"Best" time for AskMeFi post? February 19, 2010 12:02 AM   Subscribe

Best time to post AskMeFi question?

I'm new here, and have yet to post a question to AskMeFi. I'd like to hear opinions from veterans here if they feel there is a time of day/day of week when I'm more likely to get a lot of answers to any questions I post.

I'm not the type to seek attention so that's not the issue. It has more to do with the fact that I'm new here, and I would be greatly disappointed if I asked something and only got a few responses merely because of when I asked the question.

I realize there are posters from many time zones so I expect the consensus will be that there is no "better" time than any other, but I was wondering, so I thought I'd ask here first.

Many Thanks!

PS - This place can sure make me feel dumb! I haven't found one question yet that I felt comfortable answering.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere to Etiquette/Policy at 12:02 AM (53 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite



Don't feel dumb. We won't tear you down for asking an honest question - promise.

As far as the best time, there are two good answers, really:

(1) We all talked about this several times, we ran the numbers, and the sort of shocking thing is that you get pretty much the same number of useful answers no matter what time of day or week you ask a question. It seems odd, but it really doesn't matter. Just ask any time you want to.

(2) I am usually around looking at questions between noon and 5pm Mountain Standard Time in the US. So you should probably aim for that time if you want the best answers possible.
posted by koeselitz at 12:25 AM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


Short version: look at this chart that Plutor made. That's a chart of the average number of answers to a question for any given hour during which the question is asked. Notice that you'll get about fourteen answers per question, regardless of what time you ask it.

The startling fact is: it doesn't matter what time you ask a question. Crazy, eh?
posted by koeselitz at 12:29 AM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh, and one small thing:

The point isn't to get a lot of answers. A lot of answers are usually a bad sign, and anyway they're usually just a lot of slag you have to wade through. The best situation would be just one extremely good answer.

Quantity and quality are very, very different things. The world is not democratic, and you usually can't get answers to important questions just by polling people. What you're looking for is some one person who knows what they're talking about.
posted by koeselitz at 12:33 AM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here are some graphs of AskMe posting activity from Google Reader:

Average number of AskMe questions per hour (Central Standard Time, I'm assuming, since the chart is from my Reader account)

Average number of AskMe questions per day of the week

Daily AskMe activity over the last month

As you can see, posting rates are generally higher during the week, peaking on Thursday, while the lowest levels of activity are during the weekend. You can see this reflected in the monthly chart.

As for timing, posting rises sharply at 7 a.m., climbs higher towards 11 a.m., declines slightly during lunch, then hits a daily peak at 2 p.m. It then erodes throughout the evening, with the lowest ebb from 3 to 6 a.m.

Granted, all this data covers only posting data, not reading or answering data. But I think it's safe to say that the more people available to post questions, the more people there are reading to offer answers. So posting at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday will net you a lot of potential answerers, but will be crowded out by new questions pretty quickly. If you post at 4 a.m. on a Sunday, OTOH, your question will sit at the top of the queue for a good while, but there will only be a few international readers and insomniacs around to see it.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:42 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rhaomi: “Granted, all this data covers only posting data, not reading or answering data. But I think it's safe to say that the more people available to post questions, the more people there are reading to offer answers.”

Yeah, I would've thought that, too, but it was contradicted by the data last time around. But that was six months ago. I'd like to see how it is now.

However, it was absolutely true six months ago that, while there were more questions at various times during the day, each question got the same average number of answers.
posted by koeselitz at 1:23 AM on February 19, 2010


I'd like to see the numbers with questions marked answered as opposed to number of answers.
posted by bigmusic at 1:39 AM on February 19, 2010


"This place can sure make me feel dumb!"

It makes us all feel dumb, that's a good thing though.
posted by vapidave at 2:03 AM on February 19, 2010


I know that personally I check AskMeFi at least once a day, and when I do I start at anything new since the last time I checked. I'm sure other people do the same thing. You can ask questions at some weird hours and it won't ultimately matter much, since us AskMeFi addicts make daily rounds.
posted by Nattie at 2:10 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It has more to do with the fact that I'm new here, and I would be greatly disappointed if I asked something and only got a few responses merely because of when I asked the question.

My feeling is that the AskMe economy doesn't work this way. There are way more people looking for a question to answer than askers. The number of responses you get is largely determined by the subject, perceived difficulty of question and potential for drama: things like recipes, music suggestions or relationship filter will always get tons of answers, because everyone can contribute. Questions that are more technical or specialized may not attract a large crowd, but for these you don't need a big discussion, just a couple of people who know what they're talking about.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:23 AM on February 19, 2010


I have asked questions in two completely different hemispheres (and never the US) and got good answers regardless. When I look at AskMe I look at the most recent page, but I have never lived in the US timezone and I have never seen a question ignored because of timing.

If a question involves timing there will be people to pick it up. AskMe loves a time limit. But it won't vanish before other people see it. Or at least, such has been my experience.
posted by Sparx at 3:18 AM on February 19, 2010


I think we now have enough data to determine the best time to post a MeTa asking about the best time to post an AskMe.
posted by DU at 4:10 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Just a lot of slag you have to wade through.
posted by Duke999R at 4:10 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


OP here.

Many, many thanks to everyone for all the great replies!! I appreciate you all taking the time to answer.

Should I one day feel I can meaningfully contribute, I will be sure to do so in return for the kindness all of you have shown me.

Thx again!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 4:31 AM on February 19, 2010


TEMPORAL CONSIDERATIONS ARE FOR WEINERS ONLY BOLD AND ALLCAPS GIVE YOU POWER
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:34 AM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


This place can sure make me feel dumb! I haven't found one question yet that I felt comfortable answering.

Wow, you are definitely new here.
posted by Think_Long at 5:54 AM on February 19, 2010


This place can sure make me feel dumb! I haven't found one question yet that I felt comfortable answering.

I see you just signed up 9 days ago, though I don't know if you were reading it for a long time before then. But I really wouldn't worry about this. Here's an example. I've been reading the site long enough that I remember following the attacks of September 11 as they were happening by reading Mefi. And by that point I had already been reading the site for long enough that I considered it the obvious place to go for running commentary on what was happening. Looking back at my archives, I see that I didn't post my first answer to AskMe till October 31, 2005 -- several years after I started reading the site! So, I wouldn't worry about posting as soon as possible.

The point isn't to get a lot of answers. A lot of answers are usually a bad sign

Eh, I agree that a lot of answers are generally a bad sign, but that has nothing to do with the OP's question about how to post at an optimal time for a given question. "A lot of answers" mean you probably asked an open-ended "tell me how you feel" question. Given that he has a particular question in mind, of course he's right to want to ask it at the time that will get the most responses. Quantity does have to do with quality: getting more answers makes it more likely you'll get a really good one. (Again, this doesn't apply to different questions that get different numbers of answers.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:25 AM on February 19, 2010


Data clearly show questions using the blink tag garner the greatest number of answers.
posted by slogger at 6:28 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can also look at the unanswered tab to see what kind of questions no one on askme answers. From what I see, they can be very technical, or very location-specific.

One thing I'd like to know (but seems really hard to calculate) is whether or not "Therapist/Doctor recommendation in $Place" get answered privately; they often get 0 answers in thread, but I wonder if people MeMail or email the asker with their recommendations.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:44 AM on February 19, 2010


Not sure about everyone else, but I have all thing MeFi going through my RSS reader and when I get the chance I scroll through and answer the ones I feel I can be helpful in. So don't be surprised if you have answers spread out over a day or two as people catch up.
posted by arcticseal at 6:48 AM on February 19, 2010


I'm going to be a little contrarian and suggest that if you are posting about something Australian/New Zealand/China/Japan/India specific, that you aim for their daytime hours. By the time they wake up, your question may be off the front page due to us prolific North Americans.

I think that's pretty much the exception.
posted by desjardins at 6:55 AM on February 19, 2010


Based on my experience, the best time to post an Ask MeFi question is when jessamyn is active on the site.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:04 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


To throw in my 2 cents, the best time to ask a question is when you need an answer. Also, when you're a contestant on Jeopardy!
posted by owtytrof at 7:17 AM on February 19, 2010


Metafilter: This place can sure make me feel dumb!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:37 AM on February 19, 2010


Also, when you're a contestant on Jeopardy!

An Ask MetaFilter version of Jeopardy would be cool. You post the answer, and the comments are the questions that go with it.

Here, I'll go first:
"A. See a therapist."
posted by FishBike at 7:41 AM on February 19, 2010


when jessamyn is active on the site.

Which, judging from that sample, appears to be between 9 and 10 pm EST.

My observations is that most times are good and a few times are bad. Friday afternoon/evening US time isn't great. Holidays are not great [unless it's holiday specific] and big US media events like the Superbowl or the Oscars see a drop-off in overall attendance, though I don't know how that correlates with actual answers.

For questions that are complex, the best time to ask is when you can be around to follow-up, either on your own or, if anonymous, through a mod. Another thing that leads to good answers are concise statements of the problem or question, even if there's a lot of background.

Good question
- So, with all this detail, what do you think I should tell him when I see him at work on Monday?

Bad question
- How am I going to be able to deal with this? Any advice would be helpful!

The "any advice" part is the kiss of death for difficult questions because people use it to give advice like "you're an idiot for doing this" and whatever. Also people often include a lot of details about who said what to whom and less about themselves and what they value or care about. If AskMe has taught me anything it's that people value wildly different things about relationships, jobs, vacation, fashion, family and nearly everything else.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:46 AM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, to back up jessamyn's comment, in my experience it's not when you ask but how you ask your question. Make sure you ask a question 'above the fold' and most definitely don't wait until the last sentence of your mile-long more inside to ask it. Your question should be a question, and not a wandering wondering. Be clear and concise! Repeat your question in the title of your post, and again at the end of your more inside, should that exist. Use as many relevant tags as you can think of, and make sure you appropriately categorize the question. You want people who want to see your question to see it, but that happens less if you're unspecific or vague or lazy about adding good tags. Adding some rhetorical spice can help eyeballs find your question, but don't Emeril it all over because too much twee will distract from the thrust of your inquiry.
posted by carsonb at 8:22 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


And right now is probably a bad time, as things seem to be blowing up. Or is that just me?
posted by Grither at 8:40 AM on February 19, 2010


Metafilter: too much twee will distract from the thrust of your inquiry
posted by owtytrof at 8:52 AM on February 19, 2010


This place can sure make me feel dumb! I haven't found one question yet that I felt comfortable answering.

Give it time, it'll happen. You'll be browsing and there will be some incredibly specific question that will be like a lightning bolt to your head, because, for whatever reason, you know the exact answer. It's an awesome feeling.

And don't let the site make you feel dumb. I've been posting and commenting here for years, and they haven't kicked me out yet for the stupid shit I've said.
posted by quin at 9:01 AM on February 19, 2010


Just to answer your yet-to-be-asked question, by the way—you're thinking of a film version of Ray Bradbury's All Summer in a Day. You can thank me later.
posted by chinston at 9:02 AM on February 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


And right now is probably a bad time, as things seem to be blowing up. Or is that just me?

Server was being a bit horky for some reason, should be good now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:04 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ask about reclawing a cat, that's a paddlin'.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:10 AM on February 19, 2010


Best time to post AskMeFi question?

When you have a body to dispose of.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:28 AM on February 19, 2010


at your earliest convenience. that is unless someone has asked the same questions before; at that point it is far too late.
posted by the aloha at 11:40 AM on February 19, 2010


It seems to be based on subject matter moreso than time in the day. I posted an emergency MeFi at some ridiculous time at 3AM, expecting to not get many responses, and ended up getting a ton of useful ones. I've also posted a question at 1PM or so and barely gotten any answers.
posted by biochemist at 11:40 AM on February 19, 2010


Jaltcoh: “Quantity does have to do with quality: getting more answers makes it more likely you'll get a really good one. (Again, this doesn't apply to different questions that get different numbers of answers.)”

I guess what I react against is the notion that we're some sort of 'hivemind.' In fact, I loath that phrase; it's not just stupid, it's patently false in a significant way. You can't find good answers to important questions by "crowd-sourcing" or opinion-polling or whatever else people want to try. The result of "crowd-sourcing" is a pile of stupid answers, because most people don't know what they're talking about. Having a large pool of answers doesn't even increase the likelihood that one of them will be good. In fact, having a large pool of answers actually decreases the likelihood that one of them will be outstanding, since I hardly ever answer questions that already have a lot of answers.
posted by koeselitz at 11:42 AM on February 19, 2010


It doesn't matter when you post, as long as you have your auction end on Sunday evening or Monday afternoon. For some reason, thats the time that a lot of people are on the site, so your auction's visibility is maximized.

Oh shit...we aren't talking about eBay are we?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:00 PM on February 19, 2010


owtytrof: "To throw in my 2 cents, the best time to ask a question is when you need an answer. Also, when you're a contestant on Jeopardy"

So if I go on Millionaire, can Mefi be one of my lifelines?
posted by IndigoRain at 12:02 PM on February 19, 2010


The result of "crowd-sourcing" is a pile of stupid answers, because most people don't know what they're talking about

I'm aware that this is likely just a GRAR-spot for you and I'm as leery of the hive mind idea as anyone, but since people use this phrase all the time here, it might be a good idea for you to try to make some peace with it.

In addition, there's a difference to me between the crowdsourcing idea [all of us are smarter than any one of us!] and the hive mind idea at its most loosely construed [asking a bunch of people is better than asking one person in many cases]. Jaron Lanier's article about digital maoism is best contrasted to The Wisdom of Crowds to understand why people who feel strongly about these ideas feel the way that they do. There is value in receiving a lot of opinions, though it's not always the path to the "right" answer. And not to be too woo-woo about it, but challenging the idea of a right answer is probably not a bad way to approach a lot of relationship filter posts.

In fact, having a large pool of answers actually decreases the likelihood that one of them will be outstanding, since I hardly ever answer questions that already have a lot of answers.

Your math is weird here unless the unstated assumption is that most people are like you and you think your answers are outstanding. Is it maybe a joke?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:07 PM on February 19, 2010


In fact, having a large pool of answers actually decreases the likelihood that one of them will be outstanding, since I hardly ever answer questions that already have a lot of answers.

Your math is weird here unless the unstated assumption is that most people are like you and you think your answers are outstanding. Is it maybe a joke?


Yeah, what jessamyn said.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:12 PM on February 19, 2010


Seconding carsonb and jessamyn - asking the right way is key.

First, search the old AskMes. You shouldn't feel stupid for asking questions, but you'll look foolish if someone asked the same thing last week or month and got an answer that matches your need. If you find something that is close but not quite what you want, link to those questions and tell why your case is different. You might even want to do the same with a google search. Some times people will offer googled answers that don't fit your criteria.

Second, check the tags. Enter your own tags and check what else was tagged with the same tags. Perhaps your search query didn't match some close hits.

Third, write everything out, assuming you've cleared the first and second steps. Once you're finished writing, review you words. Maybe even check another website, so you have something else on your mind, then re-read what you wrote. Does it make sense? Do you understand your own question?

Then go for it. Check back every so often, making sure there aren't questions for clarifications you missed, because people could take unforseen tangents. And as said above, a lot of answers doesn't mean you'll get the answer(s) you'll need. Sometimes all you need is one.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:17 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


PS - This place can sure make me feel dumb! I haven't found one question yet that I felt comfortable answering.

Just wait til you start answering questions!

You'll likely feel really dumb when you see how much better other answers are than yours when it's laid out there in green and white for all the honest world to see.

Dumb answers have their uses around here, however; not only do they often provoke the best answers, but as an inveterate consumer of dumb answers, I find that I often get the very most out of answers that are dumb in an interesting way.
posted by jamjam at 12:20 PM on February 19, 2010


You can't find good answers to important questions by "crowd-sourcing" or opinion-polling or whatever else people want to try. The result of "crowd-sourcing" is a pile of stupid answers, because most people don't know what they're talking about.

The missing element is consensus building. Just surveying a group of people and accumulating a pile of answers is only the starting point. It's the follow-on discussion that makes this kind of group effort more effective than individual efforts.

The result is that "expert" answers can be defended with additional references or explanation, and similarly, "stupid" answers can be shot down. Or, as sometimes happens, the "stupid" answers can be revealed as actually being the best ones, resulting in a lightbulb moment for all concerned.

For this to work, the community has to be big enough that there is a discussion to participate in, and that the odds are good of at least one participant actually knowing the right answer. And yet, the community can't be so large that the discussion becomes impossible to follow. I think Ask MetaFilter is in that range between too small and too big.
posted by FishBike at 12:22 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fascinating data.

Ignore that spike in snarky answers between midnight and six AM. I'm an insomniac.
posted by rokusan at 1:20 PM on February 19, 2010


OH PLEASE TELL ME HOW DO I GAME THE MEFI?
posted by Afroblanco at 3:41 PM on February 19, 2010


Open up your mind and let me step inside
Rest your weary head and let Ask.Mefi decide
It's so easy when you know the rules
It's so easy all you have to do
Is ask away!
Play the game
Everybody play the game of wait, what?
posted by filthy light thief at 4:02 PM on February 19, 2010


"I'm aware that this is likely just a GRAR-spot..."

Where (anyone) is that in relation to the Gräfenberg-spot? I've stumbled upon my wife's GRAR-spot often, I can't seem to not find it some days, but the Gräfenberg-spot has yet eluded me. Or should this be posted to the green?
posted by vapidave at 4:52 PM on February 19, 2010


GRARSPOT for all your ANGRY NEEDS
posted by The Whelk at 5:18 PM on February 19, 2010


jessamyn: “Your math is weird here unless the unstated assumption is that most people are like you and you think your answers are outstanding. Is it maybe a joke?”

(Yes. All of it was actually a joke, in fact. 'Hive mind' isn't really that annoying - if anything, it just reminds me of that cool Frank Herbert novel, Hellstrom's Hive. The fact that people thought I might be serious says something about my tendentious personality, I guess. I have entirely too many 'points of GRAR, as you put it. Heh.

Anyway, thank you for the quite interesting links.

Oh, and Jaltcoh - sorry. Joke. I agree with you.)
posted by koeselitz at 6:40 PM on February 19, 2010


Ah, OK, thanks for the clarification. I suppose there's a fine line between fallacies and jokes.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:45 PM on February 19, 2010


The best time to ask a question is…












NOW!
posted by klangklangston at 6:54 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn, I missed it.

We're just waiting for it to come around on the guitar, is what we're doin'.....
posted by pompomtom at 1:05 AM on February 20, 2010


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