You are not helping anyone...please contribute beneficial comments. December 14, 2007 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Honestly, telling people that they should not be asking for help on AskMe is unproductive!

I've recently read many AskMe posts, such as this one, in which the commenters state that the poster should work on solving their problem as opposed to asking strangers for help; or that they are wasting time and should be doing something about their issue.

While that may be true, the trouble is, they ARE asking for help in AskMe and would have already fixed the problem had they felt confident in independently doing so. I think it is rude to tell them this. People are on AskMe for support and variety in ways of viewing their situations... The more those comments are made, the less welcome people will feel to query the hive mind. There are many times that I consult my friends, family, and random strangers in the store for advice... I am an extremely extroverted and confident individual. Nevertheless, it's human nature to want other's opinions before proceeding.

Please stop being so unhelpful!
posted by NotInTheBox to Etiquette/Policy at 11:25 AM (38 comments total)

Balderdash. Sometimes the damn dog don't realize he's barking up the wrong tree.
posted by found missing at 11:38 AM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I disagree. Telling someone to stop obsessing/over analyzing / poking / proding and go do something / go to the hospital right now / get a lawyer right not is sometimes the best advice someone can get. For a bunch of questions, people seem to be seeking direction and telling someone to get up and get down is exactly what they're looking for.
posted by Stynxno at 11:40 AM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Link

I'm probably not the only one who's really sick of relationshipfilter questions where the couple has been together > 6 months, something happens, and the person has not yet tried talking to their S.O. about whatever transpired. There should be a checkbox that you have to check that says "I have already spoken to the person in question about this, and have included the details of what that conversation produced"
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:41 AM on December 14, 2007 [8 favorites]


IMO, there are many instances where, given the mere fact that the person asking the question is doing so on AskMe, it is evidence of either some kind of fundamental misunderstanding, or that a valid answer is to point out the potential futility of asking AskMe in the first place.

Asking, "if I put this gun to my head and pull the trigger, will I be injured?" deserves a response along the lines of, "if you don't already know, maybe you shouldn't be a playing with guns in the first place."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2007


I see nothing wrong with that thread in general, NotInTheBox. Was there a specific comment that you wanted to callout? Because it all looks fine to me. It's relationship filter, you know? In the end, the OP has to work it out himself. All we can do is opine, relate, hypothesize, and generally flesh out possible reasons for and constructive reactions to the situation.
posted by mumkin at 11:50 AM on December 14, 2007


Oh please. "Talk to your girlfriend about it; there's no way for us to know" is the ONLY sensible answer in that case.

I've got nothing against relationshipfilter questions, but look: AskMe is not a magic 8-ball, nor a collective of gypsy fortune tellers. Consulting the hive mind on this sort of thing is simply no substitute for basic communication between two adults in a relationship. [NOT GYPSY-IST]
posted by scody at 11:52 AM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't be fit to have admin duties in Ask because I would delete about 93% of the questions with a rubber stamped "Oh for goodness sakes, stand on your own two feet" message. That is because I am not, at heart, a very nice guy, I guess.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:55 AM on December 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the link... Updates installed and waiting on the IT department.
posted by NotInTheBox at 11:56 AM on December 14, 2007


I'd do the much the same Wolfdog, although probably more like 35 to 40% of the questions would get axed by me. However, I do consider myself to be a mostly nice guy, it's just that sometimes to love someone you need to kick them wicked hard in the back from time to time.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:58 AM on December 14, 2007


If you'd said the question had no place on AskMe because there is no way it could be reasonably answered by an outsider, I would agree. I would say that "You need to talk this over with HER, not random internet people," is the *only* answer.
posted by absalom at 11:59 AM on December 14, 2007


I do like the advice to get AAA.
posted by smackfu at 12:03 PM on December 14, 2007


I think this can be (and often is) a very unhelpful, throwaway response. Coherently explaining to someone why they may be looking the wrong place for advice, however, is not unproductive. The obvious and recently much discussed case being if someone is seeking advice they should only receive from a professional. It is advice that can be dispensed with more or less nuance (and more or less politely). What flags are made for.
posted by nanojath at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2007


Wolfdog, I agree in that I feel there are some people that need to find their balls and use them, solve/confront the problem and move along... But that is also why I do not comment frequently in those posts.

All we can do is opine, relate, hypothesize, and generally flesh out possible reasons for and constructive reactions to the situation.

Yes, I absolutely agree... I suppose that I feel it's obvious to confront the individual in question/see a doctor/get a lawyer and that really they are looking for point of views. Maybe it's not obvious and that's why they are consulting AskMe? I'm giving MeFites more credit than that. I'm also an extremely analytical person and it makes sense to me that someone would want to beat the dead horse sometimes as opposed to running blindly into their scenario.
posted by NotInTheBox at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2007


Not the best callout that MeTa has ever seen, but in my book you get two points for the phrase "running blindly into their scenario."
posted by found missing at 12:12 PM on December 14, 2007


Wolfdog, I agree in that I feel there are some people that need to find their balls and use them, solve/confront the problem and move along... But that is also why I do not comment frequently in those posts.

Perhaps we could divert those questions from Human Relations into another sub-category of AskMe

We should name this new sub-category "Grow A Pair."

It will be for people who just want people to tell them "Yeah. You're right. That person's an asshole. They're cheating you/taking you for granted/etc. You need to stand up to them. What the fuck are you waiting for, dude? GROW A PAIR!"
posted by jason's_planet at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of people who ask these types of questions are sitting in a stew because there's only one thing they've been able to come up with, or only one thing their mind has been willing to accept, and that thing sucks. They don't want to confront their SO, because the sucky thing is so terrible that they just know it's all going to go wrong. They come to AskMe not for a solution, but for some other possibilities. Something else that it could be so that when they go to ask 'WTF happened there?' they can do it with honest confusion about what the answer might be instead of righteous anger over what it must be.

And even if that's not *why* they came, that might be the best possible outcome anyway -- because it means they will be able to calm down enough to have that conversation and have it be reasonable instead of involving a lot of yelling.

In those circumstances, 'you have to ask her' is kind of an 'I don't know' non-answer, but I don't see it as being rude or even unnecessary. Realizing he's going to have to ask her is part of the process of working through the emotional situational, and having people reinforce that, especially where other people (including me) are speculating that maybe she was drinking, having an affair or just a fairy tale princess who can't take care of herself never mind anyone else, is actually important.

At the risk of putting forward some more of those generalizations everyone in the thread loved so much, the need for their to be an answer, and for anything in the thread to be an attempt at an answer, is a little bit 'male answer syndrome'. Relationships and emotional issues aren't things with simple concrete answers like 'Go to this site, download a bootdisk and reboot' -- trying on scenarios is part of working through them, and so is realizing when you have to stop.

If you outright reject relationshipfilter as being appropriate on AskMe, this will be just another reason why. If relationshipfilter is allowed, though, this is a vitally important part of making it worthwhile.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:20 PM on December 14, 2007 [7 favorites]


Seems to me that human relationships present our most confounding problems, and that many of us (especially the young) have to learn how to address them. I think practicing describing the problem and dealing with some response is sometimes exactly what is needed in order to build some skills at the "just talk to the girlfriend, already" part.
posted by Riverine at 12:22 PM on December 14, 2007


I don't read a lot of the relationship-filter questions because they're so damn repetitive and can be such trainwrecks, but I don't have a problem with them. There are so many people who just plain suck at relationships (romantic and otherwise) that they probably really *don't* know the answers that seem so obvious to more experienced people or people whose family life wasn't a complete mess growing up. Telling someone to talk to their SO is valuable advice for people who don't get that real communication is kind of standard in relationships that work well.
posted by doubtful_guest at 12:23 PM on December 14, 2007


I don't think there is anything intrinsically bad about asking AskMe for relationship advice. But when, like the asker of the thread in question, you do so without even talking to your SO then you're just asking for trouble. Why in hell wouldn't the very first goddamn thing you do be to ask your SO "Why did you do that"? How the hell are we supposed to know why she did something when you haven't even asked her?

Unless you get something wonderfully coincidental like, "Oh that was you? Sorry, dude, I was bangin' your girlfriend at the time and that's why she couldn't help you." In which case, question answered. Other than that, though, how should we know?
posted by Justinian at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2007


"talk to your SO" is like preaching to the converted. It's good advice for people who have a good sense of how to talk to their SO, but then, they would have already been talking to their SO about it to start with. The people who turn to AskMe are the ones who are confused about how to proceed, the ones who want some advice or context on how to approach this conversation, the ones who may very well be bad at talking to their SO. So sure, communication is always the answer, except when you suck at communicating, it can also mess things up worse because you come in with assumptions, start out with accusations, get confused by what you assume to be irrelevant answers or information from the SO...

If you're not already good at this aspect of a relationship, then getting some kind of general overview of how this could appear to the world at large gives you a more balanced picture of what to say or what it could mean if she says X. Obviously he's gotta talk to her. But I don't think it's out of line for him to try to gauge how his reaction lines up with the norms of his culture, and what other norms people might express, so that when he does talk to her, he's got a somewhat wider view.
posted by mdn at 12:40 PM on December 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


It is ridiculously funny to me seeing this post right below the one about it--NotInTheBox, can you read minds?
posted by DMan at 12:42 PM on December 14, 2007


We should name this new sub-category "Grow A Pair."

DTMFA actually stands for "Dump The Milquetoast Fragility Already."
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:43 PM on December 14, 2007


We should name this new sub-category "Grow A Pair."

Maybe it should be "Have A Pair", because women that have multiples are probably the strongest people I've ever met, as opposed to just any ol' random guy.
posted by cashman at 12:47 PM on December 14, 2007


Cool Papa Bell : Asking, "if I put this gun to my head and pull the trigger, will I be injured?" deserves a response along the lines of, "if you don't already know, maybe you shouldn't be a playing with guns in the first place."

I don't actually disagree with you, but your example is also a perfect situation where the first answer is obvious (and probably correct), but could be made more clear and definitive by asking additional quesitons:

"if I put this gun to my head and pull the trigger, will I be injured?"

What kind of gun is it? Real 9mm purveyor of death or caulking gun?
Is it loaded?
Is the safety on?
Is there a trigger lock?
Where on your head?
Are you making a distinction between injured and dead?

A negative or a non-standard reply to any of these questions could end up with a completely different answer:

"if I put this gun to my head and pull the trigger, will I be injured?"

What kind of gun is it?

An unloaded paint-ball gun

Go for it.

posted by quin at 12:53 PM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's some terrible advice there, quin. Putting any kind of gun that fires actual projectiles to your head and pulling the trigger is a stupid, stupid move. Paintball gun or not.
posted by Justinian at 12:58 PM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


exceptions made for toys like nerf guns, before I get pedanted to death.

Can a pedant please pedant me as to whether pedanted is a word?
posted by Justinian at 12:59 PM on December 14, 2007


Justinian - was working on my pedant when I read your most recent comment. Thanks for venturing from the box. Proud of you!
posted by NotInTheBox at 1:04 PM on December 14, 2007


Putting any kind of gun that fires actual projectiles to your head and pulling the trigger is a stupid, stupid move.

So very true. Paintball was actually an edit from my first non-firearm gun choice which was even worse: nail gun.

I went to make a point and I fell into my own trap.

posted by quin at 1:04 PM on December 14, 2007


There are so many people who just plain suck at relationships (romantic and otherwise) that they probably really *don't* know the answers that seem so obvious to more experienced people or people whose family life wasn't a complete mess growing up. Telling someone to talk to their SO is valuable advice for people who don't get that real communication is kind of standard in relationships that work well.

This is exactly what I was thinking. Sometimes it just taking a little nudging or someone to be blunt for someone to see the "obvious." It's easy to be myopic in a relationship and not see what's going on. For many people, it's just not that easy to see things so simplistically and requires an outside perspective.
posted by jmd82 at 1:09 PM on December 14, 2007


I'm with the OP here. Most of the time it just seems like assholery dressed up with common sense. You can be cordially blunt without being snippy and dismissive.

That's what the Blue is for...
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:36 PM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


sometimes people give helpful advice that says "don't waste any more time here. go out there and do something."

sometimes people give unhelpful advice that says "don't waste any more time here. go out there and do something."

startlingly, the same thing advice can have two different results in two different situations.
posted by shmegegge at 2:02 PM on December 14, 2007


It it's all about being helpful, I propose we use this as the background music that plays while one browses AskMe.
posted by micayetoca at 2:33 PM on December 14, 2007


/joke

in case it wasn't obvious in the above comment.
posted by micayetoca at 2:34 PM on December 14, 2007


Y'know... I really shouldn't waste any more time here. I need to go out there and do something.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:59 PM on December 14, 2007


I can understand how getting answers to that kind of question would be helpful to the person who had to ask it, but damn are such threads tiresome to read. But then I could say the same about, say, a lot of computer or sports-related questions. Threads are not deleted on the basis of their obviousness or their lack of interest for you.
posted by orange swan at 4:06 PM on December 14, 2007


But then I could say the same about, say, a lot of computer or sports-related questions.

If half the people who posted computer-related questions hadn't tried rebooting their computer first, then that would be true.
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:23 PM on December 14, 2007


I believe that communication problems are nearly always the issue, and people don't always know it. If your relationship is healthy and mature, then you have learned to communicate with one another. If it is not (and in my opinion, all people will, at some point, be in an unhealthy or immature relationship, though later it may become healthy and mature), then one of the things you may not realize is that you need to talk before jumping to conclusions. Or you may know you need to talk, but not know how. This problem is so common in all manner of relationships and people need advice.

Sometimes "you need to talk" is throwaway advice, especially when the person has indicated that they're having a problem with talking to the person. I really hate it when people only tell you to do the thing you've already said you have a problem doing. This applies to all manner of AskMe questions, not just relationship questions. If the person has indicated they have a problem doing X, and the only thing you know to do is X, if you cannot help them do X, don't answer. Except maybe you can add a data point that X is the right thing to do, while acknowledging that you don't know how to help them figure out how to do it. Otherwise, it just seems dismissive.

However, this particular AskMe post is not a good example, imo. This person did skip right over the "talk to her" part, and went right to "How could she do such a thing?". Considering how many people did not question this, apparently many people seem to think they too know her motives, without talking to her. Maybe they're right, and there is enough information to act on. I don't think so, but that's me. It was not obvious to the questioner or to quite a few other people that the two parties needed to talk. Thus, "you need to talk" is a valid response to this question.
posted by Danila at 9:28 PM on December 14, 2007


Relationships and emotional issues aren't things with simple concrete answers like 'Go to this site, download a bootdisk and reboot'

And what's the deal with all the bugs added by the latest patch? We need to talk; I feel as if we'll stay in beta forever.
posted by ersatz at 7:45 AM on December 15, 2007


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