Please be specific when you post your AskMe question October 25, 2006 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Could people please not post questions on Ask with just a "this is a question about [very general topic], specifics inside" on the front page? Questions needn't be a single sentence: I'd rather see if I can be of help on a question on the front page, than be able to fit 50 questions per screen but have to open each link to see what the question is. Thanks.
posted by fvw to Etiquette/Policy at 5:35 PM (39 comments total)

Oh, and while I'm here, thanks for fixing the flagging interface to no longer rely on the Referer header, Matt.
posted by fvw at 5:37 PM on October 25, 2006


Oh boy do I agree with that! (the main post, not the comment)
posted by aubilenon at 5:39 PM on October 25, 2006


agree. I've started skipping questions that don't tell me the question on the front page unless it's to hide spoilers.
posted by dobbs at 5:43 PM on October 25, 2006


I think the problem solves itself when people realize they'll get less answers that way.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:56 PM on October 25, 2006


Yes, but when do they realize that, Matt, if ever? There's no standard metric that says that your question should get "x # of comments".

Of course, writing something in the guidelines in this case seems equally futile. One of the beauties of MeFi has been the ability of its members to remember the unspoken guidelines here and behave accordingly. Unfortunately, we see less of this now because of all the new members and codification that is necessitated by such a large population here.

I agree with the original point, though. Many people here think it's clever to hide the details of their question. Like somehow we're here for their amusement or trickery. Fuckers. :-)
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:04 PM on October 25, 2006


Metafilter: We're here for your amusement or trickery. Fuckers.
posted by aubilenon at 6:34 PM on October 25, 2006


I kinda sprained my ankle. Sucks.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:44 PM on October 25, 2006


I'd rather see if I can be of help on a question on the front page, than be able to fit 50 questions per screen but have to open each link to see what the question is.

Either you want to help or you don't. Bitching 'cause you have to, omg, click another link, means you're really interested in helping.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:05 PM on October 25, 2006


Either you want to help or you don't. says Brandon Blatcher, who has provided 266 answers to Ask, to fvw, who has provided 577 answers.

Well, you can't argue with that kind of logic.
posted by dobbs at 7:13 PM on October 25, 2006


agree. I've started skipping questions that don't tell me the question on the front page unless it's to hide spoilers.
posted by dobbs at 8:43 PM EST on October 25


Given the deluge of questions, they rarely get my attention either. You have to sell yourself a teeny bit now, and hiding the real questin inside will deter some folks and won't get you the best result. Mostly it hurts the poster, but it still affects us all when the best answers are not given as we may someday later be searching for just those answers.
posted by caddis at 7:17 PM on October 25, 2006


Either you want to help or you don't.

That's a really lame straw man, there.
posted by dhammond at 8:07 PM on October 25, 2006


Spoken like a true Don't Bee.
posted by jenovus at 8:41 PM on October 25, 2006


While we're making requests about the phrasing of AskMe front pages, this is my new personal pet peeve --

"I want to know how to make a cake. And there is [more inside]"

I swear, I will read the part in brackets even if you don't lead me into it.
posted by salvia at 9:11 PM on October 25, 2006 [3 favorites]


"I want to know how to make a cake. And there is [more inside]"

I hate that too. Plus, in the RSS feed, you just get

"I want to know how to make a cake. And there is"


which is even more annoying.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:19 PM on October 25, 2006


"I want to know how to make a cake. And there is [more inside]"

Oh, salvia, thank you so, so, so much for saying this. That has been annoying me for so long. Most annoying AskMe habit to date.
posted by BradNelson at 9:25 PM on October 25, 2006


Lamer than references to googlefu failings?
posted by converge at 9:41 PM on October 25, 2006


can we make metafilter.com a non-smoking designated area, please?
posted by carsonb at 9:46 PM on October 25, 2006


Plus, in the RSS feed, you just get

"I want to know how to make a cake. And there is"


Yeah, that bugs me too, but for some reason it bugs me more when it shows up in anonymous questions. Hey, Matt and Jessamyn: could you please erase any "And there is [more inside]" stupidity when you post anonymous questions? No reason the site admins should set the bad example, too, right?
posted by mediareport at 9:47 PM on October 25, 2006


I don't post on ask much, but I always thought the ettiquette on the blue was to limit the size of front-page posts, so it's good to know that people feel this way about the green.
posted by whir at 10:05 PM on October 25, 2006


Lamer than references to googlefu failings?

Lamer than appeals to the 'hive mind'?
posted by dhruva at 10:12 PM on October 25, 2006


This is why the RSS feed is super useful -- you get to see the entire question. I click through on many more questions that I wouldn't normally using the RSS feed, and once Google starts listening to me, maybe I'll be able to get it to refresh more than once a day.
posted by fishfucker at 10:23 PM on October 25, 2006


whir, it's not that Ask readers want long posts on the main page. It's that this kind of front page entry sucks:

-I have a question about people and places. [more inside]

If, when you go to the inside, the person has in mind a quite specific question after all (what are people from Albania called? are some ethnic groups better adapted to live in cold climates and if so, what are the adaptations? etc). They just didn't want to tell you that question on the main page, perhaps to create suspense? Perhaps because they are just "warming up" when they fill in the first box in the form? Who knows.

It's better to be as specific as possible in one or two sentences on the main page, because then people who have good information for you will notice your question, and people who won't be able to help won't waste their time.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:36 PM on October 25, 2006


It's better to be as specific as possible in one or two sentences on the main page

it's bad storytelling, this advocated style of question-asking. you're supposed to V your topic down. this question I'm asking is complicated! and I need to explain a few things first. I learned it in high school: Start general and then work your way to your point way down at the end of the paragraph.

taking that honed point from the end and putting it right up front, naked and shivering with no justification, can be intimidating. which is not to say that it doesn't absolutely need to be done.

all that aside, you're completely right. if one just asks a question on the front page, no explanation---just put it out there---What is...? How do I...? What happens when...? etc.---most likely the folks who will be able to answer it will know that they are able to do that. they will proceed inside for the more part. everyone else may very well go "WTFKTA?*" and move on; no amount of [MI] would help.

* Who The Fuck Knows That Anyway?
posted by carsonb at 10:51 PM on October 25, 2006


So, we have:
  • Nonspecific and unhelpful summarizing of the question.
  • Making reference to the "hive mind." (say, Matt, any chance of removing that cliched phrase from the AskMe tagline?)
  • Trying to make cutesy with the [more inside] but just annoying the piss out of readers.
  • Making reference to google fu failing.
I think I should also add a recent trend that I've noticed:
  • Incompetance with using a simple link tag, instead just throwing out the URL parenthetically and expecting the reader to copy and paste it, e.g. "I know I saw this mentioned before (http://metatalk.metafilter.com/mefi/12953) but that did not cover my question..."

posted by Rhomboid at 10:53 PM on October 25, 2006


It's generally helpful if people ask at least a full question on the outside of the "more inside" area, but I'm with Matt, I think people will learn that they get fewer answers that way.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:08 PM on October 25, 2006


Upon further reflection, I do hate the lack of question on the front page, but it may actually increase the quality of the answers, even if it decreases the quantity.

If you ask a question like "How do I keep my pants from falling off? [more inside]" 30% of the responses will be "wear suspenders" even if the more inside says "Due to a serious bowling accident when I was 12, I don't have any shoulders, so suspenders are not an option".

If you instead say "People who know about pants know there is [more inside]" then say put the whole question and all the information, nobody's going to be able to write knee-jerk reactions without reading the whole question.

I don't think this is [entirely] because people are stupid. It's pretty easy to not even see the more-inside, if you click on the wrong link. "3 answers, (3 new)" is two links; one will show you the more, the other will not. The wrong one to click on is in glowing white text.
posted by aubilenon at 12:47 AM on October 26, 2006


"I want to know how to make a cake. And there is [more inside]"

That makes me vom, too. In fact any cutesy bibble is extremely off-putting, especially if the frustrated stand-up comic/pretentious 6th Form creative writing-style poster leaves out details pertinent to the question. Just, you know, ask the question.

Eg., this ~400 word 'Coo-ee! Look at me! I read McSweeney's while masturbating in front of a mirror!' piece of shit question could've been posed in 10 words or less.
posted by jack_mo at 12:59 AM on October 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


jack_mo, I had the exact same reaction when I read that question, and experienced serious disgust when the first response was notsnot complimenting the poster for that garbage. Everything but the last three sentences could have been deleted and it would have been just as effective. I don't care about the goddamn fuckschedule of your neighbors, just get to the point and stop wasting time.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:08 AM on October 26, 2006


You guys actually made it through that stereo question? Hats off.


Lamer than references to googlefu failings?
Yes

Lamer than appeals to the 'hive mind'?
No
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:12 AM on October 26, 2006


You guys actually made it through that stereo question? Hats off.


Was that the question about the those directional speaker cables where the electrons can only flow one way?
posted by fixedgear at 3:26 AM on October 26, 2006


It was the one that jack_mo linked to. Please don't make me go read it to find out if there were one-way cables buried in it somewhere.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:49 AM on October 26, 2006


If you ask a question like "How do I keep my pants from falling off? [more inside]" 30% of the responses will be "wear suspenders" even if the more inside says "Due to a serious bowling accident when I was 12, I don't have any shoulders, so suspenders are not an option".

If you instead say "People who know about pants know there is [more inside]" then say put the whole question and all the information, nobody's going to be able to write knee-jerk reactions without reading the whole question.


Let's not cater to the Metards who either can't read effectively, or who can't click the correct link. I think in every situation I've ever seen, a non-question on the green could have been arranged so that the actual question (including caveats) was posted instead of the non-question.

In the example you gave, it's "How do I keep my pants from falling off? I don't have shoulders, so suspenders are not an option. [more inside]"
posted by 23skidoo at 5:12 AM on October 26, 2006


While we are at the subject of formatting AskMe; is it possible to program an autoresponder in every AskMe question so that the third or fourth answer (perhaps randomize it in the first ten) reads: "this is not what AskMe is for, you need to talk to a professional about this."

It would save some the obligation of posting it constantly and remind the people who posted the question that someone somewhere thinks they are not taking their own question with all the seriousness it requires.
posted by micayetoca at 6:17 AM on October 26, 2006


For what it's worth, I liked Krautland's question, lest anyone think the bitching in this thread is unanimous. The backstory was mostly relevent to the motivation and requirements, it was mostly written well (except for the small problem with verbs and prepositions agreeing - no pun intended - and the annoying and inconsistent lack of capitalization), and it was moderately funny.

Adding backstory in the [more inside] doesn't bump other questions off the front page any sooner. It doesn't make the front page longer. It doesn't use up any more or any fewer of a person's weekly questions. It just gives someone an opportunity to write something a little bit amusing one more time in their day.

I think it falls squarely in the range of not every question is meant for every answerer. If you don't like the style of question, feel free not to answer. Other people, who don't mind or even like the style will answer it.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:47 AM on October 26, 2006


It's pretty easy to not even see the more-inside, if you click on the wrong link.

Yeah, but the thing telling you to be careful is the "[more inside]." No additional help is provided by the "you betcha there is."
posted by salvia at 8:45 AM on October 26, 2006


Oh, while we're pulling out annoying/oversued AskMe habits, how about all the "[insert subject here]Filter" questions?
posted by Stauf at 9:30 AM on October 26, 2006


For what it's worth, I liked Krautland's question

It might be less annoying if he didn't engage in that kind of self-indulgent wankery ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

These are (mostly) good questions, but jesus fucking christ already, get over yourself.
posted by dersins at 10:47 AM on October 26, 2006


Eh. If everyone did it, or even a lot of people, I'd probably find it annoying. But one person who does it, no more than once a week? That's just character.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:22 AM on October 26, 2006


Plus, in the RSS feed, you just get

"I want to know how to make a cake. And there is"


Even worse, there's no full stop or extra spacing and it runs into the next sentance. So you really get

"I want to know how to make a cake. And there is I'm looking for tips on how to make my sponge cakes less dry."

(or something). This often causes the sentance to make no sense and I'm left puzzling it out rather than reading on (I generally ignore it fairly quickly, but there's that moment of dissonance that trips me up). A new paragraph inserted there would probably help, but getting rid of the cutesy half sentances would be better.
posted by shelleycat at 5:19 PM on October 26, 2006


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