Join 3,524 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

I guess it's ok to NOT answer the question now?
July 23, 2013 7:45 PM   Subscribe

So, in this thread about what to ask an ex- in a post-break-up meeting the vast majority of the answers are about how this is a bad idea, and don't actually answer the question that was posted.

In the OP she says explicitly:

I'm not asking if this is a good idea— it probably isn't— but given that I'm going to do this anyway, ...

Yet, literally, the first 10 comments do not attempt to answer her question(s):

are there any questions you think are a good idea to ask someone who recently dumped you, or things you wish you'd asked at your last breakup? ... how do I temper my expectations regarding getting back together?

Several of the comments are simple one liners like Don't have this meeting. It never goes well.

I've had several comments of mine deleted, I can think of one in particular in the last few weeks, and the reason given was that I did not answer the question. Or, I'll ask the OP to question their assumption about something, and that will get a comment deleted. To me, it seems like that's what is going on in that thread as well.

I suspect responses from mods along the lines of "yea, it didn't really answer the question" are disingenuous, and the real reason a comment got deleted was because that particular mod did not like that particular comment. So, I'm wondering if other people have experienced the same thing.
posted by cupcake1337 to Etiquette/Policy at 7:45 PM (230 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I suspect responses from mods along the lines of "yea, it didn't really answer the question" are disingenuous, and the real reason a comment got deleted was because that particular mod did not like that particular comment. So, I'm wondering if other people have experienced the same thing.

If this question is actually about you and your deleted comments, we'll be happy to reproduce your deleted comments here so that the community can look them over. You don't have to take our word for it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:47 PM on July 23, 2013 [36 favorites]


I agree that most of those answers are not answering the question and should be deleted. On the other hand I totally agree with them and not the OP so a few of them are probably good to leave around. I don't know what the rest of your question is about--mods are totally supposed to use their best judgement about whether an answer is deletable or not, they're not robots.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:49 PM on July 23, 2013


I think it's also worth pointing out

- no one flagged any of the early "you shouldn't have this meeting" comments, at all
- people did flag some later comments in the thread which were deleted
- we deleted a comment from you in that thread that said, among other things "I flagged this question and I hope it gets deleted" which is not an okay thing to put in a comment, talking about flagging belongs here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:55 PM on July 23, 2013


Or, I'll ask the OP to question their assumption about something, and that will get a comment deleted. To me, it seems like that's what is going on in that thread as well.

There is a difference between questioning the OP's assumption in a question like this and doing something like answering "Micro$oft sucks! You should use open source software!" to a question about Excel formulas. I'm not saying that's what you did, but there are questions where not answering the question directly is potentially appropriate (like this one), and questions where it is not really appropriate.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:56 PM on July 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


If the question is "what questions should I ask" a perfectly acceptable answer is "none", just as if I asked "how many cigarettes should I smoke?", "zero" is an actual answer to the question.
posted by LionIndex at 7:56 PM on July 23, 2013 [35 favorites]


So, I'm wondering if other people have experienced the same thing.

Not me.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:57 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sometimes the answer people need is not quite in line with the question they asked. This is a perfect tip top example. Good advice looks out for the best interest of the asker, whether or not they are looking out for themselves.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:01 PM on July 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


cupcake1337, please stop flagging every comment in that thread.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:08 PM on July 23, 2013 [28 favorites]


Orcas are the Ninjas of the Ocean. Think about that for minute, it really puts this into perspective.
posted by lordaych at 8:11 PM on July 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Good advice looks out for the best interest of the asker, whether or not they are looking out for themselves.

To a point sure, but if someone asked "What's a good type of cigarette to smoke?" one or two "None"s could be followed by either silence or some other answers. An endless chorus of disapproval isn't respecting the questioner. It's ok to just click out of a thread without answering it if your only advice is already covered.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:11 PM on July 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Here is a PSA about how flagging works:

Flagging draws our attention to something, so that we can head off emerging problems.

If it is old, we are not likely to take action, since the problem is no longer emerging. (There are exceptions)

If it is something we are already aware of -- for example if you have just posted a MeTa thread about it -- flagging will not draw any extra mod attention to it. We know you dislike those comments, you have said so in words right here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:13 PM on July 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


In this question, the poster is specifically saying she wants the meeting so she can get closure, dignity and a clean goodbye, and is asking what questions to ask at the meeting towards that end.

For questions of the form "I want to achieve X, so I'm doing Y - what's the best way to do Y?" it seems totally reasonable to say "you won't get X from doing Y no matter what approach you take to Y", in the same way that it would be in a question like "I want to learn Norwegian through immersion, so I'm moving to Korea - what region of Korea would you recommend?"
posted by Catseye at 8:15 PM on July 23, 2013 [34 favorites]


i haven't flagged every comment, if you look carefully. above, jessamyn said

- no one flagged any of the early "you shouldn't have this meeting" comments, at all

so i only flagged the ones she seemed to be referring to, because it seemed like she was suggesting that was the more appropriate thing to do if you think they break the guidelines.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:16 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel I answered the questions she gave...
posted by RainyJay at 8:17 PM on July 23, 2013


To a point sure, but if someone asked "What's a good type of cigarette to smoke?" one or two "None"s could be followed by either silence or some other answers. An endless chorus of disapproval isn't respecting the questioner. It's ok to just click out of a thread without answering it if your only advice is already covered.

I don't really mean vices. A lot of the people in the thread say "I've done this and it was horrible and I regret it."

It's more along the lines of "How can I tell my boss what a huge fucking asshole she is and go out with style?" the answer would be "Don't."
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:18 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I believe jessamyn mentioned that they had not been flagged to give some feedback about what other people's take on those comments was. She was not encouraging you to flag them now.

In any case, flagging lots of comments in a thread is never necessary. It is much better to flag the one or two worst, and that will draw a mod to look at the whole thread. If you feel like there is a widespread problem with the comments, drop a note to the contact form so you can explain "hey, I think these are all problematic, please take a look".
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:21 PM on July 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I suspect responses from mods along the lines of "yea, it didn't really answer the question" are disingenuous, and the real reason a comment got deleted was because that particular mod did not like that particular comment. So, I'm wondering if other people have experienced the same thing.

Wow, that's really unnecessarily insulting.

For another (admittedly over the top) example, say a young person asked for advice in how to confront their abusive ex in a dark alley (but felt safe because they were going to bring a gun). Sometimes it's not wrong to create a chorus of DON'T DO THAT.
posted by Glinn at 8:23 PM on July 23, 2013 [24 favorites]


i haven't flagged every comment, if you look carefully.

You're being needlessly pedantic and seemingly looking for a fight. Which is your right, but really what do you hope to get out this, what is your defintion of a win here? Because I strongly suspect your're not going to get what you're seeking.

There are a billion other things you could be doing. Is this really worth your time?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 PM on July 23, 2013 [35 favorites]


In general, when people are in emotional turmoil, the answer should be to focus on yourself and not do anything that they'll regret or will cause them unnecessary pain. So Human Relations questions are kind of a separate beast often, cupcake1337.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:26 PM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is easily the most disingenuous MeTa I've seen in a while.
posted by elizardbits at 8:31 PM on July 23, 2013 [52 favorites]


the answer would be "Don't."

i'd be inclined to agree with you, except:

I'm not asking if this is a good idea— it probably isn't— but given that I'm going to do this anyway, ...

i remember a recent askme about someone asking for advice, and saying they would be open to options that haven't been shown to work, like reiki(sp?) for example. i think the question was about pregnancy and feet, but i can't find it now. anyway, there were comments about how these non-scientifically validated options were a bad idea, and those comments were deleted. there was a metatalk about it. again, i can't find it now. that seems to be a situation where someone more or less said "Don't."
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:31 PM on July 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know what, sometimes it's ok to walk away from the keyboard and go outside for a while. You don't need to post a MeTa in a lot of cases, just taking a break really does help.
posted by arcticseal at 8:39 PM on July 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


That was a squeaker IMHO but the distinction was that the comment(s) in question only spoke to other answers without any attempt to answer the question, when the questioner implied that they were open to "woo" ideas. To really get at the bottom of what needs to be compared if there are any comparisons to be made, we'll need to see your deleted comments, which merited a lot of words in this post.
posted by lordaych at 8:40 PM on July 23, 2013


That seems to be a situation where someone more or less said "Don't."

That was an AskMe that already had a huge long MeTa thread about it. The MeTa is here. The situation was not really comparable. You are welcome to read the 577 comments and make your own assessment about that. My take on that

- OP asks a question, says "woo answers okay"
- someone gives an answer suggesting, among other things, reiki. Specifically saying "I gave my friend's daughter Reiki through her feet during contractions. She said it helped."
- someone else made a comment with links to two review articles about reiki, upshot "it's not effective"
- similar later comment
- we deleted both comments and left this note

We are NOT going to have that argument again in this thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:41 PM on July 23, 2013

"what exactly is the point of this metatalk, again? if you disagree with an answer you can make your own answer. "this is how metafilter works." if you don't like it you don't have to participate, and you can start your own online community, if you'd like."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:52 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is easily the most disingenuous MeTa I've seen in a while.
Yeah, but it's a pretty low bar.

Answering
'are there any questions you think are a good idea to ask someone who recently dumped you, or things you wish you'd asked at your last breakup?'
'how do I temper my expectations regarding getting back together?'
'how do I make sure I don't do or say something that will make him think I hope we'll get back together?'

with
'none'
'you can't'
'you can't'

accompanied by explanations of why seem like a perfectly sound set of answers to me.
posted by dg at 8:54 PM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let's not get into playing gotcha about OP's past comments in MetaTalk. People are allowed to make MetaTalk posts about issues they want community discussion of -- it's part of how this place works.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:58 PM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


There's no one rule about how much the answers are allowed to challenge the OP's premises. If the OP asks a very specific question within clear limitations, it might not be very appropriate to challenge the premise. But a long, detailed, personal relationship question usually isn't like that. The OP gave us the material to challenge her premise. If someone wants to make sure the answers stay within clearly defined boundaries, they should write a more limited question.
posted by John Cohen at 9:12 PM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


The secret is to avoid relationshipfilter questions because they cause limbic encephalitis in the reader.
posted by planetesimal at 9:37 PM on July 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


I suspect responses from mods along the lines of "yea, it didn't really answer the question" are disingenuous, and the real reason a comment got deleted was because that particular mod did not like that particular comment. So, I'm wondering if other people have experienced the same thing.

Yes, I have "experienced the same thing" in terms of feeling unfairly, personally targetted by the mods if that is what you really mean. However, I know a whole lot about how situations like that develop, from both sides. While I think there is room for improvement in how things like that get handled on Metafilter, I also think you are unlikely to find "better" elsewhere.

Some thoughts:

If your real goal is to complain about feeling personally persecuted at the hands of the mods, a MeTa is a bad idea. You would be better off making a few mefite friends and crying on their shoulders.

If your real goal is to try to reduce how many of your comments get deleted, the way this MeTa is framed is unlikely to get you there. I did a MeTa that resulted in substantial reduction in my deletions, so it can be done. (And after that I stopped feeling personally targetted.) But this MeTa is just not likely to help you with that.

If your real goal is to take a personal swipe at the mods because you feel wronged, let me suggest that kind of behavior amounts to being your own worst enemy. It won't help anything. It will likely make your problems here worse.

If you want to understand what the standard is for deletions "that do not answer the question" because you are unclear, okay, fine, that's reasonable. But if that is your goal, this MeTa is framed in an unnecessarily fighty manner that is unlikely to get useful clarification.

If you want to do a MeTa about your issue, that's actually okay (I don't mean "in my opinion," I mean "it is my observation of how things get handled here"). If you want to do a MeTa about site policy/standards/whatever, that's okay too. But conflating the two things tends to not address either.

I have some things I would like to see addressed on the site. I am aware of them in part because of things that have happened "to me." I prefer to give myself as an example in part because I do not like putting other people on the spot. I am highly aware of how that can be misconstrued as me whining about how I get treated. I started a tentative draft once. I haven't gotten to it because if I ever post it, I want it to be constructive. I don't yet know how to make it constructive. I am okay with just not bringing it up if I never figure out how to frame it. So I sympathize with the impetus to ask about the site in general and use yourself as an example in specific. But I also can see why folks aren't exactly being charitable in their interpretation of your intent.
posted by Michele in California at 9:54 PM on July 23, 2013 [27 favorites]


I have had comments deleted. Some I don't even know about because, heck, I don't go back and read them all. Usually I make the comment and move on. But, of all the comments I had deleted that I did see, not once did I ever feel that it was targeted at a contrary opinion. They were all deleted because of the nature of the comment not the content. And, I think I am more often than not on the contrary side of a lot of opinions around here.

I guess what I am saying is that you can't always have your cupcake and eat it too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:08 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Before hitting any button (comment, flag, MeTa post, etc.) to transmit a communication regarding AskMe, it is not a bad idea to ask oneself the following:

Am I trying to satisfy the Asker, or myself?
posted by desuetude at 10:12 PM on July 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Human relations questions can be weird.

Part of the reason is that this is a community. As grumpy and sarcastic and fighty as I can be, I still care about the people here. I'm going to do my best to answer their question in a way that is going to help them. In this instance, that plays out as "please do not do what you are planning to do. I know you really want to do it but I am sure that it will only hurt you and I don't want you to get hurt", only, you know, not in those exact words.

I think a lot of other people react the same way to these kinds of questions. So -and sorry, I'm not a mod, I'm only assuming this is how it works- the answers stand because even though they don't explicitly answer the poster's stated question, they are the most helpful answers we have.

You know a while ago I tried to bleach my eyebrows with peroxide and burned the skin on my face pretty bad. I asked a question about how to do it better. Most of the answers were "wat is wrong with you don't do this", and as much as it annoyed me at the time, the mods let it stand, I took the hint and found an alternative, and now I'm not blind.

I don't want the OP of that question to hurt herself any more than she is already hurting, so my answer was "wat is wrong with you don't do this".
posted by windykites at 10:18 PM on July 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


The point I am trying to make is that this metatalk won't give you closure. No matter what questions you ask here or what answers you get, ultimately, closure has to come from within.
posted by windykites at 10:20 PM on July 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


That was an AskMe that already had a huge long MeTa thread about it. The MeTa is here. The situation was not really comparable.

in some sense i'd agree, but not in the way that you mean. that askme left the possibility of "woo" open, whereas in the case i linked to in my original post, answers about not meeting the ex-boyfriend were explicitly outside of the scope of the question. in the former thread, criticism of "woo" even after other comments suggested it would be a good thing to try would still be in the scope of answering the question if it's acceptable to question the OP's assumptions.

my main gripe is that rules inconsistently enforced, which can be problematic.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:30 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. I, cautiously, find some points of agreement with cupcake1337, but primarily in the sense that the thread-- which I found very upsetting to read, for my own banal reasons-- consisted of repeated doses of received wisdom ala Metafilter: no contact with your ex, twenty minutes is fine for a breakup notification (!), think of the conversation like an exit interview, move on immediately, and get the hell over it within a couple of weeks. The monolithic quality of those answers, which were pretty much unvarying, caused me to feel a bit contrary. I know that these answers reflect the current wisdom on the site, but I just can't see how realistic it is to expect someone who has just been rejected to thank the person for their feedback (really?) and walk away. Emotions are messier, deeper, and longer lasting than that, and this constant drumbeat of "move on, you will find somebody else" occasionally, for me, gets a bit wearying. Sometimes there isn't anyone new; I know many people who have never entered another serious relationship after being divorced or widowed. That's reality. Telling someone to just move on as if the OP can then go sailing blithely through life causes me to hesitate a bit. Every breakup is going to break part of you. I've done no contact too, for years, and I can't say it made anything easier at all in the end; it was just a different quality of pain. Sometimes people have to find their individual ways through highly emotional situations, and there was a punishing tone to some of those answers that I'm sure the OP could have done without.
posted by jokeefe at 10:33 PM on July 23, 2013 [47 favorites]


Yes. Humans are not exactly predictable, and will not always act in a manner you find consistant with your own views of things. Humans are therefore to be avoided at all costs. Abort mission. Repeat: disengage from all contact with the humans. Abort mission.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:36 PM on July 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


And, on reading through more of the comments on this thread, the issue seems to be kind of tangled. I thought that there was a point in the OP about how the majority of people in the thread were not answering the specific question posed and how the answers seemed so uniform that it looked like a kind of pile-on, but the thread seems to be going in bit of a more convoluted direction than that. Oh well.
posted by jokeefe at 10:37 PM on July 23, 2013


(Didn't mean you, jokeefe.)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:40 PM on July 23, 2013


(Cheers, IRFH.)
posted by jokeefe at 10:40 PM on July 23, 2013


Dude, nobody said "OP, get over it, go sailing blithely through life now that your alloted grief span is over". People said "OP, Breakups suck festering prairie oysters and the way you are behaving is not decreasing that suckiness, so for your own benefit and the benefit of your ex, knock it off". Nobody said that it wasn't ok for the OP to be upset or that she should just run out and find someone new. No contact is about minimizing damage, not denying emotions' validity.
posted by windykites at 10:42 PM on July 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


jokeefe, perhaps you should add your answer to the thread, it seems quite appropriate there.

I can see why the thread might have seemed cold to you because of the comments you highlighted, but I saw numerous instances where the answerers referred to crying, getting your feelings out, etc., but recommended doing it with other friends rather than with your ex. The message, I believe, was not "get over it", but "stay away from your ex while you get through this difficult time" - which I think is extremely good advice based on my experience with breakups, although advice I also was loathe to take in my younger days.

cupcake, to me, this is not a case of rules inconsistently enforced, but rather of the nuances of a situation causing similar situations to be treated differently. Nuances are important in mod-world. Answers that seem to come from a well-intentioned place and trying to help the OP avoid harm, regardless of the fact that they may be answers that weren't the ones specifically requested, appear more likely to stand than answers that weren't the ones requested and are also either just irrelevant, self-serving for the answerer, or for other reasons might be antagonistic towards the OP or other answerers (personally, not just factually). That is my take. I often provide answers that are not explicit answers to a medical question but actually are clarifications to other answers, and my answers seem to stand in most cases despite the rule about "not arguing with others in-thread" - I believe this is because I try to make my answers from a place of concern for ensuring that the OP or other internet visitors understand important aspects or facts about the medical issue in question that are relevant to how answers could/should be interpreted.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:46 PM on July 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


cupcake1337: "I suspect responses from mods along the lines of "yea, it didn't really answer the question" are disingenuous, and the real reason a comment got deleted was because that particular mod did not like that particular comment."

I suspect you're half right. I suspect that the real reason a comment got deleted was because that particular mod (though they're generally on the same page, so in most cases "because the mods") did not like that particular comment because of the way in which it failed to answer the question.

It's not like "no self-links", which are pretty darn hard and fast. It's more like "overall, failing to answer the question gives you a 95% likelihood of getting your comment axed", with that remaining 5% being due to specific types of questions, specific ways of not answering the question, etc.

So the answers are not disingenuous, but they're not 100% accurate, because really, really, really accurately explaining the reason for axing the comment would probably take several pages.
posted by Bugbread at 11:01 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


For all the railing against the patriarchy you might happen across on this site, the mod system is a definite paen to paternalism and censorship, even when the intentions of the offending party are honorable.

Irony is an unavoidable part of life.

I gained a lot of peace on this site by accepting that the moderation here is more 'my way or the highway' with a heady dose of populism than any sort of objective system. It pains me to see this thread, as well as other threads in the past, where the mods dance around the question as if this were not the truth. Maybe they believe that. I don't know.

If I'm honest with myself, I accept that is the price we must pay to not degenerate into the dystopic wasteland of lonely 14 year old boys, trolls, racists, and talking heads that is the rest of the internet.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 11:02 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


no contact with your ex, twenty minutes is fine for a breakup notification (!), think of the conversation like an exit interview, move on immediately, and get the hell over it within a couple of weeks.

Not one person said or implied that in the thread.
posted by scody at 11:07 PM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


my main gripe is that rules inconsistently enforced, which can be problematic.
posted by cupcake1337 31 minutes ago


I recently (privately) complained to the mods about the fact that someone else posted the exact same question, word for word, as a question of mine that had been deleted but theirs was left up. The "more" part was different. For the mods, that mattered. I am still annoyed. It will probably always annoy me.

But I also paid insurance claims for five years. I understand the process involved in making the distinction. I kind of hated my job because the way in which it was rules-driven meant I often felt that good people, trying to follow the "spirit of the law", were screwed while assholes, talented at dealing with the "letter of the law," happily screwed the company. However, when dealing with thousands of people whom you cannot possibly all know intimately, rules, rubrics, etc. is as good as it gets. You are not likely to see the kind of very high-minded "justice" I would like to see. That generally only works on a small scale, with individuals you know extremely well.

I suggest you either focus on trying to get some exposition on how they make these decisions so you can better understand it or seek feedback on what you specifically are doing "wrong" that results in deletions. You aren't going to find 100% "consistency" anywhere on planet earth when dealing with decision-making in the face of a highly complex situation with very large numbers of factors involved.
posted by Michele in California at 11:23 PM on July 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've had a few comments deleted - and I anticipate more. My opinions are often contrary to the majority, and I'm quite tactless. Metafilter is a little cute and sensitive for me to be a good fit...but I'm trying to participate without ruffling too many feathers. What's my point? Ah, yes...majority rules, OP - the moderation style obviously echos and reinforces the majority view, both in terms in how responses and comments are framed, and too the actual content of the responses and comments to some extent. Birds of a feather and so forth (pun intended)...that's life within any, "community".
posted by Nibiru at 11:26 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think this follows the harm principle to some extent. In the previous reiki thread I think people were worried that with a question of the form

"I'm about to stick my hand in a blender. I'm definitely going to do this, so don't tell me not to. How do I deal with the consequences?"

An answer saying "I know you really want to put your hand in the blender, but don't." would be deleted. My feeling from that thread was that kind of answer probably wouldn't get deleted.

The problem with deletions in general is that deletions aren't done on a hard and fast basis. There are some things that will get your comment deleted very quickly, and some things that might get your comment deleted. The latter will probably depend on whether it got flagged, where it is in a thread, and which mod happens to be looking at it. Different mods definitely make different judgement calls, and those calls are based on their feel for the thread and how it is going.

Its clear that in the history of the site the deletion policy has changed, so that mods made different calls on sexist content, for instance. This policy has been altered by community discussion.

This process is transparent from the point of view that it has happened very much in the open, but its opaque in that the conclusions often live in mods heads. I think every mod can come in and articulate clearly why they deleted "x" comment and not "y" comment, but that won't necessarily guide you on why comment "z" was or wasn't deleted, because the choice isn't based on hard and fast rules but on a mod based judgment. Personally, I think that's pretty cool, but then I don't think I've had a comment deleted yet, so I would so that...
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:54 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


People come to AskMe because they want a problem solved. Sometimes they think their proposed solution is the best or even a good one, when it is not, or will only make things worse.

For example -- if someone were to post: "My computer won't boot up. Where is the cheapest place I can buy a new keyboard?" Everyone would be correct to tell him not to buy a keyboard, because that probably won't fix his problem.

This question is one of those situations.
posted by empath at 1:12 AM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


This question is one of those situations.

No, it isn't. This, and other examples listed in this thread, refer to concrete, quantifiable situations (smoking, putting your hand in a blender, etc). Emotional situations such as break-ups are a whole other matter. We don't know the emotional composition of the OP or the other person, backstories with which we aren't familiar. This is not the same as a tech question.

I think it's perfectly fine to say "Personally, I wouldn't do this, because in my experience bla bla bla, but if you insist, I think your approach should be etc.". Nothing wrong with prefacing your suggestion with caution. But you can't assume there is One Objective Way of not dealing with a break-up, in all cases, for all people, the same way you could say for someone who wants to buy a new keyboard to fix their computer.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:55 AM on July 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


In the 'reiki' thread, the comment that was deleted was not helpful to the OP. It said 'don't' to something she had not said that she would do. It was directly contradicting the comment before it and nothing else. In this thread, the 'don't' is to something the OP said she would do, but which was felt would be harmful to her. So it's still helpful to her to say 'don't' because it is trying to spare her some pain.
posted by billiebee at 2:16 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't this just another case of this?

Correct me if I'm wrong, or being a dong. But this really seems like "MeFi tough love" as per usual and someone sounding the fire alarm when it's the same old crap, but might have just hit a nerve?

I know I've made metas when something pissed me off that wasn't that big of a deal... Oh god
posted by emptythought at 2:25 AM on July 24, 2013


For what it's worth, as the original OP, I was

(1) surprised by the responses, which as cupcake says, focus not on answering my question, per se, but in telling me that the idea I have is a bad one
(2) upset by all the responses. Like read the first thirty or so live while they poured in, sat on my couch, and wept.
(3) suddenly made aware that my idea was a bad one (while still agreeing there's some inherent wisdom in comments like this one)

I was going to send him a cancel text last night because I think everyone is right, but I fell asleep on my couch early, possibly due to being sad, and I just woke up to this.

I feel really weird about this MeTa, since it's about my question, and I'm actually pretty upset someone tried to get the question deleted, because had I woken up and found it deleted that'd be awful since I'm probably going to reread all those answers slowly before sending that text during business hours.

Also, for the record, none of the comments that were flagged were flagged by me, so. Not that the rest of the community isn't entitled to flag them— of course they are!— but I didn't flag them, even the ones that were the toughest of love (or the one that called me a crazy bitch, which got deleted). But for everyone who took the time to respond (and didn't have a comment deleted before I saw it) I did read, and consider, what you had to say, and approached none of the answers with that mindset.
posted by jenlovesponies at 2:56 AM on July 24, 2013 [68 favorites]


how do I temper my expectations regarding getting back together?

This is one of the questions the OP of that thread asked. This is what people are answering. If she didn't want answers to that question then she could have not asked it. You don't have to answer every single part of what was asked for your comment to be valid.

I hate off topic answers probably more than the standard mefite but I don't really see a problem with at least most of that thread. Personally, I couldn't find a way to answer any of the questions she was asking without going into the territory of telling her off so I didn't. Many other's were able to answer more positively and that is fine. The OP can listen to some or all or none of the answers as usual. The system works.
posted by shelleycat at 2:59 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


(also jenlovesponies, my inability to answer without being mean is because of my incoherence not because you needed telling off, you really don't, just to be clear)
posted by shelleycat at 3:00 AM on July 24, 2013


Probably the hands-down most useful advice AskMe has ever given me was when I asked "I'm very definitely moving into an apartment known to have bedbugs and finding another place is out of the question, so how can I get rid of them?" and was met with a chorus of "seriously do NOT move in under any circumstances are you CRAZY?" I didn't exactly feel good about those answers, but believe me, I took them seriously.

Though I've never had bedbugs (knock on wood), I've been through long drama-filled breakups, which are sort of the human relations equivalent, and seeing someone else about to walk into a similar situation usually triggers that wild arm-flailing NO DON'T DO IT response in me. It takes some effort to remind myself that I'm advising a person who is not only in a difficult emotional situation, but doesn't share that experience that makes me react so strongly. So my response may resound with the other no-don'ters while inadvertently confusing or upsetting the OP. Multiply that flailing response by thirty to fifty, and you've got quite the gauntlet to run.

I came very close to posting an answer in that thread, but stopped because I'd only be adding to the wall of NO, and had trouble trying to put that gut reaction into words that I thought might resound with someone in the middle of a breakup, rather than someone who's years out of it.

Jenlovesponies, I sympathize with you and am cheering for you to come out of this breakup well, and I think nearly everyone in that AskMe and this MeTa feels the same.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:57 AM on July 24, 2013 [23 favorites]


I'd quite like to see looser tolerance when it comes to "not answering the question". Especially when the question is of the form "How can I do X without the necessary precondition of X?"

How can I find out what a certain person is thinking without asking them?

How can I lose weight without doing some boring diet or exercise program?

How can I find love without risking rejection?


Sometimes the questioner's actual problem would be best solved outside the exact parameters of their question.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:03 AM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


my main gripe is that rules inconsistently enforced, which can be problematic.

Once we see them as guidelines, not rules, the inconsistency fades, replaced by an understanding of the humanity and care with which the site is moderated. The outlet of Metatalk exists to clarify the interconnected aims of moderator and community, and to help both entities better understand how the guidelines are followed on a case-by-case basis. This took some time for me to learn.

Taking your misgivings to Metatalk is rarely a problem. Here we can shed light on how the community works, we can hash out the complexities as they arise, we can enlighten not only the users but the mods as well. We can change the guidelines where we find a better way. It is an extremely useful and foresighted balancing tool.

In short, thanks for posting this. Rules are a cage. When we're ticked off, we're more likely to pace back and forth and take a swipe at the keepers. Guidelines help us find purchase around tricky corners. Steady now. Anger is a choice.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:15 AM on July 24, 2013 [17 favorites]


This post has a needlessly inflammatory title.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:16 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


the thread-- which I found very upsetting to read, for my own banal reasons-- consisted of repeated doses of received wisdom ala Metafilter: no contact with your ex, twenty minutes is fine for a breakup notification (!), think of the conversation like an exit interview, move on immediately, and get the hell over it within a couple of weeks. The monolithic quality of those answers, which were pretty much unvarying, caused me to feel a bit contrary. I know that these answers reflect the current wisdom on the site, but I just can't see how realistic it is to expect someone who has just been rejected to thank the person for their feedback (really?) and walk away.

As someone who posted probably one of the most confrontational answers in that thread... this is definitely not what I meant at all. I'm answering this here because I know the original OP is reading.

I've dealt with two serious breakups. In one of them, we decided to keep talking and "be friends," and in the other we went no-contact immediately. I can tell you unequivocally that the time when I tried to be friends was sheer fucking emotional torture for me. If someone had been able to convince me not to follow through on "being friends"- which meant a lot of crying at each other as we attempted to work through all the different ways we'd hurt each other, and then watching him go home to his new girlfriend- I would have saved myself a summer that involved a lot of breaking down crying at work and waiting desperately for each new text from my ex.

I didn't tell the OP not to do this because I think she shouldn't feel the way she feels. I told her not to do it because I thought, based on my own experiences and not some sort of bandwagony hive-mind thing, that it would make her much, much MORE miserable than she already is.

I could have been more explicit about that, and I'm sorry I wasn't.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:09 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a difference between "arguing with other commenters while not answering the question" (as in that reiki kerfluffle*) and "arguing with the OP as an answer to the question" (as in this kerfluffle).
posted by Etrigan at 6:23 AM on July 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think many of us who advised the OP not to have the conversation with her ex did so because we had personally tried to have such conversations and had found them painful and unproductive. It wasn't that we didn't believe her feelings were valid.

I once had a breakup which was followed by numerous long and painful conversations with my ex. She was generous with her time and was willing to re-hash much of our relationship. However, those conversations didn't help me learn or grow and they didn't help me move on. In many cases, I don't think there is a satisfying answer to the question, "why don't you want me any more?"
posted by Area Man at 6:46 AM on July 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's interesting how different people respond once they realize there's a real live person on the other end.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:48 AM on July 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


Maybe it should be the OP who has the facility to delete comments they don't feel are answering the question helpful responses.
posted by Segundus at 7:06 AM on July 24, 2013


Oh god no, Segundus. What a fucking shitstorm that would produce.
posted by Melismata at 7:11 AM on July 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


Maybe it should be the OP who has the facility to delete comments they don't feel are answering the question helpful responses.

I don't know, I've had really unhelpful answers to AskMe questions, and it's irritating to have to wade in to say "No, really, that factor you're assuming isn't true, please stop talking about it" or to have to restrain myself from saying "goddamn it I really wanted personal recommendations not the same advice you always give" but the truth is, it's not hurting anything to have them there, and they might be helpful to other people in the future. Also I think it would bring all the drama llamas to the yard and be a total disaster in terms of community respect and relations. If you really don't like someone's advice, you can always hide what they're saying with a script.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:13 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yet, literally, the first 10 comments do not attempt to answer her question(s):

"Hi, AskMeFi. I like 'staying natural' and have recently read that arsenic (a naturally occurring element) can help with sleep restlessness. I think that taking daily arsenic doses would help me with my sleep disorder. Can you please recommend me a good source for buying arsenic? Also, I would love to hear your stories about what sort of dosages work best. Please don't tell me not to do this because I am going to do it anyway."

In this case, "do not ingest arsenic because it is a deadly poison and you will die" is the correct answer. In my view, it is the only correct answer.

You, it seems, would have us advise an OP to do something, no matter how ill-advised or harmful, merely because the OP says he wants to do it and will not take "no" for an answer. This is wrong. The follow-up should an AskMeFi should never be a MetaTalk, "We are sad to report that MeFite gabbagabbahey died several days ago from acute arsenic poisoning."

This is a point I have raised before, but if someone posts a question to AskMeFi, that means that they don't know something. Sometimes, one of the things they don't know is that what they want to do is a very bad idea.

An endless chorus of disapproval isn't respecting the questioner.

While I think this would be a rare occurrence, maybe the question does not deserve respect if it seeks advice about how to do something harmful, unethical, illegal, or immoral. But, that does not mean disrespect to the questioner. In fact, I think it is beyond disrespectful to encourage someone, or at least not dissuade them, from a harmful course of action.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:22 AM on July 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Orcas are the Ninjas of the Ocean. Think about that for minute, it really puts this into perspective.

You know, having thought about this for a moment, it really does.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:22 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


jenlovesponies: "I'm actually pretty upset someone tried to get the question deleted, because had I woken up and found it deleted that'd be awful since I'm probably going to reread all those answers slowly before sending that text during business hours."

There's no way that cupcake1337's (deleted) comment would have opened the door to get your question deleted, just so you know.
posted by desuetude at 7:27 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


maybe the question does not deserve respect if it seeks advice about how to do something harmful, unethical, illegal, or immoral.

That's not what this was and the hyperbole isn't helping. 2 or 3 (or 4 or whatever) "Hey don't do this and this is why" answers are fine. Once you see that the ground is covered in the disapproval department, do not answer. The mods usually delete extraneous dismissive answers like these, I wish they had done so more aggressively in this case (cupcake's further off-topic complaints notwithstanding.)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:30 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The point I am trying to make is that this metatalk won't give you closure. No matter what questions you ask here or what answers you get, ultimately, closure has to come from within.

Or as Joseph Campbell once said, "Life Metafilter is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends."

Also, orcas.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:34 AM on July 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


In this case, "do not ingest arsenic because it is a deadly poison and you will die" is the correct answer. In my view, it is the only correct answer.

Says you. Arsenic supplements would absolutely fix someone's problem with sleep restlessness.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:58 AM on July 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


That's not what this was and the hyperbole isn't helping. 2 or 3 (or 4 or whatever) "Hey don't do this and this is why" answers are fine. Once you see that the ground is covered in the disapproval department, do not answer. The mods usually delete extraneous dismissive answers like these, I wish they had done so more aggressively in this case (cupcake's further off-topic complaints notwithstanding.)

I don't agree. Say three people say "don't do it" and three people say "here's how to do it." That gives a different overall effect than 50 people saying "don't do it," and yes, I think it's useful for a person to realize "hey, a TON of people are telling me not to do this." In fact the OP just said she isn't going to do it, because so many people told her not to, and that's great, and it wouldn't have happened if all of those people hadn't given their honest opinions.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:08 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


In this case, "do not ingest arsenic because it is a deadly poison and you will die" is the correct answer. In my view, it is the only correct answer.

Conversely, if you take miniscule amounts you can build up a greater tolerance to arsenic. Then, one day later when someone you wish to do away with comes over, you can just poison both of you. You'll get sick, but they'll die, making it look not like a targeted attack but a more general poisoning. Having removed this person from your life and not gone to prison for it, you can now get a good night's sleep. Success!

I may have been spending too much time with the works of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. That getting away with it part didn't happen then, but who knows, you could be the first.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:16 AM on July 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is a point I have raised before, but if someone posts a question to AskMeFi, that means that they don't know something. Sometimes, one of the things they don't know is that what they want to do is a very bad idea.

An important qualification might be that if this is sometimes allowed, it should not be allowable as a matter of general policy. That is, simply disagreeing with the premise of a question should not be something that is potentially encouraged. The difference is that some contrary answer are helpful in the way you mention (and should be held to a very high standard), and some contrary answers are not helpful, for whatever reason.

Perhaps this is obvious, but mitigating when it's allowed and when it's not is a careful judgment that doesn't, by definition, have clear guidelines, and I suspect this is where mods (necessarily) making this decision is going to ruffle some feathers, because of personal interest/hurt feelings/an inability for participants to discern the tone difference between these two types of seemingly similar responses, and when it might be okay to push back on the question.

I'm very okay with there being some gray area to these decisions, and I trust the mods to navigate this area, because at some point, rules provide the boundaries of the property, but wisdom is required to navigate in a fruitful way within those boundaries. And I'm not sure the community as a whole (in the midst of a controversial AskMe) should always decide when to push back, as collectively, it doesn't always get it right. I think discussions, though, on how we navigate those issues is always a good thing and helps the community grow a bit.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:35 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's interesting how different people respond once they realize there's a real live person on the other end.

I think most of the people in that thread (myself included) urging her not to do it came from precisely the realization that there's a real live person on the other thread -- and that we would like that real live person, who is clearly a nice person who is hurting right now, not to needlessly inflict any more pain on herself. Having a meeting like she describes will prolong her suffering, not alleviate it.

The "don't do it" chorus came out of compassion, not disregard, because every single one of us (or close to it) has been there.
posted by scody at 8:41 AM on July 24, 2013 [40 favorites]


This kind of judgment call makes AskMe a much better resource. Frankly, the only appropriate answer to this question was "don't meet him." While "don't meet him," strictly speaking didn't answer the question given the OP's insistence that she was going to go through with the meeting anyway, they cut directly to the heart of the issue.

In the reiki thread, the anti-woo answers didn't cut directly to the heart of the issue. They were a sideshow.

Being able to discern the difference between answers that meaningfully address the OP's issue--even when the OP attempts to avoid the topic--and answers that are largely off-topic derails is valuable.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:45 AM on July 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


or the one that called me a crazy bitch, which got deleted

Heya, jenlovesponies, just to be clear (because this probably comes down to me not being sufficiently clear in my mod note in the thread), it was more of an issue of a sympathetic person hyperbolically putting "crazy bitch" it some figurative answerer's mouth when no one had said that, in a way that wasn't great and got deleted. Nobody actually called you one, thankfully, and I'm sorry if I confused the issue while trying to clean it up.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:50 AM on July 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure that this is a useful observation, but a question like this encourages a pile-on of a particular sort of answer. I actually don't agree with the overwhelming consensus that having the meeting is a certain disaster. I certainly agree that it is one possible outcome, but I've also been in the situation where meeting provided a more helpful conversation and sense of closure. However, I didn't feel that making that observation was a responsive answer and I have no earthly idea what the sort of questions are that jenlovesponies needs to obtain that result (or if indeed it is even possible between those two individuals). As a result, there is no way for me to provide a counter-balancing response to the chorus of "don't do this" answers. Not to mention that I have no enthusiasm whatsoever for the likely argument that would ensue. I actually agree with cupcake1337 that when the OP explicitly says "don't give me this answer" it is poor form and non-responsive to say "you really need to hear the answer you explicitly ruled out" even if you believe passionately that it is the only helpful answer you can provide.
posted by Lame_username at 9:07 AM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


When it comes to questions that involve some variation of asking how to enter a situation that the OP knows will be hurtful, I've long considered the most valuable and instructive answers to be those that reject the basic premise of the Ask altogether. I say this as someone who responded to the OP with a gnawing sense of terror in my heart, like I was watching someone run toward an oncoming freight train. I also say this as someone who has had a couple of Asks where the majority of answers have been completely orthogonal to what I was asking -- yet those answers have always helped me the most, even as I was wounded by the abandonment of my original conditions. This has been both the most enlightening upside and the most unpredictable downside of being moved to ask advice from a bunch of internet strangers.

Q: "I know it's a bad idea, but how do I [x]?"/A: "NO!"-type Asks generally involve either the careful or frustrated explication of knowledge that has been extremely hard-won. The only proverbial lightbulb moments I've ever had have come not as a result of people tamping down their experiential wisdom in order to kowtow to my pleas, but rather as a result of being faced with a blistering torrent of "Oh HELL no! I've done this, and it was so awful! You do not want to do this!"

It absolutely hurts like hell to be told that you've been operating on inherently faulty logic, but it hurts much more to boldly march into a situation you already know will be painful/difficult and then get stuck wondering why none of the people you asked for advice were straight with you about the fact that willfully raking yourself across the coals does nothing but create more pain. I've done this for most of my life, and I could have written the OP's post word for word at least a dozen times, with a dozen different people. Finally, the last time it happened, I just sucked it up and went no-contact, and it was downright revolutionary to realize that I did not have to actively engage in the proliferation of my own heartache. Particularly in brief but fiery relationships, once you've already had one or more hours-long, tearful exchanges that push the boundaries of the circumstances of the break-up, I have always found that there is simply nothing good left to do but walk away and lick your wounds.

My answer was admittedly rather brusque because I could not possibly empathize with the OP more than I do, and I desperately wish someone had been brusque with me rather than continuing to delicately tiptoe around the obvious root of my misery -- the calls were coming from inside the house! I know very well that when you are so mired in sadness and regret, all you want to do is find some rhythm, rhyme, or reason, to identify and consequently feel as though you can eliminate the cause of your suffering, even if you not-so-secretly know that digging around for answers will only make things worse. But it also gave me the sense that the question as posed was basically asking which tools a wounded person should use in order to most efficiently bring more harm onto themselves. In cases like this, I'm not sure there are any good answers except "Please, don't."
posted by divined by radio at 9:10 AM on July 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Orcas aren't ninjas. More like rude, noisy Shoguns if you need a Japanese martial metaphor.
posted by planetesimal at 9:16 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


And we never heard from planetesimal again...
posted by Etrigan at 9:23 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's more than one way to not answer a question. There is the willfully unhelpful answer, like "get a Mac" when someone's trying to deal with a Windows problem. There is the willfully mean unhelpful answer, as evidenced on most of the internet, where any sort of pain or difficulty is met with "kil urself" comments.

And then there's "oh honey no." The reason so many people posted to say what a bad idea that was is because so many people have been there, did that, and regret it - sometimes small-r regret, and sometimes we're talking serious devastation that took years (if ever) to get over. Everybody who posted that kind of response did so because they cared. Some of them were tougher-love than others, because people have different tough-love policies, but all of those answers were serving the purpose of trying to keep her from hurting herself way worse than she already was.

OPs are discouraged from trying to micromanage their threads, and I think that should include things like "and don't tell me the answer I don't want to hear" in the original post. I think it's fine to say things like "I can't afford to buy a Mac to solve this problem" or "I live 1500 miles from the nearest river so a kayak isn't going to work" to indicate that there are practical limits to the help a poster can actually use. And people can say they don't want to go to the emergency room or are absolutely determined to eat that thing no matter what, and commenters are going to ignore that because the restriction is unreasonable from an actual physical safety and well-being perspective.

Are there gray areas? Yes, of course. If I posted about a problem I was having, and at the end said "FYI religion is not an option", someone's probably going to bring it up anyway. That comment is going to be of no use to me, because I'm quite serious that it's not an option, and so it doesn't do me any good, but if it was otherwise a response in good faith (ha) and might be useful to someone else who comes along after me for whom religion is an option, I'm not going to demand it be removed.

You know what I would find really ugly? If everyone who commented on the post in question said things like, "Definitely ask him if there's something wrong with your looks" and "Make him tell you the five things he dislikes most about you." Technically adheres to the OPs request, it's just viciously cruel to goad her into begging for pain.

Tone (and even intent) is sometimes hard for some people to read, and maybe this should be a heads-up to you to consider yours more carefully if you're getting comments deleted.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:49 AM on July 24, 2013 [34 favorites]


We need a section on the wiki covering the rhetorical styles common to unproductive MetaTalk posts, chief among them the petulantly disingenuous "Oh, so I guess it's OK to [x] now?" trope.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:58 AM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


FWIW, I read the question as "how can I reach closure?" which I think is the meta-meaning if you look closely, presented more like "what *questions* will lead me to reach closure?"

Also, fwiw, I've actually been really impressed with the skill shown here by moderators.

Also, if anyone is reading this far and knows whether, if you accidentally hit the [!] when you mean to hit the [+], that causes the comment to be flagged or whether you have to choose a reason before it is saved, I'd like to know. I figure it's the latter. I hope so, because I have fat fingers and a small tablet LOL
posted by janey47 at 10:02 AM on July 24, 2013


One person's opinion: the pile-ons can get excessive.
posted by ambient2 at 10:04 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


No worries, janey47, the flag doesn't get submitted until you actually choose a reason.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:05 AM on July 24, 2013


That is a very good comment, Lyn Never.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:11 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've asked questions on AskMe, where I basically said "I want to accomplish N result, and I am looking for the right kind of X to get that result" and the chorus of "X is not going to work, you need to do Y instead" was, perhaps to some readers, not staying within the four corners of the question I asked, but those answers were in fact, correct, and helped me accomplish the desired outcome.

What I saw the OP saying in her question was "I have this fresh wound. I want to help it heal, by ripping it open again" and a lot of us responded by saying in various ways "that is going to hurt a lot, and it may not help you at all."
posted by ambrosia at 10:13 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that this is a useful observation, but a question like this encourages a pile-on of a particular sort of answer.

I think we, as a community, need to be careful about pile-on lecture-type answers in general, but especially so in cases where we're not answering the question asked.

I know I've partaken in some of these situations myself as it's all too easy to do, but having been on a the receiving end of this kind of thing a few time has made me realize how out of line and obnoxious it is. One time I posted a question on behalf of a Mennonite friend who gets a lot of tiresome and dumb comments on her bonnet, the length of her hair, etc., in which I asked for witty replies and comments she could make in return. Some people took this as an invitation to lecture her on her attitude towards these comments. One commenter said "she should dedicate the annoyance to God or whatever it is religious people do, and let it go". For fuck's sakes Recently I asked for advice on how to track down someone who used to live in my house in order to get her a bank notice that was repeatedly being mailed to her (because I believed wrongly but not unreasonably that it was a much higher stakes situation than it turned out to be), and I got a number of replies telling me I shouldn't have opened the letter, it wasn't my problem, etc. I thought one such comment was fine, but beyond that was overkill. One poster decided it was necessary to say essentially that to me three different times (his third version was deleted), and he posted the second and third of these comments after I had told people that if they weren't going to answer the question I'd actually asked to just not answer the question.

I mean, yes, we sometimes need to go beyond the scope of the question to truly help the Asker, and that will mean that sometimes we'll be saying things the poster doesn't want to hear. But I think we need to be careful about how we do it. For one thing, reiterating advice that has already been given is really kind of douchey. If a previous comment or a previous number of comments have said what you're going to say, then why post what is exactly or essentially the same thing (let alone say it three times)? I think a good rule for AskMe is, don't post answers that have already been given unless you have something new to add, even if it's just a new reason for the same answer. And yes, some threads are a mile long so I can cut people slack for just not having time to read the whole thread, but you could take a few minutes to read ten answers or so to take in the general tone of the answers thus far.

Another thing to remember that we don't know everything about the poster's context. If someone posts that she gave a friend advice and the friend said the advice was wrong for such and such a reason and the poster is asking whether the friend is correct in this, I think it's out of line to answer this with "You should mind your own business! She doesn't have to take your advice!" because, for all you know, the friend asked the poster for advice and would be glad to learn the truth of the matter.

And then too, not everyone is like you or approaches problems from the same perspective. I've found it really healing and helpful to talk with exes sometime and to know what really went wrong and to get apologies, so I can understand where this poster was coming from. It's reasonable to cut your losses and never look back if that's what works for you, but you need to respect the fact that not everyone deals in the same manner. This poster has said in this thread that she decided the answers were right, but it might just as easily have gone the other way. And the same goes for other relationship-type questions. We need to remember that the people who are posting here are often at moments of crisis in their life. They're often in pain, tired, anxious, or fed-up. We've spent one minute reading their question; they might have been dealing with this problem for years. We don't know the OPs life, but she or he does.

I think in general we ought to give posters some credit for knowing how to run their lives in general and govern themselves properly and be very careful and respectful in all AskMe threads, but this is especially so in situations where we're going beyond the scope of the question asked. We don't know what the poster knows, we don't know what the larger situation is, and we need to be extra cautious in sailing in those unknown waters, because there be dragons.
posted by orange swan at 10:19 AM on July 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also, if anyone is reading this far and knows whether, if you accidentally hit the [!] when you mean to hit the [+], that causes the comment to be flagged or whether you have to choose a reason before it is saved, I'd like to know.

You can also choose to flag it as "fantastic comment," something I did once in that situation.
posted by Michele in California at 10:23 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heya, jenlovesponies, just to be clear (because this probably comes down to me not being sufficiently clear in my mod note in the thread), it was more of an issue of a sympathetic person hyperbolically putting "crazy bitch" it some figurative answerer's mouth when no one had said that, in a way that wasn't great and got deleted.

Yes, for whatever it's worth, it was the first version of my comment before it got deleted and I reposted it. I used that phrase because I was objecting to what I saw as the tone of some of the other replies. That phrase didn't actually appear in any of the answers. I sincerely apologize if it added to your distress. And I am so sorry you got the pile-on at a vulnerable time. Argh.
posted by cairdeas at 10:26 AM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


orange swan, I agree with you re: the pile-on, and I sometimes think where this is problematic is in deciding whether you are truly adding to the conversation or not. One thing I notice on AskMe and elsewhere is that there are many different ways to say the same thing. Sometimes only so many of those ways resonate with someone. I agree that dozens of one sentence responses saying simply "Don't meet up with him," would be unnecessary; but on the other hand, that wouldn't really feel like piling on as much--it would feel more like the accumulation of data (Hey, a lot of people think the proposed path is a really bad one). "Piling on" to me implies some amount of judgment, and this judgment is much more likely to come through in longer answers. But it just may be one of these longer answers that strikes a chord with the OP (or future readers in a similar predicament) when many other answers didn't get through in the same way.

Although I think your point is well-taken, and I do appreciate when answerers exercise restraint and consider whether they think they're really adding new value or if they're just scratching the itch of wanting to add their voice to the chorus.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:27 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


(back from having a shower)

I've wondered how people react to Ask questions, how many go straight to writing an answer and how many read through the answers first.

(I'm among the latter, and if people have already shared my thoughts, I favorite those answers with a thought that it's saying, "I agree," rather than being the 13th or the 23rd person to say essentially the same thing. Hard to feel enthused about pile-ons, which can read like intensity-of-answer contests, specially when people are in times of real distress.)
posted by ambient2 at 10:28 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, jenlovesponies, if it helps at all with the feeling of being ganged up on... just remember that people react different to anonymous text than they would have reacted to you in real life. Most of us are using pseudonyms here, have no idea what each other look like; it's so easy to forget this is not just some theoretical debate but there is a real human being on the other end.

If, at the top of your question, there was a live Skype video of you reading the answers and crying, I think the answers that you would have gotten would have been very, very, different. Maybe they would have had the same advice, but I think it would have been phrased in a much more gentle and caring way.

I just don't want you to feel as if you were just set upon by a mob that wanted to tear you to shreds. (I don't think anyone intended for you to feel that way at all but I think a lot of people feel that way when they are on the "wrong end" of a pile-on.) I don't think anyone in that thread wanted to hurt you at all and I think most of them would have been horrified to see your reaction.
posted by cairdeas at 10:32 AM on July 24, 2013


my main gripe is that rules inconsistently enforced, which can be problematic.

I think it would be much more problematic to have rules consistently enforced.

The answers the OP points to are indeed deletable. But that doesn't mean the mods have to delete them, it means that if the mods decide to delete them, based on, say, a lot of people flagging them, it would be a perfectly reasonable deletion.

Not everything that's permitted is obligatory.
posted by escabeche at 10:34 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that should include things like "and don't tell me the answer I don't want to hear" in the original post.

I generally agree with this, using Lyn Never's outline: limiting criteria or guidance is helpful to askers, saying "You are not allowed to say this..." is not. In fact, if people asking anon questions try to wedge something like this into their question, we will often not approve it because it's sort of a set-up for a community fight in most cases and as long-time mods we can see the thread-dooming aspect of it a mile away.

We need a section on the wiki covering the rhetorical styles common to unproductive MetaTalk posts, chief among them the petulantly disingenuous "Oh, so I guess it's OK to [x] now?" trope.

♩ ♫The wonderful thing about having a wiki is that anyone can edit it. ♬ ♫

not disagreeing, of course
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:46 AM on July 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Damn, you guys are hardcore. What's the worst that can happen. This isn't "I found a mushroom growing in my closet, I'm going to eat it, what is your favorite mushroom recipe"
posted by Ad hominem at 10:47 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, jenlovesponies, I have had a post-breakup convo two separate times when I was the one being broken up with. In the first instance, the guy told me he lost interest because our camping styles were too dissimilar (!!) and I had been late to a few of our dates. In the second instance, the guy told me he just didn't feel enough of a physical attraction.

Both times it was very helpful!!! Both times were a short conversation that was completely free of drama. Both times, I felt way better afterwards.

I also had a time when someone asked me why I declined when he asked me out, and I straight-up told him. (Love of making "ironically sexist" jokes and other "humor" that I roll my eyes at.)

Annnnnnd I had at time when someone asked me, and I was afraid to tell him the real answer because I was afraid he was suicidal and I was also embarrassed because of my behavior. So I just kind of picked one thing that had been a problem, but wasn't the whole problem or even most of it, and just talked about that...

In any event I don't think it was wrong for any of us to ask for or have this type of convo. It helped me a LOT in those first two cases ("we're not compatible campers? okay..." It didn't really rock my world, you know?). I don't think I was out of line for asking, I don't think the guys who asked me were out of line for asking. I think it's pretty normal.

I actually do think this only works with someone who both knows their own feelings in the situation, and isn't afraid of being honest in the situation. And I actually don't think you would get a good result with the guy in question, because it doesn't seem like either of those things are the case for him. I had another time in my life when I asked and got the hemming and hawing, contradictory statements and things that don't make any sense. That kind of answer is really not helpful and just creates more questions. And I do think that's what a lot of people were getting at.

But anyway I just wanted to say, just because there's a pile-on doesn't mean everyone in the world thinks that, it just means that group of people think that.
posted by cairdeas at 10:49 AM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I sometimes think where this is problematic is in deciding whether you are truly adding to the conversation or not. One thing I notice on AskMe and elsewhere is that there are many different ways to say the same thing. Sometimes only so many of those ways resonate with someone.

It's true, and sometimes something like a different analogy or a personal anecdote might make all the difference in making something clear to the OP. The act of answering involved questions is too complex to make any hard and fast rulings about. I'd say in general we should concentrate on trying to be genuinely helpful, and on not being assholes.
posted by orange swan at 10:52 AM on July 24, 2013


Thanks cortex & Michele in California!

On the topic of direct questions being answered with apparently unresponsive replies, I asked a direct question anonymously some time ago and got close to unanimous agreement by responders that I was asking the wrong question. All responded with the answer to the question they thought I should be asking (the answer being DTMFA). While I did not take the advice of the responders, I did take the responses quite seriously, in part because in a long ago relationship, my RL friends told me unanimously and repeatedly to DTMFA and I kept saying, "Oh right, in most cases that would be the right answer, but this is different because blah blah blah." Of course it turned out that they were right.

I didn't want to make the same mistake this time around, so I asked my best friend to read the Ask thread and tell me his thoughts and if, knowing the parties involved, *he* had agreed, I *would* have taken the advice of the group. So that's a long way of saying that I've had the personal experience of not having my direct question answered, but only the meta-question, and it was very helpful even though I didn't DTMF.
posted by janey47 at 10:54 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had a similar experience as janey47. I asked about how I could get my abusive boyfriend at the time to stop abusing me, but no DTMFA. Were there ways I could be behaving - like dressing a certain way, or buying him certain things, or losing enough weight - that would stop his abusive behavior?

The only correct answer to my question was DTMFA, even though I didn't want to hear it.
posted by sockermom at 11:05 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I tend to think this is not the best MeTa ever, as it seems to intermingle the very reasonable objection "people are posting unhelpful answers to an AskMe" with the usually contentious and often doomed "this deletion of what I wrote was a bad call."

I generally avoid relationship AskMes, because five years here have taught me that there is an overwhelming received wisdom that -- among other things -- no one can be friendly with exes. As with the other articles of faith, you flout this one at your peril, and have to be prepared for dozens of people explaining why their conjectures should trump your experience. The very fact that a user can apparently solemnly compare talking with an ex with voluntarily ingesting a lethal dose of poison ought to show how far down the road we are.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:09 AM on July 24, 2013


The very fact that a user can apparently solemnly compare talking with an ex with voluntarily ingesting a lethal dose of poison ought to show how far down the road we are.

There are dozens (hundreds?) of individual statements on MetaFilter every day that shouldn't be taken as representative of the whole, especially when they're obvious exaggerations.
posted by Etrigan at 11:17 AM on July 24, 2013


I've wondered how people react to Ask questions, how many go straight to writing an answer and how many read through the answers first.

It depends. If the answer is obviously "The blue one is cuter!" and there are no or few replies, I want to be the first to say it and win the smartest, quickest answer contest, so I promptly start typing. If it is something meatier and there are already substantial replies, I generally feel obligated to at least skim and consider what others have said. This often influences my answer in some ways. In some cases, I go a big step further, walk away from my computer and think about while I do other things. The resulting reply is fairly often "late" and seems to see few eyeballs on it but I often really like those replies, and they sometimes get me memails or other positive feedback that isn't gajillions of favoriteds, so I get the impression the quality is really appreciated by some of the lucky few who bother to read them.

As far as the theory that for some AskMes, "Just do not do that" is the only possible "correct" answer, I really do not think so. Even for the specific AskMe under discussion here, I do not think that is the only possible good answer. But I do think it is a little like someone saying "How do I defuse this bomb?" The best practical answer is probably "If you have to ask, you probably aren't qualified. Please step away from the device and call the bomb squad." But it is also possible that detailed instructions will actually work, there may be no bomb squad available, yadda. So I think it is best to try to also say something like "Well, if you really must, then start by snipping the blue wire.(etc).... But, honestly, if you do not have to, please don't. I would hate to see you die or lose a hand or something." In a perfect world, the bomb squad would already be there and the question wouldn't get asked to begin with. Last I checked, we still do not live in a perfect world.

(Janey47: Glad to help.)
posted by Michele in California at 11:18 AM on July 24, 2013


five years here have taught me that there is an overwhelming received wisdom that -- among other things -- no one can be friendly with exes. As with the other articles of faith, you flout this one at your peril, and have to be prepared for dozens of people explaining why their conjectures should trump your experience.

I guess I don't really agree? I do think that the advice to go no-contact when a breakup is fresh is good advice, and in almost every situation (provided the breakup wasn't mutual) it is the right answer - you can get over someone, or try to be friends with them, but it's almost always courting disaster to try to do both at the same time. I myself have been an exception to that rule, and I don't think being an exception has changed my outlook on the situation when it comes up in relationship AskMes. If someone is hurting over a breakup and still in that phase when even seeing their ex's name or picture feels like a gut punch, they really need to not try to be friends with the ex until things are not like that anymore. So in that sense (the sense of the breakup being a fresh one), yes there is a received wisdom there, and it's that way because it's correct.

But being friends with exes at all? No. There are a million scenarios in which people can and should be friendly with an ex, and I've seen those perspectives represented on AskMe for sure. In fact, I can only remember a few times I've seen someone insisting the opposite - that no one can be friendly with exes, as you say - and I only remember them for because they were so anomalous.

The very fact that a user can apparently solemnly compare talking with an ex with voluntarily ingesting a lethal dose of poison ought to show how far down the road we are.

Nah.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:21 AM on July 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


five years here have taught me that there is an overwhelming received wisdom that -- among other things -- no one can be friendly with exes. As with the other articles of faith, you flout this one at your peril, and have to be prepared for dozens of people explaining why their conjectures should trump your experience.

That's not my takeaway at all. There's been plenty of mentions of people being friendly with their exes, but not in the context of one person ending the relationship and one person wanting to keep it. The "friendly ex" thing happens, in my personal experience, when the ending is mutual "you are a great person, but you are not the right person for me, so let's go find people who fit us better" and it is certainly a known thing. The suggestion to go "no contact" is in the situation when one of the parties still has feelings.
posted by ambrosia at 11:24 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


five years here have taught me that there is an overwhelming received wisdom that -- among other things -- no one can be friendly with exes. As with the other articles of faith, you flout this one at your peril, and have to be prepared for dozens of people explaining why their conjectures should trump your experience.

I'm friends (and in a couple of case, very close friends) with virtually all my significant exes, including my ex-husband and my ex-fiance. I also had to go no-contact with each of them for a period of time (up to several years in a few cases). The two things are not mutually exclusive; indeed, going no-contact so that each partner can move on is, in my experience, the necessary precondition for forging a happy, healthy, non-torch-carrying friendship down the road.
posted by scody at 11:49 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


(And yeah, the idea that "no one can be friends with exes" is a standard MeFi truism is simply false. There are dozens of threads in which people discuss at length how and why they have been able to stay friends with exes.)
posted by scody at 11:51 AM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, it is not that there is no one else who believes it: I do not consider AskMe a confrontation between the clear light of my wisdom and 120,000 exemplars of parochial fearfulness. However, there is a strong current against what may seem common sense to you and me.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:55 AM on July 24, 2013


As with the vast majority of MeFi policies, "answer the question asked" is a guideline, not a rule. Guidelines have exceptions. The existence of occasional exceptions to a guideline does not negate the guideline.

There have been at least two instances in the past few weeks where I flagged comments that gave answers of the sort that the OP had explicitly excluded in the original question—one was here, I don't specifically remember the other one—which were promptly deleted, so the general rule still stands. (I don't remember whose comments they were.)

As soon as I read the "what should I ask" question, I knew, before reading any of the answers that had been posted, that a bunch of people were going to say "don't have this meeting" despite the OP explicitly excluding that answer. And I also decided not to flag any such answers, as I felt it was an exception to the general guideline.

If you want a bright sharp line about what are exceptions to the guideline and what are not, you're not going to get one, because then it would be a rule and not a guideline, and then the rules-lawyering begins.

If you're just smarting because some of your own explicitly-excluded-by-the-OP answers have been deleted, there's a couple of not-yet-deleted answers in this thread, where the OP excludes chili/chocolate combos, which IMO should not be an exception to the general guideline. Flag those and watch them be deleted, if it makes you feel better.

my main gripe is that rules inconsistently enforced, which can be problematic.

Ah, we're actually halfway on the same page then; it's just that I believe that "rules [or guidelines] inconsistently enforced" can sometimes be a positive, if the inconsistent enforcement is applied with a healthy grain of common sense.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:56 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I generally agree with this, using Lyn Never's outline: limiting criteria or guidance is helpful to askers, saying "You are not allowed to say this..." is not. In fact, if people asking anon questions try to wedge something like this into their question, we will often not approve it because it's sort of a set-up for a community fight in most cases and as long-time mods we can see the thread-dooming aspect of it a mile away."

Heh. I ask more tech questions than relationship ones, and frequently need to include a "You are not allowed to say this" constraint, because otherwise I'll get a lot of otherwise helpful answers that don't actually allow me to solve my problem (which is usually constrained by hardware/software version/etc.), or that I'd already tried and that failed to fix my bug. Also, at least once, the problem was that what I wanted could not actually be accomplished based on my circumstances, which annoyed me when I got answers to that effect but I had to kind of suck up because the real answer was "Do more research and don't count on precision transportation times because missing one link will fuck your whole day."

So, sometimes "You are not allowed to say this" is for good reason, but generally relationship questions aren't that constrained.
posted by klangklangston at 12:04 PM on July 24, 2013


I always thought that the possibility of the OP not having their exact question answered was a feature and not a bug.

Many people didn't answer OP's question and instead said it was a terrible idea. Many people asked the OP what they were hoping to achieve by meeting him, OP didn't provide any follow up. If OP had followed up with more detail about things that actually had to be worked out between them (money, living arrangements, etc.), the question would have been more answerable.

I think with human relations questions, there is often no right or wrong answer, just a few hundred internet strangers who have been there.
posted by inertia at 12:17 PM on July 24, 2013


The very fact that a user can apparently solemnly compare talking with an ex with voluntarily ingesting a lethal dose of poison ought to show how far down the road we are.

I guess you missed my marshmallow comparison. The comparison in either case is obviously extreme and I do not think for a moment that such a question would survive deletion for long. The use of the hyperbole is to illustrate the point that I think that the OP is not always right in this regard as I think this comment rather eloquently stated.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:24 PM on July 24, 2013


I'm friends (and in a couple of case, very close friends) with virtually all my significant exes, including my ex-husband and my ex-fiance. I also had to go no-contact with each of them for a period of time (up to several years in a few cases). The two things are not mutually exclusive; indeed, going no-contact so that each partner can move on is, in my experience, the necessary precondition for forging a happy, healthy, non-torch-carrying friendship down the road.

I have a really similar experience. Overall, when it comes to relationship advice, I think it's crucial to understand that Your Experience is not science that you can apply to everyone else; let alone a stranger on the internet. Speaking from experience, sure, that's awesome. When it comes to relationship advice, that's all you really can do. Straight-up telling someone "do not meet and talk to your ex, no, this is objectively bad" is pretty presumptuous, I think. It's a wonderful world we live in, where each of us have our own emotional compositions, and where doing X with one person might be a horrible idea, while doing it with another might just be the best thing you ever did.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:25 PM on July 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


p.s. I am friends with an ex who I had a long and messy relationship with. We didn't go no-contact when we broke up, but we definitely should have. Older, wiser, hindsight, etc.
posted by inertia at 12:30 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have had a post-breakup convo two separate times when I was the one being broken up with. In the first instance, the guy told me he lost interest because our camping styles were too dissimilar (!!)

I'm guessing that you weren't a happy camper after that convo.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:31 PM on July 24, 2013 [16 favorites]


"Guideline" implies that you get to use your own judgement about how to follow it. Comments are routinely deleted by moderators for not answering the question.

You wouldn't say soccer has a "guideline" about not handling the ball. It's judged and enforced by a referee: it's a rule about not handling the ball.

Metafilter likes to say "guidelines" because it sounds nicer and friendlier. But the enforced ones are rules in any meaningful sense.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:34 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]



I guess you missed my marshmallow comparison


Note: marshmallow comparison is not actually in this thread.
posted by sweetkid at 12:36 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought all my fans know my greatest hits.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:37 PM on July 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


You may be overestimating both fans and hits.
posted by klangklangston at 12:39 PM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I dunno, man, I loved "A Man, A Cat and Two Women".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:39 PM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Metafilter likes to say "guidelines" because it sounds nicer and friendlier. But the enforced ones are rules in any meaningful sense.

Agreed. Every time I hear the "we have guidelines, not rules" chestnut, I think of Captain Barbossa.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:40 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


TheophileEscargot: “‘Guideline’ implies that you get to use your own judgement about how to follow it. Comments are routinely deleted by moderators for not answering the question. You wouldn't say soccer has a ‘guideline’ about not handling the ball. It's judged and enforced by a referee: it's a rule about not handling the ball. Metafilter likes to say ‘guidelines’ because it sounds nicer and friendlier. But the enforced ones are rules in any meaningful sense.”

I'm not sure that "guideline" implies no enforcement ever. The salient difference, of course, is that in soccer handling of the ball by anyone but the goalie results always and immediately in a foul being called. Here, these things are judged on a case-by-case basis, often with the "referees" conferring with each other.

Also: one of the essential parts of the culture here is that the community is self-policing to a large degree. "Don't insult other people personally" is a good guideline, but there are some insults that might be a bad idea but might not be deleted because they're borderline or because they're not egregious enough. The community may dislike the insult, and may police itself by saying so and pointing out that it was against a community guideline, even without the mods wanting to delete it.
posted by koeselitz at 12:40 PM on July 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I still believe in you Tanizaki, you are the wind beneath my wings!

Uh, breath mint?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:41 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shorter version:

Metafilter does not like the word "guidelines" because it "sounds nicer and friendlier." Metafilter likes the word "guidelines" because it much better reflects the rather organic and flexible process by which community norms are created and enforced. "Rules" imply simple, unquestionable, often mechanically-enforced laws. Metafilter doesn't really have anything that comes close to that sort of simplicity or inflexibility.
posted by koeselitz at 12:42 PM on July 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


""Guideline" implies that you get to use your own judgement about how to follow it. Comments are routinely deleted by moderators for not answering the question."

People do use their own judgment about how to follow the guideline of "Answer the question." That people who are not within the guideline are censured is not a reason that these are not guidelines; that's a non sequitor. The NIH publishes guidelines for medical care; not following established guidelines can be met with censure and punishment, though exceptions are granted based on particular conditions.

You wouldn't say soccer has a "guideline" about not handling the ball. It's judged and enforced by a referee: it's a rule about not handling the ball.

This is nonsense. Magazines have submission guidelines that are enforced by editors. Not getting published does not mean that there are rules rather than guidelines.

Metafilter likes to say "guidelines" because it sounds nicer and friendlier. But the enforced ones are rules in any meaningful sense.

Bullshit. You have cobbled together a poor definition that neither accounts for how "guidelines" is used in the world, nor for how it is used on MetaFilter, and then generalized your problem to MetaFilter.
posted by klangklangston at 12:44 PM on July 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Metafilter doesn't really have anything that comes close to that sort of simplicity or inflexibility.

Well, I can think of two: no self-linking in a FPP on the blue, and the mandatory gifts of giant donuts to cortex on his birthday.
posted by scody at 12:45 PM on July 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


The distinction between guideline and rule is not enforcement so much as codification; I feel like the distinction you're drawing is more between the idea of actual guidelines or rules for behavior vs. non-binding polite suggestsions.

The guidelines we work with for the site, for expected user behavior and interactions and participation, aren't codified the way a set of laws would be, because we're not working in that sort of context, we don't have those sorts of stakes or that kind of scope, and there's just not any net value in getting explicit and strictural about exactly what one can or can't say, can or can't do, in any absolutist sense.

So, we do things on a "this will work better, that will work not so well" sort of basis. We try and communicate what's likely to be problematic, what's likely to go well, etc. We enforce case-by-case for individual things based on the various factors those guidelines summarize, because we could talk for pages about the details of any given situation but that's a lot to produce and a lot to digest. Short rules of thumb help make some of that stuff more manageable to pass around and discuss and remember, even if it's not going to be 100% laser accurate or anything.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:47 PM on July 24, 2013


Metafilter: it's not going to be 100% laser accurate or anything.
posted by Melismata at 12:48 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would be kind of interesting if soccer players were allowed to stop the game and argue to the referees that they should totally be allowed to handle the ball.
posted by koeselitz at 12:49 PM on July 24, 2013


"I don't disagree that I was off-sides. But let me explain why I think it's a bullshit rule."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:55 PM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm guessing that you weren't a happy camper after that convo.
posted by octobersurprise


No wai! Still a happy camper :)
posted by cairdeas at 1:00 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Re guidelines vs rules:

When my ex was in the army, there were lots of manuals on how to do things. The one for, say, how your dress uniform had to look to pass inspection was filled with rules and told you exactly how far apart your doohickies had to be and it was (often) measurable with a ruler. The ones for how to do stuff in battle to best meet your goals, kill the enemy, and minimize casualties on your side were guidelines because there was no fucking way to make a precise, measurable, replicable, hard-and-fast rule for a situation like that.

This is why "no self link fpp" is a rule but "answer the question" is a guideline: One can be readily enforced with a bright line, the other requires more complicated judgement calls.
posted by Michele in California at 1:16 PM on July 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


> told you exactly how far apart your doohickies had to be and it was (often) measurable with a ruler.

Repealing DADT made enforcement of this rule a bit less stressful.
posted by planetesimal at 1:29 PM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I actually meant all the insignia that told everyone in the military how awesome hubby was using some secret code thus meaning not a damn thing to the unwashed masses. I never bothered to learn the official lingo. I only slept with the guy and spent his money.
posted by Michele in California at 1:40 PM on July 24, 2013


OP here again.

I cancelled.

I just want everyone to know, because I think when I posted early this morning I didn't make it clear, that I wasn't so much distraught yesterday reading the responses because people were being brusque, but because I got dumped and reading those responses really brought home the point that it was over and that I wasn't going to get him back because in my heart that's what I was really hoping would happen.

And most people picked up on that, I think, that I wanted him to take it all back, and that's probably not what would've happened, so I'm glad I got tough love.

I haven't been around MeFi much in the past year or two, but the last time I had a boy question, I asked MeFi if I should go for it. The hive overwhelmingly said I shouldn't, and I did anyway, and then he not only wasn't interested, he was, as some clever members of the hive suggested, actually secretly in the closet. (The story has a happy ending; he's now mostly out, and we're such good friends that he was the one I talked to first following my breakup.)

I came back to MeFi because everyone was harsh but correct last time, and I expected nothing less this time.

Thank you again to everyone for their thoughtful responses.
posted by jenlovesponies at 2:50 PM on July 24, 2013 [48 favorites]


Sorry about it, jenlovesponies. Treat yourself well these next few days!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:52 PM on July 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


You wouldn't say soccer has a ‘guideline’ about not handling the ball. It's judged and enforced by a referee: it's a rule about not handling the ball.

Soccer does not have a "rule" about not handling the ball.

Soccer has a law about not handling the ball.

Laws are another ball of wax (or leather, or groovy space-age synthetics) entirely.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:14 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I cancelled.

I just want everyone to know, because I think when I posted early this morning I didn't make it clear, that I wasn't so much distraught yesterday reading the responses because people were being brusque, but because I got dumped and reading those responses really brought home the point that it was over and that I wasn't going to get him back because in my heart that's what I was really hoping would happen.
"

I didn't bother answering since my perspective was already amply represented, but he sounded like an immature asshole, so you dodged a bullet.
posted by klangklangston at 3:17 PM on July 24, 2013


Annnnd that's why "always answer the question as asked" is a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. Because sometimes the question as asked isn't actually the question being asked. In this case OP's real question was "how do I talk my boyfriend out of dumping me?" and the answer was "You don't, and trying is a bad idea."

I'm glad it worked out and I think you made the right decision, jen!
posted by Justinian at 3:42 PM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


jenlovesponies, I wish you all the best. This is such a difficult time, and we can all give you hints on what helped us get through the hardest part of a breakup, but ultimately it just hurts and that sucks. I'm keeping you in my thoughts and if you ever need to vent or need someone to talk you down from drunk dialing him, send me a note by memail and I'll be happy to listen and/or talk you down.
posted by janey47 at 3:43 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rather than soccer, a better comparison might be to NBA officiating.
posted by box at 5:18 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then again, maybe I just think this because I don't know much about soccer.
posted by box at 5:18 PM on July 24, 2013


i don't really care if it's ok or not ok to not answer a question, but i do care that it's one or the other. i don't like that it's filtered through whether a mod thinks it's "helpful" advice, which is just a nice way to say they agree with you.

i can't find the email now, but a week or two ago my comment was deleted, i asked why, and restless_nomad said it was because i didn't answer the question. so, whatever the reason was, that wasn't it.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:57 PM on July 24, 2013


Soccer has a law about not handling the ball.

Laws are another ball of wax (or leather, or groovy space-age synthetics) entirely.


The reason the US Supreme Court decides cases about the application of rules (it does do more than decide abortion and free speech cases) is that their interpretation and application is just as import as that of law. The difference will be that (generally) court rules are a judicial creation and function while statutes are of the legislature. I have seen cases hinge on the interpretation and application of a rule.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:00 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


... and feel free to post the exchange if you think it would help.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:02 PM on July 24, 2013


i don't like that it's filtered through whether a mod thinks it's "helpful" advice, which is just a nice way to say they agree with you.

I really don't think it is. I mean, if it was, then wouldn't they sometimes have to agree with two opposite things at the same time?
posted by box at 6:13 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"i don't really care if it's ok or not ok to not answer a question, but i do care that it's one or the other. i don't like that it's filtered through whether a mod thinks it's "helpful" advice, which is just a nice way to say they agree with you.

I assure you that I have posted answers that the mods disagree with that they haven't deleted. So maybe try again once you climb down offa your cross?
posted by klangklangston at 6:17 PM on July 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


i can't find the email now, but a week or two ago my comment was deleted, i asked why, and restless_nomad said it was because i didn't answer the question. so, whatever the reason was, that wasn't it.

We have copies of all your emails to us. We don't have copies of MeMail to mods.

However if I recall correctly this may have been a MeMail you sent directly to r_n. She wasn't working at the time (and wasn't the one who deleted the comment I think you're referring to: a three-months-later AskMe response where you told the OP that her attitude was the problem and it seemed a little random and non-answery or even possibly posted to the wrong thread in error?) and she sent you a quick response and let us know that you might be emailing us about it which I don't think that you did? I'm having a hard time tracking down her email so I may be combining two events. Maybe you could check your MeMail and let us know? Would have been around July 15-16.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:17 PM on July 24, 2013


i don't like that it's filtered through whether a mod thinks it's "helpful" advice

Yeah, no, that's not what's happening.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:44 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


i can't find the email now, but a week or two ago my comment was deleted, i asked why, and restless_nomad said it was because i didn't answer the question. so, whatever the reason was, that wasn't it.

So, just to be clear: But this conclusion does not follow from the first two. Just because some principle (guideline, rule, whatever you want to call it) is not consistently applied, does not mean that there is some other hidden rule which is consistently applied. It may be the case that the reason you were given was in fact the reason your comment was deleted, it's just that it's not consistently applied.

Consider this analogy: See the problem? There may be any number of reasons why I was not carrying my umbrella on Wednesday despite the rain, which do not negate the truth of my statement that I was carrying my umbrella on Tuesday because it was raining.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:12 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, no,

This is a disorienting way to start a sentence.
posted by John Cohen at 8:13 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I checked in with r_n and I think I'm confusing two separate things. If you want to share the emails you have, please do. The last ones we have from you were in April.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:19 PM on July 24, 2013


i don't really care if it's ok or not ok to not answer a question, but i do care that it's one or the other.

No, you care that you were "punished." Let it alone. You're not convincing anyone of anything that you want to be convincing them of.
posted by Etrigan at 8:25 PM on July 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


We have copies of all your emails to us. We don't have copies of MeMail to mods.

Sorry to jump in here, but I'm a little confused. On first reading, I just thought this meant that each mod only kept emails made directly to that mod, which made sense; if I sent mail directly to jessamyn, of course cortex wouldn't have a copy, too.

But now that I see the distinction between MeMail and email, I am questioning if I am reading it right after all.

Do you keep email and not memail for some reason?

Also, what if a user uses the contact form--how does that work? That's like the Bat signal going out to all the mods, right?

Can a mod maybe explain this, please? It's not urgent or anything. Thanks!
posted by misha at 8:36 PM on July 24, 2013


If you use the contact form that email goes to all the mods' regular email addresses (some mods have MeFi-only email addresses, some don't). We usually reply-all to contact form email. It's inefficient but works okay. If you MeMail one of us, that goes to that mod only. That mod may or may not be working and may or may not see that message for a while. If you try to MeMail us, you see a note that says something to that effect on the MeMail page.

So, r_n would have copies of whatever MeMail cupcake1337 (or anyone else) sent her, I don't have access to those messages and there's no easy way to forward a message along without cut/paste. I tend to turn my MeMail off when I'm not working for specifically that reason, so someone won't try to contact me when I'm not around with a general mod question when there's another perfectly good mod who could answer their question more promptly.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:47 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"This is a disorienting way to start a sentence."

It's the idiomatic for, "I understand what you're saying, but you're wrong."
posted by klangklangston at 9:02 PM on July 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Previous AskMe posts about the "yeah, no" thing: 1, 2.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:17 PM on July 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


i can't find the email now, but a week or two ago my comment was deleted, i asked why, and restless_nomad said it was because i didn't answer the question. so, whatever the reason was, that wasn't it.

I've had probably hundreds comments deleted. It happens. If you're going to post here, it's kinda just a fact of life. You're going to drive yourself crazy trying to adjudicate all of them.
posted by empath at 9:42 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It may be the case that the reason you were given was in fact the reason your comment was deleted, it's just that it's not consistently applied.

yes, and that's the problem. you're demonstrating a distinction without a difference. we could assume there is some logic to when a reason is applied. we could also assume there is a logic to the logic ... etc. however far deep you want to go.

let's assume the order in which conditions are evaluated is constant. then, it all hinges on how you define "reason." if you define reason as the first condition that fails, then "my" logic (as you describe it) holds. there is a contradiction somewhere. either the first explanation was incomplete in that there was a condition before "raining", or you didn't actually carry your umbrella on wednesday.

maybe something else happened on tuesday that made "raining" a test, but if you don't tell me this, and you said the reason was raining, i would assume there was no pre-condition.
posted by cupcake1337 at 11:02 PM on July 24, 2013


> I generally avoid relationship AskMes, because five years here have taught me that there is an overwhelming received wisdom that -- among other things -- no one can be friendly with exes.

No no please consider occasionally joining the lonely minority of us who counter this!
posted by desuetude at 11:23 PM on July 24, 2013


let's assume the order in which conditions are evaluated is constant. then, it all hinges on how you define "reason." if you define reason as the first condition that fails, then "my" logic (as you describe it) holds. there is a contradiction somewhere. either the first explanation was incomplete in that there was a condition before "raining", or you didn't actually carry your umbrella on wednesday.

what
posted by kagredon at 11:32 PM on July 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


cupcake: the rules are not always applied fairly and consistently on metafilter. It's just a fact of life. The mods are human beings and they all have different personalities and points of view and judgement comes into play on deletions. You probably have better things to do with your life than appeal every single deletion or seethe about them until you find an opportunity to point out some perceived hypocrisy. Just let it go.
posted by empath at 12:02 AM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please give cupcake1337 a break. He's had a rough day. His shift button broke.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 1:51 AM on July 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


let's assume the order in which conditions are evaluated is constant. then, it all hinges on how you define "reason." if you define reason as the first condition that fails, then "my" logic (as you describe it) holds. there is a contradiction somewhere. either the first explanation was incomplete in that there was a condition before "raining", or you didn't actually carry your umbrella on wednesday.

Did you mean either "... or you didn't actually carry your umbrella on Tuesday" or "... or you did actually carry your umbrella on Wednesday," and if so, which one? If you meant it as you wrote it you've lost me, because in the example I gave I didn't carry my umbrella on Wednesday.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:31 AM on July 25, 2013


Given the situation's happy ending (OP has indicated that she found the information useful in making her decision, which is the desired outcome of any askme), can we just say "the system works," and close this up?
posted by longtime_lurker at 5:12 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm now insanely curious about cairdeas' camping style.
posted by arcticseal at 6:14 AM on July 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


I generally avoid relationship AskMes, because five years here have taught me that there is an overwhelming received wisdom that -- among other things -- no one can be friendly with exes.

I don't think that's really true. I think the received wisdom is that nobody should go directly from being in a relationship with a person to being friends with that person without any kind of break in between. And I think this is good advice, in general. Sure, there are people who can pull it off. But it has a high enough failure rate that "no, don't try to do this" is the most sensible thing to say to a person that you don't really know.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:25 AM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


ricochet biscuit: "five years here have taught me that there is an overwhelming received wisdom that -- among other things -- no one can be friendly with exes."

I hadn't noticed that was received wisdom at all (as I am friends with almost all my exes and did not think this was weird!). I think, rather, that by the time people are posting on Ask, they are often in a great deal of pain from an unhealthy situation (and hence breaking up), and no-contact for a while will help ease this toxic situation. People don't very often post "Yeah, it just wasn't working, so we broke up, I cried, but I'm moving on and it'll be fine -- wait, I forgot what I was asking."

Or they post about a break-up discussion (like this post, I think) where it seems like one partner is trying to talk the other into staying, which I think is a NORMAL thing that people do, especially in their 20s, and I think generally it just prolongs the inevitable pain of breaking up. From a perch of experience I can say, "Relationships that work in the long term don't tend to involve a lot of discussions about whether you should break up or be together." I'm not as vehemently against this as some people are -- my "breakup discussions" were never terribly traumatic; it just dragged things out a bit, it didn't hurt anything -- but I do feel like "once you're in this place, the relationship isn't going to work out no matter how much you talk about it, and rarely is anything gained by talking about it." Older me can say, "In my experience, this just isn't going to work out, you can let it go now with a minimum of drama, it's okay to stop trying to make it work." Sometimes people hear that with relief; other times people need to learn this from experience (I certainly did).

I also think it's a lot harder these days because of social media to get a little space from someone after a breakup, and people probably do need to be a little more diligent about making that space for themselves ("going no contact"). When I was younger and broke up with someone amicably, early in a relationship, I still needed a week or so where I avoided them and nursed my wounds (eating in the dining hall at odd hours, going out for a girls' night instead of your usual bar, taking a few days out of town, whatever), and then it was fine. I think that's harder to do in a social media world and so people get a little hardcore about creating space for yourself to heal.

And I also have camping style questions now. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:12 AM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


jessamyn: ♩ ♫The wonderful thing about having a wiki is that anyone can edit it. ♬ ♫

Will this jingle make its way into the next podcast?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:48 AM on July 25, 2013


Will this jingle make its way into the next podcast?

In my head it sounds a lot like "Won't you be my neighbor?"
posted by MoonOrb at 8:56 AM on July 25, 2013


I thought it was to the tune of The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers
posted by elizardbits at 9:15 AM on July 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


jessamyn: "♩ ♫The wonderful thing about having a wiki is that anyone can edit it. ♬ ♫"

♫ ♩ And if you think somebody else is gonna do it for you, you better just forget it ♯ ♬
posted by boo_radley at 9:25 AM on July 25, 2013


I dunno... I've had comments deleted.

A few were deleted for being crap (mostly realizations after I hit the post button that it was delete-worthy),

Most fall into the category of being deleted and then realizing after they were deleted how they could be construed as worthy of deletion.

And a few were, in my opinion, deleted for no good damn reason, and/or for responding in a snarky/sarcastic fashion to a snarky/sarcastic response from someone else to an earlier comment I made.

In the last category, sure it's annoying, sometimes I mentally play with doing something antisocial and obnoxious, sometimes I get angry, but then I make myself move on.

When it comes to these deletions by Mods, I'll almost always at least see their point in someone else's deletion, but I don't like authority, and I don't like people telling me what I can and can't do, especially because I always at least believe that I am coming from a place of integrity and understanding, or just responding to fire with fire, but the simple facts are that I am a human, I make mistakes, I have bad days, and sometimes I am a hypocrite, and sometimes despite my best efforts, the bad days, hyposcrisy and mistakes bleed into situations they shouldn't, and I shouldn't expect anyone else to be any different.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:33 AM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am a "third culture kid." I seem to often not be on the same page as people who assume we are more culturally similar than is true, which leads to people acting like I am "doing it wrong" or "being intentionally obtuse" (or otherwise guilty of something) when I fail to fit their unstated assumptions. So I have enormous sympathy for cupcake's frustration here with being told "your remark was deleted for x" and feeling like that explanation flies in the face of what they observe to be true.

I also had similar experience with trying to talk to the mods about my deletions when a high-ish number of my comments were being deleted and it felt to me like they got testy pretty quickly. I realize they are trying to moderate a community of thousands but I didn't understand what was so objectionable and asking wasn't clarifying and there is no means inherent to the site to track my own deletions. While I understand why the mods don't want deletions trackable, for someone genuinely trying to figure out what they are doing "wrong" and how to fix it, it's an extremely frustrating experience.

However, my personal experience is that trying to nail down the precise definition/rule/whatever for the specific phrase in question not only doesn't typically help, it frequently just makes such misunderstandings more entrenched and intractable. Usually, broader context is more helpful to improving understanding and communication than lawyer-like dickering over the precise reason the other person is WRONG (which is what these types of discussions have a tendency to turn into). Most people are raised with either a shame or a guilt model. These discussions often wind up being a blame game, which makes both sides defensive and since "the best defense is a good offense," down the rabbit hole we go.

I have no idea how to help cupcake understand what the standard is, what they need to do differently, etc. But I wish these types of MeTas were less blamey. It usually doesn't improve anything.
posted by Michele in California at 11:25 AM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


arcticseal and Eyebrows: We went camping and I asked if he could bring the tent and he did. When we got there he set up his sleeping mat and bag directly on the ground and got in it. I was like, uhh, what about the tent? It was about to rain. He was like, I don't think we need it.

? I did not want to sleep rough in the rain. We had a conversation for the next 5 minutes that was me saying I wanted to sleep in the tent and him repeating "I don't think we need it." If it had been my tent I would have just ignored him and set it up myself. I told him I would be totally fine with it if he slept outside while I slept in the tent. Finally I felt really disrespected and I was about ready to just go home. So he grudgingly agreed to take out his tent and set it up.

That's why, when he said "Our camping styles are too dissimilar" it didn't like blow my mind, ruin my self esteem, or anything else bad.

I even agreed that episode showed we were not compatible, but not because of "camping styles." I felt like he was super rigid and really uncaring about my comfort and what I thought if he felt like he was "right." That was the first time I had seen him act like that and I was willing to keep dating and see if it was a fluke or if he was just that rigid about camping. It didn't happen that way though and that was fine.
posted by cairdeas at 12:44 PM on July 25, 2013 [19 favorites]


Metafilter: Our camping styles are too dissimilar.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:47 PM on July 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


You realized what you have done? Now I have to cheat on my wife, meet someone, build a relationship and go camping together just so that I can break up with them and use that line.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 2:20 PM on July 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


My camping style is not to go. ...to date, I don't believe I have been dumped for this. Could be wrong; generally don't ask for specifics.

The two worst break-ups I've ever had are the one where I asked for and was given all the reasons why no, and the one where I had to give all the reasons.
posted by RainyJay at 2:21 PM on July 25, 2013


Doroteo Arango II, you can skip most of those steps and just deliver the line to your wife. Doesn't really matter if you have ever gone camping with her or not...
posted by cairdeas at 2:26 PM on July 25, 2013


omg cairdeas what a story. Dating is such a nightmare. (I say as someone who has been dating like forever.)
posted by sweetkid at 2:31 PM on July 25, 2013


Did I ever mention the time I was dating a Northern European guy who told me, in total seriousness, that his sperm would be highly in demand in American sperm banks because he was 6'4" with blond hair and blue eyes and had an advanced degree in mathematics? (My genetically inferior self doesn't have any of those things)

He suddenly broke up with me with little explanation, and right away began dating a girl who was also tall with blonde hair and blue eyes and had an advanced degree in mathematics.

Guess what, she got pregnant after two months, and I am quite, quite certain he was not expecting that to happen. Guess his sperm was even more in demand then he was expecting...
posted by cairdeas at 2:44 PM on July 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I guess he didn't do the math.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:46 PM on July 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Cairderas, your dating disaster stories are SO good. I thought I had some fun ones, but yours have a charm all their own.
posted by orange swan at 2:47 PM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


If he wasn't planning on kids, he might not think that's so bragworthy anymore.
posted by Michele in California at 2:48 PM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


orange swan, one day we should have a thread where everyone tells theirs. I have a feeling it would be hysterical.
posted by cairdeas at 2:50 PM on July 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm writing a novel and I want my female main character to have a series of short term relationships that end in hilariously bad ways. Can you share your worst, funny dating stories?
posted by nooneyouknow at 3:12 PM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel like we've had crazy dating stories threads before. They start fun and then the married people bungle in with the " man am I glad I have my amazing wife/husband" stuff, like someone talking about their new BMW when you're unemployed.
posted by sweetkid at 3:23 PM on July 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


To be fair, my amazing wife looks great in her new BMW.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:26 PM on July 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


(my actual wife will probably divorce me if she ever finds out I wrote that)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:29 PM on July 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


I always wonder about that, like the Facebook posts that are all " happy birthday to the most amazing woman in the world, my wife Blah" like how can everyone be the most amazing man/woman in the world?
posted by sweetkid at 3:29 PM on July 25, 2013


oxytocin is a hell of a drug.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:33 PM on July 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


Should they say "happy birthday to one of the most amazing women on the block?"
posted by Area Man at 3:35 PM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Same thing with "here's to my precious little sunshine, the most beautiful daughter a dad could ask for" because seriously, who are these people fooling? I have the most beautiful daughter a dad could ask for, and no matter how politely I point this out to these other people, they always get so defensive.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:35 PM on July 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


"I always wonder about that, like the Facebook posts that are all " happy birthday to the most amazing woman in the world, my wife Blah" like how can everyone be the most amazing man/woman in the world?"

I know. They should switch the the rigorous selection criteria they use for awarding those "World's Best Dad" mugs.
posted by klangklangston at 3:53 PM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are a lot of crazy dating stories in this awesome thread.
posted by jamaro at 3:53 PM on July 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh yes that thread. So awesome.
posted by sweetkid at 4:26 PM on July 25, 2013


five years here have taught me that there is an overwhelming received wisdom that -- among other things -- no one can be friendly with exes. As with the other articles of faith, you flout this one at your peril, and have to be prepared for dozens of people explaining why their conjectures should trump your experience.

i've got to butt in here and say, even though i know it's not relevant to the OP's actual situation, that there's at least one case where you HAVE to learn to be friendly, or at least civil with your ex and no contact is NOT an option, unless there's real abuse involved

that's when you have children - you might not have been able to make the marriage work, but you still MUST make the parenting work
posted by pyramid termite at 5:05 PM on July 25, 2013


oxytocin is a hell of a drug.

my friend jack doesn't think so
posted by pyramid termite at 5:13 PM on July 25, 2013


I'm now insanely curious about cairdeas' camping style

I once decided a guy and I couldn't have a future because our camping styles didn't match.

Though by "camping" I mean "going on trips and trying to accomplish things more generally." My new standard for a relationship's likely future survival is, in fact, "we still like each other at the end of a camping trip."
posted by SMPA at 6:03 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Totally. I think that's huge. If you can pull something off that requires planning, work, compromise, and flexibility on the parts of both people, I think it's a really good sign. And I think if you do that and things go wrong, and you both deal with it well, that's a really really good sign.
posted by cairdeas at 6:19 PM on July 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I dated a guy once who thought rain was dirty. And not dirty like the good kind. That turned into incompatible camping styles. Rain is awesome and it usually means the hiking trails are nearly empty.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:20 PM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe he grew up in a place with acid rain? Rain is really polluted in a lot of places even if it doesn't get to the acid rain level.
posted by cairdeas at 6:21 PM on July 25, 2013


Oh, I just remembered something else the camping guy said to me.

In the end, when he finally agreed to set up the tent, he kind of sighed and said, "Well, I guess I'm being irrational too."

Irrational? Too? Wrong thing to say to cairdeas...
posted by cairdeas at 6:22 PM on July 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wow, quite magnanimous. It reminds of what Bart Simpson said when he set Mrs Krabappel up with Woodrow: "I can't help feeling partly responsible"
posted by MoonOrb at 6:43 PM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: dirty like the good kind
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:21 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mrs. IRFH and I really enjoy traveling together, and I would definitely say that that fact is a key indicator of our mutual compatibility. Although, we didn't really have a chance to discover that about ourselves until we had already been married for many years. But if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend observing prospective partners while traveling, under stress, and interacting with strangers in various settings.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:28 PM on July 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Rain is awesome

Rain may very well be awesome when you choose to be outside in it doing something fun.

Rain is decidedly not awesome when you have to be outside in the rain because you're working.

I am definitely rain-ist.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:29 PM on July 25, 2013


> Maybe he grew up in a place with acid rain? Rain is really polluted in a lot of places even if it doesn't get to the acid rain level.

It's polluted by falling through the polluted air that you're already breathing.
posted by desuetude at 7:47 PM on July 25, 2013


"But if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend observing prospective partners while traveling, under stress, and interacting with strangers in various settings."

Like, two months into dating my girlfriend, we took a road trip to Wisconsin… to see my uncle who had cancer and was likely to die soon. It was kinda insane and weird and dark, but hey, we've been together 11 years now, so it must have worked out.
posted by klangklangston at 8:54 PM on July 25, 2013


rain is awesome, it washes away the vile stench of humanity

i hate people
posted by elizardbits at 8:55 PM on July 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


vile stench

elizardbits has clearly Had Enough of summer in NYC.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:03 PM on July 25, 2013


No it's been very cool in NYC this week no one complain
posted by sweetkid at 4:21 AM on July 26, 2013


Should they say "happy birthday to one of the most amazing women on the block?"

'Happy Birthday to the Most Amazing Woman In The World Who Was Willing To Date Me"
posted by ominous_paws at 6:12 AM on July 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


"But if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend observing prospective partners while traveling, under stress, and interacting with strangers in various settings."

One thing my partner and I love doing is watching couples shop together in Ikea. They all look like they are two minutes away from divorce/breaking up if the other one suggests a goddamn klippan couch one more time.
posted by inertia at 6:29 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


One thing my partner and I love doing is watching couples shop together in Ikea. They all look like they are two minutes away from divorce/breaking up if the other one suggests a goddamn klippan couch one more time.

This was a very funny episode of 30 Rock.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:59 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Any one who watched my wife and I build a fence would have thought that our marriage was on the rocks. We travel well together, cooperate well as parents, and generally get along. However, we fall apart on certain types of projects. We would make a horrible farm couple.
posted by Area Man at 8:03 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I built a couch once with a guy I was dating. We didn't even talk, just worked in perfect synchronicity. It was one of the sexiest things ever.

We didn't last, he didn't care about me at all.
posted by sweetkid at 8:15 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who got the couch?
posted by Etrigan at 8:43 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


me.
posted by sweetkid at 8:46 AM on July 26, 2013 [19 favorites]


the thing i object to isn't that there aren't rules, just "guidelines." it's that mods make very hypocritical decisions, then call it nuance. the functional meaning of guidelines seems to be rhetorical cover for doing whatever the fuck you want.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:55 PM on July 29, 2013


You're still flogging this?
posted by planetesimal at 8:04 PM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


mods make very hypocritical decisions

If you want to talk specifics, let's talk specifics. If you think we're doing whatever the fuck we want, I assure you that we are not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:23 PM on July 29, 2013


the thing i object to isn't that there aren't rules, just "guidelines." it's that mods make very hypocritical decisions, then call it nuance. the functional meaning of guidelines seems to be rhetorical cover for doing whatever the fuck you want.

Perhaps you should find another website where the moderation better suits you?
posted by empath at 8:56 PM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


it's that mods make very hypocritical decisions

Example? If for no other reason, I ask because I've found that people often use the word "hypocritical" ("hypocrisy," etc.) in a very different way than what I understand it to mean. It is, to my understanding, not a synonym for inconsistency; it means applying a different standard to oneself than one does to others, in a sort of "do as I say, not as I do" kind of way.

For example, if there were a "no posts about sand castles" guideline, or even a standard that sand castles is one of those things that MetaFilter Does Not Do Well™ and most sand castle posts would be deleted (with the occasional very good one sliding through), it is not hypocritical if they allow one sand castle post while deleting another; it is not hypocritical if they allow one sand castle post while deleting another, while refusing or being unable to give an explanation of why one post was allowed while the other is not; and it is not hypocritical even if they articulate a standard for which sand castle posts are allowed and which will be deleted but subsequent deletion decisions do not hew to their stated standards. Any of those may be inconsistent, but they are not hypocritical.

An example of something that would actually be hypocritical would be if the moderators articulated standards for which sand castle posts would be allowed, and applied those standards to sand castle posts by other people, but then made posts themselves about sand castles which did not adhere to those standards.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:15 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you want to talk specifics, let's talk specifics.

yes, my comment that was deleted juxtaposed with the thread in my original post here. one of these two things is not true:

1. it's not ok to post answer to askme questions that don't actually answer the question.
2. my post was not deleted because it did not answer the question.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:05 PM on July 30, 2013


3. Not grokking the copious explanations already proffered.
posted by planetesimal at 6:12 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am genuinely, legitimately sorry that you are having trouble figuring this place out, but the issue here is that you are in fact having trouble there. We've tried awful hard to be responsive to you in here, but "nuh uh" is not a followup we're going to bother responding to in any substantial way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:15 PM on July 30, 2013


Your comment was a months-old reply to a thread that basically stated the OP was the problem in the situation she had asked a question about. It was not only not answering the question it was insulting and jerkish. Like cortex, I am sorry that you are having trouble here but there is really a fundamental disconnect between responses that you seem to consider either helpful or appropriate and what is actually allowed here. The fact that you've pointed out another thread with different sorts of answers that weren't deleted doesn't have much to do with your own participation here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:20 PM on July 30, 2013


« Older This post about Stardock buyin...  |  Hello. I've been trying for a... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments