Aye's without a face January 16, 2009 9:57 PM   Subscribe

This is a brief request for the ability to answer anonymously on AskMe, as well as gauge other's interest in such a feature.

One problem might be abuse, but repeat offenders could be blocked from AskMe. Or anonymous answering could be a privilege granted to users with statistical characteristics (e.g., so many answers, ratio of "best" answers to answers, etc.).

Anyhow, I'd be interested to see how much of the community would like to see this, as well as ideas and how such a scheme might be implemented.
posted by Blazecock Pileon to Feature Requests at 9:57 PM (95 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

It's a toughie. I think the most probable thing is to allow anonymous question askers to post followups that are also anonymous (clarifications, thanking people for answers, etc). I think there's a lot of upside with little downside (asker could use their anon status to yell at others, etc).

Allowing anonymous comments for anyone answering any question could be really useful but opens us up to even more abuse than the first scenario, and it'd be tough to judge how to make that happen. I'd be inclined to say maybe they'd all have to be approved first, but then that would become quite a workload to check a stream of potentially dozens/hundreds of comments posted anonymously each day.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:02 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine something like this happening without a mod approval queue. Which strikes me as an enormous headache, on top of all the other moderation they do. I dunno, I like the idea in principle, but I don't know how workable it is unless they'd like to hire me on to handle it at $50k a year email's in the profile.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:02 PM on January 16, 2009


I guess I'm not sure how this would be abused, if it's implemented in a way that associates the comment with one's account but hides the username. Then mods could easily reprimand people who abuse the feature if need be, and people wouldn't feel so emboldened by anonymity as to create a problem.

At any rate, I probably wouldn't need it, but I've definitely seen questions I wouldn't even think about answering without anonymous commenting.
posted by voltairemodern at 10:10 PM on January 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


What's the ruling on keeping a sock puppet account around just so you can answer a question and not have it linked to your main account?
posted by Science! at 10:17 PM on January 16, 2009


What's the ruling on keeping a sock puppet account around just so you can answer a question and not have it linked to your main account?

Totally fine, just don't use it to end run any of the posting limitations.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:18 PM on January 16, 2009


[eponysterical comment]
posted by not_on_display at 10:23 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


There have been lots of times when I've wished for anonymous answering, especially with very personal topics like sex-related and medical-related questions, even a few of the child-rearing questions. Sometimes I have a personal experience to relate that would help answer the poster's question, but I would feel too vulnerable having my answer associated with my nickname.

So, if the mods could figure out a way to allow anonymous answering that wouldn't create too much trouble for them, count me as one who would appreciate it.
posted by amyms at 10:28 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really would appreciate this option. There are a few questions that I resisted answering due to the fact that I have friends on the site who might not be comfortable knowing my shit. The option of privacy would be great, considering that some posts require a frank (and not always pleasant) answer.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:30 PM on January 16, 2009


Totally agree with voltairemodern. You could have a checkbox when answering AskMe questions, checking it would make your username invisible to others but the mods would see it as with any other comment. Since it could be flagged by others as usual, I don't see the potential for big trouble.
posted by keijo at 10:38 PM on January 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


I realize that this may make the moderators' lives hellish, but couldn't people who wanted to comment anonymously email their comment to a moderator to post in a specific thread? Similar in the way that anonymous posters can follow-up?
posted by sperose at 10:39 PM on January 16, 2009


I'd definitely reply to some more questions that I don't now. Sometimes I even have the replies typed up and think, nah, it's just not worth it. I'd love to help, but it's just not worth it. I like the idea that it's associated with your account but only visible to mods, but that would then have to still figure in to "is it worth it?"

Maybe give one token a week for a single anonymous comment, just like the AskMe limit. (and make it the same anonymous as the askme question anonymousity)
posted by cashman at 10:42 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aye's without a face

Seems like it would be the source of a lot of Idol speculation.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:50 PM on January 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Seems like it would be the source of a lot of Idol speculation.

I thought I might be dancing by myself on this one. Ah ah oh oh.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 PM on January 16, 2009


couldn't people who wanted to comment anonymously email their comment to a moderator to post in a specific thread?

They can and already do. Has the benefit of upping Jessamyn's favourite count too.
posted by shelleycat at 11:12 PM on January 16, 2009


(not that it really needs upping of course, Jessamyn is already fairly awesome)
posted by shelleycat at 11:12 PM on January 16, 2009


I see a problem with this, even if it's limited to certain posters. I think that anonymous posting is an important privilege as it allows information to flow to those who might not otherwise be in a place to receive important assistance. In this model, somewhat identifiable individuals with varying degrees of credibility can do their best to assist someone who might not be comfortable outing him/herself as the person in need of help.

Anonymous answers undermine both this and the traditional pseudonymous model. When the information or anecdote is coming from an unknown source, it provides significantly less guidance and can derail other attempts to help. I know I and others have held back on sharing information on personal subjects, but I think the cost there is lower than the cost of not being able to verify answers.

I realize that verification is tricky and imperfect, sock puppets and so on. Still, I want the ability to have some reference (or the absence of context, which is information in and of itself).

If someone tells me to DMTFA and I see that his/her advice has been to constantly DTMFA. Well, I know how to contextualize that. When someone gives out IANYL-cautioned legal analysis and their posting history shows some competence, I know how to weigh that. Someone starts going on about givewell and seems a little self-linky, then I know not to take them seriously.

So even though I respect you Blazecock (hell, you're half of my favorites recently), I still want all answers to be identifiable, even if the anonymous answers are limited to a select few. It's one of the reasons that AskMe works. It comes at a cost, but it's better than the alternative as far as I can tell. Any attempts to deviate from this seems to undermine the idea as a whole. Perhaps I can be persuaded that moderator discretion could ensure that some contingent verifiability was occurring, but it makes me nervous.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:14 PM on January 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think anonymous answers are a terrible idea. AskMe is a community just like Metafilter. I already think there are far too many anonymous questions and allowing anonymous answers is just begging for a dissolution of the feeling of community. If you really absolutely must reply anonymously with the fact that you had a similar sore on your private area that turned out to be nothing, fork over $5 and get a sockpuppet.
posted by Justinian at 11:27 PM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


The fact that people limit what they say because they don't want to ruin their reputation is also a good thing. True, maybe one doesn't want to post in the vaginal lubricant thread with one's own experiences because it's embarrassing, but the lack of anonymous answers also stops people from being total and utter dickbags on AskMe.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:37 AM on January 17, 2009


Aye's without a face

Franjuboi.
posted by Wolof at 1:08 AM on January 17, 2009


If you really absolutely must reply anonymously with the fact that you had a similar sore on your private area that turned out to be nothing, fork over $5 and get a sockpuppet.

All I wanted to do was lend a hand.

In hindsight, that's probably a bad idea.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:28 AM on January 17, 2009


I am a member of a large parenting forum where people can choose a new identity for every question/answer, as long as they do not use multiple nicknames in the same thread. Sometimes this is irritating, for the reasons people state above, but as a whole, it works really well, especially for relationship and parenting questions. It is still a real community (with real life meetings, people helping eachother out etc.) and people tend to prefer sticking with one nick, also for all the reasons above. I actually think it helps community, because people know they can ask and answer everything, even really personal stuff. I think many people want to be anonymous not to protect themselves, but to protect other people (their children/partners/etc.). You still have to be logged in, the admins can always see who you are, so people do not suddenly act as dicks when they use another nickname, because they know they'll be banned if they do.
posted by davar at 2:26 AM on January 17, 2009


Yeah, I Ctrl-W many things for family and friends and youngsters.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:49 AM on January 17, 2009


You get a checkbox in the Submit Answer area that says "Hide my username." You only get to use it twice a week and obviously it's subject to mod scrutiny.
posted by Skorgu at 2:55 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


What about adding some text (or making existing text more prominent) to the anonymous question page suggesting people include a throwaway email so if someone wants to respond anonymously they can get their own throwaway email and do so, but it doesn't increase the potential for anonymous jackass responses showing up in anonymous threads? Anonymous threads sometimes don't bring out the best in people to start with.

It's really in the best interest of the asker to make the question as easy to answer as possible, and remove any barrier to entry like someone wanting to respond but not wanting to share whateveritis with the entire site.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:04 AM on January 17, 2009


Psuedonymous using visiglyphs (ip hashed into a glyph) might be better.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:17 AM on January 17, 2009


Nah, you keep a database of /24 netblocks, for new ones you generate a random 32 bit value, for old ones you have them stored... and XOR them before display so you can get them back if needed but nobody is going to find out anything except maybe about the other 255 people on their range. Depends on if you're keeping the original info or not, salt and MD5 or SHA hash and pick 4 octets out of the middle.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:55 AM on January 17, 2009


Chalk me up as another one who has ocassionally wished for anonymous commenting. (And not just in anonymous threads, A Terrible Llama. Sometimes a totally innocuous question can be best answered by relating a humiliating personal experience.)

I do think that if implemented it shouldn't be as obvious as a check box by the submit button. Better to gently discourage its use while leaving the option available for those times when it's really necessary.

I suppose I could just buy a sockpuppet account, but since its posting history would quickly fill up with anecdotes of all the chronically dumb shit I have done in my life, those answers would soon carry less weight than answers given by an entirely anonymous commenter.
posted by the latin mouse at 4:24 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


There have been lots of times when I've wished for anonymous answering, especially with very personal topics like sex-related and medical-related questions, even a few of the child-rearing questions.

I second this. A "hide my username" box that can be ticked in AskMefi would encourage greater frankness in answers given to match the frankness that anonymous question-posing provides. Mods beings able to see the username of the poster would deter abuse. I think it's a great idea, personally.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:36 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems a reasonable suggestion but I don't need it myself because my life is an open book - specifically The Adventures of Pinocchio at the passage where he gets caught in the weasel trap.
posted by Abiezer at 4:53 AM on January 17, 2009


the_latin_mouse: "I suppose I could just buy a sockpuppet account, but since its posting history would quickly fill up with anecdotes of all the chronically dumb shit I have done in my life, those answers would soon carry less weight than answers given by an entirely anonymous commenter."

But that's the problem, isn't it? If you do as much dumb shit as you claim why would I ever listen to you? Or at least, shouldn't I have the privilege of going through your posting history to figure out for myself if I want to?
posted by sveskemus at 5:28 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


An easier way to get updates from anonymous askers would be nice. (But then, I wish all askers would update, not just the anonies.)

But to be honest, I kind of like the current system for anonymous responding. You can do it (by emailing a moderator, who then posts your comment as "a user who wishes to remain anonymous"), but it is slow, inconvenient, and an obvious imposition on the moderators' time. That inefficiency and slowness is a good disincentive against overuse of the anonymous function, I think, and forces an openness that is good for the community.

Given that most people here are using semi-anonymous identities already, my feeling is that mandating the most accountability possible (that is, keeping your comments attached to your user name) is a good thing, rather than facilitating another layer of anonymity.

Under the current system, even the NSFW-est and TMI-est questions, including financial and child-rearing, tend to get plenty of responses, many very open and forthright. There simply isn't a crisis to be solved here, with no one able to respond. And if sockpuppets are considered ok, then you have a solution $5 away at any moment.
posted by Forktine at 5:52 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does it need to be limited to Askme? After all there's a lot of stuff posted to the front page where anon commenting might be useful, such as people who have first hand knowledge of touchier subjects. MetaTalk shouldn't have it all, IMO.

If the feature is implemented, a checkbox as others have described would be ideal, but there should verbiage next to it or a confirmation box when clicking the checkbox, reminding the user that their name is visible to mods, to help deter people getting shitty.

Hardcoding a limit a per user limit for anon comments, say 2 a week, might be good. As useful as this feature might be, the lack of context for answers could be frustrating. Once of the great things about Metafilter is that you have a reputation based on your comments and of course enabling anon comments destroys that, unless you each user would get an anonymous profile, not linked to their usual profile, that would be a visual record of each user's anon commenting. But I really don't see that happening.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:02 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


But that's the problem, isn't it? If you do as much dumb shit as you claim why would I ever listen to you?

That's ridiculous. We all do dumb shit; it's the sanctimonious pricks who pretend they have lived pure, eminently rational lives and mock those who admit their failings who make it difficult for people to speak honestly. I think this is a good proposal, in the "username hidden but visible to mods" version; if it turned out to be too much trouble, the experiment could be ended. I know there have been times when I've avoided answering because I didn't want to share personal details that would be linked with me.
posted by languagehat at 6:35 AM on January 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


Anonymous commenting on Ask.Me = good idea, if somewhat fraught with difficulties. Anonymous commenting on MeFi = holy hell no.

That's a gut reaction, but lord do I not want to see threads about fat cats being declawed on the gaza strip with anonymous commenting enabled.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:41 AM on January 17, 2009


Yeah I have to admit I think this might end up being more trouble than it is worth.
posted by cashman at 6:49 AM on January 17, 2009


I can definitely see the merits of allowing anonymous answers but this:

Or anonymous answering could be a privilege granted to users with statistical characteristics (e.g., so many answers, ratio of "best" answers to answers, etc.)


is an appalling suggestion, and not at all in the spirit of how things work here. I don't get the sense that anyone is taking it seriously, but I just wanted to throw that out.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:53 AM on January 17, 2009


What's wrong with just sending the OP a MefiMail?

In the case of anonymous questions, I've seen plenty of anon AskMes where the poster set up a throwaway e-mail account. If they didn't, just post in the thread and ask them to.

Seems like there are some existing solutions to this problem.
posted by camcgee at 7:22 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


*ponders* How about allowing anonymous response to an AskMe if the poster of the question checks a box saying, "Yes, anonymous answers are acceptable to me. Please enable them." Or perhaps even require them.

This way, you don't have to deal with dodgy, random hateful comments unless you've specifically opened up that box.

I could see your basic rectal examination pornography hunt going a lot better that way.
posted by adipocere at 7:31 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was just thinking about this. I think that anonymous answers should be restricted to questions posted anonymously, where the poster has not given any contact information. I think allowing anonymous answers to any question would be extremely problematic.

camcgee, if you're willing to associate your username with a thread about some sensitive topic, you might as well post the answer instead of asking the anon poster to email you. If you post "email me" in a thread about erectile dysfunction, people will assume you have it (otherwise why wouldn't you just answer?) and I'm sure a lot of men don't want that associated with their username.
posted by desjardins at 7:36 AM on January 17, 2009


I agree that the ability to answer anonymously for AskMefi would be nice IF there was a way to be sure people did not go crazy or be jerks. For regular Mefi? No, no, no. One of the the nice things is that people have to own up to their comments and I like taking a look at a person's history to get context when it comes to best of the web.

Now that I know about the sock puppet route that maybe the better route with less disruption.

To be the Devils Advocate, if your anonymous comment is that vital to the discussion and answer then emailing a mod is wiser, because it creates enough a barrier to weed out the frivolous but not so onerous that it can't be done. However, it does create work for the mods.
posted by jadepearl at 7:38 AM on January 17, 2009


emailing a mod is wiser, because it creates enough a barrier to weed out the frivolous but not so onerous that it can't be done.

I am really no more eager to personally email Jessamyn about my weird porn fetish/heroin addiction/oozy rash. What if I see her at a meetup? I know she'd be cool and all, but you know she's got to be thinking, "Dude, you need professional help."
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:47 AM on January 17, 2009


Horace, you can fix that with Windex.
posted by netbros at 7:51 AM on January 17, 2009


I can see why this would be an appealing idea, and I have lots of humiliating stories to share if you get me really drunk or provide me with anonymity, or better yet, both, but I think the helpfulness-to-poster to random-douchebaggery ratio of anonymous responses would be a drag. I think some measure of accountability, even if it's just the static username, helps keep drive-by dickishness down.

I probably have on occasion not responded to some post because I didn't want to share my memory of some horrific decision or whatever with the class, even though I am perfectly anonymous here, or close enough, but I don't really think that on those occasions the asker really missed out -- I think on average, they probably got good answers without my particular answer adding to the mass of responses.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:14 AM on January 17, 2009


I am really no more eager to personally email Jessamyn about my weird porn fetish/heroin addiction/oozy rash. What if I see her at a meetup?

Having gone this route, I just used a secondary address in a browser where I wasn't logged in. Could they pinpoint it to a specific user? Probably, if they cared, but I get the impression they care about more important things.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:14 AM on January 17, 2009


I'll add my vote for a "hide my username" checkbox, limited to a couple times a week if necessary, on AskMe. And if it only applies to anonymous questions, that's fine as well.

I know that, like others have said, I would reply to more questions if I didn't have to worry about the potential embarrassment on occasion.
posted by misha at 8:29 AM on January 17, 2009


Support.
posted by arimathea at 8:57 AM on January 17, 2009


I think it's a lousy idea myself. Most of you are using pseudonyms in the first place, so I'm struggling to see why you'd want still more anonymity. The weight that people attach to answers is often dependent on the fact that the answerer has a history associated with them and you can measure their answers in relation to the rest of their comments.

Cut the connection between those two things and you'd lose a lot of the value of the answers, IMO. In those rare occasions when it's necessary, you can mail a mod and have them post the response on your behalf. But by and large, advice that someone isn't prepared to stand behind tends to be advice that's not worth having.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:02 AM on January 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, what problem is this fixing? Has there been noted dearth of answers or good answers because people can't comment anonymously.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:04 AM on January 17, 2009


Do you want your mom or your young friends/relatives to know about your knowledge of the best way to tie a girl to the bed?
posted by zengargoyle at 9:14 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am really no more eager to personally email Jessamyn about my weird porn fetish/heroin addiction/oozy rash. What if I see her at a meetup? I know she'd be cool and all, but you know she's got to be thinking, "Dude, you need professional help."

The ability to quickly and effortlessly forget what people have asked us to post anonymously is one of the nice big bullet points on our resumes. Imagine what it'd be like for us if that scenario played out multiplied by a factor of however many anonymous followups we've received over even the last year or so.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:15 AM on January 17, 2009


I think it's a lousy idea myself. Most of you are using pseudonyms in the first place, so I'm struggling to see why you'd want still more anonymity.

Aside from the actual request under discussion here, that misses the point a bit. Pseudonymity isn't anonymity, and a whole lot of people who are using pseudonyms are doing so without attempting to maintain anonymity in the process. Identifying info (in answers/comments, in profile fields, in Project and Music posts, etc) is far from unusual and makes a pseudonymous handle into nothing but genial shorthand or a nickname.

Folks who want strict anonymity know full well to keep from revealing personal details by any of these routes, and those are likely not the folks who'd want an expanded anonymizing capability in the first place. For everybody else, the "you're anonymous anyway" thing doesn't pan out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:23 AM on January 17, 2009


The site that can not be named and trip-codes. And yes I tried the "say anything" for 20 years or so... It comes back to haunt you. You want to help, you really want to help, but you can't... you can't point to your stuff because of the nasty or odd or weird... you can't go look up 'xyzzy' on this site and know that I'm a good network engineer, because of those few posts about drugs or marital problems or DTMFA already. I can't talk because people I would work with could figure things out. You can probably go from my IP (static) to my name to my work page in just a couple of minutes. A bit of anonymous helps... We trust you to not expose us unless forced by the po-po.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:29 AM on January 17, 2009


In case someone's taking a poll, put me in the "if feasible would really like this option" column.
posted by phunniemee at 9:32 AM on January 17, 2009


if you're willing to associate your username with a thread about some sensitive topic, you might as well post the answer instead of asking the anon poster to email you.

I guess I come down on the side of any mechanism that reduces people's comments in AskMe is probably a good thing on the whole. If it's embarrassment that's a preventative, then so be it. Chances are, if something stops you from posting, then your answer probably isn't crucial.

I have a hard time believing that posters are missing out on many spectacular answers because commenters can't respond anonymously.

Even if we are, it's not like AskMe is the final and only means of gathering information.

If you post "email me" in a thread about erectile dysfunction, people will assume you have it (otherwise why wouldn't you just answer?)

Enh. A medical AskMe (anon or not) is best served 99% of the time with the advice "see a doctor." I think the use cases where the scenario you described plays out and results in the OP missing out on something important are tiny.
posted by camcgee at 9:35 AM on January 17, 2009


Do you want your mom or your young friends/relatives to know about your knowledge of the best way to tie a girl to the bed?

Tying might be harsh, perhaps soft straps?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:42 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I see it as a plus. I could tell you what virus you have on your computer days before vendors know about it. I could tell you that your network problems were a backhoe or a truck crashing into a telephone pole. But... I can't. I also can't tell you about various NDAs that aren't that important... It will come out in a couple of days. I just keep my mouth shut.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:42 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I prefer martial arts belts... nice wide canvas that doesn't constrict and bind much.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:43 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Leather cuffs are really the best way to go.
posted by desjardins at 9:56 AM on January 17, 2009


Not flexible enough, only have 2 holes. Good flat straps let them squirm.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:58 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Leather cuffs are really the best way to go.

Eh, seems harsh and too constricting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:04 AM on January 17, 2009


I too would find this a useful feature. Just the other day I started typing a response to an AskMe question that I then deleted, because I didn't feel entirely comfortable with the topic being associated with my name (my full name and contact info are in my profile). I don't think I would use this feature very often, but I do think it would be helpful on occasion.

Also, I have never once looked up a person's posting history to determine if an answer was credible. Do a lot of people do that?
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:07 AM on January 17, 2009


And by feature I mean anonymous responses, not leather cuffs! Oy!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:08 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then you can flip them over and slide the bindings up to the knees and throw them around the bed frame and hold them like you're riding a horse. Do you see why some people might like to go anonymous?
posted by zengargoyle at 10:08 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you see why some people might like to go anonymous?

I think that's both an argument for and against anonymous answers, personally.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:18 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you see why some people might like to go anonymous?

Sure, but is really needed is the question. It would be nice, no question, is not having it really impacting the quality of answers?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:55 AM on January 17, 2009


is not having it really impacting the quality of answers?

There's no way to determine that, is there? The only way to know is to try it. If it doesn't work out, it can be discontinued (see: img tag).
posted by languagehat at 10:58 AM on January 17, 2009


I don't know, just throwing it out there. *I* hadn't noticed, which doesn't mean anything, was wondering if anyone else had.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:07 AM on January 17, 2009


I would only like to see this option where you can check a box to make your reply anonymous only available on AskMe and only for anonymously asked questions. And give it a one a week limit like the asking rule.

Because if someone is posting a question anonymously to protect their privacy, then most likely, the people answering the question would appreciate the same courtesy.

I know there are several threads I have not replied to as my answer would reveal too much information and quite honestly, I don't want to bother the mods to have them post an anonymous reply from me, so I just skip over the question. Would my answer have helped the anonymous asker? I don't know, but I'm thinking there are others out there like me and those threads might not always get answers that would help because of this.
posted by NoraCharles at 11:23 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Another Ctrl-A backspace.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:27 AM on January 17, 2009


I realize that this marks me as outside the scene, but leather cuffs just seem so formal and performative, and I don't know, fussy. Most bondage gear seems more designed for people who get off on the fact that they're using bondage gear than on the act itself (which, of course, there's nothing wrong with, just not me so much).
posted by klangklangston at 12:05 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


1. I'm often too lazy to tie a bunch of knots.
2. Locking cuffs are impossible to get out of.
3. Leather lasts virtually forever if taken care of.
4. Aesthetics.
posted by desjardins at 12:28 PM on January 17, 2009


One of the hottest things I ever heard was a friend telling me how he went out to the horse-barn and got leather reins to tie up his girlfriend. Damn!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:30 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, I don't know, PeterMcDermott. Suppose the question was about being stalked or dealing with post-rape trauma or being intentionally infected with AIDS... and you have that experience needed to answer the question best, and the person responsible for your first-hand experience was another MeFite? You could try to answer, but the other MeFite might freak out and demand your answer be deleted, it might start a shitstorm here on the site, the mods could delete your account or both of your accounts... sometimes it's hard to answer a question without revealing details about yourself or other people.

What if you wanted to answer someone's questions about a particular industry, or one company's policies, but would lose your job if you did because your companies are somehow related? Clients of each other, or affiliates? But if you didn't answer, the asker might end up working for a place where sexual harassment and racism is rampant? There are best answers that never get posted out of fear, surely.

I mean... there are definitely reasons to want to answer others just as anonymously as the question itself is currently allowed to be.

Wouldn't you want to be able to help/warn/prepare the asker, but be terrified to answer out of self-preservation? You can't MeMail that person, it's anonymous. You can't answer the question, because then it looks inflammatory and may start problems on the site or in your own life. We all know very well how thorough the MeFi Detectives can be once they start digging.

In other words, I'm all for anonymous questions AND answers; if there is a way to give some credibility on top of that, even better (i.e., Anonymous Answerer registered in 2001, best answers given 633 or something like that).
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:36 PM on January 17, 2009


The suggestions to use hashed IP addresses above would give different results for people posting from multiple locations - home, work, cafe, library, etc. And with proxies or only using the first three octets of the IP addy, you could quickly spoof or identify that someone was a co-worker by posting & comparing results.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:38 PM on January 17, 2009


klang: wait, you're surprised that people get off on doing something taboo? You? Really?
posted by Pronoiac at 1:48 PM on January 17, 2009


I definitely would like to try this. I recognize the potential pitfalls, but I can think of several times I'd like to have replied to something, but refrained because this psuedonym's known to several coworkers and friends, and a moderatedly in-depth google-hunt on me will almost certainly come up with it. And contacting mods to post on your behalf... well, I can see the argument for making it a nontrivial task that takes up some mod time, but I think answering questions should be easy, in the end. Also, it just plain feels awkward and embarrassing to have to involve the mods directly; it's like having to ask your dad to buy you condoms. Or something.

Emailing a throwaway account is nice, but in my book, a nontrivial part of what makes ask.mefi useful is the ability to search it - if everyone just emailed an anon asker about the best way to tie girls up, we'd all spend an awful lot of time sending emails to throwaway accounts with links to tutorial videos and cuff examples, instead of being able to avoid those questions in the first place because there are well-answered anon questions in the past.

Allowing anon answers only to anon questions seems like an okay compromise, but I don't like it... after all, a lot of people are perfectly willing to discuss topics 'as themselves' that others aren't, whether because of different comfort levels or different levels of psuedonymity/anonymity.

So in short: I will leave a note that says "let's try it and see how it works" in a place where the hypothetical, obviously nonexistant Cabal might read it, if they actually were real, and see how things go.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:01 PM on January 17, 2009


A compromise solution might be to have an "anonomail" option for AskMe questions (which querents can enable or disable when posting). Individuals who'd like to anonymously respond could send anonomails to the questioner, giving their responses. The anonomail messages would not display senders' identities.

The drawback, of course, is that these anonymous responses would not be publicly displayed on AskMe. But querents would have additional responses to take under consideration.
posted by terranova at 2:20 PM on January 17, 2009


terranova: I don't think that really buys us much over encouraging people to set up throwaway email accounts, but it'll definitely create work for the mods to build and maintain a feature that won't get that much use.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:26 PM on January 17, 2009


"klang: wait, you're surprised that people get off on doing something taboo? You? Really?"

Not surprised at all.
posted by klangklangston at 3:12 PM on January 17, 2009


Ah, I misread you.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:46 PM on January 17, 2009


I like this idea. There have been many times when I wanted to answer a question, but there are lots of things that I am exceedingly private about. I'd like to impart knowledge but I don't want it tied back to me.

terranova, I can see that feature getting a lot of abuse. Someone asks about an abortion, for instance, and gets abusive messages that no one else can see. At least this way everything is out in the open.
posted by sugarfish at 3:48 PM on January 17, 2009


What about tape?

Oh I like BP's idea too, esp. the anon follow-ups from the OP.
posted by Mister_A at 5:20 PM on January 17, 2009


What's wrong with just sending the OP a MefiMail?

In the case of anonymous questions, I've seen plenty of anon AskMes where the poster set up a throwaway e-mail account. If they didn't, just post in the thread and ask them to.


Yeah, I'm totally with camcgee on this.

From the POV of someone asking a question, I like knowing that the answerers have a certain degree of accountability - especially if I, myself, am asking anonymously. I know I'm not going to get a slew of bullshit answers. The answers on AskMe are of consistently high quality because people ARE accountable for what they say.

The vast majority of AnonyMe's that I've seen have throwaway gmail accounts. Non-anon questions have the option of MeMail. Unless what you have to say is so embarrassing, you can't have your name attached to it *privately* - I don't see any added functionality to anonymous answers. And if what you have to say really is that private... you probably shouldn't be posting it to AskMe even if you *were* anonymous.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:35 PM on January 17, 2009


I just have to get it out... If anon were allowed I'd just lol all the time. lol.

I saw a comment today that noted "I wish I could post anon"

Seriously... would it be possible to allow one anon / per day? Would it be possible to present a texty each time someone chose anon that says... these are the implications xyz. Would it be possible to hide all my comments / favorites instead? I personally rarely make note of usernames... unless it's a really, really hit home comment (which there are quite a few of around here). And as for weirdos that I'd end up meeting f2f... well that's been the story of my life. lol.
posted by ezekieldas at 5:56 PM on January 17, 2009


I support allowing people to answer AskMe questions anonymously.
posted by flatluigi at 6:21 PM on January 17, 2009


I know it would be a huge job, but as a pony. how difficult would it be to add anonymous reponses to anonymous questions - seeing as there are already time limits for questions?
posted by Sparx at 6:32 PM on January 17, 2009


So, it seems to me:

1. There's a fair amount of support for the idea. The "pros" include increasing the utility of AskMe, for the OP and for the searcher, because there'd be more responses - without a doubt.

2. One of the major "cons" for me is that the barrier of what we think warrants anonymity would likely get lower. Yes, perhaps once or twice a year there's a post about something I really do have knowledge about, but really don't want to out that knowledge. And, as things are now, I just pass on answering or contact the user privately (the default choice for a lot of people, which does deprive the larger community and the archive or greater richness of answers). But, were I have to a simple checkbox that could be used at any time to hide my username, my definition of what needed to be private would change. Suddenly I'd find questions about alcohol, or maybe depression, or mild sexual stuff setting off my "should I?" alarm, and I might choose to activate that option just because I can, and can keep my online persona here more "scrubbed" as a result. I don't really think that's a good thing, as user identities here, for the most part, have a lot of dimension and accountability. The anon comment function should, I think, be reserved for times when it's really compelling - because that will tend to result in a more serious, better quality response. If there were unlimited frequency, it'd be really tempting to make not-great and/or jokey anon answers where before you'd have just moved along and left the question for people who really cared about it.

So I'd be for it, with some barriers in place to make it not easy for the user. That's kind of the situation we have now (email a mod to get an anon post in thread). But the drawback to that is that you have to out yourself to the mods unless you go to the trouble of using an email account unrelated to your userid. So what I'd want to see is a system that replicates the rough degree of pain-in-the-ass-ness it is to post an anon comment currently, without having to communicate directly with a mod, and in a way that lets the answer be posted inthread for posterity's sake. I think a limit like once a week would be just fine for this. A lot of people would never use it, a lot of people would use it only when really warranted, and the few who would obsess with this new shiny toy in a negative way could receive some cautionary notice from the mods.

In sum: Put me in the "Try it, with limits that make it not very attractive or easy to do frequently" column.
posted by Miko at 6:45 PM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Definitely. I've refrained from perhaps a half dozen replies for this reason.

One-a-day doesn't really cut it, though. Because I could go six months without ever needing this feature (or longer) and then want to put three comments in a single thread as the OP narrows the topic or adds more info.

I don't see the great possibility of abuse here. We're still talking about the banhammer. If someone really thinks the half hour their anon comment is going to spend in the green is worth their $5, why don't they think that's a fair trade when there's a throwaway name attached?

So the real tradeoff here is the posting history of an pseudonymous internet personality who you probably have not nor will ever meet, versus the most honest answers to the question that people can provide. You're asking a question on the internet. I'm thinking if you wanted a guarantee of source, you'd go to people in your life. You're here for candour, no?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:13 AM on January 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a data point, I have also passed on answering AskMes for privacy reasons, and would have liked an anon option at that time. I am not for or against this pony, though, as I have no awareness of what an implementation and trial would create for the mods, work-wise.
posted by pineapple at 11:20 AM on January 18, 2009


I think one of the arguments for non-anonymity is that it is precisely those taboo subjects where there might be a reflex for anonymity where there can be a value to answers being attached to a name, above and beyond the value of the answers themselves.

This doesn't preclude anonymity, of course, but I do think it is an argument for a barrier of entry so that anonymity is not the first choice you reach for on difficult subjects. The current system works well in this regard, if, perhaps, a little too well.
posted by tallus at 2:53 PM on January 18, 2009


fwiw, i like the idea of anonymous askme comments. I've refrained from answering a few questions for reasons of anonymity .
posted by shmegegge at 8:45 AM on January 19, 2009


I think one of the arguments for non-anonymity is that it is precisely those taboo subjects where there might be a reflex for anonymity where there can be a value to answers being attached to a name, above and beyond the value of the answers themselves.

Can you elaborate on that?

Also, I've thought of getting a different psuedonymous sockpuppet for answering questions where I want a little more privacy before (or giving as much detail when I do answer), and the $5 + the time to sign up has usually dissuaded me from bothering.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:18 PM on January 19, 2009


Can you elaborate on that?
I was thinking of this thread. In a thread about people not acknowledging childhood sexual abuse, I think something was added by people answering by referencing their own experiences on their own name (or at least their name here). I make it my policy to be open about it anywhere, but its not the sort of 'me too' experience I have ever got to have in real life.
posted by tallus at 4:48 AM on January 23, 2009


It doesn't seem like requiring the answers be non-anonymous in the sexual abuse survivor thread added anything to how effectively the question was answered, or the record of the answer in-thread. However, I do see that it greatly strengthens the community in terms of people being able to share experiences and build relationships. So put me down as having mixed feelings.

So put me down as having mixed feelings about enabling anonymous replies.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:36 PM on January 23, 2009




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