When should I ask my question? January 24, 2011 1:34 PM   Subscribe

When is the best time of the day to post on AskMeFi to maximize the number of people who see my question and might provide a possible answer?

When is AskMefi visited the most during the day? When do you like to visit it, if you do?

I find that I almost never check the previous day's middle of the night questions and if a lot of questions have been asked and I don't recognize where I left off.. I read about a quarter of the way down the page and then I get distracted by something else and never make it any farther. I figure I'm not the only one.

Is there statistics somewhere?

I have a question "burning a hole in my pocket" so to speak but I'm worried that I won't get many answers and hope to have as many eyes on it as possible.
posted by royalsong to MetaFilter-Related at 1:34 PM (97 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Everyone's question is very special.

Previously.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:37 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this has come up a couple times before. The somewhat surprising answer, based on previous analyses, is that it basically does not matter at all—mean number of answers received is not significantly affected by time of day of posting or day of week.

Which doesn't mean there isn't significant variation in how many answers one question will get vs. another—that's always going to be a bit of a crapshoot—but it's not something primarily pegged to timing as far as we can tell.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:40 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I usually don't keep these things in my pocket.
o wait that wasn't the question?
posted by not_on_display at 1:41 PM on January 24, 2011


I'd love to see the results of implementing vacapinta's suggestion at the end of the thread Burhanistan linked above.

Hint, hint.
posted by axiom at 1:45 PM on January 24, 2011


The best time to post a question is either after you dump him or before you eat it, depending on the question.
posted by koeselitz at 1:47 PM on January 24, 2011 [27 favorites]


I've noticed that the number of answers surges slightly around 5 p.m. * on weekdays--people are tired from work, and want some relaxation. This doesn't mean, however, that they don't read the questions the rest of the time. If I miss a day, I'll spend extra time later catching up.

* Eastern Time, U.S.
posted by Melismata at 1:47 PM on January 24, 2011


Thankfully, my question is not about human relations. I don't mind reading those kinds of questions but I can't offer much advice. I think 90% of the answers to those are: You need to communicate like adults!
posted by royalsong at 1:49 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


The best thing you can probably do is proof-read your question a few times to make sure everything is clear and understandable.
posted by hellojed at 1:50 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Melismata: “I've noticed that the number of answers surges slightly around 5 p.m. * on weekdays--people are tired from work, and want some relaxation. This doesn't mean, however, that they don't read the questions the rest of the time. If I miss a day, I'll spend extra time later catching up.

* Eastern Time, U.S.”


The data shows that this is not true. Of course, that data is old; but it includes everything from 2002 to 2008, so it's pretty comprehensive. Maybe it'd be good to see an update.
posted by koeselitz at 1:50 PM on January 24, 2011


Ask while you're still conscious.
posted by angrycat at 1:52 PM on January 24, 2011


Thursday's out.
posted by theora55 at 1:52 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow.
posted by Gator at 1:52 PM on January 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Gah, that chart shows no such thing. I mean to say that it's this chart that shows that. Same finding, though; response rate to questions is the same regardless of the time of day they're posted.
posted by koeselitz at 1:53 PM on January 24, 2011


For sheer numbers the peak traffic time on Ask MetaFilter is between 10am - 2pm Pacific Time. It's slightly higher during this time, but steady throughout the entire US work day and into the evening. Ask has the least traffic of the day between 1am - 3am Pacific Time.

I think timing would be more of an issue if the only way to browse questions is the front page. It's certainly the most visited way to find questions. But we also have category pages, My Ask, Unanswered Questions, and tag pages which all help people connect with questions in different ways.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:53 PM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


And I'm totally wrong, too! Melismata could be correct – number of answers might surge at 5pm eastern – and average number of answers might stay the same, since people are catching up, just like she said. Sorry, Melismata.
posted by koeselitz at 1:54 PM on January 24, 2011


Thank you, pb. I would mark you as best answer, if that were possible. Will a chocolate chip cookie do?
posted by royalsong at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2011


...and then I get distracted by something else and never make it any farther.

Well that's just you. For an alternate viewpoint, I always go back to where I left off (and have no trouble recognizing where I left off).

This question keeps coming back, and I find it a little annoying.
posted by Rash at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


> This question keeps coming back, and I find it a little annoying

Yes, it's kind of like a guy who would like to push other people out of the way when an aid truck is delivering water because his family is more important that other people's families.

Or it would be like that if you were into extreme analogies.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:58 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Needless to say, if your question is best answered by people in a specific timezone it is best to target toward their time.

I say this because I saw one question recently by an American asking advice about London. But the question was posted at something like 1 am London time.
posted by vacapinta at 2:00 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


As Gator points out, this question has been asked 9 times before under the OP's own tag, "besttime." Checking your own tags before posting is a good idea.
posted by John Cohen at 2:03 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pretty soon we're going to get enough data points so we can answer "when is the best time to ask MetaTalk when the best time to AskMetafilter"
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:04 PM on January 24, 2011 [21 favorites]


Checking your own tags before posting is a good idea.

I added that tag to this post (and a few others) after doing a little round-up of these questions. There wasn't a consistant tag used, so I picked 'besttime' and went with it to hopefully make them easier to find in the future.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:04 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I wonder if it really helps to be connected to other users. People can then see in the sidebar when you've answered questions, or if you are contacts with someone else who is a heavy user and they answer something in your askme that gets favorited or marked as best answer, that shows up in sidebars too. Also, the more you participate in the site, the more people click on your username to look at your profile, see what questions you asked or other posts you made, and then you have more eyeballs looking at your query.

Well, that or be lucky enough to have iconomy see your question. Really you probably just want to be asking when she's going to be on that day.
posted by cashman at 2:05 PM on January 24, 2011


I pretty much fell out of my chair when I saw this and cortex's response.
posted by yaymukund at 2:09 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


When is the best time of the day to post on AskMeFi to maximize the number of people who see my question and might provide a possible answer? --- Shockingly enough, the answer coincides with the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop.
posted by crunchland at 2:15 PM on January 24, 2011


How much do you salivate, and how effective a solvent is it?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:23 PM on January 24, 2011


Dude, just go to the fucking hospital already.
posted by fixedgear at 2:27 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan: How much do you salivate, and how effective a solvent is it?

Saliva as a solvent depends on the material to dissolve. If it's water-based, you're in luck. Also, depends on what you've been eating (and then what you're secreting), because there is no one "recipe" for saliva.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:30 PM on January 24, 2011


That was in reference to the Tootsie Pop question.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:31 PM on January 24, 2011


When you find yourself trying to min/max ask.me, it's probably a good time to sell your level 85 enhancement shaman and step away from the internet. Just for a while.
posted by vorfeed at 2:34 PM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


but my shaman is an elemental shaman and only 84 :P
posted by royalsong at 2:38 PM on January 24, 2011


I added that tag to this post (and a few others) after doing a little round-up of these questions.

Oh. Never mind.
posted by John Cohen at 2:39 PM on January 24, 2011


NOW DO IT NOW NOW DO IT NOW TOO LATE
posted by klangklangston at 2:41 PM on January 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


4:34 PM. Try again tomorrow.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:41 PM on January 24, 2011 [3 favorites]




No I have to find out when 2 am pacific time is on a more useful measure such as UTC
posted by wilful at 3:12 PM on January 24, 2011


if a lot of questions have been asked and I don't recognize where I left off.. I read about a quarter of the way down the page and then I get distracted by something else and never make it any farther.

Surely I'm not the only one who scrolls back (and back... and back... and back...) while reading until I reach questions I recognize as ones I've seen before? Surely I'm not the only one who waits to check MeFi or AskMe until I know I have time to do that, so I won't have missed anything? Surely I'm not the only one who finds themself hollering at their partner "No! Don't you go looking at the front page using my computer while I'm logged in! You'll screw up my read-unread count! Argh!"

Surely?
posted by Lexica at 3:19 PM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Back in the day, the best time used to be 12:07 PM Eastern. It was then that the East-coast lunchers, the West-coast late-arrivers, and the Mid-West mid-morning trawlers all came though. You could be sure someone who was somebody would see your question. Sure, sure, there were others across the globe logging in as well, but They so eager to see the fresh new rush of questions would stay up late, or get up early to see the 12:07 roll on in.

Now the 12:07 didn't always arrive at 12:07. Initially it arrived a few minutes earlier, but over the years, as Askers hovered to press Post, the optimal timing grew later and later. Why, my grandfather swears he recalls a time when it was 11:58. That's AH-EM. Anyway, soon enough too many were holding on to their great inquiries of the week, and there weren't enough eyeballs to examine all the dangs questions that came that day. So many that for a day in '06, 12:07 became 62 seconds long. It took a gatherin' in Europe for the scientists to get all the clocks set right again.

Of course it wasn't before long that all the Askers figgered out that their special Honus Wagner of a question was appearin' so special next to the other bubblegum cards. So the Great 12:07 evaporated, and as each Asker tried to re-establish a new time (for a while 3:18 - but that didn't last long), a new order took shape. Regularity took hold and since then, no single time has ever took dominion over the rest.
posted by yeti at 3:33 PM on January 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Don't call me Shirley.
posted by fixedgear at 3:36 PM on January 24, 2011


China time, if you need my wisdoms - which you don't and my sleep patterns are all over the shop any road. More seriously, on the couple of things I have anything approaching expertise at, the questions will show up for me when I click the 'My Ask' tab, so I don't miss the few I am likely one of the more qualified responders for.
posted by Abiezer at 3:48 PM on January 24, 2011


I think the most important thing you can do to be sure you get good answers is to have a shortish front-page question that includes all the key elements for someone to know if they can answer it. The closer the key elements are to the beginning of the question, the better.

Think about who is best qualified to answer your question. Put a keyword for them toward the beginning of your front-page question.

For example:

BAD:
Road trip question! Where to eat lunch?
[More inside: Specifically, in Boise Idaho I need a vegetarian lunch place.]

BAD:
I am going on a road trip and I am excited to see many new places. Of course, I'm vegetarian (long story, let's just say I'm never working in a slaughterhouse again), which complicates matters. My girlfriend can tolerate only so much tofu before she starts screaming, and we have a small car, so you all know what that can be like. Special snowflake details inside.
[More inside: Specifically, in Boise Idaho I need a vegetarian lunch place.]

GOOD:
Boise Idaho vegetarian lunch place?
[More inside: I am going on a road trip and will be coming through Boise with my girlfriend.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:54 PM on January 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


vacapinta i writes "I say this because I saw one question recently by an American asking advice about London. But the question was posted at something like 1 am London time."

This seems like a decent time; maybe shifting it a couple hours later. Get all the people logging in at the beginning of the day. Much better than say 4-5 hours earlier when people are either getting ready for bed or out partying.
posted by Mitheral at 4:15 PM on January 24, 2011


Yeah, chiming in with hellojed and LobsterMitten that it's not when you ask your question, but how it's phrased.
posted by carsonb at 4:24 PM on January 24, 2011


Oh God I had forgotten about the whole Cooter thing.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:25 PM on January 24, 2011


The best thing you can probably do is proof-read your question a few times to make sure everything is clear and understandable.

And put a clear and answerable question above the fold. Make sure it is the one you want answered too, not an approximation missing something vital which is then mentioned later on amongst other details. I surprises me how often I scroll past something where I don't really know what they're asking, and I very rarely click the link to find out.

This is basically what LobsterMitten is saying too I think.
posted by shelleycat at 4:37 PM on January 24, 2011


When is the best time of the day to post on AskMeFi to maximize the number of people who see my question and might provide a possible answer?

Right... now. GO!
posted by rkent at 4:43 PM on January 24, 2011


No, wait - NOW!
posted by rkent at 4:44 PM on January 24, 2011


Another thing that drives me bananas is identification questions that require answerers to click on a link or open the "more inside" to find out whether they can answer:

BAD:
What is this?
[More inside: It's an abstract painting I found at a yard sale, any ideas?]

BAD:
Or even better: What is this?
[More inside: Here is the link.]

GOOD:
What is this abstract painting?
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:50 PM on January 24, 2011


I intend my question to be pretty clear cut.. at least I hope so. I could stick in a 100 special snowflake details, but I might keep it more simple to help anyone else who comes after me and is looking for similar suggestions.

Thanks for all the help everyone. :)

And I'm sorry to the people I've annoyed and made grumpy by repeating a question. You all can have cookies too if you want.
posted by royalsong at 4:54 PM on January 24, 2011


Time for pie?
posted by fixedgear at 4:58 PM on January 24, 2011


Oh look, I hit 10,000 favorites! That's nice!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:00 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


4:20
posted by birdherder at 5:05 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ask your question when you will be able to access your computer regularly for the next four hours. Don't ask when you are about to go out for the evening followed by falling into bed , or when you are on your way to a day full of meetings, followed directly by groceries, then supper, then kids, etc. Whenever you post, there will be Mefites across the world at their computers, willing to offer their input. Just make sure you are able to be there to receive it.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:15 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


A burning sensation in your pocket means you should see the doctor.

Or, if you're in the US, it means that you've just seen her.
posted by box at 5:43 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I'm sorry to the people I've annoyed and made grumpy by repeating a question. You all can have cookies too if you want.

You serious? Don't play with my emotions man.
posted by cashman at 5:52 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hold on, ya'll are going about this all wrong.

The actual rate of site use over time shouldn't matter at all to the attention your question gets. Regardless of how many eyes are on the site over time the same number of eyes will see the question so long as the number of visitors per minute remains consistent with the number of new questions being asked, which push down yours, per minute.

This is why the average number of responses to a question remains so remarkably flat while site visits does vary some
posted by Blasdelb at 6:29 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think Blasdelb has the right way of looking at this. Unless there were a pattern where, say, morning people were unusually asky and night owls were unusually answery, you wouldn't expect it to matter what time of day a question was posted.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:40 PM on January 24, 2011


I'm usually up by 8am, sleep by 11pm or so, EST. So any time between 12-8am should be fine for you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 PM on January 24, 2011


Best time.

Bad time.
posted by maudlin at 7:03 PM on January 24, 2011


the best time to post a question is after you've spent a whole god damned day watching police chase videos
posted by The Whelk at 7:03 PM on January 24, 2011


Oh look, I hit 10,000 favorites! That's nice!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94

posted by The Whelk at 7:04 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


What was that thing that happened most often in November? Was that the month with the most "should I eat it" questions?
posted by unknowncommand at 7:19 PM on January 24, 2011


I propose that anyone asking this question in the future be automatically barred from posting a question to AskMe for a period of not less than 6 months.
posted by Justinian at 7:27 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


When is the best time to ask when it's the best time to ask questions.?
posted by The Whelk at 7:48 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


About 5:04 eastern, apparently.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:01 PM on January 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Go to the ER. Now.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:09 PM on January 24, 2011


I propose that anyone asking this question in the future be automatically barred from posting a question to AskMe for a period of not less than 6 months.

but what if there was a medical emergency?
posted by clavdivs at 8:52 PM on January 24, 2011


Damn, did that peraon who posted the pictures of the "cuties" that they were interested in get a time out? Because that was some whack-ass nonsense.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:41 PM on January 24, 2011


On second thought, I'll let deleted things stay hidden.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:46 PM on January 24, 2011


Assuming rough parity between people posting and people answering, shouldn't it be invariant? If you happen to post your question at a slower time, it'll just stick around on the front page longer, until the same volume of participants have gone through AskMe.
posted by decoherence at 10:49 PM on January 24, 2011


I was going to say what Blasdelb did, but then the mention of whether morning people were unusually asky and night owls were unusually answery, made me think that might conceivably be the case.

I check Metafilter while I'm eating breakfast, and occasionally during the day, but in those cases, I can't easily post answers because my hands are full with other stuff. In the evening is the time when it's easiest to actually type. Maybe this pattern holds for other people too? And obviously if you have a burning question, you might put down your sandwich for long enough to type it, but you aren't going to make that sacrifice just to post an ANSWER...
posted by lollusc at 11:37 PM on January 24, 2011


When is the best time to bold your question to get the most answers?
posted by Grither at 5:22 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


When is the best time to bold your question to get the most answers?

That's annoying and I flagged as HTML/display error.
posted by fixedgear at 5:28 AM on January 25, 2011


Just go for it anytime. Add plenty of identifying tags. There are plenty of members that keep tabs on keywords in their RSS feeds. For instance, I have a feed for "Illustrator" and "InDesign". I'm interested in these tags because I can usually give a decent answer. Also remember, the most answers don't necessarily equal the best answers.
posted by studentbaker at 6:36 AM on January 25, 2011


When is the best time to bold your question to get the most answers?

That's annoying and I took those dang ol' bold tags out, which is what I do like 95% of the time when there's bold above the fold in askme.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:09 AM on January 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Damn, did that peraon who posted the pictures of the "cuties" that they were interested in get a time out?

No.

So, in summary

- Ask your question when the people who are likely to be able to answer your question are awake.
- Keep your question succinct, include relevant details above the "fold"
- Relevant details include location, restrictions, that sort of thing.
- Include as little formatting as possible. Bold questions make the baby mod cry. Only include links that are necessary to your question [or photos of pets, for some reason]. Extraneous links may be removed. Your question is not a MeFi post.
- Read your question before posting. Did you include too much information? Try to pare it down.
- Read your question before posting again. Did you include asides and/or jokes that are going to derail people from the focus of your question? Consider removing them.
- Read your question before posting a final time? Is the way you phrased your question likely to be considered fighty by someone who does not share your values and/or outlook? Could you ask the question without the fighty bits? If so, try to do that.
- Stick around for a bit to see how your question is received to make sure you didn't leave anything out, but do not overmoderate and reply to every answer, update with details if necessary.
- If people are being jerks with their answers, flag and move on. Do not update the thread with snarky rejoinders, no matter how satisfying that may be. Remember that the community is made up of people who may be having a bad day and that their advice, while often helpful, is provided at no cost to you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:15 AM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


cortex, the HTML wrangler!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:16 AM on January 25, 2011


The magic answer is 10:14 am on a Tuesday.
posted by cashman at 7:41 AM on January 25, 2011


haha, thanks cashman.
posted by royalsong at 7:44 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anticlimactic.
posted by fixedgear at 8:23 AM on January 25, 2011


Yeah, while I don't discount the extreme importance of lunch options, I can't be the the only one who thinks that was kind of silly to try to strategize optimum time windows for.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:27 AM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Haha, I'm sorry - I decided not to ask the question that was burning a hole in my pocket right now.
posted by royalsong at 8:35 AM on January 25, 2011


To take the opposite approach, the question least likely to be considered will be the one with an unedited stream-of-consciousness rant inside the fold, no matter at what time it's been posted.

My sneak-entry into professional writing has taught me two things: *you need to write it down, every bit of it. *In 85 % of the cases, you need to turn the order of items upside down. *then delete it all, and leave three sentences. f) Learn how to count properly, for better headlines. *exchange points two and three in the list above.
posted by Namlit at 8:50 AM on January 25, 2011


Yeah, while I don't discount the extreme importance of lunch options, I can't be the the only one who thinks that was kind of silly to try to strategize optimum time windows for.

Eaters gonna eat.
posted by cashman at 8:59 AM on January 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think 90% of the answers to questions about lunch are: food.
posted by box at 12:30 PM on January 25, 2011


We'll be there between 11 am and 4:30 pm two weeks from today to answer your question. A signature is required; if you're not around to sign for the answer we'll try twice more to deliver the answer before it gets sent back.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:38 PM on January 25, 2011


If it doesn't burn a hole in his pocket before then.
posted by fixedgear at 1:10 PM on January 25, 2011


Sometimes a spicy lunch can burn holes.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:12 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not a him.
posted by royalsong at 1:44 PM on January 25, 2011


Opps, I am sorry. I apologize.
posted by fixedgear at 1:46 PM on January 25, 2011


Christ! When in doubt, don't eat it!
posted by 6:1 at 4:44 PM on January 25, 2011


Please enclose a SASE for your response.
posted by 6:1 at 4:45 PM on January 25, 2011


Dangit, this is going to drive me nuts.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:29 PM on January 25, 2011


Why is it going to drive you nuts?
posted by royalsong at 6:51 PM on January 25, 2011


Because he has a ship's wheel stuck in his pantaloons.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:53 PM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


ARRRRRRRRRRRRR...IT'S STEERING MY BALLS. There actually was something similar to this post that happened repeatedly here or on AskMe, and most often in November, and it was strange that this was the case because it was something seemingly singular, and maybe cortex graphed it.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:53 PM on January 25, 2011


Before the Infodump existed, or at least unrelated to it.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:55 PM on January 25, 2011


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