Country/Region/Location tags? September 12, 2007 6:19 PM   Subscribe

If there were a way to signal what locality ask.mefi posts pertained to, would that be a useful piece of data to know?

I was browsing across a series of education-related posts, and it ocurred to me that there are questions for whom the usefulness of the answer depends on where the question is being asked from. Example: If someone asks "How do I clean dishes by hand?" they'll likely get one kind of answer from U.S. respondents and another from UK residents (wash the soap off, or let it dry). And while it can be interesting to read everyone's responses, in some situations basically half the responses end up being irrelevant to the intent of the original (vaguely located) question.
posted by unmake to Feature Requests at 6:19 PM (34 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

An asker's profile has that info if they want to share it, and not if they don't -- so what are you asking for here, exactly?
posted by davejay at 6:26 PM on September 12, 2007

If it would be possible - or useful - when viewing a question, for there to be a visual indicator of where the question pertains to, in order to curtail answers which don't apply? Because I'd imagine a minority of respondents to ask.mefi questions visit the questioner's profile prior to responding?
posted by unmake at 6:47 PM on September 12, 2007

Oh. I just assumed that if a person was taking the time to answer the question and it had a regional slant, they'd just click the link first. But maybe I'm just unusually prone to clicking links.

the first step is admitting the problem
posted by davejay at 6:51 PM on September 12, 2007

Sometimes it's important (e.g. when asking about the law) but usually they include the region information in the question when they ask it. If not, they get prompted for it.

I see no reason why this should need to be something that's formalized within the system software.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:10 PM on September 12, 2007

man, you phrased your question awkwardly.
posted by boo_radley at 7:13 PM on September 12, 2007

If the user fails to share even at least some broad info about their location, say state if US or Country for most non-huge countries, then fuck 'em. They only hurt themselves. The same goes for an email address. Get a mefi only one if you don't want to give out your main address. Posters need to take responsibility, not Matt.
posted by caddis at 7:15 PM on September 12, 2007

wait, what? people in the uk dont rinse the soap off their dishes? what the hell??
posted by sergeant sandwich at 7:32 PM on September 12, 2007 [6 favorites]

"in some situations basically half the responses end up being irrelevant to the intent of the original (vaguely located) question."

This isn't actually a huge problem if you consider AskMe as a database of answered questions for posterity: if the question 'Are Montessori schools any good?' includes answers saying 'In Canada, they're all part of an MLM scam', as well as answers relevant to the OP in Oklahoma, then the database now has information that can help both Canadians and Oklahomans (Okies?) in the future. It's a feature, not a bug.
posted by jacalata at 7:43 PM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

If location is relevant, then it will either be initially provided in the question itself or requested by the answerers and then provided. I think that for questions like the example you provided (washing dishes by hand), it works best if the answers come from—and thus account for—as many locations as possible/relevant.
Q How do I wash dishes by hand?

A Well, here in the US we use soap.
A In space we just use paper plates.
A In Soviet Russia the plates wash you. Without soap.
A etc.
posted by carsonb at 7:44 PM on September 12, 2007

Provided relevant provisos relevancy provided relevance.
posted by carsonb at 7:46 PM on September 12, 2007

OK - with apologies for my awkward phrasing - I consider this answered as not as bad as I'd imagined :)
posted by unmake at 7:51 PM on September 12, 2007

In questions where region matters, I have not seen it both not specified and not asked for not not not. That is, if it matters, someone says so.

If I'm asking about washing dishes, and it turns out in the UK you don't wash off the soap, that's interesting to me, whether that's true where I am or not. Maybe it's a better way.

So, now I'm really curious. Why would you not wash off the soap?
posted by ctmf at 8:42 PM on September 12, 2007

I'm in the UK.

I wash off the soap. Its called rinsing.
posted by gergtreble at 8:51 PM on September 12, 2007

Whenever it might make a difference, I prefix my answer with "in my country" or "where I live". And I read the question.

I have pretty much given up on expecting the US contingent to acknowledge that the rest of the world exists, so I assume that when no region is mentioned in a question, it will in fact be the US, or failing that the wider Anglosphere. It's obvious most answerers do.

I have observed that even where questioners do specify the region in their post, many people fail to notice, so I'm not sure that tagging would really help. Answerers who think everyone lives in America will ignore the tag just as much as they ignore the stipulation in the post.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:35 PM on September 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

I think we could do voluntary locations if people want to add it for specific questions, but I don't know. The travel section is all nicely geo-located.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:41 PM on September 12, 2007

Sometimes people forget to add the locality when it's needed, like for legal questions. Then people ask "where are you located" and the OP mentions the piece of info. Problem solved!

The only time this doesn't work is when it's an anonymous question, but even then the OP sometimes mailes an admin to who then pots the answer to the thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:13 AM on September 13, 2007

I am for this, for obvious reasons. But I also kind of believe that profile locations already help a lot, and that people should add more and more relevant tags to questions.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:35 AM on September 13, 2007

What I really want is to filter out the RSS feed [flog horse]Hey, why is MeTa RSS still not working?[/flog] so that I don't have to click over any more questions about finding jobs in Chicago when I live in Virginia.
posted by anaelith at 6:56 AM on September 13, 2007

If someone asks "How do I clean dishes by hand?" they'll likely get one kind of answer from U.S. respondents and another from UK residents (wash the soap off, or let it dry).

Was this some kind of obscure joke? If not, what sergeant sandwich said.
posted by languagehat at 8:00 AM on September 13, 2007

the aristocrats!
posted by nomisxid at 8:30 AM on September 13, 2007

The soap thing has been bugging/intriguing me well. I did find this:

"Breakfast over, it's time to learn about doing the dishes, or washing up, UK style. Fill the sink with hot water and washing up liquid, then immerse your dishes and wash them as you usually would. Now take them out of the soapy water and put them in the drying rack.

No, no, don't rinse them; just put them in the rack. Yes, like that, with soap bubbles all over them. Apparently, your mother was wrong -- you can eat off of dishes that have not been thoroughly rinsed and not get sick. In time you'll get used to the idea. (Or you can sneak back into the kitchen and rinse them off when no one is looking.)"
posted by iconomy at 8:47 AM on September 13, 2007

When my sister was living in Australia, she reported the same routine: wash, no rinse.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:11 AM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yeesh. I wish I didn't know that.
posted by languagehat at 9:13 AM on September 13, 2007

No wonder Brits drink so much. They have to wash away the soap taste.
posted by languagehat at 9:15 AM on September 13, 2007

Odd article, iconomy. Quite a few false generalisations.

But he's right about washing-up. After washing something in hot water and washing-up liquid, you'd put it on the side and then dry it with a tea-towel ('dish towel'). The drying takes care of soap bubbles, so why bother rinsing everything as well? If you're particularly lazy, you can just leave everything out overnight without drying and by the morning it'll be dry (though this makes your cutlery and glasses look less shiny than if you'd dried them). I'm pretty sure none of my crockery, cutlery, mugs, cups or glasses have ever tasted even slightly of washing-up liquid: perhaps American washing-up liquid is different?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 9:46 AM on September 13, 2007

I actually learned about the different dishwashing behavior from ask, but wasn't clever enough to dig up the link. Suffice to say that someone contacted a manufacturer, who explained that their product is formulated differently depending on which side of the Atlantic it's being used.

As far as location tags: I was picturing yet-another field, or maybe a checkbox to grab locality from a user's profile - or maybe a simple reminder tacked on to the exising before-you-post text.
posted by unmake at 10:04 AM on September 13, 2007

The rule in my wife's west-coast Canadian family was "no rinsing required if you dry the dishes immediately" but I'm pretty my British-born Toronto-raised mother always rinsed.

Maybe the determining factor is the prevalence of double sinks?
posted by timeistight at 10:25 AM on September 13, 2007

Back to the original question: I think displaying the OP's location and lat/long info (if available) along with the question would be useful, particularly for Americans, who tend to assume that a) everyone knows that they're American and b) everyone else is also American.
posted by timeistight at 10:30 AM on September 13, 2007

perhaps American washing-up liquid is different?

Here where I live (America) if I did this with a glass and filled up the glass with water the next day, I'd get suds. So you might be on to something there.
posted by davejay at 10:43 AM on September 13, 2007

or the water is softer
posted by caddis at 10:45 AM on September 13, 2007

No rinsing then tea towel drying here in NZ too. Rinsing them is a really big waste of water and I was rather shocked and slightly bothered by my American friends doing it. If our dishwashing liquid is different then why don't you guys get the same stuff so you can stop pouring clean water down the sink for no real reason?

Most people seem to have dishwashers these days anyway, including rental houses, so it's kind of a moot point. Unless you're washing them fully before putting them in there in which case, either get a better dishwasher or don't bother using it because again with the wasting of water.
posted by shelleycat at 1:39 PM on September 13, 2007

I think it'd be useful to have a way for posters to tag their posts by location. It'd be most useful if the tag was optional, could be input in different ways (postal codes, lat/long, city/state/country names), and there were ways to sort and display the aggregates of posts created by such a tag.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:50 PM on September 13, 2007

In my experience, in pubs in London they wash glasses separately with no detergent (just super boiling dishwashers), because soap residue on a glass ruins the head on a beer (or any fizzy drink, something chemical about the specific gravity, perhaps?).
posted by jacalata at 9:48 PM on September 13, 2007

Unless lat/long info is translated to town/country - I don't think it's very useful; although I can well imagine that for some mefites 41.856033, -87.648025 might actually mean something, I'd wager that 99.5% of users just see it as a pair of random numbers, and would be better served by "Chicago, IL U.S.A."
posted by unmake at 9:48 PM on September 13, 2007

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