Could shortening the waiting period from a week to three days on askmefi be taken into consideration? February 13, 2011 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Could shortening the waiting period from a week to three days on askmefi be taken into consideration?

I really like askmefi, but I feel like the week long waiting period after asking a question is just too much. I have difficulty imagining that things would really deteriorate if it were shortened to three days, or that there would really even be any kind of noticeable difference. I often find myself not asking things for fear that something else will crop up, and often this ends up snowballing to the point where I simply just don't use askmefi out of habit. What are other people's thoughts on this?
posted by bookman117 to Etiquette/Policy at 8:28 PM (127 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

> I often find myself not asking things for fear that something else will crop up, and often this ends up snowballing to the point where I simply just don't use askmefi out of habit.

Well, don't do that. Ask your question when you feel like it. If you have something that is really urgent and can't wait a few days, worry about that then.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:34 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think a week is just about perfect. When it was extended to two weeks, that was too long.
posted by grouse at 8:36 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the potential for abuse is too high. One question a week should be enough for anybody.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:37 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the concern is that a shorter waiting period would cause the number of questions asked per day to increase to a point at which the community's ability to provide meaningful answers would be compromised.
posted by killdevil at 8:38 PM on February 13, 2011 [20 favorites]


Nope. We've found the 7-day wait works well as an overall compromise, and having a straightforward, ironclad, no-exceptions rule very much simplifies the process of making it clear to folks how this place works.

I know that can be frustrating now and then when you Really Want To Ask Something, but it's the boat everybody's in and ultimately it's the responsibility of every mefite to just try and consider that going in when they're pacing their questions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:38 PM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah we have some people who really push the limit that we have as it is, asking a question JUST at seven days or asking an anon question when they don't have a spare question to ask. The week is easy to remember, easy for us to keep track of and works for most people. There are other MeFite spinoff sites that are sometimes good for the "just wondering" sorts of questions and there's always Quora or the #bunnies IRC channel [and a bunch more] that are good for more idle banter sorts of things.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:54 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really like askmefi, but I feel like the week long waiting period after asking a question is just too much

Really? Because you've been a member for more than 75 weeks and have asked fewer than ten questions. Seems like the waiting period could be extended significantly without affecting you much.
posted by dersins at 8:55 PM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


BRING BACK FORTNIGHTLY ASKME
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:04 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


#bunnies and on the metachat wiki
posted by mlis at 9:11 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it would be interesting to change the system from "one a week" to something like "4 in a month"

Everybody gets 4 questions per 28 days, and if they want to use them all up in 1 day they can, but then no more questions until next month. The question volume shouldn't change significantly, but it allows for a little more flexibility with question timing, allowing the panicky more breathing room.
posted by that girl at 9:22 PM on February 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Whatcha wanna know, kid?
posted by cashman at 9:22 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The question volume shouldn't change significantly, but it allows for a little more flexibility with question timing, allowing the panicky more breathing room.

I think this sort of thing is a good idea in a general sense, but unworkable. We'd still have the same people who used up all their questions early in the month and need another one. This way we can tell at a glance where people are relative to the once-a-week limit. This limits griefing, is easy to explain, and for people with agita about the limit there are one-time ways around it that we've gone over before.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:28 PM on February 13, 2011


Yeah, I guess it doesn't really help with the edge-case people very much--I was thinking more of the occasional users who convince themselves out of normal reasonable questions for fear of EMERGENCY!

But I guess that might be what the one-time ways around it are for. Ah, well.
posted by that girl at 9:52 PM on February 13, 2011


Seems like questions are moving down the page pretty quickly already. I fear the quality of answers would suffer if we all were allowed double the questions. Somehow I also feel like the quality of questions would suffer as they would be less precious and therefore less thoughtful and sober.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:04 PM on February 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


I often find myself not asking things for fear that something else will crop up

I do this too and I think that's a built in feature of the waiting period. It forces me to reflect on the importance of my question. Is it something I could find out for myself if I spent a little more time googling? Is it a question with such personal preferences that anyone else's answer is going to be irrelevant? AskMe's a valuable resource and the waiting period is almost like a false scarcity that encourages me to use the other methods of problem solving at my disposal.
posted by Mizu at 10:13 PM on February 13, 2011 [17 favorites]


I think we should be allowed to sell unused Asks. There seems to be a market for them.
posted by Bonzai at 10:42 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Really? Because you've been a member for more than 75 weeks and have asked fewer than ten questions. Seems like the waiting period could be extended significantly without affecting you much.

No, you can't assume that. It's quite coherent to say "the waiting period is so long it keeps me from asking questions," while you've only asked 9 questions.

It could be that he's constantly holding back from asking most of the questions he'd like to post, because he's worried an urgent question could come up right after he asked a less essential question. You have no idea how many fine questions he would have liked to ask but refrained from asking because of the waiting period (not because the site wouldn't allow him to post a question).
posted by John Cohen at 10:44 PM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Really? Because you've been a member for more than 75 weeks and have asked fewer than ten questions. Seems like the waiting period could be extended significantly without affecting you much.

That depends on how you define his problem. If it's about how often he can ask questions, sure. But if it's how often he worries about asking questions, that's a horse of a different color. If the time was shortened he probably wouldn't ask many more questions. But he'd worry about it less.
posted by scalefree at 10:45 PM on February 13, 2011


I often find myself not asking questions for fear something will crop up, then just doing the second google search that I was too lazy to do earlier, and pow, question answered. Sometimes I even use other search engines or call a librarian.

Also, Wikipedia can answer a lot of the "just wondering" stuff, and relationship questions are all Dump 'em, Therapy or Deal With It anyway, with AskMe answers usually in that order.
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think we should be allowed to sell unused Asks. There seems to be a market for them.


Totally. I ask a question about once every few years or so.
posted by birdherder at 10:52 PM on February 13, 2011


I think we should be allowed to sell unused Asks. There seems to be a market for them.

- One free question a week
- First extra question within the week, $5
- Second extra question, $20
- Third extra question, $100

People get to ask more questions if they really want to, and the money goes into a general Metafilter Scholarship Fund that helps kids get an education.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:54 PM on February 13, 2011 [19 favorites]


I agree with BP but think it should be $20 $50 and $100. It should be painful.
posted by peacay at 11:00 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


and the money goes into a general Metafilter Scholarship Fund that helps kids get an education.

But...But... If we help kids get an education, they'll ask fewer questions in the future and the fund will completely dry up!
posted by amyms at 11:25 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's a self-regulating feedback mechanism that will keep the number of questions under control.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:30 PM on February 13, 2011


But...But... If we help kids get an education, they'll ask fewer questions in the future and the fund will completely dry up!

Heh. Just like the reason we shouldn't tax tobacco (it will deter people from smoking, so they won't be taxed and revenue will dry up).
posted by John Cohen at 11:34 PM on February 13, 2011


I often find myself not asking things for fear that something else will crop up

As the kids say, you're doing it wrong. You should just relax and ask questions as they come up. If you really need to ask more than 52 a year you probably have a much larger underlying problem than the 52+ little problems you feel compelled to ask the world. Either that, or you're playing it like a game -- ask as many cool questions as possible? -- which would be a different mistake.

But if this shit is freaking you out and you just have to ask all of these questions, try making a table, two columns, with a question in one column and a priority in the other. Every time you have a question for Ask Me, go to that file and enter it along with the priority you think it has, with maybe 100 being "This is super-duper end-of-the-world important to me right now and it will be too late to ask it tomorrow!", 75 being "I need the answer to this but it doesn't have to be this week", 50 being "I would love to know the answer to this but it can wait", and 0 being "I was just wondering about some shit I heard somewhere once. I probably won't even remember wondering this tomorrow."

Sort by priority, ask the question with the highest number, and then delete that question from your list (or put the answer in a third column and change the priority to -1). Next week, do the same thing. The dumbass questions will stay at the bottom of your list, the important questions will be asked, and the "Please help me with my homework due tomorrow!!!" questions might have to (and probably should) go to someone on your phone list instead. But just in case, try not to ask any non-school questions towards the end of a semester when projects and exams are coming up, because you might need that week's question to save your grade.
posted by pracowity at 12:17 AM on February 14, 2011


I was thinking more of the occasional users who convince themselves out of normal reasonable questions for fear of EMERGENCY!

Unless you're locked in a room, odds are that your question can wait a few days.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:31 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


While we're on the subject of posting time limits, could we consider changing the wait time on FPPs from 24 hours to 12?

I'm often discouraged from making posts because I know I'll have to wait until the same time tomorrow to post again. So if it's later in the evening and I have some time, I'll usually put off posting something until the next day so that I have more flexibility in the future (rather than getting stuck in a sort of ratchet effect of posting at 9PM, then 9:45, then 10:30, then 11:20, etc.), which is nice to have since some posts are more appropriate for earlier in the day. But putting off for one day turns into putting off for several days (or weeks, or months), which is why I've got only 52 posts in 3+ years. The only way to avoid getting forced later into the day like this while still posting regularly is to make every post at 24 hours on the dot, which is a pain.

If the wait time were 12 hours, this would be a lot easier. You could make a post at 7PM one night, then 3PM the next day, then 9AM the day after that. It would be difficult to abuse -- if you posted something at 4PM, say, you'd have to wait until 4AM to do it again. So you'd still be limited to one post per day, generally. But you'd have greater flexibility in what time you could post, instead of having to wait until the same time or later each day. There's also a smaller percentage of people posting to Mefi vs. AskMe who do so less often, so I don't see cutting the limit leading to an unmanageable influx of material like it would where there is a greater number of users with an incentive to post as often as possible.

Any thoughts?
posted by Rhaomi at 12:34 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any thoughts?

Pretty much no, for the same reason. We've been doing it the same way for a long time and absent a really compelling reason to change the way we do it, it's just not something that's on the table. The once per day is really intended to be an upper limit.

I love your posts, Rhaomi, and 50+ a year is still well above most people on the site. This is fine, totally fine, but the problem seems to be the "putting off" that you mention and not the one day cycle. The number of posts posted per day has been remarkably steady over the years and we just don't see allowing people to post more [keeping in mind that this would mean that certain people who are already prolific would post even more and others would probably keep on doing what they're doing] as solving a problem we've identified with the site.

Allowing yourself to post exactly every other day at differing times would still allow a change of posting times without necessitating a sitewide posting frequency change and still triple your output, if that's what you're after.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:41 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just like the reason we shouldn't tax tobacco

Just ramp up the tax on ciggies every christmas.

Trust me, this has been tested.
posted by pompomtom at 12:51 AM on February 14, 2011


Not in favour of this; looking at your question history, you could benefit from pracowity's ranking suggestion as not all of your questions seem critically important.

I would sell questions for the MeFi education fund too.
posted by arcticseal at 12:52 AM on February 14, 2011


Fair enough, jessamyn (and thanks for the quick answer!).
posted by Rhaomi at 1:06 AM on February 14, 2011


- Second extra question, $20

So, same as in town, huh?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:11 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The way that it works now seems fine to me. MeFi education fund is a nice idea though.
posted by XMLicious at 1:51 AM on February 14, 2011


I'm usually very hesitant to ask questions on AskMe for similar reasons to what have been described above. What if I waste my weekly question on something interesting, but small, and then need it for something important later? Hasn't happened yet, but what if?

Also, I know that the chances of changing the question allotment on AskMe are incredibly slim, but if they were to change, I think a good way to do it would be to let users keep one "banked" question (only one) if they refrain from asking a question one week. Basically, users keep their 52 questions a year (or however many we're allotted) but if you don't ask a question one week, you can "bank" that one question to use later. You'll have to skip a week again in order to save up another question, but I think this ensures that no one gets to build up a huge stockpile of questions, and yet if something comes up you still have one extra question you can ask if you're responsible and patient.
posted by sambosambo at 2:24 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


You've just got to be your own editor. Keep the question hanging around for a day or two and ask yourself:

1. Do I really care about this question, in the sense that an answer might measurably improve my life or solve a non-trivial problem? Or is it just idle curiosity?

2. Are there other specific sources that are more appropriate than a general forum? Would I be better to sign up to a gardening/car/diy/washing machine forum and get advice from a more focussed group of people?

3. Am I really looking for advice, or am I going to state my own view about something and fish for confirmation (and then mark the answers I agree with as best answers?)

Finally, it doesn't do any harm to ask other members questions directly. If you read previous AskMe questions on a particular topic it's often easy to identify users who consistently give helpful, informed answers. A lot of these people are more than happy to answer a direct question, as long as you keep the frequency below their annoyance threshold.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:38 AM on February 14, 2011


Bonzai: "I think we should be allowed to sell unused Asks. There seems to be a market for them."

Of the 12 questions I've asked in the last 6 years, two of those have been for other MeFites who didn't have a question to spare. If someone truly, desperately needs a question asked, it seems likely there are folks here who might be willing to help them out... gratis. :)
posted by zarq at 2:49 AM on February 14, 2011


jessamyn: " Pretty much no, for the same reason. We've been doing it the same way for a long time and absent a really compelling reason to change the way we do it, it's just not something that's on the table. The once per day is really intended to be an upper limit. "

Ah well.

I was considering making a Meta inquiring after that particular pony, or a variation of it. Such as... X # of posts = credits earned which can be "spent" to shorten posting time over a single 24 hour period. If X were a high enough number, the impact to the front page could be kept to a minimum.

Of course, it's a totally self-serving pony. I probably made ~75 posts last year.

Also would like to mention that I'd be in favor of more Rhaomi posts. :)
posted by zarq at 3:04 AM on February 14, 2011


We could improve things a lot by adding a couple of rules that go:

1. Are you American and upset about something? Go see a therapist. Now shut up and stop wasting AskMe space.

2. Are you American and worried about a medical issue? Go see a doctor. Now shut up and stop wasting AskMe space.
posted by Decani at 3:48 AM on February 14, 2011


Can we sell Decani? If we do, we could probably pay off one of our credit cards or use the money to finish off the sunroom/library.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:04 AM on February 14, 2011


Slightly related, I agree with the OP in that I have a few times been keen to ask a question but forced to sit and wait like when Homer is waiting for his gun licence. Is there a rule about registering a second account for just such occasions? Not a sock-puppet per se, but one which is freely acknowledged to be another account I have for the odd occasion when I would like to ask a question but have asked one in the preceding seven days already.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:16 AM on February 14, 2011


Is there a rule about registering a second account for just such occasions? Not a sock-puppet per se, but one which is freely acknowledged to be another account I have for the odd occasion when I would like to ask a question but have asked one in the preceding seven days already.

Yeah, there's a rule. It is "NO. BAD." (I'm paraphrasing from the exact mod quote, but you get the idea).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:29 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


3. Are you in a relationship? DTMFA!
posted by Splunge at 4:36 AM on February 14, 2011


I often find myself not asking things for fear that something else will crop up, and often this ends up snowballing to the point where I simply just don't use askmefi out of habit. --- I suspect your answer is to spend the $15 and register bookman118, bookman119, and bookman120.
posted by crunchland at 4:45 AM on February 14, 2011


2. Are you American and worried about a medical issue? Go see a doctor. Now shut up and stop wasting AskMe space.

You think it's easier to see a doctor in America than in other countries??
posted by John Cohen at 4:48 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I often find myself not asking things for fear that something else will crop up, and often this ends up snowballing to the point where I simply just don't use askmefi out of habit.

I do the exact same thing. I hear the posters who are saying that we should just go ahead and ask anyway, but sometimes there are just times in life where there is enough chaos that being without the ability to ask a question is kind of nerve-wracking.

For example, I'm a the end of my pregnancy right now and there are just lots of things throughout that could come up, sudden things. So, most of my pregnancy I avoided asking questions, just in case, even when I really, really wanted to. I did the same thing when I got married, and I'll probably do the same for other periods of transition in my life.

It's possible that this is a feature an not a bug, considering that I've had to develop other resources, but I wish that I didn't feel that I needed to hoard the awesome, nincompoop-free resource that AskMefi is.

Still, I understand that pruning is what keeps Mefi growing healthily. I ended up buying my husband an account so I can have him ask on my behalf in an emergency.
posted by Alison at 5:24 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I often find myself not asking things for fear that something else will crop up, and often this ends up snowballing to the point where I simply just don't use askmefi out of habit.

I think this is a feature, not a bug.

I go ask the unimportant question when I feel ready to deal with big problems, knowing that an important situation will pop up as soon as I do. It's a way of managing those big events.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:29 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


sambosambo: "I think a good way to do it would be to let users keep one "banked" question (only one) if they refrain from asking a question one week."

I'm bringing this out again just because I want to see an admin response to it. I also don't think it's a terrible idea, but might be a bit of a pain to code.
posted by theichibun at 5:36 AM on February 14, 2011


could we consider changing the wait time on FPPs from 24 hours to 12?

I know that Jessamyn already gave her mod-answer, but for some folks, I think the opposite might make Metafilter a better place. That is, increase the wait time from 24 to 48 (47?) hours. There are some posters who are a veritable font of awesome, but all the same, they'll occasionally limp in with a post that makes me wonder, "really? Couldn't just skip a day?"

No one has to post something every day.

Of course, I've only posted FPPs twice, because Metafilter tends to be my source of cool stuff on the Internet.
posted by explosion at 5:37 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unless you're locked in a room, odds are that your question can wait a few days.

AskMe: Help! I'm trapped in my bedroom!
posted by odinsdream at 6:02 AM on February 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


or asking an anon question when they don't have a spare question to ask.

I thought you couldn't do that anymore?
posted by amro at 6:03 AM on February 14, 2011


Well, if you guys ever want to do a charity event, have a $25 raffle for the chance to post all the questions you want for a day.

Who am I kidding, this is just a surreptitious plan to get the second episode of Rafflers off the ground.
posted by cashman at 6:06 AM on February 14, 2011


I thought you couldn't do that anymore?

It's strongly discouraged, but from previous explanations there isn't an automated flagging of such questions based on e-mail address or anything like that. It's very much an anonymous process and requires digging to investigate misuse.
posted by odinsdream at 6:06 AM on February 14, 2011


I do this too and I think that's a built in feature of the waiting period. It forces me to reflect on the importance of my question. Is it something I could find out for myself if I spent a little more time googling?

This. There are dozens and dozens of questions which the tiny push of the timer has caused me to research for myself and answer to my satisfaction. That's a good thing for everybody. Well, the timer and my fear of looking ignorant when I get a 30-second googled answer.

I found it helpful for a while to stockpile questions to ask in a document on the PC, that way they don't hang over my head for months as I forget about them.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:11 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


If it was more then once a week I'd flood the thing with mix cd requests in like 72 hours.
posted by The Whelk at 6:12 AM on February 14, 2011


AskMe: Help! I'm trapped in my bedroom!

I was on my way to digging that up. As always, MetaFilter provides.
posted by scalefree at 6:24 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seriously, the solution to everybody's worry is that if an emergency does come up you will find another way to post it. Either buy another account, post it through a friend or convince some other MeFite to post for you. Stop worrying!
posted by scalefree at 6:37 AM on February 14, 2011


Well just dont buy another account to get around the rule, the mods frown on that.
posted by wheelieman at 6:40 AM on February 14, 2011


Finally, it doesn't do any harm to ask other members questions directly.

I MeFi Mail-ed bearwife a question after one of her comments made it clear she'd be a highly-qualified source. And her reply was Best Answer-caliber.

So yeah, this works.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:40 AM on February 14, 2011


I found it helpful for a while to stockpile questions to ask in a document on the PC

Useful Greasemonkey script.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:42 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good god, this thread again.

Can we change the time limit to one question a month please? Please?
posted by Justinian at 6:49 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I often find myself not asking things for fear that something else will crop up

THERAPY. NOW.



j/k!!!!!!!!
posted by liketitanic at 6:50 AM on February 14, 2011


You know, when I was a kid we used to have to walk miles through the snow, uphill both ways, to ask questions of strangers. And we were grateful!
posted by JanetLand at 6:56 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, when I was a kid we used to have to walk miles up to the Oracle At Delphi to ask our questions, and if we didn't like it, then though! and We'd go raze a Scrythian village somewhere.
posted by The Whelk at 7:02 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember the days of the 14 day waiting period. Man, THAT hurt. So, in essence, the waiting period has already been halved.

I'm not sure what my point was, or if there was one. It's Valentine's Day! Eat chocolate! Or not!
posted by sonika at 7:31 AM on February 14, 2011


Is there a rule about registering a second account for just such occasions? Not a sock-puppet per se, but one which is freely acknowledged to be another account I have for the odd occasion when I would like to ask a question but have asked one in the preceding seven days already.

The rule is: do not do that. The 7-day limit is per person, not per account, and we have a backend process that actively keeps an eye out for people using multiple accounts to dodge around the limit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:38 AM on February 14, 2011


I'd suggest that those who don't ask questions for fear that a something else more pressing will come up in the week before their next question would face the same issue were the posting period three days. This is an issue of asker psychology, not AskMe rules.
posted by OmieWise at 7:42 AM on February 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Unless you're locked in a room, odds are that your question can wait a few days.

Yeah, odds are you don't have this problem. Lucky you.
posted by John Cohen at 7:43 AM on February 14, 2011


I often find that when I have a question I might want to ask Metafilter, the process of drafting the question in my mind and trying to lay out events in a way that will make sense to other people helps me think through my problem to the point that I don't need to ask it anymore. Plus I'm so addicted to reading AskMe that I can sort of guess what kind of advice I'd get anyway.

This is probably partly a result of the scarcity of questions, and partly a side effect of reading AskMe every day through my formative years. AskMe: it's in your brain!
posted by MadamM at 7:58 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: The rule is: do not do that.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:09 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's my ideas to make it easier for people to ask metafilter multiple questions if they have a project/problem while keeping the load the same.

Each user would have three questions they could ask at anytime during the month, each month. If

Otherwise, what if a nominal fee were charged to ask additional questions during a week with either a cap as to how many questions you could pay for, or a progressive price scale (say the first extra costs $2, the second $5, the third $10).
posted by drezdn at 8:48 AM on February 14, 2011


I tend to conserve my questions also. The end result of multiple users not asking questions is fewer questions on ask.me. Given how fast questions scroll off the front page of Ask, fewer questions is Good.

Any system of question banking that involves math is going to be a royal pain to administer; ask any teacher who's had to calculate grades.

I do find that composing a question, trying to give details, and frame it accurately, allows me to solve many questions on my own. Thanks, ask.me. (on preview, what MadamM said, but bears repetition.)
posted by theora55 at 8:50 AM on February 14, 2011


Decani: "We could improve things a lot by adding a couple of rules that go:

1. Are you American and upset about something? Go see a therapist. Now shut up and stop wasting AskMe space.

2. Are you American and worried about a medical issue? Go see a doctor. Now shut up and stop wasting AskMe space.
"

Not everyone is so privileged that they can easily afford medical care.

Physician appointments can be costly for those who don't have insurance. The MeFi wiki now lists a couple of resources for low-cost medications for those who qualify, but it's by no means comprehensive.

Therapy can be even more difficult to afford -- even if you have insurance. Some plans don't cover therapy. Others only cover a limited number of visits. Even those who cover an unlimited, regular schedule of appointments may still not make therapy affordable to those covered. If say, your co-pay for therapist visits is $50 each, and you are supposed to attend therapy 4x per month, that $200 will be an extra expense that may not be affordable to everyone.

AskMe has repeatedly proven to be helpful for those who need reality checks, but are genuinely unsure of what action to take in a given situation. It seems to me that's a feature, not a bug.
posted by zarq at 9:01 AM on February 14, 2011


I just want you all to know that if I'm facing a true trapped-in-a-room crisis and have already used my Ask question, I will:

A) Call my family/friends/etc.,
B) Use Facebook and Twitter to broadcast my appeal for aid,
and/or
C) Abuse my MetaTalk privileges, under the assumption that the mods will take pity on me and move the post.

Which is to say, I'm willing to suffer a week-long timeout if it means getting out of a locked room in one piece.
posted by SMPA at 9:02 AM on February 14, 2011


cortex: " The rule is: do not do that. The 7-day limit is per person, not per account, and we have a backend process that actively keeps an eye out for people using multiple accounts to dodge around the limit."

I have this recurring nightmare that the pb installs a Mods-Only "Smite-This-Mefite" button....
posted by zarq at 9:03 AM on February 14, 2011


I just want you all to know that if I'm facing a true trapped-in-a-room crisis and have already used my Ask question...

Maybe we should create a page on the Wiki for people who can help those trapped in rooms.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:10 AM on February 14, 2011


It's strongly discouraged, but from previous explanations there isn't an automated flagging of such questions based on e-mail address or anything like that. It's very much an anonymous process and requires digging to investigate misuse.

Unless I misunderstood, when I asked jessamyn last week about doing this she said you can't get to the link to post an anonymous question if it's been less than a week since you last asked a question under your user name.
posted by amro at 9:13 AM on February 14, 2011


Abuse my MetaTalk privileges, under the assumption that the mods will take pity on me and move the post.

We have no facility to do that. "Moving the post" when someone posts in the wrong place consists entirely of saying "hey, uh, this is in the wrong place, go post it in the right place".

Unless I misunderstood, when I asked jessamyn last week about doing this she said you can't get to the link to post an anonymous question if it's been less than a week since you last asked a question under your user name.

Yeah, we do a basic check on this to try and keep folks from doing that. The whammy is that due to how we have anonymity implemented, it's not bulletproof and so it's conceivable that the occasional person has intentionally or inadvertently routed around that check. We'd prefer people didn't, but practically speaking we know they might. If it's something we have cause to notice happening, you'll hear from us.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:17 AM on February 14, 2011


AskMefi is a great resource. If it is your only resource for life questions, such that your life quality is severely compromised by a situation where you want to ask a question and are out of questions, then perhaps the issue is not AskMefi but a need for you to find other resources (friends, family, therapist, Google, similar AskMefi questions, etc) to give you additional counsel.
posted by schroedinger at 9:36 AM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


John Cohen: "2. Are you American and worried about a medical issue? Go see a doctor. Now shut up and stop wasting AskMe space.

You think it's easier to see a doctor in America than in other countries??
"

I read that as "because it's so difficult for Americans to go to the doctor, they AskMetafilter instead -- because people in countries with health care that cares about the patient just, you know, go to the doctor."

As for the OP's idea of "saving questions in case something else comes along" when I saw that written out I thought "that sounds crazy"; I also realized I've done the same thing. As someone who has asked 7 questions over almost 6 years, I'm obviously snowballing the same way.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:37 AM on February 14, 2011


someone posts in the wrong place consists entirely of saying "hey, uh, this is in the wrong place, go post it in the right place".

But in this hypothetical case he can no longer post in AskMe (having posted already that week) but he's still trapped in a room.

So instead of asking him to move his post to a more appropriate place I would hope you would instead help him to get untrapped from his room.

Since it's hypothetical change 'trapped in a room' to 'trapped on the roof of a house during a flood which curiously still has wi-fi'.
posted by Bonzai at 9:39 AM on February 14, 2011


So instead of asking him to move his post to a more appropriate place I would hope you would instead help him to get untrapped from his room.

Where the rubber meets the road here is a frank assessment of need. If you are well and truly in an emergency situation that demands a prompt response, "Ask Metafilter" is not where you need to be turning. You call someone or you IM someone or you contact the police.

I thought the trapped-in-your-room askme was a funny weird situation. It makes for great lore. it's a fun story to relate to friends. It was also not an emergency; someone trapped in their room in a "this is an actual emergency situation" skips askme on the way to 911, or breaks the window and leaves that way, or, or, or.

The list of plausible "seriously, literally the only way I can deal with this emergency problem is to ask metafilter immediately" scenarios is basically nil. That's not to say that the green can't helpful in bad situations or can't be a decent route to information on the relatively short term, but it is not, and cannot be treated as, an emergency hotline.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:48 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see the limit raised to two weeks. You can do two weeks standing on your head.
posted by box at 9:50 AM on February 14, 2011


Yeah, odds are you don't have this problem. Lucky you.
posted by John Cohen at 7:43 AM on February 14 [+] [!]


Yes, but Fake doesn't ask a question every week. I don't know him personally, but I assume that the rate at which he asks questions is not based on the possibility that something bad might be happening to someone he knows. Considering how many people were willing to help in that situation, I think that someone would have been willing to ask the question on his behalf.

That's why I said "odds are." Sure, important, time-sensitive, things do come up. But that's not most of the time. Otherwise, Ask would have a much greater sense of panic than it does now.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:16 AM on February 14, 2011


The rule is: do not do that. The 7-day limit is per person, not per account, and we have a backend process that actively keeps an eye out for people using multiple accounts to dodge around the limit.

Some people have sock puppet accounts specifically so that they can ask the rare question without it being linked to their username, but also have a follow-up facility that the anon feature doesn't have. There has been the odd case where someone with this set-up [which is okay, but not preferred and our general feeling is you need to have one active account and if you have two, that's a problem] asks a second question within the seven-day limit which meets everyone's definition of "emergency" and so we have been known to send folks an email and say "please don't do this again, but we're not going to delete that" We have also had people argue with us about whether their question is a real emergency and frankly this is a discussion I'd rather not have with people. We have basic, easy to understand rules so that we don't have to have endless email discussions about whether the way we've applied the rules in this particular case is fair or justified.

So, in short, our official position is please stick to the one question per week thing. There are rare exceptions and we're usually human about those. There are also people who run right up to the edge of the exception-wall frequently and we'd like them to find other methods of finding answers to questions. I'm sorry some people feel stressed out about the presence of the limit, but I feel that this is not something that any technical solution will fix, it will just reposition the stress around whatever the new limit is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:18 AM on February 14, 2011


I am now officially paranoid that I'm using AskMe too much.
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2011


Same here, The Whelk. I'm always worried that I don't offer enough helpful answers to justify posting a new question. Eventually, I remember that I'm a selfish ass and ask a question anyway.
posted by Loto at 11:09 AM on February 14, 2011


This may have been mentioned, but a notification of some type that your waiting period has expired might be helpful, or a countdown clock on the AskMe front page.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:25 AM on February 14, 2011


The list of plausible "seriously, literally the only way I can deal with this emergency problem is to ask metafilter immediately" scenarios is basically nil.

You can use facts to prove anything even remotely true.
posted by Bonzai at 11:31 AM on February 14, 2011


I don't want to encourage clock-watching, that's just not a good idea. If you really need to keep track of it you can get countdown software for just about any OS. If you need recommendations, just post an AskMe & I'll help you pick the one best for you. :)
posted by scalefree at 11:32 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Could those of us who aren't members of ask culture get a GuessMe subsite?
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:51 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have difficulty imagining...

I don't.

One thing I have wondered about, ponywise, would be to have a pending questions receptacle in our accounts. I'm always forgetting to ask questions, per the above "not asking in anticipation of having a better question soon," and it would be cool if I could just throw my pending questions in a bucket and click a button to ask any one of them when I have an open slot.
posted by rhizome at 11:56 AM on February 14, 2011


Could those of us who aren't members of ask culture get a GuessMe subsite?

Have you ever had the thing where you can't remember the name of a great book you read when you were younger? Yeah, I'm having that right now. It was about some kids that got kidnapped and had to dance for food or something... Yeah, it's so frustrating to not be able to remember, you know? Wow. Huh. Frustrating. Anyway, I'm gonna go now.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:57 AM on February 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


One thing I have wondered about, ponywise, would be to have a pending questions receptacle in our accounts. I'm always forgetting to ask questions, per the above "not asking in anticipation of having a better question soon," and it would be cool if I could just throw my pending questions in a bucket and click a button to ask any one of them when I have an open slot.

Why can't you keep that list offsite? Why must Metafilter build something that already exists?
posted by birdherder at 12:12 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Yeah, it's so frustrating to not be able to remember, you know?

There was an AskMe post last year that was basically "WTF is this list of random words I found in a drawer about?" And someone nailed it that it was notes about an rock opera or something. Does anyone recall that one?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:20 PM on February 14, 2011


Why can't you keep that list offsite? Why must Metafilter build something that already exists?

It's impossible to say this without sounding snarky, but I believe it's the truth: because it's easier for me if you do it.
posted by scalefree at 12:23 PM on February 14, 2011


Does anyone recall that one?

Yeah it's tough to Google but it was some sequence of songs or something and the words seemed to have nothing at all to do with each other.

a pending questions receptacle in our accounts


There may be a Greasemonkey script that does something like this but this is not likely something we'll build for the site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:26 PM on February 14, 2011


Why can't you keep that list offsite? Why must Metafilter build something that already exists?

Huh? There are lots of Metafilter features that could be managed "offsite".
posted by Brocktoon at 12:31 PM on February 14, 2011


... you're doing it wrong. You should just relax and ask questions as they come up. If you really need to ask more than 52 a year you probably have a much larger underlying problem than the 52+ little problems you feel compelled to ask the world. Either that, or you're playing it like a game -- ask as many cool questions as possible? -- which would be a different mistake.

Before I respond to the statement I quoted, I want to make it clear that I'm NOT in favor of changing the one-question-per-week rule. Personally, I would love to be able to ask more, but I understand how the rule benefits the community in general. It's not all about me.

That said, I see the same response come up over and over, whenever anyone asks for this pony -- some form of "You can't really have THAT many questions!"

You can. You really can. It depends on your interests and your lifestyle. It's unlikely most people have 52 or more emergencies a year, but I'm making the assumption that we don't want this site to just be for emergencies. I know we don't want it to be for chatfilter, either, but there's a broad range of legitimate questions that fall between those poles.

When people say "You can't have that many questions," I wonder if they have one job and one hobby. There's nothing with that -- in fact it's pretty common. But it's far from universal. Imagine a guy who loves reading historical novels, travels a lot for his job and has a new baby. His constant reading is going to bring up some questions that are hard to answer -- the sorts of question people here will probably know the answer to. And since he's traveling all the time, he's going to have lots of "where do I get good Chinese food in Rome?" questions. And, as a new father, he'll have tons of baby questions.

There was one year, recently, when I was working as a computer programmer from 9 - 5, and I sometimes has programming questions I that got better answers here than on Stack Overflow. In that same year, I spending an hour every morning writing a book. THAT brought up questions. At night, I was directing plays -- plenty of questions there. During that time, I was also dieting and exercising, so... questions. And, of course, I'm also a person who has the occasional health issue, relationship issue and I'm-just-curious issue.

I'm not saying it's my right to ask all these questions. And I'm not saying it's impossible for me to pick and choose between them. I'm just saying that some people have lives that are complicated. The more complicated your life is, the more questions you'll have. So -- fine -- tell someone he can't have what he wants. But don't tell him he can't possibly have all those questions.
posted by grumblebee at 12:32 PM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


- One free question a week
- First extra question within the week, $5
- Second extra question, $20
- Third extra question, $100


If the lottery is a tax on being bad at math, this is a tax on people with low-grade mental illness.
posted by GuyZero at 12:33 PM on February 14, 2011


because it's easier for me if you do it. --- That's a lot of entitlement for your measly 5 bucks.
posted by crunchland at 12:51 PM on February 14, 2011


Grumblebee, I wouldn't argue with the idea that you can have that many questions. I have 100+ questions, and there was a time period when I would ask one week after week. You could totally go running to AskMefi for all sorts of things.

But should you? I mean, people who "need" more questions, none of those questions can be asked to friends or family? None of the information can be found on Google? None can be answered by simply sitting and thinking and carefully sorting out your feelings? This is something I realized a while back and I have tried to cut back the impulse to immediately ask questions whenever one comes to my head. And so far disaster has not struck--and many times the situation resolved itself completely independently of what any question-and-answer dialogue would have ever determined.

I mean, think of what people did before AskMefi. You asked friends, family, pastors, therapists, called around to handymen, went to the library, searched on Google, you interacted with the real world around you and put your feet to the pavement and became actively involved in solving your own problems.

As I said, AskMefi is a great, fun resource. But it should not be your only resource. And I think an argument's to be made that if it is the first thing you have to run to for everything that pops up in your mind, then maybe you should re-evaluate the quality of your personal social network and your sense of independence.
posted by schroedinger at 12:57 PM on February 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


"You can't really have THAT many questions!" You can. You really can. --- I have to wonder how any of you managed to survive before the advent of Ask Metafilter. Sitting is a pool of your own slop, chained up in a cave, watching the flickering shadows on the darkened walls, I suspect.
posted by crunchland at 12:58 PM on February 14, 2011


Atta boy.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:02 PM on February 14, 2011


Does anyone recall that one?

It was a a self-imposed mystery?
posted by zix at 1:08 PM on February 14, 2011


There may be a Greasemonkey script that does something like this but this is not likely something we'll build for the site.

Yeah, it's not a biggie.
posted by rhizome at 1:20 PM on February 14, 2011


I have to wonder how any of you managed to survive before the advent of Ask Metafilter

That's a legitimate question.

I think people often ask it to prove a point: "Admit it. Before AskMe, you got answers other ways, didn't you."

My answer is, "Yes. Sometimes." Sometimes not, though. And sometimes I did get answers, but it took a lot longer. I'm not talking about five-minutes longer. I'm talking about years longer.

This is true of the Internet in general. A trivial example I think about is IMDB. I remember being plagued by those "Who was that guy in 'Bonny and Clyde'?" questions. Those questions LITERALLY used to keep me awake at night. And there really wasn't a way to answer them. There was no one I could call at 11:45pm who had an encyclopedic knowledge of movie casts.

It's funny how often that "who was that guy?" irritant use to come up. Now it's not part of my life any more. As silly as this sounds, I've gotten out of bed and gone to imdb.com at 2am, just to get one of those questions answered. I bet I'm not alone. It's a bit silly, but it's better than being unable to sleep because the question won't leave your brain. I guess I should just learn to be more Zen -- to let it go. When you can tell me how to do that (without drugs), I'll be grateful.

Did I survive before imdb? Sure. But it's made my life measurably better, and I wouldn't want to go back. Just as I wouldn't want to go back to a time before central heating, even though people survived without it for most of human history.

Maybe most "I have lots of questions" people are lazy. I'm not. I have never posted a question here that I haven't first researched on my own. I ALWAYS go to google first. I search my personal library if appropriate. I look for sites that specialize on the subject. I sometimes shoot off phone calls and emails.

Just to give you an example, when I was recently directing an Irish play, I got stuck on some of the slang. I asked my Irish-American friends. They couldn't help. I googled. Nothing turned up. I went to Craigslist and posted personal ads on dublin.craigslist.com, offering to pay people who would help me.

Even though that's my normal procedure, I STILL could easily, easily, easily ask ten questions here a week. (Again, just in case anyone missed it, I don't think I should be allowed to ask ten questions a week. I'm in favor of the one-question-a-week policy.)
posted by grumblebee at 1:32 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing I have wondered about, ponywise, would be to have a pending questions receptacle in our accounts. I'm always forgetting to ask questions, per the above "not asking in anticipation of having a better question soon," and it would be cool if I could just throw my pending questions in a bucket and click a button to ask any one of them when I have an open slot.

A comment fable from 2008 illustrates why there will never be queueing of comments on AskMe.
posted by Lexica at 1:57 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not that it's needed but just to further dampen any expectations of getting an automated queue, what happens when you realize you have the answer to one of your already-queued questions? Will you want to be able to delete it from the middle of the queue? Do some questions become more urgent, requiring you to shuffle their order? Do the "special snowflake" circumstances change so now the question needs to be edited? Some people are never satisfied. Just put it into a text file & keep the file handy.
posted by scalefree at 2:17 PM on February 14, 2011


How about you get up out my queue, alright?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:32 PM on February 14, 2011


New proposal: Asking a question in the form of a MeTa post counts as your AskMe question for the week.
posted by loquacious at 3:27 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, as hair-brained of an idea as it is that it's not likely to happen:

I would be on board with donating my "unused" questions to be sold for charity for the MeFi scholarship fund. I like that idea. It's like a very expensive swear jar. The idea of paying to ask extra question, which then funds higher education is deliciously ironic.

We could take the idea farther and lobby for legislation that X percentage of money spent on television advertising has to be donated to libraries and PBS. Make it some kind of progressive tax so the little guys pay the least percentage per dollar, but after a certain ridiculous threshold of spending like Super Bowl commercials an advertiser has to commit something insane like 90% of their advertising budget to charity.
posted by loquacious at 3:34 PM on February 14, 2011


Just a note that while people can make any sort of arrangements they want to between each other, we will never officially endorse a situation where having more available cash gives you greater access to the community in this way. Or, put another way, I am against the idea of being able to skirt the rules just because you can pay to skirt the rules.

Nothing personal to the people who have suggested these ideas, I get that this is a curious problem that some people like to contemplate solutions for, but I sort of like that everyone here has equal access and privileges, and even in cases where that's not quite the case--cortex and I can use the IMG tag, for example--there are a lot of checks and balances built in (I'm certain we would lose that access if we were overusing it) so we don't have to second guess things.

It's tempting to create complex solutions that seem to address parity issues in creative ways, but none of them seem to be as simple, easy to explain and downright fair as "one question per week, there are workarounds if you are in the middle of an emergency/crisis"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:09 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, when I was a kid we used to have to walk miles up to the Oracle At Delphi to ask our questions, and if we didn't like it, then though! and We'd go raze a Scrythian village somewhere.

Oh, yeah? Well, when I was a kid, we used to have to slog through the Swamps of Sadness before we could even GET to the Oracle to ask our questions. And if the Oracle had a bad day, then BOOM! incinerated by lightning bolts from her eyes! And if you didn't get incinerated, you STILL had to fly through the void to the Ivory Tower. And then only if you were lucky enough to have a luckdragon.

So you kids today and your village-razing and 7-day waiting periods. LUXURY, I TELL YOU.
posted by pineapple at 4:09 PM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's nuthin'. When I was was a kid, life was unicellular, so we couldn't even ask questions.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:51 PM on February 14, 2011


You get your organic matter off my primordial ooze.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:29 PM on February 14, 2011


I haven't read through this yet, but the thought hit me as I started reading the post...

I go for a long time between AskMe's because I am afraid of wasting one then needing it!
posted by Drasher at 5:57 PM on February 14, 2011


Can we do once a month for anon/human relations questions?

I think that would make metafilter better.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:00 PM on February 14, 2011


You punks get your primordial ooze off of my protoplanetary disk!
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:03 PM on February 14, 2011


Can we do once a month for anon/human relations questions?

I think that would make metafilter better.


Maybe we could just make it so viewing questions and answers you don't want to see is optional somehow. Like you have to click a link or something to get to the thread?
posted by girih knot at 12:56 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's tempting to create complex solutions that seem to address parity issues in creative ways, but none of them seem to be as simple, easy to explain and downright fair as "one question per week, there are workarounds if you are in the middle of an emergency/crisis"

I don't think "there are workarounds if you are in the middle of an emergency/crisis" is very simple or easy to explain. Deciding where to draw the boundaries of that standard would inevitably be complex. It'd be simpler and easier to explain if the rule were that you could pay $X to ask one extra question per week (or month). This is not about simplicity vs. complexity.
posted by John Cohen at 2:02 AM on February 15, 2011


girih knot: " Maybe we could just make it so viewing questions and answers you don't want to see is optional somehow. Like you have to click a link or something to get to the thread?"

Better yet, set your MyAsk preferences so you never see human relations Q's.
posted by zarq at 2:12 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think "there are workarounds if you are in the middle of an emergency/crisis" is very simple or easy to explain.

More to the point, the rules are: this is what the rules are, talk to a mod if you are in some sort of jam and we can talk to you about options. There are only three of us and any weird and/or extentuating circumstances will be something we can address directly, those complex boundaries are okay for us to manage.

There is just not going to be a fee-based approach to this. Dealing with "I need to ask a question but I don't have $X" is a situation I very badly don't want to be in. Whatever the rules wind up being, enforcement and explanation of them becomes our job and people will want to get around them no matter what they are. These rules are simple to understand, they are totally fair, and they have been in place for a long time so everyone is used to them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:59 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Same here, The Whelk. I'm always worried that I don't offer enough helpful answers to justify posting a new question. Eventually, I remember that I'm a selfish ass and ask a question anyway.
My hesitation is always the fear that I ask too much and answer too little, too. I mean, rather than the "what if I think of a better question right after I post" anxiety. On the other hand, posts like this often shake loose a question of mine I've been thinking about for a while. (In fact, this very thread did.)
posted by Karmakaze at 9:46 AM on February 15, 2011


Secretly, I ask reddit.com/r/Answers whenever my question is used up.

FORGIVE ME!
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:57 AM on February 15, 2011


In a previous edition of 'Up the Question Quota?' the quidnunc kid put forth an ingenious solution for the eternal conundrum of queuing.

Personally I'd prefer less questions and more responses. How about incentivising - for every 100 best answers you get a bonus question!
posted by freya_lamb at 12:50 PM on February 15, 2011


Fewer questions, fewer! (Where's that edit pony thread again?)
posted by freya_lamb at 12:53 PM on February 15, 2011


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