Is it acceptable to offer an incentive for a successful answer in AskMe? June 20, 2006 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Is it considered in bad taste or a breach of policy to offer a prize or reward to whomever successfully solves a tech problem I'm tempted to post in askme? I've tried various customer support avenues and have had no luck so far.

If it is acceptable, what sort of incentive would be appropriate? Money strikes even me in poor taste. Any ideas, or should I just scrap the reward avenue?
posted by sourwookie to Etiquette/Policy at 8:21 AM (32 comments total)

A donation in the winner's name to Creative Commons or Amnesty International might be well-received.
posted by LarryC at 8:22 AM on June 20, 2006

If the commenter has his or her name publicly available, see if he or she has a wish list on Amazon.
posted by Mr. Six at 8:25 AM on June 20, 2006

Turn it off, then turn it back on. I take cash or checks. Just kidding, no checks.
posted by ND¢ at 8:29 AM on June 20, 2006

My 1st reaction is that it's a bad precedent. I don't think it'll get you better/faster answers. Donation to answerer's choice of charity would be nifty.
posted by theora55 at 8:34 AM on June 20, 2006

Google Answers is set up to handle money-for-information transactions.
posted by box at 8:36 AM on June 20, 2006

I think prizes, as long as they're not too expensive and in good taste, are a great idea.
posted by bshort at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2006

Oral sex.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2006

Why offer money? Most questions are answered quickly just for the sake of answering. I doubt very much that a reward would increase the likelihood of a good answer, unless said answer required more than a little research...
posted by erebora at 8:38 AM on June 20, 2006

Yes, it is in bad taste.
posted by boo_radley at 8:43 AM on June 20, 2006

Money is in bad taste. Wishlist-style presents, not so much. Donating in someone's name is just stupid ("woohoo! a donation in my name! joy!")
posted by reklaw at 8:48 AM on June 20, 2006

How is money in bad taste but not presents? Unless Amazon sells Jack Daniels, give met the cash money.
posted by Pacheco at 9:02 AM on June 20, 2006

Just post the question. If I can answer it, I'll do it for free. If I can't, I will not provide an answer. If you offer me money, I'll tell you what you want to hear.
posted by tellurian at 9:02 AM on June 20, 2006

I think offering money/a prize/whatever isn't really appropriate for this forum. Giving an unexpected prize of some sort (particularly a donation, as previously mentioned) after someone solves your problem is better. Just my opinion, of course, and it's worth what you paid for it. (You're not paying for answers here, too, are you?)
posted by inigo2 at 9:03 AM on June 20, 2006

I think that people are just happy to help out. I would feel pretty awkward accepting anything for a question that I happened to know the answer to. I mean, I can definately appreciate your desire to reward someone who's FINALLY been able to solve the problem you've been struggling with, but they wouldn't answer if they didn't know.

What's the question?
posted by hoborg at 9:05 AM on June 20, 2006

Going back to the AskMe thread and sincerely saying thanks for the help would be good enough for me, personally. That doesn't happen all the time and it's nice when it does.
posted by iconomy at 9:09 AM on June 20, 2006

Don't offer, but feel free to reward, I say.
posted by mendel at 9:10 AM on June 20, 2006

No, it's an inappropriately slippery slope.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 9:13 AM on June 20, 2006

See, now everyone will be monitoring AskMefi for sourwookie's question. There will be 200 answers.
posted by peacay at 9:17 AM on June 20, 2006

Actually, now I think about it, I won't answer any questions until we talk about REMUNERATION. [I'm sure I can find an inexpensive metal ring with a single letter on it]
posted by tellurian at 9:25 AM on June 20, 2006

I've actually unintentionally picked up two freelance jobs through answers I've posted in AskMe. Right when I really needed them, too.

It's entirely not why I write answers, though.

Pre-announcing the award is probably a bad idea, though.

Willingly sending someone a present or asking them if they need anything after the fact is probably fine.

With any luck, maybe the mere possibility of such a thing will encourage people to list active/correct contact info in their profiles.
posted by loquacious at 9:29 AM on June 20, 2006

I would scrap it, because I don't think the askme crowd is the type that will REALLY bust their ass for a prize, but otherwise wouldn't bother. Just ask and see what you get, and if you're still feeling the urge to spend money on the problem, take it to a local computer or electronics repair shop.
posted by shmegegge at 9:37 AM on June 20, 2006

Simple: Say you'll take them out for a beer IF they live in the same city. But don't say where you live. And say it in the first comment, not in the post itself. Or maybe just [WGB], meaning Winner Gets Beer (if they live nearby). But that might mean comment winner huh?
posted by jeffburdges at 9:44 AM on June 20, 2006

box is right -- this sort of thing fits better with Google Answers than Ask MeFi.
posted by danb at 9:47 AM on June 20, 2006

It's not really appropriate for AskMe, if that's what you're asking. Otherwise AskMe turns into a classifieds service, and it's a difficult line to draw. Maybe I should add this to the FAQ but it doesn't come up too often. Craigslist and Google Answers [depending on the problem] are both pretty good at this sort of thing. I'd just ask your question and if someone really handles and solves your problem in am impressive fashion, take it up with them later.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:27 AM on June 20, 2006

If someone really gives a terrifically helpful answer, fire them an email and offer something. Don't use it as an incentive.
posted by majick at 10:56 AM on June 20, 2006

How about stating the question in full and adding on something like, "if an answer to this question will require more work than you are willing to do for free, email me and maybe we can work something out"?
posted by mullacc at 2:15 PM on June 20, 2006

Just bought condo, now broke.
Will answer AskMes for food.

/sad cardboard truth
posted by twiggy at 4:05 PM on June 20, 2006

I've sent brownies before. /shrug
posted by LittleMissCranky at 5:55 PM on June 20, 2006

I've sent chocolate truffles to people who answered my questions, but that was totally an after the fact thing. Plus, the question was about chocolate truffles.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:03 PM on June 20, 2006

I like mullacc's approach. I can envision questions that might not get many/good responses because it would be too much work or take too much time if the only reward was a Best Answer flag. If valuable cash and prizes are involved, I would be more willing to invest myself.

That said, why reinvent the wheel? Google Answers is set up for EXACTLY this kind of thing, so try it there first.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:15 AM on June 21, 2006

I like matteo's approach.
posted by Mr. Six at 8:05 AM on June 21, 2006

Note to self: answer all future questions asked by LittleMissCranky or jacquilynne.
posted by yankeefog at 8:08 AM on June 21, 2006

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