Would credentials make AskMe more useful? October 1, 2011 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Credentials. What about them? Are they useful?

While Quora will never be AskMe, one feature that I like is the ability to provide open-text credentials.

For example, on graduate school-related questions, I give more credit to answers from those with PhDs. Or on questions that relate to my region, people that live there seem more legitimate to me. Or parenting questions "I'm the father of 10-year-old twins..."

While I'm not calling for an AskMe revolution, it would be sort of cool to have something between what Quora has and "IANAL" sort of signals. And I'd like to know if other people feel this way.

And sure, longtime users KNOW that Jessamyn is a librarian or so-and-so is a lawyer, or so-and-so is a lactation consultant, but for new users or those that find AskMe through a Google search might benefit from some sort of informal credentialing. And occasionally with a new user, I'm inclined to ask "WTF does s/he know about X?"
posted by k8t to Etiquette/Policy at 5:37 PM (157 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Anyone who wants to 'credential' themselves can put it in their profile or stick it in their answer. Anyone who doesn't, won't.

I'm happy with that.
posted by knapah at 5:42 PM on October 1, 2011 [31 favorites]


Yeah, this consideration is coming strictly from the random user/google searcher perspective. From the answerer's perspective it's perhaps better to have the option not to disclose credentials.

I say this as a know-it-all with no authority, so FWIW and all.
posted by carsonb at 5:46 PM on October 1, 2011


I'm impressed on a regular basis with the brilliance and insight of MeFis who don't necessarily have credentials. This is a knowledgeable crowd.
posted by bearwife at 5:46 PM on October 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


I have an M.S. in Online Community Management from Knoxville Community College, and in my experience, there's no reliable way to verify that anyone has the credential that they say they do in an online environment. Best to just read carefully and evaluate what is said on the merits.
posted by Kwine at 5:47 PM on October 1, 2011 [31 favorites]


I think the temptation to misrepresent oneself or use that space for lulz would be pretty high.
posted by mintcake! at 5:47 PM on October 1, 2011


Yeah, my immediate thought here is that this is what profile pages are for. If you want to go on the record as being an expert or journeyman in X or having real-life experiences A, B and C, you can totally talk about that however you like on your profile page.

And of course it's fine to just mention the context for your contribution when answering a question or commenting in a a thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:48 PM on October 1, 2011


This is one of the worst aspects of Quora, and I'm glad to see that it's not spreading.

Credentials != knowledge != expertise != authority != useful.
posted by toxic at 5:59 PM on October 1, 2011 [15 favorites]


For example, on graduate school-related questions, I give more credit to answers from those with PhDs.

Not to be flip, but I can think of some grad-school-related questions whose best answers might not come from a group of people whose distinguishing characteristic is that they were good at being grad students.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 6:01 PM on October 1, 2011 [22 favorites]


And occasionally with a new user, I'm inclined to ask "WTF does s/he know about X?"

This is exactly what you should be asking. I like the lack of self-applied credentials because it encourages arguments to be evaluated on their own merits, not simply by where they're coming from. Choosing whose answers to accept based on credentials turns off critical thinking. Heck, there's even a logical fallacy named for that.

Plus, I'm already often annoyed by people's self-credentialing within comments here on the site. For a good example check out this thread where practically everyone is claiming to be a video editing/dancing "expert."
posted by speicus at 6:08 PM on October 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am a certified freakout.
posted by The Whelk at 6:10 PM on October 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


Personally, I'm more likely to trust someone who says, "So, I've had a few books published, and here's what I learned from the process," than someone who decides to label themselves ACCOMPLISHED AUTHOR.
posted by colfax at 6:12 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a certified dork.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:21 PM on October 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


I won second prize in a beauty contest and collected $10.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:23 PM on October 1, 2011 [23 favorites]


I'm also in the Math club and the Physics club.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:23 PM on October 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


I am an Authority. And I have been called a polymath twice in print. I have a large bucket of opinions.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:23 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's kind of social. Demented and sad, but social.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:24 PM on October 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm also in the Math club and the Physics club.

I love you guys!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:25 PM on October 1, 2011


I've worked with computers for 20 years and do it professionally, but I have 0 credentials unless that's one.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:25 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a Player hater Degree (PhD).
posted by mattbucher at 6:25 PM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not certified, but I'm certifiable.
posted by speicus at 6:26 PM on October 1, 2011


And I have been called a polymath twice in print.

But if we're being honest, your ability to solve word problems involving parrots doesn't really come into play that often on AskMe.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:29 PM on October 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm a certified dork

We're already using non-credentials. Btw, I thought that IANAD actually means "I am not a dork."

(serious answer: it's in the interest of the posters, so whoever wants to be taken seriously, can add whatever s/he finds suitable.)
posted by Namlit at 6:30 PM on October 1, 2011


Yeah, my immediate thought here is that this is what profile pages are for.

So pb is adding penis size to the user table?
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 6:39 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"So pb is adding penis size to the user table?"

You're going to want to really wipe that down before dinner... (the table, get your mind out of the gutter!)
posted by HuronBob at 6:42 PM on October 1, 2011


It is bad enough that I often preface statements IRL with "in my vast experience as a professional awesome ninja".
posted by elizardbits at 6:45 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


k8t, can you link to a thread on quora where this is in effect? I've never seen it and I'm curious what it looks like in practice.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:46 PM on October 1, 2011


Someone is going to rupture their hernia here what with all the straining for the funny. I know this because I'm a doctor.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:48 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


So pb is adding penis size to the user table?

If I may paraphrase the great David Niven, there's no need for you to show us all your shortcomings.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:49 PM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's an example where a scientist really tells the asker what the deal is with his subfield. He knew what he was talking about, for sure, but his credential helped!

Here's a poorly answered academic question.

And here's a parenting thread that has a topic discussed on AskMe frequently.

But here's a question where no one really has "authority" to answer the question (although how does one define best?)
posted by k8t at 6:55 PM on October 1, 2011


Yes people, but what do your mother's know?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:56 PM on October 1, 2011


Huh, so what goes after your linked username is a open text field that the answerer gets to fill out however they see fit?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:57 PM on October 1, 2011


Huh, so what goes after your linked username is a open text field that the answerer gets to fill out however they see fit?

Yes, but there is a "real name" culture on Quora.

This matters because Quora hits are high on Google... so if one is a professional in a field, good Quora answers would probably be beneficial to him/her.
posted by k8t at 6:59 PM on October 1, 2011


I suppose it's time for me to come out of the closet. Yes, folks, I really am a dog.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:08 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not even sure I'm qualified to be me.

Besides, I'm retaining my amateur status for the Olympics, because you know that is still an option. I can dream.
posted by arcticseal at 7:12 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


and "IANAL" sort of signals.

Speaking of which, having an "Attorney" label next to your name would kind of be the opposite of "IANAL."
posted by John Cohen at 7:13 PM on October 1, 2011


Every single time I see someone write "IANAL", my horrible mind fills in "BUT NOT ON THE FIRST DATE" immediately afterwards.
posted by elizardbits at 7:17 PM on October 1, 2011 [46 favorites]


FWIW, many of the sidebarred answers/comments seem to contain some element identifying why the commenter is uniquely qualified to give their perspective on an issue. If the comment or answer seems well-informed, and especially if the person has addressed the topic before, I'm more likely to accept their words as having some weight/insight/coolness. I appreciate it when people claim and demonstrate expertise (even if I can't remember who's who)... but their perspective is a gift, and I can't ask that to come along with strings requiring some sort of official disclosure of identity. There's already a profile page where people *may* disclose their expertise, or their real names, at their discretion. Also, it's my responsibility to evaluate what I read because for all I know, you're all dogs on the internet. So although I hear your concern, and appreciate the wish for a little more structured guidance about reliability, I don't agree that there's a need for making our expertise official. Woof.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:17 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Where's "East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94" when you need him?)
posted by kmennie at 7:19 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would love it if this was the thread where we all turned out to be dogs.
posted by Jofus at 7:22 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


We're already using non-credentials. Btw, I thought that IANAD actually means "I am not a dork."

What do you mean, non-credential?! I have a BADGE!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:23 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am an arshole. I am not your arsehole. This is not fecal advice.
posted by flabdablet at 7:29 PM on October 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have endured several lifetimes and travelled galaxies.
posted by Miko at 7:35 PM on October 1, 2011


I am become Death, the shatterer of Worlds.

Feel free to ask my advice wrt that.
posted by found missing at 7:40 PM on October 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


I feel like we've discussed this before.
posted by cashman at 7:42 PM on October 1, 2011


While I'm not calling for an AskMe revolution, it would be sort of cool to have something between what Quora has and "IANAL" sort of signals. And I'd like to know if other people feel this way.

I don't. I agree completely with your basic premise about credentials/expertise/etc., but one of the things I like best about MetaFilter is that it's a "Use your words" environment. If somebody has credentials to answer a question, then I'll definitely weigh their answer accordingly but I'd rather read about those credentials in prose, in the context of the answer, as opposed to seeing it merely as a label.

To the extent that you're encouraging people to trumpet their credentials when answering, I agree. But as a new-feature pony, no.

I have an M.S. in Online Community Management from Knoxville Community College, and in my experience, there's no reliable way to verify that anyone has the credential that they say they do in an online environment.

Fair enough. It also opens the question of what that credential is exactly worth. Not to derail (honestly), but if somebody just tells me that they have "a graduate degree" in the topic I'm asking about, I would probably weigh that differently depending whether the degree came from Northwestern or University of Phoenix. I'd chalk that as another (minor?) strike against any kind of simple labeling.
posted by cribcage at 7:42 PM on October 1, 2011


I feel like we've discussed this before

We have - I don't plan to do the searching, but we did have this conversation at least once before, and I think I've been really aware of the increase in credential-stating it caused. I know I'm more mindful about trying to list the reasons I might have relevant knowledge before I start commenting. It can be interesting and confidence-building, but it just doesn't seem all that necessary in most cases that don't draw on some specific knowledge of a field.
posted by Miko at 7:46 PM on October 1, 2011


I'm well known for giving unreliable, poorly thought-out answers. So if your question is unreliable or poorly thought-out, I am your go-to-guy.
posted by not_on_display at 7:56 PM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I do not have any degrees from Knoxville Community College. I am not sure whether there is such a place. If it exists, their SEO is lacking.

Also, I do not have any credentials in web design but I have built some websites before and those new post comment/preview buttons would look smashing with some border-radii.

posted by Kwine at 7:56 PM on October 1, 2011


Yeah I like this idea in a general sense, but I don't know how workable it would be in a real life sense. A free-text field like they use in Quora just seems like an open door for lulzing which isn't bad in and of itself but sort of defeats the purpose of having people using it to establish cred. Plus there's the added self-reporting aspect of it. So people could claim they were lawyers if they were, for example, law students [seen that one before] and people would ask us about it and it's a weird space where we might know one way or the other but couldn't really talk about it without breaking the "your confidential stuff is confidential" agreement we have with people here. I sort of feel that people link to their blog or other information on their profile page and people can get an idea of who they are through that, if that's what people want. Sometimes I'm a little concerned about social coercion for people to share too much personal information here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 PM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


This thread inspired me to update my profile.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:00 PM on October 1, 2011


I don't care. Common sense and good advice aren't dependent upon "credentials".
posted by Ideefixe at 8:01 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am way against this! What makes AskMe great is that the community is laser focused on answering questions. Adding in a feature that would encourage people to talk about themselves more would kinda upset the balance.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 8:21 PM on October 1, 2011


You know, I was going to make a joke about my credentials: "Born in chicago, raised in the city streets, my momma taught me the basic facts of life..."

But if you search google on that phrase, it turns out a million bros have already set their profiles to say that, across a million different websites.

This must be what it's like when you hear your carefully cultivated non-mainstream band on top-40 radio.
posted by maxwelton at 8:27 PM on October 1, 2011


50 comments in and no I know more about this than you can possibly imagine."? I am disappoint.

Anyways while I wouldn't be opposed to some sort of credentialing much of the knowledge that gets dispensed on AskMe and elsewhere is the result of life study rather than anything you can hang on a wall. And while one could start qualifying practical experience (10 years as a whatis mechanic or whatever) providing that information would be awkward for a lot of people and as an asker would be tedious to parse. And as noted above it would lead to appeals to authority, demands for policing, and meta(in the dictionary sense) arguments about who is the real expert.
posted by Mitheral at 8:29 PM on October 1, 2011


I made reference to that joke above. Give me credit!

I need more credits to be credentialized.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:32 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read some books about stuff once. Didn't stick, though. But I look really authoritative when carrying a clipboard.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:35 PM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


One of the sad things about our society is how technocratic it has become - if you don't have a credential you might as well flip burgers. And often the people with credentials seem to lack a certain something, and have all the interior life of a piece of cardboard.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:39 PM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


ahem

I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE!

However, IANYGOH.

posted by Ghidorah at 8:40 PM on October 1, 2011 [15 favorites]


As the former prime minister of Turkmenistan, I think this is a terrible idea.
posted by empath at 8:45 PM on October 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


But I look really authoritative when carrying a clipboard.

An air of purpose and a suit will get you just about anyplace.
posted by The Whelk at 8:47 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kinda want one of those Quora blanks here, but only because Mefites are so creative we could end up with anything from, "My name is Ozymandias, King of kings, look on my works, ye mighty, and dispair!" to "I Aten't Dead."
posted by misha at 8:49 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also headphones and a record bag.
posted by empath at 8:49 PM on October 1, 2011


In all seriousness, I think that this will invite the "And this guy says he's from Harvard?!" thing when people state credentials and other answerer's disagree with them.
posted by empath at 8:50 PM on October 1, 2011


I play an oncologist on television. I've got lots of med cred.

Yeah, I don't really like this idea. If I want to credential myself in respect of a particular answer, I can do it in that answer -- in fact, I've seen precisely that done a number of times on legal, medical, and academic questions.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:50 PM on October 1, 2011


The difficulty here is that when someone claims a particular credential, how do you know if they're lying?

I mean, I have a degree from Canine University in Frisbee chasing, but how do I prove it to you?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:55 PM on October 1, 2011


Credentials. What about them? Are they useful?

Not really, no.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:55 PM on October 1, 2011


I don't think it is necessary all the time. I kinda don't want people to know I'm a therapist if I'm saying something a little snarky.
posted by so_gracefully at 8:56 PM on October 1, 2011


As the Bellamy Brothers once sang,

I'm a doctor, I'm a lawyer
I'm a movie star
I'm an astronaut
and I own this bar

And I'd lie to you for your love

posted by spitbull at 8:58 PM on October 1, 2011


I was brought up on a side street, I learned how to love before I could eat
I was educated at Woodstock, when I start loving I can't stop.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:08 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb filmed me in a bathroom. This is not a joke.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:16 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously--Meatbomb filmed me in a bathroom.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:17 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Burger King
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:23 PM on October 1, 2011


I am not always right, but I've never been wrong.

If anyone needs to know about Nevada and murder, I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

Maybe we should all be required to list three song lines that best describe our credentials.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:46 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite Burger King sandwich is a Horselover Phattie.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:49 PM on October 1, 2011


I approve this idea! Signed, Dr. ThePinkSuperhero JD, MD, MDiv, PhD.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:51 PM on October 1, 2011


Signed, Dr. ThePinkSuperhero JD, MD, MDiv, PhD. YMMV.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:54 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I approve this idea! Signed, Dr. ThePinkSuperhero JD, MD, MDiv, PhD.

Only one PhD? Slacker.
posted by rtha at 9:56 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I do not have any degrees from Knoxville Community College. I am not sure whether there is such a place.


There's not, but there is Pellissippi State Community College, which serves Knox County, TN.

/works in higher Ed in TN

posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:08 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a card-carrying member of the IBCC, and let me tell you: that's a pretty import part of membership in the International Brotherhood of Card Carriers.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:10 PM on October 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Bathroom sounds so cultured, let's be frank about it - I filmed you in a toilet.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:11 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


it would be kind of awesome if you had to list your degrees and what theyre in after every question you answer, especially on relationship questions.

"This guy is bad news, and I should know, I minored in journalism at Virginia Tech!"

I guess this is what it will look like once everyone is unemployed and socializing only through linked in.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:20 PM on October 1, 2011


Gentlemen please, the water closet.
posted by The Whelk at 10:20 PM on October 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm also in the Math club and the Physics club.

I love you guys!


I just to have a CD by that band but I only really liked one song. I'm pretty sure they took their name from Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club. But then you probably knew that.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:31 PM on October 1, 2011


Or "used to have" even.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:32 PM on October 1, 2011


I do have a PhD.

Not Lying.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 11:41 PM on October 1, 2011


I'd tell you my credentials, but they're none of your business. // Chaussette, MBA, self-employed business consultant

It's always the same old story. // Chaussette, Phd (Old English Literature)

Sounds like what you'd expect from a sock puppet. // Chaussette (Chaussette)
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:42 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously--Meatbomb filmed me in a bathroom.


SLYT or it didn't happen.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 11:49 PM on October 1, 2011


We have - I don't plan to do the searching, but we did have this conversation at least once before, and I think I've been really aware of the increase in credential-stating it caused. I know I'm more mindful about trying to list the reasons I might have relevant knowledge before I start commenting. It can be interesting and confidence-building, but it just doesn't seem all that necessary in most cases that don't draw on some specific knowledge of a field.

From a comment of mine from a while ago:
Well, to begin with there is the classic MeTa on the questions: Where should I, a physician, draw the line at commenting on health-related posts in AskMe? In which the following article is discussed: Cyberadvice: The ethical implications of giving professional advice over the Internet.

From that article:
These problems can lead to a person foregoing a legal claim, [...] or even more simply, feeling as though the advice they received was adequate and ending their pursuit for information.
I have come across several questions where the statement of qualifications would clearly lead the asker to forgo further pursuit of information. To me, that is a critical step in the process of going from 'just somebody on the internet', to a professional giving advice. And again:
Ultimately, what all this discussion of disclaimers has led to is an affirmation of the basic principle that courts are unlikely to find liability in the giving of general information but will continue to find a professional-client relationship, and hold parties liable, when specific advice is given.
To me, both ethically and in keeping with the spirit of AskMe, "general information" is the key. Answers should point out and help interpret information, not spoon feed askers too lazy to tackle their own problems.
Basically, it is much better not to state credentials up front. Let the asker discover that information on their own.

Of course if the goal is extra favourites or best answer checks, then of course credential stating is a great way to get those.
(no implication against you at all Miko!! Just the general way AskMe seems to work)
posted by Chuckles at 12:09 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am a tenth dan at telling you whether or not your favourite band sucks. Just for future reference.
posted by Decani at 1:36 AM on October 2, 2011


For a small price you, too, can have a PhD in "religious humanities" or "philosophy in religion", for all those Metafilter religion debates!

Also, I think Metafilter should sell credentials. You could buy them with favorites. "In this politics thread, I got 150 favorites...thats enough for a BS in PoliSci, or I could save up and get the Master's degree for 200...hmmmm."
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:16 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Better Red than expert; better yet, Red and expert.
posted by Abiezer at 2:34 AM on October 2, 2011



This thread inspired me to update my profile.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:00 PM



I am a MoonPie but I am not YOUR moonpie.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 3:10 AM on October 2, 2011


I have a valid California drivers license.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:17 AM on October 2, 2011


I would love it if this was the thread where we all turned out to be dogs.
posted by Jofus at 7:22 PM on October 1




I AM NOT YOUR DOG.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 3:19 AM on October 2, 2011


Last night I dreamed that we did the credential list "Fantastic Mr. Fox"-style:

mathowie: "peagood-peagooda, whaddya got?"
peagood: "Pearl expert!"
mathowie: "Great, my wife's birthday is coming up! Now, Nattie-Nattius, how about you?"
Nattie: "Congo Grey specialist, sir!"
mathowie: "Excellent, never know when you need bird handlers. MonkeyToes-MonkeyToesus, report!"
MonkeyToes: "Pig-wrangler and farmwife in training."
mathowie: "Mmmmm, bacon!"
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:11 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The people in charge of google plus with the real name thang would answer your question: yes.

The usefulness of AskMe seems to me to be at an equilibrium level of pretty darn useful considering what it is we have there; people credentialing themselves can lead to severe disequilibrium. Our finest medical doctor in the site's history flamed out. I am sure some users thought that was real funny, but I thought it sucked.

I am one of those people who think google plus would have a chance at being awesome if they ditched the real name bullshit.
posted by bukvich at 5:58 AM on October 2, 2011


Can only those with an MSc or higher in Online Community Moderation comment in this thread, please?

Also, if it's from Knoxville Community College, you're obviously a thicko and it doesn't count. I want Ivy League responses only.

I'm tired of reading the ill-informed views of the rest of you non-experts.

kthxbye
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:33 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not necessarily eager to connect my professional experience to my, uh, other experiences.
posted by box at 6:34 AM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Credentials. What about them? Are they useful?

Do you have the credentials to ask such a question, let alone understand the answer?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:36 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Respect! Mah! Authoritay!
posted by briank at 6:45 AM on October 2, 2011


I would like to go on record as eschewing credentialing.
mjjj, professional dilettante, master of the obvious, former may queen
posted by madamjujujive at 6:46 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you have the credentials to ask such a question, let alone understand the answer?

As fully-credentialed President Emeritus of the American Academy of Credentialing and Credentials, I can state without fear of reasonable contradiction that credentials are an extremely important, useful and frankly necessary part of any discourse, on-line or "real world." After all, without credentials, we would have no American Academy of Credentialing and Credentials, and thus no way to bestow, remove or even verify credentials. The logical mess that would inevitably arise from that should be obvious to anyone with even the slightest credentials in the field of credentialing and credentials.
posted by dersins at 6:54 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am ABD, and therefore my opinions are suspect until I finish that last hurdle, at which point they will be immutable law. Enjoy your last few precious months of freedom.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:57 AM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


As your attorney, I advise you to take a hit out of the little brown bottle in my shaving kit. You won't need much, just a tiny taste.
posted by subbes at 7:18 AM on October 2, 2011


I AM NOT YOUR DOG.

But now do you wanna be our dog?

flails, rolls in broken glass, passes out
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:25 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes people, but what do your mother's know?

How to use an apostrophe. ;)

(Seriously, my mom taught elementary school.)
posted by caution live frogs at 7:35 AM on October 2, 2011


mine too.
posted by jonmc at 7:37 AM on October 2, 2011


Mother taught elementary school? That's an a'crediting.
posted by The Whelk at 7:39 AM on October 2, 2011


Seems to me like another way for people with credentials to lord their superiority over others. Not interested. Just include, in the answer, your relationship to the knowledge in question. Frankly, it might not work the way the "qualified" intended, either. There are several topics/contexts in which academic training and qualification (for example) would be a demerit, rather than a credit.
posted by fake at 7:53 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have been enjoying this crazy place lately, speaking of cred. This is also a good time to point out that if you install Greasemonkey and run this script, you can tell if your question is being answered by an actual librarian, library student, or someone who said they worked in a library once.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:12 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I'm a physician I'll be able to comment in the press about EVERY SCIENCE OR POLICY ISSUE and people will listen to me. This is profoundly scary.
posted by The White Hat at 9:13 AM on October 2, 2011


I have stayed alive almost entirely by my wits since 1962. I guess that's some kind of credential.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:23 AM on October 2, 2011


I ate chocolate covered bacon this week and survived (really). That's some kind of credential, I guess. (and it was way tastier than I expected)
posted by jonmc at 9:25 AM on October 2, 2011


Friend of mine makes choco chip and bacon cookies with a bit if chili pepper in them ,,,,I could go for a few dozen of them right now.
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 AM on October 2, 2011


these were stips of cooked bacon diffed in dark chocolate with some kosher salt sprinkled on the outside. I was going to eat them just to say I did, but they actually were really tasty.
posted by jonmc at 9:42 AM on October 2, 2011


Is this like Wikipedia versus that other one that people never use?
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on October 2, 2011


*takes off glasses and gazes sternly*

I have been on the Internet a long time, young man...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:24 AM on October 2, 2011


We're the same age, dude.
posted by jonmc at 10:25 AM on October 2, 2011


When I'm a physician I'll be able to comment in the press about EVERY SCIENCE OR POLICY ISSUE and people will listen to me. This is profoundly scary

Um, this doesn't even buy me credibility here on Metafilter.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:27 AM on October 2, 2011


We're the same age, dude.

Yes, but are you sitting at a desk with volumes upon volumes of serious looking books behind you?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:35 AM on October 2, 2011


They're in the next room. My records and comic books (and a lot of dust) are behind me.
posted by jonmc at 10:42 AM on October 2, 2011


Ok, professor...

You're debating whether to eat a bowl of green pudding that's been sitting out overnight when you discover your girlfriend has stolen your password and is spying on some emails you've written about a strange rash you've discovered on your genitals. In what order do you eat it, DTFMA, and go see a doctor?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:47 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


My brother in law is a doctor and owes me a few beers, so I'd call him.
posted by jonmc at 10:51 AM on October 2, 2011


Terrible idea. Although my lowly opinion may not count since I am a lowly HS teacher and only authorized to cover topics such as 'sitting down', 'doing homework' and 'not hitting your neighbor'.
posted by bquarters at 11:07 AM on October 2, 2011


Credentials? I got yer credentials right here!
posted by fuq at 11:08 AM on October 2, 2011


In fact I meant to say 'only' in second sentence and didn't even get that right- so, please, always discount my opinions and assume the answer to 'wtf does this person know about xyz' is 'nothing', at least in my case.
posted by bquarters at 11:12 AM on October 2, 2011


Although my lowly opinion may not count since I am a lowly HS teacher

my wife is a HS teacher.
posted by jonmc at 11:16 AM on October 2, 2011


Credentials? I got yer credentials right here!

Hot damn, I've been looking for those! Go ahead and mail them over to me so I can put them back up on my wall.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:19 AM on October 2, 2011


drjimmy11: "I'm also in the Math club and the Physics club."

I'm at the combination Math and Physics Club!
posted by Splunge at 11:22 AM on October 2, 2011


That's demented and sad, but social.

*hands out wayfarers for better hallway vision*
posted by jonmc at 11:37 AM on October 2, 2011


I feel like I have a decent number of answers where I establish my "credentials" which are sometimes my legally or professionally earned credentials or sometimes the regular life kind ("mom," "this happened to me"). For me, the compulsion comes from some need to communicate my attraction to the discussion--I don't (or very rarely), answer askme's where I lack either direct experience or professional/vocational interest. This is more about my conversation style and how I make connections IRL than some thought that someone outside the experience of the discussion couldn't contribute. It's some way to reassure or abbreviate why I am there, though it doesn't, I don't think, give my answer or contribution any advantage, inherently.

I think it also depends from what direction you are approaching a thread. If you are the asker, for example, you may not be ready for any kind of professional advice. The best answer, for you, may come from some entirely third party. If you are subscribing or favoriting the thread out of interest, you may be doing so because a couple of attorney's chimed in and that was useful to you (e.g., k8t, my partner would love to buy you a drink for a couple of the PhD/job market discussion you've provided).

Also, metafilter is absolutely a community that provides opportunities for members to very credibly, in my experience, build and affirm their credentials--formal and informal. We see active members contribute to discussions within and without of their fields, we meet them offline, we start to look for their contributions (or ask for them) in certain discussions. Just like in regular life, too, someone very outside of a credentialed area could have valuable insight to another member in a situation or in a community via unpredicted virtues.

The last thought I had about this, though, was thinking about the intent of a metafilter/askmetafilter thread in and of itself. While they often (and rightly) gain professional or formal attention from the media, an academic group, or national discussion, they are not an academic journal article, for example, where accurate credentials are part of the analysis of merit. If the intent was for the community to collectively produce a discussion where formal or informal credentials are required to prove merit, we'd obviously need some way to determine those credentials.
posted by rumposinc at 12:31 PM on October 2, 2011


I guess I should say, too, that I do put one area of my professional credentials on my profile, mainly because it's led to some nice networking with other people in the field on metafilter. I've thought about including another for the same reason, but haven't as of yet.
posted by rumposinc at 12:34 PM on October 2, 2011


1. Credentials, especially on the internet, can be very easily faked.
2. Even real credentials do not mean a person isn't spewing crazy bullshit.

All that should matter is verifiability. If a layperson can back up an answer, that's worth a thousand times more than an appeal to the letters after one's name.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:48 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rumposinc stated very nicely what I was thinking...but what I wrote read much more unpleasantly. The idea of requiring/encouraging the listing of credentials really rubbed me the wrong way...and luckily rumposinc was there with a nice and thorough answer before I posted my rant. Thank god for the preview function.

(Also, I was being facetious about my opinion not counting as a HS teacher, I have an MA in an unrelated field as well, I'm not worried about my personal credentials- I can say DTMFA with the best of them! I just didn't like the tone of pre-judging based on credentials- that was my take on it, anyway).
posted by bquarters at 1:13 PM on October 2, 2011


I don't think we need this on MeFi, but this credentials feature did lead to this awesome moment of awesomeness on Quora.
posted by zachlipton at 1:54 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


And often the people with credentials seem to lack a certain something, and have all the interior life of a piece of cardboard.

That's not a very nice thing to say. The professional face is a mask with a reason, and usually not who that person really is.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:05 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


"This is also a good time to point out that if you install Greasemonkey and run this script, you can tell if your question is being answered by an actual librarian, library student, or someone who said they worked in a library once."

I love this script, could someone figure out a way to make one for scientists/researchers?
posted by Blasdelb at 2:19 PM on October 2, 2011


Have you ever been misdiagnosed by a doctor, or given bad advice by someone who is a parent? Well, there you 'go'.
posted by mippy at 2:21 PM on October 2, 2011


I've had my credential in my profile for years now, and it's lead to....nothing, as far as I can tell. My answers, such as they are, don't seem to inspire any special reverence, and I've never gotten any (m)emails relating to my credential.

I think the "credential" that count in askme are good concise writing, common sense, real world experience, and kindness, and that's as it should be, imho.
posted by jasper411 at 2:23 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]




jessamyn's mum: "Yeah I like this idea in a general sense, but I don't know how workable it would be in a real life sense."
Yeah, I can see the MeTa threads already - 'this guy claims to be a lawyer, but here's 27 links to prove he's lying'

BitterOldPunk: "But I look really authoritative when carrying a clipboard."
You need to get with the times - carrying a clipboard has been replaced with carrying an iPad in a professional black leather case. Much more expensive, but far easier to surreptitiously look at pr0n during meetings.
posted by dg at 2:57 PM on October 2, 2011


I love this script, could someone figure out a way to make one for scientists/researchers?

I think it's extensibke. Plutor made it. The trick is that anyone who is marked in my profile as a "colleague" [i.e. I have to identify them that way] will show the little icon next to their name. I don't know how difficult it would be to have someone else's profile be the source for some other identification like this, but talking to him might be the first step.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:09 PM on October 2, 2011


I love this script, could someone figure out a way to make one for scientists/researchers?


I too like the idea and thought of proposing Mefi groups but I've been here long enough to know that this idea will not fly.


The trick is that anyone who is marked in my profile as a "colleague" [i.e. I have to identify them that way] will show the little icon next to their name.


It's trickier for scientists though. It would require one person to take on Jessamyn's role and add other scientists as colleagues.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 3:23 PM on October 2, 2011


I got my bachelor's from the School of Hard Knocks but the massive student debt I incurred has turned me into a bitter alcoholic. But I am happy to answer any questions you fucks might have.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:32 PM on October 2, 2011


I love this script, could someone figure out a way to make one for scientists/researchers?

Oh man, it would be super-awesome to use some script like this to put little flasks right next to the usernames of all the other biologists and chemists! While I definitely recognize a few other usernames, I'm sure I'm missing a lot...
posted by ubersturm at 4:21 PM on October 2, 2011


The other reason I think this wouldn't be worth it has been talked around a little but I don't think directly noted. That is: I don't confine myself to speaking only in areas where I am credentialled. How do I know what questions might come up for which I do have sufficient information to provide an answer? By leaving it to happen in threads, you get only the information relevant to that thread.

For instance, I have bona fides in nonprofit cultural institutions. But I can answer a whole lot of kinds of questions. If I answer one about drywalling, for instance, the information on my profile is not going to indicate that I can answer that question authoritatively, because what does a museum person know about drywalling? It's not likely that I'll have comprehensively transferred my resume to note that in an early job I did a three-month stint on a maintenance crew for a conference facility and learned to paint and drywall.

In the past, I've considered putting something in my profile to the effect of "If I'm answering something about cultural institutions and museums, nonprofits and their management, folklore and vernacular culture, American history, literature, journalism, restaurants and food, gardening, quitting smoking, becoming a runner, or local economic development, It's likely that I have some basis for knowing what I'm talking about. In other areas, take with grain of salt, because I could just totally be winging it." But no list I could compile would actually capture all areas in which (a) I have had some decent amount of background or (b some asker might have an interest in, which is something you just can't predict. You never know what odd life experience my qualify you as a great answerer to a topic you've just never had anyone ask you about before, and it would be impossible to guess those topics accurately enough to pre-list your credentials.

So I think it's most efficient to share qualifications that may be relevant inthread, and only do so if somehow it helps the answerer make an evaluation.
posted by Miko at 7:18 PM on October 2, 2011


Miko is credentialed in thoughtful answering, is what I know.
posted by rtha at 7:35 PM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Miko is credentialed in thoughtful answering, is what I know.

Until Nov 12th, then the license will have to be renewed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:07 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Alternate suggestion: Add tags to user profiles. Might be a fun way to find like-minded people?
posted by schmod at 8:53 PM on October 2, 2011


....and then it turns into DateMe.
posted by The Whelk at 9:42 PM on October 2, 2011


AskMe, DateMe,
Any way you find me,
Long as you read me, it's all right
Flag me, fave me
Any way you rate me,
You got your answer to think on all night.
posted by flabdablet at 3:57 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The trick is that anyone who is marked in my profile as a "colleague" [i.e. I have to identify them that way] will show the little icon next to their name.

There are a few people doing this for (at least) subgroups of the sciences. If I was less socially retareded and had a better memory for names, I'd do it myself.
posted by bonehead at 6:24 AM on October 3, 2011


I have an M.S. in Online Community Management from Knoxville Community College

You too, what year? So cool to meet a fellow Knoxie. Go Fighting Asparagus!!
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:29 AM on October 3, 2011


I have read enough WebMD, NIH, and Wikipedia to know that EVERY symptom eventually leads to the diagnosis of one of the following:

1. cancer
2. AIDS
3. E. Coli
4. gas

And I have been to enough doctors where the sage advice is: "I don't know. Go to the ER".
posted by stormpooper at 8:36 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's never lupus.
posted by rtha at 8:49 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sufficient vitamin K and noit dying of a horrible gastrointestinal infection is a pretty good indication that you have E. coli.

Oh, you mean pathogenic E. coli.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:04 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's never lupus.

It was lupus!
posted by zachlipton at 10:09 AM on October 5, 2011


« Older Friendly-Reminder: SLYT 101   |   Ask Metafilter search result page looks bad in iOS... Newer »

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