Looking for an old AskMe May 10, 2010 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Looking for an old AskMe question. Know who posted it and roughly when. Do I fail at the internet or was it deleted years after being posted?

In response to this AskMe from a virgin curious about engaging the services of a sex worker I was going to post a link to the previous AskMe asking basically the same thing, since it would seem to be extremely relevant and helpful, particularly since the Asker followed up. However, I can't find it. And given that I know who asked the question (I'm more than pretty sure it was not a generic anonymous question) and roughly when (Late 2004, wasn't it? Something like that?), you'd think this would be trivial. So now I'm wondering if the question was excised recently, since it was still there a while back.

So can someone help me out here? I think the current Asker would find the thread quite helpful.
posted by Justinian to MetaFilter-Related at 9:14 AM (37 comments total)

Well, if you know who posted it you can drop us a quick line and we can look. Obviously if it's a deleted-after-the-fact-at-poster's-request thing we don't want to have it be a discussion in the thread here.

We do occasionally delete (or, as often, anonymize) older questions if someone has a one-off poster's regret feeling a year or five later, so it's entirely possible that's what happened.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:16 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dropped you a note. I wasn't explicit with the name for exactly the reason you mention. would be interested in finding the question if anonymized as it would still be helpful to the OP. I didn't realize you'd go back and delete question that much later; I sort of assumed if it made it 30 days and closed naturally it was there for good.

On a more Meta level, might it not be time to recognize that Ask Metafilter is a resource for more than just the initial asker and only be willing to make questions Anonymous rather than go back and delete them? Yeah, at first it's primarily about the person who asked the question, but the archives function essentially as a knowledge repository.
posted by Justinian at 9:22 AM on May 10, 2010


for those following along, yeah, the question was deleted so I won't be posting a link to it here. Sorry newbies!
posted by Justinian at 9:23 AM on May 10, 2010


On a more Meta level, might it not be time to recognize that Ask Metafilter is a resource for more than just the initial asker and only be willing to make questions Anonymous rather than go back and delete them? Yeah, at first it's primarily about the person who asked the question, but the archives function essentially as a knowledge repository.

That'll only work if the person never comments in the thread. If they've commented in the thread, the record is still there.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:27 AM on May 10, 2010


I suppose you're right. In the case of the thread in question there was enough interaction with the Asker that making it anonymous would have swiss-cheesed it beyond recognition.

Still, it seems like there should be a statute of limitations on something like having an old question deleted.
posted by Justinian at 9:30 AM on May 10, 2010


I didn't realize you'd go back and delete question that much later

Like I said, it's an occasional thing, and pretty much a you-can-only-ask-us-once situation besides that. Requests to wipe large chunks of asking history won't fly; an ask-regret-delete dance that keeps happening will not be okay either, we'll basically tell you to stop asking questions you might ever regret if you can't avoid doing that repeatedly.

On a more Meta level, might it not be time to recognize that Ask Metafilter is a resource for more than just the initial asker and only be willing to make questions Anonymous rather than go back and delete them?

Mostly it just doesn't come up very much at all, and, yeah, when it does we prefer to go the anonymizing route when it does because we'd rather have the stuff hang around. We'll encourage that for someone asking, because they may not realize that's a possibility when they ask to have it deleted.

But ultimately for this rare one-off stuff we'll try and respect the poster's wishes; there's sometimes compelling reasons why anonymizing doesn't quite fit the bill (identifying content, external visibility of the question for some reason, etc). The scope of deletions of this sort is so very much smaller than the scope of the archives themselves that while we're not thrilled to go back and delete/anonymize we don't think it's a significant problem in practice.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:31 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah I can see that. And in this case making it anonymous wouldn't, as we've established, have been possible without trashing the question. Ah, well. Thanks for the help, cortex.

...

...

Can you delete all my old Ask Mes for me?
posted by Justinian at 9:38 AM on May 10, 2010


No. I'll nix the one about the time you tried to have sex with a sea turtle but that's it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:40 AM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks. The surgery went well, by the way. I have almost full functionality.
posted by Justinian at 9:45 AM on May 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah there's a continuum of this sort of thing. Usually what happens is that someone who has been a long time member realizes that people in their personal life are joining the site and they have one or two questions they'd rather not have associated with their username.

So we email with them seeing if maybe anonymizing is okay [with the associated hassle that this works poorly if they've responded in-thread a few times, but sometimes we'll err on the site of keeping the question, anonymizing it and having a few weird gaps where the OPs answers were rather than deleting the whole thing] and it often is.

Sometimes people want a few things deleted and we'll usually say "yes but don't ask again, this is sort of a one-time thing." Very rarely people will ask-and-regret more than once, or have a life change that they want to adapt to and we'll try to be accomodating while at the same time basically saying we won't ever do this again and suggesting that people not ask questions on AskMe if they wind up regretting it frequently

If I remember this particular question correctly there was some big life changing event [moving to a new country? immigration? job?] which was why the OP wanted that question anonymized and it was okay with us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:45 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dangit cortex, that sea turtle thread is the most useful resource here, and surely it brings in thousands of hits from Google.
posted by NoraReed at 9:46 AM on May 10, 2010


For all future lovers, go be with a sea turtle that loves you just the way you are. Surgery is a lot to ask, especially from a turtle.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:10 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


DTMFSTA
posted by dirtdirt at 10:15 AM on May 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Seriously, over 63% of sea turtles fail or drop out of medical school prior to graduation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:24 AM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've heard so many versions of this same old story. The turtle always goes down. Oh, wait.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:36 AM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look to your left. Look to your right. At least one of these sea turtles will not be there at graduation.
posted by Justinian at 10:36 AM on May 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


heh, funny in a way. IF this is the AskMe that I remember the Asker got a few complements on asking the question in such a public, non-annoymious manner.
posted by edgeways at 10:42 AM on May 10, 2010


I see what you did there, Justinian. And now I am reading the archives, thank you very much. (I saw your follow up comment and know it's been deleted, but it was too late - I've been sucked in.)
posted by peep at 10:52 AM on May 10, 2010


edgeways, it is the one you remember. I posted a link (I remembered the user name and was able to find it that way) that's been deleted which is fair enough as apparently the OP doesn't want this following them around.
posted by atrazine at 11:07 AM on May 10, 2010


Yep. Let this be a lesson; you may not care about being all public about your sea turtle sexing ways NOW, but you may well change your mind once you sober up. Anonymous is there for a reason!
posted by Justinian at 11:18 AM on May 10, 2010


Old AskMe questions might get deleted, but what about the pictures?
posted by TedW at 11:23 AM on May 10, 2010


Yeah, sorry atrazine, I don't think "here's a link to an old pertinent thread" instinct is bad at all but this is one of those weird collisions of good askme-answering link provision and the need to try and give people a break about rehashing embarrassing stuff from their past, etc. So no worries.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:33 AM on May 10, 2010


It's a damn good thing I've spent such an incredibly high percentage of the last six years here, or this thread would make no sense whatsoever.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:38 AM on May 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


Look at your sea turtle. Now look at me. Now look at your sea turtle. Now look at me.

On second thought just look at your sea turtle and quit staring at me.
posted by ook at 11:59 AM on May 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to get itself off, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that?
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:19 PM on May 10, 2010


Why are comments on deleted posts kept in user history but deleted questions are not?
posted by graventy at 12:24 PM on May 10, 2010


Why are comments on deleted posts kept in user history but deleted questions are not?

Because the comments themselves aren't necessarily deleteable and there's not clear, foolproof method for automatically identifying comments in deleted threads that should or shouldn't be there.

Which is sort of a subtle problem, since you could in theory stumble across someone's deleted or anonymized question by surfing their comment history and putting two and two together. To a degree we deal with that by accounting for the problem and broaching the subject with a deletion/anonymization requester if findability is a really big concern, possibly opting to nix a comment or two from a thread where we might otherwise leave them standing.

One thing I guess we could think through would be not deleting an asker's comments in a deleted thread (since it can make serious continuity problems in some cases where the thread was sort of conversational or had a lot of updates) but hide those in activity views. But I don't know if that's a slam-dunk or not, and don't know if it'd be a pain on pb's end to try and tweak the display of those pages accordingly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:47 PM on May 10, 2010


Seems to me that, like a lot of these issues, it depends on how often it comes up. And I guess on how important it is. Protecting someone from embarrassment would lend itself to a certain amount of effort. Protecting someone from the Chinese government cracking down on dissidents would lend itself to quite another. And we're mostly talking about the former.
posted by Justinian at 1:18 PM on May 10, 2010


On the Internet, nobody knows you're a sexually dimorphic carapaced ocean-going reptile.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 1:25 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, they say it took hundreds of years for the sea turtle to get a Latin name, as they couldn't get one back to England for classification because they were too delicious, and were invariably eaten en route.

Think of that the next time you're having sex with one.

...that it could make a tasty snack after...

You monster!

posted by quin at 1:44 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh man. That question was epic (one of the reasons I finally joined MetaFilter!) and wonderfully emblematic of the person who posted it. The scrubbing is understandable, but I hate the idea that it is now so much more unlikely to be stumbled upon. Alas, alas.
posted by youarenothere at 4:15 PM on May 10, 2010


In retrospect, that thread has a ton of comments that would be deleted nowadays. It's about 70% moralizing-instead-of-answering-the-question, 20% off-topic/random, and 10% actually answering.

And yeah, even a find-replace on that username wouldn't have made it possible to save the thread, b/c of links to other threads posted by them, and comments about other posts, etc.
posted by inigo2 at 5:46 PM on May 10, 2010


People probably want to stop posting a link to the deleted thread in the new AskMe. It's just gonna get your comment removed.
posted by Justinian at 10:01 PM on May 10, 2010


[whips out hidden speargun, shoots cortex]
posted by flabdablet at 10:11 PM on May 10, 2010


Turtles all the way down.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:23 AM on May 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, to be truthful, the "should I hire a prostitute to lose my virginity" question must be asked anew in every instance. It is a classic question of the genre, but a mere vehicle for the art of improvisatory outrage taking.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:25 AM on May 11, 2010


And I was gonna say that too IndigoRain. Zing.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:26 AM on May 11, 2010


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