When should I have posted this question? April 9, 2011 10:01 AM   Subscribe

What days and posting-times are best *for particular types of questions*?

Searching, I can see lots of threads about maximising eyeballs, but none that I could see about the nature of the eyeballs. Thanks to the people on AskMe who directed me here, and to the correct tags.

Recently I posted a thread in which I asked people to help me think of dastardly crimes that supervillains might commit. I was thinking as I posted it that it was a bit of "a friday thread" - and fortunately enough it was Friday at the time. And the results were great!

I'm wondering if there's a flipside to that coin - that if I wanted some super-specific bit of technical info about wind turbines, I'd be best off posting it on a Wednesday morning, when the atmosphere is more serious? Or would posting then actually attract a student-and-freelance crowd, who could be asked about college choice and life without medical insurance?

I know the hive gives fantastic answers every hours of the week, but I suspect the 'Friday Thread' phenomenon is real, and I'd love to know what similar trends others had found.
posted by piato to MetaFilter-Related at 10:01 AM (91 comments total)

4:20 is the best time to post.
posted by birdherder at 10:05 AM on April 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


(I've genuinely read every other thread tagged besttime before posting this, but feel free to delete it if the question is still considered annoying, as it seems to be!)
posted by piato at 10:06 AM on April 9, 2011


I find that 4:23 is even better.
posted by Dumsnill at 10:06 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're asking a question that pertains to a certain country or region (especially outside your own) it helps to ask at a time when those folks are awake.
posted by 6550 at 10:12 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd go a little earlier. Maybe 25 or 6 to 4. About 3:35.
posted by pracowity at 10:14 AM on April 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I updated the wiki to have links to what people said the last six times this question has been asked. If people can find other threads, please feel free to add them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:17 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


A tech question is probably best asked during business hours Pacific Time.
posted by empath at 10:17 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


birdherder: 4:20 is the best time to post.

...if you're looking for answers from those of us who later regret posting what we thought seemed brilliant at the time.
posted by gman at 10:23 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Between 7:28AM and 9:32AM on the second Tuesday each month, people who have been identified as experts in their fields are REQUIRED to log into Mefi and answer all questions pertaining to their discipline. Failure to do so results in a visit from the Cabal. Members of the Cabal are required to enforce the punitive law on the third Wednesday for each month. This gives experts enough time to disable their account and flee for their lives across some European mountain range should they decide to not log in. Little known fact: ex-Mefites are actually the largest emigrated population in Andora.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:33 AM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is no cabal.
posted by flabdablet at 10:40 AM on April 9, 2011


now, right now.. right fucking now!! now now now!
posted by edgeways at 10:45 AM on April 9, 2011


4:30 a.m on tueday.
posted by clavdivs at 10:48 AM on April 9, 2011


That's the best time for troll questions.
posted by BeerFilter at 10:51 AM on April 9, 2011


I know they said otherwise over on AskMe, but the *only* reason this was shunted here is because it's a totally, completely, and wholly unanswerable question. At least here in MeTa that sort of thing can thrive and attract the sort of Saturday morning blaze crowd it really deserves.
posted by carsonb at 10:52 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, at least you're not rbs
posted by yaymukund at 10:52 AM on April 9, 2011


What's the best time to ask this question, I wonder?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:31 AM on April 9, 2011


All signs point to "not Saturday morning"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:53 AM on April 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Blaze crowd.

like smoking in a planetarium.
posted by clavdivs at 12:01 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Days ending in "y."

The best time to ask a question is when you have it. If you ask when you don't have the question, well, that's just a waste. And useless.

So really, don't do that. Is my advice is all.
posted by Eideteker at 12:05 PM on April 9, 2011


Whenever Eideteker isn't around is always best.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:08 PM on April 9, 2011


Unfortunately, I'm always around.

Oh, and btw, BB, you're out of milk.
posted by Eideteker at 12:31 PM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you're asking a question that pertains to a certain country or region … it helps to ask at a time when those folks are awake

I'm not so sure. Consider:

In their morning? During their lunch/coffee/clockwatching break? After dinner? In the late evening when they're just clicking around reading one more post before they go to bed? Etc.

And then, should you post during the time that you're targeting (so that your question is near the top of the page), or some time before that, so that your question is ready and waiting for them, perhaps with a few exploratory/clarificatory comments aready posted? (Or better yet, some incorrect comments: as it used to be said that the best way to get information on Usenet was to post an incorrect answer and wait for someone to correct you.)

I'm pretty sure that this all blurs together, making time-of-day not really important. Day-of-week seems like it would still have some effect, but the front page of AskMe spans several days, so even that effect (if any) would get smeared out a bit.

In some of the threads Jessamyn linked people have done some infodump mining and not come up with any indication that one time is better than another.
posted by hattifattener at 12:31 PM on April 9, 2011


December 7th, 1941, is the best day to ask about unexpected guests, while October 12, 1492, is the best day to ask about visiting new, unfamiliar places.
posted by crunchland at 12:43 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


October 12, 1492, is the best day to ask about visiting new, unfamiliar places.
No, no, no, no. That is the worst day to ask about visiting new, unfamiliar places.

Sincerely,
The Indigenous Peoples of North, Central and South America
posted by jammy at 1:01 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well if you're the 800th person to ask this same question on metatalk, you are clearly not looking up past questions.

If thats the case, it doesn't matter since you won't listen to people telling you to dump your abusive spouse anyways.

So the answer is:

"Anytime is a great time".
posted by hal_c_on at 1:05 PM on April 9, 2011


Well if you're the 800th person to ask this same question on metatalk, you are clearly not looking up past questions.

snarking works alot better when you actually read the original post:

Searching, I can see lots of threads about maximising eyeballs, but none that I could see about the nature of the eyeballs.
posted by jammy at 1:11 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is eyeball nature?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:15 PM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


The blaze crowd, I like that.
posted by box at 1:19 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


snarking works alot better when you actually read the original post:

Answering questions works a lot better when you actually contribute something that helps the OP.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:25 PM on April 9, 2011


Friday evening is already reserved.
posted by Namlit at 1:32 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


reltated question: when is the best time to post a metatalk to ask about when the best time to post an ask question?
posted by birdherder at 1:39 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


As to eyeballs, I think we have to look at the raven's preference: eyeballs are always good, and too few. Other than that, any time that the Whelk is awake goes well.
posted by Namlit at 1:39 PM on April 9, 2011


Everyone's in a Friday frame of mind on Friday, so the idea that they'd be drawn to silly stuff makes sense. But if you're adjusting for overall eyeball count, I have trouble imagining that Tuesdays or Thursdays or Sundays will be better than other times for questions about health insurance or wind turbines.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:50 PM on April 9, 2011


Answering questions works a lot better when you actually contribute something that helps the OP.

you're so absolutely right, hal_c_on! (let's just ignore the fact that you also did not contribute something that helped the OP, shall we? yes? ok.).

so, a helpful answer: i recently had an occasion to ask this very question of the mods. i wanted to ask a question about web design & wondered whether it was ok to ask such on a weekend or whether i would be better served if i waited until the weekdays. and i got a most definitive "yes, wait until the weekday" in reply.

in the future, feel free to email mods with such questions. they're really helpful folk, and not snarky at all.
posted by jammy at 1:53 PM on April 9, 2011


Really? This again? Come on people.
posted by Justinian at 2:36 PM on April 9, 2011


Can we give a 2 month timeout on AskMe to anyone who posts a question like this?
posted by Justinian at 2:37 PM on April 9, 2011


Really? This again? Come on people.
Can we give a 2 month timeout on AskMe to anyone who posts a question like this?


good grief. it just keeps coming...

i know it's been really difficult being *forced with your arm bent behind your back and a gun to your head* to read these questions on MetaTalk but maybe you could try, just a little bit, to allow for the fact that not everyone has been here as long as you and, more importantly, that THINGS CHANGE and not every question that has been asked before is necessarily redundant or irrelevant.

i mean seriously, if these kind of questions make you angry or annoyed or outraged or whatever, can you just walk away or something? go water the plants, walk the dog, jerk off, compose a haiku, or something?

because really, these hostile snarky responses don't help *anyone* and only help define MetaTalk as a viper pit. do you really think this is somehow helping this site? and if so, how?
posted by jammy at 2:54 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Getting your undergarments of choice in a twist because a known hostile entity (NEVAR BACK DOWN hal_c_on!) is being hostile seems like a waste of bits too, ironically.
posted by carsonb at 3:12 PM on April 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: eyeballs and undergarments of choice.
posted by Namlit at 3:18 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


because really, these hostile snarky responses don't help *anyone* and only help define MetaTalk as a viper pit. do you really think this is somehow helping this site? and if so, how?

By cutting down on the number of crappy posts in Metatalk. These dumb repeated ad nauseum questions are nothing but clutter and contribute nothing except chatfilter.
posted by Justinian at 3:20 PM on April 9, 2011


i mean seriously, if these kind of questions make you angry or annoyed or outraged or whatever, can you just walk away or something? go water the plants, walk the dog, jerk off, compose a haiku, or something?

The plants are drowning.
I don't have a dog to walk.
Already jerked off.

GRAR!
posted by Balonious Assault at 3:20 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


We sparkin' our herbarium all-up-ins the planetarium.
clavd so choked I think we gonna hafta bury 'im.
We burnin' that shit put Stacey Keach in the terrarium.
I use a rhymin' diction but it wasn't wrote by Merriam.
posted by BeerFilter at 3:25 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, if you're smart from the very beginning, it would be best to Ask before you actually have the body.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:32 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


What? Jerk off my...

Oh, read that wrong. Sorry.

Carry on.
posted by Splunge at 3:37 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


do you really think this is somehow helping this site? and if so, how? --- Well, it does help us to figure out who is a humorless twit and who isn't.
posted by crunchland at 3:40 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]



By cutting down on the number of crappy posts in Metatalk.


With the exception of mods who sort of have to be here, everyone else can skip MetaTalk entirely. Since we offer it as a remedy to people who are having troubles on the other parts of the site, and since new people often wind up here, it would be nice if it were not user-hostile.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:41 PM on April 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Having not read the thread: I am prowling for human relations questions all the time so don't worry, I'll find it.

Also the HTML buttons on my iPhone look spiffy!
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:49 PM on April 9, 2011


hey man, it's a marlboro, there are kids around.
posted by clavdivs at 4:03 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jesus christ, that blaze-filter rap is amazing.

Also, I'm going to take this thread as an opportunity to say that, until about a week ago, i didn't realize that clavdivs' name was "clav divs" but rather claudius, using Vs for Us like in roman times.
posted by codacorolla at 4:06 PM on April 9, 2011


Searching, I can see lots of threads about maximising eyeballs, but none that I could see about the nature of the eyeballs.

What we need are some SEO wizards to help maximize the right kind of eyeballs.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:10 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Getting your undergarments of choice in a twist because a known hostile entity (NEVAR BACK DOWN hal_c_on!) is being hostile seems like a waste of bits too, ironically.

I'm transitioning from boxers to boxer briefs. I'm still in the transitioning period because I haven't been able to obtain a sufficient quantity of quality briefs.

it would be nice if it were not user-hostile.
excellent point. noted.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:17 PM on April 9, 2011


Justinian: " By cutting down on the number of crappy posts in Metatalk. These dumb repeated ad nauseum questions are nothing but clutter and contribute nothing except chatfilter."

You've been here six years. Piato's been here six months. Just because you've been there and done that doesn't mean everyone else has. Your experiences don't transfer to others unless you choose to teach them.

Just as there are similar questions that will always arise in Ask about certain topics, there will always be questions about site dynamics that come up repeatedly in MeTa. How we choose to act when they are made is up to us.

But I'd argue that by giving a constructive answer to any given question, we're actually reducing future clutter. For every question that's asked and answered, at least one person learns more about the way the site works. And sometimes, many people take something helpful away from a thread. So they won't ask the same question in the future.
posted by zarq at 4:20 PM on April 9, 2011


What's a "clav divs"?
posted by cjorgensen at 4:21 PM on April 9, 2011


Dear piato,

Pay no attention to the snarkers (myself included). Sometimes we come to Metatalk to have a little fun with word play and general wittery. It's just for laughs.

Cheers,
BP
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:22 PM on April 9, 2011


Igor gets tired of being belittled by Dr. Frankenstein for being dumb. One day, he tells Dr. Frankenstein that he is tired of being dumb and asks for a brain transplant. Dr. Frankenstein thinks about it and agrees - but he tells Igor that he will have to pay for the operation. He presents three brains to igor:
1. The brain of a lawyer - $125K
2. The brain of a doctor - $250K
3. The brain of a skateboarder - $500K

Igor is shocked by the prices. He tells Dr. Frankenstein that he understands the pricing of the lawyer and doctor's brain, but he doesn't understand the price of the price of the skateboarder's brain.

Dr. Frankenstein replies - "Ah! That is a simple explanation! The skateboarder's brain has never been used!."
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:23 PM on April 9, 2011


Oh, and btw, BB, you're out of milk.

Not in the panic room.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:30 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Searching, I can see lots of threads about maximising eyeballs, but none that I could see about the nature of the eyeballs.

It'd be a lot of work to really answer this, is my gut feeling as Chief Datawanking Officer. You need to quantify "nature of the eyeballs", is the main thing, and take those quantities and match them against available data.

So, one way to go here is to say, "what's the best time per category", and break down average number of answers (or average number of best answers, or average likelihood of at least one best answer, or average favorites-per-answer for answers in each thread, or whatever performance metric you prefer) by time for each category bucket.

But that may or may not be enough to characterize what you're after. If it's not, the next step I can think of is to look at tag-based partitions: identify the kind of question you're wanting to get answers for in terms of tags likely to express that nature of question, and then analyze performance-vs-time as above for only those questions that bear some subset of that collection of tags.

You might also explore how geographic region affects answers, by searching for geolocation clues in the question text (which would unfortunately require scraping the site since that's not in the Infodump, so if anyone is seriously considering this drop me a line and we can talk about alternate approaches), or by correlating questions asked with location data from the Google Earth KML file for folks who have chosen to include that info in their profiles. Making sure that's meaningful might be hard, though, since a question by someone in California is not the same thing as a question whose nature is fundamentally Californian, etc.

The problem with all of the above is that as you narrow the categorization, you reduce the sample size and hence probably the reliability of any data: a narrow enough data set to speak to one specific "nature" of thread my be small enough that any noticeable time-sensitive variation in responsiveness has a greater chance of just being noise. So I'd be skeptical of the approach without first seeing a decent analysis of the methods involved and the sample generated. But you could certainly try and look at this stuff if you want to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:55 PM on April 9, 2011


What's a "clav divs"?

They're part of the CSS XLI-LIV specification.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:56 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


A clav divs, dear friends, when a piano is put to water. Or an organ or any random 18th-century German keyboard instrument. Finally I got to explain this. That alone makes this thread worthwhile.
posted by Namlit at 5:03 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's a "clav divs"?

Pretty much like Bvlgari.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:49 PM on April 9, 2011


Whatcha wanna know, kid?
posted by cashman at 6:01 PM on April 9, 2011


It's too late now. You missed it. Sorry.
posted by pompomtom at 6:07 PM on April 9, 2011


Quince. Peter Quince.
Cowslip, O'er, tend thee to the bellows-maker
posted by clavdivs at 7:34 PM on April 9, 2011


What's a "clav divs"?

It is a mystery.
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 PM on April 9, 2011


"Not in the panic room."

That's not milk.

Sorry, I panicked.
posted by Eideteker at 9:26 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is called a Panic Room.

It is for Panicking.
posted by The Whelk at 9:27 PM on April 9, 2011


Is this the place to get clarification on "best answer"? Does that mean best of those that answered even if it is not an accurate or good answer or does it mean only the right or acceptable answer? Is it possible to have a best answer yet not have a complete answer to a question?

cjorgensen: "What's a "clav divs""

$20, SAIT.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:16 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


We like to refer to them as the safezone.
(drugstashesforrichpeople)

"Mr. Adonisblut, we will have to look in the panic room"

"Nononononooo, it is safezone man and it is LOCK."

"Is their someone inside the safezone sir?

"Necromancers and my webguy"

Intercom# "can we come out, the ice is low and the webguy is using a big microphone thing, eww, it has a wire...SHORTWAVE you tweety...."

"guys want a T-shirt?"
posted by clavdivs at 10:18 PM on April 9, 2011


You're a fucking retard, and so is everyone else who's ever asked this question. One day, after the apocalypse, your pushy exceptionalism may help you get one of the few glasses of clean water left in your refugee camp, but you'll die anyway, and you'll regret that you valued your own life above that of your fellow survivors.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:45 AM on April 10, 2011


Okay okay, I was wrong. I'm sorry for calling you a retard. That's an insult to retarded people, who clearly have done nothing wrong and are basically innocent. Blame the 80s, the bad neighborhood in which I grew up.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:56 AM on April 10, 2011


This just made my Sunday morning.
What
in
the
world
posted by Namlit at 1:56 AM on April 10, 2011


"was" eh? Way to go.
posted by Namlit at 1:57 AM on April 10, 2011


No weekends.

Mondays and Fridays are sketchy-- people are tired/busy catching up/hungover/busy thinking about the weekend.

Tuesday through Thursday aim for the maximum number of bored American office workers because that seems to be a large slice of the membership. So adjusting for the three hour time difference of the continental USA (ignore Hawaii and Alaska) I would go for 4:00 pm ET (1:00 pm PT) which will get you done-work-for-the-day-ready-to-kill-time East coasters plus just-back-from-lunch-don't-feel-like-getting-back-to-work-just-yet West coasters. Bonus: you also get the nothings-on-the-telly-but-too-early-to-go-to-bed Brits.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:43 AM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


But stop calling us "eyeballs."

"Answerers," "viewers," "members," "readers," or "users": all okay.
posted by taz at 6:54 AM on April 10, 2011


Hey now some of us are giant walking eyes.
posted by The Whelk at 6:59 AM on April 10, 2011


3 AM is a good time.
posted by arcticseal at 6:59 AM on April 10, 2011


You're a fucking retard, and so is everyone else who's ever asked this question.

What in the hell, dude. Next time stop typing, close the browser, and take a walk or something.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:27 AM on April 10, 2011


Agreed. Maybe it was funnier in your head?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2011


cortex: What in the hell, dude. Next time stop typing, close the browser, and take a walk or something.

But make sure you leave the bottle at home.
posted by gman at 7:40 AM on April 10, 2011


Thanks to all who answered this question, either with information or with sympathy! I do think I was asking a different question to the one that people kept linking me to, but I should have realized that people hated that question for reasons that go beyond the fact that it's been asked a lot - I think I get this now!
posted by piato at 9:01 AM on April 10, 2011


Yeah, that was overly harsh. I just think it's a stupid question, and it keeps coming back, like a monster from a bad 90s horror film. But yeah, overreaction.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:10 AM on April 10, 2011


Hey now some of us are giant walking eyes
Great postcard theme. Variation:
Eying walking giants.
posted by Namlit at 9:16 AM on April 10, 2011


since new people often wind up here, it would be nice if it were not user-hostile.

I can buy into that - but is this not something you could enforce if you wanted to, in the same way that snarky non-answers are prohibited in AskMe? It seems to me that this goal (which is a worthy one) is in tension with what I take to be the other principle goal of MetaTalk, which is a place for people to blow off steam & engage in goofery that would be misplaced in other areas of the site.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:36 AM on April 10, 2011


It's one of those places where two guidelines rub up against each other: the "we almost never delete anything in MetaTalk" and "please don't be jerks to new users" guidelines. So usually what we'll do is just sort of state out loud "Hey please don't be total jerks to new users because MeTa serves a site purpose that can be hindered if it's perceived as too much of a cliquey viper pit" and that usually calms things down a little bit and gets the message across without having to delete anything which is what we'd prefer.

Obviously in a community site we'd like to have the tone generally set by the community but occasionally there are times where a comment isn't something that we'd delete but we can step in and say "A little less of that would be good, thanks" and that seems to work nearly all the time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:42 AM on April 10, 2011


How about a "MetaHelp" section where new users (or old users!) can ask questions about the site itself, and where answers are expected to be more along the quality of AskMe answers, with MetaTalk reserved for all the rest?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:46 AM on April 10, 2011


That's what MetaTalk is. If people have questions that need specific AskMe-like answers, they can just use the contact form, check the wiki or ask another member. There's really not that much that's off-limits here, but some people treat it like some sort of hazing ritual which may have worked better in a much smaller site, but sometimes doesn't work so great here.

Again, joking lulzy answers are, for the most part, fine. Saying that someone should be banned for asking a question and/or calling someone a "fucking retard" is not okay and setting up a MeTa-place where that sort of thing is okay isn't likely to happen.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:52 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tested this 'best time to post' last night with a new askme around 1:00 a.m. Detriot time and by this moring the quality of answers is great. I think time may play a factor if there were 10 questions a minute or half-hour.
posted by clavdivs at 9:59 AM on April 10, 2011


NO JUSTICE, NO PIECE OF PIE!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:25 AM on April 10, 2011


The wife and I.
posted by Splunge at 11:49 AM on April 10, 2011


The best time to ask for advice about religious beliefs and concerns is when I'm not around. :-)
posted by Decani at 12:55 PM on April 10, 2011


Hey now some of us are giant walking eyes

Attack of the The Eye Creatures!
posted by TedW at 7:58 AM on April 11, 2011


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