Question about deals: Bad deletion September 7, 2007 7:05 AM   Subscribe

How was the AskMe about "your favorite frugalities" chatfilter? Seemed like a legitimate question to me with some decent, interesting answers. Bad deletion.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Etiquette/Policy at 7:05 AM (80 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

"I'll go first" - check
No real way for there to be a best answer - check
No actual problem to be solved, other than "list some things" - check
posted by Rhomboid at 7:16 AM on September 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


and look at the answers that were posted: random junk. good deletion.
posted by kamelhoecker at 7:20 AM on September 7, 2007


There was no problem to solve.

It was just a greatest hits list as opposed to "Help me find a solution to this problem".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 AM on September 7, 2007


RestaurantFilter: Everyone I've met has one super-amazing restaurant that they know of that they keep close to their chest. What's yours?

WebsiteFilter: Everyone I've met has one super-amazing website that they know of that they keep close to their chest. What's yours?

MusicFilter: Everyone I've met has one super-amazing album that they like to listen to that they keep close to their chest. What's yours?


And so forth...

Yes, it generated a pretty interesting list, but so would all of the substitutions above, and its been a fairly consistent policy to delete these types of general open-ended questions, no matter how many neat responses they generate.
posted by googly at 7:22 AM on September 7, 2007


I don't agree that asking for restaurant, website and music recommendations are equivalent to asking for the best deal ever, googly. In those cases people could go to the restaurants, visit the websites, and listen to the music. They are useful suggestions. In the deleted thread, the poster was asking for "your best deal ever". Sure, I may have bought my beloved olive velvet jacket from a thrift store for $17, but what good does reading that do anyone else? Asking for people's favourite ways to get good deals would have been useful. This question was just useless and chatty.
posted by orange swan at 7:28 AM on September 7, 2007


I agree, that this question was just useless and chatty, orange swan. But I also think that the other three versions would be just as useless and chatty - restaurant recommendations are limited to people who live in the area; and broad website and music recommendations are way too general to be of much use to anyone - and similar ones have been deleted in the past.
posted by googly at 7:35 AM on September 7, 2007


Meh, the answers weren't even great. The OP wanted super deals requiring a secret knock, so to speak. The responses centered around general frugality and enthusiasm for dumpster diving. I loves me some dumpster diving, but it's not really analogous to a $600 discount on a MacBook.
posted by desuetude at 7:37 AM on September 7, 2007


Here is a serious meta-MetaTalk question: why do people complain about deletions in MetaTalk? Functionally, has such a complaint ever actually resulted in an undeletion? '

And where did this now-popular misconception arise that moderation of Mefi questions is subject to democratic, as opposed to oligarchic, control? We don't have a "right" for questions or postings to exist on the site, methinks.

I once posted such a question. I've done pretty much an 180-degree turn since then, and this is the viewpoint that did it to me: contributions to this site are subject to the tastes, methodology, and viewpoints of its moderators, who, when i thought about it, really do a pretty good job. As far as I can tell, they always have; I strongly believe they always will. If you don't like the moderating being done, you have no tangible way of altering said moderation; bitching on Meta doesn't work. If your dislike of the moderation is strong enough, go elsewhere; if not, "well, I disagreed with that one, but I wouldn't want their job." Their, I should note, volunteer job, no? I don't think any of you three are actually making moolah from Mefi — I can't imagine Mefi's ads are enough to break even on Mefi, much less profit.
posted by WCityMike at 7:59 AM on September 7, 2007


In the deleted thread, the poster was asking for "your best deal ever". Sure, I may have bought my beloved olive velvet jacket from a thrift store for $17, but what good does reading that do anyone else? Asking for people's favourite ways to get good deals would have been useful.

But that's exactly what the asker was asking for, OS. It wasn't worded as elegantly as it might have been, but they did make a point of steering people away from the type of answer in your example, instead asking for the best "perpetual" deal. This IS "your favorite way to get a good deal."

In other words, the question was, "what are some good deal strategies?" No different from "what are some good restaurants in NYC?" (which I think is accepted as a reasonable question). In fact, this question was asking for answers a hell of a lot more specific and objective than "Great Thai in DC."
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:01 AM on September 7, 2007


Slight correction: the "always have"/"always will" remark was meant to apply to the idea of contributions always being subject to the tastes, methodology, and viewpoints, not to the "do a pretty good job" remark. (Not that they haven't usually done a pretty good job, but frankly, that's a rather kiss-up sentiment.) A last-minute insertion of a phrase made the semantics unclear there.
posted by WCityMike at 8:01 AM on September 7, 2007


WCityMike, it's not a democracy, and I don't imagine this question will be undeleted, but I think the mods have always been open to community sentiment in guiding their decisions. I guess the goal is to prompt some expression of what the users want, in hopes of influencing future decisions...
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:04 AM on September 7, 2007


The deletion was correct. Bad callout.

The question was textbook chatfilter. "What's your favorite, I'll go first."
posted by terrapin at 8:17 AM on September 7, 2007


I guess the goal is to prompt some expression of what the users want, in hopes of influencing future decisions...

That's a reasonable goal, but entirely self-defeating if what you want is so clearly opposed to what everyone else wants that opening a MeTa thread is only going to reinforce the general consensus with which you disagree. A careful reading (or even a quick skim) of the chatfilter FAQ would have made clear that would be the case here before opening this thread. Your strategy is sound, but your execution is awful. C-
posted by scottreynen at 8:21 AM on September 7, 2007


In other words, the question was, "what are some good deal strategies?"

No it wasn't.

also, in response to all the times people have and will inevitably say "well, then this question that DIDN'T get deleted was just as bad," repeat after me:

Other questions have no bearing on the merit of the question at hand.
posted by shmegegge at 8:23 AM on September 7, 2007


No, I'm fine with the general consensus differing from my view. I just don't see the difference between this and ANY recommendation question, which I think we see a lot. So what if the asker already has a favorite? He wants more. The "I'll go first" clause is silly.

My view, clearly in the minority, which is fine.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:31 AM on September 7, 2007


The "I'll go first" phrasing is an absolute no-no. It's too bad a question like that couldn't find a life, I guess, but the way it was presented just doesn't make the cut.
posted by Chuckles at 8:34 AM on September 7, 2007


nah, i didn't think YOU were comparing it to other questions. I was sort of addressing the general public.

as far as the question at hand, I think what someone said above is right, the question wasn't asking for a recommendation. It very clearly asks for a story about your best deal. If they meant to collect thrift strategies, that's unfortunate because they never once said so. As written, the question has no problem to be solved, no goal to accomplish and is just asking for anecdotes.
posted by shmegegge at 8:36 AM on September 7, 2007


I'm with stupidsexyFlanders on this one: I do think the question, if better phrased, could have been a very useful one, and I even favorited it, hoping to come across some previously unknown cheapskate offers/ways to get discounts, etc.

"I'm on a tight budget, but I don't want to compromise my quality of life. So I'm looking for the best strategies to get great deals on everything from computers to clothing to books. What are your recommendations?"

I feel like this would have worked just fine, and the poster could even have given his/her/its example. "I'm looking for things like this."

But, as most of the responses were useless -- no offense -- I'd say it was ultimately a good deletion.
posted by brina at 8:40 AM on September 7, 2007


FrugalFilter: Everyone I've met has one super-amazing deal (perpetual, not of the 10%-off-at-target-this-saturday breed) that they know of that they keep close to their chest. What's yours?

I read this as specifically excluding "your favorite deal EVAR" stories from the answers, but instead asking for a "perpetual," reproducible deal strategy.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:41 AM on September 7, 2007


It was a bargain basement question to begin with. But thanks for recycling it here.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:44 AM on September 7, 2007


IRFH, you're too thrifty with your praise. Why can't you even offer a çoupon of support?
posted by pineapple at 8:51 AM on September 7, 2007


You're right - I'm sorry. Didn't mean to discount anyone's opinion.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:09 AM on September 7, 2007


Oh, save it.
posted by pineapple at 9:09 AM on September 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


WCityMike writes "why do people complain about deletions in MetaTalk? Functionally, has such a complaint ever actually resulted in an undeletion"

Matt's undeleted a few threads, though I don't remember if that has included AskMes.
posted by Mitheral at 9:24 AM on September 7, 2007


Guys, please learn to deal with each other.
posted by shmegegge at 9:25 AM on September 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's happened on a couple occasions. It's very much a rarity. I think these threads are usually motivated more by a desire to protest/discuss/influence the policy driving the deletion than out of an expectation that the deletion will be undone.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:31 AM on September 7, 2007


"I'm on a tight budget, but I don't want to compromise my quality of life. So I'm looking for the best strategies to get great deals on everything from computers to clothing to books. What are your recommendations?"

I feel like this would have worked just fine


Here you go. I changed it slightly to fit my actual situation.
posted by scottreynen at 9:37 AM on September 7, 2007


um.
posted by blacklite at 10:01 AM on September 7, 2007


The FAQ says "Ask Metafilter questions need to have some possible answer or should be asking for information that will be put to some practical use." and later "If your motivation is 'I would like others to explain X to me,' then you're probably OK."". The question wanted a list of neat deals that were generally unknown to the public, which seems entirely equivalent to asking "I'd like some good chili recipes - as an example, here's a black bean chili recipe that I happen to enjoy".

It's not chatfilter as much as it is open-ended-list-filter which seems to be okay half the time and not okay the other half. What's the deal?
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:08 AM on September 7, 2007


Here you go. I changed it slightly to fit my actual situation.

Oh good. Stunt posts always Poolio.
posted by dersins at 10:14 AM on September 7, 2007


See you, me, & Poolio down by the junk yard.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:17 AM on September 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


OxFCAF, sometimes its the tone and wording.

This one started off as "Everyone I've met... What's yours?" which is not asking for expertise unlike the question seeking a "tried and true" soup recipe which I believe would have been deleted if it had asked "Everyone has a favorite soup! Whats yours?"
posted by vacapinta at 10:23 AM on September 7, 2007


i don't question the importance of context in communication, but i often get the impression that the, ah, more arts-oriented people here could also try thinking a little bit harder. it's not just about the vibes.

the audience here isn't (still isn't, i think) typical. it tends to the more logical / literal-thinking end of the spectrum. perhaps moreso than the moderators themselves (who are selected for their ability to "communicate", after all).

so maybe rather than trying to educate people about context, and how it's not just what you ask, but how you ask, perhaps we should try educating the moderators to look a little more closely at what is asked, as well as how?

we see this conflict again and again - the nerds asking for precise definitions and the cool kids saying "it's the way you ask". but this is a pretty nerdy place. i'd suggest the cool kids need to learn a bit more reasoning and rely a little less on the emotional autopilot.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:39 AM on September 7, 2007


What's the deal?

$20SAIT
posted by dersins at 10:40 AM on September 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


...perhaps we should try educating the moderators to look a little more closely at what is asked, as well as how?

Its not just about the moderators. The problem is that poorly-worded questions draw in bad/misguided answers, making it useless for everybody.
posted by vacapinta at 10:42 AM on September 7, 2007


sometimes its the tone and wording.

That was kind of my point - only questions which are in the specified "chatfilter" format get deleted, despite a ton of otherwise-isomorphic questions sticking around. You can literally ask "What are your favourite cookie recipes?" as long as you have the appropriate secret handshake attached to it. It seems cliqueish and arbitrary.

I don't think that the thread in question was getting worse-than-normal answers based on its wording. Do you?
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:44 AM on September 7, 2007


poorly-worded questions draw in bad/misguided answers

and for the second time this week, i suggest deleting the bad answers instead of the vague questions.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:45 AM on September 7, 2007


we see this conflict again and again - the nerds asking for precise definitions and the cool kids saying "it's the way you ask"

*wanders off to sneak a smoke behind the portable*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:46 AM on September 7, 2007


and for the second time this week, i suggest deleting the bad answers instead of the vague questions.

In that case, it is about the moderators. And I think they have every right to say

"Its unfair to put the burden on us of both trying to understand what you meant and also cleaning up the resulting mess. Please re-word and resubmit. Thanks."
posted by vacapinta at 10:46 AM on September 7, 2007


we see this conflict again and again - the nerds asking for precise definitions and the cool kids saying "it's the way you ask". but this is a pretty nerdy place. i'd suggest the cool kids need to learn a bit more reasoning and rely a little less on the emotional autopilot.

Well, maybe, like, the nerds need to learn that not everything is binary. It's totally an analog continuum, man.
posted by dersins at 10:49 AM on September 7, 2007


Is there an analog continuum between something being binary and something being an analog continuum?
posted by vacapinta at 10:53 AM on September 7, 2007


lame
posted by andrew cooke at 10:55 AM on September 7, 2007


If you were on Jeopardy, and you answered 'pancakes' instead of 'What is "bananas"?', there might some controversy over whether or not it was a correct answer.
AskMe has phrasing too. It's not a bad question in and of itself, but there's a style manual to these things.
posted by lilithim at 10:58 AM on September 7, 2007


(0~1 as n -> ∞)~(an analog continuum between something being binary and something being an analog continuum) as nerdiness -> infinite recursion.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:02 AM on September 7, 2007


AskMe has phrasing too. It's not a bad question in and of itself, but there's a style manual to these things

Great, let's put in the FAQ.

Q: Are hypothetical questons allowed on AskMe?
A: Only if you're writing a novel. Please phrase your questions in terms of something your character needs to do (hide a body, live underground for 2 years, survive on the moon, etc) rather than as a "I'm just wondering".

Q: Are name-your-favorite-X questions allowed on AskMe?
A: Yes, but you may not go first. We suggest you pad it with irrelevant information to hide the general format of the question.
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:06 AM on September 7, 2007 [8 favorites]


Oh shit, 0xFCAF totally nailed the mods for being imperfect.

although I will admit that the near total efficacy of saying you're writing a book when posting chatfilter can be frustrating.
posted by shmegegge at 11:12 AM on September 7, 2007


although I will admit that the near total efficacy of saying you're writing a book when posting chatfilter can be frustrating.

Why is it frustrating?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:19 AM on September 7, 2007


Certain things are on the boundary of chatfilter-land, like this question. In that case, breaking one of the actual guidelines, like "I'll go first", pushes it over the line.

Making more rules just moves the boundaries around, and doesn't solve anything.
posted by smackfu at 11:25 AM on September 7, 2007


Great, let's put in the FAQ.

I think most people who have paid any attention in AskMe know this already. For new people, I'd just recommend: "Hang out at AskMe a while until you get a sense of what is and isn't allowed."

I understand people have this obsessive need to codify everything but I could think of lots more things to add to the FAQ if we want to go down that route.
posted by vacapinta at 11:27 AM on September 7, 2007


perhaps we should try educating the moderators to look a little more closely at what is asked, as well as how?

The problem is, no matter how charitably we try to interpret questions, we're only three people and lots of other people in AskMe will read the question wrong or misinterpret it if we will.

i suggest deleting the bad answers instead of the vague questions.

I know that I feel okay deleting a jokey wisecrack answer in AskMe, but I'm not going to delete answers where the person just misunderstood the question (almost always) because if one person misunderstood it, other people probably did too. So, having us just be more vigilant removing answers would

1. result in more deletions, which we try to avoid [several people's answers versus one person's question]
2. require a change of policy that I don't think any of us is keen on since it requires more interpretation
3. not really solve the problem which is that some people just don't have a decent feel for how AskMe works and most people learn over time which we feel is better than trying to outline a "here's how it works, specifically and exactly" document that everyone would fight over anyhow.
4. try to solve a problem that isnt' really that much of a problem anyhow.

In this specific case, a badly worded question that possibly wasn't a chatfilter question in the OPs heart was removed and a better question on almost exactly the same topic was asked which will hopefully lead to better answers on that same topic. So, I think the system mostly works.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:54 AM on September 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


poorly-worded questions draw in bad/misguided answers

Questions like this also encourage further chatty questions. In this sense, being more aggressive about deleting things can actually lead to less deletions overall because you don't get the effect of a lot of new users going "Oh, cool! I have a fun question too!"
posted by tomcooke at 12:04 PM on September 7, 2007


No real way for there to be a best answer - check

No, that's not part of the definition of chatfilter.
posted by jejune at 1:07 PM on September 7, 2007


You know what's going to be a good deletion?

How can I cheat at Unemployment Insurance?
posted by smackfu at 1:44 PM on September 7, 2007


lol smackfu, that was deleted so fast that the mod didn't put his/her name on the reason.
posted by desjardins at 1:49 PM on September 7, 2007


The deletions in AskMe are as yet unattributed, probably because they tend not to be as witty there as in Metafilter.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:56 PM on September 7, 2007


Why is it frustrating?

because it feels like someone's gaming the system and the mods are falling for it. Not all the time, mind you, but enough to get annoying sometimes.
posted by shmegegge at 1:57 PM on September 7, 2007


The deletions in AskMe are as yet unattributed, probably because they tend not to be as witty there as in Metafilter.

You may be confusing cause with effect, Burhanistan.
posted by dersins at 1:58 PM on September 7, 2007


It seems to me that debating the merits of a given deletion is almost like a form of theological discussion. To explain why, say, moronic relationship-filter questions ("does this wonderful boy I work with at the record store like me or not? Help me interpret his signals") don't get deleted, and yet fairly specific, well-defined, answerable questions ("name your favorite shopping bargain I can take advantage of" ) are smited without delay, calls upon the sort of distinction-making skills that is worthy of St. Thomas Aquinas. Seriously, it's like the mods are gods, and we are just grubby little medievals, trying to make sense of their decisions.
posted by jayder at 2:08 PM on September 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


at least we're not trying to interpret "their" words from hundreds of years ago.
posted by desjardins at 2:27 PM on September 7, 2007


Personally, I think a badly-worded good question (especially one like this that helps others beyond OP) is much better than a well-worded bad question.

No matter how much discourse mods generate to justify it, the idea that "name my cat" or "make me a rainy day mixtape" is acceptable and "suggest ideas to help me spend wiser" is not just boggles my mind. And if the answer is that name-my-cat and other waste-of-space nonsense is permitted simply because of habit and precedent, though we all acknowledge it's worthless, FINE - your website, you get to say so. But just say THAT, rather than trying to make up a faux distinction that looks to the poor wording of what is a responsible, useful, helpful question.
posted by bunnycup at 4:30 PM on September 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


My best deal ever? Unlimited snark for a mere $5
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:58 PM on September 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


What jayder and bunnycup said.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:51 PM on September 7, 2007


the, ah, more arts-oriented people here could also try thinking a little bit harder

Another reason you earned yourself a little holiday from this joint. How the site limped on without your kneejerk displays of prejudice is difficult to explain, although as an, ah, arts-oriented person I probably couldn't think myself out of that particular wet paper bag.
posted by Wolof at 8:06 PM on September 7, 2007


Seriously, it's like the mods are gods, and we are just grubby little medievals, trying to make sense of their decisions.

Seriously? It's the shitty nitpickery that goes on in MeTa that makes the "mods" so utterly frugal with their words, since they know that every "and", "but", and "if" will be scrutinized more than an alien anal probe.

If you (universal you) treated them like human beings capable of inconsistency like the fucking rest of us, and not like "gods" at all, perhaps they could be more open (as cortex seems to have been).

And hey, don't get me wrong, I've had a history of nitpickery as well. But seriously, is this concept really so complicated that you're trying to take Matt and Jessamyn's rationale on various topics to a Biblical level?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:36 PM on September 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can see how it's a short trip from m-o-d to g-o-d.

Err-- wait. No I can't. God doesn't drop into a theological debate and number her reasons for you 1-4.
posted by Tehanu at 8:41 PM on September 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


AskMe posts are like coin tosses. Past ones do not allow you to predict future one.
posted by signal at 8:53 PM on September 7, 2007


Many of you need a good, hard slap.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:00 PM on September 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, Mod, You Devil
The Mods Must Be Crazy
Modspell
Children of a Lesser Mod
Mod Said, "Ha!"
The Love Mod?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 9:14 PM on September 7, 2007


Or you could just reverse it and call them "The God Squad".
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 PM on September 7, 2007


And hey, don't get me wrong, I've had a history of nitpickery as well. But seriously, is this concept really so complicated that you're trying to take Matt and Jessamyn's rationale on various topics to a Biblical level?

My comment wasn't a comment on Matt or Jessamyn or Cortex. (Why do we not call him by his name, by the way?)

My comment was not a criticism of the moderators, but was an observation of the perennial appeal of the game we play, over and over again, of debating deletions at Metafilter. I was making fun of us, the debaters of deletions, not making fun of the deleters. We're the fools who sit around and try to come up with a theory to explain decisions that are not susceptible to consistent explanation.

(My only complaint has been that help-me-make-a-mix-tape and help-me-name-my-pet-rock and what-nifty-gift-should-I-buy-for-my-Wiccan-godmother questions are permitted, despite seeming to violate the rules.)
posted by jayder at 9:20 PM on September 7, 2007


I really have nothing to say right now. I'm just bored and want to type something. I'm glad that you guys are here for me.

I love metatalk.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:42 PM on September 7, 2007


Afroblanco, that gray box towards the bottom of the page is always hungry.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:46 PM on September 7, 2007


My comment wasn't a comment on Matt or Jessamyn or Cortex. (Why do we not call him by his name, by the way?)

Even if I'd known the practical implications back in '01, I would have been screwed: this guy beat me to the punch by a few months.

Plus, M/J/C is nice and collision free. And most people don't know my name anyway, and do know my username. And it has an 'x' in it, which is just all kinds of awesome anyway so I can't complain.

I call pb 'pb' most of the time, too, so, hey.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:47 PM on September 7, 2007


I pop the caps off the ends of my Marks-A-Lots wen they begin to dry out, and drip a modicum of rubbing alcohol in there, stuff the cap back on, lit it sit a few minutes, et Voila I have an almost-new marker.

See, its...

Frugal...

Oh, nevermind.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:01 PM on September 7, 2007


'Night 'night.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:06 PM on September 7, 2007


i suggest deleting the bad answers instead of the vague questions.

I suggest getting over it. Your MeTa's still open - if you're worried your ax is getting dull, feel free to head back on over there and pretend anyone still gives a shit.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:07 PM on September 7, 2007


and i suggest you fuck off.

help any?
posted by andrew cooke at 1:41 AM on September 8, 2007


And most people don't know my name anyway, and do know my username.

Years ago when I was spending much more time in chatrooms, I accidentally typed in my username as my real name on forms. I think at that point more people knew me as that name anyway.
posted by desjardins at 7:42 AM on September 8, 2007


I can see how it's a short trip from m-o-d to g-o-d.

No, that's a long trip. However, it is a short trip from m-o-d to PC P-l-o-d.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:33 AM on September 8, 2007


L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg writes "Oh, Mod, You Devil
"The Mods Must Be Crazy
"Modspell
"Children of a Lesser Mod
"Mod Said, 'Ha!'
"The Love Mod?"


Mods said to Abiezer, 'Kill It's Raining Florence Henderson',
Abe said, 'Mods, you must be putting me on',
Mods said 'No'
Abe said 'What?'
Mods said 'You do what you want to, Abe, but
The next time we see you posting you'd better run'
Abe said 'Where do you want this killing done?'
Mods said 'Metatalk call out number 61'
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:57 AM on September 8, 2007


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