Difference of opinion about post deletion
September 9, 2013 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I see that one of the mods deleted a question asking (speaking roughly) how do you win Stephen King's Long Walk? The mod said it was "pretty much classic chatfilter." It isn't at all; it's quite unlike any of the five examples of chatfilter that the management supplies. I admit this is an odd question. Indeed, it is even a weird question. But it seems like it ought to be eligible to be a Metafilter question.
posted by Mr. Justice to Etiquette/Policy at 1:35 PM (130 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

This would seem to fall under " - Questions with no problem to be solved or where the problem is some variant of "I'm curious if other people feel like I do"" to my untrained eye.
posted by RainyJay at 1:38 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's both of these:

-Questions where everyone's answer is equally valid

- Open-ended unanswerable or hypothetical questions like "What if Hitler had never been born?" or made up "what if" science questions. Creating arbitrary constraints and then playing "what if" is not a good use of AskMe.

posted by MoonOrb at 1:39 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I'm curious about the tags you chose and can't tell if they were intended to be funny, or if people should be concerned your complaint isn't really in good faith.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:40 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think it's both of these:

-Questions where everyone's answer is equally valid

- Open-ended unanswerable or hypothetical questions like "What if Hitler had never been born?" or made up "what if" science questions. Creating arbitrary constraints and then playing "what if" is not a good use of AskMe.


I disagree with both of these points. It's no more of an "all answers equally valid" question than questions like "My partner did ABC, should I leave him?" There's no more of a right or wrong answer to that than there is to this question.

And the asker isn't creating arbitrary constraints -- though it's a hypothetical, the constraints are imposed by the world of the question. I think it's answerable, and I think it was a bad deletion. The problem to be solved is being the last walker alive.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:45 PM on September 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


RJ: the problem to be solved is "What's the best strategy to win the walk?"

MO: no, it seems pretty clear that some strategies are better than others. I understand your point about 'what if' sci-fi questions, but this is really not like asking "What if Superman fought the Hulk?" The constraints of the question are hardly science-fictional or difficult to understand or agree on.

MO: you also asked about my tags. Look, I think arguing about whether something is an appropriate question on MeFi is inherently absurd. In the minutes that it took me to post this, I could do something productive, do something nice for a member of my family, etc. So I guess my tags are intended to communicate that this is not really a big deal. Also, overall I think that mods do a great job and I want to communicate that my concern here, in the grand scheme of things, is hardly a profound criticism, and I want to communicate that via tags as well. I'd like to clarify via tags that this is more of a difference of opinion than an angry call-out of fundamental disagreement.
posted by Mr. Justice at 1:45 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The mod said it was "pretty much classic chatfilter." It isn't at all;

Well, it totally is, actually. It's a "here's a wild premise, discuss" setup. That's basically exactly the sort of stuff that was getting done a lot in early Ask Metafilter days that led to the formation of the chatfilter guideline; it is literally classic.

I think the fact that the chatfilter guideline's been so well-absorbed by the userbase at this point has lead to a situation where this sort of example doesn't come up as much as it used to, but the FAQ does touch on some of the angles that come into this.

That doesn't mean there's no core of an answerable question in there; I think there totally is, and framed better it'd be fine for Ask Metafilter as a more "show me what we know about this stuff" question and less a "here's a premise, have at it!" thing; I would have responded here sooner but I was actually writing back to the asker, talking out how a more concrete question about extreme human endurance could be fine sans the Stephen King dressing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:48 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am working on a proposed screen play of "The Long Walk", the 1979 dystopian alternate history novel by "Richard Bachman" (Stephen King), in which contestants engage in a brutal walking contest in which the participants must walk continuously until only one contestant is left alive. I am having trouble coming up with useful incidental characters to include in my proposal. If you were a Long Walk contestant, what strategies would you employ (physical, psychological, social) in order to win -- or at least survive as long as possible?

There you go.
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:48 PM on September 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


Novelizing a novel? How novel!
posted by kmz at 1:49 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dang it, kmz noticed my mistake at the same time I did. My original comment read "a proposed novelization".
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:50 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The deleted question is less open-ended and chatfiltery than this question.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


OK, I'm going to shut up after this, but maybe mods ought to consider redefining or elaborating on the existent chatfilter guidelines. I think asking "What if Hitler had never been born?" is unanswerable, but asking "How do I best deal with a group of cops who are allowed to kill me under some circumstances but must follow certain rules?" strikes me as highly answerable. I don't think that the current set of chatfilter rules is appropriately read to disallow questions about fictional scenarios.

Nonetheless, to repeat, this difference of opinion barely qualifies as a micro-issue, and I genuinely appreciate the hard work of the mods.
posted by Mr. Justice at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2013


I admit to having flagged that question.

The reason was - I don't know quite why you wanted to know this. I've found that that's a really good rule of thumb when it comes to telling whether something is or isn't chatfilter - if the reason why you wanted to know this was "I was just curious," that's....pretty much chatfilter. If there's a more substantial reason, then...you're probably fine.

People have asked some weird questions in AskMe, but things that could have been written off as chatfilter usually also have some kind of explanation for why they're asking that question. For example: asking "if you had to spend a million dollars all in one day, what would you do?" is chatfilter. But "if you had to spend a million dollars all in one day, what would you do? Asking because I'm writing a book/song/film/poem/term paper about this and am polling the public," then that'd be different.

Asking "how would you survive the long walk" without us knowing why you want to know sort of makes you sound like you're one of those guys at a party who, when things get into a lull, will bust out with some question like, "have you ever wondered how they get the writing on light bulbs?" just to get the conversation going again. And that's chatfilter.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


So Empress, under your "why do we want to know" test, would Curious Artificer's rewrite above pass muster?
posted by craven_morhead at 1:59 PM on September 9, 2013


The mods have ultimate final word on it, but as I understand it, yeah, Curious Artificer's rewrite would be fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:01 PM on September 9, 2013


OK, I'm going to shut up after this, but maybe mods ought to consider redefining or elaborating on the existent chatfilter guidelines.

My personal feeling is that we don't have as much of a chatfilter problem as we used to, certainly not in any case where we're seeing a whole bunch of the stuff and spending a lot of any given week arguing out the yae and nay sides of a deletion-or-not. As of right now, we don't see a lot of it, we don't need to delete a lot of it, we don't hear a whole lot about "why did/didn't you delete this as chatfilter?" on average. The system seems like it's working pretty well, and now and then we talk about it a bit as a specific or general case in Metatalk and that's a good opportunity to rehash some of the stuff involved.

So, without suggesting that the chatlfilter guidelines are perfect anything, I feel like they're basically doing the job they're meant to to as reasonable a level as we can hope; the work required to rewrite 'em and shift the ground a bit under people's feet isn't outstanding to me as a work that's actually justifying getting done. If we're already at a pretty good baseline level of few deletions and misunderstandings, that's a pretty good place to be.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:03 PM on September 9, 2013


oh, or "I'm going to be walking the eastern seaboard non-stop for (charity|blook deal|misc. sund.) In order to meet certain criteria, I can't stop for more than 30 seconds at a time. How do I train for this kind of grueling exercise?"
posted by boo_radley at 2:06 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personally, I feel like CA's rewrite improves it more in letter than in spirit; I think the core part of the question that gets toward being answerable is "what sort of things do we know about how human endurance works / how people behave under duress / how survival instincts and survivalist thinking can manifest"; just saying "because I'm writing a play, let's have a discussion where you make up a strategy for your character in this gedankenexperiment-game" is more fig leaf than fix, as much as the I'm Writing A Novel strategy is beloved around here as a notional loophole for chatty stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:09 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I agree with the deletion, but the fig leaf of "I'm writing a novel about whether the Hulk would be able to beat Thor in a fistfight" is ridiculous.

For me, a better standard would be framing like this: "In Stephen King's novel, blah, blah. Please tell me what 1) real-world people do to prepare for ultra-marathons, physically, emotionally, etc. and 2) where I can learn more about the psychological toll on "normal" people in deadly conditions (lost at sea, kidnapped, living in wartime)."

Put that way, there's some context to what motivated the question, but the actual prompt is grounded in fact, asking for real information about the real world. Saying "I'm writing a book about X--what do YOU think about/how would YOU react to X" should still be chatfilter, your "book" be damned.

"I'm just curious" should be perfectly acceptable for AskMe. Last week, I was "just curious" why all Dunkin' Donuts were the same. Before that, I was "just curious" about songs referencing James Brown. I am chagrined to report I am not writing a novel about either subject.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:11 PM on September 9, 2013 [19 favorites]


Not on preview, exactly what Cortex said.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:12 PM on September 9, 2013


the fig leaf of "I'm writing a novel about whether the Hulk would be able to beat Thor in a fistfight" is ridiculous.

What is ridiculous is trying to codify a set of guidelines that will please 10000 nerds. We do our best.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:14 PM on September 9, 2013 [99 favorites]


I'm not sure there's much difference when the fig leaf is, in fact, a fix. If the poster had given some reason why the question was being asked, the thread would have stayed up, right? I agree the fig-leaf "PS, here's why I need to know" fix looks ridiculous in situations like this one, but my understanding was always that it functions like the five-dollar entrance fee: a pittance that keeps a lot of dreck from the door.
posted by cribcage at 2:15 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


If the poster had given some reason why the question was being asked, the thread would have stayed up, right?

With the otherwise exact same framing? I'd probably still have deleted exactly as such, and probably had substantially the same "this could work if you rewrite significantly" email discussion I actually had. I don't think you're wrong to note that there's a bit of a haystack paradox problem if you look real hard at the border between Is Chatfilter and Isn't Chatfilter, but we mostly ask that people try to abide by the spirit of the thing and in turn we try to be a little flexible when possible when it's something that's borderline but clearly trying a bit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:18 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


My problem is more with the 10,000 nerds than the mods or the policies. I think the spirit of the rule is pretty easily satisfied, but as a community, we've gotten fixated on novelization as a backdoor to ask a chatfilter question exactly as it sprang into our minds. This deleted question is a great example (or pretty good, given that it seems a newish member who may not have a great sense for the standards yet)--we're not going to have a discussion about winning the Long Walk or Battle Royale, but we can have a really interesting conversation about the physical demands of long-distance walking or wilderness survival, or any number of interesting questions one could devise.

If you want to geek out about something, GYOB; if you want to benefit from the amazing resource (a national treasure!) that is the breadth and depth of experiences on AskMe, ask a concrete question. God bless AskMe and god bless America and/or the internet!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:28 PM on September 9, 2013


jessamyn: "What is ridiculous is trying to codify a set of guidelines that will please 10000 nerds. We do our best."

This made me smile in a pretty genuine way. Which was nice.
posted by boo_radley at 2:28 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are there any published novels whose author asked a "I'm writing a novel..." AskMe?
posted by mullacc at 2:28 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Codifying a set of guidelines that will please 10000 nerds" is the new "herding cats".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:44 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do you use a #3 or #4 coffee filter with chatfilter?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:46 PM on September 9, 2013


"Codifying a set of guidelines that will please 10000 nerds" is the new "herding cats".

Speaking of cats, one of the example chatfilter questions in the guidelines used to be "what should I name my new kitten?" Which is obviously gone now.

I don't think the question should have been deleted. I mean, mods gotta mod and it's fine, but still. Personally, I think it was a valid question and I would like to see the solutions the folks here could come up with.
posted by phunniemee at 2:51 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


We talked to the OP about how that question could be rewritten to make it okay and since it's not time sensitive my guess is that you'll see it at some point in the future in an amended form.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:55 PM on September 9, 2013


That question is was chatfilter, plain and simple. It's a question with no answer.

The obvious answer is "I would win by summoning Abraham Lincoln, Groucho Marx and Annie Oakley from the grave."

It's a book, right? You can do anything. Can't do that in the real world, which is why it is chatfilter.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:55 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was fine with the question and think it should have stayed.

I am also fine with the deletion and support cortex for making this call.

The reason was - I don't know quite why you wanted to know this.

Why do you care? If some one asks, "What's the default formatting for a shipped Mac HD?" I'm not going to ask, "Why do you want to know?" If someone says, "Is kissing boys different than kissing girls?" again, I'm not going to ask why the person wants to know.

I can't think of a reason why I would ever be entitled to know why the person is asking.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:58 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ground your silly question in science and it might stay.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:59 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Are there any published novels whose author asked a "I'm writing a novel..." AskMe?

I've asked a few questions directly related to stories I was writing at he time. Mostly comic books tho, not " novels" ( although that German language question was totally for a short story .lwhich sold!)
posted by The Whelk at 3:09 PM on September 9, 2013


Ground your silly question in science

Worst. Square dancing. Step. Ever.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:32 PM on September 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


Are there any published novels whose author asked a "I'm writing a novel..." AskMe?

Not a novelist, but Tom Vanderbilt incorporated some answers to an AskMe of his into his book Traffic. There was even a metatalk about it!
posted by punchtothehead at 3:37 PM on September 9, 2013


the fig leaf of "I'm writing a novel about whether the Hulk would be able to beat Thor in a fistfight" is ridiculous.

Of course it is, everybody knows HULK STRONGEST ONE THERE IS.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:38 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously how that even a question?
posted by The Whelk at 3:45 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm writing a novel about fig leaves. Watch for my AskMe questions!
posted by nubs at 3:47 PM on September 9, 2013


"If you were a Long Walk contestant, what strategies would you employ (physical, psychological, social) in order to win -- or at least survive as long as possible?"

The crux of this being chatfilter is how it's framed toward the second person — what would YOU do? Well, I might come up with some strategies, but who knows whether they'd work. It's an excuse to bullshit around for a while, which could be avoided by rewriting it to focus more on the objective and less on the subjective.
posted by klangklangston at 3:56 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do you care? If some one asks, "What's the default formatting for a shipped Mac HD?" I'm not going to ask, "Why do you want to know?" If someone says, "Is kissing boys different than kissing girls?" again, I'm not going to ask why the person wants to know.

My bad clarity - I meant for that to be a rule of thumb you use yourself to ascertain whether someone else would think it was chatfilter, if you've written a question that may be an edge case.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:58 PM on September 9, 2013


boo_radley: "oh, or "I'm going to be walking the eastern seaboard non-stop for (charity|blook deal|misc. sund.) In order to meet certain criteria, I can't stop for more than 30 seconds at a time. How do I train for this kind of grueling exercise?""

"People kep' askin' me why I did it, but I jus' felt like walkin'. Mama always said, life is like a halftrack followin' you with armed soldiers carryin' steel pocket chro-nometers."
posted by mannequito at 4:03 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


All of this talk about fig leaves reminds me of a joke:

Adam and Eve are sitting in Eden, when a fig leaf blows in front of them.
"Adam, look" said Eve, "an invisible man".
posted by Ned G at 4:11 PM on September 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Pop Quiz Hotshot: You're in the middle of an arena. You're being attacked by 10,000 nerds who will stop at nothing to kill you. How many can you take on before they overcome you?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:32 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


it seems exactly like this question about game of thrones. it's a general class of questions "help me interpret this literature" which seems to be enforced inconsistently.
posted by cupcake1337 at 4:33 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pop Quiz Hotshot: You're in the middle of an arena. You're being attacked by 10,000 nerds who will stop at nothing to kill you. How many can you take on before they overcome you?

Are these duck-sized nerds or horse-sized nerds?
posted by entropicamericana at 4:40 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hi, I'm writing a book about a question-and-answer site called "Ask Mutuhfultuh". The site's moderators have created some precise rules to limit what is colloquially known as "chatfultuh" to keep the site from getting cluttered with unnecessary content. These rules seem to have worked almost too well, and users are beginning to rise up in revolt. (I'm currently planning a Thunderdome-esque climax where the head moderator and a particularly fractious user fight it out with pongee sticks.) Anyhoo, at some point a secret committee of users and moderators are going to appear and reveal a new set of rules that will satisfy everyone while still keeping chatfultuh to a minimum. What kind of rules would you include in such a list?
posted by Going To Maine at 4:45 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


it seems exactly like this question about game of thrones.

It's nothing like that. Diablevert was asking for people to explain a thing about an actual book to her. The other question was about taking some of the rules of a book and applying them to real life.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:46 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are there any published novels whose author asked a "I'm writing a novel..." AskMe?

I've published at least one short story that was aided by an AskMe.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:49 PM on September 9, 2013


You could probobly figure out the major motifs and settings of all my future work from my AskMe history.
posted by The Whelk at 4:50 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Ask Mutuhfultuh"

Marlon?
posted by biffa at 4:53 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


""What's the default formatting for a shipped Mac HD?" I'm not going to ask, "Why do you want to know?""

well but is it like mac/dell shipped or mac/hp shipped i mean you might want your fanfic formatting to reflect the ship
posted by klangklangston at 4:56 PM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ironically, do a search for "ten thousand nerds" on Google and the first result to come up is currently a MetaFilter FPP.
posted by Wordshore at 5:28 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


We've got 10,000 nerds, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it.
posted by arcticseal at 6:30 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


But not like that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:45 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


We've got 10,000 nerds...

....when all we neeeeeed is a knife. Isn't it ironic?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:22 PM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: 10000 nerds. We do our best.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:37 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: "What is ridiculous is trying to codify a set of guidelines that will please 10000 nerds."

Is the number really that low? I honestly thought we'd gotten a better foothold on the general population. I guess the serum isn't doing as well as the initial testing indicated.
posted by theichibun at 7:53 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You win by walking longer.
Next?
posted by Ideefixe at 8:08 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do Ten Thousand Nerds screw in a light bulb?

I have no idea but we've somehow figured out practical time travel.
posted by The Whelk at 8:23 PM on September 9, 2013


PS: Walker is a cat.
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:30 PM on September 9, 2013


The Whelk: "How do Ten Thousand Nerds screw in a light bulb?"

African or European?
posted by theichibun at 8:35 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


mullacc: Are there any published novels whose author asked a "I'm writing a novel..." AskMe?

I know that shakespeherian asked a question about how cell towers/phones work that was directly applicable to the time travel Choose Your Own Adventure he wrote, though he was all coy about the connection in the asking.
posted by carsonb at 8:46 PM on September 9, 2013


That bastard.
posted by The Whelk at 8:59 PM on September 9, 2013


Random but slightly related, are the deleted post blogs not updating now?
posted by Sequence at 9:09 PM on September 9, 2013


It's no Talking To A Cat question, that's for damn sure.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:13 PM on September 9, 2013


Yeah, the deleted posts blogs both look like their last updates were a few days ago. Not sure what's up with that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:15 PM on September 9, 2013


You don't talk to a cat, you take instruction.
posted by arcticseal at 9:27 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


That question is was chatfilter, plain and simple. It's a question with no answer.

The majority of questions on AskMeta have no correct answer. The answer to "what is the heaviest element that has a stable isotope" is "bismuth." The answer to "where should we eat in Cincinnati" or "what should I name my cat" is whatever you want, go nuts!

I agree that there is a need for a chatfilter guideline. But I also think that the current guideline is vague, inconsistently enforced, and contributes to the perception of obscure insider culture that former non-users report.
posted by Nomyte at 9:47 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Before I clicked on the link and read the actual question, I thought I'd disagree with the mods.

In general, though, I don't think asking "How would this fictional scenario I saw in a movie/book play out in real life?" should be verbotten. That's MythBusters, not ChatFilter. Hugely different thing, if worded appropriately for this forum.
posted by jsturgill at 10:07 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since it's a Stephen King question, it even has a correct answer: you win by doing lots of ultimately irrelevant stuff, and then at the critical moment drawing on the reserves of strength/metaphysical powers/alien buddies you got from a traumatic/mystical childhood experience. Enlisting the help of a precocious or otherwise cute child is optional, but highly recommended.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:29 PM on September 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


Would you rather try to please 10000 nerds, or one nerd the size of 10000 regular nerds?

I'm writing a book about it.
posted by emmtee at 10:34 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sometimes i really find myself wishing there was another section, or category specifically for open ended questions like this. Sometimes the answers to questions like this are extremely interesting and give merit and quality to the thread above and beyond what you'd expect, like this thread for example.
posted by emptythought at 11:03 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Pop Quiz Hotshot: You're in the middle of an arena. You're being attacked by 10,000 nerds who will stop at nothing to kill you. How many can you take on before they overcome you?

Are these duck-sized nerds or horse-sized nerds?


Is the nerd fighting young man armed with a knife? Assume no element of surprise.

posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:37 PM on September 9, 2013


I'm currently planning a Thunderdome-esque climax where the head moderator and a particularly fractious user fight it out with pongee sticks

Ugh pedantic distress! A pongee stick, by definition, has to be mounted, typically in an array. What you want is just a regular old sharp stick.

(I am somewhere between duck-sized and horse-sized, but I am definitely a nerd.)

"Codifying a set of guidelines that will please 10000 nerds" is the new "herding cats"

Needs to be shorter. "Nerding cats", perhaps?

Of course it is, everybody knows HULK STRONGEST ONE THERE IS.

Thor is a GOD and was deliberately created as such to be stronger than Hulk Stan Lee said so himself it even sez in Wikipedia the end so there
posted by gingerest at 12:08 AM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


> if you want to benefit from the amazing resource (a national treasure!) that is the breadth and depth of experiences on AskMe, ask a concrete question. God bless AskMe and god bless America and/or the internet!

America? National treasure? Don't make us Elsewherians sad, plz.
I thought this was an international site. :'-(
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:37 AM on September 10, 2013


... and I didn't know it was a religious site, either.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:37 AM on September 10, 2013


My original comment read "a proposed novelization".

You should've left it; that would have been some mordant satire, there.
posted by Segundus at 2:39 AM on September 10, 2013


gingerest: "Of course it is, everybody knows HULK STRONGEST ONE THERE IS.

Thor is a GOD and was deliberately created as such to be stronger than Hulk Stan Lee said so himself it even sez in Wikipedia the end so there
"

The answer to this question is the same as the answer to any such question. That is, "Which one's name is on the cover of the issue of the comic where the fight takes place?"
posted by Karmakaze at 5:42 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


That is the purest example of chatfilter I've ever seen. There is no actual "Long Walk" and therefore you cannot be asking for advice.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:27 AM on September 10, 2013


What is ridiculous is trying to codify a set of guidelines that will please 10000 nerds.

Oh, great, now I've got that Proclaimers song in my head.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:38 AM on September 10, 2013


Oh, I would vex 500 nerds,
And I would vex 500 more,
Just to be the man who'd vex 1000 nerds
To walk up to your door....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:49 AM on September 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Everything can be reworded, you know.
posted by h00py at 7:04 AM on September 10, 2013


That is the purest example of chatfilter I've ever seen. There is no actual "Long Walk" and therefore you cannot be asking for advice.


Challenge. Accepted.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:11 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Starts walking.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:11 AM on September 10, 2013


Mr. Justice: “RJ: the problem to be solved is ‘What's the best strategy to win the walk?’”

In point of fact, that is not what was asked. The question was actually: "what strategy would you choose to in order to win?" The asker actually said nothing about wanting only those answer which had the highest probability of winning. I think that was an odd way of doing it – it reads like one of those awful interview questions where they ask "what strategies would you employ if..." But that's the question, as written – not a question about winning strategies, but rather a question about what strategies you personally would choose.
posted by koeselitz at 7:23 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


koeselitz, I don't think that's a helpful distinction. I don't think there's a meaningful difference between "What cheese steak restaurant in Philly is best" and "What cheese steak restaurant would you go to if you were in Philly?"
posted by craven_morhead at 7:55 AM on September 10, 2013


Well, at the very least, it's one of the things that made the question ring funny to me. Because the way it's aimed at "you" is repeated throughout the question.
posted by koeselitz at 7:58 AM on September 10, 2013


I don't think there's a meaningful difference between "What cheese steak restaurant in Philly is best" and "What cheese steak restaurant would you go to if you were in Philly?"

I agree; there's room for debate about what's best, and phrasing as where would YOU go is just acknowledging the subjectivity. I would go to my favorite, which is the one I think is the best. An OP should be happy for the answer, though they may not ultimately agree (I always liked the place in the Reading Terminal, but I don't think it was the most "authentic" experience).

But the question in the AskMe wasn't what's the best way to prepare for an ultramarathon or how would you prepare for an ultramarathon, it was how would you prepare for a fictional death march. I don't think the litmus test is whether there is a subjective element of taste or preference (think of all the book, movie, cat name questions that stand), it's that the AskMe invited respondents to take a mind journey of conjecture into realms of fantasy. There is no Long Walk, thankfully, and what I would do or not do to win is just chatfilter.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:12 AM on September 10, 2013


I think there's a meaningful distinction. I might like a cheesesteak place with housemade hot sauce, an amazing beer menu and bicycle parking, but these are more in the area of personal preferences than they are in the area of objective cheesesteak place bullet points such as one might employ as a judge in a cheesesteak place contest or whatever. (Or, if you'd prefer the Stephen King thing, I might be e.g. a pacifist or a devoutly religious person of some kind, either of which might dissuade me from using a particular strategy.)
posted by box at 8:15 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a little surprised that so many people see the question as cut and dried 100% chat filter as IMO it was more borderline. Certainly there is a question to be solved and it's not in alternate reality, Hulk Vs. God and the zombies of historical figures sort of head space. The question is well constrained by physical reality and it seems unlikely it would have got deleted if the OP had simply omitted all the references to Stephen King and Blood Sports. I'd bet there is even significant research on how far you can press the limits of human endurance before complete system collapse.

I guess I just don't see the obvious difference between say this question or this one that even calls itself out as 100% hypothetical and the question in question.
posted by Mitheral at 8:20 AM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, only 10,000 of us are nerds? Which user numbers are the nerds, please? Thanks.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:33 AM on September 10, 2013


it's not in alternate reality

Are you sure?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:50 AM on September 10, 2013


Mitheral: I guess I just don't see the obvious difference between say this question or this one that even calls itself out as 100% hypothetical and the question in question.

I totally agree with you on the borderlinity of this question, but I assumed that the "hypothetical" dining room table question was only hypothetical in a nudge nudge wink wink kind of way.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:57 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


this one that even calls itself out as 100% hypothetical

What aspect of the question is hypothetical has a lot to do with whether that (explicit or implicit) hypotheticalness is a serious problem with the question. We're more trying to keep the "here's a wacky what-if!" stuff out than the "I am not actively, immediately planning to pursue this line of action but I want to understand it" stuff.

In the case you're linking to, what's hypothetical is not the scenario (e.g. "what if dogs had jets for legs and flew instead of walking?"), it's the asker's current state of dog ownership; they're not saying "btw this is an invented/impossible premise but just imagine a world where...", they're reassuring the site that they're not going to immediately act on whatever people say as a dog-care regime.

To put it another way, the word "hypothetical" is not inherently problematic or an unambiguous sign of a problem even if there's historically a correlation between using it in a question and that question being something pretty chatty.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:58 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I just don't see the obvious difference between say this question or this one that even calls itself out as 100% hypothetical and the question in question.

The difference is that your examples are generic hypotheticals, out of a class of situations that occur every day: small dogs get potty training, and people make a mess of their furniture purchase. We could reasonably expect any number of mefites to have been in these or similar situations, and have a concrete, fact-based answer. The table one in particular reads like a textbook example of happened-to-a-friend posterior coverage, so many people are probably treating it as not really hypothetical.

In contrast to this, nobody has ever won or taken part in the Long Walk: any possible answer will, to a greater or lesser extent, be based on pure conjecture and will be ultimately untestable.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:58 AM on September 10, 2013


this thread mmight be the object lesson in nerd vexing
posted by The Whelk at 9:02 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree with this MeTa; it's not really chatfilter. I also agree with the deletion.

What the question actually seems to be asking is, "Is there actually a way to win? What is it?" And that's not chatfilter at all.

But, boy, it sure looks and quacks like chatfilter because of how it's worded. Asking, "What would you do?" appears to be soliciting Everybody's Right! opinions, and the question uses that wide-open language no less than five times. That's a problem.

So, yeah, deletion, but with a "Try again tomorrow, and make it less 'What would you do?' and more 'If possible then how?'"
posted by Sys Rq at 9:12 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"How do you win Stephen King's Long Walk?" doesn't seem like chatfilter to me.

The question as asked is "if you were doing the Long Walk, what would you attempt?" which is definitely chatfilter. I think chatfilter roughly defined is a "polling the audience" question, whereas "how could someone win this?" is a question with an answer that is about the book rather than about the populace of Metafilter.
posted by capricorn at 9:20 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"how could someone win this?" is a question with an answer that is about the book rather than about the populace of Metafilter.

"How did [Main Character] win the Long Walk in the Stephen King book?" is a question with an answer that is about the book. "How could someone win a fictional event?" is chatfilter, because there is no answer other than bullshitting: 1) by praying to Zoltron, the ancient god of long walks, 2) by wearing comfy shoes and just really getting "in the zone," 3) by drawing on the reserve of sticktoitiveness instilled in me by my great aunt Molly, who coincidentally was a power walker herself. All of those are entirely valid ways a contestant could win a fictional contest. It's like fanfic.

One can totally ask about ultra endurance, nutrition, how to train for things--any of which might be relevant to real life and to fiction. But inviting conjecture about the world of fiction is just chatfilter.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:36 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, only 10,000 of us are nerds? Which user numbers are the nerds, please? Thanks.

There's an easy tell: if your user number can be expressed as the sum of two primes, or as the sum of two primes +/-1, you're a nerd. Also, a hipster.
posted by yoink at 9:47 AM on September 10, 2013


How do you should one solve a problem like Maria?
How do you should one catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you should one find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:47 AM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!

I have been waiting for this chance for a long, long time....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:53 AM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


You are Genji, going on Prousty
Genji its time to think!
Better beware, be canny and care-ful
Genji you're on the brink!

You need someone
quidnunc and kidding
Telling you what to do-oo!
So vote #1 for quidnunc von kidstein
I'll be there for you!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:07 AM on September 10, 2013 [19 favorites]


I have confidence in quidnunc kid alone!
posted by The Whelk at 10:22 AM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELK
posted by Sys Rq at 10:27 AM on September 10, 2013


I have tears in my eyes, I really do. Tears the size of the majestic Austrian hills. Which... are alive, so they are tears of fear, but, still....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:32 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


By the way I just joined the Hitler Youth. But we're still going steady, right?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:34 AM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


MetaTalk
MetaTalk
Every morning you grar at meeeee.
posted by The Whelk at 10:41 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm writing a novel and I've asked a question and as soon as I crawl out of the morass that is draft #2 and begin draft #3 (ninety days tick tick) when I will eat bon bons all day and "just polish," I've got a few more!
posted by thinkpiece at 11:29 AM on September 10, 2013


Nerd #1 wants it in green.
posted by Wordshore at 11:52 AM on September 10, 2013


Grar you, Grar me
Grar it together
Naturally.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:01 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


"von kidstein"?

...from kidneystone. Go steady if you manage with a bunch of those.
posted by Namlit at 1:04 PM on September 10, 2013


Did someone mention nerds?

Anyway, there is an answer to the question but I don't think Mr. King gives those out to just anybody.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:18 PM on September 10, 2013


Wait, am I the only one who still has a copy of the USENET post about Jesus versus SpiderMan on their laptop? Sheesh, I thout you guys were nerds.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:32 PM on September 10, 2013


It's a "here's a wild premise, discuss" setup. That's basically exactly the sort of stuff that was getting done a lot in early Ask Metafilter days that led to the formation of the chatfilter guideline; it is literally classic.

What if we had a hollow Earth made of unobtanium?
posted by Tanizaki at 9:22 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Calculation of the gravitational field of spherically symmetrical objects being pretty tractable, Hollow Earth physics is a rather easy problem - science, it works etc. Both of the questions in the More Inside have well-defined right answers, unlike the Long Walk one.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:39 PM on September 11, 2013


Between the two scenarios, the unobtainium sphere is much more a "wild premise" than the dystopian endurance race described in The Long Walk.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:39 PM on September 11, 2013


Yeah but it's basically a physics question not "Hey let's talk about a completely fictional social universe where some laws apply and others don't" The hollow sphere question gave me a raised eyebrow but people didn't flag it and I watched the answers and they seemed pretty okay. See also: hamster chariot.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:44 PM on September 11, 2013


Basically there are a lot of different vectors along which we measure this stuff. Focusing on one vector to the exclusion of others and trying to make sense of the world via A/B comparisons is a recipe for personal frustration in my experience; do what works for you, but proceed at your own risk and keep in mind that folks not taking that same approach are likely to experience mostly a sense of profound tedium when repeatedly presented with it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:47 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always like the probabilistic approach myself: There are a series of criteria that increase the probability of any given deletion, but very few of them guarantee it.
posted by klangklangston at 2:54 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


One can totally ask about ultra endurance, nutrition, how to train for things--any of which might be relevant to real life and to fiction. But inviting conjecture about the world of fiction is just chatfilter.

Right. You can note that the competitors/victims have to cover 96 miles a day - at a steady pace. The world record for the six day event is only slightly more than this per day (about 105 miles per day), and runners do not maintain a steady pace. There are breaks to change clothes, fix blisters, eat, and rest, and competitors also slow down - a lot - on the last few days. Obviously the fear of death will keep some people going, but fear of death can only go so far. Fear of death doesn't automatically turn you into a super endurance athlete.

Yiannis Kourous, ultra-running super stud, supposedly ran the first 456 miles of a 1000 mile event in four days without stopping to sleep. That does not, of course, mean that he maintained a 15 minutes per mile pace throughout.

I'd walk as much as I could, running only when the 30 seconds are up (it's tough to walk at 4mph) or to keep up my average (I'm going to assume I have an industrial strength GPS watch that is accurate enough to give me this information). 30 seconds of walking and 30 seconds of running would be totally reasonable (Jeff Galloway would be proud). I'll bet that 90% of the competitors would fail in the first day. After three days I'll either be the winner or will welcome death.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:01 PM on September 11, 2013


Yeah I see everything on a continuum where "Posting a GIF of Jerry Garcia to the front page of MetaFilter on Jerry's birthday" is basically 100 (that happened) and "A mod posting a serious and important update in MetaTalk" is basically zero, everything else falls between those two points and there are certain aspects that can move something backward or forward along those lines.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:02 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


""Posting a GIF of Jerry Garcia to the front page of MetaFilter on Jerry's birthday" is basically 100 (that happened)"

you just need to get high maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan
posted by klangklangston at 4:19 PM on September 11, 2013


Wait, the Jerry .gif is 100?

Was it a self-link to an active Kickstarter that slandered a litigious Hollywood celebrity or something?
posted by box at 6:01 PM on September 11, 2013


It was an image posted to the front page. 100. Yes. Not talking about how much I might like/dislike something but talking about how likely it is to get deleted.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:05 PM on September 11, 2013


Well, I couldn't find it.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:03 PM on September 11, 2013


I'm writing a novel in which the main character consistently and repeatedly posts questions to Ask Metafilter that qualify as chatfilter, but because of how they're worded they don't get deleted. Which methods have a statistically-significant probability of being effective?
posted by blue_beetle at 1:13 PM on September 12, 2013


Of course it is, everybody knows HULK STRONGEST ONE THERE IS.

Don't bring fists to a hammer fight, son.
posted by jaduncan at 10:48 PM on September 12, 2013


How do Ten Thousand Nerds screw in a light bulb?

Host a science fiction convention inside an enormous light bulb?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:58 AM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Great tip, PMD--thanks to you, I am now banned for life from Epcot Center.
posted by box at 1:58 PM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


« Older Jessamyn's "THE FBI HAS N...  |  We ran a query of all meetups ... Newer »

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