On sympathy-begging non-questions in askme August 6, 2006 9:53 PM   Subscribe

This is what I'm talking about. Posting a long rant that is skewed to your opinion with an inane question tacked on in order garner some empathy from a faceless crowd is inconsiderate.

I'm not going to lie. I think this is fascinating. When my browser loads up, it loads grouphug.us because these stories are entertaining. However, in the AskMe venue, all it does is provide a place for non-questions to get non-answers, contributing to the noise and detracting from the attention answerable questions can get.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose to Etiquette/Policy at 9:53 PM (49 comments total)

As much as I agree they get old, they've been present on AskMe for quite some time now, and I think you'll be in the minority in wanting them to be officially discouraged...

The ones that really bug me are the ones I can answer upon my first google search.
posted by twiggy at 10:09 PM on August 6, 2006


I hate all AskMe questions that I haven't asked, or considered asking, myself.
posted by purephase at 10:27 PM on August 6, 2006


Yeah, AskMetafilter's gonna be about as helpful as Dear Abby on these kinds of questions.
posted by jonson at 10:27 PM on August 6, 2006


I don't get it. Are you calling it "a long rant," or are you quoting some jerk that had that comment deleted from the thread?

Either way: Super lame callout.

Now, the friends at whose house the couple in question were staying when they had their midnight donnybrook? They have grounds to call the poster inconsiderate.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:47 PM on August 6, 2006


I agree
posted by chilepepper at 10:52 PM on August 6, 2006


grouphug.us makes me uncomfortable.
posted by Zozo at 10:54 PM on August 6, 2006


How can we deal with what happened? Is this something we should work past, and if so, how? Methods for dealing with anger would be appreciated.

These are answerable questions, and in fact she is getting a bunch of good advice in there.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:54 PM on August 6, 2006


First of all, this is not a callout. This is a trend that needs to be squelched; it has nothing to do with this specific post outside of the fact that it represents others of the same nature. The italicized quote is just something I said in the previous thread about the overflow in AskMe.

This kind of question is usually posted for two reasons. 1) in order to vent frustration/disappointment/etc. 2) in order to find people of similar mindsets as the poster to support them and legitimize whatever it was s/he was thinking (be it therapy, breaking up, staying together, whatever). In the most extreme cases, you'll notice askers favoriting all the answers that are nothing more than similar opinions.

twiggy: I'm not saying it's getting old. Quite the contrary, they are quite addictive and fun to read in a sort of watching-a-train-wreck way. This is what makes them such a big problem...they are not questions, and the replys are not answers. It's just chit-chat drawing unnecessary attention. I have trouble imaging a situation where somebody will read one of these questions and go "oh, my boyfriend just bit me last week. I should definitely utilize the advice in this thread about drunken biting."

"Act rationally" or "go to therapy to learn to act rationally" is not exactly an answer one needs to consult the AskMe community to reach, ottereroticist.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 12:49 AM on August 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Disable the "favourites" feature in "human relationships" questions. ;)
posted by madman at 3:12 AM on August 7, 2006


That grouphug site is fucked up :P
posted by delmoi at 3:35 AM on August 7, 2006


Anyway, that post is anon, so it was aproved. Secondly those 'questions' have been part of ask me for ages, and are very popular. Whatevs.
posted by delmoi at 3:37 AM on August 7, 2006


The ones that really bug me are the ones I can answer upon my first google search.

Amen to that.
posted by Pock Suppet at 3:55 AM on August 7, 2006


Grouphug? Ew. Wish I hadn't been so curious. That place is halfway between a teenage prank call & Penthouse forum. Gotta go wash out my eyes now.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:19 AM on August 7, 2006


Grouphug? See also: Not Proud.
posted by emelenjr at 4:29 AM on August 7, 2006


I have been meaning to post to MetaTalk myself about this trend, where people are posting 10-paragraph questions about life or (especially) relationships that are profoundly logorrheic, introspective and textbook cases of "too much information," and for which there is usually an obvious and terse answer (e.g., "Dump him"; "Move on"; "Get over yourself") that the questioner doesn't want to accept.

But I wasn't sure what, if anything could -- or should -- be done about it, or even whether it was a problem worthy of discussion. Just a trend I'd noticed myself.
posted by mcwetboy at 4:57 AM on August 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


You don't have to read a 10 paragraph question if you don't want to. In most cases, that kind of background info is needed and even then is usually not enough (Don't mean to get defensive, I just have 10 paragraph question that I'm about to ask, it's not about my relatioship with my SO though, huzzah!).
posted by liquorice at 5:31 AM on August 7, 2006


I am going to use the old MeTa saying " If you don't like it, skip it."
posted by wheelieman at 5:45 AM on August 7, 2006


This is something that I personally don't care for and, since MetaFilter is all about me, it's therefore a trend that needs to be squelched

You accidentally omitted some words; as a good copy editor, I supplied them. Don't thank me—just doing my job.
posted by languagehat at 6:04 AM on August 7, 2006


Flag it? Move on?
posted by desuetude at 6:18 AM on August 7, 2006


Yes, Goose: this is a textbook example of what you described last week. For what it's worth, I agree. If we get pissed off when someone posts a question that has an obvious, Google-able solution then we should be pissed off by these too, since they are impossible to answer. OK, they serve to provide the asker with some support and sympathy but, really, is this what AskMe is meant for? This isn't grouphug...
posted by blag at 6:20 AM on August 7, 2006


Someone should make a post on howto get over a crush and it should be linked on ask.me.
posted by bleary at 6:21 AM on August 7, 2006


(arg. I didn't mean to post a non sequitur. the call out wasn't one of those ubiquitous crush posts)
posted by bleary at 6:22 AM on August 7, 2006


(morning. blah.)
posted by bleary at 6:22 AM on August 7, 2006


I have trouble imaging a situation where somebody will read one of these questions and go "oh, my boyfriend just bit me last week. I should definitely utilize the advice in this thread about drunken biting."

Helping the person who asked the question is not just an incidental step towards building an archive of generally useful answers.

Mind you, you don't seem to think that the questions help the asker all that much, either. I'd like to beg to differ. I posted a pretty emotional question after my house got broken into, one with pretty obvious answers, even. But those answers offered a lot of good perspective and support, and reading through them was helpful far beyond the de facto 'get therapy' solution.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:33 AM on August 7, 2006


If Askers who need therapy are outlawed, only outlaws will be Asked to get therapy.

Wait. . .
posted by Marnie at 6:38 AM on August 7, 2006


they are not questions, and the replys are not answers.

How do you figure? Most of them pose a specific question — usually, "Should I break up with my partner?" — and people reply with comments that often include the words "yes" and "no." So what are you talking about?
posted by cribcage at 6:43 AM on August 7, 2006


Dear AskMe: Some friends came round to my house the other night and acted like complete arses - they got proper drunk, had a huge fight, chased each other screaming into the street, threatened to drive off and then one of them bit the other.
Should I slap the guy, the gal or both of the fuckers?
posted by handee at 7:19 AM on August 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


ottereroticist is right; there are answerable questions there, and the poster *is* getting good advice, like sculpin's eye-opener and bleary's list of abuser traits, mixed in with the usual kneejerk stuff.
posted by mediareport at 7:46 AM on August 7, 2006


Wait, that was a list of abuser traits? I thought it was a "TO - DO" list.

Good thing I only got to #7.
posted by Justinian at 8:45 AM on August 7, 2006


"Act rationally" or "go to therapy to learn to act rationally" is not exactly an answer one needs to consult the AskMe community to reach, ottereroticist.

I'm happy for you. But the rest of us irrational humans can sometimes benefit from an outside opinion.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:57 AM on August 7, 2006


Goose is there something you wanna talk about? Huh buddy? Wanna just get a good cry out?

And while I hate, hate relationship questions (they were fun at first but then you realize everyone's problems are pretty much thte same) there are some relationship questions that probably need to go through -- kind of like I would rather have a relationship question that ends up helping someone get out of an abusive relationship than have it rejected on the principle that relationship questions are bad. "Who should I chose", "does he love me", "how do I flirt", "I keep showing her my penis but she keeps screaming, why?" need to not be posted and should be deleted in my opinion. I say if in doubt, keep it -- but definitely if I wanted to read letters with obvious conclusions I'd read Savage Love (and I do, and he's funny).
posted by geoff. at 11:26 AM on August 7, 2006


Well, I find these kinds of posts ridiculous - not because I am some cold hearted nazi bastard - because they totally skirt the chat-filter standards. I can think of few AskMefi memes that consistently bring the static as much as questions in this vein, posed in this fashion. The only thing that ever ends up happening is a bunch of user-to-user catfighting over "bad advice", someone may get dragged in to MeTa for it, and 80 posts later... there's simply an embarrassing set of divergent views with no answers marked as favorite, or helpful, or much of anything for that matter. It is like clockwork, people cannot seem to control themselves when they feel like they can "help" someone so "desperate"(?) so they really shouldn't even be given the "opportunity" as far as I'm concerned.

Yeah, AskMetafilter's gonna be about as helpful as Dear Abby on these kinds of questions.

Exactly.

At the very least I think if they are allowed to continue they should not be allowed to post them anonymously. I can't really think of anything that'd be more discouraging, and for good reason. I think having the option of anonymity available to them gives them an inappropriate feeling of protection, they can reveal anything to 40K users as long as they are confiding nothing - so why hold back?
posted by prostyle at 11:58 AM on August 7, 2006


I'm sorta on prostyle's side. I think the anon feature is badly overused and often leads to crappy questions and crappy answers. If Pretty_Generic can ask for help finding a hooker... then post details of the results... you post about your weepy little fight with your significant other.
posted by Justinian at 12:40 PM on August 7, 2006


(can post, dangit)
posted by Justinian at 12:40 PM on August 7, 2006


RelationshipFilter questions are always posed with a specific problem — and if you've read a dozen, you've probably seen at least a couple instances where the OP chimes in to express gratitude and appreciation for specific replies that he found helpful. In fact, not infrequently, those instances have come from anonymous posters "outing" themselves to say the thread answered their question or clarified their perspective. I have even received a couple e-mails from anonymous posters thanking me for comments I've posted — and I'm neither the most prolific nor the most insightful AskMe contributor, so I'd presume plenty of others have received similar e-mails.

Given that people apparently do find it helpful in solving their problems, what's the basis of your objection that it breaks AskMe guidelines? You've said that it's ChatFilter; but we define ChatFilter as lacking specific problems and specific solutions, and that isn't the case here. You've said that posters are insincere — that rather than seeking answers, posters are either venting or seeking reinforcement for their opinions — but you've offered no evidence to support that conclusion; and since those posters often claim otherwise, your argument amounts to a totally unfounded, "I think they're lying."
posted by cribcage at 12:40 PM on August 7, 2006


I saw this item on how terrible Yahoo Answers has become (or perhaps been) today, and was thankful that there are so many people trying to keep AskMe a useful resource.

Periodically examining what sorts of questions should be allowed is probably important to keeping it that way.
posted by fishfucker at 1:05 PM on August 7, 2006


that rather than seeking answers, posters are either venting or seeking reinforcement for their opinions — but you've offered no evidence to support that conclusion

How exactly would one provide evidence of that, anyway? Aren't you asking to prove a negative?

Regardless ... I read the thread and immediately got the vibe that I was watching an episode of Cops, where somebody hit somebody, but somebody still loves somebody, yadda yadda yadda and it's almost impossible to separate the good guys from the bad guys.

So I flagged it. And moved on.
posted by frogan at 1:06 PM on August 7, 2006


I have even received a couple e-mails from anonymous posters thanking me for comments I've posted — and I'm neither the most prolific nor the most insightful AskMe contributor

Me too. People who think the threads don't do the posters any good are wrong. People who don't care about the posters but think the questions shouldn't be posted because they're boring are jerks. AskMe questions are for the benefit of the asker, not the bored onlooker seeking entertainment.
posted by languagehat at 1:18 PM on August 7, 2006


languagehat - where in this thread have people objected to relationship questions on the grounds of boredom? Total strawman. If boredom is an AskMe crime then surely all the "I gone done busted my hard drive" questions would be more obvious candidates for deletion.

The problem here isn't that the questions are boring - it's that they are essentially unanswerable. Of the three questions posed in Goose's example (How can we deal with this? Should we break up? How can he deal with his anger?) only the third is really answerable in a forum such as this. That answer is 'therapy'. The first two questions are impossible to provide answers for given the limited information available and the lack of two-way dialogue.
posted by blag at 2:42 PM on August 7, 2006


Aren't you asking to prove a negative?

No. Nearly everyone who posts a RelationshipFilter questions claims to be seeking divergent opinions, and many follow up to declare that reading the AskMe thread helped to inform their eventual decisions. GooseOnTheLoose has basically called those people liars, and I'm asking him to support that contention.

The problem...[is] that they are essentially unanswerable.

For someone who's claiming that other people's arguments are empty rhetoric, you're ignoring the plain explanations above that most RelationshipFilter questions are answerable, and that, in fact, many of the people who post those questions have specifically stated that the threads helped them to find an answer.

Just because a question lacks an objective answer doesn't mean it's unanswerable.
posted by cribcage at 3:36 PM on August 7, 2006


OK, point taken. What I should have said is that it's almost impossible to answer these questions well, rather than implying that it is impossible to answer them at all. I could, for example, post "dump him/her" into every relationship thread I read and it would be a valid answer. If a question doesn't have an objectively correct answer, anyone's opinion is valid. However, we're then veering very close to pure "in my opinion..." chatfilter territory.

I'm still not convinced about the usefulness of the RelationshipFilter answers beyond simply being a "comfort" to the asker: Someone's in-thread thanks could be due to a variety of motivations (I-should-be-polite / hooray-some-of-you-agreed-with-me / it-was-nice-to-get-some-attention) besides gratefulness but I agree that it will be impossible to verify this objectively.

I believe that relationship 'questions' are the only area where it's OK to break the posting guidelines but if everyone else is fine with this then, meh. Keep 'em.
posted by blag at 4:52 PM on August 7, 2006


For what it's worth, I agree with GOTL. There's really no question to be answered there. It's the equivalent of writing Dear Abby and putting "so the question is: do you think the Mariners have a shot at the playoffs?" at the end. The post'll stay because people love intimate stories about other people. I think in these situations, people just want to tell someone.
posted by hoborg at 4:53 PM on August 7, 2006


What I should have said is that it's almost impossible to answer these questions well

But it's not. Lots of people have done it. You just don't like the questions. That's fine; I don't like the techie questions and the "What shall I do in some city languagehat doesn't care about?" questions and the "This is yet another what book should I read next" questions. Know what I do? I skip 'em.
posted by languagehat at 5:26 PM on August 7, 2006


I posted twice about finding the questions interesting (languagehat). It is this very reason that it is hard to see them as a burden on AskMe (ChatMe). Secondly, cribcage, I don't think anybody is lying.

simply being a "comfort" to the asker

Yup.

if everyone else is fine with this then, meh. Keep 'em.

I think you're right. Indifference seems to trump mild dissatisfaction in this case.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 5:36 PM on August 7, 2006


I'm still not convinced about the usefulness of the RelationshipFilter answers beyond simply being a "comfort" to the asker

What would it take to convince you, since apparently the words of the people involved are insufficient?
posted by jacquilynne at 6:13 PM on August 7, 2006


Wow. That grouphug.us site is awesome:

"i think its so pathetic. when hes sad, im sad, when he cries, i cry. i just love and care about him so much =\ "

"i am in a sleep over right now and i want to rip the head off my fucking gay ass fag friend amanda"

"My boyfriend spells things wrong a lot. I know he's just careless, but I'm such a perfectionist that it drives me insane! I always want to correct him."
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:35 PM on August 7, 2006


Jesus ... grouphug ... I want my 30 minutes back.

I miss The Apology Line. Good times, good times.
posted by intermod at 9:17 PM on August 7, 2006


If a question doesn't have an objectively correct answer, anyone's opinion is valid.

No. That's simply not true.
posted by occhiblu at 10:31 PM on August 7, 2006


No. That's simply not true.

That's my opinion, too.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:39 AM on August 8, 2006


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