Multiple AskMe Posts a Week: An Ideas Whose Time Has Come February 9, 2017 1:56 PM   Subscribe

Comrades, I think it's time to revisit the idea of allowing users to post multiple AskMe questions in a week. In the past I have gone on record as being against this, but upon further reflection I realize it was merely kneejerk, reactionary fear of change. Let us embark together down this unknown road.

Reasons I think this would be good:
  • I would like to ask more questions
  • I think we'd get a wider variety of questions because people wouldn't only ask practical stuff, they could ask questions that maybe weren't urgent but they'd find really interesting like "Could they have invented a breast pump in medieval Europe, possibly using some sort of a bellows?" and they wouldn't feel like they were "wasting" their question
  • It'd be more chances to help people and helping people feels really good
  • I get bored sometimes and I'd like to have more questions to read
I don't know whether this would be best implemented by, say, allowing one question a day or two questions within a week or what (frimble, this would partially depend on what can be done logistically) but I would love community input.

Of course the big concern would be that this would be a burden for the mods but I don't think, as the Metafilter community currently exists, this is something that would be abused, but maybe I'm wrong! Perhaps we could have a trial period, like three weeks where people can ask a question every two days or whatever and then we can see how great it is and decide to stick with it? Your thoughts are welcome!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl to Feature Requests at 1:56 PM (214 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

First off, a quick thanks to Mrs. Pterodactyl for her patience; we needed to hold this post for a while when things were especially busy.

So, there's a few different things that tie in to that bulleted list of motivations, some of which is stuff I actually do want to talk about more in the future, but the core thing here is the idea of allowing more questions more often so I'm gonna just focus on that for now.

The short version of which is: we're pretty seriously considering trying it out.

Longer version:

This is something we've been talking about as a mod team and are considering experimenting with. A change to e.g. two questions per week seems like it could allow a little more freedom and a little less question-hording concern, as well as potentially taking some of the bite out of the occasional circumstance of having a question deleted.

We've had concerns in the past when discussing this idea, about managing question volume and dealing with abuse/overuse of Ask, and those concerns haven't entirely evaporated for me, but at this point I feel like on the moderation side we've managed to further oil the machinery of dealing with abuse/misuse of question-asking privileges enough that this change would be unlikely to create significant new work or challenges for us. And the current volume of questions has been pretty manageable, enough that a moderate bump up there all else being equal doesn't seem likely to cause us any problems.

And a moderate bump is what I'd expect; technically allowing twice as many questions isn't likely to lead to twice as many questions, since the vast majority of folks ask far less frequently already. (Some small aspect of that may be people worrying about wasting their question and so going for weeks/months without ever using one, and this could undo that, but it's very unlikely those folks would go en masse from months-between to twice a week, etc.)

So, yeah: I think it's worth a shot, and we'll talk more as a team about what all we'd need to touch in terms of code and documentation to make a trial run work.

The rest of that stuff in the bullet points sort of verges into the realm of reassessing the boundaries of chatfilter stuff for Ask, which is a big can of worms and something I'd want to talk more with the rest of the team about before even trying to dig in on. I am a big fan of the idea of helping Ask be a fun and engaging place, as a general thing, but it's tricky territory in some ways.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:56 PM on February 9 [15 favorites]


I would hate to see people use their 2 questions a week on the same topic; like if you've got two human relations questions (one about your boyfriend, the other about your boss), it bugs me. There is no logical reason to this; I'm not sure why this bugs me.

Also:

A Brief History of Breast Pumps
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:05 PM on February 9 [12 favorites]


For what it's worth, the vast majority of the time I have a question that's a good fit for Ask, I do some googling through the archives and find that similar things have been asked in the past (often multiple times).

My questions tend to be more prosaic than hypothetical medieval breast pumps though.
posted by quaking fajita at 2:15 PM on February 9 [13 favorites]


I would like to ask more questions

Do you already ask a question every week, 52 questions a year? If so, that's a lot of asking.

I think we'd get a wider variety of questions

But maybe not the kind and quality they want here.
posted by pracowity at 2:19 PM on February 9 [12 favorites]


One of my favorite things about AskMe is that it requires some forethought and planning. Questions are currency because of the restrictions involved. There are plenty of sites out there (even ones with decent communities) in which to dash off questions (see: Quora).

I don't think I'm being a grump, but I would really like to see some evidence that there is a statistically significant number of users who feel like once a week isn't enough, and that the questions in backlog are timely enough that they can't wait a week.
posted by softlord at 2:25 PM on February 9 [25 favorites]


i can think of a few people who have been down to the minute weekly askers and while their questions were for the most part entertainingly odd, it's not really a thing i'd like to see more of in general. admittedly those particular examples are not a great basis for a judgment call though.

i do think that if people had a question-asking emergency then it should be okay for them to say hi mods i have a question-asking emergency, but at the same time i don't really like forcing whoever is on modly duty to rule on whether or not something is a true askme emergency.

in conclusion askme is a land of contrasts
posted by poffin boffin at 2:26 PM on February 9 [32 favorites]


Do you already ask a question every week

I think some people hold off ever asking because they worry they might "need" their question later in the week. Or at least, I've done that, for sure. In fact this week! I want to ask a minor question (about glow-in-the-dark flashlights), but it's not a burning need so I'll hold off because I think I might want to ask one in a couple days. Then I end up never asking.

I've often thought it would be nice to do something that freed people up to ask in those circumstances, like giving people one "spare" question they could ask any time, so you can ask your normal question knowing that you've got one in your back pocket just in case.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:29 PM on February 9 [79 favorites]

Do you already ask a question every week, 52 questions a year? If so, that's a lot of asking.
I've asked 13 questions in the three-years-and-bit that I've been registered under my current name, so no, not even close. But I do find myself not asking questions because I'm concerned that there will be another question that I'll want to ask before the week is up. I realize that this is not rational, but sometimes I am not rational!
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:30 PM on February 9 [21 favorites]


One thing I'll note is that, mod-side, people being obsessive or abusive about their use of Ask are already something we look at and deal with case-by-case; it's a small handful of folks we worry about there at any given time and something we're pretty comfortable with shutting down when we see it happening.

So I don't really have a concern about people going nuts on the two-a-week thing because (a) most people never get anywhere near there anyway and (b) we already do the "hey, you need to chill with this if you want to keep using the site" rounds with the poor-boundaries-having outliers.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:33 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


ok but like. think of a mefite, just any random person whose name is familiar to you. that person, whoever you are thinking of, no matter who they are? they would probably ask a question for you if you already used yours up on 13th century boob pumps and you were like help i need someone to post an emergency "can my cat eat this" post. like i literally can't think of anyone who would refuse to help out, including people i don't particularly like very much.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:33 PM on February 9 [17 favorites]


I hardly ever ask questions and I feel the "too-good-to-use" syndrome. I think it's worth it to try two-a-week as a trial run for a couple of months and see what happens.
posted by demiurge at 2:38 PM on February 9 [24 favorites]


I'm probably in the "grump" half of responders to this. I totally support a change in the limit, as long as other guidelines about re-asking the same question or chatfilter aren't changed. I don't particularly want that "wider variety" </grump>

As I'm thinking it through, I'm realizing that they're totally independent questions-- the once-a-week limit doesn't keep people from asking the same question over and over, or from asking or pushing the boundaries of chatfilter. Those guidelines are what keeps Ask from being /r/askreddit (or worse), not question frequency limits.

On non-preview, was going to say what poffin boffin did about being totally willing to give up my Asking bandwidth to just about anyone for any halfway-reasonable reason. I Ask infrequently, and mostly garbage anyway, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
posted by supercres at 2:38 PM on February 9


I definitely think I have an element of Too Good to Use Syndrome going on with AskMe, not that I expect it to change just because of that--but I think decreasing the perceived rarity could avoid this somewhat. If I just picked up two elixirs, I'm more likely to feel comfortable using one even though this boss fight isn't THAT bad.

I have no idea why some of us are so inclined to feel weirdly hoardy about anything in limited supply, but it's a thing, even in much lower-stakes scenarios. The fact that running out would have a vanishingly small chance of having a real negative impact doesn't seem to matter in terms of the perceived value of the thing.

I'm not saying that's strictly a reason to do this, but I don't think "feeling this way is silly" is a reason NOT to do it, either. Indulging humans occasionally in their irrationality is sometimes okay.
posted by Sequence at 2:40 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


What if people had a bank of X number of additional questions they could spend as needed, that would refill itself every Y weeks?
posted by softlord at 2:41 PM on February 9 [30 favorites]


ok but like. think of a mefite, just any random person whose name is familiar to you. that person, whoever you are thinking of, no matter who they are? they would probably ask a question for you

Which is pretty much true, and a very nice thing about most mefites, and handy in a pinch. So I feel you there.

But this is a site full of people who are socially anxious, or err hard on the side of politeness, or don't feel they know any given mefite that well, or feel self-conscious about proxy asking, or, or, or. That it's possible to route around the question limit doesn't mean that most folks (a) would really understand that that's okay-ish or (b) would be willing/inclined to do so even if they did. It's more an extraordinary measure than an obvious, codified-site-policy thing; most folks won't ever get to the point where that possibility really exists for them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:43 PM on February 9 [33 favorites]


I think the one a week rule has served AskMe well all these years. As mentioned, when you are limited, you really think twice about if you want to ask that question, which I think serves as a great metric. Because of that, AskMe isn't too big and bulky.

I do like Lobster Mitten's idea though of a "one in your back pocket" kind of thing for those who mentioned being afraid of wasting a question. On preview, what softlord said too.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:44 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


Okay, here's where this would be convenient for me:

I don't ask too many questions, but I often find that asking one question prompts me to think of another (usually unrelated). So I might think, "gee, I should ask that question about firm mattresses" and then I do ask and then it occurs to me that I could ask a question about my friend's cat's food needs, and then I think, d'oh, I just asked my question.

My guess is that with two questions a week, we would not so much be seeing two questions a week from many askers - rather, we'd see a small uptick in volume and a change in pacing.

I would be qualifiedly for this.
posted by Frowner at 2:44 PM on February 9 [19 favorites]


All the talk of hoarding questions shows that unintentionally, Askme has provided a tiny economy that, like Paul Krugman's Babysitting Co-op, models recessions, deflation, and inflation.

People not posting questions because they are unwilling to deplete their stock (capped at 1) is recessionary. When we have limited resources, we become extremely wary of using them. But these resources can be increased by fiat! Be Keynesian! Double the cap, and people will feel richer, and ask more questions.
posted by zompist at 2:53 PM on February 9 [20 favorites]


I definitely hoard questions because sometimes shit happens and I need an emergency answer (or you know, it seems that way at the time) and I want it to be there should I need it. I don't have any MeFi friends who I would ever ask to post a question for me, especially since questions ARE valuable due to their availability, so asking to use someone else's is very much an Ask v Guess thing and we all know how that goes. Also, I LOVE reading AskMe and it's always the first thing I go for in my Feedly, so as an answerer I am very pro-multiple Asks.

What if we did say, rollover questions? Because as mentioned above, a lot of us don't use an Ask every single week and there is always the fear of wasting a question, or wasting a week NOT asking a question. If we literally all got 52 per year, that would be awesome!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 2:54 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


I'm also for this, as one of the irrational question-savers. I very much appreciate the proxy suggestion but I would never ask someone to do it. It makes me weirdly nervous to Ask something anyway.
posted by threetwentytwo at 2:55 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


Please take this in the semi-tongue-in-cheek way it's intended:

I have no idea how computationally expensive this would be at scale, but what about something like a limit on some rolling mean of question count over time?

I suppose the simple version (which on a macro scale under regular behavior would result in the same volume) would be four questions per 4-week period, maybe with no more than one per day. A new user could ask one a week, same time and day every week, and never hit the limit. Or they could ask one every day for four days and need to wait 24 days before their next opportunity. Each time they click "New Question" a message says: "If you post a question, your next opportunity will be in N days".
posted by supercres at 2:55 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Could we perchance recurse from this schwärmerei derail on posting frequency, and resume discussion on the more interesting and potentially vexatious topic of 13th century boob pumps? Thank you.
posted by Wordshore at 3:04 PM on February 9 [11 favorites]


A change to e.g. two questions per week seems like it could allow a little more freedom and a little less question-hording concern, as well as potentially taking some of the bite out of the occasional circumstance of having a question deleted.

I've never wanted to ask a question every week, but the highest number of questions I've ever wanted to ask in a week is two, so that number seems good to me. My one concern is whether more questions would make things scroll too quickly off the page such that it reduces potential eyeballs on the question. I wonder if it could dilute the possibility of good answers because people aren't seeing it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:10 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


If so, would there be stricter standards for marking questions as doubles? Because I already feel like I see a multitude of extremely similar "why won't my baby sleep?" or "why does Facebook do this?" questions on the regular.

I'm falling on the grumpy "no" side of this.
posted by kimberussell at 3:14 PM on February 9 [12 favorites]


Could we perchance recurse from this schwärmerei derail on posting frequency, and resume discussion on the more interesting and potentially vexatious topic of 13th century boob pumps? Thank you.

Milking the topic for all it's worth, eh?

Also, I see no problem with a second question in a week (four per fortnight!). It seems a reasonable request. Perhaps a "Cautiously Optimistic Rollout" which could be rolled back if everyone gets all crazy with the "Where did I leave my keys?!"
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:24 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


So are you really considering going with a sliding window? I.e. someone could conceivably post two questions back to back within minutes of each other, as long as they wait a week before posting again? Or are you just going to turn the "when was your last post" knob down such that it throttles to once every 3.5 days?

What about leaving it at once a week but having an emergency question that everyone is free to use whenever they want if the need arises (and which regenerates, say, two weeks after being used)?
posted by Rhomboid at 3:30 PM on February 9


So are you really considering going with a sliding window? I.e. someone could conceivably post two questions back to back within minutes of each other, as long as they wait a week before posting again?

I'm favoring a sliding window approach, literally two questions within 7 days paced however. I think that provides some of the "emergency safety question" idea very well, and allows for some flexibility for folks who have two non-urgent questions inside of a week on occasion besides.

That said, we'd keep an eye on usage and if someone's doing something like literal back-to-back questions in a context where the second question doesn't start with "help I accidentally set my house on fire while typing that last one" then we'll have a talk with 'em about non-dingus-like use of the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:36 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


I am fully in favor of this idea because I've run into the you can ask another question in 2 days 14 hours and 37 minutes problem several times. I don't ask a question nearly every week, but it seems like when I do want to ask a question it's because I'm in a question asking mood and I find I have other questions to ask.

It happened just the last time I posted a question--I thought of another question I wanted to ask just a few days later, and life being what it is, I have since completely forgotten what my other question was going to be. I think something finance related. Probably. But idk.

And you may be saying, well if it were really important, you would remember it, and if you don't then maybe you don't really need to ask it. And to that I say, 1) the number of important things I have forgotten in my life would astound you and 2) fuck you, in a world where we have questions like are mice eating my semen, who are you to judge. My questions are perfectly valid.

Two thumbs up, one for each of my new question allowance.
posted by phunniemee at 3:51 PM on February 9 [33 favorites]


As mostly a consumer of Ask MeFi, I'm mildly anti, but that's just my opinion, man. I already have trouble keeping up with Ask MeFi, and, perhaps unfairly, I don't feel like 52 questions a year is that onerous a limit.
posted by dfan at 3:55 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


I'm very much in favor of trying this out. I doubt it will make a significant difference one way or the other in the quality of questions being asked, and it would provide peace of mind for folks with question-hoarder tendencies. Plus, it's not like it couldn't be rolled back if it ended up causing significant problems - I think it's worth a try.
posted by DingoMutt at 4:00 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


I would like to chime in as one of the "but but but what if I think of a better question and can't ask now? I'd better wait." brigade. I mean, I tend to save up my weird shower questions for FPPs as I answer them myself (see here).

But if I had an emergency backup question maybe I could just save the time and ask the green about why people keep saying that no one had written language in North America among the First Nations before the Cherokee invented an alphabet for their own language even though I found out a few weeks ago that snowsnake is a thing that people way up north were using to send messages by hurling sticks along channels of snow and ice and I need to know the answers to that dammit. Or how dimples form and why they show up in some people and not others and whether dimple muscle is as strong, inch for inch, as non-dimpled muscles. Or whether leptin antagonists exist and where I could buy some, please, and/or whether anyone knows about any other forms of appetite inducers that are known to work on rodents. Or--

Well, I mean, either way, MeFi would probably benefit (? for a given value of benefit?), but it would take less time to just ask instead of going to find the answers first and then sharing them on the blue if they're good.
posted by sciatrix at 4:06 PM on February 9 [8 favorites]


help I accidentally set my house on fire while typing that last one

excuse me it was the downstairs neighbor's cat who set that fire not me
posted by poffin boffin at 4:09 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


man that time I couldn't figure out where the fuck in the USA one purchases equine chorionic gonadotropin I could have just asked, instead of wasting my ask on asking where the people selling human chorionic gonadotropin that was advertised as being distilled from genuine pregnant human pee were getting their supply

I mean, I found out, so that was good, but still!
posted by sciatrix at 4:09 PM on February 9


fuck you, in a world where we have questions like are mice eating my semen, who are you to judge?

Thank you. The next time a journal peer reviewer makes a banal comment about one of my academic papers, that will be my retort.
posted by Wordshore at 4:13 PM on February 9 [18 favorites]


I would like it to be known that I was so desperate to clarify that I meant among indigenous cultures and not just, you know, written language physically being present in North America prior to Sequoyah coming up with the Cherokee syllabary that I accidentally sat squarely down upon my smallest most hateful cat. she was not pleased.

but I got in under the edit window so ha

posted by sciatrix at 4:13 PM on February 9 [12 favorites]


extremely similar "why won't my baby sleep?" or "why does Facebook do this?" questions on the regular.
Every baby and family is different. Cars and computers and phones are repeatedly asked about even though they are far more standardized than families.
posted by soelo at 4:22 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


I always wanted to be able to bank my unused Asks, but I never thought it would be something that would be considered because I imagine it would take more work to implement than it would be worth. Plus has been pointed out above, I get 52 questions a year already.

I think another idea that has come would be to limit posts to the blue to one a week.
posted by Rob Rockets at 4:25 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Just give everybody 100 questions on January 1 of each year, and when they use them all up they are done until the following year. No rollovers, they're use-it-or-lose-it.
posted by briank at 4:26 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


I think some people hold off ever asking because they worry they might "need" their question later in the week.

This is meeeeeeeeeee

I would love to see this. I think every 4 days is perfect.. but i also like the idea of having a bank too.

I've done a lot of question-answering on askmefi and probably wouldn't notice if people posted several times a week.
posted by INFJ at 4:33 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I asked about adjusting AskMe post frequency three years ago and I am still asking a lot fewer questions than I ordinarily would because of the once-a-week limit - just because I worry about the timing, like several other folks above have mentioned.

I really can't see any downside to implementing two a week or even three a week. If someone starts abusing the privilege, the mods can step in, but I can't imagine that happening.

For people who don't think this change would benefit anyone, may I just mention the people here in this thread who have said "hey I would like this" and again point out that it's highly unlikely to cause any actual problems?

I strongly support this, and I thank Mrs. Pterodactyl for suggesting it. And I thank the mods for considering it.
posted by kristi at 4:45 PM on February 9 [8 favorites]


For people who don't think this change would benefit anyone, may I just mention the people here in this thread who have said "hey I would like this" and again point out that it's highly unlikely to cause any actual problems?

There are people in every MeTa pony request who would like the proposed change. I realize I'm in the minority, but the presence of those who would think it's a good idea shouldn't negate the opinions of the people who don't think it's a good idea. It's why we discuss things. It's okay for everyone to weigh in.
posted by kimberussell at 5:04 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


I hate and fear change. This is change, therefore I hate and fear this.

Mostly serious.
posted by Justinian at 5:10 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


All the talk of hoarding questions shows that unintentionally, Askme has provided a tiny economy that, like Paul Krugman's Babysitting Co-op, models recessions, deflation, and inflation.

Clearly the answer is cap-and-trade for AskMe questions. I should be able to sell my question quota on an open market. Memberships will pay for themselves!

Less jokingly, I'm not sure we really need a higher quota. I just don't think the demand is really there. That said, considering that most people never ask one question per week it should in theory be harmless to up the quota but at the same time it would be equally harmless to keep it. I guess the question is who is going to ask more than one question per week and why. I don't think I see a very compelling answer to that question here yet.
posted by GuyZero at 5:10 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Maybe give each MeFite 52 question chits, each redeemable for a question. Use 'em all up in 52 days or use them one a week or whatever. Same number of questions coming into AskMe, but people can do more than one in a week if they want/need.
posted by hippybear at 5:21 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


One reason I can think of to not increase the quota is to avoid loading more work on the mods. Currently there's an automated system that cuts off a variety of issues by simply preventing people from posting multiple questions per week.

But if there was a higher quota (or no quota) then the mods are going to have to not only review the questions for the usual guidelines but also see if someone is posting an excessive amount of question or repetitive questions or whatever.

I don't see a big upside versus the potential extra mod workload.
posted by GuyZero at 5:25 PM on February 9


Like Frowner posted above, I rarely ask questions on AskMe but I find that the process of asking a question gets the juices flowing and frequently I think of another, unrelated, question to ask... and remember I can't ask for another 7 days, promptly forget it and go another year+ without posting. So, I'd be all for increasing frequency (if there were structures with which to limit abuse).

Signed, Don't You Wish You Knew What My Second AskMe Question Would Have Been This Week
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 5:27 PM on February 9 [8 favorites]


This seems reasonable, I personally probably won't post more questions as a result and I assume that a lot of others will be the same, but it did remind me how bad I am at going back to questions I've asked to respond or mark best answers so now I'm tempted to lash out in spurious disagreement to distract myself from my shame.
posted by invitapriore at 5:36 PM on February 9


*offers Justinian a "change is hard" hug*

I like the idea of trying this. In the past, we've tried changes and they've worked out well, so I'm optimistic this will be good to!
posted by Deoridhe at 5:38 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: We'll have a talk with 'em about non-dingus-like use of the site.

Seriously, though: For me I don't see the current limit as an issue, and as others have said, it's an automated way of keeping out needless dingusness, but if the mods are saying two questions a week is manageable or at least worth considering, what's the harm?

And also, if someone has a more emergency-based question they didn't know was going to crop up, but they had already posted a non-emergency question earlier in the week, then it's all for the good.

This seems reasonable, I personally probably won't post more questions as a result and I assume that a lot of others will be the same, but it did remind me how bad I am at going back to questions I've asked to respond or mark best answers so now I'm tempted to lash out in spurious disagreement to distract myself from my shame.

Oh. And. This is a nice bit of etiquette that sometimes gets overlooked. I think people who take time to give an answer that works would like to see that response. Actual reminders are sent, too, if you've asked and haven't looked in to flag a best answer or respond. Just a nice thing to do for people who tried to help, right? Not all answers are good, and maybe there's no best answer to certain questions and that's o.k. too.

The other thing here is that sometimes in threads for FPPs someone will say "Oh, this might really be better suited to AskMe, but can someone explain X." Often, these are completely germane to the FPP and work well as comments and further discussion. On the other hand, I've seen cases where, IMO, these might be better as an AskMe where that person can ask "In [FPP], Y was mentioned. Can someone tell me more about the deal with Y here?" because they can get more focused (or more expert-y answers) to that. Changing the limit on AskMes might encourage that.

There are pros and cons for sure. But my two cents is that it sounds like it might be worth a try.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:56 PM on February 9


Casting my vote for pro! I like the idea of unlimited questions with strict 'This has been covered // You just asked this yesterday, btwwtf' chastising, but I understand that's a lot of extra mod work. Selfishly , the more questions there are to entertain me when I should be doing something productive with my life, the better.
posted by Fig at 6:04 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Definitely in favor of bumping the limit up to two a week.
posted by saladin at 6:14 PM on February 9


I don't think allowing more will ruin the site, maybe make it worse, but I also don't see how it really solves anyone's problem. Almost everyone here has admitted that there's not really a problem with 52 questions a year, it's just anxiety. The problem is there is a limit. Doubling the limit doesn't really change anything. What if you ask two questions and then an "emergency" comes up? What if you ask one question, save one, and then have two "emergencies"?

Someone I know has a DVR that is always completely full, always. Things must be erased daily to record something else. Doubling the size would make no difference.
posted by bongo_x at 6:15 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


One vote strongly against it. I can't even fathom the need to ask one question every week, and AskMe already goes way past Jessamyn's standards of chatfilter on a regular basis.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:17 PM on February 9 [11 favorites]


I realize that this is not rational, but sometimes I am not rational!

Well, no, you're arbitrary and capricious, so obviously unreasonable and without grounds.
posted by Pax at 6:25 PM on February 9


really though if we do this i (unfortunately bc i a Bad Person) hope sixcolors registers a new sockpuppet for the occasion
posted by poffin boffin at 6:26 PM on February 9 [20 favorites]


I'll preface by saying I don't really see a volume problem with the current limit.

Two a week, however implemented is confusing to explain unless we just drop the limit to 3 or 4 days (I'd avoid 3.5 days; people deal with whole days better). And things that are confusing to explain create support work so if a doubling goes ahead I'm voting for just dropping the limit from 7 days to something smaller.

However I do like the idea of having a reserve emergency question as "not posting in case I really need to ask a question" is something I'm afflicted with. Rather than halving the posting time as above out I'd rally prefer some sort of bonus question system with a long recharge.

EG: everyone keeps on getting 1 question a week. However they also get a "Bonus Question". When one is in one's 7 day question refractory period after asking a normal question the ask a question page would show you your 7 day count down as it does now but would also ask if you want to use your "Bonus Question". If you say yes the posting form appears as normal and once you click post your bonus question is depleted. If one was then to attempt to post yet another question the posting page would give you two count downs: the regular 7 day countdown and a new 7/14/30 day or whatever bonus question countdown.

This would allow people who like to keep Ask for emergencies to ask more freely without enabling a doubling of questions from people who ask a lot. But even so it would allow prolific askers to ask 50/33/25% (or whatever depending on the bonus countdown) more questions.
posted by Mitheral at 6:59 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


The prospect of getting an extra question a week gives me great joy. I will feel more at leisure to ask questions of long-term import to my life instead of subconsciously hanging onto my one question in case, I dunno, a bean gets stuck up my nose or something.

Very strongly in favor of this proposal.
posted by delight at 6:59 PM on February 9 [8 favorites]


I don't think I'd use this a ton but I'd definitely like to read more questions!
posted by lalex at 7:06 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


bongo_x: "The problem is there is a limit. Doubling the limit doesn't really change anything. What if you ask two questions and then an "emergency" comes up? What if you ask one question, save one, and then have two "emergencies"?"

Well sure. Lots of things work like this though and having a single reserve or alternate (spare tire, parachute, team member etc.) is felt to be appropriate in many cases as a trade off between resource allocation and being unprepared.
posted by Mitheral at 7:06 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


I feel like this will mean that heavy AskMe users become even heavier AskMe users which creates a problem and does not solve one. I already feel like for some people it's "THIS WEEK in my relationship...." I live in AskMe, and I may be a crabby internet person about this particular topic but I'm a fan of it as-is.

I've always liked the "You get two emergency questions a year" option though it's probably hell to code. If the mods have extra time, I'd prefer removing the MeTa queue, but I realize that's not what we're talking about. I just feel that there has been Finite Mod Time for a while now and if I got to vote, I wouldn't put that time/effort towards this.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:12 PM on February 9 [47 favorites]


Lots of things work like this though and having a single reserve or alternate (spare tire, parachute, team member etc.) is felt to be appropriate in many cases as a trade off between resource allocation and being unprepared.

Those are actual emergency items. I have yet to understand what an AskMe emergency could possibly be. We are talking about resource hoarding, not rescue items.
posted by bongo_x at 7:12 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


If the mods have extra time, I'd prefer removing the MeTa queue

I would 100% vote for this over extra questions.
posted by lalex at 7:19 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Maybe emergency is the wrong word because it implies injury or death? But I think it is a good encapsulation of "time sensitive question that arose suddenly and I need to solve before my question refractory period times out". Just looking at my posting history this question re pills, these questions for gift sourcing, and this food prep question are all the sort of question that I anticipate and create anxiety of the 'is this question worth not being able to ask an "emergency" question for the next seven days' kind.
posted by Mitheral at 7:28 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Can those of us who can't imagine asking a question every week, let alone multiple questions a week, donate our extras and then askers need to claim them or something? I feel like having at least some extra burden to asking that many questions might be helpful. I fear this is likely to just add a lot of "You could have googled that" questions and/or chatfilter.

I actually most like jessamyn's suggestion of two extra questions per year.
posted by lazuli at 8:24 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I have mixed feelings about this. I already feel that AskMe is filled with questions from people asking about their relationship every week, questions that have been asked multiple times already, or people asking questions that are easily googlable, and it'd be kind of annoying to see even more of those kinds of questions. On the other hand, I totally understand the feeling of not wanting to waste a question. I'd probably prefer us having a few extra questions to use whenever, but I know that's probably a pain to code. I'd be down for a trial run if we decided to give people more questions and see how it goes. Hopefully people would ask more interesting stuff like the medieval breast pump mentioned above!
posted by FireFountain at 8:26 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Every baby and family is different.

What? No. That's only the unhappy ones. The happy ones probably don't need to ask so many questions about things like human relations or how to ride trains safely.

Count me in favor of extra bonus questions or something like that.
posted by asperity at 8:52 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Honestly, after thinking about it, I kind of prefer a psychological disincentive to over-Asking over a technological one. Keep everything the way it is now, one a week, countdown clock, but have one more screen to go through for each "overage" question. First one (so second within a week) just requires an active confirmation that this can't wait until the following week (like agreeing to TOS), next overage needs mod approval, next one requires an extra dollar donation...

Behind the scenes all overage gets a mod-visible-only tag.

Or, pie in the sky and a serious long shot, a system for queueing up questions that can wait but Asker wants to get them down on paper, as it were, for the next time their week elapses.

Just spitballing.
posted by supercres at 8:56 PM on February 9


Or, pie in the sky and a serious long shot, a system for queueing up questions that can wait but Asker wants to get them down on paper, as it were, for the next time their week elapses.

There's the best answer. But I don't really understand why "write it down for later" seems like such a unwieldy solution to some people. If you ask a lot of questions on a regular basis, why don't you just keep a notebook or document of questions you want to ask?
posted by bongo_x at 9:14 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Need to ask another question but you're over quota already? That'll cost $5. Don't want to spend $5? Wait a week.
posted by Diskeater at 9:20 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


If the mod team thinks they can handle the extra work, then shrug sure fine whatever.

But I reserve the right to "I Told You So" if it turns out that most of the "bonus" questions are either chatfilter or a small handful of folks trying to get running biweekly commentary on their relationship problems, asking essentially the same thing again and again and again and again.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:22 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


Need to ask another question but you're over quota already? That'll cost $5. Don't want to spend $5? Wait a week.

cap and trade I tell ya. No extra questions, just a redistribution of the existing quota.
posted by GuyZero at 9:25 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Those are actual emergency items. I have yet to understand what an AskMe emergency could possibly be. We are talking about resource hoarding, not rescue items.

Emergency is perhaps a bit overstating the situation, but weirdly often, when I have asked a question on AskMe, a couple of days later, something else comes up that I'd really like to AskMetafilter, but I've already used my question. The second question invariably seems more important than whatever the first question was.

It's not like I have nowhere else to turn but AskMetafilter -- certainly I'm a member of a variety of other internet forums where requesting advice is, if not the whole point, generally permitted. So I can usually find somewhere else to ask. But it's rare that "somewhere else" is actually "somewhere better", so I can see the extra question benefit.

I have opposed increasing the general question frequency in the past, on the grounds that the tiny number of people who already ask one question a week basically every week ask a lot of questions that aren't awesome for AskMe. The example in this post -- "could they have built a breast pump in the middle ages?" -- absent a very specific need to know that information, even if it's just for your time travel feminist fantasy novel, is one I'd have placed firmly in the "seriously?" category of not-to-be-encouraged questions. However, I recognize that other people have a much higher willingness to engage with this sort of hypothetical than I do.

I have been making a general effort in my life to not judge other people's likes and interests, and part of that is a far greater effort to ignore rather than make mental judgements about things people post on the internet that don't happen to interest me personally. So, I retract my previous objections to the idea of more AskMe questions for everyone. I will simply have to strive to be a nicer person.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:27 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


literal back-to-back questions in a context where the second question doesn't start with "help I accidentally set my house on fire while typing that last one"

help I accidentaly set my house on fire while typing the last one, and my SO is just pointing and laughing instead of calling the fire department or helping put the fire out. Do you think this relationship has a future?
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:33 PM on February 9 [9 favorites]


Sure, but I'm for instating blue laws where you can't post questions after 2:00AM and not until Noon, Sundays you can't post at all unless you are designated as a private club, and even when we repeal that Sunday bullshit we forget to repeal the part about Monday holidays so still no posting questions on Memorial Day and Labor Day and the like...
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:41 PM on February 9


My vote is to stick with one per week. As others above have noted, this seems more like an anxiety issue rather than something that would solve a true need, and would just lead to more redundant questions. That said, I do understand the "oh wait, I just thought of another related thing to ask" phenomenon - so maybe there's a way to modify the "no back and forth" restriction on an already-asked question. Mods still can and should delete the argumentative back-and-forth but clarifying or extending questions would be allowed.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 9:46 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Ask: more prosaic than hypothetical medieval breast pumps.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:50 PM on February 9


I just feel that there has been Finite Mod Time for a while now and if I got to vote, I wouldn't put that time/effort towards this.

I feel you and appreciate that sentiment, variously expressed in here. I basically don't expect this to represent much additional expense of mod time, is a big part of it—I'd expect a moderate bump in questions, a drop by degree in collective question-hoarding anxiety, and probably a couple new folks we end up having to have the "hey, you kinda need to ease up on the frequency/consistency with this thing you're worrywarting over" talk with.

And like you say, this isn't a "more questions ~or~ ditch the MetaTalk queue" conversation, but if we want to talk about the idea of increasing mod workload a return to "MetaTalk can turn into a steaming horror show with literally no warning at any time" style is a much, much bigger resource footprint to contemplate, is my feeling. I still think that in a world with sufficient resources to make it not be the drain it had been in the past it'd be nice to do that, but that's something close to a different world entirely at this point.

I have a bunch of broader philosophical Feelings about site stuff that are basically out of scope of this conversation so I shouldn't really dig in on 'em right now, but one of the things I've been thinking a lot about the last couple years are whether and how much points of practice that we have baked into the status quo and common knowledge on the site are valued because they're actually optimal for MetaFilter in 2017 vs valued because they are familiar and comfortable and what we all collectively understand to be just-how-it-works.

And we've been static on the one-a-week thing for a very long time and that's not a bad thing by any stretch, but I also think about what we're trying to accomplish with enabling folks' use of Ask and whether "nope, you can definitely only ever ask one a week barring circuitous workarounds if you dare" is something that fundamentally provides the best experience or just is what we've been doing and works okay. Because the possibility that we could do something slightly different that still works okay and improves people's experiences in some ways feels worth exploring, and I don't want to let "but that's...not how we do it!" become a reflexive roadblock to that sort of thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:55 PM on February 9 [8 favorites]


In the past, I was opposed to the idea. The only benefit I see is the insurance benefit. By that I mean you are buying time insurance in case you ask a question and then have an urgent need for another within a week's time. To me, if it is really that urgent, there are other places to get answers. Also, if one is worried about wasting a question whatever that means, maybe the question is not worth asking.

While I don't support the idea, I don't oppose it either except to say please don't use your two questions to ask how you emotionally deal with the new administration. The answer there is always, yes, you can eat it.

(Also, I have no idea how the advertising on the site works, but if by having more questions more often creates additional revenue, go for it. I fall into the camp when it comes to posts or questions such as an election thread, that if I don't want to read, I don't. More questions just mean more decisions on read or not.)
posted by AugustWest at 10:34 PM on February 9


How about making it so you can borrow your next week's question if you want? Two questions every two weeks, but they arrive and expire one per week like normal.
posted by rhizome at 10:47 PM on February 9 [11 favorites]


I'm less worried about the multiple questions (2, or maybe even three questions every two weeks seems a good way to manage that) than I am about chatfilter. AskMefi is a machine of tremendous purity for getting a straight answer and anything that impedes that should be embarked on with the greatest caution if at all. I think increased tolerance for chatfilter would bring it closer to MeFi and that's not, in this case, a good thing.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:21 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


The real problem here is a metaphor for the proto-fascist society into which we have all willingly stumbled: everyone claims to have the "answers," but our citizens are prevented from asking questions. In that context, let's re-calibrate the scales of justice by having unlimited AskMe questions; but limit each person to ONE answer per week. That way answerers will seek out the juiciest question they can find each week, in order to pass on the maximum quantity of their wisdom! And if you don't immediately answer, "Yea, quidnunc kid! Thou speakest naught but wisdom!" - then you've just wasted this week's MetaTalk comment. Don't also waste this week's vote! #1 you-know-who-I'm-talking-'bout.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:22 PM on February 9 [14 favorites]


I'm less worried about the multiple questions (2, or maybe even three questions every two weeks seems a good way to manage that) than I am about chatfilter.

Agreed. Chatfilter is creeping.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:23 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


(example - pretty much anything under 12 words would be an acceptable answer here, and that's about as chatfilter as it gets.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:49 PM on February 9


What if you ask one question, save one, and then have two "emergencies"?

like the time i innocently asked a question on a friday afternoon and then that night my house burned down and then before that week was up i also had a concussion

frex
posted by poffin boffin at 12:15 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


How about N questions in the last N weeks, where 2 < N < some not very large number, maybe 5?
posted by Bruce H. at 3:06 AM on February 10


Not broke, don't fix.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:55 AM on February 10 [5 favorites]


I have a bunch of broader philosophical Feelings about site stuff that are basically out of scope of this conversation so I shouldn't really dig in on 'em right now

I think it would be really interesting to hear about your broader philosophical Feelings about site stuff. Not in this thread, obviously, but maybe at some point you could put together a kind of vision statement or strategic plan to let us know your thoughts for how MeFi might change/grow/develop/etc over the next few years.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:43 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


Oh, and I like the idea of more questions.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:44 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Just give everybody 100 questions on January 1 of each year, and when they use them all up they are done until the following year. No rollovers, they're use-it-or-lose-it.

On an unrelated note we also need to hire 5 extra AskMe mods just for January.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:47 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


HELP
HOW DO YOU PUT OUT AN OIL PAN FIRE. URGENT!1
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:57PM on February 10

Hot oil frying tips
I want to make The Best homemade deep-fried foods. Anyone got tips for making the best fries etc?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:30PM on February 10
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:50 AM on February 10 [21 favorites]


I'm happy with it as-is but sympathetic to folks upthread who have expressed a desire for more questions than one per week. I would vote for a two emergency questions per year solution, but at any rate I'd like to move away from a binary one question or two questions per week.

Some other suggestions have already been made along these lines, but if we went to one question every 6 days instead of every 7, that's an increase of something like 9 questions per year, and seems like a good way to dip toes into the water. If that's not quite enough, then one question every 5 days (21 extra questions per year)?

I'm not sure what's easiest from a technical perspective, counting-wise, but my second choice after 'one question every 5-6 days' would be 'four/five/six questions per month' - making so that two back-to-back questions would be possible with no time elapsing between them, while still keeping the overall rate of questions lower than 'two per week' would. Four/five questions per month would not increase the total questions asked, but (as pointed out above) would address the issue of 'Oh AND' -itis.
posted by you must supply a verb at 4:55 AM on February 10


I think we should try this. As cortex pointed out, we're a site full of socially anxious and/or overly polite people, so I don't think an extra question a week would mean so many more questions. I rarely ask questions at all, probably because I'm a mix of the above, so an extra question would maybe mean one more question from me a year and mostly peace of mind from having insurance.

I say let's try it for a few months! Let's try a grand askme experiment and see how it all falls out - do people post twice as much? Does the quality of questions go down? Is it twice as much work for the mods? Whose imagined version of the consequences is closest to the truth?

Maybe we should place bets.
posted by umwhat at 5:04 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Hi everyone, sorry for being late to my own MeTa! I am very grateful to everyone sharing their thoughts. Here are a few more of mine:

1) I'm definitely a "but what if I need to ask something urgently?" person and so I have lots of perfectly good questions I never ask because I might need them later. It may seem silly but here we all are.

2) I hadn't though about jessamyn's point about the people who ask weekly questions about the same topic and are told the same thing every time but I think it's a good one, even though I would still like to be able to ask more questions.

3) I think there are some questions that might not, on their own, be chatfilter, but the answers are. Like in my example question, I totally do see how that could be defined as chatfilter but I don't think it has to be; I would honestly like to know, from someone who understands technology and has information on what was available in medieval Europe, if it would have been possible to build a breast pump, which I think is a fairly specific question that has a real answer. I do NOT want amateur musings on this topic from people who don't know anything about it. Perhaps other people are defining things differently than I am, but I think that something like this could be a perfectly valid question and if we need to crack down on anything it's people answering without knowing what they're talking about, not people asking more abstract questions. Sometimes I feel very rude when I post questions because I'll add something like "I DO NOT want to be told X, Y, or Z, I have ALREADY THOUGHT ABOUT THAT. Please only answer my ACTUAL QUESTION which is THIS" and I hate being a jerk to people who are trying to be helpful but it's not actually helpful if you are not really in a position to answer the question appropriately.

4) I liked when cortex said I was patient.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:27 AM on February 10 [26 favorites]


I do find myself not asking questions because I'm concerned that there will be another question that I'll want to ask before the week is up.

This filtering aspect is likely the most valuable feature of the one-a-week rule, in my experience. I'm the same way - I've asked very few questions because I might have had more important questions to ask later. This keeps a lot of trivial bullshit off of AskMe, which is no small part of why I'll recreationally read it, but not Quora, Yahoo Answers, or askreddit. The strengthening of self-censorship it provides is a feature, not a bug!
posted by Dysk at 6:22 AM on February 10 [11 favorites]


I like this pony. And with no actual information beyond just enough coding experience to be dangerous, I suspect it's far less difficult and consuming of frimble's time to do something like tweak the # of questions per week in already-written code than to try to tack on some totally new data structure like an emergency question, rolling # of questions per year, etc.

If this were a vote, which it's not, I would vote we give this a shot and let the mods report back in three months or whatever as to whether it's been a huge timesuck from their perspective, and then decide from there whether to keep it.

But then I am a person who really likes reading all the tiny variations that people bring to the same basic "why is my cat doing this asshole thing, can it possibly be because cats are just kind of assholes" questions, and would probably read six of those questions per week if six were being posted, so take my opinion with a giant grain of salt.
posted by Stacey at 6:24 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Yeah some of this may be my own maladaptive "I have learned to manage my anxiety surrounding this issue, why haven't you?" feelings. That said, after sleeping on it I still feel like this is going to be problematic but I'm okay being proven wrong if there's a groundswell. Edge case scenarios that I can see.

- Someone has a crisis, asks two questions in a single day and then has to go six days without asking one is still basically going to have the same issues they had before
- Users who take this as a "lowering the bar on justwonderingfilter" who ask more borderline Chatfilter questions. That said, if this came a long with "And we'll be 25% more hardass on Chatfilter", I'd like that.
- People who also use the anon feature or the sock puppet feature could now theoretically be asking six questions a week now (I mean obvs mods won't go for that but it's in the range of technically possible). I've really always been partial to the "Use a sock for an emergency question" backdoor because then mod eyes can determine if that's appropriate use or not.

I feel like better education of users about what all the existing options are and how to use them effectively would be more useful than changing the policy. I don't think this is going to make anxious users less anxious but I can see why it's going to SEEM like it might be the solution to what is plaguing anxious users. Maybe a trial period? I like trial periods.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:38 AM on February 10 [9 favorites]


I'd like there to be a way to eliminate 'dick on a hot stove' questions.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:41 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Wait, you can use a sockpuppet for an extra??? I thought that was just for anonymous asks that someone wanted to be able to comment in!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 7:02 AM on February 10


Adding more questions from a user base that doesn't grow in proportion to their influx just means that the feed of questions cycles through all the more quickly and individual questions get fewer answers. The hardcore answerers of AskMe aren't necessarily the best. Just because you're more helpful and devoted to keeping up with the feed doesn't mean you've suddenly gained a broader knowledge base. AskMe should encourage the casual answerers more, people who just dip in now and then, people who don't want to sift through a ton of backlog.

The ideal AskMe experience is one where a question, especially a specific question, gets as many cogent, relevant answers as possible. It's also one where there are as few duplicate questions in the archive as possible. Would allowing hardcore users to ask more questions help make this a better site? I don't get that impression. I don't think it would ultimately help these users either, despite what they might think.

I think it's worth considering the quality of the archive, even if it's not something that offers immediate gratification.
posted by picea at 7:02 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


Sorry, if this has been addressed. I admit I haven't read all of the comments. My concern is that the questions roll off the front page so quickly as it is, that allowing more questions per week would make it a challenge to see a question before it did so.

My secondary concern is directly related to bulletpoint #2: "I think we'd get a wider variety of questions because people wouldn't only ask practical stuff..." I do not see this as a positive.
posted by terrapin at 7:07 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


I realize there is probably a need for a limit of some sort to prevent spamming. Other than that, if they had just removed the limit and didn't tell anyone, how long would it take for anyone to notice?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:08 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Adding more questions from a user base that doesn't grow in proportion to their influx just means that the feed of questions cycles through all the more quickly and individual questions get fewer answers.

Id love to see graphs over the past few years of questions per day, answers per day and answers per question. I think that is a legit concern, but I feel like I often see the phenomenon of a casual AskMe user asking a question and then providing an excellent answer to a question asked shortly after theirs. Presumably, the more askers you have keeping an eye on AskMe for answers to their question, the more answerers you have for other questions.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:17 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I do like the one per week limit; I've found it inconvenient and annoying at times but ultimately I think it improves the overall quality of the questions. If the limit didn't exist I would have asked all sorts of silly questions that I probably could have just googled or asked a friend or stopped caring about after two days. I've thought of tons of questions that ended up going unasked, and I don't regret not having asked them.

I feel the same way about the no-chatfilter rule. I would enjoy chatfilter, but I think it ultimately wouldn't add much to the site other than noise.

That said, I'm on board with allowing occasional exceptions (maybe once a year? or once every two months?) because things do happen and sometimes you need a recommendation for a penis-falling-off doctor right away.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:24 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


I came in to say what Meteroid Baby said, basically, that I like the limit, in part because I'm not sure there's anything lost with the questions people forget to ask in the countdown to when they can ask again and in part because I believe upping the limit will contribute more noise than value.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:36 AM on February 10


Diskeater: "Need to ask another question but you're over quota already? That'll cost $5. Don't want to spend $5? Wait a week."

Let's not gate keep with money. Not only does it go against the ethos of the site, it would also create justifiable senses of entitlement.

umwhat: "Let's try a grand askme experiment "

Ixnay on the Xperimentenay description.

jessamyn: "People who also use the anon feature or the sock puppet feature could now theoretically be asking six questions a week now (I mean obvs mods won't go for that but it's in the range of technically possible)"

There are technical blocks preventing more than one anonymous question a week.
posted by Mitheral at 7:48 AM on February 10


I'm for this. I hoard questions: I asked four questions last year and before that it was more like one or two a year.

I also think a lot of urgent questions end up being anonymous. Non-anonymous urgent stuff I ask in other fora. I've always assumed that if I had an urgent question in the anonymous queue and had also asked a real question that week, the mods would give me a pass or simply hold it for a week. Not sure if that's true, but it helped with the hoarding a bit last year, which is why I asked FOUR questions.

Anyway, yay, and yay Mrs. Pterodactyl for asking and just generally because.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:05 AM on February 10


I like the idea of expanding the allotment while maintaining a limit. One of the things I really like about AskMe is the esoteric, no-obvious-practical-application type questions - like the medieval breast pump example, or any of the kinds of questions you might be just as likely to see on What If?, or Wordshore's Cheese Problem. They're fun to read, it's fun to wonder what circumstances prompted the question, you probably get to learn something, and generally they do in fact have specific answers that the asker wants to hear (as Mrs. Pterodactyl described). I think they help build site culture and community as well, and are overall a terrific thing to see in addition to the highly practical questions.

To the extent that folks are discouraged from asking questions like this because they feel like they should be waiting and asking something more practical, I feel like we lose out. I have frequently wondered something and thought, "Dude, I should totally ask MetaFilter about that!" - and while I've only rarely actually done so (usually because I'm driving or something), I would hate for anyone to feel like they shouldn't ask it "just in case."

I get the concerns about driving up the noise level, but I agree with cortex that it seems like the bump would be relatively minor, and frankly I'm willing to trust the mods' judgement on the overall burden generally. I'd support a trial period with an assessment to see if users think the feel of the site has changed.
posted by nickmark at 8:07 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I want to nth the sentiment that I like this proposal, but only if it also comes with a crackdown on chatfilter (both questions and chatty/non-helpful answers) and "relationship update of the week" Asks. I'd really enjoy reading more questions if so!
posted by capricorn at 8:17 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Monday: Dear AskMe, I left a package of raw chicken on the counter last night. Is it safe to eat?

Thursday: Dear AskMe, I left a package of raw chicken on the counter Sunday night. Is it safe to eat?
posted by mudpuppie at 8:19 AM on February 10 [14 favorites]


More seriously, I'm of two minds about this. I can see it adding too much noise to AskMe, making it a hassled to wade through the front-page dreck to get to quality questions. On the other hand, I've been in the position where I've had an emergency-ish question and haven't been able to post it. I think I lean towards being able to post a second question in a week by exception, but I'm not sure how to process those exceptions without putting more work on the mods.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:19 AM on February 10


I'd add to my previous answer that I would be totally comfortable with more of my own Asks getting deleted as chatfilter as the tradeoff, like if my question about "places with seasons that fit this arbitrary set of criteria" were deemed chatfilter even though it does have concrete answers because it isn't exactly a factual question that's fine.
posted by capricorn at 8:21 AM on February 10


I can't imagine doubling (or more) the weekly questions doing anything good for the site itself. The ideas where you can bank a question or two but they still accumulate at a rate of one per week would be tolerable. I guess I just like that the question limit, most times, makes people actually think about their question and whether it's worth asking.

I do find it kind of funny to read people's posts saying they've only posted half a dozen questions in a few years and yet they think they need multiple questions per week.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:31 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I find it odd that this is being framed as a mod issue or a chatfilter issue.
I'm against more questions based on my opinion that AskMe works better when questions stay visible longer.
More questions = more churn = fewer quality responses.

I know Cortex addressed this in his initial reply and argued it wouldn't make a huge difference. If he's right I guess my opposition is moot, but I'm nervous he's wrong. Maybe a trial run to see would be good?
posted by Wretch729 at 8:36 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


There are technical blocks preventing more than one anonymous question a week.

I know what they are. If you have a sock puppet account, that account can ask an anon question, unless things have changed since my time here.

But yeah I am of two minds. I was pretty concerned about the edit window (a non-problem) and people being able to add tags to other people's posts (basically a non-problem) so it's possible I just dislike change and that this will be a similar non-problem.

That said I think the "Questions zip off the page faster" is a real concern, as well as AskMe becoming more dominated by the same askers which I feel is already a low-level issue. At some point you have to ask if the issue of people hoarding questions because they are anxious is something that should have a technical solution. And then if it requires more of a technical solution than the semi-official loopholes that it already has. And if doubling the amount of questions they can have will have a concrete affect on this anxious feeling.

I know this is a topic on which reasonable people disagree. I just don't see it as a net benefit for the site, I see it as a net benefit to a small but vocal bunch of users. And maybe that has utility and I'm certainly willing to wait and see, but I remain skeptical.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:42 AM on February 10 [21 favorites]


Let me talk a little about my thinking on the "two per week" approach vs. other possible variations. I hear what some of y'all are saying about your concerns for whether that vs. an explicit safety question function vs. a shorter one-per interval (e.g. 6 days instead of 7) vs. just not budging it at all and I've chewed on those as well over the years, and I want to unpack some of this a bit and show where my thinking is.

1. People can just wait.

They can. But I think it's sorta declaring current practice to be virtuous because it's current practice to start and end there. People can wait a week, but I don't think there's anything inherently good about the idea that they always must. If someone who normally asks four questions a year ends up asking two of those questions this year three days apart instead of a week apart because that's how life and their needs played out, that is okay! That doesn't represent a problem for the site. They could have waited, but they could have also asked the second question when it came up, and the former is not an inherently superior outcome.

2. Keep the week but add an emergency question reserve.

I read the appeal of this as the week limit being a good thing worth preserving while recognizing that people still have weird moments, and if I was inclined to go with a different approach this would probably be it. The things I like less about it are that it involves a skosh of extra fiddliness to implement and creates a secondary scarcity with the emergency supply that seems like an unnecessary bit of stress/headspace for people already worrying about their whether-or-not-to stuff with Ask—even if in practice actual use of two-a-week and emergency-question versions would look almost identical to current usage, e.g. most folks only asking a wee handful of questions a year.

You can get away from the scarcity issue some by making the supply of emergency questions higher, but at that point you're creating a greater chance of weird clustering than the flat two-a-week idea. One problem slides into the other as you set the balance there: trade stress and inevitable exception-begging for more chance of conspicuous bam-bab-bam clustering.

3. Just make the limit shorter.

I feel like there's not really an upside to this approach other than keeping it more descriptively simple, unless we reduce that limit pretty radically. 6 days vs. 7 is essentially a non-change except we can't talk in terms of units of weeks anymore; twice a week in this rubric is 3.5 days between which is a pretty clumsy metric. Round to every 3 days, maybe. But in any case that gets us to the same potential footprint as the twice-a-week idea, but without the built in flexibility for when life gets weird and you have something shaped like an Ask emergency.

So, which: none of that is to say "those ideas are bad, the idea I favor is good". I think they're all basically different valid notions of how (and whether) to approach this. I favor the two-a-week approach because I think it creates a good balance of positive impact to implementation difficulty, I like that it keeps the framing around a week as a unit of time, and I like that it adds flexibility without creating a new scarcity/stressor for users in exchange.

And I'll reiterate one of my strongly-held expectations about trying this out: doubling the potential frequency of questions will not have anything close to a doubling effect on the actual overall frequency/volume of questions. If I thought otherwise I'd bin the idea outright because I agree with the concern about what a huge surge in questions would do to our balance of moderation and user interaction with Ask. My expectation is we'd see an initial bump of questions because shining a spotlight on a feature gets people thinking about it, and then a falloff after that first few days or week to a return to near-normal, maybe 10-20% more questions week to week.

And if we try this out and it turns out I'm wrong there and the effect is much larger and more sustained, that's a super useful reality check and will change my thinking significantly.

So that's where I am. I think this is worth trying because I see more upside than downside and expect that many of the concerns folks have shared in here are, while being valid things to feel concern about, not actually likely to manifest. But giving it a trial period to find out either way seems like a good approach.

And I want to be clear if I haven't been that that is what we'd talking about: a trial period. Give it a shot for two or three months, see how it goes, and reassess from there. Reassess sooner if there's surprisingly profound effects that are affecting the site in starkly negative ways.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:44 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


As a person who grudgingly supports this idea because I'd like to read and answer more questions, I would actually prefer an expansion of allowed chatfilter.

The (awesome!) medieval breast pump question example actually feels like something that would be deleted as chatfilter unless the asker was like "I AM WRITING A NOVEL and the characters need to invent a breast pump out of materials available in medieval Europe, possibly with bellows?"

Some recent would-have-been-interesting-to-read threads deleted under the current definition of chatfilter:

What is it like to have a family?
What would you have done differently if you'd known you'd never marry?
Would this idea for stopping Trump be effective?
What is it like being gifted?
Who impersonated Woody Allen best?
Why would someone buy 16 bottles of rubbing alcohol?
posted by lalex at 8:47 AM on February 10 [13 favorites]


I would actually prefer an expansion of allowed chatfilter.

And here I thought I was the only one. Team Chatfilter!
posted by Rock Steady at 8:50 AM on February 10 [12 favorites]


cortex my concern isn't about the volume or quantity of questions so much as the quality. The questions that people didn't post because of one-a-week anxiety - are we really going to be better off for having all of the questions that people deemed not worthy when faced with the merest of roadblocks?
posted by Dysk at 8:57 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


twice a week in this rubric is 3.5 days between which is a pretty clumsy metric.

The real question is: if someone asks a question every other day, how many questions will they ask each week?
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:05 AM on February 10 [3 favorites]


I haven't read the thread but I want to vote for this concept so hard.
posted by bleep at 9:19 AM on February 10


The questions that people didn't post because of one-a-week anxiety - are we really going to be better off for having all of the questions that people deemed not worthy when faced with the merest of roadblocks?

Possibly yes, possibly no! I admit that there's no way to know without seeing how it plays out, so I understand this point of concern. That said, that I'm for giving it a shot shows my hand there in that I don't actually foresee it going badly or the site filling up with terrible questions. I expect most of the questions folks don't quite decide to post probably resemble the questions they do decide to post.

Some of that—and the "yay chatfilter, boo chatfilter" discussion up thread—gets back into the territory of those philosophical Feelings I mentioned earlier, and a little part of that is a concern that as a community we sometimes let our accumulated beliefs about what the site is get in the way of doing some positive rethinking about what the site does and how it does it.

I think this is sort of a downside of what is otherwise a wonderful thing, our cohesive community culture and strong sense of collective ethos and fondness for the stability of a well-defined set of practices and expectations. Those are very good things and a resistance to change is often mostly the manifestation of a desire to protect and prolong those things. I feel that a lot and have been a pretty conservative voice about site changes on a lot of fronts over the years because of that.

But I feel like, for example, concerns about the quality of potential additional questions in the abstract tend to have more to do with our various perceptions of the things we like or dislike on the site based on personal habits and preferences and annoyances than with the, like, manifest likelihood that people will actually start dumping crappy questions into the pool. As a community we largely trust and value the thought and effort we, one to the next, put into our contributions here: I see no reason to assume that the current question-rate threshold is capturing all the good and keeping away a looming tidal wave of bad. I think if we end up with another 10-20% questions each month, they're going to look a lot like the existing crop and mostly just be some more people getting answers and more opportunities for people to give answers and more options available for readers.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Yeah, hard to argue with that. You're probably right.
posted by Dysk at 9:31 AM on February 10


I would really like to see some evidence that there is a statistically significant number of users who feel like once a week isn't enough, and that the questions in backlog are timely enough that they can't wait a week.

I think it's not so much that I want to ask two questions a week on average, so much as that, say, sometimes I'll go months without asking a question, and then I'll ask a question, and then some catastrophe or crisis happens that I could really use the community crowdmind on, but I can't ask it because I've already asked a question four days ago or so.
posted by corb at 9:36 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I also want to address something several people have touched on, e.g.
I already feel that AskMe is filled with questions from people asking about their relationship every week
Which: I hear ya! I understand the feeling that being annoyed at this sort of behavior already means the prospect of someone doing it twice as often is kinda horrifying.

That said: I think it's basically an orthogonal issue. That falls into the bucket of stuff we as a mod team want to be aware of and try and shepherd currently, independent of any time limit tweak.

Which is to say, if you feel like you're seeing someone abuse the reasonable limits of the site by doing that sort of thing, let us know! We can take a look, keep an eye on their use, talk to 'em about throttling it back, etc. We do that sort of thing on the regular, but really only when it's obvious to us that it's going on.

And I think it may be one of those things where folks get annoyed at it, but perceive it to be Just How Things Are, assume the mods are eyeing it closely and tacitly giving it a thumbs up, and then don't drop us a line because what's the point. Which is a totally understandable thought process to go through but turns out often to be mistaken; much of the time if someone is repeatedly doing some annoying thing on the site and we're not visibly reacting to it, it's because we don't know it's happening. Zero harm in dropping us a line about it even just to say "hey, maybe I'm just feeling grumpy but can you look at this pattern of behavior?"

That's something we try to tackle already and want to keep doing, so feedback there is great. And to the extent that a twice-a-week limit could lead to a handful of users suddenly dumping twice-weekly rehashes of their relationship into Ask, it'll be that much easier to make the case that they gotta turn that around.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:42 AM on February 10 [12 favorites]


(n.b. it's also perfectly reasonable to just find relationship questions annoying in general, but that's not really fixable other than using My Ask to try and filter the damn things out since people asking about their relationships at all is obviously a legitimate use of the site.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:47 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


to the extent that a twice-a-week limit could lead to a handful of users suddenly dumping twice-weekly rehashes of their relationship into Ask, it'll be that much easier to make the case that they gotta turn that around.

This was my thought. We see cycles of a user needing to talk/journal rather than get answers, really, and maybe they're posting weekly but it takes several clicks' worth of work to confirm that. If they're doing it biweekly, it's going to stand out, it will be flagged harder, mods will intervene. Problem solved, and maybe a good bit faster than it might be otherwise.

I personally do not hate a good Chatfilter question as much as others do but I will concede that the "posts rolling off the page" concern, even though it is solvable with a click of a link, is a weird mental roadblock of some sort. I assume the length of the page is determined by science! and other things that are good and probably shouldn't be made any longer?
posted by Lyn Never at 9:54 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


AskMe currently appears to be set to 60 questions/page; if questions zipping off the front page too quickly turns out to be a problem, would people actually notice if it got set to 70 or 75 instead?
posted by Spathe Cadet at 9:55 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Look, obviously the breast pump would be operated by a specifically-bred small dog, who would pause periodically, turn towards any observer, shrug its little shoulders and say "It's a living"
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:01 AM on February 10 [10 favorites]


MY PROPOSAL by prize bull octorok

every time you answer a question that gets marked 'best answer,' you get a Question Piece. once you collect four Question Pieces, it turns into a bonus question you can Ask

Question Pieces can also be found hidden in infrequently-used subsites like Projects and Jobs, which will encourage users to check on them more often
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:04 AM on February 10 [26 favorites]


I personally do not hate a good Chatfilter question as much as others do but I will concede that the "posts rolling off the page" concern, even though it is solvable with a click of a link, is a weird mental roadblock of some sort. I assume the length of the page is determined by science! and other things that are good and probably shouldn't be made any longer?

It's just a static setting, a fixed number of questions per page, same as the front page of MetaFilter. So on quieter days a given question sticks around longer, on busier days it scrolls down and off to page 2 faster.

I've asked frimble to dump some numbers for monthly question rates over time, because as much as I hear the concern about the page moving too fast I'm not actually sure the page is even moving as fast as it used to and I'd like to actually measure it. It's another one of those things where I think we may end up having sort of a perception vs. actual numbers conflict just because the idea/concern is a lot easier to express than it is to verify through informal observation, but I'm curious about the numbers either way.

AskMe currently appears to be set to 60 questions/page; if questions zipping off the front page too quickly turns out to be a problem, would people actually notice if it got set to 70 or 75 instead?

The main determiner for that number historically was balancing page performance to get a decent pile of questions on each page without slowing down the process of serving each page too much. So (setting aside absurdities like quadrupling it, etc), nudging that number would probably be totally doable if we found it was helpful to do so.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:04 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Question Pieces can also be found hidden in infrequently-used subsites like Projects and Jobs, which will encourage users to check on them more often

I would like to be able to battle other users and take their Question Pieces if (when) I win. Can we incorporate some PvP elements into the Question Piece economy?
posted by Rock Steady at 10:12 AM on February 10 [11 favorites]


I've asked frimble to dump some numbers for monthly question rates over time, because as much as I hear the concern about the page moving too fast I'm not actually sure the page is even moving as fast as it used to and I'd like to actually measure it.

Something like this comes up occasionally and I'm always a bit surprised to see it. Is there not some kind of regular measurement of user participation/site activity?
posted by lalex at 10:18 AM on February 10


Something like this comes up occasionally and I'm always a bit surprised to see it. Is there not some kind of regular measurement of user participation/site activity?

Most of the metrics stuff I look at regularly is tied to traffic rather than specifically user activity; most of our revenue stuff is tied to the former rather than the latter, and server performance and stability is pretty abstracted from site behavior as well. So, surprising though it may seem, there's never been a specific need to eyeball those number day to day. I look at the bigger picture stuff now and then as needed but it's not something for which we've put in the effort to build out a robust toolset because we rarely need to do more than periodic long-view checkins on that stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:22 AM on February 10


Thanks cortex! I have thoughts but probably best saved for a State of the Site MeTa.
posted by lalex at 10:24 AM on February 10


You know what, actually lalex's list of questions swung me around from thinking we needed a hardline anti-chatfilter policy to thinking that what we need really is just some social norming about what is an acceptable answer. I also think all those questions are interesting, but I think the reason they were deleted is that they invite un-MeFi-like, frustrating-to-mod answering behavior. But maybe this is a question for another MeTa.
posted by capricorn at 10:52 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I would love a discussion/reminder about the quality of answers we're providing. I feel like a lot of times I don't use my question just because I don't feel like dealing with all the non-answers I know I'm going to get. The volume & quantity of questions on the page is secondary to me. Although with more questions comes less mod bandwidth to deal with all the non-answers in each question. Maybe we could put in some kind of quiz you have to take to prove you really read AND understood the question before you can answer it.
posted by bleep at 11:21 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


You know what, actually lalex's list of questions...

Of the questions I listed I am least attached to the "why would someone buy 16 bottles of alcohol?" one EXCEPT that I kept expecting someone to come in and do the super-Metafiltery thing of like "oh, most people don't know this but there's actually a secret society dedicated to worship of chemical compounds and 16 bottles of isopropyl alcohol is the price of admission on the third Tuesdays of November."
posted by lalex at 11:23 AM on February 10 [9 favorites]


I like the idea of increasing the number of questions. Corb's comment stated my reasoning perfectly, so I'll just second that. I never spend a question on, say, recommendations for a specific book, because god knows what house crisis could happen this week that I need advice on. Which has led to ask an average of one question a year.

I have been reading/participating in ask for over a decade now (I had another user name before this one, which I changed for reasons not related to anything here, happy to discuss via memail) and I definitely think there are fewer questions overall than there used to be. I have no trouble clicking to page 2 but don't find that happens as much as it used to, and I don't even visit daily.
posted by john_snow at 11:25 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


6 days vs. 7 is essentially a non-change except we can't talk in terms of units of weeks anymore;

For awhile, I've thought that every 5-6 days would be a better solution than 7. The problem with 7 is that you can't ask a question the same time every week because you get pushed back a bit due to needing to wait a full 168 hours. With every 5 or 6, a person could ask their hair-on-fire work question every Monday without slowly getting pushed past 5pm and into Tuesday. A person could ask their weekend home repair question on Sunday and ask the next one on Saturday.

Also, don't you think that the desire to ask a question builds up over a few days for most people? Even if wanting to ask happens randomly, moving from 7 to 5 would mean ~30% of the people who get an idea, and currently have to wait, won't have to wait. But I think it would probably meet more needs than that.
posted by michaelh at 11:31 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


It's worth remembering that at one time the limit was one question every TWO weeks. Then (as I recall), it was very cautiously lowered to one a week with a, "Let's see if this blows up" attitude. And for the most part, I don't think it blew up.

Temperamentally, I'm against, because I fear change. But there is clearly a contingent who feels it would significantly improve their user experience. So, let's go for it. It's not like you can't roll it back to the current functionality if it causes grief.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:10 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


It's worth remembering that at one time the limit was one question every TWO weeks. Then (as I recall), it was very cautiously lowered to one a week with a, "Let's see if this blows up" attitude. And for the most part, I don't think it blew up.

It's slightly more complicated than that: the once a week limit had been established for a while and then the site went to one every two weeks for a few months, before returning to once a week where it's stayed since.

I remembered the basic outline of that but went looking for the details myself this morning, and it's an interesting roundup of site history for a variety of reasons.

So, Ask launched in late 2003 or so, and grew in volume pretty quickly and steadily over the next couple years, to the point where "we should do something about all these Asks!" was a common point of conversation in MetaTalk.

In December, 2006, a user posted a somewhat complicated proposal for limiting questions, basically going to once every two weeks and then doing a whole lottery/voting thing to collectively allow some additional questions through. The voting stuff got panned quickly, the thread sort of relaxed into general chatter pro- and con- about a two week limit and other ideas, and then...there was a two week limit. Just sorta boom, announced as a late comment in that thread by a user running into it.

Another user made a post the next day, asking about the change, which is apparently the closest thing there was to an announcement. Commences a bunch of conversation, as you'd imagine.

There were some followups from users, mid-Feburary 2007 asking when it'd be over, March 1 likewise. Another in early April, and in there in a comment Matt announced it was back to once a week.

I got hired in the middle of all that, which explains why my memories of it were a little gooey—I can't remember the mod-side discussions at all for the onset of that experiment because I wasn't in on 'em! From today's perspective I'd like to think I'd have screamed bloody murder about the idea of changing it without even making a MetaTalk announcement had I been hired a few months earlier, but realistically there was a lot of evolution toward more deliberate moderator communication over the next few years so it may have felt basically normal at the time.

Anyway, to put some of that in context vs. today: what we saw during the two week experiment was a significant but not world-shaking dip in total volume of questions in the early months of 2007 compared to late 2006, and then the volume headed back up afterward. This wasn't the peak of Ask's volume, which came more in 2008 and 2009, but the volume in 2006 was still greater by a big margin from where we've been the last few years.

So, back to my thought up thread: concern about too many questions makes sense to me in abstract but in practice we're dealing with a lot fewer these days than we were during periods when most discussions about limiting the flow were happening. If anything, I think a moderate uptick in question volume at this point would be a positive thing, holding all else basically equal in terms of expectations about using Ask well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:30 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


From today's perspective I'd like to think I'd have screamed bloody murder about the idea of changing it without even making a MetaTalk announcement had I been hired a few months earlier

I was all "three and out" for this thread (and will kep to that about the general thread's topic), but yeah once you got hired we could outvote Matt on deciding to run things past the users. Site was also a lot smaller back then and more or less run by fiat because people trusted Matt. In whatever small may I may grouse about the problems of having a larger site, I definitely don't miss those days at all. You guys are SO much more communicative and user focused.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:34 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I would like this, pleaseandthankyou.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:38 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


How about allowing up to three (!) questions per week, while simultaneously having a maximum of 10 questions over the last 10 weeks. So the same maximum volume for the upper volume askers, but allowing for more burstiness if the answer one gets from an ask leads to another need of an ask.
posted by nobeagle at 12:44 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


There are technical blocks preventing more than one anonymous question a week.

Friendly, non-judgmental observation: There should be a word for what you did here, in explaining how the site works to Jessamyn. The mod who championed AskMe from the get-go, built it from the ground up and then maintained it for years. 'Modsplaining' doesn't really work, but it does roll smoothly off the tongue.

--

Anyway, the unadvertised (and with good reason,) exception to the 1 week rule is that those of us with a question free can ask questions for someone else in need who would otherwise have to wait. Have done it a couple of times myself, years ago.
posted by zarq at 12:51 PM on February 10 [9 favorites]


I suspect that any question allotment that is longer than a week (i.e. 100 a year, 10 in 10 weeks) will lead to question hoarding again. The longer the time period someone has to "spend" their questions, the more uncertainty they might feel about how much they'll need them in the misty, unknown future.
posted by delight at 1:07 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I am kind of impressed with the attention span possessed by all of you who are like "okay cool I'll just wait a week" when you think of something good to post but ran out of time. Realistically, it's less that I'm opposed to waiting and more that I immediately forget what I wanted to ask if I can't even write it down first. This is actually a huge reason I don't ask questions more apart from anxiety about needing them later: when I do remember that Ask exists and post something, that's a little jolt to my memory that oh yeah, the Green exists and it's useful! Inevitably I then resolve to use the Green again the next time I think of a good question, which usually happens within about two or three days.... when I can't even draft anything until my waiting time expires again. By which time I have usually completely forgotten that the Green is a resource I can use again. It's a vicious cycle.

In related news, I really really wish I could draft FPPs but not actually post them when I'm on the 24 hour cool down because then I would be able to build habits of finding a cool thing and posting more often. For all the bitching and moaning about how some people post too much upthread, I've noticed that current events have decimated the number of FPPs on the Blue for at least the past year.

It's not actually a big thing and I don't know how many non me people would even notice, but being able to work on something and write it up and have it waiting even before I was allowed to post it would be really handy.
posted by sciatrix at 2:45 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


So, I read for a bit and see mefi doing much of it's usual some folks are for and some are against and some are suggesting yet a different solution. But I confess I have not read ALL the answers.

A more burning question for me: When do we get an Ask "draft" like we have on The Blue? Or, better yet, why can't I draft a post to the blue before my 24 hours are up and just not actually post it until the timer runs out? (And, obviously, the Ask draft ought to also be available before you can actually Ask, because how the hell else am I supposed to track these things? geez.)

These are pressing questions, which I am sure no one but me cares about and it's all good.
posted by Michele in California at 3:35 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Here's how *that* would turn out.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:44 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Put me down in favor of either more questions or more flexibility.
posted by moira at 5:11 PM on February 10


jessamyn: "I know what they are. If you have a sock puppet account, that account can ask an anon question, unless things have changed since my time here."

Ah, I see what you mean, multiple anonymous questions from multiple accounts.

zarq: "Friendly, non-judgmental observation: There should be a word for what you did here, in explaining how the site works to Jessamyn. The mod who championed AskMe from the get-go, built it from the ground up and then maintained it for years. 'Modsplaining' doesn't really work, but it does roll smoothly off the tongue. "

That assumes I was conscientious of who I was responding to; for the most part I don't pay much attention to the by lines. Instead it was just me not properly parsing the comment.
posted by Mitheral at 5:16 PM on February 10


Of the 9631 different people to post questions in the past 3 years, 71 of them posted forty or more. 14 people posted sixty or more.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:37 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


I am kind of impressed with the attention span possessed by all of you who are like "okay cool I'll just wait a week"

Here is a quote from frog and toad which covers this.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:39 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


This is starting to feel like those of us who post on Askme are lesser than those who hang out on the Blue. With us asking questions about Human Relationships. Sorry for all my trauma posts. Won't happen again.
posted by kanata at 6:45 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Kanata, I have not read everything here, so I do not know where you are getting that impression from. But please do not stop getting the help you need. If your questions are in violation of some policy, the mods will let you know. If they are not, people can just not read yours if they are rolling their eyes about your issues. And that is their problem.

If people are shitty in their responses to you in specific, flag them. The mods are human and may not agree and may not see what you see, but there are things they are pretty good about.

I don't remember all the details of your story. My memory is pretty swiss cheese these days. But you are doing something incredibly hard and I am always heartened to see your asks.
posted by Michele in California at 6:54 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Realistically, it's less that I'm opposed to waiting and more that I immediately forget what I wanted to ask if I can't even write it down first.

You do know that AskMe isn't the only text processing option, right? Notepad, Hey Siri, your wrist...you have many, many outstanding choices!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:12 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I have asked maybe 6? 8? questions ever but I definitely get the "Ok but what if I post this and tomorrow something in my house explodes and I don't know how to fix it and google is unhelpful? What then?!" feeling before hitting the button.

I'm pro more or emergency back-up Asks.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:24 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Sorry . Realized I was being triggered by something else that this convo reminds me of I think. But there is a thing here where it does sound kind of judgy to people who mainly use the green to talk about how awfully boring those repeat questions in human relationships section. I think there are still strains here sometimes if you aren't posting on the blue it comes across as you are not a real mefite. And with human realtionship questions it gives off this twinge of "How sad that you aren't a fully formed neutral party like I am" and not taking into account that there are people here who aren't middle-class educated. If you want to cut back on chatfilter I think filtering out people who don't read the questions, who assume their big city liberal American options are available to everyone. I've been struggling with the comments on Ask and on the Blue that although just short hand pretty much end up implying that anyone poor + badly educated = neo-Nazi and that it is our fault for continuing to live in areas where people hate us. Anyways apologies I'm being triggered by other things right now as my PTSD is in freak out terr.. can't think of the word.. just blowing up but I shouldn't have voiced it that way. Bowing out now. Not even my country geesh wish I could stop being so stupid about my reaction to it.
posted by kanata at 7:49 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


"But there is a thing here where it does sound kind of judgy to people who mainly use the green to talk about how awfully boring those repeat questions in human relationships section. I think there are still strains here sometimes if you aren't posting on the blue it comes across as you are not a real mefite."

Well if it makes you feel any better, the Green is my favorite part of the site and human relations are my FAVORITE questions. They're what got me hooked on the site in the first place and they're still my favorite bit. It's like a novel! Or, a whole bunch of mini novels. I adore the glimpses into other people's lives. I will never get bored of it and I will never think less of it!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:30 PM on February 10 [21 favorites]


You do know that AskMe isn't the only text processing option, right? Notepad, Hey Siri, your wrist...you have many, many outstanding choices!

good golly gee wow, that is an impressive idea I have never in my life considered

thank you for imparting on me such wisdom

truly your response has humbled me and introduced me to a whole wide world of text-processing software and technology, which I would never have discovered without your sage counsel
posted by sciatrix at 8:34 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


I also really value the human relations Asks and would like to see more of them. I like the fact that Ask is very useful for practical things, but a lot of those questions are very niche ("Where can I purchase a hot pink immersion blender in Santa Barbara for under $17?") and I can't really participate in most of them*. I find the human relations questions much more, well, relatable.

*I do, however, appreciate the fact that someone in the hive mind will find a discount immersion blender in the asker's preferred shade within eight minutes, even if I personally cannot do so.
posted by delight at 10:37 PM on February 10 [6 favorites]


In the past I was vociferously opposed to increasing question counts. In the present I don't think it's necessary or constructive. In the future, I hope we're not all dead or working in tin mines.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:44 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


My questions come in droves. Either I don't ask any for weeks or I suddenly have three at the same time. I think I just crave feed back some times more than others.

So I would like more questions but I don't think it's strictly necessary.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:53 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I'd rather see AskMe energy focused on people actually answering the question asked rather than just talking/typing to hear the sound of their own voice, but that's just me
posted by Lucinda at 5:12 AM on February 11 [11 favorites]


Background. Ask brought me to mefi. I spend 75% of my mefi time ON ask. Mostly as an answerer (because i LOVE research).

Initially i was in full on freak out and a firm NO. But cortex pointing out that question volume is way down makes me feel better and i support a test period anyway. My primary gut to saying no is related not to abusers of too many questions but of volume and quality of answers. If more questions get fewer answers i see askme turning into a kind of website equivalent of a dying mall with people passing thru mostly out of habit.

Oddly, i have always thought the chatfilter knob could be turned down a bit to allow more. I use rss so i see 100% of questions and the number of posts where i simultaneously said "wow, cool question" and "shit, that will get deleted for chatfilter" is quite high.
posted by chasles at 6:41 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


After reading all of these comments, fuck if I know what y'all should do about this and my head kinda hurts.

As for me, I try to restrain myself from asking questions at all whatsoever, and the rare times when I do, I try to make them innocuous so I don't set off any drama bombs.

It sounds at this point that people are not so concerned about workload for the mods so much as they are about drama bombs and the people who would want to ask about their relationships over and over and over again. Maybe what you want is to limit the human relations questions rather than overall questions, since nobody seems to have a problem with someone asking about non-drama issues. Or just give people a limited amount of questions per week or month and once people use them up, they can't ask for a while.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:10 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Kanata, it isn't "just you" and you have nothing to apologize for. After replying to you, I went back and skimmed most of the discussion and while the shitty, rampant classism on Metafilter has been a huge thorn in my side, I am not hearing that here in this specific discussion. This is what I am hearing:

AskMe is Jessamyn's baby. But she retired (in her words) so "mefi would be less about me and I would be less about mefi." And now cortex is in charge and he wants to dye the baby's hair purple. And she is all "Auuuugh!!!! You can't do that!!!!" And old friends are trying to be all "Jess, it will be okay." And simultaneously "Cortex, maybe the baby's mom knows best, you should rethink this."

But she voluntarily gave up her baby and cortex totally can dye the baby's hair purple and see if he likes it because he is in charge now. (And he can change it back if he winds up hating it.)

/2¢
posted by Michele in California at 9:27 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Except we're not dyeing the baby's hair purple we're just unswaddling it a little.
posted by bleep at 9:52 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


MiC, I get that you're wanting to reassure kanata, which is nice (and kanata: you deserve to be reassured!), but that's a weirdly personalizing fan-fic-y way of reading this whole situation as being mainly about cortex and jessamyn, and that's not accurate.

Instead, the thread really is just what it seems like: Mrs Pterodactyl suggested this idea, the mods talked it over, it's something we've thought about trying out in the past, we decided to run with the MeTa about it to gauge people's reactions. jessamyn thinks it's probably not a good idea for the reasons she said. Other people have given their thoughts too, some pro, some con. We're talking in a straightforward way to work out how best to proceed. IMO, things are pointing to its being okay to give this (or something similar) a shot for a short time and see how it goes.

(kanata, I think when people are like "oh no, not more human relations AskMe" they're thinking of a tiny handful of folks who ask really substantially the same question over and over (especially "I'm dating a guy, he texted me this, what do you guys think" type play-by-play, or "I'm uncertain and feel stuck in life overall, what do you guys think") but -- critically -- never seem to use any of the answers they've gotten in previous questions. Like, "I'm in a hole, what should I do" is fine to ask once, but asking again and again suggests that the asker isn't getting anything useful out of people's previous answers, either because they're not taking advice or else this is a problem AskMe can't effectively help with. It's frustrating to answerers. It's not using AskMe as a resource for getting answers, it's using AskMe as something else, journalling or venting or similar. It's the kind of thing we mods really just need to talk to them one-on-one about.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:53 AM on February 11 [29 favorites]


I get the sense that redundant human relations questions are flagged/called out by the community pretty quickly, so there's a strong deterrent already in place. Since the site norms are pretty robust around that, I don't think this policy will lead to an unchecked increase in serial posts about the same topic.

And generally, I'm pretty okay with serial posts on the same topic, as long as the OP has shown that they're grappling with the advice they received in previous questions.
posted by delight at 11:26 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is another one of those things where I think folks have an understandable gripe about something pretty specific and narrow in scope but then it ends up being pretty easy to refer to a larger, unproblematic type of behavior when talking about it.

So, "people asking about their relationships", which is in fact fine and a pretty obvious use case for Ask, ends up being used as shorthand sometimes in conversations like this for the much more specific idea of "a handful of users who revisit the same relationship issue repeatedly while seemingly ignoring any feedback in previous questions", which isn't so great and is something that as mods we try to provide pushback of increasing strength on when we do see it happening.

The complaint makes sense, the mods basically agree with it, but the shorthand language ends up being overly broad and can thus end up feeling like people coming down hard on what's actually a broad and totally okay kind of site usage and we can end up with misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

I'm finding it useful when trying to rethink/revisit some of the details of site practice and community expectations to try and break those things apart explicitly and make sure I'm thinking about the specific thing I'm trying to focus on rather than expanding it to the larger umbrella of ideas it relates to. So where I see e.g. a likely unproblematic outcome with allowing more questions, it's not because I don't think people can and will use Ask badly sometimes, but rather because I think that that bad usage exists as a property independent of the question limit and is better tackled in its own right. But likewise I see it as important to not conflate problematic behavior in a narrow subset of relationship questions with the idea that relationship questions are a problem, etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:03 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


Also - some quick responses to a couple things asked/mentioned in the thread -

- About multiple posting via sockpuppets and anon -
The one-question-per-week limit is per-person, not per-account.... so if you've asked one under your main account, you're out of luck. You're not supposed to ask again under anon or sock account. If someone does anyway, there's not always a the-site-prevents-it blockage, it depends on the exact sequence of events, but there are red flags that go up for us and we'll get in touch with the person. Usually it's an honest-mistake scenario and we'll let it ride once. Sometimes it's a deliberate rule-breaking and we'll delete the question, and in cases of clear abuse, ban the person permanently. There have been a few cases where someone contacted us with "help, I just asked a question and I have an emergency" and we've been able to just post their question under our own account for example, or let them know it's ok to have a friend post it.

- Number of questions on front page vs. available answerers -
I think the thing that keeps people reading AskMe is that it's fun to see the questions and especially fun if there's one you can help with. I think loosening people up to ask a few more of their well-specified but just-wondering questions could make it more fun to read.

More interesting questions --> more regular readers --> more answerers --> greater chance of just the right person seeing your question.

- Type of questions I'd like to encourage -
I suspect "question hoarder" people (like me) will "save up for" questions that end up being narrowly tailored practical ones, of interest mostly to the asker ("what kind of car should we get with these six criteria") and maybe not as much for the general reader. It's good to use AskMe for those -- I'm not knocking that at all. But it could be more fun to have a few more of the just-curious, general-interest questions ("how do airplane crew shifts work?" "what's the difference between motors and engines?") interspersed.

Interestingness breeds interestingness too -- people come to expect certain kinds of questions are on AskMe, and if it's mostly human-relations, life-direction, and hyper-specific practical/consumer questions, we'll tend to get more of those and more people who like answering those. Whereas if we nudge it toward including interesting odd facty questions, we'll get more of those and more people who like them.

To this end, I also favor moving a bit away from an overly-strict norm of "could you have found this info on your own." That norm is good for some things but has its downside. It'll prevent a cautious norm-follower with good google-fu from posting almost anything, even if it would be a fine question that would get good answers here and be interesting for other readers. Plenty of basic-ish questions that you might search in google return junky content-mill answers; we could do much better, both for our askers and for future searchers. And given we rely on ad revenue from searchers finding AskMe questions, it would be better for the site if our good answers were showing up in those results rather than the junky content mill's. Ditto for asking "duplicates" of questions from ten years ago -- to me, that's an okay thing to do in most cases, and can even be good for the site.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:22 PM on February 11 [21 favorites]


Oh my gosh yes. ^^^ This might be my favorite comment in all of Metafilter history.

I am so glad to see this stuff being addressed. Thank you again and keep up the excellent work mod team!
posted by bleep at 12:29 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I ask about two questions a year at most. But, I keep an AskMe tab open almost all the time, and when I need a break, I pop over and read the questions and answer the questions I can. It's one of my favorite Internet activities, and I've learned a ton from reading answers to questions I would never have thought of asking.

Over the years, especially recently, I've noticed that the number of questions has indeed dropped. Now, I often reload an hour or two later and the same question is still chilling at the top of the page. I scan through some new answers to questions I've read, and move on.

I'd love for there to be more questions available to askers. And, hey, if it opens up a new diversity of questions that people didn't want to waste their weekly question on, that would be fun too! Because now I'm bored and out of #content, so I have to read and respond of MetaTalk, and that's less fun.
posted by General Malaise at 12:51 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


"What if we let people queue up questions?" he yells from the back of the crowd, trying to disguise his voice. "Has anyone ever considered that or written an exquite comment fable about the idea?"
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:50 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


Given a population with heterogeneous question-asking propensity. Suppose there is an artificial limit to (per-user) question frequency, so that some users aren't able to post questions as often as they'd like. What effect will changing the (per-user) question frequency limit have on the overall rate of questions?

I believe the question can be addressed using Good-Turing estimation. It would be interesting to see some version of the question-frequency distribution.
posted by grobstein at 2:16 PM on February 11


More interesting questions --> more regular readers --> more answerers --> greater chance of just the right person seeing your question.

I'm not sure I buy this. Since we're guessing about the future, here's another possibility, equally speculative:

More chatty questions-->more questions roll off the front page-->more askers who don't answer other q's-->erosion of usefulness as a driving purpose of AskMe-->lamer site
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:45 PM on February 11


I've noticed that the number of questions has indeed dropped. Now, I often reload an hour or two later and the same question is still chilling at the top of the page. I scan through some new answers to questions I've read, and move on.

I've noticed this too but I think it's sweet--in fact, often when I start writing a Q, I find it's been asked and very thoughtfully answered already, rendering my Q unnecessary. AskMe is a huge repository of knowledge and experience, and that means fewer and fewer answerable questions haven't yet been answered. Feature not bug, I think? I mean, if we don't want it to serve as a repository, old Qs should be deleted. If we do want it to serve as a repository, then it's pretty predictable that fewer questions will need to be asked.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:48 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Regardless of the number of questions per week you guys decide on, what I would really, really like--what would bring me peace of mind--is an emergency store of say 5 or 10 questions per year that I can use at any rate I choose. Sometimes you get in a situation where you need a lot of advice in a short period, like in a new job, or during a remodel. And also, I'm a question hoarder because always in the back of my mind I have that guy locked in his bedroom using AskMe for advice on how to get out. If I had my emergency stash of questions I would feel free to use this week's question to find the best brand of wool socks.
posted by HotToddy at 4:02 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


I am for two a week, but not because I think I would use this very often. Maybe once in my life. I would appreciate that one time.

What strikes me is that two a week would actually make it easier to identify people who are going on about their relationship or being egregiously Chatfilter if they actually do push the limit, and they could be told to knock it off in a quicker and more confident fashion. Far from making things more spammy, I could see this making the spam easier to control.

Thumbs up on doing it as a test balloon.
posted by solarion at 5:20 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I'd love to be able to bank questions up to a low limit (three or five) at the rate of one a week. I just think I'd use my questions more often if I wasn't anxious about having used up my question. (It has literally never occurred to me to ask someone else to post a question for me. It seems like an overstep, and my spouse is a Mefite, so that's saying something.)

I'd really like to know if any of our ideas about banking questions or having extra emergency questions is actually feasible coding wise. (If it isn't, I think two questions per week is better than one question every three days, for the anxiety soothing it provides.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:57 PM on February 11 [10 favorites]


After reading this for a few days and thinking more, I've swung to 'this sounds like a good idea'. In part, because good arguments/points pro from the mods, and in part because the actual specific humans asking for this in this thread write stuff I like and find interesting, so from a purely selfish standpoint I feel like there's a fairly certain positive outcome represented here, but only a sort of vague potential negative - which has been anticipated/planned for and we've got an out if it should come to pass.

And I'm kind of addicted to Ask, and having more potential stuff to read at breakfast is appealing, and I'm still capable of stepping around stuff that does not interest me even if there's more of it.
posted by you must supply a verb at 7:05 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I'd really like to know if any of our ideas about banking questions or having extra emergency questions is actually feasible coding wise.

They'd be feasible but require some additional fiddly implementation and communication work compared the the flat two-per-week method I'm contemplating for now. So if at some point in the future that approach ended up looking like it'd work better, it's something I'm confident we could tackle, but I prefer to start elsewhere with this.

AskMe is a huge repository of knowledge and experience, and that means fewer and fewer answerable questions haven't yet been answered.

I can understand this line of thinking, and I think it's something that explicitly informs some Q&A type structures—the "every question only once ever" approach was fundamental to Stack Overflow, for example—but I think leaning hard on that is valuing a kind of structural neatness over the idea of Ask as a living and evolving resource. Having a large body of older questions to search is great; being able to ask the your question anyway because the timing or details or context are different is also great.

And our thinking as a community about double posts, on Ask and on MetaFilter proper (where it's been more of a thing in general in any case) was developed initially at a time when the site was far younger and the gap between "now" and "then" was by definition much smaller even at its maximum than it is today. It's a good example of one of those things I've been talking about trying to reassess with clear eyes in terms of trying to make sure our implementation of policy serves the site rather than just the established sense of what-the-policy-is. What goal, specifically, does trying to avoid duplication across a years-long span serve, and in what ways does serving that goal in turn negatively affect the site, and is it better to stick to that practice by rote or modify it to better serve the site and userbase of today, etc.

I think avoiding duplication is a laudable organizational aspiration, but I don't think it's inherently the overwhelming priority, particularly for Ask. Most questions aren't going to be one-and-done "It's called All Summer in a Day" situations even if there's some close similarity with something in the archives.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:36 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


I would like to know if this contemplated change is because of a theoretical belief that it will improve the site or if it is revenue driven meaning that more questions leads to more revenue. Oddly enough, I would support this more if it was revenue driven. I think we all want to see the site succeed and thrive. If this change would help that, I can certainly deal with any inconvenience I might find as a result.

I also subscribe to the theory that this is your (cortex) sandbox and we can all play in it nicely according to your rules. I think cortex should just make a decision he feels is best and go with it. Let the inner Trump in you out and make AskMe great again!!

My point is I do not know if this change will help the site from a user standpoint, but if it helps from an owner standpoint, that itself is good enough for me as I believe you to be the ultimate fiduciary in terms of watching out for the site which is in turn watching out for the users.
posted by AugustWest at 12:21 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I would like to know if this contemplated change is because of a theoretical belief that it will improve the site or if it is revenue driven meaning that more questions leads to more revenue.

The former, with the latter as a welcome side effect if it manifests. In practice our revenue has been fairly uncoupled from site activity volume but it's plausible that over the long haul Google's indexing of new ask content will correlate to search traffic and the revenue that goes with it, etc. That's all a bit voodoo so it's not something we can really bank strategically on. But more new questions won't hurt there, all else aside.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:29 PM on February 12


In what way would it be an inconvenience to users? How is having more free content a bad thing?
posted by bleep at 12:44 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Let the inner Trump in you out and make AskMe great again!!

Gross. I genuinely am not entirely sure what you are trying to signal here or to whom you're trying to signal it, but.... ick.

It's also strange to say that this is cortex' site and he should run it like he wants when, speaking for myself, half the reason I am here in this community and not on some other platform is because I appreciate the effort made by mods here to listen to constituent community members. That is also the thing I use to recruit other people here and to praise this site to my friends. It's also weird to me because my impression has always been that mods and sysadmins behind the scenes develop ideas about what is workable and what should happen with respect to the site in a collaborative fashion, taking community opinions into account but also opinions like "what is workable right now" and "what will make me the mod who has to handle this in practice not wish to stab myself in the eyeballs" into account from each of the mods and "do we have the server for this?" or "is this codeable in a relatively short timeframe?" from pb.

Encouraging cortex to take a my-way-or-the-highway approach and do whatever he likes best by ignoring the input of not only the membership but also the other mods whose full-time job it is to look after this site is just weird to me. It's essentially antithetical to the aspects of this community I like best. Of course, cortex doesn't have to listen to me, either, any more than he does you--but the fact that he does is a huge part of why I'm here, and if that suddenly changed I would probably start thinking about voting with my feet.
posted by sciatrix at 3:43 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Cortex, Matt left you in charge, and I have confidence that any decisions you make are made with inputs from the community and in the best interests of the site.
posted by Rob Rockets at 5:01 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


It's generally good to try new things and experiment, but the way this post reads sounds like people are bored and are looking for more entertainment from one of their hobbies. That doesn't sound like it'll end well in the longterm.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:25 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I appreciate the effort made by mods here to listen to constituent community members.

Yeah, but I question whether this thread on MeTa, with very few users commenting, tells us anything about what community members really want, especially since AskMe involves many members who never come to MeTa and the few people who have commented here represent a vanishingly tiny portion of the userbase as a whole.

A "user survey" like this thread is really a bone-toss to the most vocal minority of Mefites and provides no real information about what the larger userbase wants. I'm sure cortex's intentions are good (always, in fact!), but this isn't remotely a way to do what it purports to be doing and--unintentionally!--is more likely to provide a persuasive distortion than a valid survey of opinions.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:43 PM on February 12


But that's true of virtually every policy or software change ever discussed on MeTa. This doesn't strike me as such a screamingly large change that it requires special consultation with the userbase -- in fact it strikes me as one that very few people other than MeTa regulars will even notice.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:20 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


I think the majority of users (who are mainly AskMefites) should notice, or what's the point?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:52 PM on February 12


I'm sure cortex's intentions are good (always, in fact!), but this isn't remotely a way to do what it purports to be doing

I'm not sure what you're purporting I'm purporting to do, honestly; a user made a pony request, I said I'm seriously considering granting it, and a bunch of people have talked about their feelings about it and related ideas. Nobody called this a poll, I didn't put it through as a poll, and nobody is mistaking this thread for science or a robust survey.

We'll announce the trial when we roll it out, and those who notice will notice, and whatever happens will happen, and we'll go from there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:42 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Well, in honor of tomorrow, a Saint Valentine includes three units of white rum per port
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:04 PM on February 12


A 'state of the site' report, maybe in a new thread, would be invaluable for informing my opinion on this, especially in light on some moderator commentary in this thread. Are there fewer questions now than before? Is membership growing at an acceptable rate? Would the site do better with more questions? Where is Metafilter headed more generally? Is it too early to start planning the 20th anniversary party?

There are at least four AskMe constituencies: askers, answerers, those who are reading for entertainment, and future information seekers. The answerers are the most important constituency, in my opinion-the quality of the answers is what sets AskMe apart and makes the other constiuencies possible (yes, even the askers, there are wonderful, interesting answers to fairly banal questions every day, but a great question with bad answers serves none of the constituencies). I'm happy with a trial period but I want to hear more site goals before I settle my opinion on this. Apologies if some of this has been covered but if I've missed it, others probably have as well.
posted by Kwine at 12:28 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


let slip the dogs of whuh
posted by fleacircus at 6:56 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I still think it's a bad idea, but then again, I don't have to manage any of it and if the people who do are like "Eh, we don't expect a huge workload increase from it and maybe it'll toss some revenue our way", then sure, test it out. If it becomes fully implemented (which sounds like the direction its moving) and becomes a problem, then fixing that problem can be discussed at a later point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:19 AM on February 13


I think I like this idea; I find many of the questions asked interesting and I often learn from the responses. And, let's be honest- some of the more bizarre and messy human relations questions that get asked by the same person are the most interesting of all-- I hope it's not exploitative to think so, but I'm pretty sure many people agree due to the number of responses these generate (and hopefully all of us, including the asker, are benefiting from reading questions and answers about various experiences) So it wouldn't necessarily bother me to see larger amounts of these questions- I like reading them. (mentioning that because I feel like these are the types of people that may use up a lot of their allotted questions).
posted by bearette at 7:46 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


I would be in favor of increasing the weekly Ask limit: if of course it's workable for the mods, and doesn't overload what I'm sure is an already tough job.

I understand the hoarding-your-precious-weekly question concept; lord knows I do it too, and have ended up posting something like three dozen Asks over the six years since I signed up here. But raising the limit to two Asks a week won't mean everybody will Ask twice a week, or even that the current number of Asks from all users will double --- for starters, just as a lot of us hoard our current single weekly slot in case we need to ask an emergency question, we'll continue to hoard at least one of those prospective two weekly slots for an emergency.

And the mostly-lurkers and answers-only/never-posters will continue to mostly-lurk and answer only: maybe they'll add a little to the current Ask counts, but it still won't be much because if they're content to lurk now they'll still be content to lurk if the limit is raised.

I'm sure some folks push their limits now, and those same people will always push their limits, whether that's one Ask or two. But if the mods feel they can handle it, let's give it a try, maybe with a caveat that only one of those two weekly questions can be on the same subject, and the second question has to be unrelated.
posted by easily confused at 10:23 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I almost never post to MetaTalk and wanted to chime in here to say that I think this is a great idea. I also hoard my questions in case of "Can I eat it/what's this rash/why is my GF doing this" emergencies but writing one often leads me to thinking of unrelated questions shortly thereafter that I usually forget about it by the time a week passes.

I've always had plenty of time between questions, so I've never seen if there's a timer when you go to post a question before your week is up that tells you how long you have until you can post another one. Assuming that's the case from what people are saying here. Seems like a good way to alert people about this change if they don't notice a banner announcing the change or a notice on the "New Question" page.

If people don't notice it...so what? That seems like a non-problem to me, maybe even a bonus as everyone adjusts to what I predict won't be much of a change to the culture of the site.

And though it probably won't dramatically change AskMeFi, I'd love to see the volume of questions there increase to where it was even a few years ago. Honestly my biggest concern is that I'll have to roll my eyes more often when seeing that the same chronic users who post an answer to question after question regardless of whether they have anything to contribute. I get off on feeling aggrieved by internet strangers, though, so it's not really a problem for me.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:49 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I've posted a grand total of 13 questions in 12 years, but I once ran into a situation where I really wanted to ask a second question in the same week and I remember thinking it was fairly capricious that I couldn't. I'm all for increasing the permitted number of questions.
posted by Lame_username at 11:48 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


I feel like that situation is the source of most people's question hoarding, my own included. I think it would be best dealt with by saying you can't ask more then two questions in any 8 day period.
posted by soelo at 1:14 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


If people got, say, 2 questions per week, wouldn't they just wind up hoarding the second question in fear of an emergency? I am not necessarily opposed to increasing the limit, or to a potential result where people wind up asking one question a week and hoarding the second, but I feel like hoarders are still gonna hoard if there's any sort of limit. (No snark intended; I empathize, even though I don't ask a ton of questions myself.)
posted by ferret branca at 5:11 PM on February 13


(Ugh, sorry, I realized my point came up previously; sorry for not reading more closely!)
posted by ferret branca at 5:25 PM on February 13


> Yeah, but I question whether this thread on MeTa, with very few users commenting, tells us anything about what community members really want, especially since AskMe involves many members who never come to MeTa and the few people who have commented here represent a vanishingly tiny portion of the userbase as a whole.

I question whether every single member who participates in AskMe actually "really wants" to hash out every detail of the site's policies. For those who do, open discussions are posted in MetaTalk.

Also, number of users commenting in MetaTalk is not necessarily an accurate accounting of its representativeness, as users may be reading MetaTalk without commenting.
posted by desuetude at 8:27 AM on February 14


Maybe not feeling like they are wasting a question will let people ask in AskMe instead of asking in the rolling politics thread
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:57 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Coming to this post late, but I have Feelings to share as someone who spends way, way too much time every day on Ask.

1) I am moderately against allowing a regular posting frequency of more than one question a week. A tiny number of posters post weekly already, and I would really prefer to hear from a more diverse group of posters, not allow these "super posters" to further drown out everyone else.

2)This is completely outweighed by my huge support for allowing back to back comments. Two is a good start - I'd actually prefer something more like 5/week, as long as it doesn't happen every week.

Similar to many others in the thread, I barely ever post Ask questions although I think of several every day, because I'm always paranoid that immediately after I post, I'll think of a way more important question, which will of course be totally forgotten and/or irrelevant after 7 days. So of course I just hoard that possibility and never post anything.

So overall, I am hugely in favour of allowing 2 questions per week with no time limit between them. But my ideal scenario would look a bit different - more questions in a shorter time (more "burst" potential) without increasing the total "volume" in the long term (as in keeping a cap of ~50 per year or 4-5 per month).

Thanks for listening!
posted by randomnity at 1:39 PM on February 14


Has a decision been made about this? I only ask because I suddenly have two very pressing, time-sensitive questions....
posted by tzikeh at 12:50 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


It's something we're planning to run with and aiming for "soon", but I can't tell you exactly when we'll roll it out; there's some additional plumbing to do to get it ready and we've got a couple other small things we're trying to finish off as well. So for now the best plan is to aim for status quo.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:56 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


So for now the best plan is to aim for status quo.

If only others in charge of things that affect my life had this same attitude.
posted by hippybear at 3:43 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Hi there, is this happening as of today? I was just about to post a question and then I realized that although I'm able to I'm maybe I'm not supposed to because I posted something anon less than a week ago...
posted by latkes at 7:28 PM on March 8


I think that's the anon loophole, not a rule change. It's still showing 'you've asked a question in the last 7 days' to me.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:37 PM on March 8


Yeah, no rollout yet; we'll make prominent noise when it happens. The anon checking is a little porous by nature (making it less so would also make the anon function less, uh, anonymous) so we just trust folks to keep themselves honest in the event that they happen across the edge cases where they could in practice sneak back in sooner after an anon.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:57 PM on March 8


Gotcha, thanks!
posted by latkes at 8:03 PM on March 8


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