Best Answers, STAT(s)! February 7, 2008 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Any chance of a Best Answer pony?

I would be very happy if, in My Profile, I could see the number of my replies that have been marked Best Answer on Talk. Nothing complicated, just something that works in a similar fashion to favourites, ala:

Favorites: 100
Favorited by others: 100
Best Answers: 10

...and then being able to click the Best Answer number in the same way I can click the Favorited by others number, to see a similar kind of report.

Feel free to name this pony Ego, but really, it's just nice to know the asker thought you did a good job with / were helpful wrt a question. On active threads, one's own answer falls off Recent Activity way before the OP returns to give feedback, so I often miss these.
posted by DarlingBri to Feature Requests at 1:34 PM (78 comments total)

We've held off for a long time on this purposely because we didn't want people addicted to the metric. I don't want to see people use it as a measure of self-worth, or try and game it up, or hassle question askers (they picked the wrong answers as best!!! mine should have been it!!!), or worst: ask people to vote for them as best answer.

It would be nice as a reference to find stuff you said that people liked, but I don't know if it should be a shiny feature of everyone's profile. On the face, it encourages good contributions but it also opens up a whole pandora's box of complaining and groveling too.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:38 PM on February 7, 2008


It's not exactly the same as your request, but you can follow these steps to add yourself as a contact, which will make your best answers show up in Recent Activity.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:48 PM on February 7, 2008


On the face, it encourages good contributions but it also opens up a whole pandora's box of complaining and groveling too.

Really? Two things strike me:

1) I don't see MeFites as being that kind of audience. Do people shill for Favourites? I don't think I've ever seen that.

2) I can already see which answers, from whom, were marked Best. You're not telling me anything that isn't already transparent, you're just making it less irritating for me.

2) While I do not believe anyone will shill for Best Answers any more than they do for Favourites, this is not a number that needs to be shown to anyone else. You could just show it to me, and I'd be fine with that.

At the moment, the lack of this reporting is irritating in its absence. It's a clear information gap.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:52 PM on February 7, 2008


I actually like the "best answer" pony better than the "favorited by others" pony we already have. It's easy to revert to snarky witticisms to try to cull favorites, but a thoughtful answer is harder to come by.
posted by misha at 1:52 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


While browsing user pages, if I have more favourites than the user i'm looking at, I think the site should indicate as much. Perhaps something like "this person is a total dorkwad" next to their name. Or something along those lines. If, heaven forbid, they have more favourites than me, it could say something like, "You should just kill yourself already, no one likes you."
posted by chunking express at 1:52 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


1) I don't see MeFites as being that kind of audience. Do people shill for Favourites? I don't think I've ever seen that.

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahaha.

I'm with Matt- we don't need another metric to become addicted to.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:56 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do people shill for Favourites?

I think there's a definite segment that panders to the favoriting audience, and sometimes anti-social behavior is rewarded by the system.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:01 PM on February 7, 2008


That is FUCKING BULLSHIT, you STUPID MORON
posted by waraw at 2:07 PM on February 7, 2008 [9 favorites]


Okay, this reminds me: there was a really effed-up AskMe question (probably deleted) where the OP favorited every answer in the thread except one where the answerer wrote "I would be grateful if you would mark this as best answer."
posted by middleclasstool at 2:08 PM on February 7, 2008


If you use this view of AskMe (replace my user number with yours, natch) you can see which answers of yours have gotten best answer pretty easily. I have the same squick feeling about putting this number on people's profiles.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:08 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The question, of course, is if anyone has a link to that.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:08 PM on February 7, 2008


If you use this view of AskMe (replace my user number with yours, natch) you can see which answers of yours have gotten best answer pretty easily

Oh man, I just looked at my own history through that lens and my first thought was "What the fuck?! Only four best answers on the first page?! You question askers are MORONS for not seeing the brilliance of my answers! I give and give and give with NOTHING to show for it!"

See? Now imagine that being a fixed number I could relive that moment daily with.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:16 PM on February 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, I think showing my number just to me is a convenience not likely to cause trouble and strife, but sure. Thanks.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:18 PM on February 7, 2008


I have more check marks than you.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:22 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do people shill for Favourites? I don't think I've ever seen that.

I don't think most of us are quote so... Canadian... as that, but we sure as hell shill for favorites.
posted by dersins at 2:23 PM on February 7, 2008


I wouldn't mind seeing Best Answers disappear.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:26 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


If the proposal is that this would just show me the number of my own best answers, I would much prefer it if the feature would just tell me regardless that my answer was the best answer. I'm like SCDB that way--I either know I'm giving the best answer, or I think I'm giving the best answer, and who are you anyway for telling me otherwise.

Even my posts deleted as noise are the best answers, baby.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:26 PM on February 7, 2008


I admit I'd like to see a "best answer" count, but I don't need one. I already know all my answers are the bombshit and all y'all are fools if you don't take my brilliantly useful advice.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:28 PM on February 7, 2008


I'd like to see a "best answer" count mostly because the big fat 0 on my profile would be pretty awesome.
posted by Stynxno at 2:33 PM on February 7, 2008


right now people already argue heatedly with each other and say obnoxious things about other peoples' answers, and that's for nothing more valuable than the ability to tell someone they're wrong in a public forum. If you add some kind of kept score to the system I see exactly the problems matt mentioned happening, not to mention people pestering askers (even easier with the new memail feature!) to mark something as best. I've often wanted to know if something I've answered was marked best, but I just don't see this working well.
posted by shmegegge at 2:33 PM on February 7, 2008


They're all best answers, some are just bester than other is all.
posted by juv3nal at 2:33 PM on February 7, 2008


posted by Ambrosia Voyeur I wouldn't mind seeing Best Answers disappear.

I wouldn't mind seeing Beste Answers disappear.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:33 PM on February 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


I have a greasemonkey script that marks all of my answers as best. (On preview, I'm like the Admiral above.

Note: unfortunately I don't actually have a greasemonkey script to do so. But I wish I did.
posted by inigo2 at 2:33 PM on February 7, 2008


If it's any comfort, DarlingBri, it's not out of the realm of possibilities that an unofficial navigating-best-answers type tool could come of the Infodump. I'm not actually producing that info yet, but it's on the short list.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:34 PM on February 7, 2008


There is an option to mark an answer as a Favorite, and that gets tracked on your profile. There is an option of marking an answer as Best Answer, that doesn't get tracked on your profile. So my honest, not-snarky question is: why is tracking one okay, but not the other? It's all along the same "validate me" lines anyway.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 2:34 PM on February 7, 2008


I wouldn't mind seeing Beste Answers disappear.

I was just about to favorite that comment before I remembered that it's not fucking cool to bring grudges into unrelated threads.
posted by shmegegge at 2:35 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


You are all good people. Believe in yourselves.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:36 PM on February 7, 2008


Perhaps we can have a tag for Worst Answer?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:37 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


"1) I don't see MeFites as being that kind of audience. Do people shill for Favourites? I don't think I've ever seen that."

Every goddamn day of my life, baby.
posted by klangklangston at 2:40 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


fandango_matt: I wouldn't mind seeing Beste Answers disappear.

As my dad once said when he heard me singing along to the Beastie Boys when I was in high school:

Wow, you sure do sing that one note well, don't you?
posted by koeselitz at 2:49 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, guys--the OP in this thread is, like, totally giving away best answers. I just got one for my aloo gobi comment--you gotta pile on this!!!

KTXBYE
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:52 PM on February 7, 2008


Please. Not another metric for me to become addicted to. I already check my "Marked as favorites" list daily, for which I feel deeeeeep shame.

My name is Lauren, and I am addicted to warm fuzzies.
posted by lleachie at 2:55 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


mathowie: We've held off for a long time on this purposely because we didn't want people addicted to the metric. I don't want to see people use it as a measure of self-worth, or try and game it up, or hassle question askers (they picked the wrong answers as best!!! mine should have been it!!!), or worst: ask people to vote for them as best answer.

It would be nice as a reference to find stuff you said that people liked, but I don't know if it should be a shiny feature of everyone's profile. On the face, it encourages good contributions but it also opens up a whole pandora's box of complaining and groveling too.


I was going to be snarky about this, and I think I lean a bit toward Ambrosia Voyeur up there in that I don't know if I 'believe in' the usefulness of the 'best answer' feature at all. But here's a genuine thought:

You're right that having that on the user page would encourage people to misuse it. I feel like having favorites on the user page already does that for the favorites feature. Wouldn't it be possible to remove just the "favorited by others" line and link from profiles? And wouldn't that leave the functionality of favorites (a collection of things you want to come back to, or a way of saying you liked something) completely intact, since we'd still see how many favorites a given comment or post got, and we'd still be able to see our favorites?

It just seems like, if we did that, the only things that would change would be (a) certain people would no longer be obviously "high favorite posters" and (b) I would no longer obsessively check how many favorites I have every five minutes in the hope that someone somewhere likes me.
posted by koeselitz at 2:56 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Any chance of a Best Answer pony?"

I'm all for it, as long as we call it a rightmare.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:00 PM on February 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


why is tracking one okay, but not the other?

I have a guess. I think it has to do with the level of appeal.

Presumably, the best answer to an askme post is really only interesting to the person who asked the question (and possibly, the people who might have the same question, and search for it down the road). It has limited appeal to a general audience.

Favorites, on the other hand, when properly given, should appeal to anyone. They were implemented to filter out the best of the best. We started out just being able to favorite front page posts. It was an easy way to quickly peek at the most popular thing posted in a given time period. Then, favoriting comments came into the mix. That's when things got a little fuzzier. When it works right, you end up getting a shortcut to finding the most insightful or thoughtful comments on a given subject. When it works wrong, you get to see who sides with what argument in a contentious metatalk thread. Or you get to see a particularly zingy put-down.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:02 PM on February 7, 2008


You question askers are MORONS for not seeing the brilliance of my answers! I give and give and give with NOTHING to show for it!"

I have made a bit of a deal with myself where I'll take a week off the site entirely when/if there comes a time when there is not a green checkmark on that page, unless I have been sick or traveling. It's my own convoluted attempt at right effort.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:14 PM on February 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Obligatory you could do this fairly easily with a greasemonkey script remark goes here. In fact, since one probably wouldn't reference the count that often, one could write a cheesy external web-scraper in [language of choice] that would generate the count desired without popping much skull sweat. Or one could wait for that promised database query widget.

Keeping the count as a personal-only view eliminates the objections from those who think a publicly accessible number represents An Evil Force. Ahh, if only favorites were treated the same.

(Beginning countdown to a Meta* heavy hitter telling us all for the umpteenth time that "best answers" are not a useful metric for anything. At which time I will, for the third time, tell him he's wrong, as other people clearly find them useful).
posted by mdevore at 3:17 PM on February 7, 2008


opens up a whole pandora's box of complaining and groveling
Much less fun than a leisurely unwrapping of the compendium party pack of pissing and moaning that MeTa so frequently presents us.
posted by Abiezer at 3:20 PM on February 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Favorites, on the other hand, when properly given, should appeal to anyone. They were implemented to filter out the best of the best.
I was given to understand that they implemented as a bookmarking system, to enable users to mark posts and comments for future reference! Don't tell me I've been using it wrong! I use favorites to mark things that are complete dross so I can come back and laugh at the stupidity of the poster.
posted by nowonmai at 3:21 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


They were implemented to filter out the best of the best

Really? I could have sworn they were intended to function as bookmarks.
posted by tangerine at 3:21 PM on February 7, 2008


My system is similar to jessamyn's, except that I use this view instead, and rather than checkmarks I'm looking for comments in small brackets telling people to [chill the fuck out and answer the question]. The nice thing about my system is that I will never be compelled to take a week off.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:22 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dave Faris: I'm not so sure that best answers have limited appeal to a general audience. I have no data to back it up, but it seems to me that there are a lot of people who read AskMe even if they aren't reading about specific problems they have. It doesn't seem odd to assume that people might like to read a person's best contributions to AskMe (at least according to the askers). How that gets balanced against the popularity contest concerns is another question entirely.

Sorry, Mr. Cortex, sir. I was just getting off of his lawn, sir.
posted by ssg at 3:25 PM on February 7, 2008


Really? I could have sworn they were intended to function as bookmarks.

Yeah, you're right., and the popularity search aspect was a direct result of it.

And so, keeping track of all of the best answers that you've provided wouldn't have the same cachet, since would never need to refer back to something that you already know.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:29 PM on February 7, 2008


I don't want to see people use it as a measure of self-worth

Well then what the hell am I supposed to use?
posted by The Deej at 3:29 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't mind seeing Beste Answers disappear.

As I recall, last time around, Beste Answers disappeared you.
posted by jamjam at 3:31 PM on February 7, 2008


"And so, keeping track of all of the best answers that you've provided wouldn't have the same cachet, since would never need to refer back to something that you already know."

Unless you, like me, sometimes have substance-induced memory gaps. At least, I hope they're substance-induced. I can't really recall.
posted by klangklangston at 3:39 PM on February 7, 2008


I wouldn't mind seeing Best Answers disappear.

Me neither.
posted by languagehat at 3:40 PM on February 7, 2008


Do people shill for Favourites? I don't think I've ever seen that.

It does happen, and it's unseemly.

click here ------------------------V
posted by brain_drain at 3:49 PM on February 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


The Deej: "Well then what the hell am I supposed to use?"

MeFi_worth = (newest_account_ID - userID) + (favorited_comments * 3) + (favorited_posts * 2)

Pretty simple, everyone who's anyone is using it.
posted by flatluigi at 3:50 PM on February 7, 2008


I don't like best answers, and I like koeselitz's suggestion.
posted by Chuckles at 3:59 PM on February 7, 2008


I clicked on the 7 but nothing happened.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:04 PM on February 7, 2008


They shouldn't put the number out there because people don't need to know who is winning Metafilter and getting upgraded to Metafilter Platinum Reserve, without having to purchase the Metafilter Expansion Pack.
posted by milkrate at 4:14 PM on February 7, 2008


I say we get Frequent Snarker points, like the airlines. Then you can upgrade to MetaFilter First, where you only get to read the very best answers, hand-selected by a group of homeless people recruited by mathowie.
posted by scrump at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2008


Just for reference, the last time this was discussed.

(I always find that thread by going to google and typing in "jessamyn has the biggest penis". The frightening things that the thread is *not the top result*.)
posted by tkolar at 5:00 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think people trying for 'best answers' would be a lot less annoying than the current problem with people who are clearly sucking for favorites. I mean, the snark is funny and all, but it's not really answering the question.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:01 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Feel free to name this pony Ego

My Ego Pony, My Ego Pony...
Please stroke and flatter me.
My Ego Pony, My Ego Pony
make the dopamine flow you see
My Ege Pony, My Ego Pony...
It's all about me you know
My Little Pony, My Little Pony...
Oh I love me so....

(sorry, too easy)
posted by jonmc at 5:01 PM on February 7, 2008


The frightening things that the thread is *not the top result*.

No, my website is the top result for that phrase [unless you search for it AS a bound phrase in which case you only find the MeTa thread]. Everyone should be as lucky with the google as I am.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:41 PM on February 7, 2008


I think tracking the number of best answers is great! But doing it on a per-user basis is just added complexity nobody needs. I just want the ask front page to say "14256 problems solved"
posted by aubilenon at 8:15 PM on February 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


would you like fries with that?
posted by jonmc at 8:16 PM on February 7, 2008


Ah, these people don't know what's best for them anyways.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:30 PM on February 7, 2008


I just want the ask front page to say "14256 problems solved"

You know that is a brilliant idea.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:30 PM on February 7, 2008


I try to give the best advice I can on AskMe, but ultimately I don't care if someone thinks I gave the best answer. I'm far more interested in if they think I'm the best-looking responder. Any way to track that?
posted by The Gooch at 10:10 PM on February 7, 2008


I believe there is a site called Yahoo! Answers where one may have a likeness of oneself placed besides every answer one gives. With some luck, one could likely convince the askers of that site to mark your question as the best answer cuz ur hott.
posted by ssg at 12:49 AM on February 8, 2008


We should get a small pin in the mail everytime we make a best answer. At meetups we can wear our collections in splendid array, blinding the unfortunate with the glory of our wisdom!
posted by sambosambo at 4:35 AM on February 8, 2008


I wouldn't mind seeing Best Answers disappear.

When the question is framed correctly, in that a specific answer or set of answers can be provided, Best Answers can be very useful. Indeed, most questions fall into this category.

It is when standards slide on chatty, open-ended questions (e.g., RelationshipFilter and the like) that Best Answer methodology fails.

Another problem with Best Answer flagging is when writing a correct answer doesn't garner the mark it deserves, and especially when an incorrect or subsequently duplicated answer is marked, instead. That's annoying.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:26 AM on February 8, 2008


flatluigi : MeFi_worth = (newest_account_ID - userID) + (favorited_comments * 3) + (favorited_posts * 2)

Hey! I'm not a failure! I have value!

*checks math*

Oh, wait...

Nevermind.
posted by quin at 8:05 AM on February 8, 2008


Aww, quin, how sweet of you to favorite my comment upthread! You gave me my warm fuzzy for the day!

Actually, I'm relieved to know that we could have a whole "External Validation Junkies Anonymous" meeting here.
posted by lleachie at 8:45 AM on February 8, 2008


quin, you've got nothin' to complain about. :P

Also, MeFites NOT shill for favourites? Lulz.
posted by Phire at 10:29 PM on February 8, 2008


This is a great post! And the answers have been brilliant! I love metafilter! Please Favourite Me THANKS! XXX
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:07 AM on February 9, 2008


I like it when people try for favorites, if they do it the right way:

1) Be clever and/or humorous.
--1a) Snarky can be a substitute for both funny and clever, but it's a poor one.
B) Say something informative and/or detailed and/or interesting.
iii) Add something worthwhile to the post that people will enjoy and/or want to remember.

Unfortunately, most seem to be stuck on letter 1 or its corollary and/or never get as far as number B.
posted by flatluigi at 10:12 AM on February 9, 2008


Flatluigi, last time I looked, B was not a number. Sorry to nitpick (not really)...
posted by lleachie at 10:27 AM on February 9, 2008


lleachie: "Flatluigi, last time I looked, B was not a number. Sorry to nitpick (not really)..."

1 is also not a letter and lists don't usually go 1-B-iii. Sorry, I was trying to be clever and/or humorous.
posted by flatluigi at 10:48 AM on February 9, 2008


I'd favorite that for a dollar.
posted by cgc373 at 10:54 AM on February 9, 2008


It is when standards slide on chatty, open-ended questions (e.g., RelationshipFilter and the like) that Best Answer methodology fails.

I respectfully disagree, in that I think the relative truthiness of a "Best Answer" is directly proportional to the original question's ChatFilteriness. For those discursive questions, the questioner is most capable of deciding which of the responses gave them the best advice because there is no real best answer possible there - the answerers are proceeding from a position of sometimes almost complete ignorance of the circumstances or motives of the questioner, and mapping their own experiences or irregularly biased wisdom culled from pop culture tropes into "advice". But one or more of their narratives may in fact be concordant with the kind of reassurances or affirmation that such questioners are seeking and, as such, deserve "Best Answer".

However, for more focussed, goal-directed or task-specific questions asked out of temporary ignorance of a problem domain's specifics or a genuine lack of knowledge of a subject, language, or geography (etc), the questioner is often basically and probably fundamentally incapable of judging the "Best Answer". They are in fact choosing the "Answer That Sounds Best", which is not really the same thing. A group flagging system to choose "Most Accurate" answer might work, except the experience of sites such as Reddit and Digg and /. would seem to indicate otherwise.
posted by meehawl at 12:56 PM on February 9, 2008


I don't read /. with any regularity, but I always thought their "insightful" group tagging system seemed to work pretty well. How is it flawed?
posted by Dave Faris at 2:15 PM on February 9, 2008


Karma whoring.
posted by tkolar at 6:05 PM on February 9, 2008


relative truthiness of a "Best Answer" is directly proportional to the original question's ChatFilteriness

No, rather the inverse. Questions with a quantifiable answer, and there are many, have a fairly tight range of potential best answers. People frequently receive answers to those type of questions which either point to, approach, or are within the best answer range. Further, those who spout scientific-sounding nonsense to "hard" queries are time and again challenged in-thread or called on it in MetaTalk. I have seen hard answers on AskMe which rank as genius (sadly I've always fallen well short of that answer status myself, but genius I am not). Are all bad answers caught? Certainly not, but the record is quite decent for the cost.

On the other hand, far too many times the chatty RelationshipFilter answers on AskMe are simply execrable. I recently read several answers to a couple of questions here which I would rate subpar to what one might receive from the Yahoo Answers pre-teen brigade (those are merely stupid, here they could be life-damaging). I can hope people are not making serious relationship decisions based on semi-random feedback from a post of a paragraph or two of text, but I suspect some do, else why would they pose the question and follow-up with a "best answer" mark.
posted by mdevore at 8:23 PM on February 9, 2008


I always thought [Slashdot's] "insightful" group tagging system seemed to work pretty well

Well, granted, it works better than the others in that less obviously dumb comments are tagged positively. But /. typically gets a huge number of comments, and a huge number of flags, and so the comments marked "insightful" are a tiny minority of the volume. And AskMeFi has much less readers per thread, so its rectifying coverage is always going to be quite restrained.

Further, those who spout scientific-sounding nonsense to "hard" queries are time and again challenged in-thread or called on it in MetaTalk.

That's an optimistic view. I'd wonder how many in-question people other than the usual suspects click on those "MeTa" links, or read past the opening paragraph.
posted by meehawl at 8:46 AM on February 10, 2008


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