestions. So I just memail that person, point to the question ...and it has usually been very helpful.

• Answer some of the questions if you ever learn how to then deal with something. I can't point to a question and answer to a similar question a few years because I would hurt the anonymity of my sock puppet - but it was very powerful for me to realize that I struggled with something for *years* but now I have implemented other ways to deal with it and can even offer different insights and suggestions. It wasn't until I typed out the answer that I realized this.Sock puppet therapy.

• If you do ask/post a question, other than doing one "correction" to get people in another direction ...let people give their varied answers without becoming offended or trying to change his or her point of view. I'll be honest and say that sometimes an answer may not be useful to me, but I realize that 1) the person is trying to help and 2) it may be useful to someone else who later reads the question and had the same question but needs the answer from a different perspective. Also, sometimes I'm stubborn at the time and when I revisit the answer a few months later...I realize an answer that I rejected was probably more appropriate or useful.
posted by Wolfster at 11:00 AM on April 13, 2012


For my very first ask.me question ("Is there a paleoanthropologist in the house?"), I got direction from a kick-ass expert! ("This is the question of my dreams. I am indeed a paleoanthropologist")
posted by Greg Nog at 11:21 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you are actively soliciting for questions to ask on AskMe, you are indeed Doing It Wrong.
posted by Justinian at 11:27 AM on April 13, 2012


Followup with someone who had a great reply. In an odd way, sometimes I read an answer and find out that another person dealt with the same things and already has a few useful insights/suggestions. So I just memail that person, point to the question ...and it has usually been very helpful.

I've done this too, and people have been great to exchange one-on-one followups with over memail.

Recently I also memailed someone to give them a heads-up that I was posting a question in their field of expertise, and asking them if they wouldn't mind weighing in. And they did, with a super-helpful response.
posted by headnsouth at 11:28 AM on April 13, 2012


I probably post too much about depression on Askme but I've always gotten fantastic responses I feel. I think the human relations questions surrounding mental illness are where this site shines.

I got great answers to adopting an animal when depressed, how to deal with back pain when morbidly obese and coming out of a depression, reassurance that I am not making my dog depressed by not walking her (which I still struggle with and return to read on countless occasions), if what I was experiencing about a sexual assault was normal (that gave me confidence enough to take the leap to discuss it with my therapist)

All of which also spawned touching memails from people who related.

So I'm probably one of those annoying people who use Askme too much but I think if you are posting a genuine question you'll get good responses. This doesn't include the countless times that I've searched for a question and found the answer so I didn't have to ask about it myself. Or the time I posted anonymously (back when I was here under a different name) about feeling manic for the first time and not sure what to do because my thinking was blurred and people were able to make me see that it was something I should take seriously and go to the ER.
posted by kanata at 11:40 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get very useful answers to questions that call for advice drawn from people's personal experience with a very specific issue. E.g.: "What time should I get to concert X at venue Y to get a good spot?" "Is it cool to speak English as a default in Montreal?" "Should I cancel my trip to the Maldives because of unrest in the region?"

I've asked other types of questions too, but they've been less successful.

As a rule, I try to use AskMe when AskMe is actually the best and most convenient source for actual information about something -- not for life advice or a self-esteem boost or whatever.
posted by eugenen at 12:25 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the way, I looked at some of your Askme questions and they seem fine, much more so than I would have expected from reading your question. And it seems like you got replies so where is the problem really?
posted by BibiRose at 12:35 PM on April 13, 2012


Quick brainstorming-type answers from these two threads made it into videogames I've produced.

Alas, this remains my biggest failed question. We were never actually able to reach anyone at this company, and still continue to repair the Ojo toy over and over again.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:45 PM on April 13, 2012


Or is it even just the words and descriptions that freak you out?

Yes! All of the above! Mostly, I can't see a reason to chance it if I don't have to. And that's the magic of AskMe-- you all are like my stand-in husband when he's not available.
posted by mireille at 1:19 PM on April 13, 2012


I asked something like: "You hate to pick up your phone. I want to know why."

I was that I was feeling super guilty for not calling friends, family (or calling them back) - it got to the point that I was losing friends over it, as I tried to explain why using the phone wasn't working for me, and they were rightfully upset that we were out of touch.

Well, the 105 answers I got truly opened my eyes and changed my perspective on it. I realized heaps of people didn't like using their phones either. I heard reasons why that I hadn't considered but were true for me too (like the fact that the phone reception really isn't stellar, and cell phones are mini computers that really aren't comfortable, that phones are now attached to us, and can interrupt in a way that they didn't previously, etc.).

Overall, I still have some issues with it, but the post and the responses stand out as a turning point for me. I'm a lot much more okay with how I feel.

Which is pretty marvelous, really.
posted by anitanita at 1:35 PM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


And of course, AskMe remembers all of the children's books you could possibly forget in three lifetimes.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:14 PM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I ask you to respond to the question as posed, please. This is not a referendum on me. If you actually look at my posting history, you will note that I hardly ask a question each week and avoid asking vacuous questions.

Your snippy tone here is really out of place.

When you said the following, I really wondered why you felt the need to come to MeTa:

-- questions where I know the answer already, but don't like it;
-- questions where I could figure out the answer with minimal research, but am too lazy to;
-- and questions where the matter is too nuanced or personal for strangers to make useful suggestions.


How does it make sense to post questions that you know are not appropriate for AskMe? And then act like it's cute that you do it, and that it's a problem with AskMe that you can't think of good questions that need answering?

It seems pretty silly to say that you don't have or can't think of questions that are appropriate for Ask Metafilter. What do you mean? Amazing questions are posted every day, if you can't figure it out it seems like the problem is with you.
posted by jayder at 3:07 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you could read my question more charitably.
posted by Nomyte at 3:18 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What was the most useful or insightful response you've gotten to one of your own questions?

I asked what the abolition of the Canadian Wheat Board would mean for me if I were a wheat farmer in Saskatchewan. I got many good responses, but the best one was from an actual wheat farmer in Saskatchewan; it was basically just luck that she happened to see the question.

Looking at your posting history, you've asked some really interesting questions that fall a little outside of AskMe's sweet spots. AskMe is pretty good for (a) really general questions where everyone's an expert (relationship questions, book/music/restaurant recommendations, story identification requests, etc.); and (b) questions that require specialized domain knowledge, as long as the domain isn't too narrow. If you ask a narrow question about a fairly obscure subject, most of the userbase can't help you.

That's why, for example, your question about a particular character type in anime was a bit of a long shot: lots of people watch anime, but there aren't a lot of Mefites with the kind of thorough, detailed knowledge of Japanese cultural norms necessary to answer your question. (My Wheat Board question is structurally similar, but it required only a general and fairly common knowledge of agriculture and economics.) Your question about contract research organizations is an interesting counterexample: you got almost no replies, but one of them was from a prototypical Best Possible Answerer (like the wheat farmer who answered my question). That is pretty much always a matter of luck. I'm not saying you shouldn't ask questions like those -- quite the opposite; both those questions are great -- but you have to calibrate your expectations.
posted by twirlip at 3:44 PM on April 13, 2012


What was the most useful or insightful response you've gotten to one of your own questions?

I asked a question coming on 7 years ago for suggestions for a mix CD for my nearly-ready-to-be-born nephew. Totally run of the mill question in a classic AskMe mix CD thread vein, but it was useful to me at the time, because hey, songs for the mix CD. My sister ended up playing it a lot, and it found heavy rotation in my nephew's baby CD player, because it was quiet but not saccharine. Useful.

Fast forward to last year. Lying on the living room floor, coloring with my now-totally-born-and-nearly-six-year old nephew, one of the songs from the CD, long since transferred to an iPod, popped up in a random playlist shuffle. I didn't notice. He did. Still coloring, he said "Hey, this is my best song." I said "Yeah?" and he said "Yeah. You gave it to me because you loved me before I was even born." Useful.
posted by donnagirl at 3:50 PM on April 13, 2012 [20 favorites]


What was the most useful or insightful response you've gotten to one of your own questions?

1. A few months ago, I was on a karaoke team, and I wanted to have a bunch of people in the bar play a game of musical chairs while I was singing a song. In order to do that, I needed a song that had 5 parts where the music dropped out completely, at which point everyone would try and scramble for seats. All my googling was leaving me empty-handed: responses I found elsewhere were giving me songs that had like one or two super-short dropouts which was not at all what I wanted. I asked this question on AskMe and got a super perfect answer, which I used to great effect a few days later.

2. My sister wanted to do a photo-scavenger hunt with a guy she was seeing at the time, in a city where neither her nor I lived. I could've googled up famous landmarks, but I wanted the things they were looking for to be a liiiiittle more insider baseball than that. I asked this question on AskMe and got like a majillion responses, and my sister TOTALLY geeked out over it.

In conclusion, AskMe is good for making people play musical chairs in a karaoke bar and for designing non-local scavenger hunts for your sister and the guy she is seeing.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:16 PM on April 13, 2012


For me, the best answers are relying on the subjective and particular knowledge of mefites, of whom I believe there will always be an expert in whatever I'm asking, or someone with similar preferences to me.

I find recommendations for specific non-fiction books are generally terrific; because we have a buttload of academics here that both know more about the subject than I could possibly imagine, and understand what a decent popular non-fiction writer looks like (as opposed to say, fantasy novel recommendations where I could practically write the list of answers myself now - regardless of what type of book is actually being requested. "Oh The Wheel of Time doesn't have any sentient, neoliberal, amputee giraffes in it like you're asking, and it's a kabillion pages long and you only wanted novellas, but I think you would love it!"

Likewise, questions for general recommendations for products are a bit so-so - people are wont to recommend the thing they own which is typically the only thing of its type they've bought. But, specific product questions ("How's your BeanBuster mixer? Did the sprockets last for long?" "I need to replace the Wankel on the Wankel-Rotary Engine - possible?") are generally absolutely terrific!

I guess anything that relies on a person's specific and particular knowledge is generally a very satisfying question to ask, in my experience. This holds true for all kinds of more.... existential questions, too. Things that rely more on a general opinion or require no direct, exclusive expertise or experience tend to be a bit more random noisy in my opinion. I've had some great answers for my questions - but it's true that if I can find the answer via googling or topic-specific forums, then the calibre of askme answers is likely not as strong. I guess the secret is asking questions that only people that are qualified one way or another to answer, will answer - as opposed to any random cruising the green.
posted by smoke at 4:24 PM on April 13, 2012


What was the most useful or insightful response you've gotten to one of your own questions?

This answer to my question "How do I survive my future marine's enlistment?" was absolutely amazing. Particularly: The only thing that will teach you how to deal with his absence is his absence. This has actually been a kind of mantra that I repeat to myself when I'm feeling anxious. When I read that a light went on in my mind and I was flooded with relief.

I’ve asked three other questions since then and received some fantastic answers. My questions usually come from a place of “well, I’ve been thinking about this and I can’t get into the right headspace to work this out. I need some help right now from someone who isn’t close to me or this situation.”
posted by OsoMeaty at 4:35 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Once again we've proven that no matter what the question is, the answer is us talking about ourselves.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:46 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best answers I've given on AskMe are, I think, ones that it would be hard to get good answers to elsewhere without putting yourself at some kind of risk. There are lots of reasons people don't want to ask about FMLA regulations from an HR person at their own employer, and some of them are even good reasons. And I don't honestly expect random people (who are probably encountering this issue for the very first time) to be able to Google the subject intelligently. I think they are mostly good questions.

The answers that have been most helpful for me have been ones I'm not willing to connect to my username. :)
posted by SMPA at 6:56 PM on April 13, 2012


I've asked six questions under this username; all got very helpful responses that solved the problem I was there to solve. I do have a soft spot in my heart for this response in particular -- the cathartic power of xtreme vulgarity, courtesy of the much-lamented Civil_Disobedient.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:05 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


AskMe was there in the middle of the night when no one was awake and I needed to have friends guide and comfort me. Most of the time I didn't even have to ask the question. Someone else had asked and many answers were there for the reading.

On one occasion I asked a question when I was upset and not able to think clearly and all my friends were also traumatized and didn't want to talk about it.

The practical advice and the kindness of the answerers helped me through a tough time. I am grateful and touched at how freely MeFites share their knowledge and reach out with comfort.

I am always happy when I can give an answer also.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:05 AM on April 14, 2012


After a long break from AskMe (for basically the same three reasons you summarized) I thought of a question that I think AskMe is perfect for. It's basically a question about history, filtering for certain very specific events. There was no way to google for the answer, although I tried, and if I wanted to do the research myself offline I'd probably have to study history for thirty years. Bringing it to AskMe meant that pretty much anyone who had absorbed some history could potentially help.

In summary, AskMe is great for questions about topics you know so little about that finding an answer unaided is futile, and that's probably what I'll use it for from now on.
posted by Ritchie at 2:51 AM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]



AskMe makes me smarter at answering my own questions.

Here's the amazing thing, though; the answers I come up with for myself, to the questions that never make it to the green, aren't just the products of my intelligence alone.

For instance, several days ago I thought I had a really interesting question about deliberate life-long calorie restriction. I truly believed I was engaging the topic from an relaxed, scientifically curious viewpoint; I was hoping to read smart opinions from all possible angles once I formulated my question, which would be the MOST ABSTRACTLY INTERESTING QUESTION EVAH. On closer inspection, once I started to poke around for links to give my question more context? Turns out my thinking is actually clouded, in a very patterned way: I’m probably anorexic. I’ve hardly ever been so surprised.

The low-hanging fruit analysis is that I benefitted from the AskMe demand for well-structured, well-researched, honest questions. Certainly if I hadn't thrown myself into the minor challenge of formulating my question, I might not have figured this out for months.

What’s more interesting to me, is that I’m certain my emotional responses to figuring out my real problem were modulated by the reams of advice I’ve read here. Because of other answers I have read on AskMeFi, to a variety of topics, I was:
- More inclined to be honest with myself, on the basis that others would call me out if I wasn’t.
- Less inclined to resist the realization that I’d made a massive category error, since people here often gently call out askers for missing what’s obviously the point.
- More inclined to take self-care seriously and be kind to myself, since people here are often kind.

So, my conclusion is, that AskMeFi is useful for all questions, even if it would be counter-productive to bore any of the members with actual questions that are dumb.

P.S. The one question I have asked got great answers, because it hit the sweet spot of MeFite experts and self-taught enthusiasts who are sympathetic to beginners. Topic X 102 questions seem to do well.
posted by pickingupsticks at 5:17 AM on April 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Huh. I've gotten great answers to my relatively few questions, and I've answered lots. But AskMe's real attraction for me is the basic, fundamental great good nature of the people who hang out at Metafilter. For all our caterwauling, so many strangers are willing to lend an ear, a sofa, money, whatever the Asker needs, really. It makes me feel good to read. Plus, smart! I love when complex, obscure or just plain off-the-wall questions are answered lickety-split.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:04 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's OK to never ask questions.
posted by Miko at 8:52 AM on April 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


AskMe helps me broaden my understanding of the human experience (for lack of a less lofty way to say that). I see its benefits when:

- I can relate with a bit more awareness to someone experiencing something that I have not, e.g., post-partum depression,
- I can answer requests for advice with a bit more confidence, having seen many people's opinion on the matter, or even solve my own problems ("yes, having no contact with your ex- might really be best"),
- I have a bit more sense of what might be warning signs, e.g., of a minor manic episode, and
- I can reassure myself or someone else that what they're experiencing is something that a lot of people go through, even something that I might otherwise have thought alarming. ("I love him, but I don't feel The Spark anymore." "Hmm, well, only you really know what it means, but I hear a lot of couples go into a post-spark phase").

There are a lot of other benefits (e.g., great recipes), but those are the ones that I most appreciate. Since I don't attend, say, church, a women's quilting club, or any other place where people of various ages and backgrounds discuss life's challenges, I really get a lot from AskMe.
posted by salvia at 5:12 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read and respond semi-regularly on AskMe, but I have only ever asked one question. (Which was a pretty awesome experience, by the way. I had a painting I needed the ID for, and a helpful person ID'd it within just a few minutes. Boom!)

I am fascinated by AskMe because it covers the entire panoply of human existence. Questions I had never considered, answers from perspectives I hadn't thought of, and information I never knew existed. It has morality questions which I find fascinating to chew over, cute kitty pictures, and the occasional funny or amazing mini-drama.

AskMe has taught me how to quit smoking, dozens of excellent uses for potatoes, what to do with a crock pot, which book to read next, and a billion other things.

AskMe answers are (usually) given in good faith, and are carefully groomed to weed out all the "noise." By comparison, sometimes the main site seems like a whole bunch of people each tediously trying to one-up each other.

People who only use AskMe to ask their own questions are, I think, missing out on at least 2/3rds of the awesome.
posted by ErikaB at 5:27 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a love/hate relationship with Ask . . . on the one hand, I get so frustrated with people who answer without having read the question or who just seem to get the gist of the question, then free associate about the topic. I've asked a few questions about the same medical issue and haven't gotten much in the way of useful information, which has left me feeling even more freakish and isolated than I was before I asked the questions (and I certainly don't mean to disparage the folks that have very kindly tried to help--the issue is freakish and weird and that's certainly not their fault!)

On the other hand, I've been so moved by the outpouring of warmth and support from the community when a question indicates that the asker is really in crisis, such as this. I'm convinced that AskMetafilter has saved some lives and vastly improved many more.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:43 PM on April 14, 2012


I mostly pay attention to the human relations questions, where I've asked my own anonymously, and been given much to chew on in response.
posted by ead at 11:50 PM on April 15, 2012


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