i need feedback/help and don't know if mefi is appropriate. June 18, 2009 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to get feedback/helpers on a collaborative Google Map of bike paths in the Boston area. It's pretty small and unambitious, hardly something I've spent "a few months" on. Is this appropriate for MeFi Projects?


So I'm slowly - very slowly - trying to build a bike path map of the Boston area with some details and comments about specific roads since Boston's transportation systems are so crazy and unpredictable that simple color-coding usually doesn't do the city justice.

I'd love to get some feedback as to whether this project is even a good idea, and if others think it is, to hopefully attract people who'd like to collaborate.

This is hardly a "significant work" or "the type of things that typically take a few months to design, create, and build" as the projects FAQ lays out. I've only spent a few hours on it, but theoretically with enough people it could be a significant creation. At the same time, I don't want to be self-linking to ask if this is even a good idea in Ask MeFi.

So what do I do? Ask for feedback in Ask MeFi without self-linking? Post in Projects anyway? Slink off?
posted by Muffpub to Etiquette/Policy at 8:38 AM (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

If you've done a bunch of work on it already [i.e. you're not asking "hey contribute to my project that is just getting started!"] then it's fine for Projects. If you're in the planning stages I'd try to do an AskMe about it without the self-link [you can put it in your profile so people can check it out] to get ideas on how to move forward.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:41 AM on June 18, 2009

Projects is designed for fully-baked projects you've completed and want to show off to the world. We don't really have a part of the site for organizing people to work on new things, and we don't really allow Ask MeFi questions that are basically "hey everyone take my survey/help me finish this/do some work for me".

If you need Ask MeFi for help completing the project, make sure the questions are general enough that they aren't asking for volunteers to finish your project but that they're questions with answers that will help you finish the project.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:46 AM on June 18, 2009

cool. thanks. i'll figure out where to go from here.
posted by Muffpub at 8:50 AM on June 18, 2009

We don't really have a part of the site for organizing people to work on new things

You should totally have a part of the site for organizing people to work on new things.
posted by Muffpub at 8:51 AM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'd love to work with you on extending that to Rhode Island, actually. Sounds cool!
posted by lunit at 9:13 AM on June 18, 2009

I actually think this would be fantastic. Has it ever been considered?

A few times, yeah. We sort of feel like The Whole Internet is available for that sort of thing and while we facilitate communication among and between members, making a new place for people to do collaborative projects seems to be reinventing many many wheels, though I'd love to see [and maybe I need to dig in the archives] an AskMe about the different websites that exist to help people do things like this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:21 AM on June 18, 2009

The Whole Internet is available for that sort of thing

I understand, but this disregards the fact that the Whole Internet is full of smelly, annoying people while Metafilter is where all the creative, awesome beautiful people are.

I would be strongly in favour of a systemized way to help Mefites collaborate on non-commercial projects.

It would help us create many more awesome things.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would be strongly in favour of a systemized way to help Mefites collaborate on non-commercial projects.

I completely agree with you.
Is this worth another MeTa post?
posted by Muffpub at 10:22 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

1. Ask a question about the planning of your project.
2. Make a Metafilter Collaborates post. Finish the project.
3. Post #2 in Metafilter Projects.
4. Someone will post #3 in Metafilter (proper).
5. A contentious fight will start in #4, thereby bringing it to Metatalk.
6. Cortex will write a song about said fight? I'm not sure on this one.
7. Due to BoingBoing linking the song as a 'wonderful example of tech-driven folk outsider art', your project will take off, requiring you to hire a manager in Metafilter Jobs.
8. This will then make the sidebar and podcast.

...the Metafilter way to do SEO.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:35 AM on June 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

You forgot

9. ????
10. Profit!!
posted by Miko at 10:36 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

No, Muffpub, you misunderstand. The correct reaction is anger, screaming, and throwing things. That is how things get done and undone around here.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:42 AM on June 18, 2009

Perhaps it's time we had a term for people who want every function available on the internet to happen within MeFi, never having to leave the site to go outside on the wide open plains of the internet for even a small amount of time. I propose "MeTagoraphobic."

Disregarding my snark, I am often one of those people. It's not terribly crazy in some cases, collaborations and dating being good examples. Having a shared cultural background makes groups work more swiftly and intuitively, and silly as it sounds, a participation history on MeFi creates a shared cultural background. This place is a filter of personality type/interests as well as ideas.

Now, when you want really innovative/creative results, working with people from vastly different backgrounds can be more productive, but predictably messy. Sometimes the energy of disparate backgrounds produces more unconventional ideas.
posted by Miko at 10:42 AM on June 18, 2009

Is this worth another MeTa post?

Eh, it's come up in here and the original question here is already basically resolved, so if folks want to chatter about it this seems like the place.

I'm fairly pro-collaboration, but I agree in part with what Jessamyn is saying: the space between "let's do this on the internet" and "let's do this on metafilter, specifically" really needs a lot of exploring before the latter case is something we're generally going to look into, in part because there may be a good alternative or three out there already and in part because deciding to do something like this involves a lot of work beyond just saying "that's a good idea" and snapping our fingers. Even with a superhero like pb on our side.

I've seen collab stuff here play out best when it's an occasional "hey, metafilter, here's a fun thing that lots of people might want to collaborate on" brought up on metatalk—CD swaps, mass music collaborations, fiction writing, etc—and I think that works pretty well at the moment as a sort of self-regulating process, where folks mostly only bring up stuff that's (a) explicitly about The Community Doing Thing X rather than The Community Helping Me With Thing Y and (b) that they feel strongly enough about bringing to the site that they're willing to put themselves on the line like that.

Practically speaking, this is something that we're not really planning to jump on, but I don't really mind people hashing out ideas of what they would in theory see happening—maybe there's some real solid gem of an idea to be hacked out here, I don't know.

But probably not another metatalk right now just for that, no.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:51 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

On a more personal note, I will say that my main method for starting small collaborations with other mefites is to just pay attention to who is into what and drop one or two people a line when I have a good (or, much of the time, "good") idea that I know they might have some interest in.

The disadvantage there is that I have to go hunting, rather than just dropping out a general invite, and I can understand that folks who are newer or shyer or whatnot may see that as a real obstacle.

The advantage, though, is that I control who I want to get involved, have the benefit of prior exposure of some sort to help me sort of vet potential collaborators, and am making to those who I do contact a somewhat more meaningful gesture than a generic "hey I'm doing this" would involve. All of which is a greater or lesser boon depending on the situation, of course.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:56 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

What about a good middle-ground solution -- on the bottom bar of each page, have a list of MeFi communities on other sites. For instance, the Team Fortress and LibraryThing groups could also be listed there. Then we could just use one of the existing collaboration sites to start a MeFi group, rather than reinventing the wheel and freeing up pb's time for other site features.
posted by spiderskull at 11:56 AM on June 18, 2009

I would loooove to have a place to post an open invite for a project. I'm working on a specialized wiki in my spare time with a couple of other people. It's incredibly slow work (who'd have thunk?) that would speed up exponentially if we had more interested (and knowledgeable) parties. Hope this happens.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:25 PM on June 18, 2009

This would go great on travel.
posted by Eideteker at 12:58 PM on June 18, 2009

Perhaps Metafilter should just go ahead and launch Web 3.0? Everything from the old web... only better and with 20% less hate (plus hugs).
posted by edgeways at 1:08 PM on June 18, 2009

posted by davejay at 1:13 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just to be clear, I understand and agree that there are hurdles, as cortex explained better than I ever could.

So to follow up on that, if anyone has any ideas as to how such a thing could be created, I'd love to hear them.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:01 PM on June 18, 2009

Just in case you didn't know about this before you started your project,
Bikely exists.
posted by Acari at 2:30 PM on June 18, 2009

When I was a camp counselor it was OK to have a beard, but the beard could not be in the growing stage when the parents came. "Growing stage" was not well defined and judgment calls needed to be made.

By analogy, is it OK to have project which are out of the growing stages but not fully cooked?
posted by shothotbot at 2:32 PM on June 18, 2009

Depends on the nature of the project, but, yeah, that's one way to frame the fuzzy border territory.

If a project needs building yet before there's any there there, it's probably too early. If enough of the infrastructure is in place that it's an interesting thing to see/read/use already, but there's more coming? Probably reasonable to post.

Obviously something like a blog, where you're going to have content coming in indefinitely, isn't going to be "done" when it goes up, but it should definitely be built already, for example.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:35 PM on June 18, 2009

And if you're not sure, you can ask us and we'll happily give you our feedback on that one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:00 PM on June 18, 2009

I really have no idea how to do with the 'obstacles' that creating a MeFi Organize-My-Project / MeFi Ideas face.

I just like the idea of MeFi-type group dynamics being applied to all stages of collaborative projects, from critiquing of ideas to the actual organization and building stages all the way through proofing, publishing, ???, and profit. I feel like we're a smart, motivated, and hardworking bunch.

A few ideas I would have -
- profiles include check box(es?) - "i'd like to be notified of collaborative projects involving X,Y,Z"
- formalizing the stages of project development, with the earliest stage being 'does something like this already exist?' / 'help me find stuff that looks like this' (i guess ask mefi is good for this part)
- ok, that's it for now.

Practically speaking, this is something that we're not really planning to jump on

i totally understand, and i don't think (/hope?) that nobody wants to be a fly in your ear. maybe it woudl be useful, if anyone else had ideas, for what a formal MeFi Project Development Project would look like. or not. whatever.
posted by Muffpub at 3:01 PM on June 18, 2009

i did find some stuff on ask mefi such as
Open source collaboration tools
What are some great ways to program collaboratively

yet these sorts of things seem to almost all focus on programming, and virtually all of them deal exclusively with collaborative software for existing projects, and not on the need for a latent community of potential volunteers that could be convinced to participate.

k, done for real now
posted by Muffpub at 3:09 PM on June 18, 2009

Muffpub, the buzz word / search term for what you're talking about is "crowdsourcing".
posted by XMLicious at 5:41 PM on June 18, 2009

Came across this while I was thinking about posting an invite to see if anyone wanted to jump onboard for a rather kamikaze "Make an X in 48 Hours" project. It would be cool if there was a sub-site (or a part of Projects) for things like that, but cortex's suggestion is a very good one. I will now be hunting through people's profiles...wait, is that like MeFi stalking?
posted by sixswitch at 12:42 PM on June 23, 2009

The only disadvantage to the personal-invite way of doing things is that there may be some very talented people who are lurkers. IF they knew of a project, they might be great contributors, but the project author will never know about them because they wouldn't know their talents or interests due to minimal posting history.
posted by Miko at 2:21 PM on June 23, 2009

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