Anonymous Questions Update November 9, 2011 3:22 PM   Subscribe

We've noticed a slight uptick in the number of anonymous questions submitted recently, and we've found that sometimes the questions don't provide the context we need to approve them. So with that in mind we added a small change to the anonymous question form at Ask MetaFilter to help with that. We're now asking why the question should be anonymous.

The 'Why Anonymous?' info will be a private message to the mods to help them understand why the question is anonymous rather than posted with your MetaFilter username. It's not always obvious, and the question doesn't always need to make that clear.

Because anonymous questions are a special feature that take up more time and energy, we'd like the Anonymous question form to be used when it's absolutely necessary rather than part of a regular routine. This new message should help give posters a chance to explain why the question shouldn't be associated with their MetaFilter account.
posted by pb to Feature Requests at 3:22 PM (85 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Can we talk about making metatalk posts anonymous? Because, dude.
posted by phunniemee at 3:29 PM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is sort of a year-later follow up to this post. For whatever reason we were seeing anon questions coming in, briefly, at the rate of one an hour on Monday and we've been talking a little bit about what would help us manage the queue a little better. This also allows people to not have to include maybe a "this is anonymous because..." part of their actual question which in and of itself could inhibit the anonymity of the person asking. We approve between six and ten a day right now and probably don't approve 20-30% of the questions submitted. So part of this is helping us answer our "Why is this anon?" question that we ask and part of it is helping people think a little about why they're asking.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:30 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


probably don't approve 20-30% of the questions submitted

I smell another tumblr!
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 3:33 PM on November 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


More seriously, I'm fascinated that a year ago you approved 85-90%, and now it's down to 70-80%. Just a factor of site growth?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 3:35 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd gladly volunteer a few hours a week to reviewing anonymous questions. Just sayin'
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:36 PM on November 9, 2011


Is there a mechanism in place now to check on the reasoning? Do mods email you if you submit an anonymous question?
posted by heyho at 3:42 PM on November 9, 2011


Are ya'll going to include the anon reasons in the post? Otherwise you might end up with a lot of "Whys is this anonymous" comments in the question. You probably already have and have a plan. Why am I asking this then?

What's on tv?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:42 PM on November 9, 2011


People are going to, as always, have to trust us. We hope that knowing that we know the reason even if they don't, may help with that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:44 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I heartily approve of this message! There are far too many anonymous questions.
posted by Justinian at 3:44 PM on November 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think this is good, but I always thought anon questions stipulated why they were anonymous (gift questions for a husband that's a Mefite or whatever) so other users would know why they didn't just post under their own handle. No?
posted by sweetkid at 3:45 PM on November 9, 2011


What's on tv?


Thomas the Tank Engine. I give my kid the the choice between "Analog Thomas" and "Digital Thomas" - today he picked Analog. That means we watch the one aired at 1pm with models and less CGI.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 3:45 PM on November 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


yea, I said what Brandon Blatcher said.
posted by sweetkid at 3:45 PM on November 9, 2011


> Note that by now I meant before this implementation.
posted by heyho at 3:49 PM on November 9, 2011


Is there an option to check "Because I'm the goddamned Batman"?
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:50 PM on November 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


heyho, no there wasn't. And we don't have a mechanism for follow-up now either. That's why we feel like more context at the time the question is submitted will help.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:51 PM on November 9, 2011


Is there a mechanism in place now to check on the reasoning? Do mods email you if you submit an anonymous question?

By default we don't even know who you are, so we can't email you. Folks sometimes write to us wondering if it's been a few days and their question didn't go through, and we can follow up with them. Short of that, if there's a real head-scratcher and we don't approve it and we never hear anything, we leave it at that and hope the asker figured out how they wanted to deal with that going forward whether by giving it a pass or rewriting in a way that was clearer as to what was going on.

With this, hopefully some of that will be easier to navigate for the stuff that does get submitted while also giving folks pause to really consider if this is something they have a real need to use the anonymous function for or if it's just something that's convenient to them to use. We want to focus on the former rather than the latter.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:52 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this is good, but I always thought anon questions stipulated why they were anonymous (gift questions for a husband that's a Mefite or whatever) so other users would know why they didn't just post under their own handle. No?

People sometimes do this, but not anything like consistently.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:53 PM on November 9, 2011


Oh! Whoa, that was duncetastic of me. Now I get it. Of course. Okay, thinking people: carry on!
posted by heyho at 3:54 PM on November 9, 2011


I think it might also be helpful to have a way for mods to ask some of the obvious and helpful follow-up questions (e.g., someone's location), but I have no idea how one would go about making that happen.
posted by box at 4:00 PM on November 9, 2011


What if there were also a required location field? It could be as specific (The Loop, Chicago) or vague (large US city) as the poster deems necessary, then only added to the actual post at the mods' discretion. That way there wouldn't be any questions lacking important info (e.g. what country are you in).
posted by phunniemee at 4:09 PM on November 9, 2011


The posting page tells people to include this stuff. As far as I'm concerned, while we're happy to make it easier for people at some level they have to take responsibility for what they put in their question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:11 PM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hi. I like the idea of cutting down on anony questions. But seriously, I don't think you have a good strategy in place if your solution is:

"We're now asking why the question should be anonymous."

This leaves stuff open for interpretation (which gives the mods a bit more leeway in their decisions)...but it will also open a brand new avenue of "why was my askme not anony when another similar askme was?".

And you're right if you think that the nature of the anony questions will prevent that from happening; its pretty plausible to that someone isn't going to post a metatalk about why their herpes question wasn't approved anony.

BUT...then there will come the BIG drama. The people who feel they have nothing to lose by posting metas about how upset and hurt they were by the metafilter mods unfairly rejecting their questions.

So yeah...I'm sure you guys weigh all sorts of factors when it comes to policy. I'm just wondering if you weighed the impact of a subjective standard being applied to the anony process? Are you expecting an increase on the whinging in metas? Is it worth it?

If so...awesome. Because I hate all these god-damn anonymous questions asking about why boys or girls don't like mefites. Its because you're anonymous, damn it. That's why nobody likes you.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:16 PM on November 9, 2011


The people who feel they have nothing to lose by posting metas about how upset and hurt they were by the metafilter mods unfairly rejecting their questions.

This is not happening now. This will not start happening. It's already plenty subjective, we just need more information from people to help us understand why they are asking.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:19 PM on November 9, 2011


This leaves stuff open for interpretation (which gives the mods a bit more leeway in their decisions)...but it will also open a brand new avenue of "why was my askme not anony when another similar askme was?".

I'm not sure what's supposed to be new there. People can in principle do that right now (though it mostly doesn't come up), and there will be no new public-facing info with this in place. We've had leeway all along and basically have had to apply it, or there'd be zero reason for the anonymous queue to be a queue instead of an auto-approve process.

BUT...then there will come the BIG drama. The people who feel they have nothing to lose by posting metas about how upset and hurt they were by the metafilter mods unfairly rejecting their questions.

Again, I don't know what's supposed to be new here that would trigger that when it hasn't been happening for the last several years already. We occasionally hear from folks who want to know why their question wasn't approved; I expect we'll continue to do so.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:19 PM on November 9, 2011


Well I hope this strategy works to reduce the inflow. I'd hate to see anon questions eliminated because there's just too much for y'all to cope with.
posted by zomg at 4:27 PM on November 9, 2011


How about initiating Met-a-non?
posted by Cranberry at 4:32 PM on November 9, 2011


Sounds good, I'll make an anon question right now, see how it goes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:36 PM on November 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sounds good, I'll make an anon question right now, see how it goes.

I honestly can not tell if you are joking, but please do not feel you have to "test" this feature. Trust us, it works.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:49 PM on November 9, 2011


Was joking, how about you unlock my account now, huh?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:56 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why anonymous?

Who was phone?
posted by lekvar at 5:33 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I smell another tumblr! --- I agree. If the topics weren't so sensitive, I'd be really interested to read the stuff that doesn't make the cut.
posted by crunchland at 5:50 PM on November 9, 2011


If I can piggyback on this MeTa, I'd like to thank the mods for asking me to help test out the forthcoming anonymous comment capability. I can't tell you what a relief it is to finally be able to speak openly about my sexual obsession with Michelle Bachmann.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:16 PM on November 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


OH SHIT DELETE DELETE
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:16 PM on November 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


What should I I do about my cat's excessive IMing?

(anon because I think he has an account here)

posted by anonymous to human relations (1 answer total) [-] 6 users marked this as a favorite [!] No other comments.

RICK
posted by Louthecat at 5:42 PM on November 6 [2 favorites +] [!] No other comments.
posted by rtha at 6:22 PM on November 9, 2011 [44 favorites]


We're now asking why the question should be anonymous.

Because I don't want that cute camp counselor worrying her pretty little head unnecessarily.
posted by yerfatma at 6:57 PM on November 9, 2011


what if instead of anon everybody just got a sockpuppet whenever they needed to ask an anon question? That way they could respond in thread with the sockpuppet and it would be functionally no different than posting a regular question?
posted by modernserf at 6:58 PM on November 9, 2011


We actually suggest that to people who need to ask more than a few questions not tied to their username. We still want people to stick to the "one question per week per person" limit but other than that, it's a fine solution.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:02 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the last time this came up, I was sort of surprised to learn that it seemed perfectly okay to use a sockpuppet account in lieu of asking anonymously, as long as it wasn't being done to get around the time limit on questions. I don't know if you want to spell that out clearly on the anonymous question form, but the last question I asked certainly didn't need to be completely anonymous, I just didn't want it associated with *me*. Understanding that would have prompted me to dig out that second account I got ages ago and never used, and saved you guys a bit of time and attention.
posted by ambrosia at 7:03 PM on November 9, 2011


Are you already using this as a criteria to determine whether a question deserves to be posted?

If a given anonymous Q doesn't meet a threshold point where you feel it requires anonymity, do you reject it?
posted by zarq at 7:07 PM on November 9, 2011


If a given anonymous Q doesn't meet a threshold point where you feel it requires anonymity, do you reject it?

In the past, if we couldn't figure it out, yeah. But there might be reasons that weren't clear to us so we wanted to give the people asking the question a chance to explain to us what that reason might be.

Each anonymous question has a small amount of friction associated with it both from a mod-time perspective and also a lack of social cohesiveness aspect. We want people to ask and answer questions using their own account but we understand that sometimes they may not want to do that. However if they're using the anon feature to ask a "just wondering..." sort of question with no real reason to have it be anonymous, we don't necessarily want that to be what the feature is for, for a number of reasons.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:12 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the new explanations on the anony posting page are nice and clear. (I just looked for the first time in a while, and the instructions are a little different and clearer I think.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:12 PM on November 9, 2011


Part of it is increased sensitivity about internet privacy, I think, and it's not unreasonable. I see a number of questions every week on AskMe that are *not* anonymous where I think they should be, or where I would certainly choose to be anonymous in asking them. This is especially so for questions which introduce detailed information about mental health issues (diagnoses, medications taken, etc.), potentially criminal or tortious activity (often what to do about it, but people doing illegal things don't like people who complain about it in online forums), or relationship questions that involve allegations of infidelity or abuse (even in someone else's relationship).

Even a very cryptic username and a blank profile does not provide the anonymity some people may think it does. Used that same name somewhere else 8 years ago where you could be identified? Never mind the history that can be pieced together from a history of small details revealed in comments or other AskMe questions over a period of years, or new alogrithmic search tools that can identify potential matches in writing style.

Just saying.
posted by spitbull at 7:15 PM on November 9, 2011


I think the lede was buried. "This is a shared resource; if you're using it more than once or twice a year, you're using it too much" seems to be the real news.
posted by mlis at 7:21 PM on November 9, 2011


[Can someone pls explain or link to the whole Rick joke? All I can think of is some silly MadTV sketch but I'm sure that's not what it refers to, and I don't recall seeing it on the wiki. Enquiring noobs want to know lol]
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:26 PM on November 9, 2011


100monkeys: RICK.

I think the lede was buried.

It's really what we've been saying all this time, we just wanted to restate it for the record and wanted to announce this change instead of letting people find out about it on their own and asking us. We figured someone asking an anon question might not want to come to MeTa and be all "Hey I noticed..."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:38 PM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thank you :)
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:48 PM on November 9, 2011


I can't see the page. Guess my question!
posted by parmanparman at 8:15 PM on November 9, 2011


I know that Anonymous questions aren't tied to your account at all, but perhaps there's some way to record at least the number of questions a user has asked? I use the anonymous question tool from time to time but can't remember how many times I have used it. I feel like if I went to post an anonymous question and saw something like "You've posted 4 anonymous questions in the past year" I might hesitate.

As it is, now I'm loathe to ask anonymously out of fear that I've overused the feature, but equally I'm not entirely comfortable posting it publicly.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:19 PM on November 9, 2011


rtha: "posted by anonymous to human relations"
REJECTED [wrong category]
posted by schmod at 8:20 PM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


there's some way to record at least the number of questions a user has asked?

You can ask us and we can guess based on the emails that we get saying "Deathalicious has asked a question" but without a link to your actual question, just the queue [which has a few questions in it, most of the time]. I think most people know more or less if they're asking a question a month or a question a year. But if you're curious, ask us.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:36 PM on November 9, 2011


We figured someone asking an anon question might not want to come to MeTa and be all "Hey I noticed..."

Thanks, I have this friend who thinks that is totally considerate.
posted by stp123 at 9:41 PM on November 9, 2011


I smell another tumblr!

I assume you were joking but yeah, no. In general I get super sensitive about people creating "comedy" content like this. a) As a person, it's often laughing at people's pain but mostly b) As a writer- it's using other people's words and claiming them as your own. It's the cheapest possible way to get laughs and also, in a technical sense, reprinting others work without their permission.

That said, I did read the comment form tumblr and enjoyed some hearty chuckles.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:26 PM on November 9, 2011


jessamyn: "In the past, if we couldn't figure it out, yeah.

Interesting. I guess I always assumed that questions were only rejected if they were on: inappropriate topics, super-inflammatory, broke the guidelines or were very badly written.

But there might be reasons that weren't clear to us so we wanted to give the people asking the question a chance to explain to us what that reason might be.

That makes sense.

Each anonymous question has a small amount of friction associated with it both from a mod-time perspective and also a lack of social cohesiveness aspect. We want people to ask and answer questions using their own account but we understand that sometimes they may not want to do that. However if they're using the anon feature to ask a "just wondering..." sort of question with no real reason to have it be anonymous, we don't necessarily want that to be what the feature is for, for a number of reasons."

This also makes sense. Thanks for the clarification. :)
posted by zarq at 10:38 PM on November 9, 2011


Yeah, to be painfully clear about it there is no way there would ever be any sort of Rejected Anonymous Questions blog, much as I can dig the sort of "what do people ask" fascination. Just no way for it not to be super problematic.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:49 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare, and occasionally bring down the servers of people I dislike.

Damn, wrong input box.
posted by iotic at 11:58 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do we have to wear one of those masks?
posted by blueberry at 11:59 PM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting this came up now, I was just searching the archives for what you said on the last thread on anonymous questions.

I have to say, I understand that the mods are frustrated, but I can't understand why they won't streamline the process of making sock puppets for established users. I would be okay with having a sockpuppet tied to my username transparently (to the mods), but I have posted enough identifying information that I don't want all of my questions tied to my main username.

Things that could streamline the sockpuppet process are elimination of the 7 day waiting period for established users, and 1 or 2 "free with purchase of regular username" sockpuppets (that could be linked to the original username for modding purpose, but not outwardly to other users). Sockpuppets are the best solution because they require much less modding - no approving, users can post their own updates, etc.

If you continue to make asking an anonymous question the easiest way to stop a question from being linked to your IRL identity, you will continue to have this problem.
posted by fermezporte at 5:09 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


but I can't understand why they won't streamline the process of making sock puppets for established users

I absolutely cannot see a scenario in which this would lead to less work/frustration for the mods (and for the rest of us).
posted by inigo2 at 5:35 AM on November 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Which isn't to say it's not a nice idea in theory, but yeah. I could not see it really helping the mods or the community overall.
posted by inigo2 at 5:38 AM on November 10, 2011


I can. If you've been an active member for X amount of time, a box would be presented on the AskMe posting page that said "Post this anonymously?" The tricky part might be determining how long is long enough to be considered an established user of the site. Maybe a certain (high) number of posts or comments? Whether you post as yourself or listed as anonymous, it would count against the established time limit between your posts on Ask. The feature would only be allowed there, so it wouldn't be abused on the other subsites. Takes the timesuck and hassle out of dealing with anonymous postings. How can that not be helping the mods?
posted by crunchland at 5:48 AM on November 10, 2011


Because people that have been here a while don't abuse features? (Also, that's not really the same type of system fermezporte described and I was responding to.)
posted by inigo2 at 5:52 AM on November 10, 2011


Well, they abuse it at their peril. They'd waste a valuable askme question. It'd have every chance of being deleted as if they were posting under their own name. I know he said "sockpuppet," but I'd see it sort of like a temporary, one-time use credit card for an online transaction.
posted by crunchland at 5:56 AM on November 10, 2011


I don't think the timesuck for the mods is the only or even the primary reason for not wanting to make anon questions easier to post. Anonymous questions take away from the community aspect of AskMe.

As far as streamlining the process for making a sockpuppet, it's already easy as pie: $5.00. Yes, there's a brief waiting period, but if your question is so very time-sensitive in addition to being personally sensitive that you can't ask under your main username, you might be better off seeking real-life resources, or asking a trusted MeFite to post as "asking for a friend" for you.
posted by Gator at 6:07 AM on November 10, 2011


it's already easy as pie...

My point isn't that making a sockpuppet isn't possible, its that asking an anonymous question is easier in every single way. Even in situations where everyone would agree that a sockpuppet question would make more sense, it takes 5 dollars and 5-7 days more than an anonymous question, and all the costs of an anonymous question falls squarely on the mods.
posted by fermezporte at 6:12 AM on November 10, 2011


ave to say, I understand that the mods are frustrated, but I can't understand why they won't streamline the process of making sock puppets for established users. I would be okay with having a sockpuppet tied to my username transparently (to the mods), but I have posted enough identifying information that I don't want all of my questions tied to my main username.

I think the answer to your question would be similar to one asking for additions to MeFi Mail: It's beyond the scope of what the admins feel is necessary.

Anonymous questions, like MeFi Mail, aren't designed nor intended to be, an ever escalating feature that attempts to solve numerous issues. It's a quick and simple solution, for a small scope of needs.

It's ok to ask Anonymous questions, but I don't think the mods want to make it so everyone can easily ask anonymous questions. Sure, it's technically feasible, they could come up with a workflow for both users and admins, but I suspect it sounds like an unscalable solution to the admins, that would create more headaches that it's worth. It would fragment the community, i.e. is the user YOU or is your sockpuppet asking if it's ok to eat this rash and should you go to the doctor? On a small scale, it's ok and workable, but opening it up to the community at large doesn't really offer much benefit to this website's community, just to some individual users. That may sound odd, but it's important to remember this is a community and part of the admin's jobs is keep it a community and not just a collection of individual users.

Plus, you know the first request if the all users can have anon sockpuppet account tied to their main account would be for anonymous commenting. "We already have anonymous accounts, so why can't those accounts comment, huh mods, HUH?!"

Adding this feature would also make the link between anonymous and non-anonymous weaker. There's a lot of sharp people here who would could figure out that Anonaccount321, the one that asked about lube and kangaroo sex, writes a lot like a certain user. Oh look, there's multiple posts from Anonaccount321, we can compare and contrast writing similarities! Now we can gossip about it amongst ourselves.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 AM on November 10, 2011


My point (and the mods' point, I believe) is that making anonymous questions easier to post is not something the site needs.
posted by Gator at 6:44 AM on November 10, 2011


I have to say, I understand that the mods are frustrated, but I can't understand why they won't streamline the process of making sock puppets for established users.

We're not convinced at all that we want that process streamlined, basically. We encourage the "sign up a privacy sock" method specifically for the small subset of people who find themselves wanting to use the anonymous feature regularly rather than just once in every very long while. That's, numerically, a little tiny slice of the userbase. We don't want to encourage a much larger slice of the userbase to follow suit.

I don't think the timesuck for the mods is the only or even the primary reason for not wanting to make anon questions easier to post. Anonymous questions take away from the community aspect of AskMe.

Yeah, basically this. We have the anon feature because we think that on the balance it is a useful thing to have, but the costs that come with it aren't solely administrative; there's social costs to the lack of some of the normal feedback mechanisms, etc. So it's a feature we think is important and we're fine with it existing in its current state, but it's a feature that it's important to us to see not getting used overly much.

If we could push exactly one button and make things the way we see as ideal, it'd be a button that causes people to just naturally throttle their use of the anony feature as it stands such that maybe 3-5% of the questions every day were Anonymous submissions and no individual person was using the feature a whole lot.

Since that button doesn't exist, we've been looking at ways we can try and guide people's use of the feature more subtlely. One of the things we can do is just bring it up in Metatalk, which we did last year and that actually produced a notable drop in submissions, for a little while, but it's climbed back up. This is another thing we're hoping will have a longer term effect in terms of giving folks a moment of pause, while also helping us navigate more explicitly people's thinking about borderline seeming submissions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:58 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't understand why they won't streamline the process of making sock puppets for established users.

Because there are very few users who have requested this feature, either publicly or privately, and we're not clear why "Just get yourself a sock puppet on your own" isn't a better solution for that tiny subset of users.

We want people to have one basic account, one identity, on this site. This is why we disallow username changes and why we don't allow people to basically have more than one account that they're using simultaneously [except for the rare cases where they need to make a post/comment not connected to their main account, or the one-off joke accounts] and we police this fairly strictly. We have a community of about 10,000 regular users and we have no interest in seeing that become a community of 20,000 accounts.

Our experience has been that a very small subset of users need the anon feature to be something that it isn't [the option to reply anonymously, the option to ask a lot of anon questions, the option to use the anon feature to ask the sort of questions that aren't even allowed on AskMe in the first place] and we're okay going back to the "That's not really what this is for, here are some workarounds that might work for your specific case" reply.

Put bluntly: anon questions are a small hassle from an administration standpoint, but they are nowhere near as much of a hassle as keeping up with twice as many accounts would be. As it is now, people get second accounts when they need them if they're motivated to do that and the one time seven-day wait wouldn't really change in any permutation of "getting a sock puppet" that we could see the site having.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:07 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that if it isn't throttled, subtly or not, it wouldn't be that hard for AskMe to turn into a primarily anon site, which (I assume) nobody wants because it's a different thing with a different culture, not even to speak of the mod time drain.
posted by skbw at 7:11 AM on November 10, 2011


Put bluntly: anon questions are a small hassle from an administration standpoint, but they are nowhere near as much of a hassle as keeping up with twice as many accounts would be.

I guess this was the part that wasn't clear to me, given the tone of this and the previous Metatalk question. I suppose I was presenting a technological solution to a social problem.
posted by fermezporte at 7:45 AM on November 10, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: " Adding this feature would also make the link between anonymous and non-anonymous weaker. There's a lot of sharp people here who would could figure out that Anonaccount321, the one that asked about lube and kangaroo sex, writes a lot like a certain user. Oh look, there's multiple posts from Anonaccount321, we can compare and contrast writing similarities! Now we can gossip about it amongst ourselves."

This actually does happen now. I posted an anonymous question a couple of years ago and got a small number of emails asking me if I'd posted it and if so, could they offer some private advice. The gestures were appreciated, but it creeped me out too. Didn't realize that a) my writing style was so weirdly identifiable and b) people paid such close attention to askme.
posted by zarq at 7:48 AM on November 10, 2011


Municipal bonds are generally considered the safest form of US investment, what your grandma puts her retirement money in so that it pays a nice small interest rate (tax free!) and won't lose value.

Geez, if I ever have to write an anon question, I'm gonna have a non-Mefite friend edit it for me before I post.
posted by immlass at 7:51 AM on November 10, 2011


Argh, c/p error, that should have been a response to zarq's story.
posted by immlass at 7:51 AM on November 10, 2011


I just thought you were throwing up random sentences as chaff to foil any writing-style-analysis bots.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:54 AM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Either that or I needed to reduce someone's posting percentages in this thread.
posted by immlass at 8:02 AM on November 10, 2011


I don't think there's a chance in hell of this actually happening, but I'm curious to know the rationale against it:

How about a tab just for anon questions where the questions are not moderated? The people who don't like anon questions don't have them cluttering up their Ask page, and the people who want to anonymously ask why their iPhone battery drains so fast can just ask away (within the 1/week limit). The answers would still be moderated, but I don't see how that creates more work since you have to moderate all the answers anyway.
posted by desjardins at 8:54 AM on November 10, 2011


Having an unmoderated part of the site is antithetical to running a moderated site. It's a big internet and people are welcome to ask their question a zillion other places but a place for unmoderated questions where we still have to moderate the answers is my personal definition of hell.

Questions would be about: suicide, ricky pregnancies, "am I pregnant" questions, various rants and revenge questions, porn disguised as questions, "what are the chances that I have herpes", questions about odd dreams, "does he/she like me" that sort of thing. Once it became clear that the questions were truly unmoderated, they'd turn into "why is jessamyn such a bitch", "who wants to have sex with me", "am I pregnant", "help settle this totally trivial household dispute with my husband, the asshole", "what are the chances that I have herpes" and porn that isn't even disguised as a question.

We have exactly zero motivation to have any part of the site not be moderated and even the anon questions we DO approve already seem to wind up in MeTa more than the average AskMe question. That's a time hit we're willing to take but this wouldn't be.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:00 AM on November 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Part of why we have the queue up front on the anonymous questions is to prevent a lot of the crazy headaches that would come with letting every anonymous question go through automatically. I can guarantee you that the increased workload on moderating threads for auto-approved askmes would be all out of proportion with the increase in total threads itself, setting aside all the other potential problems there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:00 AM on November 10, 2011


jessamyn: "Questions would be about: ricky pregnancies,

Lucy's gonna be pissed. ;)

porn disguised as questions

That happens? Seriously?

Now I TOTALLY want a "rejected anonyQ's" blog....

Once it became clear that the questions were truly unmoderated, they'd turn into ... "help settle this totally trivial household dispute with my husband, the asshole",

But... but... we could be saving marriages!

or destroying them....

and porn that isn't even disguised as a question.

Sounds like a great reason to bring back the img tag!


I'll just show myself out. Try the veal!
posted by zarq at 10:08 AM on November 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just spent 5 minutes laughing out loud at episode 8 of Louis Vs. Rick. I scared my cat and probably my roommate. I have tears in my eyes.

IM THANKFUL FOR YOU
posted by maryr at 9:07 PM on November 10, 2011


Can we PLEASE do this with single-link posts on the blue? Like, if there's just one link there has to be an explanation for the mods to approve?

Not workable for the mods and probably contentious, but there sure seems to be a ton of these recently.
posted by glaucon at 9:13 PM on November 10, 2011


This is a perennial discussion here, and the consensus is there's no consensus. Some people hate them, some people love them – so basically it pretty much comes down to "move on to the next post" if they bug you.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:28 AM on November 11, 2011




Fair. i apologize. i wasn't just trying to be a jerk - there have just been a few that seemed weak to me.

But I shall keep calm and carry on.
posted by glaucon at 10:50 AM on November 11, 2011


Late to the game, but I find having a sockpuppet for anonymous questions a much better solution than using the Anonymous feature itself. I find it really frustrating when I can't follow up on the question, and while I know the mods will be more than happy to drop a line in the thread for me, I feel nervous and pressured about making sure I respond to everything because this is one shot I get at clarifying my position.

This is especially true for threads that are a bit more contentious. I've participated in AskMe threads where answerers were clearly projecting their own baggage onto the question being asked, and I've also had that happen to my questions. In those cases I find that it's more satisfying to walk away from the keyboard knowing you could have snapped back but that you chose not to, than to feel like you're left without a voice because it was an anonymous thread.

It's a small distinction, perhaps, but in terms of user agency one that I find important.

I know there are problems associated with using a secondary account for questions, the least of which involves the extra financial expenditure involved that maybe not everyone is willing to put in. I take care never to circumvent the once-per-week rule across both my accounts, and I don't use my other account to participate in the rest of the site because I feel like I should present a unified identity to the community if I want to participate in good faith.

I know having a second account is on the iffy side from a mod perspective, but I've found it to be a good compromise. Nevertheless, having a second account is only useful if you're okay with having your past sensitive questions associated with each other. I mainly don't want random acquaintances browsing my social media presence to find personal questions, but it's a different beast entirely if you want each question to stand on its own merit, or if you ask a lot of questions where the nature of the identifying information in the question is enough to exposure your RL identity.
posted by Phire at 6:22 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


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