Fingers in the great anonymous dyke? January 12, 2008 9:54 PM   Subscribe

What percentage of users post answers, under their 'real' account, in their own anonymous askmefi threads?

Surely it would be greater then zero, but is it at all a 'significant' number?
posted by oxford blue to MetaFilter-Related at 9:54 PM (67 comments total)

3.7!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:00 PM on January 12, 2008


No, it's 1.2543%.
posted by bingo at 10:02 PM on January 12, 2008


Sorry, I should have added, that's with a 99% margin of error, and a 50% standard deviation.
posted by bingo at 10:03 PM on January 12, 2008


Dumbest Meta ever.
posted by special-k at 10:06 PM on January 12, 2008


Why, did you do that?
posted by not_on_display at 10:08 PM on January 12, 2008


I was sitting a friends family's house, visiting on a road trip I took with my best friend who is also a lesbian. The younger sister in the family mentions that she is going to amsterdam to study abroad in the fall.

And proceeds to say "when I am over there, I'll probably end up with my finger in a dyke or something"

To which my friends start kicking me to prevent me from sharing the astute observation

"Why go abroad, we got some perfectly good dykes right here!"


And I guess any percentage up to 18% without going over, for the race car, Bob.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:08 PM on January 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


Why, did you do that?


Yes. It was my wife that had finance problems while sleeping with my best friend who was secretly my love from primary school who was helping me find a better job and solve these leaky sores on my scrotum all while I was trying to find the bestest present to give to my recently discovered long lost child, who for some reason is a black muslim jew who is fighting legal battles while also fighting but in a difference sense caner aids and the gay while also having curiously specific problems with various drugs and wondering just how much I need therapy.

Can you ever forgive me?
posted by oxford blue at 10:14 PM on January 12, 2008 [9 favorites]


Holden at GiveWell should be able to help you out on this one!
posted by ericb at 10:16 PM on January 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Great Anonymous Dyke is a fascinating creature which has recently been placed on the endangered species list, much to the chagrin of dyke-watchers worldwide. While dykes have a gentle and placid disposition, they can get fiercely defensive if their personal space is breached, giving rise to the popular adage warning against sticking one's finger in the Great Anonymous Dyke.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:18 PM on January 12, 2008


Can you ever forgive me?

That's a question for AskMe.
posted by not_on_display at 10:29 PM on January 12, 2008


you're too paranoid.

Not too paranoid for the whole internet (because you can never be too paranoid), just too paranoid for here. Nutso.
posted by puke & cry at 10:31 PM on January 12, 2008


What percentage of users post answers, under their 'real' account, in their own anonymous askmefi threads?

Wouldn't this be considered a pretty dick move? I mean, unless you're posting in your own thread to clarify or steer the discussion in some way -- which would probably blow your cover and totally remove the anonymity from it -- there doesn't seem like any good reason to self-post.

So I'd hope the percentage would be zero, or close to it. I assume that jessamyn would be able to tell if someone was doing this and could tell them to knock it off. (Since my understanding of anonymous AMFs is that they're all posted by jessamyn for the anonymous user in question.)

What's more interesting to me would be what she or the admins in general would do if someone started doing this. Would they delete the self-response answers? Close the thread? The latter seems most likely -- if a person's answering their own question, it's probably not there for any good reason.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:34 PM on January 12, 2008


Ummmm, I'll admit - I've actually done that.

I validated my actions in that I needed to find a way to help explain (or defend) 'anonymous's' decisions or course of action based upon the input provided.

That's the slippery slope of anonymous AskMe questions. Sometimes you need to keep providing the input without worrying about an intermediary.

My surreptitious actions didn't derail the thread. If anything it helped me gain a better understanding of the responses to my question.
posted by matty at 10:35 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying it's right, but most anonymous questions come with a degree of anxiety, or embarrassment, or desperation.

If the 'real' poster feels the need to comment on their own anonymous thread, they probably have a damn good reason - unless they're just doing it to totally fuck with everyone's mind.

In my case, I was desperately seeking help - and AskMe came through with flying (green) colors.

Judge not lest ye be judged.
posted by matty at 10:38 PM on January 12, 2008


Also... any ambitious MeFite can now probably take a look at my posts and figure out which thread I'm talking about. But I won't apologize for my actions. For what it's worth, it's not whatever post is in question here. I'm probably outing myself.
posted by matty at 10:40 PM on January 12, 2008


I could imagine doing it, though probably openly. I've posted relatively few ask.me questions and relatively many ask.me answers. If I had something I sorta wanted dissociated from me but did really want to follow up, I'd be much better off if the question didn't appear in my profile, since that's such a small set for someone who was googling me to browse through, while the set of my answers is so much larger. God knows, I'd really like to take back at least one of my Ask.Me questions
posted by jacquilynne at 10:41 PM on January 12, 2008


As long as you don't wear a fedora, matty, it's all good...

But anyway, on reconsideration I can imagine now there are reasons why people might self-comment in an anonymous AMF that are perhaps not quite as rare as I was imagining they would be.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:48 PM on January 12, 2008


looking at my post now in my OWN anonymous thread, I'd say I helped to try to defend my actions... along with a little bit of self-aggrandizing that certainly wasn't necessary - but I was trying to make sure no one knew I wasn't 'anonymous'.

See? That's the slippery slope I'm talking about.
posted by matty at 10:49 PM on January 12, 2008


Wouldn't this be considered a pretty dick move?

There's one really important to reason to do it, and that's so that it will show up in your Recent Activity. Anonymous threads don't show up in the username report, for obvious reasons.
posted by Miko at 10:50 PM on January 12, 2008


So I'd hope the percentage would be zero, or close to it. I assume that jessamyn would be able to tell if someone was doing this and could tell them to knock it off.

If I understand mathowie's prior explanations of the anonymous posting set-up, it is next-to-impossible for him to link up a given user with an anonymous question. It would have to be done by examining IP logs, etc. I thought he said that it could be done, in theory, but would be difficult.

So, if that is true, I don't think jessamyn would be able to tell someone to knock it off, unless something has changed in the way the anonymous questions are handled.
posted by jayder at 10:59 PM on January 12, 2008


Especially if someone is using an anonymizer when posting.
posted by matty at 11:02 PM on January 12, 2008


So I'd hope the percentage would be zero, or close to it. I assume that jessamyn would be able to tell if someone was doing this and could tell them to knock it off. (Since my understanding of anonymous AMFs is that they're all posted by jessamyn for the anonymous user in question.)

It's non-zero. I'd bet it's a pretty small percentage. This is certainly not something we're going to actually answer; I like crunching stats as much as the next freak of nature, but we purposely don't have a strong connection between anonymous questions and the accounts that submit them, and we'd have to go to extra-special effort even to calculate this. Which'd be kind of weird, because, well, anonymous.

If we noticed someone somehow being a dick in the process of responding in their own thread, we'd talk to them and take action as necessary. But that'd be an unusual case; the times when I've seen been aware of someone responding in their own anony thread, it's been in good faith. Either they're not thinking, or they're thinking that it's subtle enough not to be obvious, or they're thinking that it's obvious but they don't care because with the question not showing up in their posting history, it won't be too obvious to a potential surfin' associate, or because they just don't care that much about the anony after all compared with their desire to clarify their question.

There's nothing wrong with it. It's not a dick move. Some folks will write to one or all of us to ask us to post an anonymous followup for them, but maintaining perfect anonymity isn't always a priority, I guess.

Anonymous questions are submitted by a user; they show up sans identifying information in an anonymous question queue on the admin page; we approve them or not depending on whether they're an appropriate use of the service. Jessamyn is the one who does most of the posting, but it's not "her" posting it, it's just her pressing the button that allows it to be posted by our good friend Anonymous.

If we need to track down who posted something, Matt can do some grunt work. As a half-measure, we can try to match IPs. Both of those are unusual—reserved for cases where Something Is (or Appears To Be) Up.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:12 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


This post tastes of fail. And burning.
posted by loquacious at 11:15 PM on January 12, 2008


One should be wary of favouriting ones own anonymous question too.
posted by Mitheral at 11:21 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


This post tastes of fail. And burning.
posted by loquacious at 2:15 AM on January 13 [+] [!]


That post tastes of idiocy, and ignorance.
posted by matty at 11:22 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


If we need to track down who posted something, Matt can do some grunt work. As a half-measure, we can try to match IPs.

That's the only way you can match anon posts with users? Do you keep a list of IP addresses users have used even if they don't post comments? I mean, if someone logged on through Tor or something, posted an anonymous comment, and nothing else with that IP, would you still be able to match them up?
posted by delmoi at 11:43 PM on January 12, 2008


"To you I send a single snowflake, beautiful, complex and
delicate;
different from all the others."

Too Much Snow by Louis Jenkins
posted by Cranberry at 12:29 AM on January 13, 2008


20%. Same as in town.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:37 AM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


It would be awesome if this thread had somehow been posted anonymously.
posted by katillathehun at 12:50 AM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I do this all the time. Sometimes I post anonymously in other people's questions, too.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 1:19 AM on January 13, 2008


I've wondered about this too, usually while in the shower after reading an anonymous AskMe thread.
posted by Locative at 2:20 AM on January 13, 2008


What the fuck!!!
posted by a non e mouse at 2:38 AM on January 13, 2008


I would only ever consider doing this under an assumed name.
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 3:01 AM on January 13, 2008


I thought Jessamyn said that the admins know who posts anon questions, it's just not connected to the user's accounts. On one of the podcasts, Matt and Jess admitted to occasionally peeking to see who posted a really interesting question.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:17 AM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought I read once (from jessamyn or mathowie maybe) that the admins do not know (and can't tell) who posts anon threads and that for that reason they are truly anonymous. Huh. Maybe I just wished it.
posted by sneakin at 4:29 AM on January 13, 2008


Also, as a dyke, I feel it incumbent upon me to point out the word dike.
posted by sneakin at 4:32 AM on January 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


dike = dyke. You can be a dike also! Oxford never discriminates! Love on, sister!
posted by oxford blue at 4:45 AM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought I read once that either Matt or Jessamyn had carved Mount Rushmore, in between designing the steam engine while negotiating various treaties with France, though I don't really believe the steam engine part.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:35 AM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've had a similar questions now and then relating to anonymous posters favoriting posts they like under their own account.
posted by Green With You at 6:12 AM on January 13, 2008


If this is just nerve gas, how come I know everything in such detail? I've never been here before. How come I know so much? What the hell is going on around here? Who the hell are you people!
posted by poppo at 6:27 AM on January 13, 2008


I've had a similar questions now and then relating to anonymous posters favoriting posts they like under their own account.
posted by Green With You at 6:12 AM PST on January 13.


Yeah. Sometimes I try to figure out who posted the question by checking out who favorites the responses.

I'm not very good at it.
posted by sambosambo at 6:50 AM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's the only way you can match anon posts with users?

Lemme recap:

1. Every post and comment has an IP associated with it in the db. We have a couple search-by-IP tools that we can use to match up posts by IP. Therefore, if someone posts something (including an anonymous question), we can check to see if anyone (else?) has ever posted anything from that IP. This is the easier test; it's also less robust, as someone could have indeed posted from an anonymizer, or even just gambled their DHCP connection from their ISP to get a fresh dynamic IP for the anony submission.

We occasionally use this if something seems a bit funny. Usually, nothing is actually funny, and we forget who matched with our very next breath.

2. Every anonymous submission generates a logged event identifying the user of some sort in an out-of-the-way place. There's no handy way to retrieve this; Matt knows where it is, but it's not available from the admin console.

We even more occasionally use this, if something seems really funny and (1) doesn't provide a satisfyingly unambiguous answer to the ID question.

Also, I read once that Matt or Jessamyn is actually a cybernetic organism sent back from the future to protect and/or kill the one person who is destined to change the future.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:02 AM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I heard Matt and Jess are fattening up Cortex for anonymous reasons.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:04 AM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


*slaps belly, grunts*

That would explain a few things.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:05 AM on January 13, 2008


slaps belly, grunts

Oh awesome, I had heard you did porno!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 AM on January 13, 2008


cortex has already pretty ably answered this but basically I concur with him. We can check if necessary to see who posted an anonyme question. There's an event logger that says "soandso posted an anonymous question" but doesn't link it to the question itself so we know if peopel are abusing the anonyme feature. Almost all the time we promptly forget who it is anyhow.

I almost never see people following-up to their own anony-me question with their real account. Occasionally people will follow-up over email "hey can you post this as a follow-up" and we do that assuming that whoever tells us to post a follow-up is actually the OP of the question, though sometimes they email from the gmail account they set up for the question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:45 AM on January 13, 2008


There's also the newer phenomenon of being able to make questions anonymous after the fact which we've only been able to do for the last few months. So, someone asks a question and either thinks better of it or their husband/wife/boss/coworkers see it and flips out and they want to speedy-anonymize it instead of delete it and we can now do that. In many cases those people have either already posted in the thread or they come back to post a follow-up because they're mostly anonymizing for CYA reasons and not totally anonymous need ones.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:55 AM on January 13, 2008


We occasionally use this if something seems a bit funny.

I'm going to go ahead and assume you intended this as "funny-strange."

I don't like to think about what it means if you intended it as "funny-haha."
posted by dersins at 8:00 AM on January 13, 2008


I'd have thought that anyone posting "I don't think that's what the OP is asking, my interpretation would be this:" is a perfectly likely, valid and good use of steering an anonymous askme into more useful territory after the initial responses have perhaps gone askew.

A lot of the time (in my short tenure) the first answer or two steers people (subconsciously?) toward those interpretations of the question. Which may not be right.
posted by Brockles at 8:09 AM on January 13, 2008


This may have been explored elsewhere previously, but is it possible to include a function in the dB that the anonymous OP could post further anonymous replies in his/her thread? Other than emailing the mods to post on his/her behalf, that is.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:22 AM on January 13, 2008


I thought I read once that either Matt or Jessamyn had carved Mount Rushmore, in between designing the steam engine while negotiating various treaties with France, though I don't really believe the steam engine part.

This bothers me, too! MetaFilter has only been around for, what, a decade? I still have vague memories of the times before MetaFilter, but as I age they're becoming less and less reliable.

And if MetaFilter controls everything, then how can we ever really know the past? Like the claim about Number One inventing the helicopter - I am almost certain that there were helicopters before MetaFilter, but how can it be checked, how to find certainty in history? Maybe if I could find a really old person, someone who was already an adult before MetaFilter...
posted by Meatbomb at 8:26 AM on January 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


There has always been MetaFilter. Most of its records were destroyed in the Great Meltdown of '99, but I well remember the acrimony over Vietnam, and my dad used to tell me about the legendary thread that started with the news of Pearl Harbor. I think the whole "cabal" thing was started by the Illuminati, but you didn't hear that from me.
posted by languagehat at 8:36 AM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter controls everything

Number One

Number 17588: Where am I?
Number 2: In the Grey.
Number 17588: What do you want?
Number 2: We want less call outs.
Number 17588: Whose side are you on?
Number 2: That would be telling. We want less flames... no melt downs... and cherry coke.
Number 17588: You won't get it.
Number 2: By banning or by deleting, we will.
Number 17588: Who are you?
Number 2: The new Number 2.
Number 17588: Who is Number 1?
Number 2: You are Number 17588.
Number 17588: I am not a number, I am free meat.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:41 AM on January 13, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well, to answer the question, I did it once because I thought a particular anon question could have been linked to me. So I answered my own question to "draw attention away" from myself!

Jesus I'm a pathetic loser.
posted by serazin at 9:08 AM on January 13, 2008


dersins said: "I'm going to go ahead and assume you intended this as 'funny-strange.'"

dersins got angry and cortex left.
cortex left and dersins got angry.

We understand in a blink that the pair of sentences conveys opposite causal messages...we also know without thinking when something is funny-strange or funny-haha, as in the sentence

...something seems a bit funny

...To this day, linguists are still working on spelling out the rules of thumb that underlie this remarkably intelligent intuition. No computer program can detect the difference between funny-strange and funny-haha sentences as well as we can. It's the corntext.

*sigh* Log date 1/13/08: dersins fails the Turing test today. Back to the drawing board!
posted by carsonb at 9:11 AM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


oh look, someone restarted the carsonbot.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:20 AM on January 13, 2008


Thanks, carsonb, but actually I mean that I like to track down and ban anyone who is too damned hilarious.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:24 AM on January 13, 2008


MetaFilter: Usually, nothing is actually funny
posted by brett at 9:31 AM on January 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I thought I read once that either Matt or Jessamyn had carved Mount Rushmore, in between designing the steam engine while negotiating various treaties with France, though I don't really believe the steam engine part.

Who do you think then? "James" Watt? Turn W upside down and you got Matt. Do your research!
posted by ersatz at 1:08 PM on January 13, 2008


I thought I read about either Matt or Jessamyn in between digesting the steam engine, but I was wrong.
posted by flabdablet at 5:53 PM on January 13, 2008


You know those questions that seem to have rather obvious answers, and everyone in the thread is trumpeting the same point of view, and you have one obstinate person who, against all reason, keeps promoting a foolish and singular point of view?

That often.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:43 PM on January 13, 2008


You know what;s crazy? I used to belong to a circus — Lews & Clark's. out of Easley, SC — and this post is one of those that reminded me why I moved on.
posted by humannaire at 7:56 PM on January 13, 2008


I think you mean Lewis and Clark Circus. I was so surprised that Easley has a circus that I had to Google it.
posted by TedW at 8:18 PM on January 13, 2008


with the courageous spirit of the little dutch boy, i once put my finger in what i later suspected was a dyke, but it failed to prevent liquid from oozing past (sorry, all).
posted by bruce at 1:15 AM on January 14, 2008


There's nothing wrong with it. It's not a dick move. … Anonymous questions are submitted by a user; they show up sans identifying information in an anonymous question queue on the admin page; we approve them or not depending on whether they're an appropriate use of the service.

Thanks, cortex, for clearing that up. I didn't realize that approve/deny queue was anonymous (at least nominally, without going to a lot of extra effort) to the approver.

(Cue "Now you know!" music)
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:29 AM on January 14, 2008


Pork chop sandwiches!
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:46 AM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you mean Lewis and Clark Circus. I was so surprised that Easley has a circus that I had to Google it.

Hey, Lewis & Clark has a website now. I bought that domain name for them! And it's even got a link to a video of my pal, Lawrence.

I love that camel. He bit me on the right calve, lifted me up off the ground and hung me upside down, and then dropped me on my head. (I'm 6'5".) All because he thought I had circus peanuts in my jacket pocket and was holding out. And it was Easter ('06)!

Let me tell you, being on the road, performing with a circus, getting a piledriver from a real live camel, that's the best Easter I've ever had!

posted by humannaire at 9:06 PM on January 14, 2008


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