What are best practices for discovering hacks used by MeFites? Help me hive mind!!! October 26, 2010 3:12 PM   Subscribe

As a relative newbie, when did certain phrases become cliche on ask metafilter? Specifically I refer to "What are some best practices for x?", referring to aforementioned "best practices" as "hacks" and "help me hivemind!!!". I'm curious as I work in an environment where catchphrases and buzzwords are similarly bandied about.
posted by Biru to MetaFilter-Related at 3:12 PM (45 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

"Best practices" and "hacks" are bog standard terminology in tech circles.
posted by kmz at 3:15 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you don't know how to use the infodump, we aren't going to get along.
posted by dersins at 3:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I doubt anyone has a pat answer to this; if you're really curious, I think you're gonna want to hit the search function. "When did it become cliche" is a pretty fuzzy query, though given the long collective memory of mefites the answer is probably "about a month after it became popular".

The word hack shows up in about 500 questions and more than 2700 answers, so it's gonna be a slog unless you can find some way to narrow the usage down (tricky given that the "hack" tends to be the common element in novel collocations) or take a sampling-based approach to the whole thing. Timing-wise I think the rise of Lifehacker is a relevant externality.

For hivemind the list is shorter, at least. Notably question-heavy, not surprising since it tends to be a sort of mode of address. It's pattern of use may be influenced by the presence of the word in the header image, which may not have been a day-one thing for Ask.

"Best practices" strikes me as much as anything as corporate jargon; that it shows up on AskMe seems more like spillover from people having jobs than anything, but I might be off-base there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:28 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I wanted to find the origin of "What. The. Fuck. Matt?" I used a site:metafilter search with success. Also there's the wiki, and the infodumpster.
posted by Lorin at 3:32 PM on October 26, 2010


I found the Wiki to be really helpful when I got here.
Especially the In Jokes page.
posted by NoraCharles at 3:37 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I found the Wiki to be really helpful when I got here.
Especially the In Jokes page.


Agreed! Also, hilarious.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:44 PM on October 26, 2010


I HAZ K3WL SANDWICH HACK ADD JELLY 2 UR PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH INSTANT WIN
posted by klangklangston at 3:45 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Best practices" strikes me as much as anything as corporate jargon; that it shows up on AskMe seems more like spillover from people having jobs than anything, but I might be off-base there.

I thought as much, but I guess my question/reason for asking this question was that I don't quite understand how/why it became the default way of asking, even for people who joined long after it became the norm.

If that makes sense...
posted by Biru at 3:45 PM on October 26, 2010


We don't tend to refer to 'best practices' as hacks. "Hack" (in the meme-y, non-standard sense) is typically used to describe some undocumented, unintended or unusual method of doing something to get a better result.

"Best practice", on the other hand, means the industry-standard, lab-tested, standards-compliant method of doing something.
posted by empath at 3:48 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I thought as much, but I guess my question/reason for asking this question was that I don't quite understand how/why it became the default way of asking,

"Best practice" is not specific to metafilter. It's standard business school terminology.
posted by empath at 3:49 PM on October 26, 2010


Is this where I can find out about hardcore taters?
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:55 PM on October 26, 2010


I thought as much, but I guess my question/reason for asking this question was that I don't quite understand how/why it became the default way of asking, even for people who joined long after it became the norm.

If it slowly snowballed on mefi, there was probably no discrete site event prompting it. If it took off like a rocket at some point, there probably was in fact such an event and some searching should turn it up. It's also possible that the period in which you started noticing the usage doesn't match up to the period (if one is notably extant) in which it increased in frequency on the site and that this is more of Recency Illusion biting you in the ass than anything.

Solution again pretty much comes down to searching; multi-word phrases don't work with the built-in engine, so you need to either get your google on or skim past false positives on a site search for best practices as unstrung tokens.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:57 PM on October 26, 2010


The first use of "hivemind" was back in 2001, referring to the "Internet/MeFi-hivemind." Use ramped up over years, and has been used pretty much since the beginning days of Ask MetaFilter (which started on Dec. 8, 2003).

One particular usage in 2002 recalls the geeky/sci-fi "group mind" idea.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:57 PM on October 26, 2010


I should perhaps have thought this question out a bit more before posting as I'm realising the answers I'm getting back don't get to the crux of the matter.

"Best practice" is not specific to metafilter. It's standard business school terminology.

Ah there's the rub!

Why is "best practices" overused for matters trivial/personal? Eg, "What are some best practices for watching TV?" - when how and what you watch is entirely personal preference.

I suppose what I'm trying to discover is when did how you ask matter more than what you ask? I qualify this of course by referring to how new a member I am, but I really do feel like everywhere I look these same phrases get recycled over and over.
posted by Biru at 3:58 PM on October 26, 2010


You are a very special snowflake.
posted by morganannie at 4:05 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


What are some best practices for watching TV?

So glad you asked! Let's take a proactive approach to this problem, and see if we can brainstorm some solutions.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Hope me hivemind before I reset the cooter clock!
posted by not_on_display at 4:47 PM on October 26, 2010



You are a very special snowflake.
posted by morganannie


For me, that's probably the most annoying cliché that gets overused on MetaFilter, the whole "special snowflake" thing. I'm sure it was cute when it first was bandied about, but now everybody uses that term and it's so old and worn out.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:06 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


It sounds to me, Biru, that you're trying to get a grip on the various MeFi specific memes. If that's the case, then just keep your eyes open and occasionally you'll figure some out and sometimes actually be there when they are conceived.

(You're getting in pretty deeply for being a relative noob, so I must advise you of one very importan...no, make that two very important things: 1. The moderator we call "Jessamyn" is actually the Queen of Portugal, but we can't talk about it because she's in exile. 2. Never, ever ask about the CABAL! Never. Ever.)

Otherwise, great question!
posted by snsranch at 5:15 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's take a proactive approach to this problem, and see if we can brainstorm some solutions.

I don't have the bandwidth for that right now, can we huddle up later?
posted by dirtdirt at 5:18 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This thread needs to be discussed more synergystically and dynamically.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:19 PM on October 26, 2010


I don't have the bandwidth for that right now, can we huddle up later?

Reprioritize your action items, we've got a heads-up on this in fifteen minutes and I want to touch base with you after my bio break.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:21 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


cortex, we need to utilize your new GTD method sustainably on a go-forward basis.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:41 PM on October 26, 2010


> As a relative newbie, when did certain phrases become cliche on ask metafilter? Specifically I refer to "What are some best practices for x?", referring to aforementioned "best practices" as "hacks" and "help me hivemind!!!".

I've been reading MeFi since 2001 and the only one of these that strikes me as remotely a site cliche is "help me hivemind," which seems pretty obvious for any group question-answering site.
posted by languagehat at 5:42 PM on October 26, 2010


I'd love to know where "hope me" came from.
posted by biochemist at 6:19 PM on October 26, 2010


That one's easy.
posted by dersins at 6:25 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


So glad you asked! Let's take a proactive approach to this problem, and see if we can brainstorm some solutions.

You're not thinking outside the box, here! Sharpen your pencils, drill down and unpack what our mission really is in this space.
posted by wilful at 6:57 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've got a textbook titled "Best Practices in Early Childhood Education" which I used in my college training in 1992. It's not a term that originated here and has been well established in ...well...communities of practice.
posted by Miko at 7:05 PM on October 26, 2010


I suppose what I'm trying to discover is when did how you ask matter more than what you ask?

How do you get from "a lot of people use the phrase 'best practices' to describe what they're seeking, even if it's in a non-business context" to "how you ask matter[s] more than what you ask." Do you believe that questions which ask essentially the same thing without using the phrase "best practices" receive answers of lower quality? Because I haven't noticed that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:46 PM on October 26, 2010


I tend to despise jargon, but at the same time, the phrase "best practices" is a fairly handy way of shortening down "best ways of going about things in order to achieve the following specific desired outcome:" .
posted by Miko at 7:49 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


And it has the added advantage of being only one tenth of one percent as annoying as "hacks".
posted by dersins at 9:12 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just chiming in to say that "best practices" is not just corporate/businessspeak. I know -- I've copyedited far, far too many long, dry journal articles about best practices of wastewater management, best practices of stream restoration, etc. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 9:29 PM on October 26, 2010


The problem with many biz lingo words is that once you use a couple you realize how much easier many of them are to quickly communicate amorphous ideas. The key to not being a corporate asshole may just be in not using them any around folks who you know aren't really familiar with them, any more than I'd drop a bunch of poker lingo into a casual conversation about the game with a newbie.

Either that or the synergy Borg has finally eaten my brain and im officially a wannabe biz school d******g.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:06 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna monetize your vertically integrated paradigm, going forward, unless I get disintermediated.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:53 AM on October 27, 2010


I tend to despise jargon, but at the same time, the phrase "best practices" is a fairly handy way of shortening down "best ways of going about things in order to achieve the following specific desired outcome:" .

Unfortunately, I often experience the phrase "best practices" as being shorthand for "ways of doing things that somebody thinks are good, but rather than say who that is, why they think they are good, and defend their application to our specific case, I'll simply imply that they have been declared 'best' in an absolute by the universe itself and thus are beyond argument."
posted by FishBike at 6:40 AM on October 27, 2010


cortex: "Timing-wise I think the rise of Lifehacker is a relevant externality."

I think this is it. About two years ago, there was a period where LifeHacker was very much the "it" blog for the tech crowd, riding the productivity/GTD wave. Then people started applying "hack" to pretty much every activity in their lives that took longer than 15 seconds, like child care.

The curmudgeon in me wants to think that all those people lost their jobs and now have more time to devote to their lives.
posted by mkultra at 9:19 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why is "best practices" overused for matters trivial/personal?

I think I sort of get what you are asking. In internet-land, where cries of "UR DOIN IT RONG" echo from every mountaintop, there comes a sort of corrollary impression that if so many people know what wrong looks like, there must also be a corresponding right. And people feel that if other people really get this wrong/right thing [something that is mystifying to many, myself included] perhaps they could share some of these hacks or best practices with us. Because if someone can tell me I'm watching TV wrong--and hang around on the internet long enough and someone will tell you this--they should also be able to tell you how to do it right. Or maybe less wrong.

I think it goes without saying that this whole hopeful fantasyland where there is a way to do things right and that the naysayers are actually the people who possess this information AND might share it if we ask them using special language [icanhazhackz?], is as mystical and impossible as me having a week in MetaTalk without someone complaining about the censorship. But we can always dream.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:03 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


That one's easy.

what is this I don't even
posted by biochemist at 10:19 AM on October 27, 2010


His only other comment is also a thing of beauty.
posted by dersins at 10:21 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I'm not down on the sharing of best practices. In my field, they've been a lifesaver, especially for small, underfunded institutions who don't have the mazuma to send their staff to management trainings and big conferences. Best Practices are rarely prescriptive mandates - instead, they become a really helpful window into how organizations have solved problems similar to the ones you have to solve. Invariably, there are some solutions that make sense for your local issues and improve your practice, and some that you immediately see aren't going to work or that you already do better. In my view, the sharing of best practice statements is one aspect of the overall transparency and information-sharing that is gradually pervading the public and cultural programming sector, and is a good thing - a much better thing than the former way of keeping the knowhow secretive, institutionalized, and close to the vest.
posted by Miko at 10:30 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vest practices, yo.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:55 AM on October 27, 2010


My band had one of our best practices last night. We totally did not screw up Yours Is No Disgrace, after we discussed the guitar solo section a bit.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:29 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


You may as well start here.
posted by JaredSeth at 4:58 PM on October 28, 2010


If you're looking for some amazing hacks, here's a list you should see. Hackariffic!
posted by Pronoiac at 6:50 PM on October 28, 2010


That one's easy.
That could have been when I fell in love with Metafilter, lo, these many years ago. I laughed myself silly. Of course it took me another few to fork over the fin...
posted by thinkpiece at 9:58 AM on October 30, 2010


« Older Not referring to a kitteh   |   Can I have a backwards pony? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments