AskMeFi proposal - "ReAsk" June 12, 2010 7:44 PM   Subscribe

AskMetaFilter Idea: "Re-Asking" questions? Something that anyone can do to any question to "bring it back to the front page" and have another bite at the apple

btw sorry if this is against MetaTalk guidelines, I don't often post outside AskMefi but this idea just struck me and I thought I'd share it... feel free to move or delete as needed, but please forward to whoever

It seems that often people will ask questions that many people are interested to see the answer to (gauged by the number of favorites the questions garners) but that, for whatever reason, no one ever really answers the question. Maybe it was a late night on a holiday, or the question was very technical or broad but still of interest.

So why not have a way to let people "Re Ask"... ANYONE can re-ask (not just the original poster) it after it has been say 72 hours without a post to it or something. Of course re-asking might burn your question for the week...

But, in addition to that, maybe there is a "vote to re-ask" button, and if a question get's enough votes to re-ask then the original poster gets a me-mail saying "people want your question re asked, would you like to re-ask the question now? This will not count against your once per week question limit"... or something like this?

Also there might be a "Re Ask reason" that gets appended in bold or something to the end of the question body. This would have clarifications or further refinements about the question so that better answers might be given. Something like DetonatedManiac ReAsked. Reason: Hey, great question but as Methoie says below, the movie was made BEFORE 1985, so "Water World" cannot be the right answer.

Just a thought... love the site, peace out.
posted by DetonatedManiac to Feature Requests at 7:44 PM (26 comments total)

It's an interesting though complicated idea. Right now if someone wants to spend their weekly question asking more or less the same question over and over, they can pretty much do it until the community gets tired of answering it. I think right now there are people who follow the "stumped" tag and the unanswered questions tab which is sort of the same thing, putting new eyeballs on questions that haven't really gotten answers. I get the feeling, though maybe I'm wrong that totally unanswered questions are sort of rare, though questions that aren't answered well enough for the asker's tastes may not be.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:48 PM on June 12, 2010


Oof. Wouldn't that just increase the number of questions cycling through the front page, making it that much less likely for the new questions to be answered, making them more likely to be re-asked TIMES INFINITY????
posted by Sys Rq at 7:48 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I never noticed the tabs until you mentioned them just now!
I know what I'll be doing for the next few hours....
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:50 PM on June 12, 2010


I think right now there are people who follow the "stumped" tag and the unanswered questions tab which is sort of the same thing, putting new eyeballs on questions that haven't really gotten answers.

I definitely look through these periodically. I'm not sure if I have ever had an "Aha! Something I know!" moment as a result, but one day I might.

One sort of tangentially related issue with that is when the asker posts a clarifying comment right after their question. I think this moves it off the "unanswered" list, even though no one's really posted an answer. It's not clear how to differentiate this from the case where the asker posts a "Never mind, I figured it out, the answer is X." comment, though.

Maybe a question with comments only from the asker could be counted as unanswered, unless one of them is marked as a best answer as well?
posted by FishBike at 7:56 PM on June 12, 2010


I get the feeling, though maybe I'm wrong that totally unanswered questions are sort of rare

This is really not my experience. Roughly half my questions get good answers. Roughly half are not answered at all.
posted by bukvich at 8:14 PM on June 12, 2010


I kinda like it, and think it could be helpful with tech topics, where 2001's answers to the same question no longer apply. Maybe we can have a Yeah,WellWhatAboutNOW? button.
posted by applemeat at 8:28 PM on June 12, 2010


One sort of tangentially related issue with that is when the asker posts a clarifying comment right after their question. I think this moves it off the "unanswered" list, even though no one's really posted an answer.

Nope, it stays in the unanswered list if the only comment is by the OP.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:01 PM on June 12, 2010


The more questions there are, the fewer questions get answered, regardless of the content of the questions. Allowing people to 're-ask' questions would mean that fewer questions get answered. Regardless of any particular user's desire to get a chance to click a button and re-ask a question, and regardless of any desire for Facebook-like features that add complexity to the Metafilter experience, letting people re-ask questions would in general lead to a decrease in answers.
posted by koeselitz at 9:17 PM on June 12, 2010


applemeat - I think that would be a great candidate for just asking a new question about. I guess I'm just not seeing the functionality of a "Yeah,WellWhatAboutNOW?" button. Is there a reason to not just ask the question anew that I'm not seeing?
posted by stoneweaver at 9:20 PM on June 12, 2010


Also, all of this talk about automated buttons to instantly submit questions or beg other people to submit questions seems to kind of miss the point of the ask posting page. If we had "ask it instantly!" buttons, the questions would be shit. Forcing people to take time and write down their questions, even if they're questions that have been asked before, makes them slow down and be more careful with their wording. That's how it ought to be.
posted by koeselitz at 9:24 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If this doesn't get any traction tonight, I'm going to re-ask it on Tuesday.
posted by davejay at 10:03 PM on June 12, 2010


Babby not formed yet. But why?
posted by special-k at 11:01 PM on June 12, 2010


Allowing people to 're-ask' questions would mean that fewer questions get answered

People can re-ask something now if they want to.. By posting the question again. There's no rule against it, AFAIK. I think DetonatedManiac is claiming this is a common enough case that it warrants some automation. I have no idea if that's true, but I think it's a cool idea. As long as it honors the weekly limit, or is limited in some other way, it won't contribute to the "front page scroll" problem. I'm not even convinced there's a correlation between quantity of questions and quality of answers received, especially after reading some older threads about this concern.

I like the idea of a community vote on it. I have favorited stuff that I really wanted to see the answer to that just went nowhere. It could be that it was unanswerable, I guess, but maybe the right eyeballs didn't hit it? Perhaps the answer isn't to "re-Ask" it, but some way to increase visibility for highly favorited questions that were marked unresolved.
posted by cj_ at 2:07 AM on June 13, 2010


If you find a question similar to yours, you could always link to it and say 'I've read this, but...' etc.
posted by Not Supplied at 3:04 AM on June 13, 2010


"So why not have a way to let people 'Re Ask'... ANYONE can re-ask (not just the original poster) it after it has been say 72 hours without a post to it or something. Of course re-asking might burn your question for the week..."

This is way too short of a time period; all it would do is generate churn. A bump feature, should it be desired, shouldn't kick in for months.
posted by Mitheral at 3:41 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


A bump feature, should it be desired, shouldn't kick in for months.

Maybe have it tied to the open comment period --- at the point where normally the thread would be closed to new comments, an AskMe with no responses would instead be auto-reposted.
posted by headnsouth at 4:35 AM on June 13, 2010


Nope, it stays in the unanswered list if the only comment is by the OP.

Huh, so it does! I'll flag my original comment in this thread as "[never mind]" then. Carry on.
posted by FishBike at 5:53 AM on June 13, 2010


Huh. I have a question from May 27th that got a couple of reasonable suggestions, but didn't really get resolved. I didn't mark it "resolved" via the link at the bottom of the post, but it's not showing up in the Unanswered tab.

Is that because It got any replies, no matter how useful, or because I responded, or because I marked 2 answers "best answer?" I marked them "best" because they were useful, although the question wasn't answered definitively.

What's the difference between "unanswered" and "not resolved?" I can see that you wouldn't want the Unanswered tab to contain every post that the creator hadn't marked "resolved," as I'm sure lots of people don't think to do that even when a question is resolved, but still there's a little ambiguity there. We seem to be missing a whole class of questions in a grey area between totally un-replied to and resolved.

I see these classes:
• Totally Unanswered.
• Answered with irrelevant or not useful replies.
• Answered with answers marked "best answer."
• Answered and marked "resolved."

Am I getting it wrong?

Let us eschew ambiguity!

Has the word "Answer" gone all weird for everyone else after reading this post?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:37 AM on June 13, 2010


I'm trying coffee and reading comprehension, here ala the text at the top of the Answered and Unanswered tabs, explaining what they are. It's going well, so far, so ignore the first couple bits of my above post. It seems like there's still a grey area, and I might not have marked anything "best answer" if I understood better at the outset that I should save that for definitively answered questions, instead of the "resolved" button, which (am I wrong again? I can handle it) just adds a tag.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:49 AM on June 13, 2010


Jessamyn wrote: I think right now there are people who follow the "stumped" tag and the unanswered questions tab

Heh. I never noticed that either.

Hey, you know what would be cool? A place where users could post information about projects they're working on.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:59 AM on June 13, 2010


"Unanswered" contains questions that have no answers from other than the asker. It's possible that the "resolved" tag precludes an otherwise-unanswered question from that page, but I don't know, and it seems like a fairly tiny fraction of possible questions would fit that profile in any case. (User asks question, realizes they know the answer after all, provides that as a comment, tags question "resolved", and no one else says a word, I guess.)

Questions tagged with "stumped" will show up in the sidebar of the Unanswered tab, in the order in which they were tagged thus. For this reason, you can't remove the "stumped" tag from your question; it's a one-time bump.

And, honestly, that's about as much of a bump as I'm personally interested in seeing exist. If you really, really need to give a question a second go, use your normal asking slot to ask the question again. Ideally provide context for the previous asking and for why you need to ask it again, as that may help people see what you're going for.

This system has the advantage of being very, very simple; of not requiring any new engineering or documentation; of applying some gentle community-practices pressure against just spamming the same question repeatedly over the long term; and of avoiding any weird new unlikeable churn/jockeying dynamics of the sort that "bump" features seem sometimes to introduce to forum-like settings.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:31 AM on June 13, 2010


A disadvantage of "ask again" is that it would be the same question. I've noticed that often people ask the OP relevant questions, narrow down or refocus the issues within a question. Mostly, this leads to resolution of the issue for the OP. If not, "ask again" is pointless anyway - I'd imagine the OP would prefer to re-phrase the question, rather than go through the whole rigamarole again to reach the same point.

The only possible benefit is the time issue - but then what's wrong with doing it a week later? You might argue you'd be even more likely to get a better response - perhaps people have been away or on hiatus.

In short, I see nothing wrong with the current system, as the mods aren't deleting "double asks", and you can just try and resolve the issue the next week.
posted by djgh at 10:33 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please no.

If you want to ask a question again, take some time to rewrite the question. Maybe in the process of rewriting it you'll figure out the answer, or maybe you'll say something that will allow someone else to answer the question more successfully.

The point, though, is that you'll be continuing the conversation, not just pushing a button. There are plenty of communities where participation consists of pushing buttons (think Reddit, Slashdot, etc). At MetaFilter participation consists of thinking and writing.
posted by alms at 12:37 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


• Answered with irrelevant or not useful replies.

I think that's what the "stumped" tag is for.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:40 PM on June 13, 2010


Well, I asked this question and never got an answer other than someone taking a guess. With one answer as a guess, it was not in the unanswered tab and I had to mark it as stumped. It should have been in the unanswered tag for future answerers.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:23 PM on June 13, 2010


Eh, just wait 10 months and ask it again.

With one answer as a guess, it was not in the unanswered tab and I had to mark it as stumped. It should have been in the unanswered tag for future answerers.

This drives me crazy sometimes. We need a "that aint it honey" button to set the answer count back to zero. Though in my example above, it really didn't matter either way. At the end of the day, you're probably not getting an answer and 0 comments vs 1 comment probably isn't making that big of a difference in terms of people opening up the question page to respond.
posted by cashman at 8:49 AM on June 14, 2010


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