Trying out two Ask MetaFilter questions per week! June 8, 2017 12:43 PM   Subscribe

We had a discussion earlier this year about allowing two Ask MetaFilter questions per week, and I think it's worth a shot. Today we're rolling it out, and we'll see how it goes.

There's a lot of discussion in that previous thread, if you're curious about what folks offered as arguments for and against the idea and the alternative arrangements that got proposed. I laid out some detailed thoughts on both this specific plan and more broad Ask thoughts that fall outside the scope of this specific question-limit change. Right now we're not really revisiting those arguments at all so much as running with a specific approach to see whether there's any mechanical or social issues that come up.

How it works: you'll now be able to ask up to two questions within any given one week (that is, 168 hour) period, where before the limit was one.

So if you ask a question today, and have something come up tomorrow, you'd still be able to ask that second one, but then not another one until this time next week. There's no banking of questions, no extra counting to do: just a little more flexibility for those moments when a couple of different questions end up clustering up on short notice, which is something nobody seems to run into too often but lots and lots of people run into every once in a while.

My expectation with this new setup is that there won't be any big change; most folks don't ask anywhere near the long-standing one-a-week limit, and I am doubtful much of anyone will change their rate of asking by a significant degree. But we'll monitor things going forward and look at how folks use the feature, and if there is any surprising bumpiness or outstanding issues we'll revisit it to tweak the setup or in the most extreme case simply roll back the change.

Happy asking!
posted by cortex to Feature Requests at 12:43 PM (75 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

This seems like a clear easy win! Yay!
posted by Brainy at 12:45 PM on June 8


Are you sure this is a good idea?
posted by Jofus at 12:46 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Wait was that one of my questions?
posted by Jofus at 12:46 PM on June 8 [50 favorites]


Aha that's why Frimble posted a test question. "Puce" indeed. And I just wittily had crafted an answer to that question, "spell it with a "k" and you can count me in" when it was gone. Snif.
posted by Namlit at 12:46 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


DAMMIT!
posted by Jofus at 12:46 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Aha that's why Frimble posted a test question. "Puce" indeed.

Which got flagged in its very short lifespan. Eagle eyes out there in the MeFi community, I love you all.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:48 PM on June 8 [12 favorites]


So if I Ask my first question in months on Sunday and then ask another question on Wednesday do I have 2 questions available on the next Sunday or not until the next Wednesday?
posted by Mitheral at 12:48 PM on June 8


You'll have one available again on Sunday and then another on Wednesday.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:49 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Wednesday, because you just used one question here. Oh wait, a question inside a post doesn't count? Well that's no fun.
posted by easily confused at 12:50 PM on June 8


Flagged... I'm flagging at the end of my day, yes, but not in that manner.
posted by Namlit at 12:52 PM on June 8


Puce and the previous question were me making sure that it worked how I expected it to after making it live here. But I wanted the blip to be as quick as possible, so the second question needed to involve me typing as little as I could.

But since I almost never delete things, I needed to remember how, and that was enough time to get flagged (wow).
posted by frimble (staff) at 12:52 PM on June 8 [8 favorites]


YAY! Thank you!
posted by lalex at 12:56 PM on June 8


Awesome!
posted by soelo at 12:59 PM on June 8


Thank you.
posted by sockermom at 1:04 PM on June 8


IM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS.

even tho I ask about .1 questions per week.

(also, while looking up that math, I just passed my 5-year metafilterversary. if someone asked me how long I've been a member, i would have said 2-3 years. time flies!)
posted by Fig at 1:16 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


This is really great, I think I said this in the previous thread floating this idea that I often think of 3–4 additional questions I've meant to ask MF right after posting a question and naturally by the time a week is up I've forgotten about them and that kind of sucks.

Granted, maybe this means I'll now post two stupid questions in one week instead of posting just one, but I'm hopeful instead it means I'll redeem myself with a really good Ask after I make a really embarrassing one.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 1:58 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Like. Could always bump it back down. Or for bonus evil points give folks X number of emergency anytime questions a year then sell them a second question in any given week once they've used those up. It's just like the video game DLC or Pay To Win functions that everyone loves so much these days, except you don't win anything except heartache (for everyone involved).

*walks away from the dumpsterfire he just started*
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:09 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Some sort of In-Ask Purchases system, clearly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:10 PM on June 8 [9 favorites]


Oh my goodness, you're giving me stress, I was increasingly neurotic about not managing to think of even one "ask" appropriate question per week, now I have to worry TWICE as much, my life is either perfect or I'm so inversely dunning-kruger-ish I don't even know how bad I have it. Why why why!
posted by sammyo at 2:32 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Some sort of In-Ask Purchases system, clearly.

Lookit me, noobs! I earned my Stellar Armour of Hurf-Durf and my Badge of the First Poster! Buying your achievements? *pfft*

Joking aside, this is a spiffy system, and thanks for clarifying how we get new wishes questions.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:40 PM on June 8


Which got flagged in its very short lifespan

For fantastic, I hope.

Squee! Happy happy joy joy! Thank you!!
posted by Melismata at 3:03 PM on June 8


Marvelous! Now if only I could remember any of the 10,000 questions I have rolling around in my brain for "someday".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:10 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


I'd rather give up half of my questions, but all of the answers would be good. So I'd be like hey shit AskMe I can't sleep with all these killer bees in the house, any suggestions? And the answer would be, yeah Flo, sleeeeeeep! And I'd fall asleep. So then two weeks later I'd be all like shit AskMe, that was awesome, but maybe a better solution would be if you could just make the bees go away. Any solutions? And the answer would be, yeah Flo, move to a house without bees. And I'd put the house up for sale. But then two weeks later I'd go shit AskMe, that would totally fix the situation, no doubt about it, but my family thinks maybe it would be better to keep the house and make the bees leave, any suggestions? And the answer would be, sure Flo, DTMFFA. They're totally dragging you down. So then two weeks later I'd be all, shit AskMe, you're all monkey paws, ain't you? And the answer would be, yeah Flo, sleeeeeep!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:10 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


I'm gearing up my posting fingers to type EAT IT DON'T BE A WUSS/DTMFA UNLESS YOU DON'T ACTUALLY WANT TO/THERAPY/I5+8GIG+SSD+GTX970+BIG HD faster than the human eye can see im pumped/ready
posted by Sebmojo at 3:52 PM on June 8 [10 favorites]


Keep a close eye on John McCain's account.
posted by GuyZero at 4:21 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


I love this idea and (as somebody who seems to be stuck in the mindset of hoarding and not posting questions because what if I need to post another one urgently less than a week from now OMG) thank you very much for it.
posted by Lexica at 4:39 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!





(kidding. Yay!! Thank you!)
posted by zarq at 5:41 PM on June 8


Hope you don't mind yet another:

YAY! Thank you!
posted by kristi at 7:06 PM on June 8


Yay!! I am so excited about this. I think I will ask more questions now and feel less anxiety about doing so.
posted by delight at 7:32 PM on June 8


Ugh
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:03 PM on June 8


Thank you 🙌🏻
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:07 PM on June 8


Thank you! Finally I can ask questions about important things AND the questions about fun stuff that I've had, but was too afraid to ask can now, of course, not remember to save my life.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:38 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I'm with delight's eponymous comment!
posted by wintersweet at 10:19 PM on June 8


Now if only I could remember any of the 10,000 questions I have rolling around in my brain for "someday".

I've kept a few such questions in my profile, which I use as my personal question-logging space. At least for the non-anonymous questions. From time to time I review the list, search for new questions that might address my question and see if the internet at large is any more help today that it was when I first had the question in my head, and occasionally post some new questions.

I, too, "hoarded" a few questions because I was worried I would have a pressing issue for AskMe and these aren't critical questions, so I saved them for later.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:52 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Now if only I could remember any of the 10,000 questions I have rolling around in my brain for "someday".

Sounds like they're unimportant and you can probably skip em.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:55 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Dear AskMe

Mom and Dad got me a pony! I'm really excited about it but my brother thinks it's a stupid pony and I didn't deserve it and thinks I'm going to treat it badly. He doesn't have to be anywhere near the pony cos it'll be living out back and I promise to feed it with sugar lumps and ride it every day and take it to the horse dentist. But he keeps making snarky remarks about it and rolling his eyes. Should I: ignore him? Explain that it was Mom and Dad's decision and it's not like he lost out or anything and he can ignore my lovely pony entirely if he wants even though it's so cute? Call him a big meanie poopy head, give him a wedgie and run away? Please hope me Hivemind!!
posted by billiebee at 5:37 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Dear AskMe

I just asked a question about my brother which was really important to me but I've just realised my hamster has disappeared and if I wait a week to find her she'll be dead. Where should I start looking? TIA!
posted by billiebee at 5:40 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I posted a question earlier this week and I am already hoarding my second one.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:46 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Yay! Thank you very much for this! Now I even more have only myself to blame for not asking any of the many questions I have.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:55 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


NowthatIvegotoneponycanIhaveanotherFilter:

Is there any chance there might be a way to allow question asking from mobile? I'd say 90% of my MeFi time (like, say, now) is done on my phone, and I suspect that's not uncommon among other members. I know there were solid reasons for not allowing it a couple years back, any chance that's changed?
posted by Ghidorah at 9:15 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


If only sixcolors was here to see this day.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:39 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


The easy but unsatisfying answer for Classic theme diehards is "it's really easy to do on Modern". Pop over, post, pop back isn't too bad.

But I did get to chatting with frimble and the team in general about trying to find time to revisit the Classic mobile theme on a couple questions like this; I don't feel as strongly as Matt did about trying to steer people away from posting on mobile back in the day, so trying to update a couple of these things to lower the friction for people stuck on not-Modern is something worth looking at. I have no timeline for that, though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:39 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


YAY LONG LIVE CLASSIC THEME DIEHARDS!!

Thank you cortex
posted by Melismata at 9:50 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


A. Classic theme FOREVER, whippersnapper trendy design themes NEVER!!!!

B. This is fantastic - I was just paralyzed by indecision earlier this week based on having an interesting question that I think would be fun to get answered AND a politically relevant question that would be useful, and have posted neither!
posted by Frowner at 10:05 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


Repeating my dislike of this feature. The front page of AskMe runs by too quickly as it is.
posted by terrapin at 10:35 AM on June 9


The front page of AskMe runs by too quickly as it is.

To reiterate something from the previous discussion, this is a matter of personal preference and perception. The front page of Ask runs by significantly less quickly than it did a few years ago; if it's still faster than you'd prefer, I can understand and respect that, but if it's a problem now it used to be a worse one and this change is unlikely to bring things anywhere near that old high water mark even if there is a noticeable uptick.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:39 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


The front page of Ask runs by significantly less quickly than it did a few years ago

Came (back) here to say this. I keep meaning to ask the question: howz traffic these days? Posts do seem fewer these days. Is this problematic? Perhaps the two-day-a-week rule will encourage more engagement with AskMe?
posted by Melismata at 10:49 AM on June 9


Overall activity on the site is down some over the last few years, though still reasonably busy (hasn't been e.g. an order of magnitude of drop-off). External traffic has fallen off a ways as well over the years (which contributed in part to some of the financial crisis stuff a few years back), though has been pretty steady the last 2-3 years.

Short answer is: significantly less than it was on both fronts in the peak years around 2009 or so, but not very volatile lately which is reassuring. The contraction over the last few years is difficult to entirely unpack but not catastrophic by itself: MeFi has been MeFi at various sizes over the years, and will keep being so. There was a bunch of more detailed conversation about some of that stuff in this MetaTalk a few months ago, which was nominally about US politics' impact on the site but ranged into a wider set of topics about site activity and internal and external factors about the site, the web, tech use, and the state of the world itself.

But, yeah, I've been thinking a lot about (and talked some in there and elsewhere about) engagement on the site and things that might help promote that. It's a big complicated topic, but I think a lot of little shards of it can be isolated and talked about and worked on constructively; letting people feel a bit better/looser about asking a question is one of those small things. It won't fundamentally change anything by itself, but if it helps? Great.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:08 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: It's a big complicated topic, but I think a lot of little shards of it can be isolated and talked about and worked on constructively.
posted by Melismata at 11:15 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


The easy but unsatisfying answer for Classic theme diehards is "it's really easy to do on Modern"

Thanks to that typeface switch that happened a while back, I read this as "it's really easy to do on Modem"
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:16 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


But, yeah, I've been thinking a lot about (and talked some in there and elsewhere about) engagement on the site and things that might help promote that. It's a big complicated topic, but I think a lot of little shards of it can be isolated and talked about and worked on constructively; letting people feel a bit better/looser about asking a question is one of those small things. It won't fundamentally change anything by itself, but if it helps? Great.

Can I make a suggestion, if you haven't done it already? Promote this change to online tech editors. Drop them a one or two line note, or preferably a really short press release with boilerplate explaining what Ask is for the uninitiated.

Even if only one or two outlets mention it, that could conceivably help increase traffic.
posted by zarq at 2:40 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Cool. In the past I often ended up NOT asking my questions because I'd think, "Well, I can't ask this now, because I might think of a better question soon but then I won't be able to ask it." This new development takes some of the pressure off neurotic second-guessers like me.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:13 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Yay! I had no idea this was so close when I emailed the mods about it last week. Only problem is, I've now forgotten the second question I wanted to ask.
posted by capricorn at 4:38 PM on June 9


I've been thinking a lot about (and talked some in there and elsewhere about) engagement on the site and things that might help promote that.

Quizzes on the front page;
Find out what your love's first name is...
What Star Wars character are you?
Should Tiger Woods wife leave him?

No thanks necessary. That one's free.
posted by bongo_x at 4:52 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


This will definitely encourage me to post more. I can't promise they'll be good posts, but I will post more.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:53 PM on June 9


I'd also like to appreciate the fact that "small" changes like this which nonetheless affect behaviour patterns get run by the community. Contrast your Twitter/Tumblr/et al, often pushing in seemingly random changes by executive fiat.

Seconded on the promotion to online tech editors.
posted by solarion at 10:44 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


> Only problem is, I've now forgotten the second question I wanted to ask.

You wanted to know whether you could eat it. Apparently, you could.
posted by languagehat at 7:30 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I'm imagining the front page of AskMe filled with, "I wanted to ask a question, but I forgot what it was! Can anyone help me identify it?"
posted by lazuli at 7:41 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]


Well, now I know what I should have used for a second test question.
posted by frimble (staff) at 8:32 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


So thrilled! Now I can always use a question if I have it, while still keeping one in my back pocket for emergencies! Thanks, mods!
posted by corb at 8:57 AM on June 10


I think this is great! Thanks guys.

I recently had a time-sensitive question come up that I couldn't ask (I even begged via the contact form about it), and this would have been so nice.

My question would have been about how best to park in SF during Bay to Breakers, and what came up with on my own worked fine, so OTOH maybe this change will stunt my personal development. :)
posted by jcreigh at 10:56 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


This is good. Thanks, Frimble and the MeFi Admin team.
posted by theora55 at 4:09 PM on June 11


Aha that's why Frimble posted a test question. "Puce" indeed.

Was the question "What's the use of puce?"
posted by octobersurprise at 6:42 PM on June 12




The use of "puce" is the pleasurably grossed-out moment when you first learn that the color's name is because it resembles that of a blood-gorged flea. And then later, understanding the dramatic tension just before "poom!"
posted by Lexica at 7:20 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


trying to find time to revisit the Classic mobile theme on a couple questions like this

Oh man I thought it was just me who couldn't figure out how to do this. I'd love it if folks could revisit some of the Classic Theme things like this.

But hey, more questions, fun! And I hope this makes people's question-asking anxiety go down, though I wonder if incoming n00bs will be like "only two?"
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:13 AM on June 13


FWIW, the other option for Classic Theme diehards who want to make a post/ask a question from their mobile devices is to switch to Standard Site via the handy-dandy link down at the very bottom of every page, post from that, and then switch back to Mobile via that same link. It's a strategy I've used more than once with great success; Standard Classic isn't that much harder to use on a phone or tablet than Mobile Classic, and this is especially true I find when it comes to navigating the posting interface. You have to do a little bit of pinching and panning, but less than you'd think, and everything works just fine on a phone.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:19 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


The two-questions-per-week thing has already justified itself, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by naju at 10:44 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


Thank you. It's a really good idea, that asking a question is no longer an automatic 7-day denial of service.
posted by Baeria at 4:37 PM on June 17


Just thank God it's not ALL YOUR LIFE.
posted by bongo_x at 10:43 PM on June 17


Why just two? Sometimes I don't ask my second question because I'm saving it in case I have an urgent one.

Why have a limit at all?

(YES THIS SLOPE IS SLIPPERY AND THESE ROLLER SKATES ARE JAMMIN' CALLED SATURDAYS)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:29 PM on June 17


...an automatic 7-day denial of service.

So many response options....
posted by zarq at 7:14 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Why have a limit at all?

I don't actually think this slope is as slippery as it sounds, or maybe rather I'm not totally sure there's much of anything terrible at the bottom of that hill if one were to slip on down it. But, conservatively, there are problems with abuse that I could see arising with Unlimited Question Asking All The Time that don't crop up with a throttled amount.

As is, the current change has exposed to us mod-side to a couple interesting details about where our assumptions about administrative stuff do and don't meet up perfectly with two-a-week issues—there are knock-on effects in how it intersects with sock-related tracking, it changes the "what happens when a question gets deleted" situation, etc.—and that's been helpful to look at.

It's not impossible that one day we'd decide that we'd covered all the bases well enough, and looked at the lay of the land with enough confidence, that we'd say "hey, the limit is now nothing, just don't fuck around". I'm not planning for that, mind you. But it's not an impossibility, and knowing more about how 1/week vs. 2/week functions goes a long way to telling us whether and how any notional jump to n/week would work.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:26 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


NO GODS

NO MASTERS

UNLIMITED ASKMES

(I kid, I kid. cortex, thanks for explaining the background reasoning behind even having a limit, that's something I wondered about too, even through for my personal usage I am 100% happy with 2/week.)
posted by jcreigh at 6:25 PM on June 18


Before now I very rarely asked questions because I was afraid something would come up that only MeFites can solve...and then nothing would but I still don't ask.

But now I can ask my questions whenever I damn well please! HURRAY!
posted by wenestvedt at 10:22 AM on June 19


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