Ways to improve the chances of getting good answers to AskMe questions. August 11, 2006 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Ways to improve the chances of getting good answers to your askMefi questions.
posted by orthogonality to Etiquette/Policy at 10:55 AM (54 comments total)

Are you asking or telling?
Being precise is usually a good start.
posted by adamvasco at 10:57 AM on August 11, 2006


Ways and means.
posted by cortex at 11:03 AM on August 11, 2006


Curds and whey.
posted by yhbc at 11:05 AM on August 11, 2006


Ask them anonymously?
posted by purephase at 11:07 AM on August 11, 2006


No one like a Nonym.
posted by cortex at 11:10 AM on August 11, 2006


Be straight foward, direct and as succint as possible. Adding flowery language, jokes and asides are bad. Try to get as much on the front page as possible. Oblique questions (Help! Pixies is in trouble! [more inside]) are just bad form. You know how they say you're done engineering when you've taken everything you possibly can away and have it work the same? That's kind of like AskMe. Write the question then take as much as possible away.
posted by geoff. at 11:10 AM on August 11, 2006


1. Ask your question without obfuscating it with "witty" verbiage. In particular, addressing "the Hive Mind", indicating your question is for "gurus only", or otherwise bring cute only gets in the way of figuring out what you're asking.

2. Ask a specific question, unless you really mean to ask a general one. Where appropriate, include example cases; if you're not great at descriptive writing, often it's easy to understand an example.

3. Pare you examples down to the minimum necessary to demonstrate the question or problem. Make sure your example doesn't contain unrelated problems or errors that get in the way of diagnosing the problem you asked about.

4. Try to include all relevant information in your question. In particular, indicate your proficiency in the subject area of the problem, so answerers know what level of detail and explication is required to give you an answer.

5. If you get one or more best answers, mark them. If not to reward the answerers, then to at least indicate answers most useful to you, for anyone in the future who has the same question. (If necessary, include a corrected or summary answer, < href="http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/43840#672834">like this one.)

In summary: when you ask a question, you're asking people give of their time to answer it, without compensation. Try to respect their time, by not making them wade through cute verbiage or vague questions or unrelated problems.


Additional suggestions below:
posted by orthogonality at 11:11 AM on August 11, 2006 [3 favorites]


6. Prepare [more inside] in advance, indicate that more is coming within the original post, and immediately post more as soon as you've completed the original post.
posted by scottreynen at 11:16 AM on August 11, 2006


I would add, as well, that a quick perusal of the questions which have a "best answer" marked reveals that the odds of getting a good answer are greatly increased when your question is related to the AskMetafilter community's two areas of greatest expertise: computers and pop culture.

Also, it helps to have a question to which there exists an objectively correct answer.
posted by dersins at 11:18 AM on August 11, 2006


Is this your opinion? You stated it so factually, I'm wondering if you have actually conducted a comparison of posting styles, defined what a "good" answer is, and concluded that your "don't do this" style results in fewer "good" answers.
posted by found missing at 11:23 AM on August 11, 2006


After all, maybe the loosely-worded, interesting-but-imprecise questions draw in more readers, and more answers, and that a certain serendipity can arise from the collective sense-making among the answerers that results in the occasional really great answer.
posted by found missing at 11:28 AM on August 11, 2006


7. Preview your post to make sure the HTML is valid.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:46 AM on August 11, 2006


After all, maybe the loosely-worded, interesting-but-imprecise questions draw in more reader

Yeah, I think it's pretty clear they do.
posted by scottreynen at 11:46 AM on August 11, 2006


8. If you post to MeTa, be prepared for lots of snark.
posted by graventy at 11:53 AM on August 11, 2006


9. Ask good questions.
10. No waterboarding.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:08 PM on August 11, 2006


11. If you make a list of suggestions, keep it to no more than 10.
posted by brain_drain at 12:32 PM on August 11, 2006


12. Sit upright in your chair.
13. Keep fingers on the home keys between keystrokes, with the sole exception of the pinkies, which should be at all times extended.
14. Keep eyes open while typing, to facilitate communication in English and minimize tpyos.
15. Follow your own advice.
16. Set your computer up in an area such that it gets enough light to prevent eyestrain, but not so much as to cause squinting due to glare.
posted by Eideteker at 12:40 PM on August 11, 2006


17. Stop masturbating so much.
18. Wear comfortable shoes whenever possible.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:44 PM on August 11, 2006


*squints at Eideteker*
posted by disclaimer at 12:46 PM on August 11, 2006


17. There is no number 17.
18. Snakes!
posted by baylink at 12:46 PM on August 11, 2006


19. Do not repeat numbers in list.
posted by patricio at 12:58 PM on August 11, 2006


20. No matter what a stripper tells you, there's no sex in the champagne room.
posted by Godbert at 1:13 PM on August 11, 2006


Doesn't this belong in the green?
posted by ijoshua at 1:15 PM on August 11, 2006


21. Phrase your comments in the form of a list, please.
posted by yhbc at 1:24 PM on August 11, 2006


1. No do-overs.
posted by cortex at 1:29 PM on August 11, 2006


π. Only use whole numbers to mark your list items.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:41 PM on August 11, 2006


22. Plant your corn early (Beverly Hillbilies classic)
posted by Heatwole at 1:43 PM on August 11, 2006


Ways to improve a MeTa post?

Have the MI/First comment ready when you post so that your MI is actually the first comment, not some random babble 5 comments down.
posted by necessitas at 1:52 PM on August 11, 2006


"Have the MI/First comment ready when you post so that your MI is actually the first comment, not some random babble 5 comments down"

23. Don't repeat comments made previously.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:00 PM on August 11, 2006


See my post of a screed by Eric Raymond.
posted by Roger Dodger at 2:01 PM on August 11, 2006


Sweet, my very first callout. It is indeed a general question, but I thought it was clear enough. Sorry for all the suffering it caused.
posted by knave at 2:18 PM on August 11, 2006


24. No poofters!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:41 PM on August 11, 2006


orthogonality writes "unless you really mean to ask a general one."

knave writes "It is indeed a general question, but I thought it was clear enough. "


I mostly listed you as an example of the "unless".
posted by orthogonality at 2:45 PM on August 11, 2006


25. Wear sunscreen.
26. Always...no, no...never...forget to check your references.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:59 PM on August 11, 2006 [1 favorite]


27. Don't talk about AskMe
28. Attempt lame in-jokes. Fail miserably.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:41 PM on August 11, 2006


Tell people where you are. I've lost count of questions that are region/continent specific yet don't provide the information and don't have a location in their profile. There is a majority of Americans on here, but it isn't always the case that an American is asking the question, or answering.
posted by fire&wings at 3:46 PM on August 11, 2006


Tell people what computer you're having a problem with. And which OS. Windows? Oh good, because there's only one version of that.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:19 PM on August 11, 2006


My girlfriend is totally cheating on me and told me she never wants to see me again. Should I give her another chance, or should I call it off?

I’m using a Dell Inspiron with Windows XP.
posted by found missing at 5:45 PM on August 11, 2006 [4 favorites]


29. Never be so arrogant as to presume that what you have to say is authoritative or necessary. eg.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:50 PM on August 11, 2006


30. Whatever happened to Candy Samples?
posted by If I Had An Anus at 6:11 PM on August 11, 2006


31. There is no number 31
posted by blue_beetle at 7:38 PM on August 11, 2006


32. Ask easy questions. Duh.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:49 PM on August 11, 2006


33. Tell us your gender and age.
posted by frogan at 9:10 PM on August 11, 2006


34/shemale
posted by underer at 2:22 AM on August 12, 2006


35. Don't talk to strangers
posted by b1tr0t at 3:53 PM on August 12, 2006


if you're asking anonymously, set up an email account so people can ask you stuff and you can answer.

so many anon questions end up in pointless speculation because the asker hasn't provided enough information.
posted by juv3nal at 4:06 PM on August 12, 2006


"I want to come with you to Redmond and learn the ways of the Registry" is superb, ortho, jeez.
posted by mlis at 5:50 PM on August 12, 2006


@found missing: Sounds like your girlfriend needs a better firewall. Have you installed SP2 yet?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:54 PM on August 12, 2006


Since this isn't Ask, I'll take the opportunity to inquire: So what did ever happen to Candy Samples?
posted by melorama at 5:02 AM on August 13, 2006


Oh, and 36. Eat Kosher Salamis
posted by melorama at 5:03 AM on August 13, 2006


Post your question when it is 9-10am in the timezone where you think the most useful people live.

Accept the fact that even if you put "I tried X and that didn't work" in BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS, 2 people will suggest you try X.
posted by mr_silver at 12:22 PM on August 13, 2006


37: don't address other users with that goddammed "@" notation.
posted by cortex at 1:10 PM on August 13, 2006


38. Always listen to cortex.
posted by grouse at 4:17 PM on August 13, 2006


@cortex: Sorry, dude.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:19 PM on August 14, 2006


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