It's still good, but... April 10, 2009 4:38 AM   Subscribe

Is AskMe somewhat less awesome than it used to be?

I don't spend a ton of time in the green (and am therefore open to the idea that this is an incorrect perception on my part), but when I've been there recently I've had the sense that it's not quite as...well, amazing as it's been in the recent past. Questions, including but not limited to some of my own, that I've expected to go over like gangbusters with this community, haven't. And the general level of discourse seems, while still very high, not quite as high as I remember it, in both quantity and quality of answers.

This isn't a callout, I don't think that anyone in particular is hurting AskMe. But I guess I'm wondering:

• if other members of the community feel similarly (or not), and
• if so, what y'all think could be done about it, if anything.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas to MetaFilter-Related at 4:38 AM (147 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Oh, what the hell, I'll even go first. I would not mind one bit seeing the limit on questions raised to one every two weeks.

And lastly, I'm hoping that this either turns into a constructive conversation or a boisterous chorus of, "It's just you, dude," but I'm hella busy today and will only be able to drop in occasionally.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 4:43 AM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


No. I will try to explain by responding to what you've said.

2or3whiskeysodas: Questions, including but not limited to some of my own, that I've expected to go over like gangbusters with this community, haven't.

What does it mean when a question "goes over like gangbusters?" Do you mean that all kinds of people are jumoing in, sharing great stories and talking about their experiences? That's not what ask.metafilter is for. Many people feel like a question goes best when it provokes a lot of thoughtful discussion and back-and-forth, and when there's a lively and interesting train of thought. That's not really the case. This is a great disappointment to a lot of people - I can think of at least two discussions here in metalk over the last two weeks that had to do with the nostalgia some folks feel for the times when there was a freer atmosphere in ask.metafilter, when it was a place where you could ask almost anything and get all kinds of cool answers in response.

There are two reasons why this doesn't work now.

The first is a matter of practicality. It's simply not possible to maintain or moderate a site where tens of thousands of people can post any question they feel like about any subject and any other person can say anything they want in response; that was fine when the community could be genuinely self-moderating in some respects, but we can't all do that so much anymore, given our larger size. A free-for-all in ask.metafilter is just not possible, especially given the huge volume of questions that already see there.

But the second reason is a little more important, I think. Yes, it is true that off-the-wall questions can spark some interesting conversations, but it's my belief that the most worthwhile, interesting, and useful thoughts come from focused conversation that's aimed at a goal. Having this focus is an easier guideline for the deletion policy - and I think that's handy for the mods - but, more importantly, it means that anyone who wants to jump right in has to have a bit of focus, has to consciously add some quality and directedness to their answer. This means that there are fewer answers, but the people who give answers take a bit more time to compose their thoughts. I've seen this throughout the subsite - I really feel as though, if there's one way the tone in ask.metafilter has changed since it's opened and grown so much, it's the fact that, while there are fewer people chiming in with thoughts, there are more people giving deep, thoughtful answers.

And the general level of discourse seems, while still very high, not quite as high as I remember it, in both quantity and quality of answers.

Again, you'll probably have to explain what you mean by "level of discourse" - maybe some examples of badly-answered questions (without naming any names, of course) would be useful - but I have to mention that 'discourse' is really not what ask.metafilter is for. It's not about the journey; it's about the destination. Quantity is usually a bad thing; my experience in ask.metafilter is that, if there are five hundred comments, four hundred of them are almost always "I just wanted to say: so-and-so is totally right, you should do what she said." Whereas I've seen threads with only one very good answer, but often all you need is just that one.

if so, what y'all think could be done about it, if anything.

Oh, that's an easy one. There's really no way to add policies to improve this (I think mathowie and the crew have already balanced that as nicely as can be humanly done) or to change the mechanics of the site (ditto for pb) - but there's a very simple way that the quality of ask.metafilter can be improved. Ask fewer questions and answer more. And put some thought into it; try to be helpful. Sometimes, here in metatalk, people talk about your 'ratio', that is to say, the ratio between the number of questions you've asked and the number of answers you've made. I don't think metrics are everything, but it's good to keep that ratio up, because it means you're helping more than you're taking advantage.
posted by koeselitz at 5:03 AM on April 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure how a decrease in questions will improve the level of discourse in-thread. Do you think questions are just dropping off the front page too quickly?
posted by ryanrs at 5:03 AM on April 10, 2009


Probably most everyone is sadder and tireder and more frightened these days. Times are bad and the commons suffers.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:09 AM on April 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


2or3whiskeysodas: I would not mind one bit seeing the limit on questions raised to one every two weeks.

Ah. See, now I'm confused - I thought you meant something completely different.

So tell me: what exactly do you feel has declined? In the question, it sounded like you didn't much like the way the answers are going - you mentioned that a few questions didn't "go over" like you thought they would - but here it sounds like you think there are just way too many questions. I guess those could go together.

The last "official" word (if there is such a thing) on the raising-the-limit thing, which we've done before, was, if I recall correctly, that mathowie finally sided with those who'd said that more than a week is just a little too much. It has to do with natural periods of time that we remember; people spent lots of time in metatalk aching and moaning about how they didn't get to ask their questions, and everybody here (myself included) would always snark about 'geez, don't you know how to write things down?' But after a while it became apparent - to some, at least, and I now think they're right - that a week is a natural frame of time for a human to remember something like an ask.metafilter question, and asking people to use a day timer just to ask a question here seems a little rough. It also weeds out plenty of good questions, I think.

It's telling, I believe, that since we went back to one-a-week, we've had very few complaints.
posted by koeselitz at 5:09 AM on April 10, 2009


I guess I'd like to know, mr. whiskey: what do you think has declined?
posted by koeselitz at 5:10 AM on April 10, 2009


this is a pretty great question and answers tho.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:10 AM on April 10, 2009


The main difference I've noticed is that the type/genre of questions has shifted, which I think might be a reflection of Ask MeFi attracting a more "mainstream" audience from the one which previously existed.

I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but I am finding that there are less questions which interest me, or to which I have something constructive I can add. In that (selfish) way, then yes, Ask MeFi has become worse, but I'd imagine to many others it has become infinitely better.
posted by djgh at 5:14 AM on April 10, 2009


Probably most everyone is sadder and tireder and more frightened these days. Times are bad and the commons suffers.

That should be 'sadder and tireder and frightender...'.
posted by gman at 5:15 AM on April 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


cheese around the lightbulb, buddy
posted by various at 5:16 AM on April 10, 2009


nasty brutish poor and sh-
posted by koeselitz at 5:19 AM on April 10, 2009


• nope
• pass

There was a gradual change a while ago when AskMe went from a kind of "Wow, this is neat, lets ask that kooky question I always wondered about" to the slick problem solving behemoth we know and love today. Beyond that, not really. If there is a problem then for me it's the size of the membership rather than the posting limit - AskMe is just a bigger, faster moving and more mainstream site than it used to be.
posted by fire&wings at 5:20 AM on April 10, 2009


I am finding that there are less questions which interest me

This is probably a good thing on balance. MetaFilter is not (nor is it intended to be) a community of people with similar interests. You can always filter AskMeFi by whichever tag(s) are closest to whatever interests you.

I know what you mean about the questions becoming more 'mainstream'; it does feel like there are an awful lot of finance/travel/health/home questions, but I suspect that that is inevitable given how MetaFilter has grown and become more widely-known.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:25 AM on April 10, 2009


But there are also a lot more awesome human relations questions ! LOVE those. And you sort of get a pulse for how society is doing, at least western nerdly society, via askme.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:28 AM on April 10, 2009


On MeFi, design is popular but marketing not so much. Thus the lack of gangbusting on your question of yesterday.
posted by DU at 5:28 AM on April 10, 2009


Experiment: Try asking these same questions over there and see which thread provides the level of discourse you're seeking. Before that thread is closed.
posted by gman at 5:37 AM on April 10, 2009


That should be 'sadder and tireder and frightender...'.

Surely you mean 'saddy and tiredy and frighteny!' Otherwise, it's not gangbusty at all.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:52 AM on April 10, 2009


Yes, answering questions is less awesome.
No, AskMe is more awesome, not less.

"I am finding that there are less questions which interest me"

This is sort of how I find it these days. The "human condition" questions used to be fun, have gotten a bit tiring for me, so I avoid them.

But in addition I find there are fewer questions I feel even qualified to answer. We have all of the general knowledge and advice pretty much wrung out.

On the other hand....... If I need a question answered, AskMe is one of the first places I look. So in that regard it's more awesome than ever.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:55 AM on April 10, 2009


It's still the best deal in town, but definitely less awesome. I'm not nearly as involved as I used to be - it's annoying as shit to try to help people who never come back to the thread to comment, so I stopped trying.
posted by iconomy at 5:57 AM on April 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would not mind one bit seeing the limit on questions raised to one every two weeks.

I'm pretty sure it's been pointed out in the past that the above would do almost nothing to affect the number of questions appearing on the AskMe front page. There just aren't that many folks who post more than one question every two weeks.

Also, AskMe has been not as good as it used to be for years. At least, there've been periodic complaints like this for a while now.
posted by mediareport at 6:03 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't spend a ton of time in the green

I do. I still think it's great.
posted by inigo2 at 6:03 AM on April 10, 2009


koeselitz: I've seen this throughout the subsite - I really feel as though, if there's one way the tone in ask.metafilter has changed since it's opened and grown so much, it's the fact that, while there are fewer people chiming in with thoughts, there are more people giving deep, thoughtful answers.

There's a simple reason for the change of tone. When it first went live it was very much an extension of MeFi, with a similar feel and ethos. Say what you will about the trend since but it's unmistakable that AskMe has become its own community with its own standards. It's like a child that has grown up, sure it's not as cuddly and adorable as it used to be, but on the other hand it's its own being now, living on its own in the world. You may miss the cute little AskMe of days past but hey, now AskMe comes over and mows your lawn for you and mixes a fine martini. Tempted as I am to extend this metaphor as far as possible into the realms of the ridiculous ("and AskMe will make damn sure you don't have to go to a nursing home if you don't want to") I think my point has been made, AskMe is different from MetaFilter now. If you want conversation, MeFi is it, if you want weirdness, MeTa is your site, like the youngest in a family, sure it'll get drunk and steal your car, but you know MetaTalk loves you, it just doesn't know how to show you, but you can smell the love emanating from the vomit it left in the glove compartment okay I'll stop now.
posted by Kattullus at 6:08 AM on April 10, 2009 [15 favorites]


It's me.
posted by mattoxic at 6:11 AM on April 10, 2009


This is probably a good thing on balance. MetaFilter is not (nor is it intended to be) a community of people with similar interests. You can always filter AskMeFi by whichever tag(s) are closest to whatever interests you.

I see what you mean, and it probably is a good thing that Ask is not homogeneous in perhaps the way you suggest it was. However, I wouldn't necessarily say that it's now much more heterogenerous - I think that the relationship-filter, tax/finance etc. qustions have shifted the focus more to the mainstream, so we still get a bunch of similar questions, just on different topics.

It probably is just the natural evolution though - as a site is recognised as being more useful, then you'll get more members who aren't from the cutting-edge, first-adopter class, and as such, more mainstream things will dominate. It justs reflects the growing popularity of the site, and I'd imagine the more recent members would look back in the archives and be all "there are waaaay too many questions about [topic]".

So really it all boils down to your point of view as to what you imagine Ask MeFi to be for, so really it can't be objectively said that it's got better or worse.
posted by djgh at 6:13 AM on April 10, 2009


You're wrong.
posted by desjardins at 6:15 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's not the green, it's you. I find that it's natural to go through cycles.

I'll go through a couple of weeks feeling cranky about seemingly repetitive relationshipfilter questions and a bunch of programming stuff I don't understand and an identify this book thing that I don't even know and then that one answer that I posted and put a lot of though into and it didn't get acknowledged even though someone saying the same thing later got favorited...

And so I skim the questions more briefly and don't jump in quite as often and before I know it, there's a week of straight awesomeness and the balance seems restored.

I don't think that the overall quality of AskMe is wildly inconsistent, I think that sometimes people need to step away from the internets, myself included.
posted by desuetude at 6:15 AM on April 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


One thing that makes it different for me is that I suspect that the rate of AskMe-only users grows much more rapidly than the rate of all-round Metafilter users. I just counted questions on the front page of AskMe; 24 of the 36 non-anonymous questions were posted by usernames I'd never seen before. I feel like that experience is pretty typical for those times when I do look at AskMe. That's counting as charitably as possible, by the way; if I even thought that I had seen the username before, once, they got counted.

For me, the community aspect of Metafilter is most important and I'm much more likely to see that, say, mediareport has posted a question and put some effort into reading it and answering it than like bigrick32's question, even if bigrick32's question is more interesting on its own merits. So it's not going to be as fun for me when 2 of 3 questions are by "nobody" users.

But I wouldn't say that this is THE reason why things might be different, or even probably that it is A reason for many people.
posted by Kwine at 6:17 AM on April 10, 2009


I had to get a little bitchy in my last question as the first few responses were more interested in debating the question as opposed to answering it. This is something I've noticed more of recently. Often it is necessary to clarify the question, but in my case I had anticipated this and tried to address the possibility in the actual question.

Also, a bit of bitchiness seemed to go a long way- after that I got a pile of good suggestions/answers.
posted by mannequito at 6:17 AM on April 10, 2009


You may miss the cute little AskMe of days past but hey, now AskMe comes over and mows your lawn for you and mixes a fine martini.

Get Off Of My - oh, carry on ....
posted by mannequito at 6:18 AM on April 10, 2009


I think there has to be some confirmation bias. When I first got here AskMe was awesome and great but after having been here awhile it seems like the shiny has worn off. It's still extremely useful but I think I just notice the seemingly less "good" questions more now. Like the re-treads of very common ones (what should I do in NY?), the plethora of relationship/medical/financial, the easily google-able, the bad askers. Plus very broad questions, like the marketing one, can tend not to get many/any good answers. Who wants to type up what amounts to a class on a topic? Of course too specific or obscure can result in the same non-answers, too (I remember this one some weeks back looking for a specific cook's queso recipe from a 1990's Texas high school).

I don't think the limit needs to be changed, either. Most people don't ask questions every week but it can be handy for those times when something comes up. Having said that it does seem like the people that consistently ask a question near-every week don't tend ask interesting ones, IMO.

My pet peeve: people that do "What is this?" questions and then put the link (to the picture or whatever) inside.
posted by 6550 at 6:31 AM on April 10, 2009


I don't spend a ton of time in the green (and am therefore open to the idea that this is an incorrect perception on my part)

Marked as Best Answer.
posted by panboi at 6:32 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every time I come up with a question that only AskMe can answer, I've found that AskMe has already answered it. Unfortunately, I usually have to spend 10 minutes or so searching to find what I'm looking for.

I think the sheer volume of questions in AskMe could really benefit from a robust advanced search function. Or at the very least, a page with tips on different ways of searching AskMe.
posted by sciurus at 6:34 AM on April 10, 2009 [20 favorites]


No. And AskMe isn't about entertaining you, it's about getting answers for people, which it does as well as ever, probably better (because there are more people answering).
posted by languagehat at 6:34 AM on April 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Gah, you guys, I really do want to participate in the conversation I've started more and will try to do so when I catch a break, but let me say from the outset that I am not a proponent of chatfilter and/or wacky, off-the-wall questions.

While stating again that this could easily be a faulty perception on my part and that heavy AskMe users will have a better understanding of the subsite than I do, I just wanted to state a vaguely nagging concern I had regarding this community that I value and see if it was a vaguely nagging concern for others as well. When and if I catch a break today I will try to provide better examples and more detailed responses. Thanks for everyone's thoughtful input, especially koeselitz.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 6:36 AM on April 10, 2009


The new addition of being able to page back among your favorites took me on a trip down AskMe memory lane the other day, and I have to agree that the questions and answers I most loved - that moved or enlightened me or made me laugh - just would not fly today.

Exhibit A: Who's Your Daddy? and madamjjj's lovely reply.

I get that the site has grown and changed and that users want a more efficient experience now, but that doesn't mean I can't mourn what was.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:42 AM on April 10, 2009


Haven't people been saying this shit since like the first week AskMe was up?

Death of Ask Metafilter Imminently Predicted....
posted by Afroblanco at 6:50 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, what the hell, I'll even go first. I would not mind one bit seeing the limit on questions raised to one every two weeks.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This was tried once, and it sucked! Peoples' "How do I fix my ipod" questions stayed up FOREVER, with nothing more interesting to replace it. The site became slow and boring and I eventually stopped reading it. Then it was statistically proven that the increased time limit did not lead to questions getting more attention. The people like you who were BAD AND WRONG were proven BAD AND WRONG, and the system went back to a one week limit. If there's anything we can learn from that whole episode, it is that :

1) Your opinion is wrong
2) You should shut up about this immediately and eternally
3) The one-week limit is here to stay.

My god, I can't believe we're having this argument again.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:54 AM on April 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


I like sandwiches.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:55 AM on April 10, 2009


My god, I can't believe we're having this argument again.

Fine. Who wants to talk about favorites?!
posted by jerseygirl at 6:56 AM on April 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


And AskMe isn't about entertaining you, it's about getting answers for people, which it does as well as ever, probably better (because there are more people answering).

But shouldn't we also take into account the community nature of the resource? If it was purely for the asker's benefit, you could almost push for answers only being visible to the OP (although that wouldn't fly, as a lot of answers are arrived at via discussion).

So in a way, floods of similar questions might be detrimental to the site as a community resource.

I'm not saying that you're not right, I just think it brings out the interesting issue of balancing the needs of the asker with the needs of the community. For example, the asker might have a great desire to see opinions in a chatfilter question, but since it doesn't help anyone as it doesn't have an answer, it gets nixed.
posted by djgh at 6:56 AM on April 10, 2009


I think that over time, as a reader or answerer, AskMe starts to look very repetitive (because: people), and as an asker, you will eventually develop a very clear impression of its limitations. So, it seems to me that it isn't surprising to think that it is in decline, but that is more a result of familiarity than an actual objective decline.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 6:57 AM on April 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I AM GOING TO REWRITE MY ORIGINAL POST HERE. I am sorry I used such vague language at the outset.

Is AskMe somewhat less useful than it used to be?

I don't spend a ton of time in the green (and am therefore open to the idea that this is an incorrect perception on my part), but when I've been there recently I've had the sense that it's not quite as...well, full of thoughtful answers and questions as it's been in the recent past. Questions, including but not limited to some of my own, that I've expected to generate lots of usable answers with this community, haven't. And the general level of discourse seems, while still very high, not quite as high as I remember it, in both quantity and quality of answers.

This isn't a callout, I don't think that anyone in particular is hurting AskMe. But I guess I'm wondering:

• if other members of the community feel similarly (or not), and
• if so, what y'all think could be done about it, if anything.

I am not a proponent of chatfilter and/or wacky, off-the-wall questions. This is a vaguely nagging concern I had regarding this community that I value and wanted to see if it was a vaguely nagging concern for others as well so that the concern could be addressed and worked on.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 6:59 AM on April 10, 2009


Afroblanco, YOU'RE bad and wrong...and FAT!
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:00 AM on April 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


that I've expected to generate lots of usable answers with this community, haven't

Ok, so is that the crux of your beef with AskMe? I am positive the response rate/quantity has been combed over and analyzed multiple times...
posted by jerseygirl at 7:04 AM on April 10, 2009


AskMe has improved greatly since I discovered the nocats script.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:06 AM on April 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


And AskMe isn't about entertaining you, it's about getting answers for people, which it does as well as ever, probably better (because there are more people answering).

I guess this is right in a narrow way, but it's worth trying to keep in mind differences between AskMe and the many other sites that are about getting answers for people but are less good. One difference is the centrality of the Metafilter community relative to those other sites. I myself am not terribly interested in spending time and energy solving the problems of complete strangers, for several reasons that probably don't need elucidation. Surely not everyone is like me, but not everyone is different either.
posted by Kwine at 7:07 AM on April 10, 2009


Jesus Christ, afroblanco. Have a danish or something.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:12 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Askme does what it is supposed to do. It isn't entertainment (as has been mentioned), when I've exhausted my google and other resources, AskMe is where I go to get answers from smart people..and I have always received intelligent and useful responses...

this is bad why?
posted by HuronBob at 7:14 AM on April 10, 2009


To a certain extent, there's a benefit in it being entertaining and moving fast, as it keeps people coming back, sometimes multiple times in a day, and (ideally) leads to more answers.
posted by mannequito at 7:15 AM on April 10, 2009


jessamyn: Yes, this is the crux of my concern. No beef. In the time I spend on AskMe these days, I leave with the impression that the level of discourse, and that's not exactly the right word, is in decline. Confirmation bias? Maybe, and if so, sorry if I sound like a grouch. If not? Maybe something can be done about it. Or not.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:17 AM on April 10, 2009


To put it yet another way: I feel as though, in instances where there is not one specific right answer to an asker's question, AskMe works best when there are many thoughtful, well-considered answers, and I sense that that's in decline.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:19 AM on April 10, 2009


Thing I have recently learned from AskMe:

The self cleaning cycle on an oven works on pizza stones

I have been tying my shoes wrong for the past 40 years (looking at some of the links I realized that I have been tying a granny knot rather than a square knot; when I corrected this shoes I have never been able to keep tied without a double knot now stay tied all day long.)

Boxes with rolls of material like aluminum foil, waxed paper, and plastic wrap have little tabs on the ends that when pushed in keep the roll from popping out of the box when pulled (can't find the link but am pretty sure I saw it in AskMe

All of those things are minor, but useful to me on a near-daily basis. So for me, AskMe is as awesome as ever.
posted by TedW at 7:20 AM on April 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


We've had a big influx of newer users over the past month or two which I think is skewing the questions towards the more prosaic and less quirky. This is good news bad news. Additionally, the bad economic times mean that there are a LOT more "I'm losting/lost my job/health insurance/apartment" questions which, while I think useful to the question asker, have less utility across the board to others (similar to special snowflake relationshipfilter questions, but those are more interesting to read, imo).

We tried the two week thing and it didn't really work well. The interval wasn't normal feeling to people and really there are few people who ask a lot of question -- though it may be true more of new people? So, we're unlikely to do that again.

My confirmation-bias-only conclusion is that nothing is quit as awesome as it used to be because awesome is a nostalgia thing and not strictly real. That said, I still think AskMe is pretty awesome.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:20 AM on April 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Note: jerseygirl is not jessamyn.*



* OR IS SHE?
posted by burnmp3s at 7:21 AM on April 10, 2009


Also jerseygirl and I are separate people.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:21 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oops.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 7:22 AM on April 10, 2009


OK, so I just realized that my little rant upthread probably didn't make the world a better place, so apologies for that. I got emotional because the two week limit really killed the site for me. It was the only time I've ever disagreed with a site policy so strongly that it made me want to leave the site.

Anyway, I think we can just chalk it up to a failed experiment and leave it at that.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the answer here is simple: Classic AskMe.
Take the questions with the most favorites and remove the best answer, and give people the opportunity to answer (or reanswer) their favorite questions. Thought of a wonderful answer to the "how many five year olds could you take?" or "bear vs. human" but were afraid nobody would be able to bask in the greatness, due to the lateness of response? Here's your chance to show how witty and clever you are once you pore obsessively over something for a year or so.
Hey man, is that Classic AskMe? Well turn it up, man!
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 7:39 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also jerseygirl and I are separate people.

Indeed. Jessamyn is significantly more accomplished, whereas my only recent accomplishment is figuring out that the sugar in my ice coffee needs to be melted first for maximum enjoyment.
posted by jerseygirl at 7:43 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not attacking or blaming you personally, but I think it's funny how almost all AskMe related posts in MetaTalk come from people unsatisfied with their own recent questions.
posted by graventy at 7:46 AM on April 10, 2009


Wow, what lucky mods we have - they never have to ask for site improvement suggestions, not when they're so readily volunteered.

AskMe is fine. It doesn't need a two-week limit, it doesn't need a professional white background. The front page of the green isn't always going to blow your skirt up - that's why god gave us tag searching. You will run out of attention span before AskMe runs out of archives, my friend.

Questions, including but not limited to some of my own, that I've expected to go over like gangbusters with this community, haven't.

Unlike w/ the blue, I really don't think putting together an AskMe question is about trying to craft a Smash Hit! post that grabs lots of comments and favorites - it's about getting some good answers. For instance, my last AskMe question got less than ten responses - however, every response was a high-quality, substantive answer I could do something with - I could have painted the whole thread w/ Best Answers. So while the question didn't seem to get a lot of attention, I consider it an unqualified success.

In short, I've not noticed this awesomeness deficit and I think you're imagining it. I'd like the site to remain as it is, please.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:47 AM on April 10, 2009


I don't really agree that AskMe has gotten worse, but it has certainly changed in the time I've been reading it.

And there are very clear cycles of questions -- my seat-of-the-pants guess is that some question will spark a series of (sometimes very tangentially) related questions. Meaning that the questions this week might have a different flavor or tone than the questions next week, and so on.

And then on top of that my own interest waxes and wanes, along with my free time and internet access. So a week when I am on the computer all the time is going to give me a very different MetaFilter experience than a week where I can have only half an hour online in the evening.
posted by Forktine at 7:51 AM on April 10, 2009


I find that the risk of AskMe burn-out is pretty high if I spend too much time reading the endless micro-dramas elbowing each other for attention there. Just give it a break for a couple weeks and see if things are more interesting when you come back. (Also, there's nothing like a tepid response to your FPP or AskMe post to sour or cool your attitude toward MeFi overall for a while. In my purely subjective experience.)

I think this is generalizable to the rest of the web too. If a site or forum or the whole web seems to be getting sucky, give it a break, pursue some RL interests and come back later to see if things seem fresh again. On preview, yes, what jessamyn said about nostalgia - which works in today's crazy media world on the order of weeks, rather than the decades time frame us old folks were used to in our day.
posted by aught at 7:57 AM on April 10, 2009


... whereas my only recent accomplishment is figuring out that the sugar in my ice coffee needs to be melted first for maximum enjoyment.

Don't under-rate yourself. This is no small revelation.
posted by aught at 7:59 AM on April 10, 2009


I respectfully disagree. One of the best things about Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee is that the sugar doesn't dissolve; it just sits there in a layer of sweet sweet sediment, waiting to be slurped up and crunched.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:24 AM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, melting sugar is no small feat. It tends to burn when I heat it up.
posted by stubby phillips at 8:24 AM on April 10, 2009


What kattullus said. I also think AskMe is slightly less awesome and I also think it's a community - or lack thereof - thing. I get cranky about users who only ever go to AskMe and crankier about the ones who only ask and never answer. I grant you that this may be because the milk of human kindness runs thinner and thinner in my cranky soul, but still, I take more time, usually, with questions from people I know. Like my good friend anonymous.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:26 AM on April 10, 2009


Also, melting sugar is no small feat. It tends to burn when I heat it up.

Yeah yeah. She meant dissolving, of course. If your coffee place is any good they'll have a bottle of simple syrup (pre-dissolved sugar) on the cream-milk-sweeteners-cocoa-cinnamon counter for the iced coffee and tea crowd.
posted by aught at 8:31 AM on April 10, 2009


I have been tying my shoes wrong for the past 40 years

I could have used that AskMe years ago. It may have saved me from being lectured for 2 - 3 minutes on the importance of shoe-tying safety by an obese old lady on a HoverRound-type electric scooter while standing in line at the checkout. My now-wife asked me "Why didn't you tell her to shut up?"

My response? "She meant well."

The moral of the story? AskMe is clearly deficient for not meeting my shoe-tying-knowledge needs long before I ever even knew the site existed. Something must be done about this.
posted by owtytrof at 8:34 AM on April 10, 2009


I don't like it as much as I used to.

I am inclined to believe too much anti chat-filter spray has reduced the overall vigor and beauty of our little patch of green, and has taken away the overtone of wildness I found so appealing.
posted by jamjam at 8:45 AM on April 10, 2009


I am inclined to believe too much anti chat-filter spray has reduced the overall vigor and beauty of our little patch of green, and has taken away the overtone of wildness I found so appealing.

It's other people asking questions specific to their unresolved issues. It's matters less than rat droppings whether or not you find it appealing.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 AM on April 10, 2009


Yeah yeah. She meant dissolving, of course.

I tried using "dissolve" in my coffee order and I got "you mean melt the sugar?" as a response. So for the purpose of time and efficiency, I just speak their language.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:01 AM on April 10, 2009


I have been tying my shoes wrong for the past 40 years

Hell yeah, until that askme I used to have to ask other people people to tie my laces if I wanted them to stay done up. After 40 years I can now actually tie my shoelaces.
posted by tallus at 9:09 AM on April 10, 2009


Part of getting maximum utility out of AskMe is to decide what it is that the Green does best. In my opinion, AskMe is at its best (as defined by Most Usefulness to Asker divided by Ability to Get Answer by Non-AskMe Means) when supplying "name this thing that I can't remember well enough to Google properly" answers. My own examples are here and here.

Of course, these hyper-specific questions are of no use to anyone but the asker. Such is life.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:14 AM on April 10, 2009


Several people have pointed out the phenomenon of users with plenty of AskMe questions but no posts in MeFi. This describes me. I haven't made a FPP in the blue yet but have several questions in AskMe. I also tend to contribute more answers to Ask than I do comments in MeFi.

I want to dispel the notion that this is just an influx of new users who use the site only for AskMe, and don't care about community, etc. In my case I've been following Metafilter for years and I spend more time reading in the blue than in the green.

The difference is that AskMe is somehow less intimidating, especially for new users. It's one thing to come up with "the best of the web" and it's another to ask about tying your shoes or cleaning a pizza stone. It's simply more casual. I still think carefully when I write a question, but I don't feel like I'm submitting a human interest piece on spec to a critical board of 10,000 editors. I'm just querying the hive mind.
posted by werkzeuger at 9:32 AM on April 10, 2009 [22 favorites]


Afroblanco: " it was statistically proven that the increased time limit did not lead to questions getting more attention."

Well, whatever you do, don't lower the limit. I'm only trying to protect you from myself.

If there were no limit, I'd be on there 4 times a day asking things like "Besides Working Class Dog, what albums have their incontestably best song as the second track rather than the first?"
posted by Joe Beese at 9:35 AM on April 10, 2009


Askme? Nah, no one goes there anymore, its way too crowded. What Yogi said or something.

I find that the same great questions are there, but I have to sort through a lot of questions in order to find the ones I like. I am in favor of banning questions I would not like before they are posted as it would save me a lot of time. Maybe pb can write a script that will filter out questions before they are asked or something.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:38 AM on April 10, 2009


It's one thing to come up with "the best of the web"

When I make a Metafilter post, I don't do it because it's the "best of the web," that's a pretty vague, feelgood reason (I'm not knocking your personally, of course)

I post something when I think OMG THIS IS NEAT (or interesting), EVERYONE SHOULD SEE THIS. Sometimes that means someone else has posted it, sometimes not everyone agrees that it's SUPER SUPER NEAT, but that's ok too.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:40 AM on April 10, 2009


Seems about the same to me. On the positive side: maybe the rest of your life has gotten so much more entertaining and exciting that AskMe seems lame in comparison.
posted by The Deej at 9:43 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


... whereas my only recent accomplishment is figuring out that the sugar in my ice coffee needs to be melted first for maximum enjoyment.

I love sweet tea. 'moonMan takes his iced tea straight up. When I realized that I could make simple syrup at home by boiling water and pouring it over the sugar before putting the tea in the cup... LIFE WAS SWEET AGAIN.

Oh, and on topic, I've been finding that I've been getting fewer total answers but more relevant answers when I ask questions. So, I would say that the system is working better. We're definitely scoring higher on reading comprehension. Now all we have to do is get our math skills up before we have to take the PSATs... (Yeah, in my mind, AskMe is in the 10th grade. The Blue is a grad student in everything and MeTa is still drunk from someone else's graduation party.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:49 AM on April 10, 2009


Christ what an ass of a MeTa post.
posted by mds35 at 9:54 AM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I actually think that the quality of advice given to questions that don't have a "right" answer has gone up in the past year or so. It seems when I first started watching the site, there were usually several god-awful suggestions to relationship questions, for example. The good answers still out-numbered the bad by far, but lately most of the human relations questions seem to be getting very few "wtf" answers. Insofar as some of the human relations threads might lack the really insightful comments, I think it's in large part because it's all been done before now. Almost every human relations thread I see, I think of a couple of great comments from old threads that apply just as well. Everyone always beats me to linking those.

Oh, and the questions that do have specific answers, even when they're terribly obscure, seem answered all the time now. So even that seems better to me than it used to.

Now, I will say that AskMeFi doesn't get the same "wow" from me as it used to, but only because I'm used to the advice being so good it doesn't seem noteworthy anymore. So I think it's a good thing, overall.
posted by Nattie at 9:54 AM on April 10, 2009


Also jerseygirl and I are separate people.

How can we be sure? We never see you together...
posted by mds35 at 10:00 AM on April 10, 2009


I need some tips on selling BBQ out of the trunk of my car.
posted by GuyZero at 10:07 AM on April 10, 2009


I need some tips on selling BBQ out of the trunk of my car.

We've got an app answer for that.
posted by jerseygirl at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2009


Yeah that reminds me, AskMe has become a great resource for cultural education for formerly isolated people, such as myself.
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:21 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


...my only recent accomplishment is figuring out that the sugar in my ice coffee needs to be melted first for maximum enjoyment.

Yeah yeah. She meant dissolving, of course. If your coffee place is any good they'll have a bottle of simple syrup (pre-dissolved sugar) on the cream-milk-sweeteners-cocoa-cinnamon counter for the iced coffee and tea crowd.


By all means, be careful if you order espresso on ice. Make sure they're not gonna react like the staff at Murky Coffee!
posted by ericb at 10:22 AM on April 10, 2009


I need some tips on selling BBQ out of the trunk of my car.

It's obvious that you no longer live in Toronto.
posted by maudlin at 10:24 AM on April 10, 2009



Yeah yeah. She meant dissolving, of course. If your coffee place is any good they'll have a bottle of simple syrup (pre-dissolved sugar) on the cream-milk-sweeteners-cocoa-cinnamon counter for the iced coffee and tea crowd.

if your coffee place is really good, they will put raw sugar in the portafilter when they brew your espresso for an iced americano. this is the ultimate way to sweeten an iced coffee drink. fucking dee-lish.
posted by barrett caulk at 10:24 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]



I need some tips on selling BBQ out of the trunk of my car.

The State of Wisconsin is ready for you.
posted by mesh gear fox at 10:24 AM on April 10, 2009


Is AskMe somewhat less awesome than it used to be?

I think it is more awesome than it used to be. I think the blue might be somewhat less awesome, but that has more to do with what is available for posting as the internets become more mature. Anyway, AskMe is an incredible resource for getting answers, is an incredible resource for learning about things by reading other people's questions and seems to me to be the crown jewel in Matt's empire.
posted by caddis at 10:45 AM on April 10, 2009


I liked AskMe more before it got popular and sold out.
posted by Who_Am_I at 10:46 AM on April 10, 2009


It's obvious that you no longer live in Toronto.

Don't be bitter because Montreal refuses to license hot dog carts and you can't get any of Toronto's glorious street meat.

Also, Dear AskMe, it's been cloudy in California for THREE DAYS. THREE!!! What the hell is going on??? Who ordered the weather around here?
posted by GuyZero at 10:46 AM on April 10, 2009


Also, pursuant to my most recent totally useless AskMe answer, most AskMe questions can be answered "This would be much easier if you were telepathic".
posted by GuyZero at 10:50 AM on April 10, 2009


I liked AskMe back when it was pregnant and on drugs and disposing dead bodies. Yeah, back when it was cool.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:01 AM on April 10, 2009


gogy
posted by Damn That Television at 11:03 AM on April 10, 2009

Also jerseygirl and I are separate people.
We have only your word for that.
posted by scrump at 11:06 AM on April 10, 2009


Is there any concensus on reposting some of the older "tell me about your experiences" questions, now that we have a bigger userbase? In particular, I'd love to revisit the "do you believe you have ever seen a ghost" question, but that seems to violate the newer and more stringent chatfilter/polling rules. (Which I support, by the way. I just also love hearing about what people think are paranormal experiences.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:14 AM on April 10, 2009


I do feel like the overall tone of Ask has changed, and the questions often seem to be more mainstream. However there have always been askers who could have googled, responders who don't read the question, and all those other little pet-peevy things. The one that still remains the most frustrating is the OP never returning to a thread. Once upon a time a well placed MeTa rant might have been enough to prompt some people into making more of an effort to go back to their questions and at least thank people, but now that Ask's user base has shifted from MeFi's base I don't know how one would prod people into coming back into their own threads to answer questions or acknowledge that they are even paying attention at all. I normally don't hold people's question/answer ratio against them (I think it's ridiculous to demand people step up and answer stuff just for the sake of balance), but when a user tends to ask a question and never return multiple times AND never answers any questions, it seems a teeny bit lame.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:17 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Give people the opportunity to answer (or reanswer) their favorite questions.

I like this idea a lot.

Just last night I spent several hours laughing, crying, and marveling at the resilience and strength of the human spirit as I worked my way through the AskMe thread on life-altering experiences. When I finished, I thought "wow, that was absolutely phenomenal - and it was posted more than four years ago. The thread was even made into a book. I wonder if it would be appropriate to re-post that question (or others like it) now?"

Questions like that are one of the reasons I love AskMe. I'd love to read a whole new batch of answers - both from newer folks, and also from the folks who posted before if they have anything more they'd like to add. I'd also like to see occasional repeats of other questions of the sort that lend themselves to re-answering, perhaps after a certain time period has elapsed. Is there any reason such questions shouldn't be re-posted?
posted by velvet winter at 11:21 AM on April 10, 2009


If your coffee place is any good they'll have a bottle of simple syrup (pre-dissolved sugar) on the cream-milk-sweeteners-cocoa-cinnamon counter for the iced coffee and tea crowd.

Gaaaah. *shudders violently at the thought of adding even more water to iced coffee*

If your coffee place actually served good coffee you wouldn't need to mask the bitterness of the coffee with sugar in the first place.

*ambles off to make sweet, sweet love to his hand-drip basket*
posted by loquacious at 11:21 AM on April 10, 2009


TedW, you are a darling, darling man. So that's why my shoe laces always sit so funny and come untied so easily. And to think, I've pretty much given up wearing laced shoes in favor of pumps because they were such a monumental pain in the ass.
posted by diamondsky at 11:23 AM on April 10, 2009


Jesus Christ. You can tell I don't use AskMe very often... I just posted my whole story to the front page. Fuck me.
posted by gman at 11:23 AM on April 10, 2009


While the questions may be more "mainstream" -- whatever that means anymore -- the answers still are, for the most part, even to the most mundane questions, among the best of the web. And that's why I still read them (to hear great opinions even if it isn't always stuff that interests me) and try to answer (because I like to think I can help) and also while I've only asked one question (I'm passively absorbing knowledge these days but not actually taking any actions that lead to any questionable decisions)

Speaking of, should I eat this?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:25 AM on April 10, 2009


The main thing I want to chorus here is the cyclical/burnout issue. It can be hard to find a perfect balance reading/participating in anything—I certainly cycle different blogs in and out of heavy readership depending on how good they are, how much I'm reading, and some impossible whammy factor re: my mood toward the content and my involvement in it.

AskMe's not an exception to that, and I suspect any kind of regular readership is going to carry with it cycles of waning interest. It's hard not to feel like one's own dip in enthusiasm is the result of some external change, but that these kinds of "oh for the good old days" thoughts get voiced at what seems like pretty evenly distributed intervals since askme (and mefi, for that matter) launched presents two major options:

1. The site has been lurching monotonically downward in at a perceptible rate for years, or
2. Individuals are accidentally conflating their own enthusiasm curve with the site as a whole.

I vote for (2) pretty much every time because I just don't see clear evidence of (1).

I personally think the most substantial change that occurred in AskMe culture was the period over the first year or two where the guidelines came into being; folks have touched on some of the more micro-level notions about variation in questions here (current economic/political climate, questions tending to cluster via read-then-write inspiration, etc).

Has AskMe significantly and perceptibly taken a dive lately? It's possible, but there's not much that's happened that represents either a systemic change in how it's run or any clear shift in who is contributing, so it's not clear why that'd be.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:50 AM on April 10, 2009




And to be clear, I don't mean this to be specifically about you, 2or3whiskeysodas. I think you're one of many people to go through this kind of flagging of enthusiasm (n.b. not to be confused with enthusiastic flagging) process, and that's totally understandable and I don't blame you for trying to voice your concern on the subject.

In a way, this is even a shared cultural phenomenon: AskMe is less new for everyone who has been around for a while than it was a year ago, or four years ago. I'd bet any regular on the site can identify some wobbliness in their affection or enthusiasm for the green (and the blue, and the grey, and injokes, and alphabet threads, and discussions about x, etc), and collectively the folks who have stuck around for a while have probably settled down for the most part at some equilibrium point.

For some folks that equilibrium might be pretty close to the peak of their enthusiasm. For others, it might be significantly lower. I'd even bet most folks could describe it in terms of a peak and then a trough and then finally some place between, for varying amplitudes and instances of peak and trough.

The fact that every one of us is probably at this point moderately less OMG AMAZING about AskMe on a daily-interaction basis than we were at some point in the past isn't surprising, and I think it's more valuable and useful to look at AskMe objectively through our current more-stable lenses of experience with the site than it is to try and hold it up against the rose-colored OMG AMAZING AskMe of each of our respective nostalgia trips.

Which can be hard to do, sometimes, but getting down on something you like because it's not always matching your best-possible-memory version of it is a good way to make yourself unhappy about something that you otherwise enjoy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:01 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Everything is less awesome than it used to be. I blame entropy.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:10 PM on April 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I agree that AskMe isn't for entertainment with the exception of unique snowflake relationship questions. Those are clearly designed for my enjoyment.
posted by ob at 12:11 PM on April 10, 2009


Actually, reviewing AskMe just now I think the OP may have a point.

It's clear we're never going to return to an AskMe that features these types of questions.
posted by panboi at 12:24 PM on April 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


koeselitz: "It has to do with natural periods of time that we remember; people spent lots of time in metatalk aching and moaning about how they didn't get to ask their questions, and everybody here (myself included) would always snark about 'geez, don't you know how to write things down?'"

If you need help remembering questions you want to ask in the future, there's a lovely Greasemonkey script by Plutor that will let you save questions to ask in the future, even when you get the screen that says you've already posted in the past week. AskMe Question Pad
posted by IndigoRain at 12:43 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


panboi: "It's clear we're never going to return to an AskMe that features these types of questions."

Who the hell does this "cortex" guy think he is?

Tell me about it. I'm putting the finishing touches on a call-out.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:18 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


askmetafilter is aewsome if u dont liek it deal w/ it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:20 PM on April 10, 2009


OK I'd like to apologize for that bad Katy impersonation.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:23 PM on April 10, 2009


AskMetafilter is currently exactly as awesome as it used to be.

Now, by that, I mean that there have been times in the past when it was more awesome than it currently is. There have also been times in the past when it was less awesome than it currently is. But on at least one occasion in the past, AskMetafilter was exactly as awesome as it is this moment. And, therefore, it is exactly as awesome as it used to be.

[Please mark this Best Answer. Pleeeeease!!!!]
posted by The World Famous at 2:52 PM on April 10, 2009


CunningLinguist:
Exhibit A: Who's Your Daddy? and madamjjj's lovely reply.

That's what I like about AskMe, and MeFi as a whole. Sure, 90% of it is crap, just as Sturgeon's Law predicts, but occasionally, and more frequently than anywhere else, there's something so awesome, that over four years later I still remember it sometimes and smile.

I think it's still that way. I'll let you know for sure in a few years.
posted by ctmf at 3:03 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Earlier this week, there was an AskMe about Trix cereal that had an answer sidebarred on the blue. Last night on 30 Rock, Tina Faye's Liz Lemon character had Trix up her sleeve in a throw-away gag. Coincidence? I think not.

The power and influence of AskMe, and its awsomeness in general, are only growing.
posted by longsleeves at 3:08 PM on April 10, 2009


Quit trying to further your sleeve-centric agenda, you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:32 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


but they were such great sleeves. so nice.
posted by longsleeves at 3:40 PM on April 10, 2009


Well, regardless of whether it was in decline or not, it's certainly going to improve now. Everything is always better after 2or3whiskeysodas.
posted by darksasami at 3:49 PM on April 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Forgive me

they were such great sleeves

so trixy
and so long

posted by cortex (staff) at 4:32 PM on April 10, 2009


Forgive me

No.
posted by dersins at 4:44 PM on April 10, 2009


Has anyone else noticed that the whole site sucks more since quonsar left?
posted by McGuillicuddy at 5:20 PM on April 10, 2009


He hasn't left. Only the username has left.
posted by dersins at 5:25 PM on April 10, 2009


Ok, I've changed my mind. Askme is full of stupid, whiny questions, and it now sucks.
posted by inigo2 at 5:36 PM on April 10, 2009


I was talking to a friend and fellow MeFite today about whether the following would be a valid AskMe or chatfilter (I lean towards chatfilter):

He's been reading The Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steve Erickson and has just finished book 8. He has grown to loath the entire series with a burning passion but yet feels compelled to continue (which I do make fun of him for). He's puzzled that there exist intelligent people out there who think it's good and recommend it to people. He wants to know what their reasons for liking the series is, whether there's something he's missing, essentially.

Would that be legit or chatfilter?

I have never read anything by Steve Erickson so I have no opinion on it.
posted by Kattullus at 5:37 PM on April 10, 2009


Would that be legit or chatfilter?

Is he writing a book about the subject?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:38 PM on April 10, 2009


Would that be legit or chatfilter?

Seems like a legitimate enough question to me. I mean, there've been AskMe threads about what the last book was that we threw across the room. Asking for reasons why others like a particular series seems just as or even more solid.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:46 PM on April 10, 2009


He's puzzled that there exist intelligent people out there who think it's good and recommend it to people.

Nope, that falls under the "XYZ sucks AMIRITE?" clause and we'd like fewer, not more, questions like that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:49 PM on April 10, 2009


Presentation matters.

We see this sort of post sometimes where it's framed well as a "here is my difficulty in understanding others' perception of work/phenomenon X, here's the context I'm coming from, here's possible points of POV difference that I've considered, please help me better understand the other angles on this." Those can go okay and make for useful and interesting threads.

We also see it done sometimes as "X sucks. I hate it, and let me tell you why, and if you want to disagree with me about it you're probably stupid but I guess go crazy, but man does X suck. Suckity suck suck bullshitcrapcakes." Those get deleted.

The weird territory in the middle goes one way or the other and has about a one-in-five chance of landing in Metatalk either way and that is totally awesome, lemme tell ya.

So, basically, if your friend could manage to present it as inquiry rather than rant and provide enough context about where he's coming from and what puzzles him, it could be an okay question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:52 PM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


modfight!
posted by dersins at 5:56 PM on April 10, 2009


What do you mean, we said exactly the same thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:56 PM on April 10, 2009


*punches dersins, high-fives jessamyn*
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:58 PM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


When things change, which they are wont to do, there will inevitably be some people who don't welcome the change.

AskMe has more active participants than it once did. This has resulted in more noise and more answers. This combination is probably good in the big picture of site usefulness (more answers!) but maybe not as good for some users (more noise!).

And I'M JESSAMYN
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:20 PM on April 10, 2009


I've noticed that I rarely like questions that require only information as their answers, especially when they are focused on some geographical area that I don't care about.

But I do value balance; so as long as those questions are balanced out by those I do like (tending to be those that require some degree of internal and external knowledge and contemplation time) then I don't get worked up by the questions about the best place to get X on 3rd street.

It seems that all the questions of the first type are welcomed, but only some of those of the second type. If I understand correctly, this is because there is a belief on the part of the mods/owner that chat-room-talk has to be vigilantly monitored, possibly the domino effect. They might be right: by insisting on very specific way of asking the second type of question (which are inherently more prone to sidetracks), it's possible that the inspiration to chat will be cut in the bud.

I admit that I find sidetracks annoying on many websites; so if it's a choice between missing out on some semi-introspective questions and having to sort through "oh by the way who farted" I begrudgingly concede that the mods are not evil.

Please no hazing.
posted by peter_meta_kbd at 1:54 AM on April 11, 2009


I want to dispel the notion that this is just an influx of new users who use the site only for AskMe, and don't care about community, etc. ... The difference is that AskMe is somehow less intimidating
This. I'm one of those people whose social fuckuppery does not disappear in virtual environments, and for me AskMe is the equivalent of doing the dishes at a big party - it's a great opportunity to feel part of things while not being constantly conscious of the fact that I'm TALKING TO PEOPLE HELP.

Also, people who say they won't put much effort into answering the questions of people with unfamiliar usernames and then complain that AskMe isn't as awesome as they'd like it to be need to sit down and do some thinking about a possible connection between those two statements.
posted by Acheman at 2:10 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


The same discussion appears on every web forum / community.
posted by errspy at 4:45 AM on April 11, 2009


...for me AskMe is the equivalent of doing the dishes at a big party...

I think that's a sublimely lovely way of putting it.

Also, people who say they won't put much effort into answering the questions of people with unfamiliar usernames and then complain that AskMe isn't as awesome as they'd like it to be need to sit down and do some thinking about a possible connection between those two statements.

QFT.
posted by werkzeuger at 5:28 AM on April 11, 2009


"Is AskMe somewhat less awesome than it used to be?"

This could be rephrased as:

THESIS: AskMe is less awesome than it used to be.

Which we can examine logically and rationally. Let us examine our premises.

PREMISE: AskMe is a site on the internet where people ask questions and, sometimes, receive answers.
PREMISE: This process generates some real, substantial, and at least nominally measurable awesomeness which we will measure in units of Keanus.1
PREMISE: The quantity of awesomeness has dissipated or attenuated over time.

As the number of awesomeness detectors is currently limited (cinematic tricks notwithstanding), we will need to establish some objective facts to facilitate our evaluation.

FACT: When I first began using the MetaFilter family of sites, I read AskMe and contributed regularly to the questions asked therein.
FACT: Overwhelmed by the minutia of mindless trivia and angsty unresolvable relationship questions, I stopped reading and answering questions on AskMe.

From these two facts, we can deduce that Ask MetaFilter, has, indeed lost some measure of awesomeness (me). Therefore, our initial thesis has been proved.

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1 The Keanu is defined by the reaction Keanu Reeves would have to a given stimulus, normalized on a curve against the number of decibels (dB) at which he would respond with the word "awesome." As Keanu Reeves can be assumed to be himself 100% of the time (based on observation of his performance over time), presenting Keanu with himself as a stimulus is defined as 1 Keanu, as Keanu Reeves is intimately familiar with himself and therefore the stimulus is minimally novel.
posted by Eideteker at 5:40 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


the green is not worse than it used to be. it's the present that just never compares to the past.

(gratuitous insult goes here)
posted by krautland at 7:04 AM on April 11, 2009


I begrudgingly concede that the mods are not evil.

You had me at "begrudgingly concede".
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:03 AM on April 11, 2009


I would not mind one bit seeing the limit on questions raised to one every two weeks.

I'm pretty sure it's been pointed out in the past that the above would do almost nothing to affect the number of questions appearing on the AskMe front page.


You may be right on a quantitative level, but on a qualitative level I think there would be a change: people would feel more inhibited because they'd be more worried about missing out on their chance to ask a super-important question. So you'd see a higher proportion of oh-so-serious questions and a lower proportion of light-hearted/silly/fun questions. Hey, we should raise the limit to one question a year so that AskMe would be a very serious place for only the questions that really matter. None of the unnecessary "help me make a cool mix CD to get people dancing" fluff; only questions of the utmost importance would make the cut. /somewhat facetious
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:01 PM on April 11, 2009


While the standard answer is "everything is the same; it must be you," I'm not sure that everything is always the exact same. On any given day, I could certainly count how many questions and ensuing answers seemed good to me. If you agree there's some value to AskMe besides generating answers for the askers (otherwise, why would people read questions about problems they don't have?), we could probably figure out which questions are more interesting and most solution-generating for readers.

AskMe questions have the least incentive of comments or posts anywhere on the site to be good. Good questions can get favorites just like good posts and comments on the blue or gray, but also, bad posts and comments elsewhere can get mocked or booed, and good AskMe comments can get additionally rewarded as best answers. So questions on the green receive less peer pressure and community policing than anything else.

And there are questions that are bad, for example, ones that ask for information we can't know (prompting a slew of "read the contract" or "only the company can tell you how much they'll charge"), or that leave out pertinent information, or that repeat past questions without explaining how this situation is different. (I'm probably guilty of all of these, by the way.)

Compared to FPPs, it seems like there exists a less nuanced understanding of "what makes a good question," unless I missed it somehow, and it might be worth a little thinking and talking about how to encourage better questions and better answers. There were contests for the best FPP. Would that make sense for AskMe? (I have a hard time not seeing that having bad side effects.)

One suggestion I'd put forward would be to close questions that are "doubles." This would require people to learn from past suggestions or at least explain their uniqueness. [1] My mom is crazy, what do I do? [2] I learned from past questions that the best way to deal with crazy parents is to set clear boundaries. How do I do that? [3] I tried the "get off the phone technique" described as a way to set boundaries with parents, but...

I'm not saying AskMe is broken, at all. If anything, I've enjoyed it more over the past month than I did for a few months before that. (Also, I'm headed out for awhile, so if anyone has thoughts on this, I'll be slow to reply.)
posted by salvia at 5:21 PM on April 11, 2009


The green is faster, and plays trickier: it's Augusta National when it used to be Troon. It's easier to miss questions that might have been visible a year ago. So it goes.

My easter pony request: offer the option to filter AskMe based upon the tags of the questions you've answered previously. The mods can MeMail me with just how much the necessary hardware upgrade would cost.
posted by holgate at 10:13 PM on April 11, 2009


As a many year reader of MetaFilter, I've only recently become aware of AskMeFi and MetaTalk; the discovery was not accidental but resulted from my taking a break from another discussion forum. Not coincidentally, I took that hiatus because my former haunt had become somewhat dull to me after a few years.

By contrast, the MetaFilter constellation seems fresh and interesting to this tyro. In particular, I'm finding the mere act of formulating AskMe responses and deciding if they merit posting engaging in itself. Lacking a past to compare it to, I can only say that I'm glad to have found another worthwhile community here.
posted by fydfyd at 10:42 PM on April 11, 2009


In particular, I'm finding the mere act of formulating AskMe responses and deciding if they merit posting engaging in itself.

It still seems like so many are simply just missing the plot of AskMe entirely. It really isn't entertainment, though it being entertaining can often be a nice bi-product. Please, don't just sit around formulating shit to ask strangers. If you have a real need of assistance or information, post your questions freely. But don't be an existential wanker there. That's what MetaTalk is for.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:38 PM on April 11, 2009


Burhanistan, I think fydfyd was talking about posting comments, not questions.
posted by salvia at 2:33 PM on April 12, 2009


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