Round Numbers! March 14, 2008 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Only a little over a year ago, anonymous had asked 1500 questions. As of today, that number has doubled. By my calculations if this trend continues then by the year 2055 life on earth will have ceased to exist!
posted by ND¢ to MetaFilter-Related at 9:08 AM (84 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I demand a graph. It's in the Infodump, someone hop to it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:11 AM on March 14, 2008


Not to worry, the Singularity will happen before that, in 2030 (according to Vinge), or 2045 (according to Kurzweil).
posted by beagle at 9:15 AM on March 14, 2008


Relax, anonymous posting will be long banned by then...
posted by pupdog at 9:17 AM on March 14, 2008


Anonymous'd better get their life if they expect to vanquish the CoS.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:22 AM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love the fact that the top tag is "sex". We all think about it, but can't talk about it, *sigh*
posted by Melismata at 9:27 AM on March 14, 2008

Dear Metafilter: How can I/we vanquish the CoS?

Thanks,

Anon
the next day:
Dear Metafilter: How can I/we vanquish Anon?

Thanks,

CoS^H^H^HAnon
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:28 AM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


anonymous is such a whiner
posted by Stynxno at 9:36 AM on March 14, 2008


Anonymous is the best user Metafilter has, but, boy, does she ever have some hangups and problems.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:38 AM on March 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


anonymous is such a whiner winner!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:38 AM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good thing there is no MetaFilter van, otherwise it would probably have been blown up by now. It's bad enough that they have corrupted our LOL.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:39 AM on March 14, 2008


DF: She?!
posted by Melismata at 9:39 AM on March 14, 2008


Have fun with the predictions as if you could predict the future. I will screw it all up when I finally decide to immanetize the eschaton.
posted by dios at 9:42 AM on March 14, 2008


Anonymous is the best user Metafilter has

Whatever. She should be fucking BANNED. She's never bothered to answer a single question. She's always take take take, and never gives a god damned thing back to the community. Fuck that shit.
posted by dersins at 9:43 AM on March 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


If she'd answer a few AskMes once in a while, I'd feel a bit more charitable, but anonymous really is a leech. Me, me, me. Give back!
posted by mumkin at 9:43 AM on March 14, 2008


She?!

Sure. When the gender of someone is in doubt, I always opt for the feminine. Besides, you don't think a man is capable of having such drama and issues, do you?
posted by Dave Faris at 9:45 AM on March 14, 2008


d'accord
posted by mumkin at 9:45 AM on March 14, 2008


Why are 200+ people linking to anonymous...to watch for anonymous questions? Really? It's that interesting I guess.
posted by cashman at 9:46 AM on March 14, 2008


Little known fact: anonymous has answered a lot of questions, but we've had to delete every single one. Anonymous is actually kind of an unhelpful jerk.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:46 AM on March 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Besides, you don't think a man is capable of having such drama and issues, do you?

That's asinine. What about men that are, by their nature, more passionate than is seemly, such as sodomites and Italians?
posted by ND¢ at 9:47 AM on March 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's time I fessed up, Anonymous is me.
posted by bondcliff at 9:49 AM on March 14, 2008


No, Anonymous is me.
posted by scrump at 9:50 AM on March 14, 2008


Anonymous doesn't contribute anything except a lot of posts on the green. I say sock puppet or scammer or self-promoter.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:09 AM on March 14, 2008


Not to be all humorless, but it seems to me that the proper comparison is actually the ratio of anonymous to non-anonymous questions. The number of anonymous questions may have doubled in a year, sure, but has the number of total AskMe questions also doubled? If so, this is meaningless.
posted by Justinian at 10:11 AM on March 14, 2008


I'm Anonymous, and so is my soon to be ex-wife!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:19 AM on March 14, 2008


It works out to 3.6 anonymous questions per day, or about one anon post per admin per day.

Cortex, how many get turned down? Do you approve most of them?
posted by lostburner at 10:20 AM on March 14, 2008


If so, this is meaningless.

Contextual metrics are for squares and funhaters! Shebalba, 2012 arise!
posted by prostyle at 10:21 AM on March 14, 2008


The number of anonymous questions may have doubled in a year, sure, but has the number of total AskMe questions also doubled? If so, this is meaningless.

Well, the post ID for the 1500th one was 55820, and the post ID for the 3000th one was 86070, so the number of AskMe posts has close to doubled.

I'm pretty sure that this is completely meaningless no matter what though.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:28 AM on March 14, 2008


Anonymous should get her own damn blog.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:29 AM on March 14, 2008


You can have anonymous sex, and we're all intimate with anonymous, but you can't have anonymous sex with anonymous. Or something.
posted by danOstuporStar at 10:37 AM on March 14, 2008


Cortex, how many get turned down? Do you approve most of them?

How many comes out to "some", approximately. Jessamyn would probably be able to make a better guess—I look into the queue regularly but she definitely does the lion's share of the approving—but I think it's well fewer than the number that get approved.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:38 AM on March 14, 2008


Cortex, how many get turned down? Do you approve most of them?

How many comes out to "some", approximately. Jessamyn would probably be able to make a better guess—I look into the queue regularly but she definitely does the lion's share of the approving—but I think it's well fewer than the number that get approved.


Also, do you and jessamyn see who is submitting the anonymous ones when you approve them? Do you know who Anonymous really is?
posted by burnmp3s at 10:47 AM on March 14, 2008


I'm pretty sure they said they have some system where they can't see who is anon either.
posted by cashman at 10:52 AM on March 14, 2008


Both anonymous questions I've submitted were not approved. I won't be using the anonymous feature again. There's no point in humiliating myself by sharing personal information with someone only for them to decline me the opportunity to have it addressed.
posted by orange swan at 11:01 AM on March 14, 2008


Both anonymous questions I've submitted were not approved. I won't be using the anonymous feature again. There's no point in humiliating myself by sharing personal information with someone only for them to decline me the opportunity to have it addressed.

The admins can't see who you are, I believe, so I'm not sure you need to feel humiliated.
posted by scabrous at 11:05 AM on March 14, 2008


There's no point in humiliating myself by sharing personal information with someone

Look at it this way - Jessamyn probably just thought your problem was inconsequential! Does that help?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:06 AM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mathowie said some time ago that he could see the submitter's name, because he needed a little bit of accountability there in some special cases, such as people trying to abuse the system — or as in the case of one poster who was asking for suggestions on how to make his suicide as easy on his family as possible. (Yikes.) Has that changed?
posted by orange swan at 11:11 AM on March 14, 2008


Well I, for one, am head over heels for anonymous. But how can I tell if Anonymous likes me? He keeps sending mixed signals...
posted by lunit at 11:16 AM on March 14, 2008


Perhaps you should post a question to ask that, lunit. For background information, of course, you must link to all previous Anonymous questions.
posted by orange swan at 11:18 AM on March 14, 2008


Did you see that the Church of Scientology tried to get an injunction against Anonymous today? And failed?

Anonymous: 3, CoS: 0.
posted by grouse at 11:19 AM on March 14, 2008


For those wanting a graph.
posted by SlyBevel at 11:22 AM on March 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Rick Rolling has jumped the shark. But then again, jumping the shark has jumped the shark.
posted by cashman at 11:26 AM on March 14, 2008


Well played.
posted by lunit at 11:27 AM on March 14, 2008


Also, do you and jessamyn see who is submitting the anonymous ones when you approve them? Do you know who Anonymous really is?

We don't know and for the most part don't check, but it is checkable just in case (suicide, death threats, a question that needs serious editing but is otherwise okay. we see these occasionally). I think we've explained this before. We get an email saying "New anonyme from [username], go approve it". We have a list of AnonyMe questions queued in the admin part of the site that have no identifying info whatsoever. I check in there once a day or so and the AnonyMemails go straight to a folder, so I rarely have any idea who asked what. I forget pretty soon anyhow. I delete the emails from the folder regularly.

People will MeMail and say "hey can you post this follow-up to my AnonyMe question?" and I feel a bit ridiculous saying "Er, I have no idea which one it is." but I really don't. So in a general sense sometimes we'll know who has asked a question recently -- and we keep loose track just to make sure people aren't abusing the AnonyMe feature or using it just to end run their question limit regularly -- but almost never know who asked what.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:28 AM on March 14, 2008


Cashman: not so.
posted by lunit at 11:29 AM on March 14, 2008


Both anonymous questions I've submitted were not approved. I won't be using the anonymous feature again. There's no point in humiliating myself by sharing personal information with someone only for them to decline me the opportunity to have it addressed.

Wouldn't it just be easier to submit questions that presumably adhered to the guidelines?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:31 AM on March 14, 2008


I stand corrected.
posted by cashman at 11:33 AM on March 14, 2008


How Anonymous Is Anonymous?
Dunno if anything's changed since then.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:34 AM on March 14, 2008


Ok, I've had my fun.

I've been wondering...has anyone else noticed that you can sometimes tell who posted an anonymous question just from how the question is worded?

I saw one a while back that had a misspelled phrase in it that seemed like a particular user's style. A little Googling, and I had it pretty much confirmed.

I didn't try to match up an anon question with a user because I really wanted to defeat the anonymity, I just wanted to see if it was a feasible possibility.

I guess my questions would be:

1. Don't folks know that an anonymous note shouldn't be in your own handwriting? (Which is the old-fashioned way of saying that your writing style can give you away in a digital world.)
2. Is this a privacy concern?
posted by SlyBevel at 11:34 AM on March 14, 2008


Oh and in answer to the other question, I think we approve maybe 60-75% of the quesitons that are asked. If a question isn't approved it's likely because
  • It was vague and unanswerable without more information and would be a train wreck with the amount of info there already
  • there's no obvious reason why it's anonymous [people can append that to the end or MeMail us to explain and that's cool]
  • It seems weird and trollish as written, may need an edit or may need some clarification (we got a weird one on primary night talking some serious smack about one of the presidential candidates as part of a question and I suspected it was a plant and wrote the person who asked it and never heard back)
  • You've asked too many questions already or you seem to be using the AnonyMe feature to get around the posting limits
  • You're asking how to do something illegal or very unethical and the thread is going to become a train wreck
  • Your question is more of a long rambly high drama essay about something that went wrong in your life instead of a very well-phrased question. It is going to turn into a train wreck.
  • Chatfilter.
You can also always ask us why if you don't mind talking about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:41 AM on March 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


proudly showing my own ignorance, how does one ask an anon question anyway? I just went to 'try', (not actually ask anything), and checked faqs and, um, obviously I'm missing some big, red, pulsating arrow of 'how to' here.
posted by dawson at 11:48 AM on March 14, 2008


dawson, the link is right above the light green box with the white background on the "Post a new question" page.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:50 AM on March 14, 2008


On the Ask a New Question page:

"If you'd like to ask a question anonymously, use this form here."
posted by SlyBevel at 11:50 AM on March 14, 2008


White border, rather. Provided you aren't using the professional white background.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:51 AM on March 14, 2008


Thanks much Alvy A, and SlyB, I don't see such a thing on my page, but perhaps/probably that's because I asked a question within the past week. I'm using the default background.
and the answers jessamyn provided are in the faqs, though not as detailed as they are in this thread
posted by dawson at 11:57 AM on March 14, 2008


"perhaps/probably that's because I asked a question within the past week."

Bingo.
posted by SlyBevel at 12:34 PM on March 14, 2008


Don't folks know that an anonymous note shouldn't be in your own handwriting?

This is why all my anonymous posts are made with letters I've cut from newspapers and magazines.

My ransom notes too. I like to think of it as my signature style.
posted by quin at 1:17 PM on March 14, 2008


WE. ARE. ANONYMOUS!

There was a MeTa thread a while back where people outed themselves. That was fun.
posted by loiseau at 1:20 PM on March 14, 2008


Some clever writer should assemble a sort of biography of Anonymous based on his (her? its?) AskMe questions.

Someone other than me, I mean.
posted by mkultra at 1:29 PM on March 14, 2008


suicide, death threats, a question that needs serious editing

Without getting into specifics, how crazy have anonymous questions gotten? Have you ever gotten a question that made you consider getting a third-party (e.g. legal/police) involved?

I'm thinking more toward the "suicide" and "death threats" side of that, but tales of hellish editing woes are ok ;)
posted by mkultra at 1:32 PM on March 14, 2008


cortex: "I demand a graph. It's in the Infodump, someone hop to it."

Although there's no way to tell when an anonymous post was submitted to the queue from the infodump itself, we can fake it. Anonymous posts get a post id (and are listed in the infodump in id order) at submission time. We can compare the timestamp for the anonymous question to the expected timestamp for a question with that ID to get a rough guess at how much time questions spend in the anonymous queue.

The post that spent the most time in the queue is 31849, which was there for more than 23 days. In fact, 10 different posts have spent more than a week in the queue (The other 9, in descending order, are 28808, 81817, 78241, 53759, 68498, 62802, 55053, 41651, and 34857). On the other side of the coin are the 821 (yes, almost 25%) posts that made their way through the queue before even one additional question was posted to the green (making it impossible for me to even estimate how much time it spent in the queue). The average anonymous post spends 10.8 hours in the queue. This is quite obviously a skewed dataset, so here's a histogram:

 hrs    num
 ≤ 6   2030 |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 60.4%
 ≤12    535 |||||||||| 15.9%
 ≤18    226 |||| 6.7%
 ≤24    150 ||| 4.5%
 ≤30    106 || 3.2%
 ≤36     66 | 2.0%
 ≤42     50 | 1.5%
 ≤48     50 | 1.5%
 >48    149 || 4.4%

posted by Plutor at 1:35 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some clever writer should assemble a sort of biography of Anonymous based on his (her? its?) AskMe questions.

OK. Anonymous is really U.N. Owen!!!111iii
posted by Mister_A at 1:35 PM on March 14, 2008


Selfish (gender-specific insulting name)!
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:44 PM on March 14, 2008


Although there's no way to tell when an anonymous post was submitted to the queue from the infodump itself, we can fake it. Anonymous posts get a post id (and are listed in the infodump in id order) at submission time. We can compare the timestamp for the anonymous question to the expected timestamp for a question with that ID to get a rough guess at how much time questions spend in the anonymous queue.

Bravo! I actually use the same kind of trick to estimate the add-date of tags; some of our newer tag-adding/editing code correctly sticks the time of the edit into the db, but the older stuff actually just attached the timestamp of the original post to which the tag was being added, which means the raw data on tags in the db is off for a whole bunch of tags added after the fact. I used this sort of monotonic reasoning to at least add something close to the correct time in the Infodump info.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:00 PM on March 14, 2008


This probably says a lot about me, but my favourite era for Anonymous was the week he couldn't keep it up, then had an unidentified penis lump WHILST having an ingrown hair on his wiener. It was a veritable peenipalooza!!
posted by loiseau at 2:08 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh my. In light of those two messages, I retract my assertion that Anonymous is definitely a she.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:09 PM on March 14, 2008


The funny thing is, 97% of anonymous questions come from the same four users.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:21 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


For those wanting a graph. Posted by SlyBevel.

The actual graph is here.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:36 PM on March 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Don't folks know that an anonymous note shouldn't be in your own handwriting?

This is why all my anonymous posts are made with letters I've cut from newspapers and magazines.

I like Dimitri Martin's take on this, when using Microsoft Word. The little paperclip helper pops up with: "It looks like you are writing a ransom note. Would you like some help?"
posted by misha at 2:44 PM on March 14, 2008


The actual graph is here.

Well done.
posted by Tehanu at 2:52 PM on March 14, 2008


I'm thinking more toward the "suicide" and "death threats" side of that, but tales of hellish editing woes are ok

My tale of "hellish editing" was that weird candidate question. It was obviously timely and had a "should I tell what I know about how poorly candidate X's campaign is being run?" but it was a mess and I emailed the user at the provided email address and never heard back. I dont even remember which candidate it was.

I write emails back to anyone who sounds like they're seriously talking about suicide with lists of places to go and people to talk to and some heartfelt attention. It doesn't happen much. I've never seen anything in terms of death threats, but I have seen a few revengefilter posts that don't get approved and a few paranoiac posts that sometimes do. There are a few medical questions that don't get approved where people are, for example, pregnant and trying to get what seems to amount to medical advice which is a sketch proposition from our perspective.

The sorts of questions that go badly in AskMe generally, you know the sort "I need to get from New York City to Ireland, boats and planes not an option, help me!" don't make it through the AnonyMe queue either. Since there's no back and forth available with the OP, if they don't decide to follow-up, we're a little more rigorous about making sure the question has enough information in it to be answerable. If it doesn't, sometimes we'll email the OP, sometimes we'll just remove it from the queue. I say "we" because all the admins have access to it, but we each have areas we spend more time in. I approve more AnonyMe stuff, Matt approves most Projects and cortex is mucking about in the data sadnbox and he and I answer most of the contact form mail.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:56 PM on March 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


the AnonyMe queue

read that as AnnoyMe.
posted by ODiV at 4:19 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


What about men that are, by their nature, more passionate than is seemly, such as sodomites and Italians?

I knew an Italian sodomite. He liked sex innuendo.
posted by jonmc at 4:47 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't that be inna-uendo?

Great, now my brain is telling me that the face behind that voice must be Mario. He always seemed so kid friendly until now.
posted by SlyBevel at 5:25 PM on March 14, 2008


I'd like to see a graph of how many different users have asked mefi questions and what's the most anonymous questions any user has asked? Without naming names, clearly.
posted by empath at 8:10 PM on March 14, 2008


So anonymous' real name is Mario? And he runs some sort of plumbing operation? I love the mefi detective squad! Can we get a googlemaps location?
posted by taz at 12:02 AM on March 15, 2008


Got yer Googlemaps right here, bub.

Warning: DO NOT CLICK THE ABOVE. YOU WILL HATE ME.
posted by SlyBevel at 12:20 AM on March 15, 2008


Huh, the link got borkened. Just as well. It was this:

http://blog.spywareguide.com/2007/09/how_to_rickroll_a_browser.html

(Safe link, explains the badness of the intended link. Not that you'd trust me anymore.)
posted by SlyBevel at 12:23 AM on March 15, 2008


*changes SlyBevel's user name to simply "Bevel"*
posted by taz at 2:37 AM on March 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


lol at the sociological drama
posted by chlorus at 2:54 AM on March 15, 2008


So anonymous' real name is Mario? And he runs some sort of plumbing operation? I love the mefi detective squad! Can we get a googlemaps location?

It's Brooklyn. So, apparently, he's literary.
posted by ersatz at 6:04 AM on March 15, 2008


Ah zut. Downgraded.
posted by SlyBevel at 8:38 AM on March 15, 2008


SlyBevel, I've had that same thought before, about writing style. There have been a couple of anonymous questions where I've been able to reasonably figure out the asker's identity, though I figure that is just a function of how much time I spend here.

When I ask anonymous questions I take pains to remove any written tics -- things like overuse of em dashes (and parentheses) -- that might identify me. Of course, I'm overly paranoid and likely no one would even notice or care. I guess it's just a by-product of being such a private person that I would ask anonymously in the first place.
posted by sugarfish at 6:15 PM on March 15, 2008


*reads Jess' post*

Oh. so that's why that didn't get approved...grumblegrumble
posted by Phire at 9:01 PM on March 16, 2008


Dave Faris: "She?!
Sure. When the gender of someone is in doubt, I always opt for the feminine. Besides, you don't think a man is capable of having such drama and issues, do you?
"
Oh, we're capable of having them. Admitting them, not so much.
posted by dg at 10:29 PM on March 16, 2008


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