New category in AskMe? October 13, 2016 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Hey! I just asked a question in ask.metafilter about a half-remembered historical event, and was wondering if we could make one of the askme categories "history". I think that's a nice broad category that would be useful for past major world events! What think you all?
posted by Greg Nog to Feature Requests at 11:29 AM (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

The short answer here is: no, because we're not currently considering altering the Ask MetaFilter category list at all.

That said, it's not an over-my-dead-body thing, just something we don't have a pressing need for or any kind of implementation plan for. I don't mind if folks want to talk more generally about the idea or brainstorm on the subject of why and how such a category rework would make sense. But it'd be good to try and ground that in the reality that we are, all else aside, unlikely to significantly change the scope of functionality of the categories or attempt to recategorize any of the archives, even if we did revisit the active category list itself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:32 AM on October 13, 2016


Are the logistics in doing a change like this pretty complicated? Just curious about how things works under the hood.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:35 AM on October 13, 2016


Probably not horribly so, but it'd touch a few different things beyond just literally changing a list of text entries. For one, we'd need to maintain the distinction between the older category list and the new one; for another, we'd have to make sure parts of the code that touch category stuff know how to navigate that (or engineer the change such that they'd be agnostic to it); we'd also have to revisit how some of our category/tag weighting stuff for e.g. Related Questions deals with all that. And probably a bunch of other little details. Not an insurmountable task or anything, just not trivial, so it's a bit of additional weight behind the "we'd better really want to do this" factor.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:39 AM on October 13, 2016


This is a really sad way to drive traffic to your question, Mr. Nog, and you should be ashamed.
posted by Etrigan at 11:48 AM on October 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


I would never try to drive traffic to anything of mine, I just think this picture makes a really compelling case for my suggestion
posted by Greg Nog at 11:54 AM on October 13, 2016 [17 favorites]


Please let's not inappropriately exploit a MetaTalk discussion to siphon attention to your twiOH MY GOSH KITTIES HELLO KITTIES HI HI HI OH YOU KITTIES
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:56 AM on October 13, 2016 [29 favorites]


I don't think you'll change my mind or I will change yours, but if kitties aren't a compelling case, I have no argument for that.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:09 PM on October 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


The kitties may or may not be a compelling argument, simultaneously. It's impossible to know without looking at the kitties. Unfortunately, I'm not inclined to check on the kitties, as HISTORY suggests that checking on the kitties may also subject them to lethal doses of radiation.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:42 PM on October 13, 2016


cant make an omelet without irradiating a few cats
posted by Greg Nog at 12:43 PM on October 13, 2016


AKA Schroedinger's Breakfast
posted by middleclasstool at 12:56 PM on October 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


i disagree with this idea because there are no photos of cats in silly costumes
posted by poffin boffin at 1:04 PM on October 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


cant make an omelet without irradiating a few cats

Is this true? I am not a chef.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:30 PM on October 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


certainly can't make a purrfect omelet without irradiating a few cats
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:46 PM on October 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


The people have been demanding this for more than a decade!

Well, I made a MetaTalk post asking for a history category in AskMe way back in 2005. I still think it's a good idea, because history questions end up in a bunch of different categories. Also, people don't always tag them as history, making them difficult to specifically follow in MyAsk.
posted by Kattullus at 1:59 PM on October 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


Really, if irradiation is in the plans, I think it might be a new catty-gory of Ask question that you are looking for.

And I don't approve.

Go back into history and get that cat out of the box, mister!
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:40 PM on October 13, 2016


But we can't have a history category without having an ongoing archival process that moves current-at-the-time questions to the history category. For instance in ten years time, please Be'elzebub, all these questions about Trump will be about interesting historical events and not a current political figure.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:02 PM on October 13, 2016


Big History would like that, wouldn't it?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:53 PM on October 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm for this. Not without a category re-evaluation - given the amount of time Ask has now been around, there's probably some good data to be gathered about what types of questions get split between categories - but if a few were gathered this way I'd be happy to see History as one of them.
posted by solarion at 4:34 AM on October 14, 2016


The short answer here is: no

Greg, cortex shot your pony.

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by cooker girl at 6:06 AM on October 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


The short answer here is: no


And the long answer is: noooooooooo.

More seriously, I think that every question I have asked (to be fair, that's not that many) has had to be put into an ambiguous category. This isn't a complaint, I am saying it because no matter how we reorganize Ask categories people will still feel like it is an imperfect system unless we have so many categories that they become useless. So, yeah, is it worth the effort to go through and try and revamp the system for what is likely to be only a marginal benefit?
posted by Literaryhero at 6:29 AM on October 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I vote yes for this pony. I think it'd be an effective way to get people who would know the answer to pay attention to the right questions. I realize that the label system will always be imperfect, but i think a goal of 'connecting well-informed people with the questions they might now' is the best goal we could hope for.

As it stands, the question is in Law & Government. The question doesn't need someone who is well-informed in law or government relations. It needs someone who knows random facts about things that have happened. (my definition of history).
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:21 AM on October 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Could one of the existing tags have "& history" added to it?
posted by lucidium at 7:26 AM on October 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


One way to look at the "should we rework the categories" question is: what would an objectively better new set of approximately the same number of categories look like?

The "same number" bit is important because I'm not really even vaguely considering moving to a system where we double or quintuple or more the number of categories. Twenty or so is already a little cumbersome as drop-down lists go but it's manageable and I don't see a need to actively shrink it down; but growing it isn't appealing either.

So it's not a question so much of "what if there were also a category for x, or y, or z" but rather "what category do we need less than x, that removing in favor of x will be a net gain". Because it's easy to make an argument for adding e.g. history, but it's less easy to make an argument that e.g. History is definitively more needed than Law & Government, or that keeping those two and ditching Work & Money is a good tradeoff, or etc.

Essentially: it needs to be basically zero sum. And that's where I think we wander away from the totally good and understandable spirit of this sort of request into the reality that the categories are by design broad and limited in number. So a proposal for reworking them needs to tackle the problem from that perspective: a reworking, not just an incremental oh-but-also process that constantly grows the list as one or the other bit of specificity becomes attractive.

After that, that's why we have tags; I appreciate that people don't tag as consistently as the more taxonomically inclined among us would prefer, but an expansive hierarchy of categories is sort of clumsy response to that in its own right.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:29 AM on October 14, 2016


but it's less easy to make an argument that e.g. History is definitively more needed than Law & Government, or that keeping those two and ditching Work & Money is a good tradeoff, or etc.

Those who do not put their posts into the History category are doomed to repeat their posts!

Technically, ditching Work & Money means we won't need Shopping, Technology, nor Travel & Transportation neither. So how about we substitute in Pictures of Cute Cats, Pictures of Cute Dogs, and Pictures of Other Cute Animals?

Also, why do we have Computers & Internet and Technology separated?
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:07 AM on October 14, 2016


I'm pro history category.

I like history and while it's all google-able what's quickly available is often very terse. Having a place to ask questions about WW1 German Dreadnoughts would make me happy. I'll leave the internet garbledee-gook to people who didn't spend coding classes thinking about WW1 German Dreadnaughts.


#Derfflinger #Jutland
posted by French Fry at 8:33 AM on October 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


More seriously, I think that every question I have asked (to be fair, that's not that many) has had to be put into an ambiguous category.

…In that Empire, the Art of Taxonomy attained such Perfection that the index of a single subcategory occupied the entirety of a City, and the library of a category, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Indices no longer satisfied, and the Taxonomer's Guilds commenced to build a Libary of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Taxonomy as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Library was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of the Index, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Categorization.
posted by gauche at 1:08 PM on October 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


We need a "What's This Book/Movie/Thing" category. We could probably chop two or three others if we had that one.
posted by Etrigan at 1:31 PM on October 14, 2016


Why not add history to the name of one of the categories?

To me "history, religion & philosophy" would make most sense. Also, it's a fairly little used category, as they go.
posted by Kattullus at 3:20 PM on October 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


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