More META than META! January 9, 2010 3:10 PM   Subscribe

When you describe AskMeFi to others, how do/would you characterize/qualify/paint the responses in a macroscopic way?

I was trying to explain the concept of AskMeFi to someone the other day and I found myself unable to articulate the subtleties of what goes on here.

There are plenty of other places in the intertubes where people can try to have their random questions answered. Those are free, non-topical, unmoderated, and seemingly swarmed by barely-literate teeny-boppers who answer questions that they do not have any business answering. AskMeFi is clearly not that.

However, the Hive does have a certain flavor to it; a je ne sais quoi that despite my best possible efforts, I was not able to put my finger on.

I got as far as this (though the conversation did not take place in a bulleted format):
-There are people from everywhere, if you are asking about a place, someone from that place or very familiar with that place will almost certainly answer, no matter how small it may be.
-The Hive is almost universally nice and helpful
-The Hive is not your doctor or your lawyer! (but they have experienced whatever strange gynecological issue you are dealing with, and they will gladly tell you about it)
-The Hive contains an over-representation (imo) of kooky cat ladies (this is not a bad thing, please don't blast me for that, cat ladies need a place to have their questions answered too, and cat ladies are almost universally well-read, which leads to)
-The Hive has read every book, magazine, article, or blog you have ever read, and has seen every show, video, or movie you have ever seen. Not only have they seen it, they remember it, can link to it almost instantaneously, and remember every character's name.
-The Hive is displeased when anyone makes insensitive comments about any group (double displeasure if the comment is about women, overweight people, minorities, anyone that might be sensitive, or anyone who is not totally mainstream (this doubling stacks up like in Scrabble, if you say something that can be construed as being insensitive to more than one of these groups, may god have mercy on your soul)) (disclaimer: I am not saying this is a bad thing, nor am I saying anything insensitive. I am just saying how insensitive things are handled, because it really is a big factor in how the community works. Being sensitive about the way that insensitive comments are handled is silly! Please do not blast me for this!)
-The Hive is contains an over-representation of linux sysadmins, if you have messed up server settings, or a jacked up kernel, they will save you.
-The Hive leans left, very left, but they still know about guns (they might be vegan, carbon-aware, feminist guns, but they definitely know about them)
-The Hive thinks you should go to therapy. Therapy can solve anything from anxiety to ingrown toenails to Excel-formulas.

I didn't really get any farther before the person I was talking to was like "what the f*** are you talking about?"

So I ask:
-When you describe AskMeFi to outsiders, how do you (color/qualify/characterize) the (type/content/leanings) of the (information/story-telling/knowledge) that is (exchanged/shared/provided) here?
-How can I communicate the essence of the Hive more accurately/effectively/comically?
posted by milqman to MetaFilter-Related at 3:10 PM (98 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

I do not in fact have awesome things to say about it.

I had good experiences there when I asked questions, but can't say I always had good experiences answering questions, especially when my answer was unpopular with other answerers.

So I stopped participating in that part of the community.

I'm cheered that other folks are getting a lot out of it, though. :)
posted by kalessin at 3:15 PM on January 9, 2010


Honest to god, I really think you are beanplating this. I just think of it (and refer to it) as, "Yahoo answers for people who can read and write." Often much more, of course, but sometimes just that.
posted by availablelight at 3:17 PM on January 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


My own personal perspective is that it's like what a library would be if librarians were actually helpful and would give you personal advice in addition to resources and you could ask 500 of them at once.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:18 PM on January 9, 2010 [28 favorites]


Yeah and I do say "it's like Yahoo Answers except it's not entirely populated by children and does not suck"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:18 PM on January 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


People who don't know how to dress and haven't worked out that the nose and eyes are useful tools for ascertaining whether food is edible or not.
posted by fire&wings at 3:20 PM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I like the part where people ask questions and then other people answer them.
posted by found missing at 3:21 PM on January 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


The green is kind of weird. When I go in with questions I don't take the answers too seriously- it seems like no matter what the question, some of the (very helpful) responses will also be critical of the asker, whether they are being critical of the length, the brevity, the details (or lack of details), the asker's personal character, ethics, logic, etc.

OTOH, askers go in requesting these critiques (read: answers).

I've liked the green a lot better once I stopped taking the responses personally. When I tell outsiders about the green, I suggest they ask simply worded questions that have a very concrete answer. Requesting feedback that includes any sort of speculation or opinions is asking for trouble. I actively suggest people don't ask questions about relationships.
posted by arnicae at 3:23 PM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've had someone sort of angrily exclaim, "Is that you're answer to everything? This website?"

And I'm like yeah, well, you should try it, it's pretty helpful.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:31 PM on January 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


-The Hive leans left, very left, but they still know about guns

- The Hive Metafilter leans left, very left by American standards, but they still know about guns but that doesn't matter in Ask.

FTFY

...(they might be vegan...

Yet somehow they know EVERYTHING about bacon and bacon-related matters.
posted by shoebox at 3:32 PM on January 9, 2010


I wish I could buy guns on Amazon.com.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:34 PM on January 9, 2010


I would say it's a place where anyone who's paid the $5 one-time registration fee can ask a question about anything that's hard to find a good answer to elsewhere. And there's a high standard for writing intelligently and being helpful.

For instance, "What was the first movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock?" would be a bad question to ask, because it's very easy to find a perfect answer to this question using Google.

"What's the best way to use up 10 pounds of potatoes?" is a pretty good question, because, even though you can find potato recipes through Google, AskMetafilter is likely to do a better job at answering it because it's based on individuals' responses to your exact question.

"How can I develop an exercise plan that won't make lose weight or get sexy?" is a great question because many people would find it very hard to answer this question. Try Googling for "exercise" and "weight loss" and you'll be deluged with sites explaining how to lose weight through exercise. It's probably a lot harder to find information on how to exercise without losing weight. But out of all the AskMetafilter users, there are almost sure to be other people who have wanted to do the same thing and have succeeded.

I would say almost none of the points in your list, especially that there's a double standard for comments about women vs. men, blacks vs. whites, etc. I agree that this is a largely accurate description of what happens on the site. But I don't think there should be a double standard based on simplistically categorizing certain groups as "sensitive," nor do I think certain answers should be ruled out because they're politically incorrect.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:35 PM on January 9, 2010


"There's this website that I like - well, community really - which is based on the theory that the more information you have from as many sources as possible will yield the best answers. So basically: the more people you ask, the better your odds are of finding an expert, whether your question is about Burma changing its name to Myanmar or that weird growth thing on the side of your foot."

Then I tell them to lurk for a while, and either it will be something that interests them or it wont.

And then I'll know if they are someone I can see myself dating.
posted by greekphilosophy at 3:36 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Good, informed answers to just about any possible question."
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:42 PM on January 9, 2010


"No matter what relationship issue you have, dumping the motherfucker already is always presented as an option"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:49 PM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, I know my boyfriend teases me about AskMeFi being full of know-it-alls, myself included.
posted by banannafish at 4:08 PM on January 9, 2010


"It's this website where people can ask questions and other people give answers. The answers are generally pretty decent."

That's it. If I'm mentioning ask at all it's in the context of a particular question so the answers in my story make it clear it's not yahoo answers level of awful, and beyond that anyone who cares can come see for themselves. I can't imaging having a conversation as long or detailed as the one milqman has outlined, even with my boyfriend (who famously asked me one day "What's that green website you're always looking at these days?"), because the internet just isn't that interesting when you're out in the real world.
posted by shelleycat at 4:11 PM on January 9, 2010


"It's like licking a 9V battery."
posted by Meatbomb at 4:11 PM on January 9, 2010 [22 favorites]


Although I have very occasionally complained that the same stupid answers always come up in certain questions, things like "if the chicken loks and smells good then it's OK to eat" (which, wrong!), which in turn explains why avoidable stuff like food poisoning still happens in real life even when the general public really should know better.
posted by shelleycat at 4:14 PM on January 9, 2010


It's like licking a 9V battery.

You are definitely doing it wrong.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:16 PM on January 9, 2010


"Good, informed answers to just about any possible question."
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:42 PM on January 9


I agree and with the added benefit of the mods being diligent and strict about deleting most of the noise or jokes.
posted by selton at 4:21 PM on January 9, 2010


Also, it's a place where people ask questions I really wanted to know the answers to, but didn't know I wanted to know the answers to.
posted by xingcat at 4:43 PM on January 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


which is based on the theory that the more information you have from as many sources as possible will yield the best answers.

I don't think numbers is really a strength of AskMe you want to accentuate. I forget the exact number but it's in the ballpark of about 5000 people: the number of users who have contributed at least one answer on the green in any given month. I'm sure Yahoo Answers has orders of magnitude more active users than that, and we all know how that turned out. The strength of AskMe lies more in the composition/makeup of the answerers than their sheer number.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:49 PM on January 9, 2010


Its the great equalizer. I see it as a help desk for your life. It is sort of like your grandmother's advice. "Oh dear. If it hurts so much, why not see the doctor?" Or, "Oh my precious, you don't have to take that from that man. You are better than that. Dump the motherfucker and see a lawyer, ya hear?"
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:15 PM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


It tastes metallic, like a mouthful of quarters.

Seriously, though, they can go to the website themselves if they want to know about it; I'd just say it's a website with people asking and answering questions, somewhat like yahoo answers, but it's got effective moderation, and you need a credit card and $5 to be able to make posts.
posted by Mike1024 at 5:17 PM on January 9, 2010


It's pretty funny. All of my friends know about it, because I'm always saying "That's a good question for Ask Metafilter." Or "I've got to AskMeta."

But basically, I just tell my friends that there's smart people on the site. And you don't get retarded answers like Yahoo.
posted by hazyspring at 5:25 PM on January 9, 2010


My ex asked me what this website was that I was always using and I explained AskMe as a place where random people can ask questions and get answers from other random people and she was like, "Oh, so it's a bunch of people making up bullshit and passing it off as expert advice." She was a librarian and softened her stance when I explained how big a presence librarians play in the site, but was overall still suspicious of its value. Though, I think her opinion was influenced by her suspicion of the amount of time I spent on the site, like she was worried I was meeting women here. That's honestly the only non-user I've ever mentioned Metafilter to. Most of my friends in Philly aren't very computer savvy, a lot of them aren't college grads, so I generally avoid getting into explanations about Metafilter and typically ask Mefites who meet my friends not to bring it up because it would just be really alien and would take too much explaining and contextualizing.
posted by The Straightener at 5:29 PM on January 9, 2010


A large crowd of worldly and fairly intelligent adults take pride in giving you helpful answers to real world adult questions.

Mathowie invented something wonderful here. It probably would not have worked without having seeded it with something like the users of Metafilter first, but now it stands on its own as one of the most useful places on the intertubes to get an answer to real world adult problems. (Ask Yahoo is still better for cheating on your Physics homework.)
posted by caddis at 5:32 PM on January 9, 2010


I describe it as "the internet". As in "I asked the internet and it said..."
posted by DU at 5:40 PM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


"You know how they say that the worst vice is advice? Imagine a place like Las Vegas built out of cocaine by poker-playing hookers on the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah."
posted by Wolfdog at 5:52 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


If any of my friends gets interested in AskMe, I just head them off at the pass by telling them to DTMFA myself.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 5:53 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It depends. The 'my router is broken' questions usually go a little differently than 'should I call him/her?' Also, 'hive mind' makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.
posted by fixedgear at 6:52 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, 'hive mind' makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Me too. If I see the phrase in a question I am possibly less likely to answer it.
posted by grouse at 6:58 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Me three. I really wish it would just go away along with all the other cutesy bullshit like [more inside] jokes and I'm-going-to-make-up-some-really-stupid-long-type-of-filter-Filter.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:00 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you're definitely overbeaning this plate of think. Way, way too detailed. Also, "the Hive" is annoying and sounds dumb.

That said, I actually think that "the Hive is almost universally nice and helpful" is completely wrong. Helpful? Absolutely. Nice? Not particularly. But that isn't a criticism. "Nice" is not a virtue. Being kind usually is, but that's not the same thing and sometimes the kindest thing you can do is not be nice. Ask Meta does try (rather imperfectly) to be kind most of the time but being nice isn't much of a priority for a lot of people, myself included.

Maybe I'm being a pedant by drawing a distinction between kindness and niceness but sometimes I think the world could use a lot less niceness and a lot more kindness. Too many people are willing to shiv you with a smile and call it "nice".
posted by Justinian at 7:03 PM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


AskMeFi on a good day: Wikipedia with more personal context, 'Savage Love' with more empathy, Tech Republic with more experience, and Your Mom with less nagging.

On a bad day, it's Ask Yahoo with backbiting.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:16 PM on January 9, 2010 [14 favorites]


The hive thing just doesn't make sense to me. The point of hive-based creatures is that they don't have individual minds exactly plus they all work together. It's almost the opposite of what we have here and all the ways we're not like a hive are all the reasons why we're good at answering questions (except, I guess, for different groups having different specialities). I just assume anyone using that phrase doesn't really know anything about hives or how they work.
posted by shelleycat at 7:24 PM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know how you have that one really good friend who you know will honestly tell you that those jeans/glasses/shoes you're trying on are just not your color/size/style? And she says it in a way that doesn't make you feel fat? That's what AskMe is like.

I've gotten some good feedback through AskMe, some of it a little bit ouchy, some of it practical, all of it sincere and genuine even when the questions remain unresolved. I am very grateful to mathowie for adding AskMe to MeFi, and to the mods for modding it.
posted by headnsouth at 7:32 PM on January 9, 2010


I just assume anyone using that phrase doesn't really know anything about hives or how they work.

I went through the same confusion until I realized that it's probably because it's officially promoted as such.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:35 PM on January 9, 2010


I forgot about the tagline hivemind thing. So now I'll change my opinion to it being someone who's parroting something they heard somewhere without really thinking about it. Still not very charitable I know but I never act on my weird opinions.
posted by shelleycat at 7:41 PM on January 9, 2010


I tell everyone it's the place to go if you want to learn more about prostates.
posted by iconomy at 7:46 PM on January 9, 2010


fixedgear: “Also, 'hive mind' makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.”

grouse: “Me too. If I see the phrase in a question I am possibly less likely to answer it.”

Rhomboid: “Me three. I really wish it would just go away along with all the other cutesy bullshit like [more inside] jokes and I'm-going-to-make-up-some-really-stupid-long-type-of-filter-Filter.”

And I was actually only coming in here to point out how much I, too, hate it when people call it the "hive mind."

So there's another thing you can put us down for: we hate cute internet crap, and we will crap on your Twitters and your friending and shit like nobody's business. I hope I speak for everyone when I say this.

shelleycat: “The hive thing just doesn't make sense to me. The point of hive-based creatures is that they don't have individual minds exactly plus they all work together. It's almost the opposite of what we have here and all the ways we're not like a hive are all the reasons why we're good at answering questions (except, I guess, for different groups having different specialities). I just assume anyone using that phrase doesn't really know anything about hives or how they work.”

I agree, but I can't really put up with cognitive dissonance very well, so a long time ago I came up with an alternate explanation that works just as well. I just assume that any reference to "the hive mind" means that, no matter what I say, the asker will understand what I'm trying to tell them primarily from the way that I dance.
posted by koeselitz at 7:54 PM on January 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


And taters.
posted by fixedgear at 7:55 PM on January 9, 2010


actually, at the tournament this weekend, my boss asked me what the hell metafilter was. the askme portion was as follows:

me: it's the only useful place to get answers about anything, if you have a question.
him: what do you mean?
me: I mean, you'll get a useful answer, there, about anything.
him: why is it so good?
me: 5 dollar membership fee keeps out the riffraff.
him: like the somethingawful membership fee?
me: yeah, but it's moderated heavily to keep people from being cocks.
him: how?
me: fuck if I know. magic?
posted by shmegegge at 7:59 PM on January 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think of "Minority Report". The PreCogs are a Hive Mind, and their pooled thoughts are stronger. Perhaps MetaFilter is a Cabal of the telephone averse.
posted by effluvia at 8:02 PM on January 9, 2010


Did Jessamyn just admit librarians are as useless as Yahoo users?

THE SOCIALIST FACADE OF THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IS FALLING ONCE AND FOR ALL!
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:10 PM on January 9, 2010


I think AskMe works as well as it does because of the barrier to entry (the $5 registration fee I think weeds out a lot of jokers) and the attentive, consistent moderation. I don't think any other "answers" site has those same organic components, but they make all the difference in the world here.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:17 PM on January 9, 2010


Yeah, "Yahoo answers, except without idiots" is exactly how I describe it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:26 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Rememeber this. The people you're trying to step on, we're everyone you depend on. We're the people who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. We make your bed. We guard you while you're asleep. We drive the ambulances. We direct your call. We are cooks and taxi drivers and we know everything about you. We process your insurance claims and credit card charges. We control every part of your life.

We are the middle children of history, raised by television to believe that someday we'll be millionaires and movie stars and rock stars, but we won't. And we're just learning this fact. So don't fuck with us."
Tyler Durden
posted by cdmwebs at 8:46 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Recently I was trying to explain to a friend how great ask.metafilter is. My explanation was not particularly eloquent (we had been drinking). In somewhat inebriated enthusiasm which I'm not entirely sure was shared, I pointed out the following three threads:

Help! I'm stuck in my room ("It happens in REAL TIME")

Dirty jokes I can tell my grandmother I'm not sure why I chose this thread, but we chuckled.

Tracking Down an Address in 1939 Vienna. This is one of my favourite things on metafilter, the internet, perhaps the whole world... and just proves how fantastic people can be when they're given a tool to help someone find the information they need.

As each of these threads does, in their own way, in fact.
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 9:03 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fight Club is just about the most fascistic book I've ever read, and if I thought we approximated anything in it on Metafilter I wouldn't be a member.

If anything, the people described in that bit, cdmwebs, are answering questions on Yahoo or commenting on youtube. Metafilter is superlative in that its members, at least in my experience, are refreshingly nonstandard, a subset of people never discussed or even acknowledged much in the books and movies that attain popularity today: gardeners, farmers, 70-year-old bloggers, well-read linguists, intelligent and happily-married artists, and generally just normal people who live, which is as shocking and refreshing as it is comforting. People who never wanted to be rock stars, but wanted to be really good accordion players; people who wanted to be rock stars and did, in fact, in their own way, by getting on two hundred different internet playlists. Anything but the malingering, vengeance-seeking children of the middle class depicted in that book as seeking out a bloody-minded domination as some sort of revenge for the inborne vacuity and bitterness of modern life. That stuff is fun and cool and post-modern and all, but then one day you wake up and realize you just enjoy certain things about life, and there's really nothing wrong with that.

No offense.
posted by koeselitz at 9:09 PM on January 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Personally, I still hate AskMe. Yes, even though I have used it twice to address personal issues I was having. Yes, even though it made the site profitable enough to allow Matt to put Jess and Josh on the payroll. I just do. Sorry.
posted by yhbc at 9:27 PM on January 9, 2010


On that note, I like that the MetaFilter age demographic skews a little higher than a lot of forum-type places. I spend a fair amount of time on reddit and from the age polls that occur from time to time the majority is in the 18-25 range. I'm only 33 and I often feel old whenever certain subjects come up in threads there. In contrast, I can always count on MetaFilter to expose me to opinions from all over the age scale; things seem more well-rounded here.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:27 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't get that vibe from Fight Club, koeselitz. Maybe I should read it again.
posted by ODiV at 9:31 PM on January 9, 2010


I kinda crapped out on Palahniuk after Invisible Monsters. It's been some years, but looking at it again on that Google Books link the prose just still doesn't interest me at all; but maybe I'm not giving it the chance it deserves. I'm willing to be convinced.

I've been really enjoying Tristram Shandy lately, so maybe it's a mood thing. I remember being really very put off by both Fight Club and Survivor, though.
posted by koeselitz at 9:38 PM on January 9, 2010


I read it on a bus and in the terminal and while I'm trying to recall it am drawing mostly from the film, which may or may not be relevant. The message I mostly got from the film is that charisma does not equal insight, your existential crisis is boring and largely unimportant, there are more people in the world than just you, quit acting like a child and take responsibility for your own life and actions.

But that's just me. As I said, maybe I should reread the book.
posted by ODiV at 9:46 PM on January 9, 2010


... I mean—looking back on it, recollecting my thoughts and impressions when I read it, what really got me was just how cool everything in the book insistently felt. It was like a cult of cool within the book. Palahniuk is, in my mind, mostly interested in the political, or maybe I should say the social—what becomes famous, what becomes inspirational or zeitgeisty for a growing group of people, the stuff that motivates a generation. Yes, that sort of actually happened with the movie version of Fight Club, and I can remember what was almost a sense of delight Palahniuk seemed to have in his later preface to the book that describes the cult popularity of the film; he described vividly the experiences he'd had meeting peopel who were devoted fans of the book and who saw themselves as acting out what took place in it, and though I remember him giving a sort of hand-wavey dissociative justification for it I felt like it was clear that Palahniuk enjoyed this. (Somebody can correct me; now I feel the urge to go check in the preface in the Google Books version, because it's been years and I'm wondering how much I'm remembering correctly.) But it wasn't just Fight Club and the movie; that was a big theme in Survivor, too, the idea of a guy who stands up and out above his generation as an archetypal, inspirational anti-hero.

I guess that's kind of Palahniuk's big motif in those books, the anti-hero, only I really feel as though it has political implications for him: Fight Club is full of these mantras-as-founding-documents, not just the (famous-from-the-movie) 'Rules of Fight Club' but the rules of Operation Mayhem, which were more along the lines of "You MUST trust Tyler Durden." Survivor kind of explores that in more detail, with a suicide cult and the antihero last survivor; and in both the theme of some sort of underground society of the mindlessly devoted who'll serve with absolute volition the will of their leader is big. And that's what bugged me; that they're designed around the real draw of that sensation. I know that Palahniuk is probably trying to say something about that phenomenon, but it's real, and it really is what drove fascism.

And, honestly, one of the things that bugged me most was the real chord it struck. It was very perceptive in pointing out the disappointments and failures of our generation, the things we wanted and were told we'd get and would never have. And then to take that insight into our disappointments and turn it toward what was almost a fantasy of a constructed society of obedience to mad whims... well, that really bugged me. Maybe I'm taking particular parts of the story and overemphasizing them, but I had a hard time drawing something positive out of it; every time I saw something going in a really interesting direction it led back to this dead end.

All this stuff is sort of recapitulated in Survivor, although not as directly. It's about the last survivor of a religious suicide cult who becomes a massive celebrity. There are similar elements, for example the frenzied freedom of eschewing moral ideals—one memorable bit for me in Survivor was a moment when a suicidal man calls the main character, the religious celebrity, and tells him he's thinking of committing suicide, and the religious celebrity tells him to go ahead. That's the stuff I really don't like—when I was at Boston College I remember a student gushed to me about this class they were taking where they read a lot of Palahniuk that called this "transgressive fiction," fiction about characters that free themselves by transgressing the bounds of society. I just... I don't know how I feel about all that. Seems altogether too simple.
posted by koeselitz at 10:09 PM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


it proves what surowiecki should have bothered to define: "which crowd"
posted by infini at 10:18 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


What I like about Metafilter is that there are people like koeselitz here, with intelligent, well-thought out and well-written answers that often mirror, or echo my own thoughts.
posted by Lynsey at 10:40 PM on January 9, 2010


I describe AskMe by invoking the concept of critical mass.
posted by desuetude at 11:02 PM on January 9, 2010


like, with bikes?
posted by koeselitz at 11:08 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"What is MetaFilter?"

"It's an on line community of knowledge oriented people, who "talk" about esoteric subjects."
posted by Relay at 11:13 PM on January 9, 2010


You're breaking the first two rules.

1. You don't talk about MeFi.
2. You don't talk about MeFi.
3. If someone says favorite, goes limp, taps out, the AskMeFi is over.
4. Numerous people to a question.
5. Numerous questions at a time.
6. No shirts, no shoes...unless its a meetup.
7. MeTas will go on as long as cortex lets them.
8. If this is your first week at MeFi, you can't post an AskMeFi.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:16 PM on January 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Jesus hal_c_on, I think I just sneezed milk out my nose ...
posted by Relay at 11:27 PM on January 9, 2010


arnicae: "I actively suggest people don't ask questions about relationships"

Yes, much like I used to suggest other good sites for mixtape suggestions, I've been wanting to tell people that there's a site for relationship questions now. Relationship askers, meet Relatio.us.

However, I'm sure Relationship Filter will always exist and I'm not saying I haven't asked a few of my own.

shelleycat: "because the internet just isn't that interesting when you're out in the real world"

OMG WTF BBQ?!
posted by IndigoRain at 11:54 PM on January 9, 2010


After "If you posted an answer to Ask MetaFilter yesterday, January 8th, it might be gone today after a server blip.", I might say truncated.
posted by Cranberry at 12:09 AM on January 10, 2010


I will admit it here, as I have previously admitted it on Metachat:

I call y'all "the internerds."

And by that, I mean, "I call us 'the internerds'," so don't take it too personally; I'm projecting my own nerd identity onto the rest of you.

In my plenty nerdy social circle, that's really enough: it indicates the general intelligence and intensity of the population, and therefore of the answers. My nerd friends understand that in a large group of nerds, you're going to find at least one person with (perhaps limited) information on any given subject and (perhaps limitless) passion to inform others.

They also understand that, in a larger population, you'll find many more informed people and many more passionate people, and that therefore the debate on any given subject is likely to be vigorous and informative, and occasionally absurd. I'd say that sums up Metafilter quite nicely.
posted by Elsa at 12:36 AM on January 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


"It's sort of like Yahoo Answers, except everyone's really over educated, and sometimes have useful things to say."
posted by Afroblanco at 1:06 AM on January 10, 2010


A vast majority of my questions, both pseudonymously and anonymously asked, have been answered poorly or incompetently. In fact, at least one of my anonymously asked questions was of the "The constraint against X is non-negotiable" type where nearly all the answers were "hey, have you thought about doing X?" with the exception of a couple of comments that suggested obvious things. There is definitely a significant -- and growing, judging from the constantly unfamiliar names added to the familiar ones -- contingent of incompetent and low-comprehension answerers.

Having said that, I see a ton of questions answered correctly and competently and it's my favorite part of the site by a landslide. To tell you the truth, the rest of the joint could go to hell for all I care, except inasmuch as it acts as an attraction for intelligent and competent answerers.

So how would I characterize Ask's answer crew? "Usually pretty useful except when it's spectacularly, 3D surround sound, Technicolor useless."
posted by majick at 6:57 AM on January 10, 2010


AskMe: Answers are free, questions cost $5 (SAIT)
posted by blue_beetle at 7:10 AM on January 10, 2010


Yes, much like I used to suggest other good sites for mixtape suggestions, I've been wanting to tell people that there's a site for relationship questions now. Relationship askers, meet Relatio.us.

Taking a brief glimpse at that site, it doesn't look nearly as good as askMe!

AskMe: Answers are free, questions cost $5 (SAIT)

But . . . that's not true!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:00 AM on January 10, 2010


It's a buffet of answers, served by experienced and worldly chefs who may be jacked up on their own emotional issues and real life dramas, but none the less usually strive to give helpful answers as they see fit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:51 AM on January 10, 2010


I'd describe Metafilter as fairly remarkable, considering other resources on the internet.

I lurked Metafilter and AskMe for years. This after continuously stumbling upon it whenever I searched google for information. The links/answers at Metafilter struck me as not only smart, but thoughtful (that is, best, shy of actually contacting a tech, a doctor, a therapist, a lawyer, etc). At some point I started searching Metafilter directly.

That's how I would explain this site to someone who didn't know about it. Though it's rare for me to come across anyone who isn't aware of it.
posted by marimeko at 9:04 AM on January 10, 2010


I always tell people that there is a site on the internet you can ask anything, and you'll get a reasonable answer from reasonable people.

My husband teases me all the time about my love of Metafilter, particularly Ask - if I don't know anything, he'll inevitably chime in with, "Can't you just ask your Metafilter friends?" Thanks for all your answers, Metafilter friends!
posted by ukdanae at 9:06 AM on January 10, 2010


I have a difficult enough time explaining Metafilter to the majority of my friends. The concept that I ask strangers for advice, and contribute to strangers'questions by giving advice even further blows minds. So, I turn it into something they can relate to by making it more sound like a topic-centered message board. Where the topic is everything and anything, I guess.
posted by NikitaNikita at 10:09 AM on January 10, 2010




I'm a geek/nerd/reader who loves useless trivia and loves solving problems. Someday all that useless trivia might be useful to someone. This is the perfect place to fulfill that geek/nerd/reader dream. Multiply that by thousands and you have AskMe.

Yes, I do have a cat.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:19 PM on January 10, 2010


fixedgear: “Also, 'hive mind' makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.”

grouse: “Me too. If I see the phrase in a question I am possibly less likely to answer it.”

Rhomboid: “Me three. I really wish it would just go away along with all the other cutesy bullshit like [more inside] jokes and I'm-going-to-make-up-some-really-stupid-long-type-of-filter-Filter.”

Justinian: "Also, "the Hive" is annoying and sounds dumb."

koeselitz: "and I was actually only coming in here to point out how much I, too, hate it when people call it the "hive mind."


Yeah, we hate the term "hive mind" too, er, I... I meant I...

One of us, one of us...
posted by the other side at 1:00 PM on January 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I tell my friends I'm going to ask my Delphic oracle.
posted by bwonder2 at 1:30 PM on January 10, 2010


I tell my friends I'm going to ask my Delphic oracle.

actually the site runs on sql server fyi
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:41 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


actually the site runs on sql server fyi

I say "You know the old vaudeville days where there was like a funny person and then a person who stood next to him and went o_O a lot? That's like my job"

I HAVE A SWORD FYI
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:51 PM on January 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Survivor is a much better book. It didn't have guys beating each others faces in, and probably won't spawn a "really cool" movie because it has a plane hijacking as a central plot point. But it did spawn a "really cool" website SuicideGirls.(NSFW)

There are a lot of things that AskMe is great for, but there are some subjects that people should seek answers elsewhere. So it's one of those YMMV things, just like anywhere else.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:25 PM on January 10, 2010


"A lot like Yahoo! Answers, only populated by people of the legal drinking age who understand the difference between 'your' and 'you're.'"
posted by jason's_planet at 4:05 PM on January 10, 2010


milqman: "The Hive leans left, very left"

Agreeing with shoebox, I'm going to have to assume that you're USian, because only within that cultural system could the Hive's pleasant, vaguely schizoid diddle-daddle between distributionist and libertarian group thoughts be categorised as "left, very left".

The Hive still hasn't told me how is babby formed? Yahoo's still ahead there.
posted by meehawl at 5:03 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


My husband teases me all the time about my love of Metafilter, particularly Ask - if I don't know anything, he'll inevitably chime in with, "Can't you just ask your Metafilter friends?"

DTMFA
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:09 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


"No matter what relationship issue you have, dumping the motherfucker already is always presented as an option"

but never universally as the only option.

I had a friend I tried to explain AskMe to, hopelessly (why would you want a bunch of strangers to answer your questions?), but once she was desperate about her beloved bird being sick and didn't know what to do. We put it on AskMe, and she is forever in gratitude.

Sometimes I try to explain it and then realize midsentence that if they're having that much trouble with it, do I really need to help them figure it out?
posted by kch at 6:37 PM on January 10, 2010


oh, and if the person doesn't intuitively get into the hilarity of talking about your parents in the style of Yoda, then there's absolutely no hope for explaining AskMe.
posted by kch at 6:39 PM on January 10, 2010


If you had a question that couldn't be googled and you needed the intervention of humans, who would you want those humans to be? (I could ask that on AskMe but it's rhetorical) You'd want them to be the kind of people you'd be willing to be in a community with--that is, people whose values and ways of understanding the world isn't that different from your own. You'd want to pose your question to a version of yourself but one with different knowledge and experience. And you'd recognize those people when you ran across them because, say, they'd all volunteer that they hate the phrase "hive mind." You'd be hating it thinking you were alone because it was up there in the corner of the website, but just then, a whole bunch of other haters somehow shows up and you know you're in the right place.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:18 PM on January 10, 2010


and then a person who stood next to him and went o_O a lot?

That was usually the most loved person.
posted by caddis at 7:25 PM on January 10, 2010


Oh my god, the egg-bound cockatiel haunted me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:26 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh my god, the egg-bound cockatiel haunted me.

and unbelievably, it survived and even thrived, and the owner didn't have a nervous breakdown, thanks to AskMe. The egg never passed, though 6 months later the bird died from unrelated causes.

AskMe: the folks who will answer your weird, banal, or frankly disturbing questions with compassion (or at least passion), so much that even months or years later they'll remember the most cryptic reference to your personal oddities.
posted by kch at 8:07 PM on January 10, 2010


AskMe is like crack. I'm totally addicted (work and relationship-filter are basically my daily soaps), and this has not been for the best. I now have a greek chorus of internet strangers living in my head laptop without whose counsel I fear to make a single decision. So I mostly recommended, wide-eyed and trembling, that people approach the vortex thereof with caution.

However, frustratingly, answers are (understandably) massively US-culture-biased so actual useful info can be limited.

posted by freya_lamb at 4:03 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


AskMeFi Is As Good As Ten Mothers (reference)

Basically, if it wasn't for AskMe, I'd be posting questions to AskMe constantly. As much as I want to believe I'm a unique little snowflake, pretty much all of my relationships, neuroses, physical oddities and strange behavioural tics have been well documented, discussed and resolved in AskMe already without any input from me.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:59 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I view AskMe as my backup ripcord; I'm usually pretty good at finding out what I need by searching, but every once in a while I just fail in my efforts. It fills me with confidence to know that if I really get screwed and need to get an answer ASAP, it's there for me.

I tell my friends I'm going to ask my Delphic oracle.

I do something similar, except I suggest that I am the oracle, and that I need to consult my glowing mystery box before I can provide my friends with the secrets which they seek. I have a whole production that involves a required donation in gold and spices and then there's the smoke machine, incense, and even an irritable raven perched on a skull which guards my domain.

Needless to say, my co-workers hardly ever come to my cube to bug me with questions anymore.
posted by quin at 9:43 AM on January 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


milqman: The Hive leans left, very left

God, I really wish people would stop saying this. There are a few extremely vocal users here with fairly left-leaning social views who (for better or worse) tend to dominate discussions about those topics. I sincerely doubt they are statistically representative of the active user population here.
posted by mkultra at 10:48 AM on January 11, 2010


if I don't know anything, he'll inevitably chime in with, "Can't you just ask your Metafilter friends?"

It's not just me then?

I'd describe it as a question-answering site with smart people who know something about almost anything, with a bit of a librarian vibe. I think I've mentioned to at least one person that AskMe helped me decide how to cut my hair.

Mostly, if it comes up in conversation w/someone other than mr. epersonae (he uses the phrase "your internet friends" btw), I just say I asked (or looked up on) this advice site for [whatever actual conversation topic]. Which generally gets one of three responses:

1) "Huh, interesting," and the conversation continues. (This happened yesterday when I was talking about a book I'm reading about Central Asia because of a question.)

2) "You let people on the internet tell you how to cut your hair?!"

3) "Oh hey, I love AskMe!" ...which happens more often than I expect.
posted by epersonae at 10:54 AM on January 11, 2010


I tend to describe Metafilter more often, and AskMe is a subset of it.

And I define "metafilter" as "remember the early days of the Internet when there was no graphics interface so it was all conversation, and everyone knew how to spell?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:27 AM on January 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's "Hive Mind" because "Hornets Nest" was all ready taken.

I keed.
posted by vapidave at 1:55 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: I guess I could have added some context. The only sentence I really wanted to use was:
We're the people who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. We make your bed. We guard you while you're asleep. We drive the ambulances. We direct your call. We are cooks and taxi drivers and we know everything about you. We process your insurance claims and credit card charges.
Everything else just sounded badass so I left it, too.

No offense.

None taken.
posted by cdmwebs at 9:52 PM on January 14, 2010


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