Images Pony Request July 30, 2010 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Any possible way to host image files on metafilter?

One of my pet peeves is the proverbial "Can I eat this?" or "Is this infected? or for an actual example the screenshot in this askme of a virus, but when you click, to see if you can eat the infected virus, you don't see it, because the image is gone. In the computer example it was gone as soon as the issue was resolved.

I know the answer is yes eat it, yes it's infected, the virus will kill you, but I want to see these things!

A simple uploader and a reasonable file size limiter would allow someone to link to it and the community wouldn't have to worry about it being a dead link. Bad idea?

I'm not talking about reinstitution the image tag. In a lot of places this wouldn't matter, but when the comment or question relies on the image it would be nice to have this. The older a post is the more likely the photo linked is a waste of time. All too often the entire question is based around the image. "Will this mushroom kill me?"
posted by cjorgensen to Feature Requests at 10:48 AM (82 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I don't know anything about anything but I'm not sure we want to be hosting an infinite number of images in perpetuity, even if the file size is limited.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:50 AM on July 30, 2010


This would only lead to a shit ton more "help me name my kitten!" threads.
posted by bondcliff at 10:52 AM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Some brave MeFite could always make something like Something Awful's WaffleImages. It uses some sort of internet magic to only work on SA's domain.
posted by reductiondesign at 10:56 AM on July 30, 2010


I completely understand the frustration, but we don't want to be in the image hosting business. If this service existed, what's to stop someone from asking us to take the image down once their problem has been resolved? They might not want pictures of their infection living on the web forever, and we don't want to force them. Sometimes folks need to share an image temporarily, and there are a bazillion services that will host an image indefinitely. These existing services have the tools to host images efficiently—including monitoring offsite hotlinking and scanning for embedded malware. We'd be building all of that from scratch. I think it would be a convenience, but it wouldn't solve the longevity problem.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:56 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with just using Flickr or Photobucket or any number of free hosting services that you can easily link to? If the OP removes the image because the question was resolved, then there's really not a big need to look at it. It might be good to keep in perpetuity for the sake of archiving and reference for other users, but ultimately AskMe is really more for the benefit of specific questioners rather than as a compendium.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:56 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


In all of these examples, the picture is gone because the person who posted it took it down, right?

Logistics aside, it's a question of whether we want to frame this problem as:

-It's the prerogative of the user to remove their own photos, so it's ok that the pictures disappear.

or

-This isn't any different from getting to edit a post, which we have all decided isn't going to happen, so we need a way to have the picture there forever.
posted by phunniemee at 10:56 AM on July 30, 2010


This would only lead to a shit ton more "help me name my kitten!" threads.

You say that like that's a bad thing.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:56 AM on July 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


Is my kitten infected with an unnamed computer virus that I should eat?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:58 AM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is there a reason you don't want to use tinypic? It takes about three clicks to get an image hosted, with no signup required.
posted by griphus at 10:59 AM on July 30, 2010


...wow did that come out passive-aggressive. Thanks mom and grandma!
posted by griphus at 11:00 AM on July 30, 2010


Metafilter: their infection living on the web forever.
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 11:02 AM on July 30, 2010


...ultimately AskMe is really more for the benefit of specific questioners rather than as a compendium.

Then why aren't they deleted after a year or when resolved or whatever? I don't see askme as being primarily for the asker. I see it as an answer resource. I'm willing to admit my perception could be in conflict with others, but am just pointing out that not everyone sees any aspect of this site in the same manner.

Also, this isn't just an askme issue, but that's where I see it the most.

If this service existed, what's to stop someone from asking us to take the image down once their problem has been resolved?

Nothing I suppose. Just like nothing stops people from asking the question be taken down, but I don't think that's a problem.

I'm not saying people can't use yfrog or any of the others, but for people that care more about making sure the image stays this would be a nice resource.

I realize there are a lot of hosting services out there. Pointing this out misses the point. Those could go under, the poster doesn't want his big toe in his flickr account anymore, etc.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:05 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This falls into the "re-implement major function of Internet or a popular service upon the Internet" category.

Which brings up an interesting idea: Perhaps the segment of AskMe where you're entering your question could have its own little sidebar. "Want to host an image? Use TinyPic. What about text? Here's PasteBin!" And so forth, just as a reminder to people who do not know these services exist.
posted by adipocere at 11:05 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Flickr works so well for this, and it's trivial to link to a photo there (and that's what most people do when linking to pictures in Ask MeFi).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:07 AM on July 30, 2010


I don't see askme as being primarily for the asker. I see it as an answer resource.

Those views are not incompatible. AskMe is definitely an answer resource—hence tagging, categories, etc. But its primary purpose is indeed to help the asker, hence its pretty strict rules.
posted by cribcage at 11:11 AM on July 30, 2010


The obvious solution: RichText fields!

ahem
posted by blue_beetle at 11:13 AM on July 30, 2010


Frankly I think things would be a lot better if we scrapped the current interface and started over with the Facebook template.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:15 AM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This would only lead to a shit ton more "help me name my kitten!" threads.

*is very glad he didn't post that question this morning...but if you can think of any "geek girl" kitten names that aren't ada or grace....*
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2010


griphus: "Is there a reason you don't want to use tinypic? It takes about three clicks to get an image hosted, with no signup required."

Also: imgur.
posted by Plutor at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2010


Flickr works so well for this, and it's trivial to link to a photo there...

If you have a Yahoo account...
posted by DU at 11:20 AM on July 30, 2010


*DU, our girl ducks' names are (were, in the case of two of them) Ada, Cobol, Basic, and Fortran.*
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:26 AM on July 30, 2010


Those views are not incompatible.

No they're not. If there was no worry for posterity of the data there would be no reason to maintain an archive of questions. The asker gets helped and moves on. The questions of the past stick around to help those who are having problems now.

The strictness of the guidelines is indeed there for the questioner, but not solely. Just because that's how you see askme doesn't make it so, no more than how I see it. Each to their own use. This is also irrelevant to my point here.

Flickr works so well for this....

My frustration wasn't from the perspective of an asker, but as a reader. flickr works well as long as the images stay online.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:34 AM on July 30, 2010


*is very glad he didn't post that question this morning...but if you can think of any "geek girl" kitten names that aren't ada or grace....*

Codex
posted by bondcliff at 11:34 AM on July 30, 2010


Also, anyone that didn't click my mushroom link needs to.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:35 AM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


You say that like that's a bad thing.

It is.
posted by special-k at 11:53 AM on July 30, 2010


cjorgensen: "Also, anyone that didn't click my mushroom link needs to"

Are those Portobello? I never learned what they looked like in high school.
posted by charred husk at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


My frustration wasn't from the perspective of an asker, but as a reader. flickr works well as long as the images stay online.

I don't really get why you keep saying this, though-- all three examples you linked to are ones wherein the poster took down the pictures, not because the hosting sites decided their time had expired. If the OP wanted to take down the picture that was hosted on twitpic, the OP will want to take down the same picture that's hosted on MetaFilter. Why would the hosting domain matter?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:56 AM on July 30, 2010


Any possible way to host image files on metafilter?

Yes, encode them with something like BinHex and then include the resulting text block in your comment. Maybe inside a bunch of nested <small> tags to make it less scrolly. Readers just copy and paste it into one of the online decoders and recover the original file.

Note: I didn't say this was a good way, only that it's a possible way.
posted by FishBike at 12:01 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


DU, I adopted an abandoned cat, I was planning on calling her Madame President Laura Roslin (but she was already an adult and named "Fudge" - ugh!) (I call her Cat now. Or PrettyKitty-TikkyBelly. She likes belly rubs.)
posted by blue funk at 12:03 PM on July 30, 2010


Bookmark imgur.com and have a nice day.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:06 PM on July 30, 2010


The best can name is Chairman Meow.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:08 PM on July 30, 2010


Cat name. DAMMIT
posted by shakespeherian at 12:08 PM on July 30, 2010


I think the ultimate geek girlcat name is Perl.
posted by catlet at 12:19 PM on July 30, 2010


...all three examples you linked to are ones wherein the poster took down the pictures, not because the hosting sites decided their time had expired.

I can also find examples where the person linked to a file on their own site, but due to a redesign the path has changed, so the file is still out there, but the link is dead.

I'm guessing a lot of the take downs were due to the asker thinking, "Well, that's not needed anymore" and removing it. Or, "That shot of my computer with a virus warning doesn't really fit in with my kitty photos." And less of, "Man, I don't want anyone to see that thing I was thinking of eating."

I am guessing few photos are pulled due to poster's regret.

The technical reasons for rejection make the most sense here. Otherwise there's no reason for resistance to the idea. No one is saying you'd have to host here, just that it might be nice to be able to. pb pretty much said not going to happen, and mathowie weighed in to say he didn't see the point, so I'm done beating this dead pony.

Now I know what rejection feels like.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:26 PM on July 30, 2010


You could have just asked me if you wanted to know about that feeling.
posted by adipocere at 12:32 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can see the usefulness of having an image, if it's an integral part of the question, hosted on MeFi.

pb: If this service existed, what's to stop someone from asking us to take the image down once their problem has been resolved?

Nothing's stopping them from asking. How is this different from any other content on MeFi?

shakespeherian: If the OP wanted to take down the picture that was hosted on twitpic, the OP will want to take down the same picture that's hosted on MetaFilter. Why would the hosting domain matter?

The hosting domain would matter because then the whole question would be self-contained on MetaFilter. Adding a picture would be like contributing in any other way to MetaFilter.

Of course, if this isn't something Matt & the gang want to get into, that's cool, but I can see MeFi hosted pictures attached to posts/questions being useful.
posted by ODiV at 12:37 PM on July 30, 2010


I agree, once you've named and eaten the moldy kitten that you had in your fridge for a week, there's really no reason to keep the picture online...
posted by HuronBob at 12:40 PM on July 30, 2010


The best cat name is Chairman Meow

General Bonkers comes a close second.
posted by NailsTheCat at 12:45 PM on July 30, 2010


The best cat name is Chairman Meow

General Bonkers comes a close second.
posted by NailsTheCat at 2:45 PM on July 30 [+] [!]


Do I even have to say it
posted by shakespeherian at 12:46 PM on July 30, 2010


I will solve this problem for everyone.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:50 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Solve for x.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:53 PM on July 30, 2010


I will solve this problem for everyone.

And the weird thing is, he means it.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:07 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Our cats ate Boutros Boutros Kitty, Kitty Annan, and Ban-Kitty Moon. My sister calls them The Diplocats.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:13 PM on July 30, 2010


Where "ate" means "are", that is.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:13 PM on July 30, 2010


I agree, once you've named and eaten the moldy kitten that you had in your fridge for a week, there's really no reason to keep the picture online...

One man's snark is another man's idea for a new blog.

One of the other things that no one seems to care about is that I bet at least half of the imaging hosting sites mentioned so far in this thread will be as dead as the above kitten in five years. I'm fine with this but it makes my inner archivist cry and seems as easy to fix as my lack of commas.

Almost every forum software, CMS, or blogging platform I've played with has the option to upload a file. It seems alien that you can't here.

Maybe is would be easier to add a "comment is worthless without image" flag (I kid!).

take *that* you dead pony!
posted by cjorgensen at 1:22 PM on July 30, 2010


crush-onastick: "Where "ate" means "are", that is"

Unless one of your cats is also named Kitty Amin.
posted by charred husk at 1:23 PM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Almost every forum software, CMS, or blogging platform I've played with has the option to upload a file. It seems alien that you can't here.

And all of those platforms also allow the person to delete or unpublish the photos too, so I don't see how that has anything to do with what you're complaining about, since all your examples are ones of the person deciding to take down the photo after their question is answered.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:39 PM on July 30, 2010


I understand the frustration here; heck, most FPP's are useless once you go back a few years, because all the links are dead. And I could see a situation where just because I posted a picture of my cat's open sore on my flickr this week, that doesn't mean I want it there for all eternity, even though I wouldn't mind leaving it hosted here forever.
posted by malapropist at 1:58 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I haven't stated my case clearly enough or convincingly enough that's fine. I don't know how else to do so. If the person chooses to unpublish or asks for the removal fine, but a link dying when it is avoidable takes away utility.

I doubt if may people consider the implications of what removing an image will have to the links to that image. Nothing is lost by adding this feature. If the opposition is that it's technically difficult, unneeded, or a dumb idea I am fine with that.

But the idea that someone could somehow be hurt by adding this feature makes no sense. Don't want to do it that way? Then don't. Use one of the many options pointed out.

take *that* you dead pony!
posted by cjorgensen at 2:12 PM on July 30, 2010


But you still haven't addressed the fact that any image hosting service that MeFi would implement would need a 'delete' functionality too, so you really don't solve anything. The same people that delete their pictures on twitpic and flickr are just going to delete their pic here too. The only way to fix the problem that you've encountered would be to make images permanent and impossible to remove, and I guarantee if you did that people would not want to use it because they don't want everybody in perpetuity to see their infected toenail. They would continue posting links to images on flickr that they can remove later.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:19 PM on July 30, 2010


If the opposition is that it's technically difficult, unneeded, or a dumb idea I am fine with that.

Really just the first two. I agree with your general argument that linkrot sucks, and insofar as there are cases where externally hosted images linked on mefi go down because of bad luck or bad maintenance rather than explicit removal, yes, this would mitigate that. But the proportion of what happens on the site that would be affected by implementing this feature is so small that the cost in terms of building and maintaining and educating and supporting it dwarfs the utility, is all.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:21 PM on July 30, 2010


There are at least two stupid jokes in this thread (something about moldy dead cats in a scanner; something about "pics or it didn't happen"). Unfortunately I can't come up with either of them, because I have just eaten a pulled pork sandwich, sweet potato fries cooked in brown sugar, and a large slice of apple pie, and am now in a food coma.

As you were.
posted by tzikeh at 2:34 PM on July 30, 2010


There are at least two stupid jokes in this thread

THREE stupid jokes! Ah! Ah! Ah!
posted by shmegegge at 2:45 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This would only lead to a shit ton more "help me name my kitten!" threads.

Not to mention the "name my penis" threads.
posted by fire&wings at 2:46 PM on July 30, 2010


I'm all for anything that brings can-I-eat-this-filter closer to what-should-I-name-my-cat-filter. Because eventually I want to have the question, "What should I name this delicious looking kitty?"
posted by quin at 2:46 PM on July 30, 2010


But you still haven't addressed the fact that any image hosting service that MeFi would implement would need a 'delete' functionality too, so you really don't solve anything.

I was seeing it just like this comment. The fact that I link to an image in my comments shouldn't change anything. I would maintain that if you have a need of delete function, that if you go into the question knowing you'll want the image removed, then sure, look into one of those other services. I would actually argue that linking to something you plan to remove is a bad faith use of a link, but that's just me. I see it like making a comment you know you'll want removed.

I guarantee if you did that people would not want to use it because they don't want everybody in perpetuity to see their infected toenail.

I was asking for added functionality, not to replace or remove any current options. No one is forcing someone to do it this way.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:50 PM on July 30, 2010


The only way to fix the problem that you've encountered would be to make images permanent and impossible to remove, and I guarantee if you did that people would not want to use it because they don't want everybody in perpetuity to see their infected toenail.

The way I see it, if it's an integral part of the question and you make it clear that the image is attached to the question, it's a non-issue.

If it's not an integral part of the question, then why do you need the picture in the first place?

As mentioned, it's probably not worth the effort, but I could see it working just fine.
posted by ODiV at 2:50 PM on July 30, 2010


People, shmegegge will eventually come to regret that comment. You know it, I know it, we all know it. Please do not link to, or quote, it. You know he's probably already written a mod and asked for its removal.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:52 PM on July 30, 2010


Burhanistan writes "What's wrong with just using Flickr or Photobucket or any number of free hosting services that you can easily link to?"

Photobucket is a horrible choice because they remove images after it has been served too many times or if it hasn't been requested in some time.

FishBike writes "Yes, encode them with something like BinHex and then include the resulting text block in your comment. Maybe inside a bunch of nested <small> tags to make it less scrolly. Readers just copy and paste it into one of the online decoders and recover the original file."

I feel a greasemonkey script coming on. Would the remote exploit hole that resulted in the image tag being deleted still be a problem in this case? I can't see how it would.
posted by Mitheral at 3:03 PM on July 30, 2010


I was asking for added functionality, not to replace or remove any current options. No one is forcing someone to do it this way.

But there is no real added functionality. If you want the picture that you uploaded to flickr or tinyimg or imgur (but not photobucket, apparently) to remain online forever you can do that by simply doing nothing. If the poster wants to leave the image for posterity they can, nothing is preventing this other than the site going down, but I somehow think that flickr will be with us for a while. The cases that you are complaining about are cases where people specifically decided that they didn't want their picture online any more. This is not a technical limitation, it's a social one, and you don't solve a social problem by inventing another technical solution that is exactly the same as what exists already.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:13 PM on July 30, 2010


Dropbox accounts are free, very easy to use, and give the user control over how long the photo remains available for viewing.
posted by hippybear at 3:15 PM on July 30, 2010


The cases that you are complaining about are cases where people specifically decided that they didn't want their picture online any more.

Seems strange to me that they would just get rid of an important part of their question like that while leaving the rest on the site. Especially within a short time period.

It's not like you can excise other parts of your question (or the whole thing wholesale) without mod intervention. I wonder how many people would nuke their own questions when given the option.

If one is in favour of users being able to delete the image(s) that a question is based on, does that carry over to the questions? Because I don't really see any arguments for the former that don't also support the latter. The only thing stopping it would be technical.

This is not a technical limitation, it's a social one, and you don't solve a social problem by inventing another technical solution that is exactly the same as what exists already.

But it wouldn't be exactly the same if there was no delete capability.

This is all theoretical obviously, but that's what MeTa's for? (and recipes, natch)
posted by ODiV at 3:31 PM on July 30, 2010


I don't see askme as being primarily for the asker.

If this were true, it'd be fine to give off-point answers to a question that would be useful to someone else as long as you explained what you were doing. For instance, "I know you only want vegetarian recipes, but here's a great pork recipe for people who might be reading this who aren't vegetarian." Of course, an "answer" like that would be deleted. Why? Because AskMe is primarily for the asker.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:42 PM on July 30, 2010


But it wouldn't be exactly the same if there was no delete capability.

It would be the same, because anyone in the set of people that doesn't want their image online forever would not use the in-built hosting and would instead continue to do what they do now, which is post it on flickr and then remove it.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:46 PM on July 30, 2010


But the proportion of what happens on the site that would be affected by implementing this feature is so small that the cost in terms of building and maintaining and educating and supporting it dwarfs the utility, is all.

Well, you might consider allowing embedded images via <IMG> tags formatted with a data URI scheme, which encodes the image and loads the data into the page itself. This would:
  • Prevent linkrot and provide simple, transparent hosting (since it's stored as text in the page source), and the pages wouldn't take any longer to load than any other page with images on it.
  • As it's all still stored as text, there's no need to build anything additional for hosting on the MeFi side, just modify the comment parser to allow specifically formatted tags.
  • The base-64 encoding uses a limited character set, which would simplify the problem of checking for malicious uploads in the comment parser.
  • There could also be an upload popup that converts an image (on, say, a user's hard drive) into premade HTML, like the B/I/link buttons, to minimize user error. This could also include some basic checks, like file size. (Image uploads have, after all, been done here before.)
  • The Acid2 test uses data URIs, and as pretty much every major browser can pass it, it shouldn't introduce compatibility problems.
  • The implementation would generally re-allow embedded images sitewide, and so there's a relatively large benefit across the site, not just for a few isolated AskMe questions. This would push the cost-benefit ratio more in the favor of implementation. (I don't know the current editorial stance on allowing images to return.)
The full standard for the data URLs is here, and defines the implementation.

Anyway, just a thought.
posted by Upton O'Good at 3:56 PM on July 30, 2010


I'm not sure that storing binary data smuggled as text in a comments database is really the kind of thing you want to encourage. For one thing, base64 encoding comes with a 33% size penalty, which means a small 100kb JPEG becomes a 133,000+ character comment, and from the other MeTa about large comments these are relatively rare. I don't even want to think about some of those 1-3MB animated GIFs that used to appear in deleted threads. For another, base64 URIs can't take advantage of caching which means that every user re-downloads a full copy of every image on the page every time they reload the thread, whereas if they were normal images the browser loads it once and then stores it in its cache and doesn't need to reload it until the cache expires. And finally, as I understand it the reasoning behind not allowing images is not technical at all, but rather that everybody just likes uncluttered threads.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:11 PM on July 30, 2010


Yeah, data re-encoding images onsite doesn't sound any more attractive. I agree with you that it's a solution, Upton, I don't think it's an inherently bad idea, but I don't think it's any better or more necessary an idea for mefi specifically than a plain-jane image store. The main thing is we don't really need a general local image hosting capacity on the site enough to bother with any solution.

(I don't know the current editorial stance on allowing images to return.)

It's not bullish. Bumpy and contentious as the history of the disappearance of the img tag may be, it being gone has I think been a very good thing for the site. Cf. recent discussion of the annoying "here's a recipe" derail-o-matic stuff in another metatalk thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:23 PM on July 30, 2010


Bumpy and contentious as the history of the disappearance of the img tag may be, it being gone has I think been a very good thing for the site.

It would certainly make the site in general much, much more NSFW. And yeah, I know, "Metafilter is NSFW." But if we had to worry about Mefites embedding images on the site, it would be much more NSFW than it is now.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:27 PM on July 30, 2010


It would be the same, because anyone in the set of people that doesn't want their image online forever would not use the in-built hosting and would instead continue to do what they do now, which is post it on flickr and then remove it.

If it's an integral part of the question, then it makes sense to have it integrated in the site. I was suggesting (maybe not clearly enough) that if a question is unanswerable without an image then it should be attached instead of linked to.
posted by ODiV at 4:59 PM on July 30, 2010


matt got annoyed about the elephants, thats the end of it and now we dont get outside to play anymore.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:30 PM on July 30, 2010


oh where that recipe talk thread ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:30 PM on July 30, 2010


Quonsar Lemonade

6 cups elephant piss
2 cups sugar
Juice from 1 lemon

Serve chilled
posted by ODiV at 5:35 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ugh.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:22 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Too much sugar?
posted by ODiV at 6:29 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Quonsar Lemonade

When life puts fish in your pants...
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:40 PM on July 30, 2010


I thought reading comprehension was bad in AskMe. It doesn't seem to be much better in MetaTalk.
posted by deborah at 7:23 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's funny because I have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by ODiV at 7:30 PM on July 30, 2010


I will store your images. I have a shoebox full of images already and any MeFite can come over and see them so long as they call me first.
posted by klangklangston at 8:08 PM on July 30, 2010


Our cats ate Boutros Boutros Kitty, Kitty Annan, and Ban-Kitty Moon. My sister calls them The Diplocats.

Oddly enough, we call our dogs "The Aritstocats!"

those of you who also own neutered male dogs will likely understand why
posted by davejay at 8:32 PM on July 30, 2010


If this were true, it'd be fine to give off-point answers to a question that would be useful to someone else as long as you explained what you were doing. For instance, "I know you only want vegetarian recipes, but here's a great pork recipe for people who might be reading this who aren't vegetarian." Of course, an "answer" like that would be deleted. Why? Because AskMe is primarily for the asker.

And all the people that come after with the same question. It's a resource. That's why it asks you to search previous questions and shows you other questions you may have missed before you actually post. Your answer isn't deleted because it's worthless to the poster. Posters often get answers that are worthless to them. It gets deleted because it is outside the purview of the question and is worthless to anyone with that question.

If someone asks, "What are good cookies not made with eggs" and there are a slew of answers there isn't a reason to ask again.

If askme was truly for the asker the answers wouldn't even need to be public at all, and for surre wouldn't need to be seen by people not logged in. I'm not denying that it's there for the askers, but to pretend that once you've hit post that there's some kind of ownership is silly. At that point it may still be your question, but you don't control it anymore than when you post to the blue.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:04 PM on July 30, 2010


Because AskMe is primarily for the asker.

And all the people that come after with the same question.


As I said, AskMe is primarily for the asker. It is additionally for the people who come after.

Your answer isn't deleted because it's worthless to the poster. Posters often get answers that are worthless to them.

Well, of course an irrelevant non-answer is deleted because it's worthless to the poster. I see your point that some relevant answers might be worthless to the poster. In theory, those could be deleted. But there's a cost-benefit analysis. There would be very little benefit to allowing the poster to delete any posts s/he disagrees with. But there would be significant costs: the OP might be initially mistaken in thinking an answer is worthless, but later see the wisdom of it. (This could be extremely significant in complex human relations questions.) And, as you said, another cost is that the answers might be useful to someone else.

If askme was truly for the asker the answers wouldn't even need to be public at all, and for surre wouldn't need to be seen by people not logged in.

If AskMe were 100% for the askers, there would still be a point to letting people see it without being logged in. Some people look at AskMe on multiple different computers, and they might not want to log in to a public computer, for instance. Also, sometimes a Mefite asks a question on behalf of a specific non-Mefite; the non-Mefite is the real "asker" and should be able to view the question without being logged in.

But even aside from those situations, of course there's value to keeping the questions available for the public to see: they could be useful to people. No one's questioning this. You seem to want to analyze all this logically, but it's not just about logic -- it's about how much of a burden is imposed on the site. Keeping questions public rather than showing them only to the OP doesn't seem to use up extra resources. Or, at least, if it does use more resources, this is a minor enough burden that it's well worth it for the extra value given to people other than the OP. In contrast, turning AskMe into a photo-hosting website would add a huge burden to the site without helping the people who ask questions, so it's not going to be implemented.

to pretend that once you've hit post that there's some kind of ownership is silly. At that point it may still be your question, but you don't control it anymore than when you post to the blue.

That is just not accurate. The asker still controls the question after posting it. People ask questions to clarify what the question is. The asker can give all kinds of feedback. The asker can marked the question "stumped" or "resolved" and can mark best answers. The question will be considered resolved if and when the asker explains how it was resolved.

I'm not saying any of this is a good thing or a bad thing. It's just the way the site works, as a matter of fact. You might prefer a site that works differently -- where someone posts a question, and then the thread is wide-open for all sorts of comments that aren't even trying to be useful to the asker. You could go ahead and make that site, and it might be a good site. That's just not AskMetafilter.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:57 PM on July 30, 2010


This is an apples and apples argument. How either of us views askme doesn't change the utility or functionality of the site. It's moderated according to guidelines, so if I believe it is primarily for the amusement of the Crown Prince of Dubai Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum it's not going to change how the site works. It's also non-germain to the functionality I was advocating. Hosting images doesn't change the way you see the site. Lastly, this wouldn't be limited to askme (though that's were I most often see this issue). Pently of people have linked to The Whelk's Grar in comments.

...and then the thread is wide-open for all sorts of comments that aren't even trying to be useful to the asker.

That's outside the guidelines and at no point did I say that there should be any changes to these. Wide-open comments would be horrible for making the site a resource of information. Allowing people to make a permanent link to a image is not.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:40 AM on July 31, 2010


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