Funny, I was going to ask that! February 28, 2011 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Possibly confirmation bias, but has anyone else noticed patterns in repeating themes within questions on AskMe? Quite obscure ones too.

There was this question and then a day later this, both concerning French visa applications.
This, then this 37 minutes later dealing with obscure body fat measuring devices.

To be clear, I'm not going for sock puppet callouts, I just have a weird thing about noticing patterns - call it OCD or something. Has anyone else seen anything similar? Is it a case of person X posting something and person Y being reminded then posting their questions?

Or am I just that guy who was the cell-mate of that main character guy who got it on with the hot doctor in Prison Break?
posted by dougrayrankin to MetaFilter-Related at 2:38 PM (53 comments total)

Yes, I have noticed this. I don't think it is confirmation bias. I think reading the first question either conciously or unconciously sets the second OP in motion. The second poster sees the first post and thinks .. "oh yeah.... I got a question about that too" or in some cases they skim past the first question, but then end up thinking about the topic.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:45 PM on February 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, it's like when there were those two Titanic movies, or Deep Impact/Armageddon, or Volcano/Dante's Peak. With lots and lots of data, there's always going to be weird coincidences.
posted by kmz at 2:47 PM on February 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Tomorrow, there will be a post about Baader-Meinhof.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:49 PM on February 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


It's the internet giving birth to an emergent global consciousness.

Well, you didn't actually expect concrete, provable answers to your question, did you?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 2:59 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bugs life/antz
Dear ask me; can you help me find all of the "hey this movie is exceedingly simlar to this other movie released at same time" cases- also the (preferably German) word that describes the feeling that comes upon the realization that this is only coincidence, statistics, or culturezeit- and not magic.
posted by infinite intimation at 3:00 PM on February 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Could be semantic priming.
posted by shothotbot at 3:25 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's way better than when a user jumps into someone else's post with a piggy-back question on a related topic. Which used to happen a lot more often back in the old days, but is rarely seen now.
posted by hermitosis at 3:25 PM on February 28, 2011


One thing I have noticed, and I wonder how many others have seen it too, is that there are Civil War battle scenes playing out in the wood grain on the head board of my bed.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:37 PM on February 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


Possibly confirmation bias, but has anyone else noticed patterns in repeating themes within questions on AskMe?

What should I do with my life? Like that one?

Is this a relationship deal-breaker? There's that one.
posted by fixedgear at 3:40 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's pretty clearly reminders - sometimes you even find the OP for the second post saying something to the effect of "oh, that reminds me, I have a question, too" in the comments of the first post.

The thing with the double movies is that (usually) the better one ends out being cheaper, coming out later and doing poorly at the box office. No, I haven't forgiven Aerosmith yet.
posted by SMPA at 3:42 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bugs life/antz

Transformers 2/Human Centipede
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:52 PM on February 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think it's just people thinking of their own questions or the question helping them remember a question they have on a similar topic.
posted by elpea at 4:04 PM on February 28, 2011


One thing I have noticed, and I wonder how many others have seen it too, is that there are Civil War battle scenes playing out in the wood grain on the head board of my bed.

I noticed that too, but I thought it best to keep quiet about it and pretend like I was enjoying myself.
posted by pompomtom at 4:32 PM on February 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


i recently read a question about a long-forgotten web comic and it made me want to ask another question about a long-forgotten web comic.
posted by stubby phillips at 4:37 PM on February 28, 2011


I see this happening sometimes on the blue, too. There will be a post about a specific topic and a few posts later, you'll see another one on the same topic. And I don't just mean Sarah Palin or circumcision.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:38 PM on February 28, 2011

There will be a post about a specific topic and a few posts later, you'll see another one on the same topic. And I don't just mean Sarah Palin or circumcision.
There is only one Palin question: WTF?
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:48 PM on February 28, 2011


This happens a lot. It's even been discussed here before. It's another pattern. It will be discussed again.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:55 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now give me best answer and close this thread.
posted by the mad poster! at 4:56 PM on February 28, 2011


All of this has happened before and all of it will happen again.
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:01 PM on February 28, 2011


Looking at the figures from the birthday problem, I would rather be surprised if there were no doublets.
posted by Ruodlieb at 5:18 PM on February 28, 2011


kmz: "Well, it's like when there were those two Titanic movies, or Deep Impact/Armageddon, or Volcano/Dante's Peak."

Are you talking about this?
posted by brundlefly at 5:39 PM on February 28, 2011


Transformers 2/Human Centipede

Nah. One was a movie conceived by a mind so twisted and out of touch with what people want to see in a movie that it was physically painful to watch and caused many people to become so disturbed that they left theaters early, and to notify all their friends about how perverted it was.

The other was just some story about a surgeon.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:55 PM on February 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


There was this question and then a day later this, both concerning French visa applications.
This, then this 37 minutes later dealing with obscure body fat measuring devices.

Once is bad luck. Twice is coincidence. It is only when we reach three times that it becomes enemy actiona pattern.
posted by DU at 6:01 PM on February 28, 2011


It's Meta Vu.
posted by amyms at 6:19 PM on February 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


I've noticed this occurring many times and attempted to name it MetaGeist. It was first brought to my attention by Plutor in this thread, AskMe Synchronicity. This one's kind of interesting. I've seen a few go by now without adding them to the Wiki. It's fun to notice.

The name Meta Vu is probably better than MetaGeist for this.
posted by Miko at 6:26 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, user ori originated the Metageist name, not me, I just liked it.
posted by Miko at 6:28 PM on February 28, 2011


Could be semantic priming offline too. If enough people see or hear the same news report it will trigger a few of them to have questions.
posted by xenophile at 6:47 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we start the derail about how Prison Break was the best show ever yet?

It starts out with brilliance and just starts a steady slide into crap. It was like someone somewhere said, "This show is too good to succeed. If it's gonna fail let's see how quickly we can make it suck!" The fact that it took four full years only goes to show how good those first few episodes truly were.

I would have even watched a girl's reform school spin-off! This would have still held some glimmer of the awesomeness that was the original show. Like a used postcard of the Mona Lisa or something.

Because I have something wrong in my head I sent a bar of Prison Break soap to a stranger on the internet. The fact that there is Prison Break soap should prove that show was awesome.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:50 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boy did that show turn into crap. I think the writers were talented, but they really boxed themselves into a corner with the format. After they (SPOILER ALERT) broke out of prison, they had to invent this much larger conspiracy theory to keep the chase going. And to maintain that level of tension they had to go to increasingly more ridiculous levels which ate away at my suspension of disbelief like acid. The final nail in the coffin was when they (SPOILER ALERT) decided that a main character who had had her head chopped off and delivered to another main character Se7en-style would return to the show. This was actually based on a contract dispute between the actress and the production company due to her wanting time off to have a baby or something, but ideally you shouldn't let that bubble up into the show.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:02 PM on February 28, 2011


Rhomboid, I've never seen any Prison Break but now I'm intrigued: how did they retcon around the decapitation?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:12 PM on February 28, 2011


I love this place. And just this morning; I was wondering why my old neighbor Doug moved out. And then this, by a guy with Doug in hus username. Yeah. One molecule; trapped in my synaptic gap. It is like drugs; but without the drugs. Love it.

Transformers 2 is a movie that I would like to use as an example of a movie that has no plot, makes no sense, and had stuff blowing up in it. But with cool robots.
posted by buzzman at 7:34 PM on February 28, 2011


Yeah, I loved Prison Break Season 1. And kept going through Season 2 because Michael Scofield = hottttttttttt. And then Season 3... and then Season 4 happened and even I couldn't maintain enough love for Michael Scofield to have it overcome the JESUS FUCK WHAT ARE YOU ON AND IF YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE THAT MANY DRUGS WHILE WRITING THIS SHIT YOU NEED TO SHARE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE.
posted by sonika at 7:36 PM on February 28, 2011


Possibly confirmation bias, but has anyone else noticed patterns in repeating themes within questions on AskMe? Quite obscure ones too.

Dude, you just took the red pill. Are you sure you were ready for it? Now you will see metafilter with a new set of eyes.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:39 PM on February 28, 2011


The bad guy bad girl that was holding this woman hostage had actually used someone else's severed head in the package, but there was a lot of decomp and the recipient of the package was too horrified and rushed to do any forensic evaluation -- they were in a foreign country and this bad girl was using this hostage to coerce the good guys into pulling off shenanigans they didn't want to commit so they couldn't go to the police. But you see the hostage had actually managed to escape her captor and it took a while for her to catch up with them and reunite, or something like that -- I don't recall. There was some groaner of a reason why she couldn't tell this man that she loved that she was alright, and had to let him think she was dead for a whole season.

Fans were, as you can imagine, not pleased with this turn of events.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:45 PM on February 28, 2011


Michael Scofield does = hot.

Just saying.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:08 PM on February 28, 2011


Like celebrity deaths, AskMe questions come in threes.
posted by NoraReed at 9:12 PM on February 28, 2011


Terrible Llama's side-note mention of her toddler eating ladybugs in her Montessori thread reminded me that I kept meaning to look for bug books for my toddler. Toddler, education, bugs -- kicked my brain in the right direction to actually ask the question I kept meaning to ask.

I think people are right that a lot of it is just getting reminded of THEIR question by seeing a similar question.

I actually left Terrible Llama's thread open in my browser so if I forgot my question AGAIN by getting sidetracked in the house of mirrors that is amazon.com while seeing if I could find the perfect thing myself, I'd look at it again and remember the bugs again.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:18 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing with Prison Break - I loved it, then I liked it a real lot, then I stuck with it because I wanted to see where it went. And I was okay with the decapitation retcon because dammit someone had to be happy in the end.

But then I watched that TV movie that came after the final episode that was set before the final coda scene from the last episode - and THAT was a wretched piece of shit that actually ruined a pretty awesome finale. Fuckers.
posted by crossoverman at 9:23 PM on February 28, 2011


If you draw attention to this sort of thing it just happens more often. For instance there are now two posts about cricket on the front page, within an hour of one another!
posted by chaff at 11:06 PM on February 28, 2011


also the (preferably German) word that describes the feeling that comes upon the realization that this is only coincidence, statistics, or culturezeit- and not magic

Zauberlosigkeitsenttäuschung
posted by DaDaDaDave at 11:31 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ladybugs taste pretty bad. Their flavour is pretty much the only reason they're ever considered an agricultural pest.

That kid has a future in either organic pest control or lady-tainted wine market prep.
posted by Sallyfur at 12:40 AM on March 1, 2011


...has anyone else noticed patterns...

Oh, I notice patterns, all right. I'm like a god-damned William Gibson character, all the patterns I'm noticing all over the place. Steampunk, subways, all connected. Boing Boing better do a god-damned post on me. Know what I read on Boing Boing today? "Minecraft productivity singularity". I'm the fucking pattern-recognizing downloadable creative commons steampunk singularity manifesto and I better start getting some more god-damned respect around here. I'm the god-damned Burroughs of looking at shit, spooling like Kerouac, fucking like Bukowski 2.0. I'm a fucking...web-slave, that's what I am. I'm a hyper-threaded info-surfing motherfucker. I hacked my own source code from my gene pool and I'm replicating my shit all through your tubes, getting transhuman through your mp3 mashups. Future-proof, that's me. I'm a fucking installable widget, I'm gonna get Mozilla on your ass, opening up your sources. I'm gravy, I'm Lovecraft, I'm taking your plugins and I will plug...the fuck...in. I'm every issue of McSweeney's you ever missed. I'm Chris Ware to your Rob Liefeld, I'm knuckle pouches full of bizarro lunchbox meats. I'm dropped-case leetspeak and I'm dropping the bomb of truth on all your Gagas, all your Animal Collectives, all your Beefheart remasters. I'm a Moleskine damp with the sex-juices of phreak-seekers everywhere, every tidbit, every binary snippet. I'm a truth-shark drunk on fact-chum. YouTube? MeTube!
posted by tumid dahlia at 2:35 AM on March 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


But dude, have you ever really, you know, noticed patterns?
posted by pompomtom at 3:13 AM on March 1, 2011


Is anyone else watching Outcasts, which is pretty frickin' awesome?
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:17 AM on March 1, 2011


Miko: "I've noticed this occurring many times and attempted to name it MetaGeist. It was first brought to my attention by Plutor in this thread, AskMe Synchronicity."

Miko, you have a really good memory.
posted by Plutor at 5:06 AM on March 1, 2011


Even weirder is when people ask the same exact question within a few days or weeks of each other.
posted by smackfu at 6:34 AM on March 1, 2011


I feel kind of bad for people with a genuine budding interest in postwar anti-imperialist guerrilla movements, because googling must turn up all kinds of unhelpful bullshit at this point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:11 AM on March 1, 2011


Not to mention people trying to research the Treaty of Westphalia.
posted by Plutor at 7:42 AM on March 1, 2011


FYI, Prison Break is one of the most popular American shows in China. Seriously.

Make of that as you wish.
posted by jng at 8:50 AM on March 1, 2011


You know what else is popular in China?

Buicks.
posted by box at 10:18 AM on March 1, 2011


Yes, I've noticed this, too. I've always thought it was just weird coincidence, but the theory that one question prompts another makes sense.
posted by jayder at 12:49 PM on March 1, 2011


OH SHIT AND THERE ARE 23 COMMENTS IN THIS THREAD!!!1!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:57 PM on March 1, 2011


All this has happened before and all this will happen again.

/not skinjobist
posted by digitalprimate at 7:05 PM on March 3, 2011


« Older Why don't ask.metafilter answers count towards the...   |   I like New York in June, how about Jews? Newer »

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