Our long chatfilter nightmare is over February 6, 2015 6:50 AM   Subscribe

I was really surprised this question did not get deleted for being chatfilter.

Back in the olden days, such a question would have been deleted almost immediately. What happened? Lack of flags? Purposeful oversight? Something else? Just curious. I personally would be unhappy to see more questions of this "Let's discuss, I'll go first" nature on AskMetafilter, but maybe I am in the minority on that one.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Etiquette/Policy at 6:50 AM (172 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

That happened on my shift and partly it started as a mistake. A bunch of flags came in pretty quickly, and I went to delete it, wrote out that it was being deleted as chatfilter, but I forgot to check the delete checkbox as well as write the reason, and I pressed save and moved on to other things.

About 15min later I noticed more flags coming in and was surprised, but realized since I didn't hit the checkbox, it didn't delete, and I lost the reason I wrote up.

So I looked over the question and there were about 10-15 really good answers. I felt bad about deleting all that, and realized the question would be fine if the above-the-fold text went from
What's something you did (or are doing) as a parent that's different from "the way everybody does it" that worked really well for you?
to
What's something you did (or are doing) as a parent that's different from "the way everybody does it" that worked really well for you? I've had some success with the approach and I'm looking for other ways to improve my parenting.
The question does do the "I'll go first" bit and that's mentioned in the chatfilter definition but the question doesn't seem to be posted just to chat about parenting, and it felt like they were looking for more techniques which is also mentioned in the FAQ as "Maybe there is a reason you want to know? Super, just put it in your question." and I felt it was implied this parent would want to know more of these tricks and not want to just pontificate about weird parenting experiences.

It's definitely not a trend or end to chatfilter deletions, it started with a small mess-up, and I didn't want to eliminate everyone's good contributions on what felt like a bit of a technicality. It's definitely chatfiltery with the I'll go first bit, and if I could do it over, I would have contacted the poster to get them explicitly to add a line about wanting to know more experiences they could apply in their life while rephrasing or cutting the I'll go first line.

Sometimes chatty questions get through (sometimes they're useful, like "name the best book in your industry" type questions while also being controversial for being chatty and end up here) and this would be one of those rare ones that fell over the line, but stuck around.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:51 AM on February 6, 2015 [41 favorites]


Thanks for explaining. I'd also be curious to hear if the OP found the answers helpful, should he care to weigh in (no hate, OP! this is not a callout).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:58 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


My kid is napping right now and I'm about to dive into the answers and see if I find anything I like. Dunno, I guess I'm a data point that falls into the 'glad mathowie goofed the checkbox' range.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:34 AM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


mathowie, your response is a model of what I show to the moderators in my communities about how to explain something that didn't go exactly to plan, and why a decision was made. Thank you.
posted by xingcat at 7:34 AM on February 6, 2015 [50 favorites]


There are some chatfiltery type questions that seem to lie in this zone between chatting and genuinely helpful. It's like a venn diagram that includes "chatty" and "helpful" and they overlap slightly. I get the feeling that the overlap is an area that sometime works, sometimes doesn't, and is left up to the subjective wisdom of our moderators. I gather that not everyone likes that moderation is sometimes subjectively interpreted based on how "things are probably going to go," but I've made peace with that a long time ago, as our moderators are more than capable of figuring this out.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:35 AM on February 6, 2015


this stinks of a Nobama executive order power grab and i hate it with my life.
posted by mullacc at 7:39 AM on February 6, 2015 [13 favorites]


Well, it is an answerable question, but yeah, the "I'll go first bit" is a bit much, but then I don't mind chatfilter as much as some.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:40 AM on February 6, 2015


I liked this question and I think it works as an AskMe thing because it is asking for specific answers in a way that provide advice and will help the OP and others solve problems, as opposed to "tell me about a time you _____"-type questions which don't leave an opportunity for people to act on or help satisfy anyone who's looking for answers. mathowie, thanks for a thoughtful response on this one, too.
posted by capricorn at 7:47 AM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


EW, mullacc. Flagged!
posted by travelwithcats at 7:51 AM on February 6, 2015


I took the "I'll start with one of my own" part to be a concrete example of what they were asking for, rather than kicking off a discussion as such. I liked the question, and I could see some of the answers being really useful to people who hadn't thought of approaching certain things like bedtimes in a different way.
posted by billiebee at 7:53 AM on February 6, 2015 [17 favorites]


I am underwhelmed.
posted by y2karl at 7:59 AM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't like this question either, even without the "I'll go first." I think it's a lot like "I like [novel most people like], what are some great novels?" or "What are some fun date activities for a busy couple with kids?" No real answer, just idea-gathering.

But I get why these questions have utility for the asker and other readers, so I'm not really saying other people should feel as I do, just expressing my own feeling that they don't fit the site.
posted by escabeche at 8:01 AM on February 6, 2015


Back in the olden days, such a question would have been deleted almost immediately.

O, aye, was a day when such questions were mown down like wheat before the scythe, scattered like dust, while the banhammer whistled in the wind. Truly, mods were mods in that time and their glories were many. I ... remember those days.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:02 AM on February 6, 2015 [47 favorites]


And having read the thread, I feel like it's pretty weak stuff, as you might expect. Quite a few answers from people who are not actually parents, but want to talk about memories of stuff THEIR parents did, which is not what was asked. People who answer "Unlike most parents, I let my kids watch TV," which reflects an almost unbelievably distorted view of what "most parents" do. The only answer I really thought met the "different from the way everybody says to do it" standard was the mom who told their kids their dad was an asshole.
posted by escabeche at 8:06 AM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


The only answer I really thought met the "different from the way everybody says to do it" standard was the mom who told their kids their dad was an asshole

That's...not how everyone does it? Hmmm
posted by billiebee at 8:11 AM on February 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


I did find it interesting that most if not all of the "unlike most parents, I" answers were things Metafilter generally approves of. Nobody said, I don't vaccinate, or, I spank my kids. Those answers would have been within the realm of acceptable answers to the question as stated. I suppose, like in most threads, people who feel their comments might be controversial chose not to participate.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:30 AM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


The "please suggest things like this other thing" type of question is right on the blurry line of chatfilter. Like if it is product advice, it always seems fine. If it's asking for anecdotes, not so much.
posted by smackfu at 8:37 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


This seems a bit chattier than the average chatty question, because the way I read it, most answers were probably along the lines of "We did this atypical thing with our kid because their personality required us doing it this way". It doesn't seem like the asker would be able to really turn around and use much of the parenting techniques since they mostly seem dialed in to a specific kid.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:03 AM on February 6, 2015


There used to be a line in the chatfilter FAQ that specifically gave "what should I name my cat" as an example of chatfilter, but clearly the community has adapted to fit its own needs. We just named somebody's (human) baby last week.
posted by phunniemee at 9:08 AM on February 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


If it's not about sex, death, or bikes, it's chatfilter.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:16 AM on February 6, 2015


answers were probably along the lines of "We did this atypical thing with our kid because their personality required us doing it this way". It doesn't seem like the asker would be able to really turn around and use much of the parenting techniques since they mostly seem dialed in to a specific kid.

As a reader, that was certainly what I took away from most of the answers. For example, allowing my kids to regularly co-sleep doesn't make sense for us because they kick so much in their sleep. Or I can see why telling a kid their dad is an asshole might make sense in the particular situation outlined in an answer in that thread, but I also know that my mom badmouthing my dad was harmful in our family (he was very involved, insisted on and got physicial custody of us half the time, made a point of living near her so we had easy access to him at all times, etc.) Heck, we have different behavior management approaches for the different kids.
posted by Area Man at 9:29 AM on February 6, 2015


Huh. I hadn't seen the thread until this MeTa but i thought it was pretty cool - I don't think there was SO much "when I was a kid" rather than "as a parent" type stuff but I also never understand why that's such a big deal - understood that it's for parents' perspectives, but it doesn't seem like a crazy derail for a person to talk about things that their parents did from their perspective as a former kid.

Also some of the individual advice/technique sharing is pretty intriguing and doesn't seem like it's necessarily tailored to one particular kid and only that kid - mathowie's "allowed tantrums for older children because where else can they just let it all out" stood out to me - I've started doing that a little in my 30s because seriously sometimes you just have to cry and stomp around and have it out.
posted by zutalors! at 9:50 AM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


This seems no different from loads of "imminent baby! tell me your parenting hacks!" threads which have gone before, and I don't really think it's any more chatfilter than they are/were.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:06 AM on February 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


If it's not about sex, death, or bikes, it's chatfilter.

And if it's about love, death, or the change of seasons, it's poetry. So apparently there's some overlap.
posted by aught at 10:07 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I gained quite a few favorites from my answer in that thread, and now I almost have enough to cash them in on a Metafilter 15th anniversary commemorative mug, so I'm glad it stayed up.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:10 AM on February 6, 2015 [18 favorites]


I loved the one where the parent sends misbehaving siblings to the OTHER kid's room. Like..."WTF am I going to do in here? I hate all his/her stuff and his/her stupid face." I was never sent to my room but never got the point of that punishment anyway...all my stuff is in there.
posted by zutalors! at 10:25 AM on February 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


mathowie, your response is a model of what I show to the moderators in my communities about how to explain something that didn't go exactly to plan, and why a decision was made. Thank you.

Tell me about unconventional moderating practises that worked for you.
posted by Kabanos at 10:36 AM on February 6, 2015 [17 favorites]


I answered in brief, with a general principle, because I am trying to reboot my old parenting blog so a) didn't want to give it away for free and b) the degree to which I did things unlike others requires an entire blog to explain it. One answer just won't do.
posted by Michele in California at 10:47 AM on February 6, 2015


Now lets try the same questions, but with cats.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:56 AM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's one darn cute kid in your profile photo, Pater Aletheias. Also, you look awfully young to be called "Pater".
posted by benito.strauss at 11:00 AM on February 6, 2015


Pater Aletheias I loved your answer in that thread. That's the kind of thing I wished I could have thought up. You deserve a commemorative mug!
posted by lyssabee at 11:04 AM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


You could pick any three anecdotes randomly from that thread as the centerpieces to an article about modern parenting.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:39 AM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pater Aletheias I loved your answer in that thread

I just read that, it's great! My 3 year old niece is unbelievably adept at bumping into things/falling off things/locating all dangerous surfaces within any room with her head. Is it wrong that I'm now eagerly awaiting her next non-serious mishap so I can try this out?
it's wrong isn't it
posted by billiebee at 11:56 AM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


O my that thread is so good more threads like that plz.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:20 PM on February 6, 2015


Now lets try the same questions, but with cats.

I've tied a bathrobe belt around my thigh. What tourniquet methods have worked for you?
posted by arcticseal at 12:21 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was disappointed that none of the answers mentioned DH.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:25 PM on February 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was pleased to see one of the answers was Elimination Communication. Because that shit cray and I'm glad actual people are doing it because it makes me laugh.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:28 PM on February 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


But yeah, agreed that 100% of the MY PARENTS DID XYZ answers should have been deleted though.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:28 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I loved the one where the parent sends misbehaving siblings to the OTHER kid's room. Like..."WTF am I going to do in here? I hate all his/her stuff and his/her stupid face." I was never sent to my room but never got the point of that punishment anyway..

I read it as "oh shit, sibling is going to be in MY ROOM and mess everything up!"
posted by like_neon at 12:40 PM on February 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


MetaTalk: it started as a mistake.
posted by homunculus at 1:02 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


We just named somebody's (human) baby last week.

Please tell me it played out like this.
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


But yeah, agreed that 100% of the MY PARENTS DID XYZ answers should have been deleted though.

I disagree with this. Every time a question is phrased as "I'm a landlord, what works for you landlords in this situation?" there are answers from tenants who say what their landlord does. Same with teachers/students, employers/employees, et cetera. Their answers on average strike me as no more or less helpful than the other answers.

Likewise, in this thread, the parent answers and the non-parent answers seem to be of similar quality. If someone wants to participate in parenting discussions where only parents are invited to participate, maybe it should be on a parenting site, not a general interest site?

I would feel differently if the OP had been emphatic that only answers from current parents of young children would be helpful, because of how parenting norms have shifted over time, but that wasn't how this question was phrased.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:18 PM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


That's exactly how the question was phrased.

What's something you did (or are doing) as a parent that's different from "the way everybody does it" that worked really well for you?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:19 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Beanplating correct answers to incorrect questions.
posted by Michele in California at 1:25 PM on February 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


Bentobox, do you have kids perchance? Cause as a parent, I must say I find the shit that non-parents blithely proclaim - especially in metafilter - generally has about as much value as a Zimbabwe dollar. It's a great example of that subset of users who just can't help themselves in Ask.me.

I was a childcarer for five years before I had kids, but only would have had substantive answers to childcare questions in a very small number of areas. I'm not saying that kid-less people always give irrelevent, weird or bad advice, just mostly clueless. Usually seems to have more to do with them and their childhood than the art of raising children etc, I find.
posted by smoke at 1:31 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


PS for some reason I read this title initially as "Our long, chauffeur-driven nightmare is over". I was intrigued, and delighted.
posted by smoke at 1:32 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not saying that kid-less people always give irrelevent, weird or bad advice, just mostly clueless.

I don't have kids and I think some of the broader questions can work but it bugs me, too, so I figure this must drive parents bonkers.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:42 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am plenty biased on this as a person who answered in that thread and does not have or want kids, but in a thread like that one, I think there's plenty of value in the "my parents did X" answers.

"My parents did X and now I am an adult and I can see how their choice benefitted my life."

and

"I am a parent who is choosing to do X. My child is only 4, so not sure how it's going to work out long term, but it's a solution that's working great for us right now."

If an idea might work for your kid and your family, who cares where it's from? It takes a village, etc, etc.
posted by phunniemee at 1:54 PM on February 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


Good call, Matt.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:59 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a parent and while I've seen plenty of answers along the lines Smoke lays out, I've also seen lots of good advice based on other experience caring for children or their own childhood memories. Advice based on what people think their siblings or friends are doing is much iffier (you don't know what happens after your short visit is over).
posted by Area Man at 2:01 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am letting my babies grow up to be cowboys.
posted by Kabanos at 2:06 PM on February 6, 2015 [35 favorites]


Beanplating correct answers to incorrect questions

The question was a bit open-ended, sure, but in any case nobody wrote stuff like,
"We're keeping our stepson in a cupboard under the stairs and forbid him to do any magic, and it's been swell for the last 10 1/2 years,"
This thread shows that sometimes answerers don't want to chat even when prompted, which may be a good think to know.
posted by Namlit at 2:09 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Since the thread has started to go down that road: I'm always a little surprised that "Non-parents may want to consider refraining from answering questions specifically related to being a parent" is a controversial position.

Could you imagine someone answering a question about auto repair with, "Well, I'm not a certified mechanic and have never worked on a car personally, but I've been a passenger in a car before so here are my thoughts..." or answering a question about working in a restaurant kitchen with, "I've never worked at a restaurant before and actually don't know how to cook personally, but I eat at restaurants sometimes so what you might want to consider is..."?

Always strange to me that parenting is an area where having direct experience is not at all considered a prerequisite to giving advice.
posted by The Gooch at 2:27 PM on February 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Always strange to me that parenting is an area where having direct experience is not at all considered a prerequisite to giving advice

But don't we all have direct experience of parenting in that we were parented?
posted by billiebee at 2:33 PM on February 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


I would feel differently if the OP had been emphatic that only answers from current parents ...

What's something you did (or are doing) as a parent that's different from "the way everybody does it" that worked really well for you?


This phrasing specifically allows for parents to speak either from past or current experience. By its terms, it would allow my parents to chime in with what worked for them when raising me and my sibs in the eighties, but it wouldn't allow me to say what worked for my parents when raising me and my sibs in the eighties. Either way, equally unhelpful if current experience is needed. Or equally helpful if you're looking for wacky stories about weird parenting that somehow works. Lucky for those of you who favor iron-fisted deletion of nonparent input in parenting threads, though, I chose to give that thread a pass.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 2:33 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


But we've all been kids. We do all have direct experience. The relationships you have with your parents (or whoever cares for you) for all those years of your childhood aren't like being a passenger in a car or a patron at a restaurant. You aren't the passive recipient of another's services and that becomes more and more true as you get older. I know that I model lots of my parenting on what I remember from how my mom and dad did things so why wouldn't I believe that other people might have learned something from their parents?
posted by Area Man at 2:35 PM on February 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Non chafilter: chat about non-chatty subjects, but not that chat.
posted by clavdivs at 2:38 PM on February 6, 2015


But we've all been kids.

As someone who was conjured fully formed through an alchemical ritual, I take offense at this assumption.
posted by homunculus at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2015 [33 favorites]


There's also the whole thing that being a mechanic or a chef takes training and practice but any two schmoes with compatible sex organs can be parents.
posted by phunniemee at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


But don't we all have direct experience of parenting in that we were parented?

Came here to say that, almost word for word - thanks, preview window.

My mother had a bunch of innovative and effective methods for raising my sister and myself. She also had some turkeys in there. I feel qualified to speak about what worked and what did not in that scenario because, well, I was there.

I do agree that it's rude to offer those opinions without being asked, but I think the 'auto mechanic' analogy is inaccurate. It seems more like backseat driving to me: a case of it being poor form to critique someone in the middle of something stressful that needs most of their attention unless there's some specific serious danger to point out, (vaccines, etc.).

I don't see the problem when someone actually asks for suggestions, though.

Upon second preview:
There's also the whole thing that being a mechanic or a chef takes training and practice but any two schmoes with compatible sex organs can be parents.

That too.
posted by mordax at 2:55 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


But don't we all have direct experience of parenting in that we were parented?

Yes, but these are muddy waters, because humans are so good at surviving, and forgetting. A [hypothetical, in this particular case, but I've seen stuff like this...] answer like "I got whacked across my knuckles when I did something stupid and I'm the living proof that it didn't do me any bad, so I think whacking is a great solution," for example, would be no parenting advice at all, it's merely proof of some random answerer's attempt to come to terms with her/his own shitty childhood. The risk of such a confusion of standpoints is difficult to eliminate even in answers that on some or another level do sound workable.

I think the parent's inside-plus-outside experience is pretty essential for not merely giving advice that makes sense, but saying something that has the potential of being genuinely helpful.
posted by Namlit at 2:55 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Could you imagine someone answering a question about auto repair with, "Well, I'm not a certified mechanic and have never worked on a car personally, but I've been a passenger in a car before so here are my thoughts...

Heh heh, just ask Brockles (a mechanic) how often this happens in auto threads.

I want to reiterate: I don't think every non-parent answer in parenting threads is bad; I just think most of them are, and I think people regularly ignore phrasing that specifically requests input from parents only.
posted by smoke at 3:00 PM on February 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think the parent's inside-plus-outside experience is pretty essential for not merely giving advice that makes sense, but saying something that has the potential of being genuinely helpful.

Yes, I agree. There are things that I think my parents did, but I don't have the full knowledge of what philosophy or experiences lay behind their choices, plus my memory is questionable, given that my brain was still forming. Any memories I have about being disciplined are going to be further complicated by the heightened emotional state of the original situation.
posted by jaguar at 3:04 PM on February 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm always a little surprised that "Non-parents may want to consider refraining from answering questions specifically related to being a parent" is a controversial position.

It's not controversial, I don't think, but when I was teaching elementary school, parents often had questions for me--a non-parent--that I'd classify as general parenting questions, and I like to think offering them some perspective based on experience with a larger number of children the same age plus some mildly professional insights sometimes helped. It's by no means a better perspective, and offhand, nothing comes to mind that I'd have posted in that thread. But sometimes it's hard to know how considered the OP's limits are and whether they'd appreciate slightly unexpected points of view.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:16 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Could you imagine someone answering a question about auto repair with, "Well, I'm not a certified mechanic and have never worked on a car personally, but I've been a passenger in a car before so here are my thoughts...

Non-parents do not have complete first hand knowledge and experience of raising a child, no. But this analogy suggests that no non-parent on that thread had any level of insight whatsoever into the parent-child relationship.

It's more like person A asked:

"Hey there's this green fluid pooling up under my car what's up with that?"

and Person B answered:

"Well I'm not a mechanic but when my car started leaking green goo it was the radiator, better take it in."

Now they might be super-wrong, but that answer isn't completely bonkers. It's based in an experience with some shared characteristics.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:17 PM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


This has been an interesting discussion to me. My oldest son is now 27, so I have gotten to see the outcome of my policies and, also, we talk a lot about what I did as a parent. So I get to hear a lot of feedback from my now adult kids about how they experienced or viewed my parenting as kids. Their perception often does not match up to what my thinking was at the time.

Also, it turns out I am good at being a mom, but I got the job by being a flake, choosing flakey birth control and having it fail. So it's far worse than "doesn't require training." Sometimes it's proof that you got outsmarted by your own genes and their diabolical plot to replicate and fell for that whole lure of sex being fun.

On preview, I read that as: "Hey there's this green fluid pooling up under my cat what's up with that?" I'm no cat owner, but taking the cat to a mechanic sounds really bonkers to me.

/desperately needs glasses, duh
posted by Michele in California at 3:26 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


cat was trying to get some Chartreuse and failed
posted by Namlit at 3:28 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've never seen a good explanation for why questions like this shouldn't stand. It reminds of a little of my parents' "logic". "BECAUSE, that's why!". Surely you want MeFi to show up in search engines more, no? I say let the Filterers chat!
posted by MattMangels at 6:22 PM on February 6, 2015


This seems no different from loads of "imminent baby! tell me your parenting hacks!" threads which have gone before, and I don't really think it's any more chatfilter than they are/were.

I don't like those threads either!
posted by escabeche at 6:32 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Seems like the right analogy should be "I'm not a mechanic, but I used to be a car..."
posted by thefoxgod at 6:40 PM on February 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


I hate chatfilter.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:00 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm always a little surprised that "Non-parents may want to consider refraining from answering questions specifically related to being a parent" is a controversial position.

It's hard to explain, but the only other thing that rubs me so wrong are people who have never been in combat telling me what it is like or how it should be done. What I enjoy most about taking my kid to the park is sitting down next to a complete stranger and having so much in common because we are both trying to do this impossible thing. I get the same feeling talking to people in the waiting room at the VA hospital.

Those are two things that you will never understand until you do them. They change you forever. You can work daycare and read Doctor Whoever or play paintball and read Clausewitz and I still don't care what you think.

Some of my favorite threads here have started as chatfilter and then the community turned it into something substantial.

Ubermod: So I looked over the question and there were about 10-15 really good answers.

So Matt let it stay and I'm glad. It's like sitting in the park with Y'all while our children play.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:16 PM on February 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, yeah. Parenting is impossible and magical. That's why it's so rare.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:23 PM on February 6, 2015 [15 favorites]


I don't like those threads either!

Preach!

I thought I flagged it and moved on. But actually I just moved on. I thought it was pure chatfilter but we live in an imperfect world and if anyone can make the decision to not delete an obvious chatfilter post, it's mathowie.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:26 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


But don't we all have direct experience of parenting in that we were parented?

Yeah, although personally my understanding of my own experience of having been parented has changed substantially since actually becoming a parent. On some points I now understand and sympathise much more with my parents - on others, it has to be said, I now regard some things they did, things I didn't question before, as pretty poor.

That doesn't invalidate anyone's POV on the matter, but as the one asking, you might possibly only want the parental angle.
posted by Segundus at 12:36 AM on February 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well yes, almost any two people can become parents, but once you have the thing for awhile you gain knowledge and experience non-parents don't have. But I don't necessarily agree non-parents' answers are useless. The only time I think it's annoying is when the asker is looking for parenting advice on babies or toddlers and people chime in with their childhood memories or family lore.
posted by JenMarie at 2:42 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


From now on, every time I post an AskMe, I'm going to end it with the stipulation "only those who know the right answer may respond."
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:06 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The experience of parenting "from the underside," as it were, can lead to invaluable insight sometimes.
posted by drlith at 5:36 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I flagged this, as it seemed to be a clear case of chatfilter (and easily rewritable if there was an actual problem to be solved), and I was confused about it staying up. I, for one, welcome mathowie's explanation.
It's okay if things go wrong now and then; being told what happened is a privilege and not a right, but I sure appreciate it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:52 AM on February 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


> But don't we all have direct experience of parenting in that we were parented?

> But we've all been kids. We do all have direct experience.

No and no. Being a kid tells you nothing about parenting, it only gives you vague and often inaccurate memories of being parented. Not being a parent myself, I have fully understood this only after seeing my grandsons being parented close up and hearing my wife talk about what it was like raising her son (their father). I had no idea what parenting was like! Face it, when we're kids we're totally self-centered; we love our parents but we rarely think about what they're going through and we leave home with relief (if some trepidation) and don't give much thought to the mix of emotions our parents are going through. I am constantly realizing how thoughtless I was at various points during my youth (and how my parents automatically forgave me because that's what parents do); I wish they were still alive so I could talk to them with this new perspective. At any rate, I would never dream of going into a thread explicitly asking for the perspective of parents and offering my two ignorant cents. But you don't realize how little you know until you realize how little you know, I guess.

(Of course, a non-parent might have a useful tip they learned from a parent that would be worth sharing in such a thread; that's different.)
posted by languagehat at 8:06 AM on February 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


I thought it was a pity that the recent what small actions can I do to make the world a better place AskMe swiftly began to resemble you know what really grinds my gears? chatfilter.
posted by zamboni at 9:10 AM on February 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


That was weird, wasn't it?

Q: How can I be a better person?
A: DON'T BE LIKE THESE ASSHOLES ARARARARARA
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:17 AM on February 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


> But don't we all have direct experience of parenting in that we were parented?

> But we've all been kids. We do all have direct experience


I just don't buy that "I've never been a parent, but I was somebody's kid so..." is enough of a qualification to answer a parenting question with enough of a level of expertise to be useful as a general rule. By that logic, I should feel free to jump into any thread where an asker calls on the advice of fellow college professors or K-12 teachers, even though I have absolutely zero front of the classroom experience, but, hey, I was a student once so...
posted by The Gooch at 9:26 AM on February 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I just don't buy that "I've never been a parent, but I was somebody's kid so..." is enough of a qualification to answer a parenting question with enough of a level of expertise to be useful as a general rule.

I would say that as a general rule, this is often true. However, I think it might be helpful to provide perspective for people who didn't experience certain things, or forget what it's like to be a child. For example, in cases where a parent may want to adopt a particular style of discipline, it would be immensely helpful for someone to be able to say, this is how this affected me as a kid when my parents did this to me and this was the overall influence on my psyche over time. I think this is how some people have moved away from particular types of discipline that are overtly physical in nature. My parents spanked me because their generation used physical discipline, but the reason I don't do it anymore isn't because other parents told me there's a better way. It's because of my personal experience as a child and the fear and reservation it created, which I could legitimately share with others regardless of whether I have children (I do have three, if it matters).

There's value in remembering what it was like to be a child, and to sometimes pass that memory on to others who may not be taking it into account in a thorough way in their parenting. This doesn't mean that there isn't all kinds of advice though that should be kept quiet because it's simply armchair analysis that isn't grounded in real life experience. In every parenting situation, there are always two sides of the equation: (parent technique) + (affect on the child). People should speak to the one in which they have personal and first hand experience. No practiced technique as a parent, best not to speak in most circumstances. If you were affected by a technique as a child, I'd say that's pretty much good to go.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:49 AM on February 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Being a kid tells you nothing about parenting

It does tell you about being a kid though. I spend about half my time remembering what a complete monster I was at eight and thwarting similar disasters. Google "Early attempts at unpowered flight." I tried some of those.

But nothing makes you remember every stupid thing you ever did, in such detail, as realizing your own kid is contemplating the same things and he's half you and half that thing you married when you didn't know yourself well enough to put your hands up and run.

And that is the mess you find yourself in. Kiddo is half you and half other and you have to be half kid and half adult to begin to understand a quarter of kiddo. He got in my bed at 3 last night and peppered me with substantial questions for four hours. It was a nice sunrise but there should be someway to immediately transfer my entire brain to someone else.

They just seem a little weird.

posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:50 AM on February 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


By that logic, I should feel free to jump into any thread where an asker calls on the advice of fellow college professors or K-12 teachers, even though I have absolutely zero front of the classroom experience, but, hey, I was a student once so...

People do that all the time.

As a teacher, I can see the results of different parenting techniques, and it's led me to believe that so much depends upon the child's temperament and luck.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:56 AM on February 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I thought it was a pity that the recent what small actions can I do to make the world a better place AskMe swiftly began to resemble you know what really grinds my gears? chatfilter

I think that's an uncharitable read of that thread. A couple of people were like, X annoys me, but in the sense of "if you want to make the world easier for people don't do X". But the vast majority were just helpful suggestions. I thought it was a nice thread.

I would never dream of going into a thread explicitly asking for the perspective of parents and offering my two ignorant cents

Fwiw I don't answer parenting questions because I'm not one. But I have lots of experience first hand with kids of all ages so just because I haven't given birth doesn't mean I don't know anything at all. This question was framed as asking advice from parents, but if it was just asking for "parenting tips" rather than "what do you do" I might have shared things I've learned from other parents or from caring for my nieces. And I think at times the perspective of "my parents did this and here's why it worked/sucked" can be useful. Like the example mentioned of the parents who put their kids in each other's room as a punishment. The parents know it worked, but only the kids know why.
posted by billiebee at 10:06 AM on February 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


languagehat: Being a kid tells you nothing about parenting, it only gives you vague and often inaccurate memories of being parented.
Nothing? Not the smallest thing? Not even a little bit of knowledge about how your parents parented, and how that worked for you, and even for them? Are you sure?

Because I'm not. It certainly does not tell you all the things, and it also does not tell you the same or as much as actually being a parent does, but yes, it tells you something. Which is more than nothing.

For example: I know from experience that it's possible to raise children without spanking them, and still discipline them when needed. I know this because I was raised like that.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:07 AM on February 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


For example: I know from experience that it's possible to raise children without spanking them, and still discipline them when needed. I know this because I was raised like that.

I would also add that much of what I've learned to do in a positive way I learned from my parents being good parents, which is a childhood experience. Any virtues I have now as a good parent I can attribute mostly to being a child raised by them, and not because I read a good book or got advice from other people I know. Some of it is from stumbling and making mistakes, of course, but a whole lot of it was remembering positive and negative experiences from being a child, and thus being able to have empathy for my own children as I consider my actions. This is what I think having been a child brings to any parenting situation: a perspective that can create empathy, even if not immediate expertise at every point.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:12 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why anyone would think that question should be deleted. It's useful information.
posted by orange swan at 10:16 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Because it's chatfilter, like mathowie says in the very first comment in this thread. Doesn't mean it can't be useful.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:21 AM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


orange swan, I don't get the point of "chatfilter" either. But I'm just a five dollar noob who has long puzzled over people who join discussion boards and then do not want to engage in discussion. I was on an email list that had very low traffic at first and when real conversation actually broke out, there were people who piped up to say "IF ALL THIS TALKING DOESN"T STOP, I AM UNSUBSCRIBING! GRAR!" I don't know what they joined a discussion group for, but apparently not for discussion. Incidents like that never fail to make me feel like a deer in the headlights.

/probably a hopeless case who will never get it.
posted by Michele in California at 10:21 AM on February 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


There's a difference between a child's perception of a style of parenting (authoritarian, permissive, styles of discipline, etc.) and a child's perception of how their parent parented in a specific instance (and, on AskMe, often then extrapolating that subjective experience out and making specific recommendations to another parent). "My parents used corporal punishment and here's how it affected me" seems potentially helpful. "I also goofed off in fourth grade and my parents just ignored my acting out and I was fine, so you should just ignore your son's acting out, too!" (or even, "I also goofed off in fourth grade and my parents came down really hard on me and it really helped!") is really not at all helpful to someone asking for parenting advice, because it completely lacks parenting advice. Such answers give absolutely no insight into how those parenting decisions came to be made and therefore lack information about whether those same criteria might apply to the asker's situation.

The more specific the situation, the more annoying I find the "Well, I was a kid, so..." answers, unless the asker explicitly asks for perspectives from the parented.
posted by jaguar at 10:29 AM on February 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Because it's chatfilter, like mathowie says in the very first comment in this thread. Doesn't mean it can't be useful.

In my book, chatfilter is bad because it is useless. I don't see how asking for good parenting techniques is any more chatfilter than asking for good ideas for a kitchen renovation. It's information gathering, not useless discussion.
posted by orange swan at 11:38 AM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It could be information gathering, but it was not presented as such. A bit of rewriting would have gone a long way. 'What are some ideas you have seen people apply during their kitchen renovation?' would probably be deleted as chatfilter, as well.

Anyway, you and I don't make the rules here, and we aren't the ones who decide what is and what isn't chatfilter, and why. (I'm fine with that.)
Matt himself said in this very thread that chatfilter questions can be useful, so I guess you disagree with him in that respect. (I'm fine with that, too.)
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:56 AM on February 7, 2015


> But I have lots of experience first hand with kids of all ages so just because I haven't given birth doesn't mean I don't know anything at all.

> Nothing? Not the smallest thing? Not even a little bit of knowledge about how your parents parented, and how that worked for you, and even for them? Are you sure?

Oh, for god's sake. Nothing human is cut-and-dried, yes-or-no. Of course kids don't know literally nothing about parenting. Similarly, although I am not black I have picked up certain ideas about black people and their lives, some of which are probably somewhat accurate; nevertheless, if someone in AskMe wanted the perspectives of black people, I would stay out of the thread. Weird self-denial, I know! If anyone is determined to use their child's-eye view of parenting to shoehorn their ideas into a thread that explicitly does not invite them, I can't stop them, but I continue to think they're wrong and should reconsider their approach.
posted by languagehat at 12:19 PM on February 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Sorry, I tend to take things people say too literally sometimes. Maybe that's what happened here.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:22 PM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Of course kids don't know literally nothing about parenting.

I think it's wore like education. Relatively few people teach in sustained programs, but pretty much everyone thinks that they have insights into education policy and practice by dint of having been taught. There is a huge amount of any class/course that students don't see, and so, while student opinions are useful data to develop better education, they are really poor direct guides to understanding how and why teaching is/should be done.

I still remember a lot of what it was like to be a kid, but I also realize that I was sheltered from a lot of forces that drove the decisions my parents made. I can talk about how they affected me, but I can't really balance my satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a particular decision against the other factors my parent experienced. And siblings will report the same experiences in very different ways.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:39 PM on February 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I like chatfiler. There, I said it. I think the question was fine and the responses are interesting. Some of the best of mefi were chatfilterish, in the early days, so off angle questions are more interesting and fun than the usual DTMFA threads, which are a staple in askmefi.
posted by jadepearl at 12:45 PM on February 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


What made it really chatty were the answers. Some iconoclasts actually feed kids adult foods, avoid empty threats, and have kids do age-appropriate chores. I'm shocked.
posted by salvia at 1:02 PM on February 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


The only answer I really thought met the "different from the way everybody says to do it" standard was the mom who told their kids their dad was an asshole.

Much appreciated.
posted by kinetic at 1:05 PM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


What made it really chatty were the answers. Some iconoclasts actually feed kids adult foods, avoid empty threats, and have kids do age-appropriate chores. I'm shocked.

In some places, doing those things can feel pretty far from what everyone else does, or from the received wisdom of your upbringing. Some of them are out of my local norms, if not the ideals. I'd assume that anyone posting in that thread feels like a bit of a weirdo for whatever they posted.
posted by tchemgrrl at 2:15 PM on February 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


OP here. I have learned more about the culture of Metafilter today, things that I would've learned with a closer reading of the AskMe guidelines. Thanks to grouse for letting me know about this MetaTalk thread, and thanks to mathowie for letting the AskMe stay up after he saw that there were interesting answers coming in.

Now that I've familiarized myself with chatfilter, I'll admit that the intent behind my question was pure chatfilter. Since I wasn't aware of all the flags it raised, I was very happy about the interesting responses and proud of the fact that it's the most favourited thing I've ever posted on Metafilter. "They like me," I thought, "they really like me!"

Based on what I'm reading in this thread, it seems that the question was favourited so much in part because, by slipping through the moderation cracks, it filled an unmet chatfilter desire among many Metafilter users, rather than because it was a particularly brilliant or engaging question.
posted by clawsoon at 2:46 PM on February 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


This also explains why I wasn't able to find any previous questions along that line before posting, which surprised me.

Mystery solved.
posted by clawsoon at 3:07 PM on February 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


it filled an unmet chatfilter desire among many Metafilter users

There have been several spin-off sites from MetaFilter. Little things continue to spin-off, some due to interest in a specific sub-topic, others explicitly for the purpose of "chatting." So, there probably is an unmet need for "chat" on the site.

The Blue seems to be more of a sparring space. AskMe is more tightly moderated and goal-oriented. I sort of suspect that FanFare is as popular as it is because it probably is more okay to be chatty there, as long as it relates to the show/movie/whatever under discussion, but I really don't participate there so that opinion is on somewhat weak footing.

However, current site policy seems to be that it is okay for chattiness to sometimes break out on MeTa and, otherwise, nope. (shrug)
posted by Michele in California at 3:20 PM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I did say "unmet chatfilter desire" instead of "unmet chatfilter need" on purpose, since I have no idea whether more chat would be a good thing or a bad thing for Metafilter. I assume that chat is deleted for a good reason in terms of the type of community and discussion that's desired here.

The level of discussion is generally high, and I appreciate that about Metafilter, so I'll assume that cracking down on chattiness is part of creating that.
posted by clawsoon at 3:30 PM on February 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


And... the responses to my question didn't seem very "chatty" in the usual sense of that word. There was a sharing of expertise and ideas which I really enjoyed. That seems like a different category of thing to me than a bunch of people chatting with each other.

Now it's time to put my daughter to bed. No bedtime stories. :-)
posted by clawsoon at 3:38 PM on February 7, 2015


On the subject of whether non-parents can have valid parenting opinions: Yeah, I think so. Most of our parenting opinions as parents are probably a mish-mash of the useful and useless, shaped by confirmation bias, ridiculously small sample sizes, impossibly difficult problems of correlation and causation, highly dimensioned data, ambiguity of results, and the fact that the data isn't in for many of us anyway.

So never having been a parent is only going to make your opinion slightly less valid than that.
posted by clawsoon at 5:43 PM on February 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I nannied for years before I had kids of my own and always wondered why moms at the park would be plenty polite and nice to me, but not necessarily *friendly* even though we were all hanging out with kids. What's the big difference? As far as I could tell, the only real day to day difference was that I got nights off. Not that I ever equated nannying to parenting, but it should be close enough for chit chat, yeah?

Now I'm on the other side and I really didn't know what I didn't know. Nannying is short term day to day problem solving. Parenting is that plus long game "Holy fuck if I get this wrong, I will have screwed up an entire person." with the added bonus of "I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing." I was as prepared to be a parent as a person gets and I freely admit that I'm just guessing half the time.

My feelings about my own childhood have changed a LOT as well. Stuff I always just took for granted I've confronted my parents about "What, precisely, were you thinking?!" And some other things I had never really understood suddenly made sense. So no, I truly don't think having been a kid sheds any light on parenting. You think you know your parents did X and you turned out Y but it's just as likely they did X by complete accident and were really focused on Z - which as an adult you don't even remember.

Anyhow. I get it now. I get why it's hard to keep conversation going with nannies and I can become friends with other moms in five minutes. And I freely admit that if I see "I'm not a parent, but..." in a parenting thread that my eyes roll. If you're not in the process of trying to manage the day in day out drudgery with the tension of not knowing for decades if you're doing it all wrong, you simply don't know what you don't know.
posted by sonika at 9:33 PM on February 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


I've you've never been me you're not qualified to give me advice. I guess I should stop using AskMe entirely.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:14 PM on February 7, 2015


You really got up on the wrong side of this thread didn't you? It's like the ghost of decani or something.
posted by smoke at 10:32 PM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now I'm on the other side and I really didn't know what I didn't know. Nannying is short term day to day problem solving. Parenting is that plus long game "Holy fuck if I get this wrong, I will have screwed up an entire person." with the added bonus of "I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing." I was as prepared to be a parent as a person gets and I freely admit that I'm just guessing half the time.

Yeah, I have graduate school credits for childhood development, family therapy, child therapy, and other credits that mean that my state officially licenses me to give parenting advice, and I still refrain from doing so, either here or with my clients. I offer resources and occasionally I give information about children's capacity for understanding or behavior, based on the child development classes, but I don't even try to act like my experience as a parented child, let alone my academic study of childhood, is the same as actively parenting a kid.
posted by jaguar at 11:14 PM on February 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Wow. This MeTa is very interesting to me because I haven't noticed this parent vs. non-parent divide before. And I have been here 10 years (I'm on my second username; I inadvertently outed myself and retired the first one).

Remember Bridget Jones' "smug marrieds"? Respectfully, some of the talk here has a tinge of "smug breeders". I'm not a parent, but I'm in my forties and have many friends with children and I've never gotten a smug breeder vibe from any of them, ever. Never! As a matter of fact, many have asked me for behavior mod ideas because I have a specialty in animal behavior and spent years training mammals to do things.

Again, I do not mean this disrespectfully at all. I just never noticed it before. Maybe IRL parents don't feel free to express this feeling of...not exactly superiority - I can't put my finger on it.

Thanks; I enjoyed the original thread, mathowie's explanation, and this Metatalk.
posted by Punctual at 1:19 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's like the ghost of decani or something.

Who killed decani?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:35 AM on February 8, 2015


The Queen of Hearts offed his head.
Stupid Alice joke only, no malicious intent.
posted by Wolof at 3:54 AM on February 8, 2015


Here's another take on the parents-vs-nonparents subject: There are some nonparents I know who I'd trust my daughter with more than some parents I know.

A lot of the parenting knowledge that great parents have they learned before they became parents; the parenting knowledge that bad parents lack isn't magically given to them by virtue of becoming parents.
posted by clawsoon at 5:57 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Out of 65 comments in that thread so far (excluding the final comment linking to this MeTa, of course), approximately 7 of those 64 comments came from Childfree Folks. I re-read them all, and I gotta say - none of those 7 comments were like shitty or wrong or unhelpful or clueless comments at all. Far from it. Some of them even echoed advice in other comments from Actual Parents, thus rounding out the perspectives. Turns out I had even favorited one of them on my first read, and I myself have 2 kids of my own, for whatever the hell that's worth. Don't hate.
posted by hush at 8:14 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Respectfully, some of the talk here has a tinge of "smug breeders".

This sort of gets at the heart of the odd contradiction I see between parenting questions and virtually any other subject.

If someone asks a question about knitting, the natural expectation is that other knitters will chime in with their expertise, if someone asks a question seeking recommendations for a good sushi restaurant in St. Louis, the natural expectation is that answers will be limited to those from people who have some experience eating at St. Louis based sushi restaurants, if someone asks a question asking for tips on becoming a better skier, the natural expectation is that people who have never skied before would naturally stay out of the thread.

With parenting related questions, though, the whole thing kind of gets turned on its head, with the idea that actually having direct, hands-on experience with doing the thing the question is about does not make one any more qualified to answer than anyone else. Why is it "smug" to dare to suggest that direct experience with a subject makes one better qualified to answer a question when it comes to parenting, but is taken as just a given with so many other topics?
posted by The Gooch at 8:43 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


This sort of gets at the heart of the odd contradiction I see between parenting questions and virtually any other subject.

I think it may be more driven by something that I see a lot on the Green, and slightly less often on the Blue and the Gray -- if you define your question very tightly and precisely, you will still get maybe a third of the answers not really addressing what you want, which is annoying, but easy enough to deal with. If, on the other hand, you don't define your question tightly, especially with human relations questions, a lot of responders seem to use your question as a mirror and respond more to air their own baggage (which may be entirely valid, but maybe not quite appropriate in that context). It may also be that there are very few members who are emotionally involved in sushi restaurants in St Louis, especially those who have never been to St Louis, whereas almost everyone carries scars of one sort or another from their childhoods and other relationships, so you get more emotional heat in human relations threads regardless.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:57 AM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


if someone asks a question asking for tips on becoming a better skier, the natural expectation is that people who have never skied before would naturally stay out of the thread

Is there a parallel AskMe you are reading? Because there are many, many examples of people jumping into all kinds of questions with answers, despite not having the experience that was asked for. Lots of answerers excuse themselves first by saying "this isn't what you asked for but...". I mean there was a question this morning saying "recommend me some books like X" and I think 2 of the first 5 answers were "this isn't a book but...". I'm not saying it's not annoying, cos it is, but I think you're mistaken in your belief that it's only in parenting threads that those unqualified to answer show up anyway.
posted by billiebee at 9:15 AM on February 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


That's actually a great point, billiebee. You are right that people jumping in to answer questions in a way that ignores the framing of the actual question is not limited to parenting threads. If I see a difference it is that there is at least some acknowledgement that it is annoying when people do this with other subjects, but considered totally fair game in parenting threads, at least as indicated by some of the responses here.
posted by The Gooch at 9:20 AM on February 8, 2015


if someone asks a question seeking recommendations for a good sushi restaurant in St. Louis, the natural expectation is that answers will be limited to those from people who have some experience eating at St. Louis based sushi restaurants

You're right: if someone has the perspective of having been eaten in a St. Louis sushi restaurant, I don't even want to know about it.
posted by drlith at 9:39 AM on February 8, 2015


You are right that people jumping in to answer questions in a way that ignores the framing of the actual question is not limited to parenting threads.

I am sure there is a mansplanation for why that is.
posted by y2karl at 10:05 AM on February 8, 2015


Is it possible that Metafilter would benefit from a separate section where chat was the focus, to both allow it and not screw up the good thing that's already working?
posted by talldean at 10:52 AM on February 8, 2015


One of the best answers I've given in an AskMe thread was about the farm quota system in Ontario, despite the fact that I'm not a farmer in Ontario.
posted by clawsoon at 11:24 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am sure there is a mansplanation for why that is.

If someone had an apple orchard in the south producing Mantet apples and had the Marlboro Man giving hay rides, he could drive around in his Mansportation giving a mansplanation about the value of a having a mantplantation, versus a fish farm or something.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:41 AM on February 8, 2015


But only if he were manic.
posted by y2karl at 12:29 PM on February 8, 2015


In some places, doing those things can feel pretty far from what everyone else does, or from the received wisdom of your upbringing.

I'll grant you, it might be geography or generational trends. Living in the Bay Area, where the best host gift for my parent friends is a pint of organic blueberries or a few ripe avocados, I may be particularly prone to considering certain things not all that unique.

The thing is, it's hard to say "seems like I'm the only one doing this completely reasonable thing" without it coming across as judgment or humble-brag. It's one step away from "guess I'm just weird for feeding my daughter something crazy like actual fruit and not that pre-processed baby food spam-in-a-jar" (or "actually expecting my kids to help around the house" or whatever). I doubt that's what people intended in most cases, but when someone asks "what do you do that's so very different," the answers that are presented as common sense and moderate (instead of as "this seems a little crazy and maybe I'm wrong but...") to me kinda imply that everyone else lacks the ability to see the obvious.
posted by salvia at 12:39 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


If someone asks a question about knitting, the natural expectation is that other knitters will chime in with their expertise, if someone asks a question seeking recommendations for a good sushi restaurant in St. Louis, the natural expectation is that answers will be limited to those from people who have some experience eating at St. Louis based sushi restaurants, if someone asks a question asking for tips on becoming a better skier, the natural expectation is that people who have never skied before would naturally stay out of the thread.

That's not my expectation. People answer questions on the green when they have something they want to say, regardless of whether they have personal experience or expertise requested by the Asker. You can't control who is allowed to or will answer a question, and you shouldn't try.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:59 PM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


The subject of this post right here on the gray is most appropriately addressed by a mod.

And yet here we all are.
posted by phunniemee at 1:25 PM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Gooch: if someone asks a question asking for tips on becoming a better skier, the natural expectation is that people who have never skied before would naturally stay out of the thread.

Is it, though? 'My niece/mother/brother/SO is a fanatical skier and swears that this book helped improve hirs technique' seems like a fine and helpful reply.
I'm afraid I don't share that natural expectation, that may or may not exist. I hope (not sure about expect) that people who have nothing to offer will stay out of the thread, and those who do will post.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:21 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The thing is, it's hard to say "seems like I'm the only one doing this completely reasonable thing" without it coming across as judgment or humble-brag.

I actually deleted a whole paragraph about that exact thing, because I think there was a lot of that in that thread and I also think it's super hard to avoid. If we're not doing the default it's probably because we've thought about it and decided our way is better, either for our particular kids or in general. And we still feel like a weirdo for doing it. It's a bad combination for commenting in a way that doesn't sound sanctimonious. I'm speaking here as someone who reread my comment on that thread the next day and wished I could edit for tone. When my kid is being a dick, I give him a hug. In the context of Super Nanny, family members whose kids are in time out about 15% of every day, and my stepbrothers getting their mouths washed out with soap when I was growing up, this feels totally illogical. But I also know that the slightest withdrawal of love results in a 3-day death spiral for this particular kid. So that's how he gets parented, and it's not because I am some constant model of loving kindness.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:13 PM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


The "unconventional parenting practice" that should have been marked as a best answer in that thread was the NYC mom who used to walk her toddler son on a leash. The child on a leash concept has been actively mocked by various comedians (See Katt Williams, The Pimp Chronicles Part 1), but really, there is no denying it -- leashing your toddler just makes a whole lot of practical sense. Good for them! Loved that comment.

The (first) best answer the OP chose? Formula feeding a 6-month-old baby after the parents said they first tried everything under the sun to be able to breastfeed, but could not do so. Um, for reals?? That's seen as "unconventional," even though something like just over half of US babies that age are exclusively formula fed? This certainly goes to salvia's point upthread about geography and/or generational trends coming into play here. In the Bay Area, or in the leafy suburbs, I suppose formula feeding would be seen as unconventional and OMG BAAAD!!!, even though it is pretty much the typical American norm everywhere else.
posted by hush at 4:52 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


hush, you probably could've found an even stronger bad-best-answer in the very example I used to open the discussion: What percentage of children, do you think, are consistently put to bed with a bedtime story?

Breastfeeding is strongly normative, even if the practise doesn't live up to the preaching. It's "the way things are done", even if it's not actually the way things are done.
posted by clawsoon at 7:05 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


We appear to be having a discussion about someone's opinion of a discussion.

I have never felt so meta.
posted by clawsoon at 7:13 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Would you like to talk more about how it makes you feel?
posted by ardgedee at 7:33 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


That would be despicable chatfiltery.
posted by clawsoon at 7:40 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


salvia: "Some iconoclasts actually feed kids adult foods, avoid empty threats, and have kids do age-appropriate chores."

What you may find more shocking is that all three of these are often considered unconventional by other parents. Seriously.
posted by scrump at 10:08 PM on February 8, 2015


If we're not doing the default it's probably because we've thought about it and decided our way is better, either for our particular kids or in general. And we still feel like a weirdo for doing it.

What you may find more shocking is that all three of these are often considered unconventional by other parents. Seriously.

Nannying is short term day to day problem solving. Parenting is that plus long game "Holy fuck if I get this wrong, I will have screwed up an entire person." with the added bonus of "I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing."

Man, I knew all this, but now I know it a bit more. You parents have my sympathy. It must suck to have people second-guess you, especially when you're already feeling all that pressure. And then you have to contend with conventions that seem super weird, which of course you'd want to deviate from. And then you have people second-guessing your AskMe comments! Those people are the very worst! Anyway, hopefully my comments reassure you that what you're doing sounds totally normal and reasonable to me.
posted by salvia at 10:56 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It just occurred to me that the popularity of my question may arise from the fact that it fills the same desire as the recently introduced weekly feature over at fark.com, CSB Sunday Morning. ("CSB" stands for the derisive-but-reclaimed "cool story, bro.") People want to tell their story as it relates to a particular subject. They do it all the time in regular Metafilter threads, and many of the most popular Metafilter comments are well-told CSBs. (Take a look at Pater Aletheias' most favourited comments, for example, many of which are interesting and well-told CSBs.) Many of the most popular FPPs are posts that lend themselves naturally to CSB discussions.

All that's different about my question is that it uses a brief anecdote as a starting point, rather than a front-page article.
posted by clawsoon at 6:38 AM on February 9, 2015


Breastfeeding is strongly normative, even if the practise doesn't live up to the preaching. It's "the way things are done", even if it's not actually the way things are done.

Yes, I agree with you. This is a perfect example of how privileged people take their own choices (in this case breastfeeding) and make them normative. Privileged groups choose something and agree that it will be the test by which others are judged- it may be organic food, it may be exclusive breastfeeding. Then if others don't measure up to this standard they are shamed. But: it is crucial to realize this absolutely does not apply in every community, and I'm sure you get that.

The point I am trying to make is that none of the answers given were per se wrong, bad parenting, or weird, applying the "unconventional" frame in the call of the question. There were some good ideas there - hell, I wish I had used a leash when my toddlers were about to run into traffic. IMHO, nobody should have felt bad about anything they shared in that thread -- it was all super vanilla stuff, and I, for one, did not read any type of subtle competitive assholery there at all.
posted by hush at 8:14 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


All that's different about my question is that it uses a brief anecdote as a starting point, rather than a front-page article.

And that it's on MetaFilter and not Fark. I don't think anyone's saying there's anything wrong with the question, they're just looking at the question against what they think are the guidelines for that subset of the site here and wondering if it's within or outside of the boundaries that they had previously thought were there.

I think the most interesting part here is people talking about what to them is obviously normative and watching that be different even across the MeFi population much less the world at large. Some people feel very strongly that their actions and opinions are normative or that others' aren't. And I think there is also a split between normative (this is actually how things are done) and optimal (this is how things might be done in a perfect universe but are not actually how they are done) and some people confuse the two either accidentally or purposefully.

One thing I've observed from watching people doing MeFi stuff over time is that people's certainty about a particular course of action doesn't always correspond with the actual correctness of that course of action as it applies to others. You can get people who are super duper certain (and strident) about their suggested advice and others who are a lot more equivocal even though their advice may be better (more suited to the OP, more in line with what the question was asking, more practical or realistic) in some sort of objective sense. It's interesting to watch.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:38 AM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


...they're just looking at the question against what they think are the guidelines for that subset of the site here and wondering if it's within or outside of the boundaries that they had previously thought were there.

It's clearly outside the boundaries; I realized that as soon as I was pointed to this thread and read the definition of chatfilter. What I intended with the question was pure chatfilter: I had no specific problem to solve, and I was solely aiming for the sharing of interesting stories and ideas. Now that I know what the guidelines are - and mea culpa for not paying close enough attention to know it beforehand - I won't do it again.

However, it's also something that many Metafilter users enjoyed participating in. My mediocre question, the product of a moment of whimsy, produced a discussion with somewhere north of a thousand total favourites. Lots of users liked answering, and lots more liked reading the answers. If there's something (other than MetaFlirter) that could be added as a site feature and enjoyed by many, perhaps a periodic share-your-stories post could be it.

Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned Fark, since the very word is likely to jerk some knees. ;-)

One thing I've observed from watching people doing MeFi stuff over time is that people's certainty about a particular course of action doesn't always correspond with the actual correctness of that course of action as it applies to others.

Dunning–Kruger in action?
posted by clawsoon at 9:27 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some people feel very strongly that their actions and opinions are normative or that others' aren't.

And by "some people" we perhaps also mean Most MeFites, no? ThePinkSuperhero's fantastic comment upthread perfectly nailed it:

I did find it interesting that most if not all of the "unlike most parents, I" answers were things Metafilter generally approves of. Nobody said, I don't vaccinate, or, I spank my kids. Those answers would have been within the realm of acceptable answers to the question as stated. I suppose, like in most threads, people who feel their comments might be controversial chose not to participate. Yup.
posted by hush at 11:10 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm a parent and I do cringe when I see "I'm not a parent but when I was a kid..." answers in parenting questions. I'm also a parent who approaches a lot aspects of parenting from an empathetic, "I remember when I was a kid..." approach. For example, when my 3 year old has a breakdown that seems, on the surface, inexplicable, one of the first things I do is try to remember what my own triggers were as a kid. When I broke down, there was usually something else going on that I couldn't communicate. Lots of times, this is the case with my son too.

This seems contradictory, given that aspect of my parenting style, that I'm on the camp that feels non-parents should in most cases not answer these questions . While jumping on the way-back machine works under some circumstances, it doesn't in others. Parenting is just like that - every day you have at least one moment where you're flying by the seat of your pants. And like a previous poster said, the weight you can feel when you consider the implications of guessing wrong are really heavy, really emotional, and really integral to the parenting experience. It colors everything.

One of my main takeaways as a parent so far, one that has blown my mind, is that you're not just parenting your child. You're also parenting yourself as a child. Meaning, we all carry baggage around from our childhoods, and while a lot of it we can work through whether we're a parent or not, being a parent throws that baggage into a very specific kind of stark relief. In dealing with my son, I've experienced feelings of downright grief when I think of certain aspects of my own upbringing. Can I use the lessons I've learned from that to parent? Yes. But I also have to be immensely careful not to throw that baggage onto my kid. So there are lots of times when I see "I was a kid once" answers and the word "baggage" flashes in my brain. You have to be really, really careful with that. So careful that a lot of times, I skip those answers entirely because I have no interest in passing on my baggage, let alone absorbing someone else's into my parenting.

It's not that I feel superior over non-parents. It's just that I have been both a kid *and* a parent, and I find that having been a kid is just not enough if I want some input regarding parenting. Obviously, there are parents who don't agree with me and that's absolutely fine. But I'm certainly not alone, and this is my hamfisted attempt at explaining that my reason isn't one of superiority.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:05 PM on February 9, 2015 [20 favorites]


That's a wonderful comment DrGirlfriend; it gives me a degree of sympathy for parents who don't want to hear from mere former children that I've never had before.
posted by jamjam at 1:13 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Your comment gave me a lot of food for thought, DrGirlfriend. It's a fascinating way to look at parenting.
posted by salvia at 8:29 PM on February 9, 2015


Okay, time for recipes.

Or rather, on topic, some cooking chatfilter.

I like that question and some answers okay, but it needed to be said.
I mean, "add enough salt" - okayy? "Check your oven temperature" Rreally?

posted by Namlit at 8:36 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think that question was chatfilter at all.
posted by zutalors! at 8:37 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


it depends a little on how large one's cooking techniques repertoire is.
But okay...

I'm not gonna want to die on that delicious mound of chestnuts, so I beg thee yum yum
posted by Namlit at 1:49 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


that's kind of condescending. Something's not chatfilter just because you know a lot about it. It was pretty clearly about things recipes don't make clear that you learn along the way. i've definitely made some things where it turned out nothing like I thought it would, or nothing like someone else who used the exact same recipe made it.
posted by zutalors! at 2:07 PM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


It wasn't meant to be condescending, so apparently poorly phrased.

My idea is that cooking is such a vast area (and recipes, good and bad, are so all over the map) that it cannot be narrowed down to truly oft-recurring things-that-recipes-always-omit-but-that-are-essential. Every recipe-writer has a different blind spot, or funny quirk. So what we get instead is a (sophisticated, but still) discussion of I-almost-forgot-to-mention-this-little-fun-fact-too.
That assessment has nothing to do with my personal self-image in the kitchen, and certainly not with how that self-image contrasts with what I might believe to be the experience of others.

Also, others may have another opinion, which is fine, and, finally, this is technically a derail, so I'm outta here.
posted by Namlit at 3:46 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I flagged it as chatfilter, too. (And I suck at cooking.) A better question might be: "I'm realizing that recipes assume you already know many things. How can I learn those things? Is there a book or podcast series on this topic?" That's so much better than "what things about cooking are obvious to other people but not obvious to me?" (I dunno... use a potholder when touching hot things?) It seems the possibilities are endless, particularly with answers like "your stove's temperature gauge might be wrong" marked as Best Answer. It'd be on topic to write a 600-page tome on kitchen equipment, utensils and tools, safety, ingredient storage, measuring, prepping... I'm not really one who can talk, having asked my share of chatfilter, but I definitely flagged that one (and moved on).
posted by salvia at 5:27 PM on February 10, 2015


There should be an official ChatFilter sub-sub-site for Ask and possibly MetaTalk that allows one question or topic from the entire community per week. A random "n" are selected from a pool that perhaps never goes stale and the community votes on the question of the week. Yay!
posted by aydeejones at 8:02 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK, there would have to be some staleness or changing out of the pool eventually lest the questions or topics become weird and dated, like "What's the deal with Hanson anyway, are they serious or just messin'" or "Does anyone else think JTT is totally dreamy?"
posted by aydeejones at 8:05 PM on February 10, 2015


There should be an official ChatFilter sub-sub-site for Ask

I was imagining a site where people post possible questions and ask the community to weigh in on whether they are ChatFilter.
posted by Area Man at 1:49 PM on February 11, 2015


"I'm realizing that recipes assume you already know many things. How can I learn those things? Is there a book or podcast series on this topic?"

I guess this would be a better-conforming Ask Metafilter Style question but also would be functionally useless as the answer is "well I guess you learn by asking around? No, there's no podcast series."
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:05 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]




that doesn't answer the question though. the question wasn't "how do I start cooking?"
posted by zutalors! at 9:13 AM on February 12, 2015


There are cookbooks that go ingredient by ingredient and explain, e.g., how to know it's ripe, how to properly measure it (sift your flour), whether you can make it ahead and freeze it, etc. There are cooking shows on TV where presumably they might even show technique like this twisting motion thing. Listing them would be a much more contained question than "what are all the things to know about cooking (aside from what recipes tell you)?" But it was interesting to hear some of what people shared.
posted by salvia at 9:14 AM on February 12, 2015


I thought it was a great question. How is it different from "how do you do x as a parent?" Shouldn't we just make all those parents just ask for parenting books or podcasts?
posted by zutalors! at 9:18 AM on February 12, 2015


that doesn't answer the question though.

Sure it does. Maybe not 100% "Now you know everything" answers it, but it's a good place to start. It explains to people, in words, how to start cooking basic things. Whereas a recipe is just a list of ingredients and processes, these podcasts talk through the recipe and basically give notes on what all the different parts of a recipe actually mean. What does it mean to mince an onion? What temperature do eggs need to be at? How much does it really matter if things are preheated?

Some people, for whatever reason, don't learn well by "asking around" or don't have the built in social network to be able to pick this stuff up from other people who cook. Maybe they learn better in private or need to have their information in text form or who knows. However up until the time when we just get to tell people what chip they need to put into their Brain Expansion Module™ people are going to have to assemble their own personal knowledge bases from somewhere. This is one good place to start.

The issue with the parenting question was that it had an implied "This is why I am asking" part to it. The cooking question has an explicit "This is why I am asking" aspect to it. Mathowie decided he understood the implicit question well enough in the parenting question to say that it was okay. Maybe it's a slippery slope, maybe it's a one time aberration, maybe it's a "modding by phone" situation. It's a debate that's existed about AskMe and chatfilter as long as there has been AskMe.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:21 AM on February 12, 2015


i thought the parenting and the cooking questions were fine, although I agree that in the cooking question the "this is why I'm asking" is more explicit. I think "here's a good podcast" is a fine answer to that question, what I'm objecting to is the suggestion that questions like the cooking question are chat filter and the asker should ask for books and podcasts instead to make it a "good" question.

We could extend that to anything then - "What are some good sushi options in LA?" Nope, make that "what are websites/books/podcasts where I can learn about good sushi options in LA?"
"I'm in a relationship where X is happening. What do I do? if this was your situation, how did you resolve it as a couple?" Nope. "Please give me books/podcasts about relationships because I am having a relationship issue."

As you said jessamyn, people gather information different ways, some through books and podcasts and some by crowdsourcing wisdom from things like Ask, so the suggestion earlier that a better question for Ask would mean asking for resources rather than advice doesn't make sense to me.
posted by zutalors! at 11:17 AM on February 12, 2015


what I'm objecting to is the suggestion that questions like the cooking question are chat filter and the asker should ask for books and podcasts instead to make it a "good" question.

Absolutely and I share your feelings on that. Sorry, I should have been clearer. The big deal is that in the past mods have usually put the onus on the user to explain themselves, why they wanted or needed the information. Why the thread wasn't just an open "I want to talk about this topic" space, what was the problem to be solved? So if you're looking for books or podcasts, it brings with it "I am going to listen to and/or read them" If you just ask "What is a thing you liked about being 20 years old" it's a lot less clear. Questions all show up on a continuum, to me of "I totally know why this person is asking" and "I have no idea why this person is asking" and I'm sure other users have different ways of assessing them and will not agree.

And the reason doesn't have to be a "good" reason, it could be anything. So "Help me settle a bar bet, why is rum raisin ice cream objectively better than rocky road?" is okay and "Which is better, rum raisin or rocky road?" is not. And sure it's arbitrary because we come from a guidelines-not-rules place and so lines have to be drawn somewhere. And mods can make judgment calls and that is what mathowie did here. Every mod draws their chatfilter line in a slightly different place. I was more of a delete-then-email "Hey please rewrite this and include why you're asking" mod.

I think we are in agreement, though it's definitely a hack that if you really want to ask a chatty question, say you're writing a novel or ask for books/podcasts and you generally won't get deleted as chatfilter unless you're totally being a jerk about it.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:06 PM on February 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yea, I think we're in agreement jessamyn. This is the specific thing I object to: I flagged it as chatfilter, too. (And I suck at cooking.) A better question might be: "I'm realizing that recipes assume you already know many things. How can I learn those things? Is there a book or podcast series on this topic?" That's so much better than "what things about cooking are obvious to other people but not obvious to me?"

I mean, not in a fighty way to salvia, just in a "I totally disagree and MetaTalk is where we talk about these things" way.
posted by zutalors! at 1:13 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I will note that the possibly chatfilter-esque cooking thread was also one of the most popular things on Metafilter this past week, in addition to my definitely chatfiltery parenting thread. Lots of interesting on-topic comments and sharing of stories, nothing objectionable, lots of favourites, a good time had by all.
posted by clawsoon at 3:10 PM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of the reasons the chatty threads are popular, I believe, is because they're rare.
posted by jaguar at 6:39 PM on February 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


They're popular because people like to talk about themselves.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:00 PM on February 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was more of a delete-then-email "Hey please rewrite this and include why you're asking" mod.

And I love you for that, jessamyn.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:12 PM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, my opinion on this is a little irrelevant, because basically, in the absence of remembering the test for chatfilter, I made up my own, one which is certainly less thought-through than what's actually used.

But to explain my original thinking a bit, one thing that makes the parenting and cooking questions different to me, and less enjoyable, is that the question won't truly be answered until an infinite amount of info is provided. If someone says "I'm trying to go out for sushi, where should I go / what's the best sushi restaurant in LA?" then we are in search of an answer related to this person's sushi preferences or some objective criteria of "best." If someone says "I don't know why my romantic relationship isn't working," then again, we are there seeking to offer one or more useful suggestions.

The cooking one, it seems clear, is just in search of more knowledge on the question, and to me, that's too expansive. It's not a puzzle to solve ("no, that won't work for me because..."); it's just like "okay, and what else should I know?" I looked at the question, thinking "I have no idea what part of what (little) I know about cooking would be helpful to OP." It would either be too much to write or too randomly selected, for my taste. (Tricks on measuring shortening?)

And it seems to me that if the question is just "I want to know all about this," then it would be more accurate to ask "how do I learn all about this...?" instead of "what are all the things to know?" I'm sure a bunch of people would offer a single tip. There are requests for books sometimes "what are the best sources of info on Medieval Europe?" but fewer "so, Medieval Europe! what about it? (I'm writing a book so I need to know more.)"

Anyway, I don't really understand the objection to this opinion, so maybe this explanation isn't on point. Sure, books or other general learning materials could offer answers to many AskMe questions. But only a subset of questions are so broad that in my opinion, a much more finite and answerable question would be "how can I gain a broad knowledge base?"
posted by salvia at 10:06 AM on February 13, 2015


And it seems to me that if the question is just "I want to know all about this,"

That wasn't the question in the cooking Ask. It was about tips that recipes don't necessarily give you. The question wasn't "how do I learn all about cooking?" It's weird to me to rephrase it like that or interpret it like that.
posted by zutalors! at 11:04 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


tips that recipes don't necessarily give you. The question wasn't "how do I learn all about cooking?"

Hmm, what is there to know about cooking that isn't a "tip that recipes don't give you?" Every single recipe has an entire world that surrounds it, which a few really good cook books give you, and which most omit.

So the question encompasses how to select ingredients (that would have been my tip; recipes sometimes don't comment on what kind of apples / lemons / whatever you need, and for banana bread you want really ripe bananas but some recipes don't remind you), ingredient measuring (sift your flour, oil your measuring spoon, both best answers), ingredient prep (chop veggies the same size, a best answer), tools (get a baking scale, get tongs, both part of a best answer), appliance maintenance (calibrate your stove temperature), and technique (twisting dough, tips on kneading), and there's more (pan color) but I can't go on. What else is there to know about cooking that doesn't fall into one of those categories? A lot of icing recipes don't bother to tell you how to make those little fluted flower cake decorations, but without knowing that, the icing isn't put to best use, so I guess we could probably include an explanation of cake decorating technique without really being off-topic.

I personally am hard pressed to think of anything that wouldn't arguably answer the question. Maybe the history of cooking, like how certain spices were discovered - that could be excluded. What else?

As I said, I've asked my share of chatfilter, and sometimes the chatfilter questions end up being really interesting, so I'm not trying to hate on the question or anything! I'm just saying, it's pretty broad.
posted by salvia at 6:41 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


« Older MeFi Cross Stitch Samplers?   |   What are Meta's Values? Newer »

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