Ask Metafilter One-Sentence Summary? January 20, 2009 3:48 PM   Subscribe

I had a suggestion for Ask Metafilter: a field for a one-sentence summary.

Ideally, people are concise; in practice, they're not. Ask Mefi is a busy forum. People are oft wont to not skim through long posts.

Having a quick one-line summary at the top that was authored by the poster themselves might serve not only to aid potential answerers in guiding them to things on which they might comment, but might also lend itself towards leading the question-asker to focus on stating their question concisely.

It'd be useful for RSS titles, and for above-the-fold breaks, etc.

The title ideally would serve as this, but the majority of the time, it is used for something quirky. If the summary was left blank, perhaps the title field might populate it, and vice versa.

I'd not suggest this for any other Metafilter subsite, but it might be useful for Ask Mefi.
posted by WCityMike to MetaFilter-Related at 3:48 PM (20 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- loup

The helper text on the page explains this already.

This is shown on the initial description:
This will show up on the front page, so try to ask your entire question while keeping it to a paragraph (if you must go on longer, use the optional extended area)
This is for the headline/title field:
Give a short, descriptive title. Please boil your question down to a single sentence (example: "How to get an iPod to work in my car?"
We've found in five years of having ask mefi around, people don't tend to read the helper text too closely.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:51 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Are you basically asking for the title to be shown on the main page listing?
posted by smackfu at 3:53 PM on January 20, 2009

We've been considering changing the layout of MeFi so that the title is visible and it would be the one sentence summary you're taking about. This is something we've been batting around for years though so I'm not sure if it's going to happen.

> Ideally, people are concise; in practice, they're not.

And honestly, even if we had that feature, not everyone would use it in the prescribed manner. Right now we ask for a short form of the question before the "more inside" area and then a longer description. Many people do this, some people don't. That's always going to be true no matter how we rejigger the form fields. The site is geared towards giving people a place to get their questions answered, not necessarily making sure that every person who may have information that would help answer a question get led directly to that question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:53 PM on January 20, 2009

Having another field seems like preaching to the choir - there's no way it stays one sentence, much less a summary, for long. That said:

We've been considering changing the layout of MeFi so that the title is visible and it would be the one sentence summary you're taking about.

IMH,IANAL,O I think that would be really helpful. Every now and then there are posters (askers?) who seem to be working on the assumption that everyone will see the title. Granted, it's there on the question page, but it's necessarily obvious, especially if you've already read half/most of the question while on the main Ask page.
posted by niles at 4:16 PM on January 20, 2009

I think a one sentence summary line is a GREAT IDEA!!!!!! My best friend's other friend was having coffee with me the other day--at the little art deco-y place just down from my alma mater, you know the one--and, anyway, she happened to mention that although she loves me TO DEATH AND BEYOND sometimes maybe I have a tendency to, like, run circles all around the point before I finally get to it, kind of like cat playing with a mouse or a roach or something. I was thinking about that on my drive back home (in a Ford Focus, but I'm thinking of getting a Prius because, you know, Obama and whatnot), and I thought "You know, maybe she's right." My girlfriend has kind of hinted that I can dominate the conversation. Her exact analogy was something about a cross between Pol Pot and the micro-machines guy, but I didn't really understand what she was driving at. Of course, she was talking to me between beer #5 and shot #4, and I wasn't really at my best, plus RAVENS! What a bummer. So I would TOTALLY use a one sentence summary thingy to help me focus my thoughts. It's all good, right?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:26 PM on January 20, 2009 [5 favorites]

Can WCityMike have some stables for all his ponies? It's January, and they get so cold.
posted by katillathehun at 4:33 PM on January 20, 2009 [8 favorites]

Egh. I just clicked on several good reason why the title field shouldn't be on the main page, and why people should just use things as designed.

Remember kids, the opposite of use is abuse!
posted by niles at 4:38 PM on January 20, 2009

It was just an observation, dude. It's cool. The Man is not holding you down.
posted by katillathehun at 5:01 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like someone's a little sensitive about people pointing out how many metatalk posts he's made.
posted by dersins at 5:15 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Admins, have you considered changing the asking process to a multi-page/step process? I haven't until just now, so don't really have any idea what sort of havoc it would wreak, but it seems like helper text would be attended to with more precision if one field was presented at a time.


BZZZT! The correct answer is, 'Yeah, I bring up a lot of ideas in MetaTalk. What's wrong with that?' with the latter part being something both you and everyone else should consider carefully.
posted by carsonb at 5:17 PM on January 20, 2009

Eh, it'd just be like the person who emails you with the entire email in the subject line.

posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:28 PM on January 20, 2009

What's wrong with somebody coming up with ideas and opening them up to discussion?
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:38 PM on January 20, 2009

I didn't bring it up. I was merely responding to your unnecessarily calling someone an asshole.
posted by dersins at 6:01 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pretentious cocksucker. I think it's necessary to call you that.
posted by gman at 6:09 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks gman! Stay classy!
posted by dersins at 6:10 PM on January 20, 2009

Why would you assume I'm talking about you? Could it be because you 're finally becoming sensitive about the fact that you've yammered on endlessly about being a shut-in with a broken foot in jump into 73%* of open metafilter and metatalk threads for the sole purpose of being an authoritative prick?

Well, I guess it's a little better than hearing about the "Famous Independent Bookstore" whatever bull shit you can't seem to shut up about, either.

But not by much.

[*]NB: Statistic totally made up but really not far from the truth?
posted by gman at 6:13 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

close thread! close thread!

have i been on mefi long enough to yell that???

posted by artof.mulata at 6:13 PM on January 20, 2009

Damn, I thought this was going to be about Ask Metafilter itself summed up in one sentence.
posted by lucidium at 6:14 PM on January 20, 2009

It's funny 'cause it's true!
posted by dersins at 6:15 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm going to close this up. January appears to be tough on everyone this year.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:25 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

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