Not everybody lives in Canada. October 13, 2008 8:19 PM   Subscribe

"If it's bothering you, go see a doctor." This isn't helpful in many cases; can we stop saying it?

Maybe people who ask medical questions on AskMe are afraid of doctors, but as far as we know they might not have access to health care. Sure, if their question is I was using a rectal mercury thermometer and it broke, the only good answer is 'seek help immediately." But many of the medical questions on AskMe are about moderate, chronic ailments for which many people can't afford to see a doctor. Even if Obama changes that for Americans, not every Mefite lives in the first world.
The admins could add a new note for new AskMe questions, like "if you can see a doctor for your medical problem, do." That way we can avoid answers such as "ya see a dr."
posted by Citizen Premier to Etiquette/Policy at 8:19 PM (62 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Do you really think this will help? Also, sometimes the Asker needs to hear that it's time to see a professional. Some people don't rush off to the doctor's office every time they have a sniffle or they sprout some growth that starts urging them to perpetrate unseemly acts in their office, but some do, and it can be useful to hear a preponderance of opinion either for or against visiting the doctor.

If all you have to say is "go see a doctor," then I agree this is not useful, but you're probably not going to be able to change this behavior.
posted by Mister_A at 8:27 PM on October 13, 2008


I have seen more than a few people use that response when the poster was debating whether they should go to a doctor or not (ie "is this serious, or should I just wait it out?") and it can also translate to "it's not a serious medical condition, you can live with it, but if it bothers you, there is something a doctor can do about it" -- both of those responses seem quite reasonable to me.
posted by davejay at 8:28 PM on October 13, 2008


It's also good to bear in mind that some doctors just plain ol' suck, and it can be very helpful to have an idea what's going on under the hood before you get yourself checked, especially in an era of pharmaceutical kickbacks.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:28 PM on October 13, 2008


I really think this violates the spirit of choice on the part of the answerer to give the asker this advice. I for one will not stand for this violation.

And sometimes the asker just needs to understand that only a doctor can really help. Better safe than giving shitty advice and making it worse.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:28 PM on October 13, 2008


That wouldn't help one bit; maybe if the posting page said "if your question is medical but you don't want to see a doctor, make sure to specify that in your question" it would have some effect, but as long as people are posting questions to which any reasonable person would respond "jesus, go to the doctor!" people are going to answer that way.
posted by nicwolff at 8:28 PM on October 13, 2008


*Seizes SeizeTheDay (lovingly)*
posted by Mister_A at 8:29 PM on October 13, 2008


I have seen more than a few people use that response when the poster was debating whether they should go to a doctor or not.

This is true. But telling someone how a doctor can help them is different then just saying they should go see a doctor.

I think "go see a doctor" is an appropriate response when the asker knows what's bothering him; but if they're trying to learn more about their ailment then it's mostly wasting their time.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:32 PM on October 13, 2008


Oh - and everyone should read my friend Dave's book Hippocrates' Shadow to understand the ways in which both doctors (whether they suck or not) and patients are operating on partial information and misinformation.
posted by nicwolff at 8:33 PM on October 13, 2008


At any rate, I'm going to start all my medical questions with "I live deep in the African jungle." But then people will probably say "Go see a witch."
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:35 PM on October 13, 2008


But many of the medical questions on AskMe are about moderate, chronic ailments for which many people can't afford to see a doctor. Even if Obama changes that for Americans, not every Mefite lives in the first world.

That's funny. In the first world, you just go to the doctor. It's not about affording it.

OK, for Americans, I suppose it isn't funny.

That said, what's the desired result here? Mods deleting more askme responses? How's that helpful?

(And: what Seizetheday said)
posted by pompomtom at 8:46 PM on October 13, 2008


can we stop saying it?

NO! Now, can you stop nagging about this?
posted by caddis at 8:47 PM on October 13, 2008


That said, what's the desired result here? Mods deleting more askme responses? How's that helpful?

Crappy responses are already deleted, because they lower the perceived quality of the site for everybody. Whenever you see anyone do anything, there's a little part of you that says "hey, I guess I can do that, too." Then pretty soon you're telling everyone how they need to do way instain mothers that kill their babbies.

But really anyone who reads this thread will think twice before spouting out "go see a doctor" and that little bit helps, I guess. I'm just trying to help Metafilter.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:05 PM on October 13, 2008


I feel like the dismissive "Doctor, NOW" answers aren't helpful especially in cases where someone has something easily home-remedyable like an ingrown toenail or something.

The interesting thing about AskMe medical questions to me is the line between when some people think you absolutely MUST go to a doctor and when others do. That said, if affording it is the only reason some people with probematic medical situations aren't going to the doctor, it's also worth tossing in information on sliding scale clinics, etc. I've seen a few questions that had good advice in that direction.

My personal preference, if I ran the AskMe world with an iron fist would be for people to at least indicate what they've done vis a vis doctors so we could at least know that.

[ ] seen a doctor already, they said it was nothing
[ ] seen a doctor, they said it was nothing but NOW IT'S WORSE, do I go back?
[ ] hate all doctors, don't tell me to see one or I will hate you too
[ ] would go to doctor if I could afford one
[ ] have an appointment but it's not for _______ days, do I need to go earlier?
[ ] are there homeopathic ways to treat this?

I have/do not have health insurance
I don/do not understand how my health insurance works

(the sheer number of people that don't know that many insurance plans have a 1-800# to call and talk to a nurse, for example...)
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:09 PM on October 13, 2008 [9 favorites]


Okay. From now on, I am going to answer them with "Go see a homeopath/naturopath/acupuncturist/herbalist".
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:11 PM on October 13, 2008


I think it's natural for people to give the easy "go see a doctor" answer, even if they wouldn't do so themselves. Our (speaking American here) society has evolved to automatically defer medical questions to doctors, legal questions to lawyers, etc., as a result of fear of liability. But I think many of the people asking these questions are just trying to get a feel of when to go to a doctor and when not to, often because they are young and haven't had to make that decision before.

I currently have (I'm pretty sure) two broken bones (hairline fractures, nothing major). One a thumb broken while hitting a pothole on a fast downhill bike ride a month ago, one a broken toe from kicking a stool in my own kitchen this month. I have broken both of these bones before, when I was young, and I know what a broken bone looks and feels like. Back then, I was taken to a doctor by my mother, and I was splinted. Now, if I break a digit, I don't go to a doctor, I just splint the finger or toe. I know going to a doctor won't buy me anything, so I don't. If I was posting here as a youngster, that is the kind of information I would be looking for. And that is the answer I would give, but I know that most of the answers would be more along the lines of "OMG, GO TO A DOCTOR!".
posted by bwanabetty at 9:14 PM on October 13, 2008


Gosh, that's a good questionnaire, jessamyn. I just thought of a new pony request: If each category of AskMe had a little questionnaire like that, we'd save hundreds of hours of hours of Mefites asking for necessary information that the poster forgot to include.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:16 PM on October 13, 2008


Yeah I have to agree. I often see people say this even when the medical complaint sounds more like an annoyance that the person is just curious to know the cause of. Often these comments are warranted, but there does tend to be a segment of commenters who think that an medical question whatsoever is inappropriate for AskMe and should only ever be addressed to a doctor. If we were all so lucky to have the luxury to have health insurance or a Dr. that actually listened to us (or the luxury to switch doctors)...
posted by whoaali at 9:17 PM on October 13, 2008


the sheer number of people that don't know that many insurance plans have a 1-800# to call and talk to a nurse, for example...

I called the 1-800 number associated with my health plan a while ago. I was having a weird migraine and I wanted to know what to do about it. All the woman would say is, "I have to advise you to go to your doctor immediately." So, now, my conspiracy theory is that the service's main purpose is to have them advise you to go immediately to the doctor so that, if you don't, they can deny you coverage.

...Not that this has anything to do with ask.me health questions.
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:48 PM on October 13, 2008


Consult a lawyer.
posted by Artw at 10:01 PM on October 13, 2008


If "go see a doctor" is a proper response, then it belongs there. The person asking the question can ignore that answer if they can't/won't see a doctor for whatever reason (no insurance, afraid of doctors, hates people that have read multiple medical books, currently on a gameshow where the person that goes the longest without taking care of themselves wins a million dollars etc).

"Go see a doctor" isn't the all-purpose medical answer, but it fits the bill for many of the medical questions I've seen. Although "I'd recommend that you see a doctor, but if you can't you should at least make sure you try..." would be pretty helpful to get someone on the right track if/until they can see a doctor.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:03 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


If "go see a doctor" is a proper response, then it belongs there.

That's pretty much it, and in 95% of the medical questions asked on Ask Metafilter, the individual in question really should go see a doctor.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:15 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


At any rate, I'm going to start all my medical questions with "I live deep in the African jungle."

Never heard of Dr. Livingston, I presume?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:35 PM on October 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


AskMe has its answering guidelines, but people use AskMe for different reasons. Some of those reasons may be to confirm something one already knows, such as "should I worry about X," when one is already worried about X. Even if the answer is "go see a doctor," the asking party may be leaning that way anyway and just needs a little push, if only to get over their fear of embarassment.

In that light, "go see a doctor" is perfectly good advice when it's really warranted.

Moreover, I once asked the hive mind a question about a sprained wrist, and the general answers were "go see a doctor," which told me there wasn't likely going to be a well known home remedy at hand. So again, 20 answers of "go see a doctor" was useful info to me.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:48 PM on October 13, 2008


I was impatient
I was not in full arrest
and the symptoms were induced by something
I could not digest
She'd said a mouthful
I'd swallowed whole
My heart starts beating
a capriole,
a murmur,
too different to ignore
Now that you've seen the doctor
don't call me anymore
posted by scody at 10:53 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


According to Dr. Funkenstein, I'm suffering from 24-hour Placebo Syndrome. But I'm too cool to listen.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:04 PM on October 13, 2008


Just for Queenslanders (NE Australians), it's handy to know that there's a phone line 13 HEALTH (run by Queensland government) where you can ring for free to find out if it's a big enough problem to go to emergency. I'd ring for you guys, except the wait time is something like half an hour, so it'd better not be an emergency. Also, they sent me to emergency when I spilled boiling water over half my arm, and I waited 4 hours to be seen, and then the hosital used a dressing that my regular GP hated because it gave me an infection (and they bloody charged for the painkillers $12, can you believe it? What happened to free hospitals) - but there you go, it's an option, especially if no-one is answering your AskMe, if you live in Queensland (or nearby).
posted by b33j at 12:38 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: My personal preference, if I ran the AskMe world with an iron fist would be for people to at least indicate what they've done vis a vis doctors so we could at least know that... *checklist follows*

Posted on the wiki.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:45 AM on October 14, 2008


jessamyn writes "The interesting thing about AskMe medical questions to me is the line between when some people think you absolutely MUST go to a doctor and when others do."

I've learned that that line is a lot higher for people without insurance than those with. People without insurance live in a scary scary world
posted by Mitheral at 1:38 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm always amused by people's doctoring up; it's gone beyond charming faith in the medical profession and into the realm of the reflexive gesture the villagers might make as they pass some terrible idol.

Much of it seems to be driven by this fear that if they type anything besides "Go see a doctor," someone over at WebMD whose job it is to constantly troll this site and others, will pick up the red phone and whisper, "Dispatch the lawyers! MeFi, now!" into it. The classic piece of statuary somewhere behind jessamyn will open its eyes and reveal that it is simply a cleverly disguised lawyer-ninja, then begin exhaling torts over all horizontal surfaces. Cortex, who was showering in a locked room, is handed the loofa by a tight-smiling gentleman in a pin-striped suit. "You didn't think we'd stand for it, did you? Come now, we've been at it a very, very long time. The Mouse is an amateur; Disney never had its competitors set on fire as witches. *looks down* You should get that spot looked at. Speaking of which, let's talk our cut."
posted by adipocere at 1:52 AM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


[ ] are there homeopathic ways to treat this?

[ ] would slaughtering a chicken and dancing around the entrails help?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:29 AM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Awesome, the last comment in this question starts with "Yeah it's an unpopular answer to medical questions." Looks like my metatalk post has shifted the rules of popularity on Metafilter. My work here is done.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:53 AM on October 14, 2008


That's funny. In the first world, you just go to the doctor. It's not about affording it.

You just put your name on the end of the list...
posted by smackfu at 5:26 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I read an AskMe health question, I'm always surprised by how much better luck mefites have had with doctors than I have. Historically, when I've ever had something that I would consider asking about here and that many AskMe folks would reflexively say "see a doctor!" about, like a weird and painful skin thing, the doctor is usually like "yeah, it could be a few things" and then they do a test which comes back without a meaningful result, and then they prescribe something which makes it worse and is generally hard on your system, and then when I'm like "OK, so, now there is basically no skin on my hand" they're like "Yeah, like I said, it could really be any number of things. We could try you on..."

It wouldn't have been less effective in that case to ask a cross-section of non-doctors if they had the weird skin thing and what if anything changed it, while politely tuning out the "the right answer is see a doctor!" people.

I actually think the main dynamic at work is that if you have a chronic health issue, you should of course be in a doctor's care and it is very likely that a doctor can help you much more than anyone else could. But if your general health is good and you practice safer sex, the occasional health stuff that comes up in random blips has a nontrivial chance of having a connection to an environmental factor, or stress, or both, and your doctor who allocates 2.5 minutes of a 12-minute visit to talking to you is unfortunately probably not the person who is going to draw those connections. You could get lucky and it could be something there is a large body of research into and a medication that helps a lot without causing new ears to grow out of your feet, or you could also get lucky and have a great doctor (but the odds are that most people will have average doctors). If it is something which is a known symptom of a chronic condition, certainly "see a doctor" is good advice.

People who ask questions like "I crashed my mountain bike and now my elbow also goes the other way, can I wait until after the weekend to get it looked at, tell me Hive Mind!" seriously have bigger problems than just the elbow situation and shouldn't be a big factor in whether "Doctor. Now." is always the best answer.

(The weird skin thing was cured in a 72 hour timeframe by replacing my hand towels with towels that had a more absorbent surface.)
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 5:33 AM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


If someone has been diagnosed by a licensed professional and is looking for a remedy that someone on AskMe has found, that's an absolutely wonderful use of the system.

If someone with seemingly harmless symptoms is being told that they don't need to see a doctor by unlicensed people on the internet, that's a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

Like it or not, people on MeFi write in a way that makes them seem authoritative even if they have no basis for being so. There are users here who articulate themselves so well you would think they know every little thing in the world.

People also listen faithfully to AskMe advice (I know I have). If we're looking to quiet the people who would like to remind every medical case that, serious or not, seeing a doctor is the best option, that seems to be making AskMe a lesser honest resource for the sake of annoying a few people who haven't asked a medical question (unless it was anonymously, in which case, I take it back).

The service should serve the users first and the people in search of entertainment second and this seems to be a request for a better entertainment value out of AskMe, something that really invalidates the service.
posted by scabrous at 5:59 AM on October 14, 2008


I'd just like to thank everyone who has refrained from responding with "...but I'm blind!" in askme.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:06 AM on October 14, 2008


Not everything people say on AskMe is helpful, and WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT. LIKE, IMMEDIATELY.
posted by orange swan at 6:32 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Every time I answer an AskMe question with a youtube link to a homemade video for Kool Moe Dee's 'Go See The Doctor,' it's promptly deleted.
posted by box at 7:09 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, I think maybe one more thing

[x] I'm not really asking what to do medically/legally/psychologically about this issue, I just have anxiety about it; could you help allay my fears while I am just going to do whatever I was going to do anyhow?

I think a lot of relationship/medical/legal questions aren't so much about the topic but people are anxious and online and they want someone to be like "oh that happened to me, it was nothing" I'm sure we can go back and forth about whether this is a healthy way to interact with both anxiety and an online community of non-professionals but I do think we have a great team of fear allayers and that's got to be good for something.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:12 AM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure it should be deleted, and I'm confident that it's helpful for some people, but that last category sounds a little bit like chatfilter.
posted by box at 7:15 AM on October 14, 2008


That's funny. In the first world, you just go to the doctor. It's not about affording it.

OK, for Americans, I suppose it isn't funny.


I always wondered where the second world was. It just dawned on me that I live there.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:40 AM on October 14, 2008


Given the spectacularly bad medical advice that I sometimes see in AskMe (as noted here), I think that advising someone to see a doctor is pretty tame stuff. If the asker is unable to or does not wish to heed that or any other bit of advice that is their decision to make.
posted by TedW at 7:50 AM on October 14, 2008


I think a lot of relationship/medical/legal questions aren't so much about the topic but people are anxious and online and they want someone to be like "oh that happened to me, it was nothing"

Unfortunately, at least as far as medical questions go, it is not often possible to offer that kind of reassurance with certainty. What is no big deal for one person may turn out to be very serious for a different person with a different medical history. The best way to tell is to do a history and physical and any appropriate diagnostic tests. A physician can do all of that, AskMe can't.
posted by TedW at 7:59 AM on October 14, 2008


Ted, Ted, Ted. My friend, it is now possible to diagnose neurologic conditions from a great remove, provided you are standing on the US Senate floor.
posted by Mister_A at 8:29 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


[ ] like the internet, life is uncertain.

Websites like CrazyMeds and WrongDiagnosis thrive because even medical professionals get it wrong and/or people arent allayed by the responses medical professionals can give.

While I'm more inclined to trust my doctor than not (and think if you can't trust your doctor then you need another doctor and if you've had seven doctors and can't trust a single one of them it's possible you may have trust issues, not strictly medical issues) the whole world of people fall many places along this spectrum. I'm fascinated by this issue generally because while I love the usefulness that is AskMe, I do wince at some questions that seem to have a pre-determined "this is what I am hoping the community will say" angle to them and I just hope the community (who sees that too) can be gentle and kind which they often, but not always, are.

Really until you've done the post-game wrap-up in most cases it's tough to tell if someone has a "doctor NOW" situation or one which could benefit from some home attention first. Getting ten or twenty people to tell you they really think you need to see a doctor is a much different result than getting 2 people saying "see a doctor" and ten others saying "oh you can pop that blister yourself"

It's sort of a multivariate problem, trying to figure out how doctor-resistant (or doctor-philic) the OP is, balancing against how doctor-resistant (or doctor-philic) the person responding is. Then each person coming to the situation addresses their assessment of both of those things against their own personal opinions about doctors, medicine, the value of online community responses to medical problems and their own experiences of dealing with similar issues. On balance I find it more helpful than not, but we definitely have mod powows from time to time when situations seem extreme enough that they seem like a bad fit for AskMe.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:32 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, at least as far as medical questions go, it is not often possible to offer that kind of reassurance with certainty.

What do you think the downside is of offering that reassurance is, though, even if it's not with certainty? It seems like the opposition to this is based on the idea that someone will say, "Oh this happened to me, it ended up to be this, and it wasn't a big deal at all, don't panic" and that will cause the asker to not go to the doctor at all, which I think is pretty unlikely unless the asker wasn't going to go in the first place and was just looking for an excuse. (And if that's the case, they're going to find an excuse somewhere, even if they don't find it here.) I don't think anyone is necessarily saying that they think it's a good or desirable thing for AskMe to replace doctors, but rather that it's not an inappropriate venue for people to use when seeking out more information and more resources and general sense of how worried they should be, about medical issues just as much as financial issues, relationship issues, and so on. And just like financial questions, it's not necessarily helpful to post the most panic-inducing and worst-case-scenario answer to everything. Most of the time, people phrase "see the doctor NOW" in the type of language that definitely feeds into the worst-case-scenario fear-mongering.

I think Jessamyn is right that a lot of people are going to do what they're going to do (whether that's going to the doctor or not), and are looking for more information that will help them feel in control of what's happening to them. I really dislike the "scare 'em into the doctor's office!" type of message that is used around all sorts of public-health campaigns these days and seems to have taken hold as a widespread attitude in public discourse, not least because it totally ignores the harm to people's mental health of operating in a state of barely-suppressed existential panic for the weeks or months that it takes to get tested or otherwise resolve the medical issue. I also think it has a good chance of being counterproductive in the end, as (in my experience) people who have a lot of unrelieved anxiety around a specific medical issue are even less likely to be proactive in the initial stages, instead preferring to remain in a state of blissful denial.

I dunno. I read the questions that pop up every month or two from someone asking about getting a mole checked out because it's changed color/is flaking/seems to have an irregular border, and the inevitable chorus of "OMG get a doctor now, get in tomorrow, it could be CANCER, don't let a doctor schedule you for any later than THIS WEEK" just make me re-live the three hellish months of my life when I had a skin cancer scare. I was not-irregularly waking up in the middle of the night to go vomit in the toilet from the stress; I lost about 10 pounds that I really didn't need to lose; I couldn't focus on my job. It took about 6 weeks to get in to see a dermatologist (which I think is a pretty typical timeline, from everyone I've talked to who has had this sort of biopsy done), and another 6 weeks to get the definitive results of the biopsy. I fail to see how it would have made things worse to have someone offering a reassuring "you know, I've had a very suspicious mole biopsied, and it ended up to be okay, this happens sometimes and it's not ALWAYS cancer, sometimes moles are just weird" or pointing out that there's a bit of a context to this issue that might have helped me put my fear in context. Seriously, sometimes it seems like the internet is 99.99% FEAR THE AWFUL ILLNESS YOU PROBABLY ARE DYING FROM RIGHT NOW, and 0.01% "hey, bodies are weird, let's not get ahead of ourselves," all in the name of encouraging everyone to see a doctor for everything just-in-case, and I question to ultimate value of that.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:13 AM on October 14, 2008


Thou hast humours unbalanc'd. Get thee to barber's care.
posted by klangklangston at 9:42 AM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm mad splenitive, yo. Mad splenitive.
posted by dersins at 10:09 AM on October 14, 2008


What do you think the downside is of offering that reassurance is, though, even if it's not with certainty? It seems like the opposition to this is based on the idea that someone will say, "Oh this happened to me, it ended up to be this, and it wasn't a big deal at all, don't panic" and that will cause the asker to not go to the doctor at all, which I think is pretty unlikely...

Actually it is quite possible that the asker will delay medical treatment if given inappropriate reassurance; I have certainly seen it happen. The other downside of offering reassurance in many of these threads is that the person answering often has no idea what is going on, much less how it will progress. You are right that it is just as bad (or in some cases worse) to go into full panic mode and offer a worst case scenario. For those AskMes where the poster says "I have symptoms x, y, and z, what do you think it might be?" the best answer really is "The differential diagnosis for the symptoms you describe consists of a number of different diseases. Some of them are common, some of them are rare. Some of them are minor, others are life-threatening. The only way to narrow it down is to examine you, which cannot be done here." Anything else is just playing a guessing game with someone else's health. On the other hand, those questions of the form "I have just been diagnosed with x/am about to undergo procedure x, what can I expect?" do lend themselves to the type of reassurance you talk about and give people who have been there a chance to share their experience and are thus better suited to AskMe. There are times when I think the diagnostic dilemmas that are posted here should just be deleted.
posted by TedW at 10:19 AM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Awesome, the last comment in this question starts with "Yeah it's an unpopular answer to medical questions." Looks like my metatalk post has shifted the rules of popularity on Metafilter. My work here is done.

I wouldn't put too much stock in someone saying their own answer was an unpopular one. People often seem to assert that their own answers are unpopular when in fact they are not, perhaps sometimes because they believe them so, perhaps sometimes merely as a rhetorical advice in an attempt to avoid criticism of their response.

It's not unheard of to have, say, a relationshipfilter question where you have 20 people saying "DTMFA" along with 2 saying "try to make work it out," and then someone will come along and say either (without sarcasm) "I know I'm going against the majority here, but DTMFA" or "I can't believe how many people are saying you should stick with him! DTMFA."

Q. What is 2+2?
A. I know this answer will be unpopular, but I'm gonna say 4.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:21 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for bringing this up, Citizen Premier- it's always bugged me, too, especially the ones that say, "If you're worried about it, just go into the doctor!" As though it wasn't a choice between going to the doctor and paying rent that month, or whatever.

And the doctors I seem to be stuck with pretty much suck. Yay, HMOs! If anyone in the Oakland-Richmond corridor is willing to recommend their Kaiser GP, please memail me. Thank you.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:17 AM on October 14, 2008


Obviously, for me a doctor visit is just a day lost from work, but for most of my friends it IS a choice between ER or rent, so I'm super aware of it.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:19 AM on October 14, 2008


perhaps sometimes merely as a rhetorical advice device

That was a bizarre error to make.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:05 PM on October 14, 2008


We have discussed issues related to this quite often, most notably here. The general consensus, at least among the medically qualified MeFites, and as eloquently expressed above by TedW, is that we should not be trying to make diagnoses over the internet. It's not just because of legal liability, but because it's so easy to make an utter hash of it. Therefore when people try to use AskMe to seek a diagnosis, I think the best response is to try and help them access appropriate professional advice elsewhere.
posted by roofus at 12:33 PM on October 14, 2008


Well, yeah, of course, but what do the medically unqualified MeFites think? I wouldn't know a spleen if you vented it.
posted by box at 12:44 PM on October 14, 2008


Well, yeah, of course, but what do the medically unqualified MeFites think?

I think your Qi needs a little WD-40®.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:51 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another flowchart I'd like to see implemented for AskMe:

Are you asking about food? -> YES. -> Do you want to know if you should eat that? -> YES. -> If you need to ask the internet its opinion, NO YOU SHOULD NOT EAT IT PUT IT DOWN.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:17 PM on October 14, 2008


Should I Eat This?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:05 PM on October 14, 2008


Take two aspirin and post again in the morning.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:06 PM on October 14, 2008


I completely disagree. When insured I would hesistate to go to the doctor. Perhaps it was too much of a hassle or Id think I could "walk it off." This behavoir is the norm it seems and its good to get some encouragement to see the doctor. There was a question about someone's boyfriend who couldnt stop vomiting and the question was more or less loaded to get alternatives to the emergency room. Luckily, she took him to the hospital and saved him quite a bit of future trouble if not his life.

Also, perhaps not to you and me, but a lot of people highly distrust doctors and think alt-crap like enemas, vitamin overdoses, and ginseng will solve all. They go on the internet looking for validation. They shouldnt find it here.

Lastly, when I was poorer and needed help I got medical sevices via my county aid program. The idea that because someone doesnt have insurance means they can not see a doctor or get some basic care is false. Yes it can be difficult but a motivated person can get some cheap care.

While I'm at it, the medical advice here is for shit. I look at my questions and the answers I have gotten actually turned out to have nothing to do with my problem. People can't magically diagnose you, let alone give you some type of magical fix. I see the medical questions as a lazy form of research. So when this person does see a doctor then he or she can be more informed when discussing the problem.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:45 PM on October 14, 2008


Id be interested in seeing the bizzaro-world askmefi where the moderators deleted all the 'go see a doctor' replies. Im sure it would be nothing but Kevin Trudeau level bullshit.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:55 PM on October 14, 2008


Id be interested in seeing the bizzaro-world askmefi where the moderators deleted all the 'go see a doctor' replies. Im sure it would be nothing but Kevin Trudeau level bullshit.

It'd be like Garfield minus Garfield.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:35 AM on October 15, 2008


I don't know if anyone is still reading this, but everyone who doesn't like "see a doctor" answers might want to take a stab at a better response here.
posted by TedW at 5:48 AM on October 20, 2008


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