Join 3,425 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

It's ok... you can do it, you can make a decision by yourself.
December 10, 2012 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Is Ask Metafilter a place for people afraid to learn from their own experiences?

This thread just made me think "FFS, just buy a tree... It's not going to turn into a Sabre Toothed Tigre and kill your family". I appreciate I'm not American and you guys have a huge litigation culture whereas in Scotland we're far more of the "If you die after placing your toaster in the bath with you, it's your own fault and it would bring shame on your family if they sought compensation from the toaster manufacturer for not putting a sticker on informing you not to put the electric toaster in the bath because it would confirm that you were too stupid to live anyway" school of thought.

Does anyone else find this to be the case? Are some AskMe questions the kind of thing you expect from people who won't use public telephones in case they get AIDS from the homeless guy who last used it three weeks ago?
posted by dougrayrankin to MetaFilter-Related at 1:41 PM (123 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Is Ask Metafilter a place for people afraid to learn from their own experiences?

That seems like a needlessly uncharitable way to raise the question. Everybody has different levels of experience with, concerns/anxieties about, and experiential reasons for their level of caution in dealing with all sorts of different and situations and events; it stands to reason that just about everyone will find some questions that strike them as overly cautious or overly reckless, but that's just part of being human and everyone being different.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:46 PM on December 10, 2012 [77 favorites]


I think it's more about avoiding pratfalls that you wouldn't think about since you've never done something. Like "X is fine, but watch out for Y"
posted by hellojed at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's a place for people with questions that others here might be able to answer.

I don't really see the problem in someone asking some questions about Xmas trees before they lay out $50-$100 bucks for one (never mind the stand), myself. Nor do I see how this proves those of us in the USA are fearful weenies.
posted by bearwife at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ask Metafilter where we are helpful. If a being helpful is walking them through a purchase of a Christmas, we do it. If you don't have the ability to help in that situation, move on.
posted by Brent Parker at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


People aren't born knowing everything there is to know about the universe, you know.

If you read inside, you'll see that the asker is specifically asking about pesticide use on trees; there are any number of reasons they could be asking this - who knows, maybe they're having some health difficulties and need to watch out for certain chemical fumes in their house, and they wanted to make sure that there wasn't going to be any chemical exposure for them to worry about.

Maybe someone looks timid to you, but you can't know what's behind why they're asking, and it is generally charitable to assume the best towards them.

I mean, hell, maybe someday you'll be asking us a question about something which you find baffling - you would want answers, right, rather than a whole bunch of people saying "well, DUH."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Learning from others' experience how to avoid trouble beats learning from your own, nine ways to Sunday.
posted by spitbull at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2012 [18 favorites]


That seems like a needlessly uncharitable way to raise the question.

I agree with cortex here. I see your point--as I also did a double-take with that particular question--but then I decided it was more of an idle "Huh. I've never had a live Christmas tree in my house before. I wonder if it will have bugs. Or pesticide residue that could make my dog/cat/child sick. Well, there's no-one here to ask, so I'll ask metafilter! Surely they will know the answer to my trivial question!" Not an "OMG I can't risk this deadly deadly Christmas tree bug! I must find out if my crippling fear is justified!"
posted by crush-onastick at 1:50 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am starting to wonder if MetaTalk is the dank and not entirely pleasant place for EDD* people to slap-down or bitch about people who post to AskMeFi...

We're all different. We have different cultures, experiences and upbringings. I've lived in both Scotland (10 years) and the USA (3 years), and there's timid, inexperienced, worried and cautious, and brash, experienced, fearless and bold-as-brass residents, and a lot in between, in both places. There's also a litigation culture in Scotland and the UK - watch the puerile daytime TV adverts for more on this.

If your post is trying to make some point about the people of nation X being 'better' than the people of nation Y in some way, then that has more than a whiff of something unpleasant about it...

*EDD: Empathy Deficit Disorder. Often seen in the comments sections of online newspapers.
posted by Wordshore at 1:51 PM on December 10, 2012 [34 favorites]


Is Ask Metafilter a place for people afraid to learn from their own experiences?

No. Is MetaTalk a way to say the nasty things that you're not allowed to say in AskMe because they'd be deleted there? Also, no.

People learn in different ways and like to learn in different ways. Not your thing? Totally fine but there's no need to imply that people are stupid because they asked a question. In fact, more often than not, it can be stupid to not ask questions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:51 PM on December 10, 2012 [76 favorites]


I had never considered the fact that Christmas trees might be sprayed with pesticide. So, giving out advice like "FFS, just buy a tree" may not be the best idea. You bring shame on Scotland with this Metatalk callout!
posted by KokuRyu at 2:00 PM on December 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


"FFS, just buy a tree... It's not going to turn into a Sabre Toothed Tigre and kill your family"

One of the things the OP was worried about was bugs. I'm not sure if you've ever had to live through a bird mite infestation (which takes place on/around a bird's nest) but hoo-boy they are not fun and I would certainly be double- and triple-checking that any wild fauna I bring into my house does not put me at risk for that or anything remotely similar. Unfortunately, I'm not an entymologist or exterminator, but people here are. And they can tell me that, no, there's not a chance in hell a fir tree will bring in bird mites and make your life a living hell for six months again.

You can feel free to learn that from experience, of course.
posted by griphus at 2:00 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"you guys have a huge litigation culture whereas in Scotland "
Scotland's judicial system has three verdicts: Guilty, not guilty and not proven. This last one is for when jurors want to be sullen and backhanded about an acquittal.
posted by boo_radley at 2:03 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


The question wasn't asking about litigation at all. I don't think AskMe is a place for people who are afraid to learn from their own experiences. AskMe is a place for people who are willing to learn from other people's experiences. Your post shows that Metafilter is sometimes a place for gratuitous America-bashing.
posted by John Cohen at 2:03 PM on December 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


hmmm, you know occasionally there are AskMe questions that make me say "are you for real?" (generally, usually, quietly and in my head). But a question asking about possible pesticide use on a product you're going to have in your home for a month or so? Not even close to rising to that level.
(and as far as I can tell you are unable to tell exactly where the person posting that question is from... would be mildly amusing if it was Scotland eh?)

No
True
Scotsman
!
posted by edgeways at 2:03 PM on December 10, 2012


Also, as I mentioned in the question, I inhaled a bunch of pesticide once, due to said bird mite infestation. It is awful.
posted by griphus at 2:04 PM on December 10, 2012


Someone said it better than I will here, but 50% of askers already know the answer and just need affirmation/slight encouragement, which is a pretty okay use of the site imho

At the minimum, "obvious" answers can give the asker a good idea of what to expect
posted by MangyCarface at 2:05 PM on December 10, 2012


I've long been proud of my good working definition of wisdom as learning from others' mistakes. I mean, you've got this great resource of knowledge, aching to help you with your little questions. Why not use it? Is there some "questions must be This serious to ride" rule that I don't know about?

Now, I guess my question is, what on earth are you hoping to accomplish with this Meta? I can come up with a couple of answers, but none of them particularly flattering or charitable for you.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:06 PM on December 10, 2012


Is Ask Metafilter a place for people afraid to learn from their own experiences?

You used AskMe at least 26 times.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:07 PM on December 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Am I the only one who now wants to cut up a Christmas tree, carve it into a Sabre Toothed Tigre sabre, and kill my family with it?

Yeah - I thought so.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:07 PM on December 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


But when do the questions asked start to stray into ChatFilter? "Name my cat please" comes to mind. I know people like to participate in them, but do they dilute the spirit of AskMe?
posted by eas98 at 2:08 PM on December 10, 2012


Can we just kill this? I can't even begin to think of a constructive ending here.
posted by mintcake! at 2:09 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe the Scots still have "trial by ordeal" and MetaTalk is the closest we have to that sort of thing.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:12 PM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Your post shows that Metafilter is sometimes a place for gratuitous America-bashing.

Seriously. This post is really very "Is this something I would need to like America to understand?" For like... no reason.

This is bad and you should feel bad.
posted by sweetkid at 2:12 PM on December 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's astonishing what will set different people off. Every time I go into AskMe I see a real head-shaker of a question; as in I find it difficult to imagine the mindset behind asking it. But I'd never consider a callout unless there was something abusive going on in the asking or answering of it (and I wouldn't bother because if it were bad enough for me to call it out, 50 people would beat me to it.)

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out on what scale this particular question is a standout, and I'm completely baffled. It's a very, very ordinary question all things considered.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:13 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


dougrayrankin: “I appreciate I'm not American and you guys have a huge litigation culture whereas in Scotland we're far more of the 'If you die after placing your toaster in the bath with you, it's your own fault and it would bring shame on your family if they sought compensation from the toaster manufacturer for not putting a sticker on informing you not to put the electric toaster in the bath because it would confirm that you were too stupid to live anyway' school of thought... Does anyone else find this to be the case? Are some AskMe questions the kind of thing you expect from people who won't use public telephones in case they get AIDS from the homeless guy who last used it three weeks ago?”

I appreciate that people who've never been to America don't really understand how it works here.

We are really not a litigation society. Litigation is insanely expensive. It is a game played by the wealthy and by the few wealthy who want to use the poor as pawns in their games. Sure, we have too much of it, but it's not something us plebs really involve ourselves with all that much, with a few tragic exceptions. What we are is a chemical society. We constantly surround ourselves with the most dangerous and volatile of chemicals. They're in our food, they're in our machines, they're in the toys we give to our children, they're in the houses we build. And we have the 7th-highest cancer rate in the world. I'm sure that's not related, right?

So when an American says, "hm, do you think they put deadly pesticide in this?" it is absolutely not the same as worrying if you're going to get AIDS from a public payphone. It is a very real concern. Because we're surrounded by ridiculous chemicals that will probably kill us all at some point, and we're not being paranoid when we wonder about it.

Lastly, maybe consider that the whole "shame upon your family" thing is a rather convenient thing your lords and masters have been telling you for a number of generations to keep you in line. Oh, I'm well sure that you said that in a sort of self-deprecating way, and I appreciate your self-awareness, but perhaps it's not the best thing to tear someone down when they have the gall to wonder if the stuff they're being sold is likely to kill them.
posted by koeselitz at 2:13 PM on December 10, 2012 [20 favorites]


This is the most unnecessary and hostile Metatalk post I've seen in quite a while.
posted by Solomon at 2:14 PM on December 10, 2012 [27 favorites]


And your choice of title is bad as well.
posted by boo_radley at 2:15 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know I've asked foolish questions before, (1) - of course I shouldn't take something that looks like drugs on an airplane, even if it isn't drugs, (2) - actually not that foolish, but I would have been able to find the answer myself via google if I hadn't been so worried.

I am generally intelligent, and I didn't mean to ask stupid questions, I just wasn't thinking clearly at that particular moment for one reason or another (fear of bedbugs and/or kittens getting hurt will do that to do you. Please try to give people the benefit of the doubt when it appears that they are asking a question where the answer seems obvious to you - perhaps there is something going on that keeps the answer from being obvious to the asker.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:15 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, I guess December is "be annoyed by how other people use AskMe" month. I suppose I should be happy that the Idiom Wars from a few months ago are over, but it really does make me hunger for the simpler days of "why was my post deleted?
posted by absalom at 2:16 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does anyone else find this to be the case?

I don't. Personalities vary and it's really not up to me to tell someone they just shouldn't have the problem they have. If there is a level of anxiety or a need to manage a potential problem that exists in their lives but not mine, they have a reasonable basis for asking the question.

Skip 'em if you don't like 'em!
posted by Miko at 2:17 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Status: Awesome

I think your profile is out of date. I suggest "peevish," "condescending," or even just "snarky."
posted by absalom at 2:19 PM on December 10, 2012


So, I guess December is "be annoyed by how other people use AskMe" month.

I have, as the kids say, fixed that for you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:20 PM on December 10, 2012 [28 favorites]


Every month is "be annoyed by other people" month.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:22 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't believe I like the tone of your voice.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:24 PM on December 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am just really curious about what you intended to accomplish with this.
posted by kagredon at 2:24 PM on December 10, 2012


it really does make me hunger for the simpler days of "why was my post deleted?

This day was also this day, though? (and it was ok, it was fine)
posted by boo_radley at 2:26 PM on December 10, 2012


Why would a Scotsman need to ask about a "Glasgow kiss?"

People ask all sorts of questions that may be surprising to others.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:27 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


We always get a real tree for Christmas. I'd have maybe rolled my eyes a little at this Ask, as well. Except, this year we did have a teensy little bug issue. The woman who sold us the tree had just flipped it onto its side to chainsaw off a couple inches of trunk when she said, as casually as only a farm-raised woman can, "Oops, there's a black widow there."

My partner edged quickly away. I said, "Really?" She flipped it over with her shoe and, sure enough, there was the red mark. "My hand was just there, too," she remarked. Then she smooshed the spider and began chainsawing. I took this in stride, but my partner was (in spirit) already halfway to Walmart for an artificial tree, which is what she grew up with.

I did give the tree a really vigorous upside-down shake before bringing it in, though. And that's why I can no longer say I've never had a bug issue with live Christmas trees.
posted by gilrain at 2:31 PM on December 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


I like researching things and seeing my options before I do something, and I like asking Metafilter to see what other people have researched on the same topic. The resources are here, why not use them?

Just don't read the site if other people's inferior mental fortitudes bothers you so much.
posted by Phire at 2:31 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


the man of twists and turns: “Why would a Scotsman need to ask about a 'Glasgow kiss?'”

Because they're in the part of Scotland that doesn't have the internet?
posted by koeselitz at 2:32 PM on December 10, 2012


Because they're in the part of Scotland that doesn't have the internet?

Is that where the True Scotsmen live? No wonder we don't hear much from them.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:39 PM on December 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ah yes, it is time for the Airing of Grievances, isn't it.

wake me when it's time for Feats of Strength.
posted by elizardbits at 2:43 PM on December 10, 2012 [20 favorites]


insectosaurus: "... of course I shouldn't take something that looks like drugs on an airplane, even if it isn't drugs ..."

My sister-in-law flew out here to Washington to visit Mrs. exogenous a bit after the death of their mother. They'd planned to visit certain places that she had enjoyed, like the cherry blossoms and the National Arboretum, and maybe surreptitiously scatter some of mama's ashes there. The sister-in-law boldly carried the ashes in a ziplock bag in her purse through the airport.

TSA agent, holding a ziplock baggie full of white-ish powder up by the corners: "And what is this?"
Sister-in-law: "My mom."
TSA agent: opens mouth, drops baggie
posted by exogenous at 2:46 PM on December 10, 2012 [31 favorites]

I appreciate I'm not American and you guys have a huge litigation culture whereas in Scotland...
I find it disappointing that while your posting history reveals you to have a fairly wide life experience including travel to the US, you can still go round spouting crap like this.

Of course, the fact that nowhere in the question was litigation mentioned didn't stop this lazy rude stereotype from rearing its ugly head (there's one or two of them expressed towards Scotland in this thread, so it's not as if the urge to come up with lazy national stereotypes doesn't fly out in all directions).

There is a national characteristic that might explain the misunderstanding, though: back in mid-late December 1992 in Birmingham when my dad dug the Christmas tree out of the front garden where he'd planted it earlier in the year on candlemas, it turned out that ants had nested in the roots and were hibernating. Even the rudimentary warmth of the central heating in a house owned by English people born in the middle of World War 2 was enough to bring those ants out of hibernation. Soon, the ants were streaming out, and soon after, the hoover bag was full of ants and a little after that, last year's Christmas tree was planted back in the front garden. And more to the point, no harm was done, because the worst thing an insect can do to you in this island is to surround you in an itchy fog.

It's always worth remembering that as a Brit if you want to wonder why someone else is scared of creepy-crawlies: we don't know what they are.
posted by ambrosen at 2:49 PM on December 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


That TSA encounter went better than it could have.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:49 PM on December 10, 2012


It is certainly a place for people who have anxiety about Things. I totally get how frustrating some of the questions posed can be. The mix of the questions are not going to change but you can ignore the ones you think are fucking stupid. I sure do.

Your post shows that Metafilter is sometimes a place for gratuitous America-bashing.

No it doesn't. But it does perhaps illustrate that there are some different cultural standards at play on Ask that are maybe not appreciated by every member of the audience. As a group, Americans ARE much more anxious about things like mould, bedbugs, raw meat and eggs than many Europeans. The fact that they embrace a lot more anxiety about these things may not be evident to them, whereas the legit reasons WHY they have these ridiculous-seeming anxieties probably isn't obvious to Europeans.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:49 PM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Your post shows that Metafilter is sometimes a place for gratuitous America-bashing.

No it doesn't. But it does perhaps illustrate that there are some different cultural standards at play on Ask that are maybe not appreciated by every member of the audience


That is not at all how the comment was phrased. Possibly because you are a kindler gentler commenter, DarlingBri, you are giving the comment much more charity than it deserves.
posted by sweetkid at 2:54 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


No it doesn't.

Yes it does.
posted by John Cohen at 2:55 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Infinity.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:58 PM on December 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


You're all grounded.
posted by griphus at 3:00 PM on December 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm not American and you guys have a huge litigation culture whereas in Scotland...

Thank god the Scots are above that kind of silliness.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:01 PM on December 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I guess I won't ask about those radon concerns I have about the artisanal curling stone I was thinking about getting.
posted by audi alteram partem at 3:07 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is MetaTalk a place for people to make petty complaints because their friends have tuned them out?
posted by klangklangston at 3:09 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


On reviewing my comment above, I don't intend to dismiss the concerns from the ask post (which seem quite understandable and deserving of answer), but to jokingly shake my head at the metatalk OP.
posted by audi alteram partem at 3:10 PM on December 10, 2012


If tha question's naught Scottish-themed like, it's crap!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:14 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my day, we made friends out of dirt clods and spit when we wanted to make petty complaints. And we were happy to have them!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:15 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Granted it's always nice to have a second opinion, it seems AskMe is "Get a first opinion before I think!"
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:16 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You think so?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:17 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Granted it's always nice to have a second opinion, it seems AskMe is "Get a first opinion before I think!"

What the hell are you going on about? The AskMe that you referenced is basically what happened when the asker thought for a minute about what possible problems/considerations he might need to worry about with a tree. He then asked about them.
posted by kagredon at 3:18 PM on December 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


Great, now I feel bad about all those dumb, broiled Scots. And a little hungry.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:20 PM on December 10, 2012


Just keep your curling stone in a well ventilated space and you should be fine, audi alteram partem. Lewissian gneiss might be an alternative low radon rock to use, with similar frost wearing characteristics.

Yes, I did actually spend 10 minutes with a geological map of Scotland and this publication before
a) writing this comment
b) finding out that modern curling stones are made with Welsh granite

posted by ambrosen at 3:21 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


wake me when it's time for Feats of Strength.

*tosses Festivus pole through plate glass window.* Wake up! It's your turn!
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:22 PM on December 10, 2012


Sheesh...someone close this up....
posted by HuronBob at 3:24 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Since everybody is bashing on the OP here I'm going to speak up because I think there is an element of truth in his question, regardless of crudely he phrased it. I think the availability of limitless instant information, even though much of online it may be of dubious accuracy, plus places like Ask Mefi where you can get virtually instant answers from real people, is making us more risk averse, and creating anxiety and stress where none needs to exist.

Nobody just travels anymore. We spend hours online researching the best place to stay, the best place to eat, the best things to do, whatever. We are so worried about optimizing the experience we forget to just have the experience. Travel, buying a Christmas tree, it's not that different. On one hand, knowing you are going to the best restaurant in Timbuktoo because 3 people told you so on Ask Mefi is nice to know as you pull into town. However discovering that restaurant by accident and being genuinely surprised by how awesome it was is probably a much more lasting experience that will make the trip much more memorable. But nobody wants to take that risk anymore.

Note: I used travel here because a review of my posting history would indicate I'm afraid to leave town without help from Ask Mefi. I'm going to stop doing that.

And speaking of Christmas trees, if Ask MeFi existed in 1990 I may not have bought a 9 foot tree for an apartment with 8 foot ceilings. Even after I hacked off the top foot of the tree just so it would fit in the room vertically, I didn't account for how small our apartment was and how much smaller that tree looked at the lot. By the time we got it decorated and the branches settled, we literally were living in a one tree forest. The tree took over the room. Would I have been better off if I had great advice on how to buy the perfect tree? Hell, I doubt I'd even remember the tree if it were perfect. The disaster led to a story that we still laugh about 20+ years later.

And that is what we are losing by all the anxiety and stress about trying to get everything in our lives right the first time. We are losing those experiences and stories that we get by learning things the hard way, on our own. And I think in a lot of cases, those experiences are what makes life worth living.
posted by COD at 3:27 PM on December 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


Nobody just travels anymore. We spend hours online researching the best place to stay, the best place to eat, the best things to do, whatever. We are so worried about optimizing the experience we forget to just have the experience.

I can tell you are not a Planner. Neither is my wife. I drive her crazy, and I did so before the era of limitless information. Trust me - if you do not plan ahead, you will not have a good time. Just this past weekend I didn't bother to plan a trip to Tokyo, and ended up missing some bus and monorail connections that almost prevented me from enjoying Legoland! If I had only taken time to plan ahead...

Planning ahead takes away a lot of stress and anxiety.

Yours sincerely,

A Planner
posted by KokuRyu at 3:30 PM on December 10, 2012 [26 favorites]


COD: "The disaster led to a story that we still laugh about 20+ years later."

That's cool, but for every "it was a disaster, but it made a great story!" experience I've had, I've had ten "it was a disaster, and even now I get depressed when I remember it" experiences.
posted by Bugbread at 3:32 PM on December 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


Kouryu - I am also A Planner, but not quite so much when traveling. Actually - it's more like, I plan, but then I get there and the plan goes out the window because I get into "WHEE COOL STUFF I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THAT'S MORE SHINY" mode.

And since apparently dipping into the OP's profile is okay - If you wanted to learn about Indian culture, why did you ask Askme rather than the Indian people where you lived?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:34 PM on December 10, 2012


I read a lot of AskMe questions (not this one) and say "what the fuck is that person thinking?" etc. But I've learned that this site works much better if I keep those thoughts to myself. I try to answer those questions where I think I have something helpful and/or constructive to say and ignore the rest.
posted by dfriedman at 3:35 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


This feels like a fucking family holiday... I'm going home....
posted by HuronBob at 3:35 PM on December 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's also possible to educate yourself on options ahead of time without actually limiting yourself from spontaneous discovery. Being informed isn't the same thing as lacking in adventurous spirit. In fact, we informed often find ourselves having to rescue the explorers who are too proud to plan ahead. Rescue or recover.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:37 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you wanted to learn about Indian culture, why did you ask Askme rather than the Indian people where you lived?

To be fair on this one, as an Indian (American) person, I get really tired of being people's "Guide! To! India!" whenever they damn feel like it (which I actually said in that AskMe.)

Like...I' m not even really from there, dudes. My feeling is that Indian British people are similar.
posted by sweetkid at 3:37 PM on December 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I took a spreadheet of our plans when we went to Disney World. I'm a planner. Planning is having a hotel reservation and knowing the train schedule and that there are lots of restaurants in town. I'm talking about spending 3 hours on Yelp (or asking at AskMefi) because you are worried that you won't have the absolute best restaurant experience possible while in town. That stress, worrying about shit you really couldn't worry about 20 years ago because the information was too hard to get or was too expensive to get, is what I'm talking about. People (myself included) worry about stuff needlessly for no other reason that the information is out there. I guess it's a closely related cousin to Fear of Missing Out on Facebook.
posted by COD at 3:39 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Granted it's always nice to have a second opinion, it seems AskMe is "Get a first opinion before I think!""

Wait, you posted something dumb and judgy to MeTa, everyone said you were full of it, and your response is to double down?
posted by klangklangston at 3:41 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'm talking about spending 3 hours on Yelp (or asking at AskMefi) because you are worried that you won't have the absolute best restaurant experience possible while in town. That stress, worrying about shit you really couldn't worry about 20 years ago because the information was too hard to get or was too expensive to get, is what I'm talking about. People (myself included) worry about stuff needlessly for no other reason that the information is out there."

This is a you problem, with the possibility that a very few other people also experience it. It's not a broader problem with the world, and trying to make it seem like one is weird.
posted by klangklangston at 3:42 PM on December 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


Fair point, sweetkid. I stand corrected.


(It just felt like way too sweet an irony not to comment.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:44 PM on December 10, 2012


Wait, you posted something dumb and judgy to MeTa, everyone said you were full of it, and your response is to double down?

Is MeTa a place for people afraid to learn from their own experiences?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:48 PM on December 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


COD: "I'm talking about spending 3 hours on Yelp (or asking at AskMefi) because you are worried that you won't have the absolute best restaurant experience possible while in town."

I understand what you're saying, and I agree that it's an annoying habit some people have, but I don't see how this is an example of that phenomenon. We're not talking about a "what is the absolute best variety of fir tree to get, and what is the absolute best tree nursery to buy it at" question, we're asking about a "do trees have bugs, and do they have pesticide" question. That's more like a "I don't like spicy food much, so I'm spending 15 minutes on Yelp checking if a restaurant serves a lot of spicy food" issue.
posted by Bugbread at 3:48 PM on December 10, 2012


I didn't know that question existed before this thread. Now I'm glad I do. I grew up with live trees and was planning on getting one my first Christmas in my own place. I had no idea they could bring in bugs, so now I know I should go with an artificial one if I'm worried about that. The question may have seemed asinine to you, OP, but don't assume that makes it a useless question.
posted by Autumn at 3:51 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I totally understand why someone posted the Christmas tree question. Christmas trees are a centuries-old tradition, so most people buying a tree this year have grown up with trees in their houses every year for decades. The store doesn't give you an owner's guide or sell you a "Christmas Trees for Dummies" book because hardly anyone needs it. If you're the rare adult who is about to bring a live tree indoors for the first time, it makes sense to ask for advice from the people who've done it before.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


That stress, worrying about shit you really couldn't worry about 20 years ago because the information was too hard to get or was too expensive to get, is what I'm talking about.

Yeah count me among the people who are glad I can get information on whether a restaurant puts dairy and hot peppers in everything and doesn't tell you. My sense of adventure does not extend to long stays in new and exotic toilets.
posted by griphus at 3:55 PM on December 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is MeTa a place for people afraid to learn from their own experiences?

If you're not afraid in MeTa, you're doing it wrong. Or maybe we are. I lose track. Whom should I ask?
posted by rtha at 3:58 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am studying this stuff so I know it... you know, like... chinch bugs. Manganese.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2012


Also, I know older folks who stress and worry about travel to foreign countries, and research a ton before going. Back when information was less available, they didn't have happy-go-lucky adventures abroad. They just stayed in their own country.
posted by Bugbread at 4:05 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah yes, it is time for the Airing of Grievances, isn't it.

wake me when it's time for Feats of Strength.

Right now we are at the tapping of the feets, with apologies to one Terry Pratchett and his Nac Mac Feegle.
posted by ersatz at 4:07 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still puzzled by this whole thing. AskMe exists so members of the community can ask for advice from other members of the community. Which you know, is one of the basic functions communities serve. Anyway, somehow because people use it to ask for advice from other members of the community, they're sheep and can't form their own opinions.

Because... something about Americans liking to sue each other.

Let me just say that I personally think that both being aware of your ignorance and being willing to admit to it enough to ask questions are good. I had no idea if Christmas trees could have bugs, I'd never really thought about it.
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:09 PM on December 10, 2012


It seems pretty clear that this post was a statement rather than a good faith attempt to start a conversation; the OP's response -- such as it is -- rather confirms that. In every other respect it's an echo chamber, given the apparent unanimity of opinion. Not sure any good is being done here at this point.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:09 PM on December 10, 2012


Just because there is a consensus doesn't mean it's an echo chamber. Not when at least 2-3 people have chimed in to support the OP's position, if not their tone.

(No offense intended, George_Spiggott...that term just really raises my hackles.)
posted by Phire at 4:14 PM on December 10, 2012


I had no idea if Christmas trees could have bugs, I'd never really thought about it.

And I think about it 100% the opposite. It's a tree, of course it has bugs. And bird poop, and who knows what else in it. That didn't stop me from bringing one into the house every December for 20 years though. We finally went artificial last Christmas.
posted by COD at 4:15 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


(No offense intended, George_Spiggott...that term just really raises my hackles.)

No worries. I used a hackle conditioner in the shower this morning myself. Gives my hackles volume and body all day, with no need for hot-button words. Ask for it by name!
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:19 PM on December 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Dear dougrayrankin,

I suggest you disabuse yourself of whatever bizarre notions you have about The Americans, as you've expressed in this post and elsewhere around the site. Any brush broad enough to paint three hundred million people with one stroke is almost certainly imaginary.

(And I say this as a Canadian with a national duty to shake my fist southward at every available opportunity.)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:35 PM on December 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: a needlessly uncharitable way to raise the question.
posted by herbplarfegan at 4:40 PM on December 10, 2012


Think of the trees.

Just.

Think.

All those damn trees.
posted by mediareport at 4:42 PM on December 10, 2012


AskMe can't answer the unknowable. I recently used AskMe to research a trip to the States, where I had not visited in 15 (!) years. I was worried about getting mugged or something, but someone should have warned me about the fact that I would have to tip someone every 20 goddamn feet.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:43 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


This call-out is really bad. The question about trees isn't being wishy-washy about making a decision, they just want to know if trees have pesticides in them. Just because YOU don't care about pesticides doesn't mean that everyone else has to not care about them either.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:44 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was announced earlier today that the citizens of the United States of America will bring suit against dougrayrankin in the International Court of Justice in the Hague...because...so there.
posted by mimo at 4:45 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nobody just travels anymore. We spend hours online researching the best place to stay, the best place to eat, the best things to do, whatever.

Is there no limit to the things MeTa can get crankypants about? I love travel, I've gone to places both well trodden and quite exotic, I've had lots of adventures, and I'd count myself an idiot if I didn't ask for suggestions from this knowledgeable community on AskMeFi. Which doesn't take hours, and unfailingly gets me some wonderful ideas I wouldn't have stumbled over on my own.

I'd just add as to the original post that I know the gray is the Wild West, mediated by a mix of mockery and sweet reason, but this particular post irritates the hell out of me. It's just mean spirited as well as irritatingly chauvanist. The original AskMeFi was legitimate and inoffensive. The only thing that would get me even more ticked if this were a callout of one of the many AskMeFis requesting relationship advice.

If you don't like people asking others for advice, dougrayrankin, my suggestion to you is to learn from your mistakes -- and don't read AskMeFi.
posted by bearwife at 4:52 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


AskMetafilter is the place to learn you are not alone! Repeat questions on the same topic just prove that we all have the same problems deep down :D
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:20 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Diverticulitis?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:23 PM on December 10, 2012


Diverticulitis?

No. Deeper.
posted by kagredon at 5:27 PM on December 10, 2012


*lowers pitch of voice*

DIVER TICU LITIS?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:45 PM on December 10, 2012 [36 favorites]


creating anxiety and stress where none needs to exist.

Or, for other people, relieving anxiety and stress where it already existed.

People are different.
posted by inigo2 at 5:50 PM on December 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Doug Ray, are you from down south of Scotland? I'm wondering if you're any kin to Willie Rob?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:26 PM on December 10, 2012


Wow, I can't remember ever questioning why an asker was asking a question. I've wondered a few times why something needs to be anonymous but never whether a question should have been asked.

Seems like a failing in the quest for knowledge. The whole point of history is to avoid making mistakes that have already been made irregardless of how entertaining that mistake may turn out to be.
posted by Mitheral at 7:32 PM on December 10, 2012


We are so worried about optimizing the experience we forget to just have the experience.

I take your point, but I find terms like "worrying," "stress," and "anxiety" to be uncharitable. Why assume negative emotions? When somebody spends three hours on Yelp researching a restaurant, isn't it possible they enjoy doing that? Haven't you ever known a person who makes crazy lists and spreadsheets for trivial decisions just because he/she enjoys making crazy lists and spreadsheets for things and so takes every opportunity to do it?

That would be roughly my answer to this MeTa, as well. No, it doesn't make me think that a person is absurdly risk-averse when I see an AskMe inquiring about an experience before wading in. Because why not? Once you've joined MetaFilter, posting an AskMe costs you literally nothing. If anything, I'm amazed (and thankful) that people don't use it vastly more often to test the waters of random trivial experiences.
posted by cribcage at 7:33 PM on December 10, 2012


Wait, you posted something dumb and judgy to MeTa, everyone said you were full of it, and your response is to double down

I call it pulling a Romney.
posted by Justinian at 7:38 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


*lowers pitch of voice*

DIVER TICU LITIS?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson


IRFH, you cracked me up. It's been a hard day today so I appreciate it. Thank you.


Doug - one of your askme questions was about what a forty-year old wished they knew at thirty.

Gently put, here's one thing: It's to be more self reflective and own my shit more. To realize that almost every question about, "why is X asking a stupid question/being so stupid" was just an avoidance tactic for me not asking myself why I apparently needed to be so damn judgy that day.

Scoring 6 snark points for pointing out someone's question as an example of 'being afraid to think' - and losing 3 right off the top for posing your mean-spirited question as an innocent musing - can give you the self satisfying glow of a post-burn snap. But it really isn't as impressive as just assuming that everyone is doing the best they can, and you really aren't needed in the role of ungenerous arbiter about the worthiness of someone else's once a week askme question.

Because even if it's true - even if people are somehow using askme for some sort of supreme crutch, so what? It's not like it's really getting in the way of your askme experience. Some questions aren't for you. Lighten up on people, will ya? Snark really doesn't age well - you just start to seem peevish, and miss out on all sorts of goodvibes from some pretty nice people doing some pretty wonderful things: (the OP was puttin' up a Xmas tree. Good times!) , all because you couldn't generously see the community forest for the one possibly pesticidal tree.

Yes, people can make decisions by themselves, but sometimes we all would like the jocular stories and world-wise input of a community to make the process of that decision more satisfying. Maybe rather than wondering why the OP isn't thinking for herself, you could just wish them and theirs a happy holiday?

*And if you have an extra moment, consider why you are trying to start fires. Why harsh on a person for asking questions in a place that was specifically designed for people to ask questions? That's like showing up at a buffet and then getting grouchy that people aren't holding the silverware the way you like. Though they all seem to be having a good time. Or going to a sports game and then getting mad because you don't like the level of alacrity in the fan base's cheer. Though once again, they're all having a good time. It's like you're just fixing to be unhappy. Seriously, if you don't like way the ponies run, maybe avoid going to the track?

Why else take a dig at the OP, and by extension the people who responded to them? Why not take that moment to assume good intentions and ask the OP why they asked, or those who responded why they didn't find the question wonky? Why pick on an OP who specifically already acknowledged that it might be an obvious question?

All that to say that both the OP and the responders are having a good time doing their thing, and talking about the topic and answering the question. Maybe reflect on why you're being so curmudgeonly about it?
posted by anitanita at 7:57 PM on December 10, 2012 [20 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by grouse at 8:24 PM on December 10, 2012


Since everybody is bashing on the OP here I'm going to speak up because I think there is an element of truth in his question, regardless of crudely he phrased it. I think the availability of limitless instant information, even though much of online it may be of dubious accuracy, plus places like Ask Mefi where you can get virtually instant answers from real people, is making us more risk averse, and creating anxiety and stress where none needs to exist.

I don't use AskMe that often, but when I have it has usually allowed me to be less risk averse, and relieved my anxiety and stress about a particular problem.

So, YMMV, I guess.
posted by zarq at 8:26 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the advantages to language that is so great that it outweighs the fact we can now choke to death is the ability to learn from other people's experiences.

Though I suppose mistaking wise for cowardly certainly isn't uncommon.
posted by Deoridhe at 8:36 PM on December 10, 2012


This is all pure irony, right? An ironic question made of pretend crankiness, and an ironic dogpile made of faux opprobrium?

I don't know anymore. I just don't know.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:38 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Once again, grouse shows up and is able to distill the essence of my meandering 8 paragraph post into a single line. It really is a gift, grouse.

Christ, I need an editor. :)
posted by anitanita at 8:44 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


There could be something to say about how some users might possibly use AskMe with an admixture of personal exhibitionism, but the well here is so toxic that it wouldn't be proper to explore.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:44 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You sir, I hug in your general direction.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:13 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am outraged.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:22 PM on December 10, 2012


Learning from other people's experiences is why we have lots of things, like fancy verb tenses (like "past" and "future") in our language, and reading, and the ancient art of storytelling, and recipes.

Also - I'm sure the OP here is learning, too. Empathy isn't something most people are born having.
posted by amtho at 10:50 PM on December 10, 2012


Are some AskMe questions the kind of thing you expect from people who won't use public telephones in case they get AIDS from the homeless guy who last used it three weeks ago?

Only the ones from the 80s.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:00 PM on December 10, 2012


Obligatory XKCD
posted by roboton666 at 11:19 PM on December 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is a really dumb callout. The original question is looking to find out, could I have problems with bugs from a tree, or are pesticides used on trees. He's not asking if the tree is dangerous and where does litigation even come into it? His stated reason for not wanting a tree that's been treated with pesticide is being "a person who prefers not to have chemicals in his house." These are perfectly reasonable questions.

I've answered several questions - in what I hope was a friendly and informative manner - with the opinion that the asker was worrying unnecessarily about something. I've certainly read responses where people basically said nope, you can't get through this one on advice from strangers, you need to go through the experience and figure it out on your own. Although disagreeing with the question itself gets into a gray area in terms of response I've found that you can almost always find a constructive way to voice this kind of objection - if you're really trying to help the asker and you honestly believe your perspective would benefit their consideration.
posted by nanojath at 12:33 AM on December 11, 2012


You're hilarious, dougrayrankin!
posted by tel3path at 3:49 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


This thread is now diamonds.
posted by elizardbits at 5:42 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm on a horse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:44 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The OP has been thoroughly spanked and bashed. Can we close this up now?
posted by SLC Mom at 5:58 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 6:05 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


« Older I posted a question asking wha...  |  Pony clydesdale request: a com... Newer »

This thread is closed to new comments.