MetaRecommend? No, MetaRec? No, MetRar? Erm, no. June 10, 2012 9:40 PM   Subscribe

A meta for recommendations? A lot of AskMeFi posts are about stating your favourite stuff and asking for recommendations of the same - movies, books, games, music, this one new thread is about podcasts. So how about it? A new Meta where you list the stuff you like, and others give you recommendations based on that.

It'd also serve to clean up AskMeFi in a way, because I always have to think twice before recommendation threads, thinking they might be too frivolous for AskMeFi.

This would not include threads like which-movie-was-that and what-are-good-dog-psychology books. The MetaRecommend will explicitly require OPs to list stuff they like, and want similar recommendations of.
posted by Senza Volto to Feature Requests at 9:40 PM (48 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

This would be great.
posted by KogeLiz at 9:44 PM on June 10, 2012


I think including "name my dog/cat/baby/business" posts should also somehow be included with the "whats you're favorite book?" type questions.
posted by KogeLiz at 9:47 PM on June 10, 2012


This is an interesting idea, and oddly enough, something that I've been thinking a lot about lately myself, because I love Mefi recommendations when I find them and wish I could get them for every purchase I'm uncertain about. For my own entertainment, I've spent some time pondering how such a thing might be approached, but there are a number of non-trivial inherent problems, including the additional workflow, which we couldn't handle at this level of moderation (so a big part of this would be a straightforward business evaluation), in addition to how it would affect the other parts of the site, and, significantly, the question of spammers and astroturfers, whom we keep pretty much in rein on Ask Metafilter, with daily diligent scouring — but a bespoke "Recommendations" section or utility would be a different kettle of spamtastic fish. So there's that question of "do you have such a class as 'trusted users' or similar?" which is sort of antithetical to how the site operates, etc.

That's just me talking for myself, entirely off the top of my head. It's late Sunday night (U.S. time), so I don't know that Matt & Co. are going to be responding to this tonight, but of course people are free to offer their thoughts.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:00 PM on June 10, 2012


I don't know, this seems like it would require the exact same ruleset and attitude as AskMe. I sort of see each page of MeFi as having slightly different requirements of both, and if something falls into the same category on both counts then splitting it off would be redundant. That's why IRL works as a separate page from MeTa, but NewsFilter will never be a thing.

On the other hand, having made a few Rec Asks myself, it would be great if there was a way to actually ensure answerers read the whole dang thing, comments and all, so they wouldn't suggest the same things over and over again, unless it was super important that they tell me how great said thing is, really really great, I swear, oh my god, and ALSO I didn't list it in my original question as the thing I'm asking recs for based from. Some kind of "currently suggested in this thread" sidebar. That's insanely complicated though and would need to be curated and jeez, programming nightmare.
posted by Mizu at 10:02 PM on June 10, 2012


It could be a quasi static/curated "MeFi-mendation" window/section. Not quite as out of the way as the wiki (which I suspect the vast majority of visitors don't know exists) - maybe more like projects or jobs.
I know I've gone back through threads to find recommendations for 'hard' sci-fi or tv shows or music like 'xx.'
It does run the risk of becoming a gamed, spam honeypot, with 'people' who want to promote their thing trying to shoe-horn it onto the list. It also kind of commodifies (or risks doing so) the collective taste of the meFi community, as in "As endorsed by MeFi" though maybe not, that's a hard thing to say, how something like that would play out.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:10 PM on June 10, 2012


In many ways I'd be reluctant to add a 'feature' to the AskMe submit page, but could there be a short note on the submit page, asking people to add a 'recommendations' tag if they are asking for recommendations? It's not a guaranteed success (although neither are alternate suggestions here), but it is quite low barrier in terms of coding and design.
posted by carter at 12:18 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


TellMe?
posted by iamkimiam at 12:53 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


MeFerral.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:02 AM on June 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I feel the same way about travel recommendations. I think I get crabby about 'I'm going to SuperPlace and want to know about your favourite BestThings to do when I get there' because I'm stuck here, broke, in the rain. We could call it GoFi Urself.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 2:10 AM on June 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would like there to be a site where I could pick an artist and then the site would give me crowdsourced suggestions for the best thing they've done, best place to start with this artist's body of work, etc.
posted by alby at 2:11 AM on June 11, 2012


RecomMeFi
posted by permafrost at 3:15 AM on June 11, 2012


Ha. How about SuggestMe? Oooh lala...
posted by iamkimiam at 3:36 AM on June 11, 2012


RecMe also sounds delightfully saucy.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:37 AM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Surely, if this were to be implemented, it would be easier just to have it as a new category*, rather than a whole new Meta sub-site.

But because people ask for recommendations for so many different things, across a range of categories, the current system works fine.

Also, I'm not sure there would actually be the demand for it, necessary to warrant a sub-site. An Infodump search could possibly give an estimate of the current percentage of recommendation questions, and see if they dramatically outnumber questions of other types.

* Just like we have for Education, Food&Drink, etc.
posted by Petrot at 3:43 AM on June 11, 2012


Surely, if this were to be implemented, it would be easier just to have it as a new category

Problem is, 'recommendations' would cut across existing categories. So you'd have to have a way to assign multiple categories to one question.
posted by carter at 4:09 AM on June 11, 2012


To really do recommendations well would probably require something other than AskMe. A separate subsite might make sense.

Detecting and dealing with duplicate answers is an issue that AskMe has historically not handled.

To the extent that positive feedback for answers is given (and even without an explicit mechanism for positive feedback for answers it seems likely that some favorites given to any particular reply will be intended to register approval for that answer) it would be useful to somehow enforce a "one answer per comment" rule. That way if I recommend GreatBook and MediocreBook, people can register their approval for GreatBook without seeming to also approve of MediocreBook.
posted by Jpfed at 4:18 AM on June 11, 2012


The flaws in your premise are that nothing is too frivolous for AskMe and it doesn't need "cleaning up". Users are doing a good enough job on their own keeping a healthy balanced mix of questions and don't require artificial intervention of any sort. Recommendation questions Or "Name my ___" questions aren't inherently better or worse than any other type of question. There's a lot of content out there and a lot of it has already been consumed by others, who want to tell you about it if you give them a chance. So why struggle on your own? Isn't that the very heart of AskMe? Why struggle on your own when people are willing to help? Every question on AskMe makes it a stronger and more vibrant resource.
posted by bleep at 4:27 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


You RecMe, baby
You break me in two,
But you move me, honey
Yes, you do.

Catchy theme songs aside, this pony doesn't move me.
posted by drlith at 5:01 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


ooh, ooh, and it could be done like this but with connections not just between the things (this music is like that music, or this tool is as good as that tool) but between the recommenders: this user likes these things, therefore if your granddad likes some of the things this user recommends, he might like the other things.

Yeah, I know, not text-based. Huge database thingy. Coding stuff. I can dream.
posted by b33j at 5:13 AM on June 11, 2012


I'm not sure I understand why this is needed. Why is this needed? Is there something wrong with how these are handled in AskMe? For several categories of things the AskMe answers are aggregated on the wiki.

I also tend to think that generic recommendations are much less useful than targeted recommendations. I read a lot of different types of books, and just because we both like James Joyce does not mean that your recommendations for Joycean books will scratch my Sci Fi itch. Similarly, I asked a recent recommendation question about DSLRs, but because it was not a generic question, and contained the specifics of what I was actually interested in, I was convinced that a DSLR may not actually be what I need.

Overall, this seems like a reduction in functionality to me, unless I'm missing something.
posted by OmieWise at 5:21 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't see the need for this. AskMefi works fine. It may not be 100% perfect, but nothing ever is and Mefi doesn't have to be the destination for all information.
posted by peacay at 5:29 AM on June 11, 2012


Overall, this seems like a reduction in functionality to me, unless I'm missing something.

As described, I would agree. However, there are a set of "questions" that are now normally getting deleted as chatfilter, things kind of like "hey, tell me some good break-up stories!", but that are popular and when they slip through the cracks make a lot of people happy. (And, if you look back at ye olde days of AskMe, these used to be much more tolerated.) There is probably a good business justification, based on traffic and happy users, for a subsite with space for the conversations that currently aren't fitting into any of the subsites.
posted by Forktine at 5:38 AM on June 11, 2012


However, there are a set of "questions" that are now normally getting deleted as chatfilter, things kind of like "hey, tell me some good break-up stories!", but that are popular and when they slip through the cracks make a lot of people happy.

Are you talking about questions asking for recommendations for break-up stories getting deleted? Because that makes no sense. If you're talking about break-up story swap threads getting deleted, then you seem to want something different than what is being requested, something more like a chat-filter site.
posted by OmieWise at 5:46 AM on June 11, 2012


I'm asking for clarification because we can't really know what we're discussing without it, and I would imagine that if some people are looking forward to a recommendation sub-site, and some are looking forward to a chat-filter subsite, one group is going to be very disappointed.
posted by OmieWise at 5:48 AM on June 11, 2012


Is there something wrong with how these are handled in AskMe?

My view, which differs from others in this thread, is that there's something wrong with this being handled in AskMe at all.

I don't think there's a bright, clear line between "questions asking for information" and "questions asking for people to chat about their opinions," but I think "I heard some Mongolian dubstep and thought it was amazing, what records should I buy to go deeper into Mongolian dubstep?" is a good AskMe question, while "What are good break-up songs?" or "What are some bands with numbers in their name?" are bad ones.

To some extent, specificity matters. I think "Which is better, Mad Men or Breaking Bad?" is a bad question, but "I really enjoyed Arrested Development, but didn't care for the Wire, and I can't watch anything with extreme violence, and I tend to watch TV in 20-minute bursts, should I watch Mad Men or Breaking Bad?" is much better. "What restaurants are good in Philadelphia?" is a bad question but "I have a party of 12, including some elderly people, and I'm trying to plan a dinner in Philadelphia at a place which will read as "gourmet" to my relatives and which is quiet enough so that we can talk" is a fine one.

On the other hand, this is just my sense of what the nature of Ask is supposed to be. MeFi is a business, and if lists of "contemporary poets I'm into" and "songs for my workout" bring pageviews and pay the mods, then by all means keep them coming.
posted by escabeche at 6:04 AM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm asking for clarification because we can't really know what we're discussing without it, and I would imagine that if some people are looking forward to a recommendation sub-site, and some are looking forward to a chat-filter subsite, one group is going to be very disappointed.

I was a) agreeing with you that the recommendation suggestion, as written, didn't sound great to me, and b) made an alternate suggestion that overlaps with the recommendation idea.

I don't think MeFi needs a freeform chatfilter subsite, but I do think there is a very focused kind of conversation that doesn't fit into any of the current subsites but that seems to be popular when it slips through the cracks, and includes some of the recommendation-style posts. Whether or not that makes sense as a business decision (ie driving more traffic than it costs in moderation and infrastructure) or in terms of site identity is a question for the owner.
posted by Forktine at 6:08 AM on June 11, 2012


OmieWise: "I'm not sure I understand why this is needed. Why is this needed? Is there something wrong with how these are handled in AskMe? For several categories of things the AskMe answers are aggregated on the wiki."

Specifically: AskMe Collections, all of which have taken a non-trivial amount of time to compile, even collectively. Not to talk anyone out of working on similar projects in the future, but regarding the above, I've worked most extensively on the EatMe, Should I Eat This and There Is Help pages and it can be quite a time-consuming process. Editing the wiki is quick and easy, but compiling links and info, choosing which content is worth including and then organizing it for legibility and easy reference does take time.

I love the idea of distilling down information offered in Ask to highlight great recommendations. To that end, what about highlighting answers that have been marked as "Best," similar to way the "Popular" page is structured?
posted by zarq at 6:40 AM on June 11, 2012


What about a page that scrapes all the Amazon referrer URL's on the whole site and aggregates them with a link back to the context (post and by extension thread?) It would give a picture of what kind of media MetaFilter is discussing, provides the mechanism by which a user can easily obtain the context for the "recommendation" (might not always be an endorsement) and increases participation site-wide instead of segmenting users into sub-sites.

Recommendations don't always link to a URL but if just one person in the thread does then users will get directed to the whole thread via the aggregate page.

I'm sure other sites besides Amazon could be included (Goodreads? B&N?)

I'm not a coder so I don't know how hard implementation would be. Might lead to more referrer revenue for MetaFilter though.
posted by newg at 6:40 AM on June 11, 2012


This would be really, really great.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:48 AM on June 11, 2012


The angle I like about this pony is: by creating a subsite then this creates a way to separate out "recommendations" in a user profile.

Then if I noticed that someone had similar interests to me, I could surf all their recommendations easily and find new stuff that I would have a high potential of liking. And also I could add them as a contact and select my settings to follow their recommendations.

That would be not only sociable but personally useful - an individual-recommendations filter through MetaFilter.
posted by flex at 6:49 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


including the additional workflow, which we couldn't handle at this level of moderation (so a big part of this would be a straightforward business evaluation)

This kind of blows my mind given that the number of f/t moderators has doubled in the last 18 months or so. I am just being cheeky, but the quote "the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy" (in Nimoy's voice, of course) comes to mind.

"There will always be more moderation required than available moderators to moderate."

"User expectations regarding moderation will grow to fill and then exceed whatever level of moderation staffing is currently provided."

Nope, neither of those is pithy enough...
posted by Meatbomb at 6:57 AM on June 11, 2012


"Moderators gonna moderate."?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:06 AM on June 11, 2012


A more practical thought, regarding "trusted users":

This could be set up without any need for new architecture or special vetting. All that is needed is a CRAZY HUGE posting requirement for ability to comment in that subsection.

Just for example, you cannot post an answer in "rec me" until you've been a user for 18 months, and made at least 500 posts and/or comments sitewide.

This kind of massive speedbump would make the effort to just fake it really obvious. Cortex seems a master scammer spotter, and I am certain that he and PB could set up algorithms to detect people trying to game this...

Someone making massive number of garbage comments right out of the gate? Scam.
Massive number of comments, just before the 18 month threshold is going to be breached? Scam.

Etc., etc.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:06 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I sometimes wish that people would put a little more emphasis upon the observance of the law than they do upon its enforcement." - Calvin Coolidge
posted by flex at 7:13 AM on June 11, 2012


Meatbomb: "This could be set up without any need for new architecture or special vetting. All that is needed is a CRAZY HUGE posting requirement for ability to comment in that subsection."

holdkris99

Age of membership and level of activity are no guarantee that someone won't be a total asshole to others.
posted by zarq at 7:19 AM on June 11, 2012


It's not about being an asshole, just about being a shill / astroturfer.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:22 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like this idea, I also understand the need to consider/scope/deploy/manage it properly. Quickly, and without intending to sidetrack this discussion, I'd like to throw my two cents into this little component and what taz said.

the question of spammers and astroturfers, whom we keep pretty much in rein on Ask Metafilter, with daily diligent scouring — but a bespoke "Recommendations" section or utility would be a different kettle of spamtastic fish. So there's that question of "do you have such a class as 'trusted users' or similar?" which is sort of antithetical to how the site operates, etc.

I've never understood why the idea of a 'trusted' user, or any sort of differentiation for users is viewed in such a negative light here. For example, I previously brought up the idea of a traveling gift box of MetaFilter and one of the ideas I had, in order to protect peoples effort and investment, was to require a few comments (or one FP post I think, I forget the exact details) as a minimum to participate. In essence to protect them from someone signing up just to steal the box (which could have had over $50 to $100 of cool donated items in it at any given time). So the box idea kinda died away, and that's fine. I was just genuinely surprised that there was the inherent pushback to what I thought wasn't that offensive of an idea, this is still the internet and all that jazz (as a recent thread here in metatalk has brought to light ever so brightly).

Anyway, I like the idea of the recommendation site, I'd use the heck out of it, both as a contributor and as a gleaner of information. The people here are intelligent and cover a broad spectrum of likes and dislikes. That's a plus in my book.

I'd also not mind having some sort of "let's make life easier on the mods" class of user who is vetted and less likely to be astroturfing or spamming for a given product. No idea where to draw the line, but I know that I already, when I do actually go into someone's profile (not too often), give more weight to the recommendation for the blend-master-3000 from an user with 300+ comments than to the person who has 2 comments and a join date of 1 day ago. It's just common internet sense.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:46 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


HopeMe
posted by jquinby at 7:49 AM on June 11, 2012


I heard some Mongolian dubstep and thought it was amazing, what records should I buy to go deeper into Mongolian dubstep?

Here you go.
posted by empath at 8:15 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb: "It's not about being an asshole, just about being a shill / astroturfer."

Ah. Okay.
posted by zarq at 9:02 AM on June 11, 2012


Here you go.

I totally thought that was going to be a rickroll, but it wasn't. Well played, sir.
posted by juv3nal at 10:34 AM on June 11, 2012


How about a system so that users could flag their own AskMe answer as a 'Recommendation'. They then could put some tags on it (set dropdowns of 'Book' or 'Author' or 'Music' or 'Musician' plus a few fill-in-the-blanks). Whether or not these tags or the fact that an answer has been dubbed a recommendation display on the AskMe itself would be set as a preference.

People could browse an individual's recommendations off their profile page, or browse tags the same way they do now for AskMes. Recommendation search could also bring up the tags of the initial question that prompted the recommended reply.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:11 AM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


A lot of AskMeFi posts are about stating your favourite stuff and asking for recommendations of the same - movies, books, games, music, this one new thread is about podcasts. So how about it? A new Meta where you list the stuff you like, and others give you recommendations based on that.

Isn't that how AskMe already operates? A simple "tell me your favorite X" is likely to be deleted as ChatFilter, but if you were to list your likes and ask for recommendations, it is likely to stand and get good answers.

The MetaRecommend will explicitly require OPs to list stuff they like, and want similar recommendations of.

I guess this could be added to the guidelines or FAQ? We could also add a tag "recommendations" to such AskMe questions and achieve similar functionality without altering the fundamentals of how MeFi operates (trusted users!?)

Also, I am not sure why "what are some bands with numbers in their name" type of questions are being called bad. If a question is answerable and not ChatFilter, I see nothing wrong with it.
posted by vidur at 1:38 PM on June 11, 2012


To some extent, specificity matters. I think "Which is better, Mad Men or Breaking Bad?" is a bad question, but "I really enjoyed Arrested Development, but didn't care for the Wire, and I can't watch anything with extreme violence, and I tend to watch TV in 20-minute bursts, should I watch Mad Men or Breaking Bad?" is much better. "What restaurants are good in Philadelphia?" is a bad question but "I have a party of 12, including some elderly people, and I'm trying to plan a dinner in Philadelphia at a place which will read as "gourmet" to my relatives and which is quiet enough so that we can talk" is a fine one.

I agree. When I've looked at the metafilter FAQ, it's felt to me like many of the rec questions already skirt very close to chat-filter. The Mad Men/Breaking Bad one the other day stood out to me as fairly unanswerable (and somehow led to long digressions about how great The Wire was after OP said she'd tried and didn't like it, which was weird) as initially presented.

*I answered it, because I love talking about Mad Men, and I am weak. But still.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:24 PM on June 11, 2012


One thing that I try to remember, when I've got a bee in my bonnet about questions which skirt close to chatfilter, is that a-problem-to-be-solved thing.

So 'Which is better, Mad Men or Breaking Bad?' is chatfilter, but 'Which one should I watch first, Mad Men or Breaking Bad?' is not--even though the discussions these two questions would produce is probably pretty similar.
posted by box at 4:45 PM on June 11, 2012


posted by PhoBWanKenobi The Mad Men/Breaking Bad one the other day stood out to me

Breaking Bad Men would be an interesting mashup show. Plot: Don discovers he has cancer, so he enlists Pete Campbell to help him advertise and sell drugs to raise money for his family. His slogan: "You Can't Spell Don Draper Without Dope!"

Sub-plot: Roger Sterling does lots of LSD, awkward hilarity ensues.
posted by mattdidthat at 4:52 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Breaking Bad Men would be an interesting mashup show.

I would just call it Mad Bad.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:02 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I already used that title for my spec script for the Breaking Bad episode with special guests Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser.
posted by box at 5:26 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


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