Pony Request: Require some additional info for Ask October 13, 2011 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Pony Request for Ask: Additional info *required* prior to asking a question?

Seems like there are at least a few questions every day that stall because the answer to the question requires some bit of information which the asker doesn't list in his or her profile. The most common tends to be "where are you located?"

My personal preference is full profile info, but I know that people have all sorts of reasons for keeping their information to themselves though. The location, at minimum the state/territory/province would seem to be broad enough that most people who are asking under their own username would be okay with that. Anyone who wasn't might need to go the anonymous route and simply state where they are in the world.

Up until a few minutes ago I never even noticed the admonishment to include relevant details on the question submission page so I'm wondering if there could be a simple db check to see if location is filled out. If it's not then throw up a modal asking the submitter to update this bit of information prior to completing the submission?

Thoughts?
posted by FlamingBore to Feature Requests at 1:00 PM (37 comments total)

I sort of feel like you get the answers you deserve at some level. We've been solowly adding more and more "please do this" stuff to the AskMe pages [the regular one and especially the anon one] and people sort of do what they want anyhow. We have a few auto checks on the site [like you have to add tags] and sometimes just get people griefing and typing "some tags" into the boxes. I'm with you, I get frustrated when people don't include information that is clearly necessary [the license tabs was the one I saw today that made me feel that way] but I feel that putting this on the OP--i.e. they can follow-up if people are clamoring for additional information--seems better than a mandatory field that might or might not apply. People should be able to use AskMe and not have their location divulged and only some questions require this.

If this were my site alone and I ran it by fiat, there would be maybe 5-6 pages of "are you SURE?" "are your tags good?" "is all the information people need to answer the question in the question?" "Is this just a rant disguised as a question?" "are you calm enough to be asking this question right this minute?" and etc. to page through before you were allowed to post, but what we have is a good balance between not making posting too onerous and really laying the responsibility where it lies, with the person asking the question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:05 PM on October 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Some people prefer keeping their personal info on the profile page, which isn't indexed by Google and (I think?) can be kept hidden from non-members.

I may be overly cautious, but if I take profile info into account when answering a question, I'll casually refer to it without stating it explicitly.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:07 PM on October 13, 2011


Some of the mods have mentioned "geolocation stuff" as something that will likely be rolled out soon; is that something that will at least contribute to making location stuff more immediate in questions that demand it?

(Apologies for the fact that I have not, up to now, gone to the effort of figuring out what those mods were really talking about.)
posted by koeselitz at 1:10 PM on October 13, 2011


You know, I don't even read the askme submission page.

It boggled my mind forever to figure out how to submit an anon question.
posted by royalsong at 1:11 PM on October 13, 2011


No.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:11 PM on October 13, 2011


You know, I don't even read the askme submission page.

I just went out of curiosity and was saddened to see a distinct lack of pumpkin gifs. Have people this year stopped asking the same ol' Halloween-costume questions?
posted by psoas at 1:18 PM on October 13, 2011


My personal preference is full profile info, but I know that people have all sorts of reasons for keeping their information to themselves though. The location, at minimum the state/territory/province would seem to be broad enough that most people who are asking under their own username would be okay with that. Anyone who wasn't might need to go the anonymous route and simply state where they are in the world.

I don't quite understand what you're suggesting here. Even aside from privacy concerns, putting one's location in one's profile would not be an adequate solution to the problem of people leaving out their location from their AskMe question when it's relevant, for a couple reasons:

1. In my experience with blogging and such, any given link on the internet remains unclicked by most people who happen to be looking at the link. So, most people aren't going to click the profile link even if we all agreed that it'd be better if we all did that. You can say they should. But most people won't.

2. The location specified in the profile (even if everyone were forced to specify a location and we didn't care about privacy) is never going to reliably correspond to what the question is actually about. People move. They forget to (or don't bother to) update their profile. An AskMetafilter question may arise while on vacation. People ask questions involving multiple locations at once. People ask questions for friends/family who live in other places. Etc.
posted by John Cohen at 1:18 PM on October 13, 2011


I'll work on the pumpkin gif.

is that something that will at least contribute to making location stuff more immediate in questions that demand it?

It will allow people to enter a location in the travel questions, iirc, and then people can collocate questions about a similar area more readily and maybe see them on a map. There will absolutely not be any auto-adding of profile location information, now or ever. Profiles aren't indexed by Google and we appreciate everyone's assistance in keeping that boundary more or less inviolate. I know it's more of a guideline than a rule and some members are a lot more forthcoming about personal information than others, but generally speaking it's nice if people are a little circumspect before presuming and sharing people's profile data on the rest of the site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:24 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fair enough. Just a thought.
posted by FlamingBore at 1:27 PM on October 13, 2011


Yeah, like Jess says, there's that balance to be struck between trying to helpfully prompt people so they can get good answers and wanting to not overwhelm them with prompts and requirements. Ultimately, they can ask the question they choose to ask, and if they're disappointed by the results or surprised by the requests for more info they'll hopefully take that into account next time out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:36 PM on October 13, 2011


psoas: "Have people this year stopped asking the same ol' Halloween-costume questions?"

Nope.
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on October 13, 2011


I never read the Askme guidelines.

Example given as a bad question: "What's the deal with U2, do they suck or what ?"
posted by marxchivist at 1:50 PM on October 13, 2011


What's the deal with U2? Asked and answered.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:57 PM on October 13, 2011


Ah 2005! And there wasn't even a U2 tag (I added one).
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:07 PM on October 13, 2011


Why would anyone be annoyed when someone else's question stalls out because they didn't provide enough information? I mean, I appreciate the dedication and all, but if it bothers you that much, maybe you need a breather.
posted by crunchland at 2:21 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


My personal MeFi wishpony is for people to include their site url when asking for technical advice about a website.

People leave it out for fear of self-linking. I've asked website questions with urls and not been burned, but apparently this is a thing. My pony would be to just add a darn rel="nofollow" to any links in AskMe questions.

Doing the inevitable search around feels like a waste. And I think the question is more valuable into the future if we can actually know what site is being talked about.
posted by artlung at 2:27 PM on October 13, 2011


crunchland - I never said I was annoyed or bothered by it at all. Attempting to be helpful and constructive, perhaps. I know, it's a rare commodity on the Interwebs these days and all - perhaps that's why you didn't recognize it when you saw it.
posted by FlamingBore at 2:29 PM on October 13, 2011


If it's not then throw up a modal asking the submitter to update this bit of information prior to completing the submission?

Thoughts?


Any sort of solution seems like it would be more complex than people asking "Where are you located" and getting a response. People are imperfect, our means of communication are imperfect and I personally hesitant on the urge to engineer a solution with software in this case.

Every question, including anonymous ones, has a way of updating the question with more information. So I don't see a problem.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:44 PM on October 13, 2011


A lot of people don't even read the information provided. Someone will post, " I really need to set up this party for the last weekend in November," and someone will answer, " I don't really know your timeline, but..." or people will say, "I don't know where you are.." when there's info in the asker's profile. So I don't see the point of adding in more information.
posted by sweetkid at 3:18 PM on October 13, 2011


"You mean I have to drink this coffee hot?? Oooh, Navy Seals!"
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:35 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm with sweetkid on this--what's the point of putting in more info when people tend not to read what you write, anyway? I get so frustrated sometimes when people wind up bickering over something that could have been resolved by reading the question. And, in the meantime, the question goes unanswered.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:35 PM on October 13, 2011


Pumpkins are go. Thanks pb.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:42 PM on October 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


We really need a Clippy like MeFi mascot who can pop up and admonish you. "It looks like you're trying to address the asker as male, when the question clearly states she is female. Would you like to read the question again?"
posted by yellowbinder at 3:45 PM on October 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'd prefer GlaDOS. "Yes. Yes, you should definitely eat that."
posted by maryr at 3:51 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sort of feel like you get the answers you deserve at some level.

Q: Why is my boyfriend such a jerk????

A: You are bad at choosing boyfriends.
posted by GuyZero at 3:56 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"DTMFA. He doesn't really love you, anyway."
posted by maryr at 4:13 PM on October 13, 2011


yellowbinder: "We really need a Clippy like MeFi mascot who can pop up and admonish you. "It looks like you're trying to address the asker as male, when the question clearly states she is female. Would you like to read the question again?""

We wouldn't have to automate it, though I suppose it would move too fast for me to just sit around trying to read and judge everybody's responses real-time.

It takes me hours to be this judgmental.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:13 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where am I?
posted by cjorgensen at 4:21 PM on October 13, 2011


Me, I'm back from checking out the pumpkin patch. :)
posted by likeso at 4:33 PM on October 13, 2011


... and sometimes just get people griefing and typing "some tags" into the boxes.

Those questions get deleted, right? I'm mean, if they're going to break the whole system because of extreme laziness, They could use a week to come up with some tags.
posted by BurnChao at 4:51 PM on October 13, 2011


That middle pumpkin makes me so happy.
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:57 PM on October 13, 2011


Yes, I got so annoyed at the license plates question today. Took all my will not to berate the poster on the expectation my comment would get deleted. You guys are saints.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:37 PM on October 13, 2011


Those questions get deleted, right?

Sometimes? Life is so unfair.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:42 PM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think there's a research paper in here somewhere. About how people who spend a lot of their time giving answers on Ask Metafilter have control issues.
posted by crunchland at 6:48 PM on October 13, 2011


Sometimes? Life is so unfair.

So true. AskMe seems basically fair, though.
posted by OmieWise at 7:09 PM on October 13, 2011


It's a little later for the pumpkins, right? I mean it's October! We should have the Christmas decorations up by now like everyone else.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:45 AM on October 14, 2011


Waaaaiiiit a second... is that pumpkin in the middle actually a Ghoulie gif repainted orange?
posted by P.o.B. at 11:17 AM on October 14, 2011


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