Rules on ask metafilter December 13, 2013 3:51 AM   Subscribe

I have had questions deleted before for being "too chatty" but I see questions all the time that seem very chatty. Can someone tell me if you can post chatty questions?
posted by john123357 to Etiquette/Policy at 3:51 AM (161 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

You seem to be poor at using MetaTalk too.

The 'someone' is the mods and you can email them directly.

Unless you're making a point, in which case you're still poor at using MetaTalk because: examples.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:57 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


isint insulting someone against the rules?
posted by john123357 at 4:00 AM on December 13, 2013 [35 favorites]


The form for contacting the mods.
posted by Wordshore at 4:01 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


No need to be unkind. It's not necessarily obvious what is "too" chatty and what isn't.
posted by prefpara at 4:06 AM on December 13, 2013 [30 favorites]


Here is the information on the FAQ about chatty questions and here are the general guidelines for Ask Metafilter. You can always contact us to ask about any post if you have questions, and we will be happy to explain why a question that might seem chatty to you remains.

(I will also add that convention for Ask Metafilter is to ask your question and get various answers, suggestions or recommendations, but not to carry on a back and forth conversation, or to continue to add on additional questions, which is something that you have tended to do in past posts. In at least one case of a deleted post of yours that was a borderline question involving a grisly death, we also took this additional aspect into account.)
posted by taz (staff) at 4:06 AM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I also seen people asking for advice about things in their life, is that allowed on ask metafilter ?
posted by john123357 at 4:15 AM on December 13, 2013


Yes, if they have a problem they want to solve, they can ask for advice. If you want to talk about any specific post, shoot us an email via the contact form.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:18 AM on December 13, 2013


I also dont see anything in that FAQ about posting follow up questions in a post
posted by john123357 at 4:24 AM on December 13, 2013


There's some info on that here, and we've also left direct notes in your threads addressing this, as well as via mefi mail.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:27 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This seems like a question with a right answer that is really non-obvious and evolves calvinball style over time, which has been asked of the community in earnest, we don't need to go apeshit about it.

How chatty a question is is kind of like porn in a way, there are guidelines you could write to help you identify it sure, but like Justice Stewart said, you can only really know it when you see it. Everyone will have at least a subtly different sense of what it is, but that variation is ok.

It clearly is possible to ask questions that are in essence more than a bit chatty, but can survive if they're good questions to ask that will produce inherently interesting answers, are written in such a way as to allow a plausible deniability of their chattiness, don't touch on things that people axe-grind about, and don't get derailed immediately. This might seem unfair, but the goal of rules that work well isn't always to be fair exactly but to work well, in this case to produce an AskMe site that is interesting for people to visit and answer questions as well as useful for people to ask questions of. When asking questions that might border on chatty I've found that its helpful to consider that it probably will get deleted, as it should according to the most rigid readings of the rule, and then be pleasantly surprised if it doesn't.

Anyhow, welcome to MetaTalk, I hope this thread doesn't end up as knee-jerkedly shitty towards new people as most seem to do.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:28 AM on December 13, 2013 [51 favorites]


Blasdelb: Generally a good person to take advice from.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:30 AM on December 13, 2013 [27 favorites]


"isint insulting someone against the rules?"

How the community works in MetaTalk is also pretty non-intuitive.

While being shitty towards people is frowned upon everywhere on the site, and that is enforced in each of the other subsites with deletions of comments that are really shitty to people, in MetaTalk however there is a general expectation that this place should be more free from mod intervention (absent dead serious shitty things like sharing personal information or whatever). Indeed, this is where we would be able to complain about mod interference in both the very common instance of people having baseless problems with the moderation and the somewhat less common instance of people having complex problems with moderation worth talking about, though the ratio between the two seems to have improved significantly over the years. With this general expectation, and our ability to trust it, we can then be able to trust that there are no issues with the moderation just being swept under the rug as would be way too easy to do with the very abruptly gone way that comments are deleted. Knowing that anyone can bring an issue before the community, and trust that we be able to talk about it, allows us to trust that there are no issues just being 'disappeared.'

Unfortunately this license also allows us to be almost as shitty as we like here, which is not always pretty when its taken advantage of in ways that are not so great. I guess over time we've developed a culture of being automatically shitty towards people who open MetaTalk threads that has survived from times when most MetaTalks that were opened were themselves pretty shitty, but yours was not that and I'm sorry that your reception here has kind of sucked. I think even the kinds of questions that the mods could answer just fine should be ok to ask of the community too, indeed we all get to see the answers - particularly newer folks, and I hope this is something we can work on as a community.

At least for future reference, there is a contact form that can be used for questions about things that community input is not needed for if you don't want to involve everybody. The mods who answer it are astonishingly fast with replying to it and were hired precisely because they each have a pretty fantastically attuned sense of how the community here works. The link to the contact form is, however, intentionally hidden in small text at the bottom right hand corner of every page, to deter spammers who don't really care so much as well as these kinds of questions, so its pretty understandable when people don't find it and come here. You also have mefi mail, like a slightly neutered messaging service from back before that was really a thing, the link to which is kinda small and in the top right hand corner of every page. If the mods have been offering you advice about your questions using it I'd really strongly recommend you take them up on it, their job is to help us all succeed at being better at using this site and they've each got a really great sense of what that is. They are mathowie, jessamyn, cortex, pb, vacapinta, restless_nomad, goodnewsfortheinsane, and LobsterMitten as well as taz who is anwering your questions here. So if one of them comments in one of your questions they may just have a helpful answer, but they may also be acting in an official capacity.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:21 AM on December 13, 2013 [24 favorites]


You seem to be poor at using MetaTalk too.

Why the fuck would you do that? This guy is asking a question in good faith. Give him the benefit of the doubt and don't be an asshole. You really owe john123357 an apology.

john123357, The rules for askme are a little different than most of the web, but they still give you a wide latitude in terms of what you can ask, and how to get a good answer. Blasdelb has given you just about everything you need. Have fun, and welcome to the community!
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:32 AM on December 13, 2013 [39 favorites]


For some reason Blasdelb's staff badge isn't showing up.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:53 AM on December 13, 2013 [23 favorites]


THERE IS ONLY ONE RULE ON ASKMETAFILTER: SURVIVE.

Okay, there are also other rules, and they're in the FAQ. But you should survive, too. That seems important.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:03 AM on December 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


Welcome to the X-Men MetaTalk, john123357...hope you survive the experience!
posted by zombieflanders at 6:16 AM on December 13, 2013


"Can someone tell me if you can post chatty questions?"

Really chatty questions are not really something that AskMe is really for, and for the most part could never be good at.

There are indeed a lot of really cool ones that could be asked, but there are also a lot of really terrible ones and the way AskMe is built isn't really designed to handle the difference. Both the questions and the answers would also get pretty repetitive over time as the bar for finding something genuinely new and creative gets higher over time. There are other places that do it pretty well like /r/askreddit, which has upvoting to highlight nice questions and hide bad ones as well as the same for answers, and also has a much larger userbase. What makes /r/askreddit great works well for chatty questions, where even if the questions have been kinda getting increasingly repetitive there are always new users for new answers and good ones can be highlighted, while what makes ask.metafilter great works pretty terribly for them. Our userbase is generally pretty highly educated for technical questions as well as has a high proportion of people with astonishingly good judgement for things like relationship questions, and so comments don't really need to be upvoted, because enough of them will be signal that noise doesn't need to be weeded out. However, we're pretty small and incestuous and our collective creativity with chatty questions, while great occasionally, would get really old really fast. If /r/askreddit's rampant misogyny isn't your style, like it isn't many of ours, /r/AskWomen can also be pretty great for some kinds of chatty questions that focus on gender things, but they have their own different community expectations.

As I mentioned before its possible to kinda rub up against the rules if you do it artfully enough, I've done it before to good effect, or give them just enough berth but it requires both a pretty obsessively intricate knowledge of the them, a really great question, and (if you don't want to be disappointed) a willingness for it to be deleted if the mods don't have just exactly the same sense of where the lines are or just don't want to deal with the fuzziness right then. Giving it a shot does, very appropriately, have high risk, but when it works well it does work really well, maybe taking a look through these might help give you a sense of it. I'd recommend hanging out in other peoples questions and metatalk a bunch first though to get a good sense of what the community expectations are for questions in general though before trying anything too borderline.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:17 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear Muffin Man,

You seem to be poor at being a courteous human being. I am sorry someone took a wee in your coffee this morning, but this is not licence for you to take a dump on someone's Corn Flakes.

Love,
inturnaround
posted by inturnaround at 6:30 AM on December 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think a good rule of thumb is to look less at the specifics of the question than why you're asking. Are you just trying to provoke a discussion? Are you just interested in what people think? Chatfilter. Are you looking for something with a concrete answer, or guidance for making a decision? That's okay. So, "What do you guys think about men who cheat on their wives?" is chatfilter, but, "I think my husband is cheating on me, what do I do now?" is not.

The line in the middle is fuzzy and you may still get stuff deleted sometimes, but having a post deleted is no kind of referendum on your value as a human being or a contributor to the site, so don't take it too personally. Some very excellent people have had posts deleted!
posted by Sequence at 6:33 AM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I believe if you browse the deleted AskMeFi questions blog, you can get a good sense of what is "chatty". Some trends I have noticed as to what constitutes "chatty" is:

* "I like X. What do you think about X?" or "I don't like Y and think it must be stopped!"
* "Wouldn't it be weird if toys came alive like in Toy Story?"
* "What's the deal with Z?"

In my view, if your question can be described as "problem that seeks a solution", your question probably isn't chatty.

Oh, and I see the AskMeFi guideslines actually say, "Please avoid 'help me name my kitten/computer/website'". We should either just go ahead and delete that guideline, or start culling, "here is a dog we just adopted. I think she looks like a 'Woofie' but my partner wants to name her 'Bosco'. So, we have come to AskMeFi to mediate because you did such a great job naming our Etsy store! (a flurry of snowflakes inside)"
posted by Tanizaki at 6:36 AM on December 13, 2013 [26 favorites]


Actually, since you bring it up, let's just add a rule that every AskMeFi question needs to come with a dog picture or it gets deleted.
posted by superfluousm at 6:42 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Tanizaki, that's sort of an artifact. We've been more plastic on that one since people really love to ask and answer and them. I think we've just left that in as maybe a slight (doubtful) deterrent against a flood of them, and so that if they really do become too overwhelming, we can return to a more inflexible position. Consider it an oddity for now, I guess.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:46 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


(a flurry of snowflakes inside) sounds like a wonderful name for a winter-themed etsy store.

Maybe even a real store with a sign in one of those self-consciously typewritten typefaces where one letter is just slightly above the other and there are spaces between every word:

[a   f l u r r y   o f  s n o w f l a k e s   i n s i d e ]
posted by griphus at 6:48 AM on December 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


Seriously, why is MuffinMan's comment still up? I'm OK with mean so long as it's constructive, but it's barely even that.
posted by mochapickle at 7:04 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


taz: Yeah, Tanizaki, that's sort of an artifact. We've been more plastic on that one since people really love to ask and answer and them. I think we've just left that in as maybe a slight (doubtful) deterrent against a flood of them, and so that if they really do become too overwhelming, we can return to a more inflexible position. Consider it an oddity for now, I guess.

My understanding was Name-My-Thing questions that had unique constraints are OK, such as "Name my cat something Irish and storm-related." but blue-sky "Name my cat whatever" are considered chatfilter. Is that distinction not really enforced anymore?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:12 AM on December 13, 2013


things are very rarely deleted in metatalk and much more rarely deleted when significant conversation in the thread references the comment. it doesn't seem strange that the comment stands (even if it is unnecessarily rude).
posted by nadawi at 7:24 AM on December 13, 2013


Ah, thanks, nadawi. Carry on!
posted by mochapickle at 7:29 AM on December 13, 2013


Seriously, why is MuffinMan's comment still up? I'm OK with mean so long as it's constructive, but it's barely even that.

It's a jerky thing to say but (a) we don't delete as much stuff from Metatalk as we do from elsewhere, so it's more likely in general that someone being a sub-total-nuclear-meltdown pill will just have that live on for better and for worse, and (b) there's a bunch of discussion of the comment in here at this point which would make it a lot weirder to remove it after the fact.

As a general mod reminder: being jerks to each other sucks and we'd like people not to do that, regardless of whether it is more or less likely to be deleted in any given specific context. We don't delete all kinds of shit I roll my eyes at in exasperation, fwiw.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:29 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


At least for future reference, there is a contact form that can be used for questions about things that community input is not needed for if you don't want to involve everybody. The mods who answer it are astonishingly fast with replying to it and were hired precisely because they each have a pretty fantastically attuned sense of how the community here works.

Quite. The mods have a celerity of reply that pretty much doesn't exist anywhere else online. 11 seconds so far the quickest response I've had; Cortex is the Usain Bolt of online forum moderators.
posted by Wordshore at 7:30 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dear AskMe: Why do people gotta use words like "celerity" this early in the morning and make me wonder why the mods are all drinking Bloody Marys while I'm at work with nothing but a goddamn Pop-Tart?
posted by Etrigan at 7:44 AM on December 13, 2013 [19 favorites]


Tanizaki is my spirit animal.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:47 AM on December 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Please avoid 'help me name my kitten/computer/website'".

I don't get why that's a rule at all. The only problem I can think of with naming posts is that maybe AskMe readers get tired of seeing them, but if you're tired of them, just don't read them. I've twice used AskMe to help me name a blog, and it was very helpful.
posted by orange swan at 7:53 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Huh? What the heck is wrong with "celerity"? It's often a good, concise word to use e.g.

The celerity of Mitchell Johnson running towards them was not going to be the favorite topic of conversation for England's batsmen over Christmas Dinner this year.

The suspected celerity of MetaFilter users in switching threads as soon as a cricket-related sentence was encountered quietly saddened the commenter.

The celerity of visitors to the Iowa State Fair when the deep-fried butter on a stick concession opened was something he wouldn't forget in years.

posted by Wordshore at 7:57 AM on December 13, 2013

If you're tired of them, just don't read them.
This doesn't scale well.
posted by dfan at 7:58 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Follow-up from OP:

Now there's like four times as much celerity and I am out of Pop-Tarts. This sucks.
posted by Etrigan at 7:59 AM on December 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't know about you guys, but the problem I have with celerity is that it tends to get stuck in my teeth, and, honestly, is pretty bland to begin with.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:00 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

"For some reason Blasdelb's staff badge isn't showing up."
Oh God, may it never do anything so terrifying as actually exist. Thankfully there is a lot more than just the hand of an angry God between my sinful self and such a hell.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:02 AM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The celerity of Etrigan rampaging through a box of Pop Tarts concerned both work colleagues and doctor.
posted by Wordshore at 8:03 AM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't get why that's a rule at all.

There's a fine line between list generating questions that use specific criteria and "I want to know what to name my kitty!" Latter sort are discouraged, prior sort are generally okay.

I think one of the bigger distinctions between AskMe and other similar forums is that we're serious about the Q&A aspect. Unless there is a problem-solving situation in process, we expect the OP to not continually reshape or modify the question. So a question like "I need to figure out how to open this lock" can get follow-ups from the OP with more information about what is working and what is not working but questions about more "asked and answered" topics shouldn't have the OP in there guiding the conversation, asking a bunch of follow-up questions or otherwise turning the thread into a discussion. This is sort of different from how a lot of other places are where the person who starts the thread is sort of the person running the thread. john123357, this is something I notice you doing a lot and I know we've left a lot of mod notes about it. You're welcome to email us via the contact form (link in lower right of the page) if you'd like to talk about this more in a less public fashion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:03 AM on December 13, 2013


mostly i just get tired of celerity rumor mills, like, okay, TMZ, I get it, you really don't like The Flash, move on with your life
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:04 AM on December 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


I always wear celerity on my jacket, because if I get too close to certain gases in the Praxis range of the spectrum, it will turn purple. Also, I can eat it if I need to. Good for the teeth.
posted by jbickers at 8:07 AM on December 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also, all cats have exactly one right name, so in that situation, there is a correct answer to be found.

I'm sorry if I am informing you for the first time that you have all failed as cat owners if you didn't know this.


On preview, I am removing the final joke from my comment as to not repeat. Dang it jbickers. I guess I wasn't joking with enough celerity.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:09 AM on December 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


In Soviet Russia, cat name website!
posted by Tanizaki at 8:11 AM on December 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


www.Ma.ru?
posted by Kabanos at 8:12 AM on December 13, 2013 [34 favorites]


The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey—
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter—
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum—
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Effanineffable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:18 AM on December 13, 2013 [29 favorites]


Another angle - Ask Mefi is for getting help with actual problems It's not meant to be a forum for people that just like to ask questions. You are averaging over a question every other week. That seems excessive. Maybe you need that much help in your life, but I doubt it. So instead of trying to ask better questions, it might be more useful to focus on asking only when you need help, after you have tried and failed to solve the situation on your own. Not only will it make for a better Ask Mefi experience, it'll make for a better life.
posted by COD at 8:32 AM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, all cats have exactly one right name, so in that situation, there is a correct answer to be found.

One right name for humans (AKA M'an) to use. They have their own names, as DevilsAdvocate advocates above via Eliot, and as readers of Tailchaser's Song know.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:37 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


i don't like chatfilter. i don't like new users. i don't like john123357. i don't like Blasdelb. i don't like the FAQ. i don't like moderation. i don't like celerity.
posted by mullacc at 8:38 AM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Huh? What the heck is wrong with "celerity"? It's often a good, concise word to use

He obviously hates the Brujah. Or is it the Toreador? Those guys do kind of suck, to be fair.
posted by corb at 8:38 AM on December 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


Google offers a graph of 'celerity' use over time, which I have now updated taking this thread into account.
posted by Gordafarin at 8:40 AM on December 13, 2013 [20 favorites]


Another thing to keep in mind: if you question can be answered with a few thorough google searches, it's probably better left unasked.
posted by inertia at 8:42 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another thing to keep in mind: if you question can be answered with a few thorough google searches, it's probably better left unasked.

My impression is that a substantial percentage of AskMe answers are the results of a few minutes of Googling.

I certainly appreciate those OPs who state to the effect of "my Google Fu has failed me" or "I consulted So-and-So and was advised to do X" because I know they care enough about their own problem to make their best efforts at research before consulting others.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:48 AM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Another angle - Ask Mefi is for getting help with actual problems It's not meant to be a forum for people that just like to ask questions. You are averaging over a question every other week. That seems excessive

I'm not sure I agree with the part about 'actual problems' - I've come to AskMe for help with 'actual' problems, and also to get ideas for good salads, plant identification, and book recommendations.

I think the key is to have an answerable question - regardless of how minor it is - and to follow the advice to take the answers that work, and leave the ones that don't.
posted by dotgirl at 9:01 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, Mr. Eliot, Four Quartets was a smash hit, a real whomper. The people are wandering around in that goddamn garden and they want more, more, more! We need a sequel out, and pronto. So here's an idea, and let me know whatcha think: Cats
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:02 AM on December 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


One thing I've observed about your AskMes, john123357, is that you often follow up quite a bit -- if I see a question posted from you, I know that every third or fourth comment is going to be from you, until the mods ask you to knock it off. If you consistently feel like you're getting bad enough answers to your questions that you need to clarify that continuously, you might consider putting more thought into how you phrase your questions to make it as likely as possible that you'll get helpful answers. As it stands, I often get the feeling that the question you ask isn't really the one you want answered, and you keep trying to steer the answers around to that other shadow-question instead.
posted by KathrynT at 9:07 AM on December 13, 2013 [24 favorites]


I checked Wikipedia, and Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats actually came out (1939) before Four Quartets (1943), so my joke doesn't work.

Make sure you know things before you joke about them, kids!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:15 AM on December 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Make sure you know things before you joke about them, kids!

You were fully committed to the scene, and that goes a long ways. ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:39 AM on December 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


Ask Mefi is for getting help with actual problems. It's not meant to be a forum for people that just like to ask questions

I find the first line in the FAQ section about questions somewhat more forgiving (and more helpful) than this, mostly because of the use of "or":

"A good question should have a purpose, goal, or problem to be solved"

I recall a lot of great questions here that were asked out of some specialized interest (=purpose, goal), but did not represent an actual problem that needed to be solved.
However, that's still different from a "I'm bored, let's think of something to ask on Metafilter" type of approach. If questions of the let's-ask-this-cute-thing kind also are not easy to answer in an unambiguous and final way, well, I can very well imagine why some of them get deleted.

Then there's what Tanizaki just said: even though one never has any proof that the asker did not try to research the question first, sometimes it takes me literally seconds to find extensive final answers for some questions, by means of the simplest of web searches. That's the moment when I walk away from a question because I feel that the asker was lazy. I admit that this irks me (as does the "wall-of-text: Discuss" approach), but my grumpiness about it doesn't belong here either.
posted by Namlit at 9:43 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


all cats have exactly one right name

Correct, and the One Right Name for All Cats is: Shithead.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:44 AM on December 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


Celerity is one of the best Disciplines a Kindred can have. If we're honest, it's the only fun part of combat in Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines: Colons.
posted by gilrain at 9:50 AM on December 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


And on failed-to-search-for-the-right-terms, corb beat me to the joke.
posted by gilrain at 9:52 AM on December 13, 2013


Fun fact: wearing a vegetable in his lapel allowed the Fifth Doctor to identify the presence of certain gases in the Praxis range with celerity.
posted by comealongpole at 9:55 AM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have mixed feelings about the "name my …" questions, since in the main I think they're just chatty noise with no real right answers, but that applies to the mixtape questions too and I kind of love those.

So, like any mad autocrat, the rules should prohibit what I don't like and allow what I do like, and any deviation is a sign of the end times.
posted by klangklangston at 9:55 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


"My impression is that a substantial percentage of AskMe answers are the results of a few minutes of Googling.

I certainly appreciate those OPs who state to the effect of "my Google Fu has failed me" or "I consulted So-and-So and was advised to do X" because I know they care enough about their own problem to make their best efforts at research before consulting others.
"

Yeah, though I'll say that one of the things that's happened with my questions on the regular is that I've already done a fair amount of research and I'm hoping that there's something that I missed, and instead I just get no helpful answers (sometimes no answers at all). But at least that makes me feel better about not being able to answer the questions myself.

If you haven't done, like, five minutes of googling first, you shouldn't be asking.
posted by klangklangston at 9:58 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Name that cat: Celerity Mad Autocat
posted by Namlit at 9:59 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Name that reality show: Celebrity Mad Autocrat


(I would totally watch that show. Also any show about cats.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:14 AM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, though I'll say that one of the things that's happened with my questions on the regular is that I've already done a fair amount of research and I'm hoping that there's something that I missed, and instead I just get no helpful answers (sometimes no answers at all). But at least that makes me feel better about not being able to answer the questions myself.


I think one of the best things about askme is that sometimes you don't get your question answered, because you're asking the wrong question.

So, klangklangston, I had to check out your past askmes, and I have to know, did you ever achieve the piss laser?
posted by inertia at 10:19 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once knew a cat called Celerity
he was on a fast track to celebrity
so I iPhoned his gaffs
and YouTubed them for laughs
but he dug in the claws for his royalty
posted by 0 answers at 10:21 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you hadn't intended to rhyme,
then you shouldn't have tried to at all,
but relied on the beat
of the limerick itself.
So what's up with the third and fourth lines
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:24 AM on December 13, 2013 [21 favorites]


Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines: Colons.

(BUZZ) Prolapse at a Halloween party!
posted by griphus at 10:27 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


What started as riffs on celerity
Soon swerved into limerick hilarity.
But mind the Christ's chide
To let slanty rhymes slide:
Let stone-thrower one boast inerrity.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:32 AM on December 13, 2013 [41 favorites]


"So what's up with the third and fourth lines"

They rhyme in my idiolect. I had more trouble with all the other lines.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:34 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


klangklangston: If you haven't done, like, five minutes of googling first, you shouldn't be asking.

It's also a good idea to search through AskMetafilter with various rephrasings of the question and different synonyms for the key words of your inquiry. I've found answers to a number of my questions that way, sometimes by hopping around questions via the tags, checking both singular and plural versions of key words.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:35 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cortex is some kind of genius.
posted by not that girl at 10:35 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's all right if a rhyme's a bit slanty:
it's not Shakespeare, but just a light shanty.
But a last line like that
smells a lot like a rat.
It's a plague. It makes me get ranty.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:45 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cortex is some kind of genus
A specious evolving on venous
And now it is thyme
For an obvious rime
Slanted just like Josh's Pean is
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:52 AM on December 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


Something that needs to die with 2013 is "because: reasons", and "because: examples".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:01 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have seen the Muffin Man
and he is kind of a dick
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:01 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some MeFites like it, and some don't. Such is the diversity on here, though still awaiting a response from this MeFite.
posted by Wordshore at 11:03 AM on December 13, 2013


To bring this back to john123357
Whose questions are going to AskMeFi heaven
He wants diagnosis
But his questions lack focus
And sometimes threadsitting can deafen.
posted by payoto at 11:03 AM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


The virtue of rhyming and rhymes
And celer'ty of timing and times
All demand proper timing
If you seek proper rhyming
In your limerick.
posted by griphus at 11:04 AM on December 13, 2013 [22 favorites]


"I have seen the Muffin Man
and he is kind of a dick"


It comes from working in the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen.

I understand that he also arrogantly twists the sterile canvas snoot of his icing anointment utensil while talking to visitors, probably as a kind of status display.

He's right about cupcakes and muffins, though. Cupcakes are alright, but muffins are the prince of foods.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:09 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am literally about to leave my house to go bring home a cat from the shelter who will be my very own cat but he is nameless. And now I'll have to name him all by myself.

THANKS OBAMA
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:11 AM on December 13, 2013 [18 favorites]


I named my cat TAARGUS TAARGUS... I think I should of consulted Ask before making that decision.
posted by littlesq at 11:12 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now TAARGUS TAARGUS, I can get into.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:14 AM on December 13, 2013


THANKS OBAMA

This is a crappy name for a cat; I urge you to please reconsider.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:14 AM on December 13, 2013 [31 favorites]


My fiancees cat is not named Celerity. With good reason.
posted by Wordshore at 11:17 AM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Name your cat The Nameless. You're welcome.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:18 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


My take on the Chatfilter rule is that it's not one of those policies that lends itself to bright-line, black-and-white definitions. It's a little bit gray and fuzzy, and that's perhaps unfortunate but it's sort of inevitable. (This is one of the areas where I disagree with site policy, by the way – if I were King of Metafilter, Chatfilter would be much more loosely enforced.) That said, there are a few guidelines for making your AskMe questions less Chatfiltery. This is of course just my own understanding; I'm obviously not a mod so this isn't official policy but I think it's in line with what the mods have said on this issue when it's come up in the past (as it has done many times and no doubt will do many more).
  • Make sure that your question is answerable. There doesn't have to be one right answer, but it shouldn't be totally subjective. It should be a question where some answers will be better than others.
  • Try to frame your question in terms of a "problem to be solved". That is to say, there ought to be a situation that you're trying to resolve for which the information provided by people answering your question could help you resolve that situation.
  • Provide relevant ancillary information and specifics about the situation and the types of answers you are looking for. I don't mean that you should necessarily tell people that certain answers are off-limits, but you should give people something to go on so that they aren't just taking total stabs in the dark.
  • Try to keep your questions to real-world situations. Questions about hypothetical situations lend themselves to much more free-ranging, chatty answer threads, and generally don't fit the guidelines as well.
  • Limit your participation as the asker. Ideally you should simply ask your question or set of questions in the post, and then only respond to provide clarification or additional information that is very obviously needed to make the answers productive (assuming that you are getting a lot of unproductive answers based on a misunderstanding of the question). If you don't have to respond at all, so much the better. Avoid asking new or followup questions after the thread has been posted, or having a conversation with the answerers through your replies – that is definitely considered "chatty".
  • Don't argue with answerers. The advice that is given in question threads is offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. If you don't like a particular line of advice then you are under no obligation to take the answerer up on it – however, you shouldn't pop back into the thread to tell them that they're wrong. Clarifying a misunderstanding is generally fine, but arguing with an answer that you simply disagree with is not. Once you have asked a question you become primarily a spectator of the resulting thread, not a participant.
Now, all of these rules are somewhat subjective. Any or all of them can be bent under the right circumstances, if you do it carefully – but if you hew closely to the guidelines above then you'll be in the clear almost every time. It's important to have a good read on the overall cultural norms of AskMe so that you can pitch your question well; this can easily be done by spending some time reading and answering questions, which is a fun thing to do in its own right.

As a brief example, a chatty question would be one in which you ask something like "What is the best car?" and then return to the thread repeatedly to argue about your favorite cars. A good question would be more like "I'm looking for a used car with four-wheel-drive that will cost me less than $10,000 and get at least 18 mpg in town. I live in Colorado. What are my options?" followed by your just sitting back and watching the suggestions roll in, and making your own decision based on the advice that is given.

Also, if you have a question you want to ask but you're not totally 100% sure that it's on the right side of the rules, you can always send the mods a draft of your question via the contact form (link also available at the bottom right of every page on MetaFilter) and I'm sure they'd be happy to review it for you and make suggestions, if needed, as to how the question could be improved. They're very quick and responsive and friendly about that sort of thing, and I get the impression (though of course I cannot speak for them) that they rather enjoy that part of their job. I've asked similar questions of them via the contact form myself, and they've always been extremely helpful, courteous, and prompt in their replies. Once you have the official OK to post, you can be pretty darn sure that your question isn't going to get deleted! Though you will still have to be sure to refrain from doing too much responding in the thread, of course.
posted by Scientist at 11:18 AM on December 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


What is this, like, the fifth awesome, thoughtful answer you've had in the last few days, Scientist? We're all going to have to step our game up! :)
posted by corb at 11:20 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


John: maybe it would help if you gave us an example of one of the questions that you think is "chatty" that is still up on AskMe. I'm wondering if maybe part of why you're not understanding what's going on is because you may have a different definition of "chatty" than the mods have.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:24 AM on December 13, 2013


Name your cat The Nameless. You're welcome.

I am racking my useless liberal arts education to get to the Beckett joke that is obviously under here, but I don't want to use the last line that everyone knows even if they can't tolerate reading the book, is there a book there, no, a trick perhaps, perhaps of my imagination, generation, have trod, tread lightly, don't see why, don't see anything much, much good that came of it, came when, came at all, at all, allusions to my condition which as previously stated, under different circumstances, perhaps now unknowable to myself, unnamable,
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:26 AM on December 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


In every cat naming thread from now on, Celerity should be the answer.
posted by annsunny at 11:41 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hodge is the best name for a cat.
posted by lalex at 11:43 AM on December 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Tomorrowful: I am literally about to leave my house to go bring home a cat from the shelter who will be my very own cat but he is nameless. And now I'll have to name him all by myself.

Easy: mêtis
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:05 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem is that some cats are rather dumb. Your easy answer is not the solution to all problems of naming cats.

Also, if you had a series of cats named mêtis, one would be the least clever of the lot, so he or she would be the least "mêtis" of the mêtis cats, which would the poor bloke.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:23 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"So, klangklangston, I had to check out your past askmes, and I have to know, did you ever achieve the piss laser?"

No! Well, kinda, in that I kept cutting the cakes in twain over time, but I never perfected it and I had a hard time keeping accurate data. And I never got the answers on optimal technique I was hoping for.

And since then, I've never worked at an office with urinal cakes. I still think about it when I go to bars that have them, but it's one of the great unanswered questions in my life.
posted by klangklangston at 12:42 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


All this talk of celerity is making me sad that I got rid of my Vampire: The Coloning cards all those years ago.

Also, I am craving celery.
posted by scody at 1:27 PM on December 13, 2013


Celerity for Vampire; celery for Bunicula?
posted by klangklangston at 1:37 PM on December 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


All this talk of celery and vampires makes me want to dig out my bunnicula books.
posted by ish__ at 1:42 PM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dammit
posted by ish__ at 1:42 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vampire: The Coloning was just a cheap knock-off of Lumley's Colonoscope series, most fans agree.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:49 PM on December 13, 2013


I much prefer celerity to celery (and celebrity for that matter). But I probably prefer Bunnicula even more.
posted by mlle valentine at 2:00 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


john123357, I also ask a lot of "basic" questions. (basic = not highly personal, no sensitive time deadlines, and no life-or-death stakes, etc.)

I guess what saves me is I ask the question (including a reference which suggests I did some preliminary work on the problem), then I back off and leave it alone for 36-72 hours. I've never lost a question or been accused of threadsitting. Yes, sometimes a question might drift off topic but there's no real harm. I can always wait a month and ask it again in a clearer way.

The #1 question asker is Admiral Haddock. He probably doesn't lose too many questions, and many (but not all) of his AskMes are "basic" as well.

As for "rules", I know it is weird to see questions where the answerers are turbo-posting two or three responses in a row but the askers are supposed to remain quiet. This week I saw a string of seven answers where five of them were provided by one poster. But hey, I guess it is fair for the answerers to be "hyperactive" because they are providing free help to the askers. I think it is good to get as many answers as you can, then sort them out later.

Good luck!
posted by 99percentfake at 2:12 PM on December 13, 2013


This week I saw a string of seven answers where five of them were provided by one poster

I give myself a rule only to post one answer per question unless (1) the OP adds a follow-up where I need to revise my advice or (2) another member has posted an answer that, if followed, could cause the OP physical harm, legal trouble et cetera. I probably don't always follow this rule but I think I do the great majority of the time.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:29 PM on December 13, 2013


"So what's up with the third and fourth lines"

Sometimes the words gaff(e)s and laughs rhyme.
posted by Kiwi at 2:38 PM on December 13, 2013


I also prefer if askers don't serially post. I've developed a bad habit of doing this lately (it seems like every time I submit an answer that I think is polished and comprehensive, I instantly think of One More Thing that I just have to say) and I'm making a conscious effort to curb that habit. AskMes should generally not be dominated by a single answerer if you ask me, so it's best if one can follow similar rules to those that apply to askers -- write your answer, think about it for a bit, edit/add as necessary, post it, and then back off. I think it's better not to answer again unless developments in the question thread lead you to have something really new and substantive to add. I've been terrible about this recently, but like I said I'm trying to do better.
posted by Scientist at 2:45 PM on December 13, 2013


For anyone else who didn't get it: "Gaffe" and "laugh" rhyme in my idiolect. Three of the lines in the first limerick didn't fully rhyme, as though rhyme hadn't been the intent — but two lines did rhyme, as though it had. Of course I hear the rhyme: That's the joke.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:51 PM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe you guys can help me out with something. I want to get an orange cat and name him Atlas. Then I can be all, "Look, Atlas shrugged." That joke would never get old! But the cat would, so it would just get funnier and funnier. I could be all like, "What's a matter, Atlas, got the weight of the world on your shoulders?" I would crack myself up with that cat. I would walk around thinking, "I should see if I could get a picture of my cat Atlas with Rand Paul!" I could camp outside his office with two bowls of food (one for me, one for Atlas) a bottle of water (we'd share that), and a litter box (we'd share that too!). I'd start up a blog and with the first post being a photo of Paul and Atlas, and I could get interviewed on "Fox and Friends," and I could tell Megyn Kelly that Atlas is ascared of white people. I was thinking of getting an older shelter cat so I wouldn't have to have a long term commitment, but I kind of like the taste of kitten a bit more. Anyway, what I was wonder was does anyone have a good recipe for duck that a cat would eat and do you think I'd be crazy if I dressed Atlas up as Santa next year?
posted by cjorgensen at 2:53 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now if you're really clever one can slip in an AskMe just about anywhere.
posted by sammyo at 2:55 PM on December 13, 2013


The virtue of rhyming and rhymes
And celer'ty of timing and times
All demand proper timing
If you seek proper rhyming
In your limerick.


SO. ANGRY.
posted by Kwine at 2:57 PM on December 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've developed a bad habit of doing this lately (it seems like every time I submit an answer that I think is polished and comprehensive, I instantly think of One More Thing that I just have to say)

Yea, that, and here's one of my special pony requests:

New Flag Category: I thought of that clever idea first, but [poster] just types faster than me but my version of the quip is much pithier.
posted by sammyo at 3:02 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please don't kill off "because: reasons" yet. I've only just jumped on that bandwagon and would have to learn a new annoying phrase. Because: I'm not with it.
posted by arcticseal at 3:21 PM on December 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


MuffinMan: "You seem to be poor at using MetaTalk too.

The 'someone' is the mods and you can email them directly.

Unless you're making a point, in which case you're still poor at using MetaTalk because: examples.
"

cortex: "As a general mod reminder: being jerks to each other sucks and we'd like people not to do that, regardless of whether it is more or less likely to be deleted in any given specific context."

Perhaps this is confirmation bias on my part, but I've been noticing a bit of an uptick in folks "helpfully" scolding OPs who opt to create a MetaTalk post instead of using the contact form.

Are the people doing so are aware that we can no longer make a post in MetaTalk unless we have checked a box that says, "My request requires community input and cannot be addressed by contacting MetaFilter staff"? In other words, every OP has now deliberately chosen not use the Contact Form.

Not all users are going to feel comfortable contacting a site administrator, when community help is available. That doesn't make their choice to make a post wrong, and since replying to any post is entirely optional, no one's time is being wasted if we decide to respond to questions.

The whole point of MetaTalk is to allow people to have public, transparent interactions with the moderation team -- and to a lesser extent the community at large -- and by extension to create an archive of feedback which will benefit others. It would be a shame to undermine that.
posted by zarq at 3:45 PM on December 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


I flag multiple answers in a row when it's egregious. Sometimes when the answer looks like the person was just obsessively testing out all the possible formatting option combinations I flag those HTML/display error. Because it is so annoying.
posted by winna at 3:45 PM on December 13, 2013


PLOT TWIST: I don't have a cat. I also live in a hole.

Though If I were ever to get a cat I would probably name it TAARGUS or Mokiki.
posted by littlesq at 3:53 PM on December 13, 2013


Perhaps this is confirmation bias on my part, but I've been noticing a bit of an uptick in folks "helpfully" scolding OPs who opt to create a MetaTalk post instead of using the contact form.

I'll confirm your confirmation bias, enough so that I was surprised to only see one post about it and further surprised to see pushback against it. I understand the desire to not have every little issue be brought up on MeTa, but there still is a valid community discussion function here where stuff can be hashed out.
posted by LionIndex at 3:55 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


What, you mean it isn't my living room?
posted by planetesimal at 4:21 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I forgot about the Deleted Ask Me Blog until this thread. In reading the deletion reasons, I had no idea the mods offered so much help with re-writing some poorly written questions. That's pretty cool.
posted by NoraCharles at 4:27 PM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


More MetaTalk: more celerific rhyming.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 6:07 PM on December 13, 2013


I had no idea the mods offered so much help with re-writing some poorly written questions.

Yeah it's a toughie because people have to get back to us sort of quickly for that "Hey let's rewrite this and repost it" thing to work well and sometimes you'll hear back from someone six hours later and they'll be all "Hey, let's do that!" and by then the question would be off the front page. So I guess a little addendum I'd mention to the "Post it and leave it" advice which I think is generally sound is the "Post it and make sure its not deleted and then leave it" just in case the question has some easily resolvable fatal flaw that we could help you with.

MetaFilter: I also live in a hole.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:23 PM on December 13, 2013


Wait, in what dialect do gaffe and laugh not rhyme?
posted by empath at 7:29 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


empath: Wait, in what dialect do gaffe and laugh not rhyme?

Well, British English, for one....
posted by tzikeh at 7:38 PM on December 13, 2013


My maternal grandmother wouldn't rhyme them, either. The Massachusetts accent used to use a broad A (don't know the proper name) in "half," "bath," and so on; people here still use it in "aunt." She still has that old accent. It sounds like she took the Rs off the ends of her words and stuck them after her As in the middle of them. I don't think "gaffe" would have that broad A for her, but I could be wrong.

(Obviously, anyone with an ear can hear that the Rs are still there at the ends of the words, but that's how everyone describes that accent and I'm tired.)
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:45 PM on December 13, 2013


Wait, in what dialect do gaffe and laugh not rhyme?

Not reading the provided link is a gaffe, and people may laugh at you.
posted by zamboni at 7:47 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


D'oh
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:48 PM on December 13, 2013


Well, British English, for one....

Not all British English, they would rhyme in most dialects north of the Midlands.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:56 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait. Really? How is gaffe pronounced then?
posted by HotToddy at 8:01 PM on December 13, 2013


In dialects where the split applies, like RP, gaffe would be pronounced with a short a, the same vowel sound as cat (and the same as most American and Northern British dialects), while laugh would be pronounced with a long a, the same vowel sound as father.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:08 PM on December 13, 2013


Askery askery
Johnathan Twelvesomething
posted in Metatalk
seeking redress.

Mefites responded with
Multiple limericks;
edification-wise
coulda been less.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:49 PM on December 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


PLOT TWIST: I don't have a cat. I also live in a hole.

Are you a hobbit?
posted by misha at 9:34 PM on December 13, 2013


but it's one of the great unanswered questions in my life

A steady stream of kidney stones. You just need to modify your diet.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 4:36 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I flag questions of the form "what TV show should I watch? I like [list of popular TV shows that everybody likes]" and their analogues for books and movies. But they never ever disappear so I think I'm just using some kind of internal ChatFilter criterion that's not the actual ChatFilter criterion.

I guess I think those questions are formally phrased as "What TV shows will I like?" but are ALWAYS, in practice, equivalent to "What TV shows do you like?" which is Chatty Chatty Bang Bang as far as I'm concerned.
posted by escabeche at 5:58 AM on December 14, 2013


But if you're asking someone to recommend TV shows, there's no way around people answering with things that they like, is there? Otherwise answers would be "You should watch X. I mean, I don't cos it's shit, but maybe you like things that are shit."

Do people feel the same about "Give me new music" questions? Because I was planning to ask one kind of soon.
posted by billiebee at 6:20 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


"But if you're asking someone to recommend TV shows, there's no way around people answering with things that they like, is there?"

That's not necessarily true. I think a lot of people have trouble distinguishing between their critical faculty and their own idiosyncratic taste. This is a annoyance of mine with some movie critics — David Edelstein comes to mind.

Obviously, though, there's interaction between the two and the opposite extreme, a critic who offers what are mostly likely disingenuously "objective" reviews is just as bad.

What's most helpful is something in the middle but which has some self-awareness. This is one of the things I really loved about Ebert as a movie critic, he was pretty up-front about his own biases and emotional reactions, and he didn't pretend that they didn't variously affect his judgment, but he also made an effort to distinguish the two in his reviews and he wasn't afraid to praise a film he personally found very unpleasant and, conversely, criticize a film that he enjoyed. He could explain why he felt something did or didn't have artistic merit and was worth investing the time in for those kinds of reasons, and he would explain also how he did or didn't have some strong emotional response that would make a film worth watching, even if it was schlock.

To my mind, the people who don't think there's a distinction and the people who believe that they can entirely compartmentalize the two from each other are both unreliable and probably aren't getting as much as they could be from these works, to boot.

So I think it's quite possible to partly keep one's likes and dislikes at arm's length when answering such questions while also expressing them. And you can sort of tell when someone doesn't know how to do this, you get answers that are obviously inappropriate, where the questioner specifically mentions that such-and-such are things they don't really like and the answerer will completely disregard that because, hey, they loved something like that. And, again, the opposite extreme is bad, too — those recommendations will be bloodless, or just easily available conventional opinion, and can just generally be very thoughtless, in their own way, as the uncritical fan responses.

But perhaps your question is just a practical observation? Because it certainly is true. There's no way that you can avoid most people merely listing the things they like. But I think that it's possible to answer differently, and that such answers are more helpful.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:05 AM on December 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's a big difference between "what TV shows do you like" and "if I have liked X, what TV shows would you recommend?" I have asked several questions along those lines about books and movies and the answers have been useful to me. I would say that the framing of the question goes a long way toward increasing the utility of the answers received. I make an effort to focus the question as much as possible--a question like "hey what is a good book" or "what is your favorite book" I would flag, but I would probably favorite a question like "what presidential biography would you recommend if I liked Theodore Rex?"
posted by MoonOrb at 7:19 AM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do people feel the same about "Give me new music" questions? Because I was planning to ask one kind of soon.

I do, but as I said, I think these questions always stay up.

"You should watch X. I mean, I don't cos it's shit, but maybe you like things that are shit."

I think this is a massively better answer than the more typical "I know you said no historical fiction but I think Hilary Mantel is really great."

But perhaps your question is just a practical observation?
Yes. That's the difficulty. I think those questions are in some formal sense fine, it's just that in a practice they seem invariably to lead to threads of people listing "books I liked / TV shows I liked / records I liked."
posted by escabeche at 8:28 AM on December 14, 2013


The framing seems to help a lot for the recommend me a book / music / TV shows type of questions. I was pleasantly surprised by the answers to my book recommendations question, as I had expected many replies would just list Spanish language authors people had heard of, and instead I got many new to me suggestions. I was particularly surprised by the absence of a phenomenon I have seen in many of these types of questions, where the asker says "I liked X, what else should I read?" and several people reply "You should read X."
posted by research monkey at 9:24 AM on December 14, 2013


Because: reasons

You gotta drop that colon if you want to be hip and with it. The cadence of "because thing" is smooth and pause free.
posted by lordaych at 9:53 AM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of people have trouble distinguishing between their critical faculty and their own idiosyncratic taste.

Watching people talk about how this or that person is "not funny" always makes me want to know what they actually think humor is. I have such a hard time imagining a world where my certainty that the way I viewed the world was somehow inseparable from either the way other people viewed it or, somehow, the way the world actually IS. I would love to spend some time in someone's head who thought that way, that the way they see things is actually just the way things are. What must that be like? I'm so relativistic almost to a fault, that I equivocate myself out of stronger positions sometimes because I am constantly aware that reasonable people disagree about ... practically everything. I'm always painfully aware of my audience to such a degree that I don't see how other people can't be and I wonder about that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


Does it make you wonder in the same way when people say something is funny?
posted by escabeche at 10:42 AM on December 14, 2013


For whatever reason I feel like people saying that something is funny in some long conversation thread, is clearly saying "that person is funny to me" but people showing up in a thread that is talking about some funny person to say "That person is not funny" seems to be making a more absolute statement about funniness generally. Like, we all know that funniness is a matter of taste and so clearly saying "oh yeah they're funny" (absent any other "And anyone else who doesn't think so is wrong") is making a statement about personal preference but the statement "They are not funny" seems to me to be different from saying "I do not think they are funny" even though there is no real reason the implied "According to me" couldn't be attached to either statement. Like if some people have already showed up to talk about funniness, the conversation is about the person and their funniness and unless you are saying "Well I don't think that person is funny because of reasons" then I'm not even sure how you're adding to the existing conversation by just making a statement of basic non-agreement without some other conversational offering. So yeah, ultimately I don't know why one seems to be a personal statement and one seems to be an absolute one.

This may have more to do with my personal pollyannaish preferences about the value of communicating with other people and not showing up when people are talking about something just to say "Ugh that think sucks."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:15 AM on December 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't see how my question about tanks which was deleted was "chatty". I also find that if I ask my question with to much detail it gets deleted, which is probably why I have to ask more in follow up comments.
posted by john123357 at 12:34 PM on December 14, 2013


On the subject of people commenting about someone being funny or not, the comments on this Guardian article about Sarah Silverman and her Father have been growing in numbers, likes, and good/bad ferocity all day.

The comment from the journalist who did the article/wrote the piece is IMHO especially worth reading. Am wondering, with the negative and sneering stuff that's still been left in the comments, how really bad were the significant number of comments that have been mod-deleted.
posted by Wordshore at 12:53 PM on December 14, 2013


I think those questions are in some formal sense fine, it's just that in a practice they seem invariably to lead to threads of people listing "books I liked / TV shows I liked / records I liked."

I may be coming at this from a different angle then, because I like those threads. In my head, the "chatty" element would be if people were replying to other answers, either in a "yeah I like that too and did you see the one...?" way, or else "no that's rubbish and you are a fool for liking it". Maybe I don't read enough of them to see a different pattern, but they always seem good natured in tone, and more like people going "ooh ooh I've got a good one!" and then leaving it at that, and while there may be some unhelpful answers there sort of always are in every AskMe thread. I see chat as answerers engaging with each other, whereas even in the tv/music/book etc threads people do mostly just engage with the OP.
posted by billiebee at 12:59 PM on December 14, 2013


I don't see how my question about tanks which was deleted was "chatty".


Aaaand here's the link.

To compare this with the guideline "A good question should have a purpose, goal, or problem to be solved," that question may have had a purpose (you were curious about something) and a goal (you wanted the community to find some answers) but it really has no possible "right" answer. How is anyone supposed to know whether the crew of some tank that gets hit burns alive? Depends on the tank, the kind of "hit", the luck, or lack of luck, of the crew members at the point of impact (can they run away, or are they already knocked out/dead), the amount of inflammable goods inside the tank and so on.
"Chatfilter" means one or both of these: the question itself is "chatty" (not the case here, there you're right), or it has the potential to induce chattiness among the waywardly guessing Answerers (very much the case here).
posted by Namlit at 1:06 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't actually see the tank question as chatty. Sure you can't answer it with 100% certainity, but anyone with military knowledge should be able to answer the question "Is it likely the guys in the tank burned alive?" and the implied general question "How likely is that the crew of a tank hit by a rpg 29 anti tank rocket will be burned alive?"

On the other hand, I looked at john123357's deleted questions on the deleted askme blog, and I can see why they got deleted. Chatty as fuck.

john123357 you tend to ask questions about stuff that you are randomly curious about. Those types of questions are not a good fit for askme.

There is a difference between "What's your favorite mystery novel?" and "I really like mystery novels set in cities with female protagonists and where romance is a subplot at best, e.g. Kinsey Milhone and VI Warshawski. Can you suggest others?" Guess which one will get deleted as chatty.

I think you should really focus on why you are asking the question and what you want the answer to be. And that you write out the question, sit on it for a while and then come back and revise it a couple of times before posting it to Askme.

For example, recently I've gotten into the history of first/given names and plan to post a question to askme in the future about it. My first version of this question was "Tell me how first names work." which would've gotten deleted. Second version "Tell me how first names work. I'm interested in how in the naming conventions of different societies, cultures, etc.; how names changes through time, things like that." This probably wouldn't get deleted but is incredibly vague and I doubt the answers would be that helpful.

So, I did some research on my own and the current version is something like this "I'm interested in how first/given naming conventions vary through time and differ by culture. I've looked at the wikipedia article for given names and the glossary on Behind the Name, but I'm really looking for books, articles, etc that go into more detail. For example, in English, how come you can name someone Rose but not Table? Why Grace and not Clever? Why gems but not metals? Are there cultures where Table, Clever and Copper are normal names? I came across this book "The means of naming A social and cultural history of personal naming in western Europe". Are there any other books like this for other cultures? I'm also looking for suggestions of how to begin researching this besides googling "first name".

Now, this wouldn't get deleted but I'm still not happy with it and am going to revise it some more before I post.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:54 PM on December 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


it's just that in a practice they seem invariably to lead to threads of people listing "books I liked / TV shows I liked / records I liked.

I find myself avoiding threads asking for recommendations with which I really could help because of exactly this. I mean, when somebody says they like Gene Wolfe and please recommend something like Gene Wolfe, don't be coming along and saying "You should try Terry Goodkind he's the best!!!1!!!11!!111eleven" and it makes me angry.
posted by Justinian at 5:15 PM on December 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I never ask questions like "What's your favorite mystery novel?" so that doesn't apply to me
posted by john123357 at 5:48 PM on December 14, 2013


So, you're set on your favorite mystery novel?
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 PM on December 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


To my eyes, a lot of your questions are "what's your favorite mystery novel," in the sense that they're just "Present me with your thoughts on topic X." The tank question, the therapist question, the (deleted) question about douching, etc. This impression is enhanced by the fact that in many of your questions, you state the conclusions you've already come to up-front, which sounds a lot like you've already *answered* the question, so why are you asking it"?
posted by KathrynT at 7:57 PM on December 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


The virtue of rhyming and rhymes
And celer'ty of timing and times
All demand proper timing
If you seek proper rhyming
In your limerick.


Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Some poems rhyme;
This one doesn't
posted by Sebmojo at 12:57 AM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"...even though there is no real reason the implied 'According to me' couldn't be attached to either statement."

I think it has to do with social psychology stuff. Agreement is pretty neutral, but disagreement is implicitly a challenge. And you can't really challenge someone about personal taste, but only about objective reality.

You can also see this in how people express this stuff. I could be wrong about this, but I think that positive expressions are fairly evenly split between the forms of "I like this" and "this is good", while negative expressions tilt more to the "this is bad" form.

Underneath this all is another difference that I think exists, and it's that I think that people for some reason tend to view their own disliking more in objective terms than they do their liking. This is subtle, but I think it has something to do with there being an essential alienation involved in negative judgments that isn't equaled by a corresponding thing with positive judgments. For example, think about how we think of people, with regard to in-group and out-group. We accept more gradation of in-groupness, more variation of why someone is in-group, while in contrast out-group is kind of an absolute thing.

Negative judgments are intrinsically more absolutist than positive judgments somehow, and the implication of that absolutism is that the negativity inheres with that being judged in a much stronger way than is the case with positive judgments.

Or think about pleasure versus disgust. Something that gives pleasure may be seen as being intrinsically good, but things that incite disgust almost always are seen as being intrinsically bad.

This is why we should (and, in fact, usually do in face-to-face interactions) behave differently when disagreeing with negative evaluations than we do when disagreeing with positive evaluations. When we say that we like something in response to someone else saying that they don't like it, we don't expect them to take offense and, in fact, I think we probably worry that they'll turn their ire on us. When we say that we dislike something to someone who likes something, we tend to be more tactful about it, for fear of giving offense.

Online, though, people are much more willing to give offense. I think that we should be much more careful than we are when expressing these kinds of negative judgments, because people do naturally take offense.

Anyway, I first spent a lot of time thinking about all this stuff back when The Blair Witch Project was released. Like your experience with people saying something is funny, I was flabbergasted at the number of people asserting that the film was not scary. And very often they were quite explicit about saying that it absolutely wasn't inherently scary and that there was something somehow wrong with those people who were frightened. And that's sort of what you were describing in the "that's not funny" example. There's often an implication that those who do find something funny, or scary, or enjoyable, are people who are defective in some respect. It's weird. Because I see "funny" or "scary" as being simply descriptive of how people react — if people laugh, or are frightened, then it's true.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:13 AM on December 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Some poems rhyme;
This one doesn't.


Which reminds of the Taliban Valentines Day poem:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
We will ban poetry,
Death to America.
posted by Wordshore at 2:40 AM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which reminds me of the MeTa everyday poem:

Roses are rosy
Violets are violet
Poems are poemy
Chatfilter is banned
posted by Namlit at 5:59 AM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I disagree Katherine
posted by john123357 at 5:55 PM on December 17, 2013


Well, yes, we know you disagree that they were chatfilter. You've posted them, and now defended them. However, Katherine was trying to explain to you why they looked like chatfilter to her. Which, fine, you want to disagree, but you can either learn from what's been said here or continue to get your questions deleted.
posted by klangklangston at 6:34 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


You also haven't given examples of other questions that are still up on AskMe which you think are chatty. Perhaps if you gave an example of something you thought was "chatty", we could point out to you why it was allowed to stay and yours wasn't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:33 PM on December 17, 2013


I disagree Katherine

Who the heck is Katherine?
posted by KathrynT at 9:04 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


this is why we need a several hour edit window
posted by klangklangston at 9:56 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


About chatty questions:

Again, the shortcut phrase "chatfilter" applies not only to questions that may be chatty in themselves but also to

--> questions that will trigger chatty answers.

This could be caused by the selected topic, the wideness or narrowness with which this topic is being addressed, and/or the way a question is phrased otherwise, down to the choice of single words.


It's really a matter of judgment on the side of the Asker. You're supposed to put yourself into the shoes of the people you're addressing, that is, to anticipate how they may react to what you write - it's a live-and-learn thing, and not everyone is equally able to do this well.
To be insecure about how to ask questions that are better attuned to the vibe of this site is not anyone's "fault", and there's no reason for getting defensive about it, even if some answers in this thread may seem implicitly or explicitly critical. Also, you're fine disagreeing with people here. Heck, some good people here disagree most of the time about something.

posted by Namlit at 1:51 AM on December 18, 2013


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