I'm overwhelmed July 1, 2007 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I loves me some Metafilter and AskMe - but I can't keep up! I use Google Reader to keep things nice and condensed, but if I go more than a full work day without checking in on the Blue and the Green posts seems to easily creep over the 100+ mark. The deluge is kind of diluting the whole Metafilter experience for me 'cause it's starting to feel like there's too much to keep up with. Anybody out there use any tricks or methodologies to keep their required Meta-reading under control? I'm glad I'm not an admin! disclaimer - this is not one of those 'please limit the posts' posts, as I'm all for them. I'm just looking for a way to keep things more manageable.
posted by matty to MetaFilter-Related at 2:25 PM (50 comments total)

One of the best features of our human consciousness is that it deletes and rejects most of the incoming sensory data so it can paint a useful and usable picture for our minds, and contexualized to the degree of our conditioning and personal training. In this since, forgetting and omitting is a feature, not a bug.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:31 PM on July 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, matty, have you had a chance to research the various configurations of in-flight entertainment servers? Was just thinking about that on the plane a few weeks back...
posted by Burhanistan at 2:33 PM on July 1, 2007


I don't use any reader or special tools, so I have nothing to offer on that part.

But (no snark intended - honest!) you don't HAVE to read everything. I know MeFi can suck you in; it does that to me. But if I don't have time to follow every post, I guess I have to miss them. Sometimes I am surprised that many pages of AskMes will have passed between my reading. When I get time, I go back through, or look at the unanswered ones in case I can help.

So, yeah, you have permission to miss some. It won't affect your grade.
posted by The Deej at 2:34 PM on July 1, 2007


I skip stuff. When I get busy, the Blue is the first to go, and I favorite posts on the Green that I know I'll be interested in to read later, instead of following them all day.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:47 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I check the site through RSS. But if I have say gone away for a week on vacation, I've found RSS to be useless. Its actually giving me too much information at this point.

I just load up ask.metafilter.com and scan down the page. The best summary of any question is the bit there on the front page. And I can scroll and read quicker than I can organize things in my RSS reader.

After I'm done I just do a "Mark all as Read" and go from there...
posted by vacapinta at 2:48 PM on July 1, 2007


Oh yes, I MUST. READ. EVERYTHING. :) Maybe it's just watching that google reader counter tick up and up that gets under my skin - otherwise I'd not have a really good gauge of how many I haven't read.

Looks like at this point my only option is to use the 'ol scroll wheel faster...

Burhanistan - I haven't forgotten about the in-flight servers research... it's still on my list! At the moment I'm swamped doing a tower supervisory study about runway incursions for the FAA.
posted by matty at 2:49 PM on July 1, 2007


You're already using the best tool for the job - RSS. When properly setup you should be able to scan all titles and post bodies very quickly without having to wait for anything to load. I configure my middle mouse click to be "next item" inside my RSS reader, so that I can just click quickly without having to point at anything in particular, and I can easily scan 100 posts/questions for the things that interest me in a couple minutes. Don't be afraid of that "mark all as read" feature either.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:51 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I use a stand-alone reader which I find makes scanning feeds easier and quicker (not for MeFi, but it's the same idea). Instead of click/reload/click/scroll, it's down-arrow, down-arrow, down-arrow. It's sort of like how nn was great for reading news because the point was to help you scan faster, much more than making you not miss anything. I find that the online web-based readers still have the built in web latency and click-reload nonsense that is why you're not reading all those web pages in the first place at least for the ones I've tried.

So, if you have a Mac, consider NetNewsWire. If you don't, look into other offline newsreaders. Also I'd pick a favorite part of the site and make it your first priority [i.e. read everything] and push the other sites down some [i.e. read some/most/few/none]. I'm prerrty sure I read every AskMe question that comes down the pipe, but I read some MeFi posts and comment in even less of them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:54 PM on July 1, 2007


I too use Goggle Reader, which I like because I can check it anywhere.

When work or life keeps me away from the site for a while, like any student of pop culture, I just ignore anything older than a day or so. I'm more likely to go back a bit on Ask, but often not.

Sure I miss stuff, but metafilter is what I do in spare time, between moments. It isn't a full-time thing.
posted by bonehead at 3:00 PM on July 1, 2007


It isn't a full-time thing.
posted by bonehead


BLASPHEMER!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by The Deej at 3:14 PM on July 1, 2007


'cause it's starting to feel like there's too much to keep up with.

There IS too much to keep up with. Any sane person would nuts within 3 days trying to keep up with everything.


Anybody out there use any tricks or methodologies to keep their required Meta-reading under control?

Honestly, don't attempt to read everything. It's OK if you don't everything that happens in Metaland. I'd suggest that if you do feel you have to keep up with everything, then step away from the keyboard for a while.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:24 PM on July 1, 2007


Honestly, don't attempt to read everything.

I've been disregarding your advice since 2001.

Seriously, folks, the answer to "Whats the best pawn shop to sell my stuff at to feed my crack addiction?" is not "Stop doing less crack!"

If you can't answer the question, stay out of the thread, please!
posted by vacapinta at 3:30 PM on July 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


I use an RSS reader and I limit the number of feeds I read to the ones that interest me and the ones where I can provide intelligent answers.

The simple act of not signing up for the Computers/Internet feed on AskMe has cut the volume by at least 50%.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:39 PM on July 1, 2007


If you can't answer the question, stay out of the thread, please!
posted by vacapinta


No no, you are confused. That's the rule we ignore on AskMe, not here.
posted by The Deej at 3:40 PM on July 1, 2007


If I have the bare minimum of time one day, I stop in to Metatalk. Anything that's crazy good or crazy bad is probably there. Of course if I have more time, I'll read through every post on each subsite; I just don't have that kind of time every single day. I don't know what I'd do if I felt like I had to consciously acknowledge every post every day; I think it would drive me crazy very quickly, and possibly put me off checking the site all together.

But I think a lot of people have your problem. Witness all the side blogs that people have started to cut down the volume of "required reading" (check metametafilter, mefi redux, etc).
posted by mosessis at 3:42 PM on July 1, 2007


I find that the online web-based readers still have the built in web latency and click-reload nonsense that is why you're not reading all those web pages in the first place at least for the ones I've tried.

Oh god, you mean Google Reader doesn't work like that? Man, that sounds totally useless.

This is the whole point of a RSS reader: it pulls a lot of information into one place without having to visit each of those places individually. If you're still doing the "click, wait, scroll, click" thing you're missing out on a huge benefit of aggregation, namely that it's already been collected locally and you don't have to wait for anything to load. Get a real program and try it if you're still using webshit.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:51 PM on July 1, 2007


I configure my middle mouse click to be "next item" inside my RSS reader, so that I can just click quickly without having to point at anything in particular, and I can easily scan 100 posts/questions for the things that interest me in a couple minutes.

Witness all the side blogs that people have started to cut down the volume of "required reading" (check metametafilter, mefi redux, etc).

Good stuff!! Thanks!

Now all I need is a reader for my iPhone. :)
posted by matty at 4:15 PM on July 1, 2007


not even the guy who owns this site is able to read it in its entirety anymore, why should you? it's just not possible, we're 55,000 thousand users or something now.
posted by matteo at 4:39 PM on July 1, 2007


(yeah, typo, 55 thousand. but it feels like 55 million on askmefi)
posted by matteo at 4:40 PM on July 1, 2007


Yeah, I wouldn't bother trying to read everything. I don't.
posted by delmoi at 4:48 PM on July 1, 2007


There IS too much to keep up with. Any sane person would nuts within 3 days trying to keep up with everything.

Surely if "keeping up with it" means to actually read every post and every comment, then we've long passed the point where that's actually practically possible, even for those of us who don't work. Maybe most people here intend "keeping up with it" as reading every post (still too much for a working person, I think) and perhaps scanning many threads for comments?

I think I began lurking MeFi around the beginning of 1993 or the end of 1992. I wasn't working then, either, and at that time the volume was low enough, without AskMe, that I did, in fact, read everything on the site, posts and comments, for about a year or so. In some ways I feel I knew MeFi better than than I do now.

But of course it's no longer possible to really keep up with MetaFilter that way. There's just too much.

I think there's some sort of community related impetus for long-term and highly active members to orient on MetaTalk for the center of the MetaFilter experience. But, as mosessis said, MetaTalk is also a good place to use just to check the temperature of MeFi.

we're 55,000 thousand users or something now.

Well, as you know, it's something closer to one-third of that, according to what Matt has said about the ratio of people who actually pay the $5 to those who start the membership process. But remember when we were saying the same thing about 20,000 people? How that would be a crazy huge number if it were actually true? Well, now it is.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:54 PM on July 1, 2007


I'd suggest judicious use of the "Mark All As Read" button in Google Reader. If I come back from a few days away and there are 300 items to read, I'll scroll through a few dozen and open interesting ones in new tabs, but eventually I just have to give it up and mark them all as read and hope the best ones rise on the popular favorites pages.

The other thing I do is subscribe to a few tags that I *know* I'll want to read each and every one of.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:00 PM on July 1, 2007


Heck not only do I not try to READ everything, I don't even try to WRITE everyth
posted by The Deej at 5:04 PM on July 1, 2007


Read faster.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:24 PM on July 1, 2007


I think I began lurking MeFi around the beginning of 1993 or the end of 1992.

Damn, you really are Old School!
posted by languagehat at 5:28 PM on July 1, 2007


Heh. Whoops. 2003.

Weird mistake.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:32 PM on July 1, 2007


Yeah, EB, what does the 1993 or 1992 thing indicate? I can't figure out how the error works. Is it 2003 or the end of 2002?
posted by cgc373 at 5:34 PM on July 1, 2007


Damn preview! Damn it all to the damn damned damnable damning!
posted by cgc373 at 5:34 PM on July 1, 2007


matty, the solution is simple. You have to find more time to read MetaFilter. Perhaps there are other hobbies / interests you could give up? I find it hard to believe that, if you do nothing else with your free time, you can't find a few hours every day to read.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:44 PM on July 1, 2007


Just don't worry about reading all of it. There's about a half-dozen good strategies upthread, so I won't really restate mine in detail, but the key thing is to find a good strategy to (a) locate the stuff you're interested in reading, (b) only read as much of it as you have time to enjoy reading, and (c) don't sweat the rest.

Anything truly, monumentally unmissable that happens on the site will get back to you via word of mouth—metatalk thread, references in comments after the fact, Popular Favorites tab, etc. Anything less than truly, monumentally unmissable is, you know, missable.

Surely if "keeping up with it" means to actually read every post and every comment, then we've long passed the point where that's actually practically possible, even for those of us who don't work.

Yeah, it's about 30K comments a month on the blue and the green each, which comes out to around 2000 comments a day (plus some fraction thereof on metatalk). It'd be interesting to see what reading a day's worth of the site's content—every single comment posted between 12:00:00 am and 11:59:59 pm on day x—would be like, but it'd be a day-long chore. I can't imagine many people reading more than a significant but small fraction of the actual total daily content of the site regularly. I was going to say that EB has mentioned basically reading the site at some point, but I see he just acknowledged that that's not even doable anymore.

Speaking of EB:

I think I began lurking MeFi around the beginning of 1993 or the end of 1992.

There was less content back then.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:22 PM on July 1, 2007


I was going to say that EB has mentioned basically reading the site at some point, but I see he just acknowledged that that's not even doable anymore.

Yeah, I really did do that for a long time. But that was a long time ago in mefi terms and actually before I joined. I think...maybe the volume in spring of '04 was still small enough that it was possible. I don't recall what my mefi-reading habits were at that point. Anyway, I just don't think it's possible anymore. And although on the whole I think I like the larger MeFi and the greater number of divergent personalities better, I don't think I would want to immerse my life in it to the degree that reading the whole site would require.

There was less content back then.

Hah. Cute.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:45 PM on July 1, 2007


I was in the hospital for 3 days recently, and damn near had another heart attack when i came out and saw what had piled up here in the meantime. It was almost like starting from scratch.
posted by pjern at 6:48 PM on July 1, 2007


I use Google Reader, too, and I, too, use a lot of the "mark all as read" button. However, I also use the star feature quiiiite a bit. If I don't have lots of time, I'll star things that look promising, and then go back later on to scan. In some cases, I'm not really interested anymore, and in others, like those huge, interesting posts where people comment and contribute every 12.8 seconds, I find I'm glad to have marked it.
posted by houseofdanie at 7:20 PM on July 1, 2007


So I love the Blue, I really do. But it tires me out, you know? There's only so much quirky, off-the-wall stuff out there you can handle in a day, and between that, e-mail, and normal-er things like the newspaper and book reviews, I can't always make it work. I do favorite things to read later, but that later rarely comes.

However, I read the Green religiously - it's the main reason I'm here, and I arrived here via lifehacker's weekly AskMe roundup section. It's just way, way more interesting to me to help people solve actual questions in their lives. I just broke through 500 answers a few weeks back and I haven't made a single post to the Blue yet, and I'm OK with that, because I don't think I've found anything FPP-worthy that hasn't been found before.
posted by mdonley at 8:18 PM on July 1, 2007


Pretty much whenever I don't "get" something—and that includes when I don't like something other people like—I always find it sort of fascinating to wonder why that is. What are other people seeing or experiencing that I am not?

This is the case with AskMe, which I only occasionally read and even more rarely answer. Furthermore, the questions I am interested in answering are only one of two things. Either is't some very particular thing I have particular competence in, and so can easily and quickly help the questioner; or it's a relationship that happens to catch my attention (often through MeTa). I'm interested in human relations: they‘re complex and subtle and, well, interesting because of it.

Most everything else just seems mundane to me and I don't see the interest in reading a great many questions and answers every day. Nevertheless, many many people find this very enjoyable...while some of them also find relationship questions boring.

As far as answering goes, I can easily see the attraction of helping other people. I feel that attraction greatly in other contexts (for example, it's the larger portion of pleasure I get out of MMORPG gaming) and so I quite respect those who find AskMe fun for that reason. On the other hand, although some people think me a bit of a know-it-all, the idea of answering AskMe questions for the sake of one's ego—as I strongly suspect is the case for at least a few individual I am very tempted to name—just seems to me to be sordid and sort of pitiful. Not that I have any definite sense of how much that figures into the motivations of most, if even more than a few, people.

One way I can understand it is to find a way that plausibly translates my own experience into an explanation of other peoples'. In this case, I can say that I mostly enjoy social interaction that is substantial conversations, "deep" conversation, one might say. I don't like small-talk. It occurs to me that another type of personality might similarly not primarily like small-talk, but also not care for what they might see as the BS of so-called "deep" conversation. Instead, such people might be strongly attracted to social interaction that takes the form of goal-oriented, problem solving utilitarian interaction. That, I can get, at least through a layer of translation.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:18 PM on July 1, 2007


Sometimes the best solution is to REMOVE a site from your RSS reader. That way, things don't pile up and you don't feel obilgated to read them.

You can still pop in daily and skim the headlines, but if you have a a few busy days, or go out of town, the posts don't pile up. When the list of bold items isn't staring you in the face, it makes it that much easier to write off what you missed.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:16 PM on July 1, 2007


Quit your job, and abandon all hope. Devote your life to the website. It's the only way.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:04 AM on July 2, 2007


My general methodology:

* blue: skim all FPPs, dive into the ones of most obvious intrinsic interest to me. take a peek at what's going on in the ones with heaps of comments.

* green: skim whatever questions are on the front page, then browse by 'human relations' tag becoz i find these the most interesting. as a fallback, skim all questions since last visit, but only on very rare occasions

* grey: final choice reading if there's no fun for me on blue or green. every now & then, skim back through all grey posts since last 'inventory', just to get a feel of what's going on, or to have a laugh in the more obviously popular, free-for-all threads.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:18 AM on July 2, 2007


The deluge is kind of diluting the whole Metafilter experience for me...

Today, in reference to search terms on Yahoo, someone wrote with no irony the sentence I guess I was lucky that portugal isn't a regular on metafilter on the blue, so there is much to be said about the amount of the cultural dilution hereabouts as well.
But the delusion, on the other hand...
posted by y2karl at 6:53 AM on July 2, 2007


My general methodology:

* blue: read all FPPs and comments

* green: read all questions and answers, answer all questions, whether qualified or not; let the Jabbas clean up the mess.

* grey: read all Posts and comments

* repeat

I'll sleep when I'm dead.
posted by The Deej at 4:58 PM on July 2, 2007


Ha! The joke's on you, Deej!

It's about time to let the cat out of the bag. You and I are the only ones here. That's right - every other user here is a sockpuppet of mine. I've been setting this up for years as an elaborate practical joke, just to get you back for not dating me back in the second grade.

I HATE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THIS DAMN WORLDDDDDDDDDD!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:21 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas, it has already been demonstrated conclusively that every user here is a jkottke sockpuppet, so you're gonna have to recant, dude.
posted by cgc373 at 5:24 PM on July 2, 2007


Ha! The joke's on you, Deej!

It's about time to let the cat out of the bag. You and I are the only ones here. That's right - every other user here is a sockpuppet of mine. I've been setting this up for years as an elaborate practical joke, just to get you back for not dating me back in the second grade.


Actually, I'm relieved! That explains a lot!
posted by The Deej at 5:26 PM on July 2, 2007


Now that all has been revealed, I hope you realise just what you missed out on, Deej.

Much hate,

Jason.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:32 PM on July 2, 2007


And to think, I missed my chance to date a dude, when I am the furthest thing from gay!

Or.... am I???? (Cue dramatic chipmunk.)
posted by The Deej at 5:40 PM on July 2, 2007


Here's my filter:
1) One link, link only posts. If they're that good and stand up to a two word headline, you can bet they'll be on another aggregator.
2) Puzzle posts. Posts with highly ambiguous clue-like red herring titles. Posts that are an exercise in cleverness. If I want a crossword puzzle, I'll do a crossword puzzle.
3) YouTube posts. They are often awesome, but very time consuming. Choose carefully. Only watch stuff that might truly rock.
4) Relationship questions on Ask. You're only ever getting half the story anyway, and most of these inquiries are so specific that the answers only apply to that particular situation.
5) Political posts. Oh yeah, we all know where this is going.
posted by Area Control at 6:20 PM on July 2, 2007


  • Invest in a speed reading course.
  • If work is getting in the way, cut back on you job.
  • Text-to-Speech readers can be configured to read RSS feeds to you while you sleep.
  • Stop visiting other sites.
  • Enlist friends, spouses, children, and strangers to read threads to you and suggest throw-away comments.
  • Larger fonts are easier to read.
  • Stop posting to MetaTalk when you could be looking up things in the archives of AskMe.

  • posted by blue_beetle at 11:05 PM on July 2, 2007


    Back in the 1980s I used to stock up on jelly doughnuts and, you know, basically read the entire Usenet in a single marathon. And flame everyone individually. Sometime around 1989 that became impossible - content was being generated quicker than I could read 24x7.

    Sometimes, you just have to know when to let go. Instead of trying to dam it, let the river flow past you. Occasionally you can dip in a toe or finger or even, for special occasions, dive right in. It always feels nice... but it's a mistake to stay in too long.
    posted by meehawl at 7:18 AM on July 3, 2007


    The green is what I follow regularly. I love the blue but it's a lower priority (and I want to keep my green-ratio good... want to give, like, at least 10 useful answers for every question I ask).

    I eyeball all the questions on the main page, not in rss (partly because so many people give their questions nonsense or punny titles, so you can't tell what they're actually asking about in the rss feed). Even on the main page, actual intent of questions is sometimes unclear without a close reading. To me it seems really useful when people bold the most important few words in their questions. I'll try doing that in some of mine.
    posted by allterrainbrain at 4:32 PM on July 3, 2007


    Sometimes when I can't read for a few days, I have to spend many many hours catching up.

    That is serious time spent and I get a little overloaded.
    posted by k8t at 11:24 PM on July 3, 2007


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