AskMe in the classroom December 17, 2011 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Can I (or anyone) use AskMe questions for educational purposes?

I'm working on becoming a high school Home Ec teacher, and considering the number of questions about diet and food restrictions on Askme, was thinking that they could be used as "problems" to solve for kids in a food and nutrition class. Is it wrong to take the questions out of context? Should people thinking of doing this get permission from the authors? I just really like the idea of coming up with classroom materials outside of the textbook, that are from real life. Do other people do this?
posted by to recite so charmingly to Etiquette/Policy at 7:04 AM (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Technically the questions are copyrighted by the original authors. This is really only a thing if you wanted, say, to reproduce them in a textbook, you'd have to get permission from the questions' authors, not just the site. Using the questions as inspiration seems totally fine. I'd be crystal clear, though, that the answers are just people from the internet [some of whom may be quite knowledgeable and some of whom may not be] and not in any way the definitive right answer.

So I'd say go ahead and use them like any other "this is a question people ask about food/nutrition topics..." question or sources, just make sure you're doing research into the answers and don't take AskMes word for anything.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:09 AM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yeah, definitely keep in mind that if you're asking questions about diet and nutrition on ask me you're going to get a lot of really bad awful advice and terrible misinformation. Probably just like everywhere else on the internet. I only open those questions on days I'm feeling particularly strong and know-it-all-ish (I studied a nutrition-related research field for my PhD) and even then I roll my eyes and look away from a lot of the crap as a sanity saving measure. You'll be so much better off searching pubmed or google scholar, and that's even when quite a good portion of 'legitimate' nutrition science is sketchy for various reasons (often it's just poorly communicated).
posted by shelleycat at 7:17 AM on December 17, 2011 [7 favorites]

There are plenty of good food-related questions on ask me though, it is definitely something that people struggle with (even I've asked a food question and received useful answers). So using it as a resource for that seems reasonable,
posted by shelleycat at 7:19 AM on December 17, 2011

There are some great questions (and answers) that are less science-y and more "I'm allergic to the following things: [things] - can you suggest recipes for dinner/breakfast/snacks/party food that are delicious and don't contain [things]?" Or the ones where people want help shopping/cooking on a budget for a family of [some number]. This is something that would have been useful to me in home ec.
posted by rtha at 7:51 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

The good news is there is only one answer used for all askme nutrition/diet questions: "You need more fiber."
posted by Think_Long at 8:04 AM on December 17, 2011

rtha- that's exactly the use that I intended. I wouldn't give them the responses that people have written, but rather pose the questions and have them come up with meals that suited the asker in order to apply the nutritional information that they've been studying.
posted by to recite so charmingly at 8:07 AM on December 17, 2011

Well, you certainly have my permission to use this question for your class if you'd like.

You don't have to do this for me, but the question is still open it might be nice to post one/some of the better answers the students come up with, if that's kosher in an educational setting?
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:00 AM on December 17, 2011

You've got about 3 semesters-worth of daily "Is it safe to eat this now?" questions. Do let us know the results of in-class experiments.
posted by klarck at 9:33 AM on December 17, 2011 [9 favorites]

It seems to me that presenting these questions in a classroom setting is a pretty canonical example of fair use. Even if it weren't, paraphrasing them and presenting the paraphrase would put you in the clear, IP-wise. Mentioning that the questions are based on questions you've seen in internet fora seems like a good idea academic-honesty-wise.

As for etiquette, I'd scrub any obvious identifying information, like usernames.
posted by hattifattener at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2011

I've used some of the human relations questions (again, without any responses and only for use in class, i.e. not in a textbook or other printed/copyrighted material) in my high school English and psychology classes. It's been really, really helpful and the kids really love it.
posted by guster4lovers at 1:08 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

All my stuff is released under the following worth-what-you-paid-for-it licence: do whatever you want with it except hold me accountable for any grief it causes you.
posted by flabdablet at 4:20 PM on December 17, 2011

I've used some of the human relations questions (again, without any responses and only for use in class, i.e. not in a textbook or other printed/copyrighted material) in my high school English and psychology classes.

I would love to have heard some of these discussions!
posted by onlyconnect at 5:48 PM on December 17, 2011

You might work in this from the blue, while pointing out that some cranky bodybuilder might know more than the Surgeon General.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:16 PM on December 17, 2011

The best discussions were over the post by fermt a few years ago about the fiance who threatened him with a knife and what he should do.

So, so, so many kids wanted him to stay with her to "fix her" because all someone like that needs is someone to help them become a "better person."

It's pretty depressing. But it also was surreal - like having a Real Life Metafilter in my classroom!
posted by guster4lovers at 9:28 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

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