Limit on Best Answers? December 10, 2005 5:54 PM   Subscribe

Maybe there could be a limit on the number of "Best Answers" that a question gets?
posted by Kirth Gerson to Feature Requests at 5:54 PM (34 comments total)

posted by kjh at 5:55 PM on December 10, 2005

I certainly appreciated my answer to this thread being marked as Best, and I'm sure the other nine posters who were so blessed also are happy. The three poor sods who missed out, maybe not.

Could there be a limit of say, three Best Answers?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:55 PM on December 10, 2005

That's why.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:05 PM on December 10, 2005

Does this happen with any regularity?
posted by cortex at 6:06 PM on December 10, 2005

"Best" is a superlative; grammatically speaking, there should be only one. The ten answers may be better than the others, but they aren't all the best.

Not that it matters, just fun to point out for some reason.
posted by found missing at 6:09 PM on December 10, 2005

Think of 'best' in the sense of 'very helpful'. It's not meant to give the people marked 'best' warm fuzzies (though, I have to admit I get warm fuzzies when I see one of my answers marked 'best'). It's supposed to call out particularly useful information in the thread so someone reading it later knows which answers to turn to first. In a broad question, that could be a lot of different answers.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:17 PM on December 10, 2005

I agree in the sense that too many "best answers" makes the page unreadable. But that's the only reason that I'd limit it.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:23 PM on December 10, 2005

Highlighting every answer is visually disconcerting. However, that's an extremely minor complaint (as opposed to, say, italicizing all the text) -- and to all any objections involving pride or people's feelings, I'd answer that I don't give a damn. So no, I don't think there's any problem that needs to be solved by limiting best answers.
posted by cribcage at 6:32 PM on December 10, 2005

Crap idea. Potentially, each post can be an elaboration or reaction to the last, and thus very useful in its own right. In fact, I'd say lets have more than one tick - as a discussion becomes more and more correct people might want to mark it.
posted by fire&wings at 6:33 PM on December 10, 2005

So maybe a waiting period of, say, three days before an answer can be marked as a Best Answer.

Wait until the discussion has evolved and answers can be considered on their merits.
posted by geekyguy at 6:42 PM on December 10, 2005

Following from "found missing" how about Good Answers instead of Best Answers. Answers not marked Good are not necessarily bad.
posted by Eideteker at 6:48 PM on December 10, 2005

Isn't this place meant to be about "self-policing" and "guidelines", rather than pre-programmed rules about how many answers can be marked as best, or how many days you have to wait before marking and answer? If it ain't broke...
posted by Jimbob at 7:04 PM on December 10, 2005

Nope, would not work. There can be a number of "best answers" to a question and it will vary a lot according to the thread. Cannot be controlled easily, and therefore not supported at least by me.
posted by keijo at 7:06 PM on December 10, 2005

How about no changes until there is a serious problem? Christ, our lives are regulated enough, we don't need a massive bureaucratic rulebook for Metafilter.
posted by Falconetti at 7:11 PM on December 10, 2005

I second Jimbob in saying 'It ain't broke.' Yes, 'best' is a superlative, so perhaps some other name (excellent answer, very helpful answer') could be considered appropriate.

But I would hate to see a limit. When asking an open-ended question, there is often more than one excellent answer. I also think that too stringent a standard for number might increase the competition factor to an unhelpful level.

I say leave it as is. We all get what 'best' means in the AskMe context -- not a narrow superlative, but one of the following:

-a single, concrete, definitive answer
-the answer that the Asker chose to implement
-one of several good answers
posted by Miko at 7:25 PM on December 10, 2005

"Best" is a superlative; grammatically speaking, there should be only one.

"the best X" is the superlative, when X is singular. Grammar does not, however, incline us away from using superlative formations of adjectives with plural nouns -- the tallest buildings in the world, the funniest comedians, the greatest experiences, the best answers.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:33 PM on December 10, 2005

Or else there would be only one thing that was "Best of the Web."
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:44 PM on December 10, 2005

Maybe the problem is that they're called "Best answers" instead of the way they're marked.

FWIW, in the threads I post, I'll usually mark anything that's helpful as a best answer, because I'm assuming these are the answers that anyone who looks at the question later will want to look through, at the very least.
posted by fishfucker at 9:03 PM on December 10, 2005

If it's hard to read when too many answers are marked "best", you fix the design, not the ability to mark answers.
posted by smackfu at 9:11 PM on December 10, 2005

I think the guy who does dirty things to fish best represents the way I mark answers and the way I read AskMe. So cast my vote in the "No Limit" group.
posted by SuperNova at 10:19 PM on December 10, 2005

Jesus fucking christ, you guys - leave shit ALONE, will you? Too many rules make Jack a sad boy.
posted by tristeza at 10:39 PM on December 10, 2005

Who cares? Best is in the eye of the poster. Let them mark as many as they want to. What exactly is the problem? Do you people just go around looking for things to bitch about?
posted by kjh at 12:31 AM on December 11, 2005

There's nothing that says "best" has to be singular. The best answers to the question should be marked, and that's it. Any limit would be artificial, arbitrary, and probably annoying.
posted by knave at 12:31 AM on December 11, 2005

It's not as bad as people marking as best those answers they wanted to hear in response to their highly subjective questions. This is all the worse when it's the first answer and it has been marked as best before any other answers have appeared.
posted by nthdegx at 1:15 AM on December 11, 2005

Would singling out a single answer as "bestest" fix the problem?

I think it would.
posted by metaculpa at 1:55 AM on December 11, 2005

When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer. "Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer. "Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best."
posted by dmo at 4:35 AM on December 11, 2005

Nine. Nine fucking new posts this morning. Nine. And this ridiculous complaint is one of them. And Matt keeps closing threads for no good reason.

/still grumpy
posted by languagehat at 7:28 AM on December 11, 2005

Dang it. Bested by Stavros, whose comment is among the better in this thread.
posted by found missing at 9:03 AM on December 11, 2005

I think we should have rules. Lots and lots of rules. And we should debate them endlessly. And we should obssess over them. And we should whine about them. And we should flout them. And we should try to change them. And then we should discover we have no way of enforcing them.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:15 AM on December 11, 2005

Matt, give us a "bestest answer" button!
posted by matteo at 10:19 AM on December 11, 2005

Aww, boo hoo, my answer was only equally helpful as the others and I want the shiny "best answer" highlighting ALL TO MYSELF!!!!11
posted by apple scruff at 11:36 AM on December 11, 2005

Well it does lose all meaning when it's overused but I never found it a very meaningful feature in the first place.
posted by scarabic at 12:00 PM on December 11, 2005

Aww, boo hoo, my answer was only equally helpful as the others and I want the shiny "best answer" highlighting ALL TO MYSELF!!!!11
Way to miss the point; nice going. And very classy, the way you try to make it about me. It isn't - I don't care if none of my answers get marked as best. I did not expect that one to be, because it was not directly addressing the questioner's main concern. So save your personal remarks.

When ten out of thirteen answers get marked as Best, why bother? If I were looking for the best answer to a question, having to read almost all of a thread that included a lot of tertiary answers (like mine in that thread) wouldn't save me much time, would it?

I suggested the limit, because I thought it would be easy to do automatically. Since it seems to be so unpopular, let's just change this to an appeal to questioners: Please use your Best Answer power sparingly, and only mark those that really stand out. For the rest, a general "thanks" is fine.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:40 PM on December 11, 2005

I can get behind that. And if I may add a clause: please wait until it becomes clear which answer is really best. Too many times I've seen a plausible answer get marked as best and then get convincingly contradicted by a later commenter.
posted by languagehat at 8:14 AM on December 12, 2005

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