A reasonless What's-Your-Favorite March 26, 2013 10:25 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to post a "What's your favorite X" AskMe. I'm using it to find the one answer I need for a specific use (and I'd be happy to update about my project in the thread later), but I think talking about my use in advance would bias people toward a too-narrow set of responses.

I tried this without mentioning any reason and the post was rightfully deleted. (I did get three really promising responses that make me really excited to hear more!)

When I try posting again, can I say there is a specific reason/use but I want to not mention it in order to avoid restricting what people think are good responses?

I want to ask this because googling keeps giving me only the same popular results that are interesting more as pithy short quotations (not interesting as the evocative, somewhat longer fragments I know mefi users will have in their heads).
posted by kalapierson to Etiquette/Policy at 10:25 PM (60 comments total)

Just saying you have a reason but can't specify is not enough. The problem is the question is too broad. Figure out how to narrow it without revealing your project. Two ways:

1. Specify more narrowly what you mean by "evocative." What emotion, or time-period, or character, or situation, do you want the quote to evoke?

2. Generally, help people to know the difference between a good or bad response to your question. If someone's favorite short Shakespeare quote is something that won't work for your project, what will make it not work?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:36 PM on March 26, 2013

And regarding the problem to be solved, you can be general yet specify that this is for a particular reason as opposed to "just wondering." So, something like "this is for an art project / essay / business plan / short story / school project, but I'd rather not reveal the exact details of how they will be used" is okay.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:39 PM on March 26, 2013

I really loathe these types of coy questions that attempt to induce the answerer to provide the asker with the information the asker wants. Just ask what you mean and let the chips fall where they may.
posted by dfriedman at 10:59 PM on March 26, 2013 [9 favorites]

This does seem like a pretty terrible question for Ask Metafilter. Honestly, it's not what the site is for at all. If you want to know some great Shakespeare quotes, go read Shakespeare.

... or – here are some resources on Wikiquote:

main Shakespeare quotation page
Shakespeare on Love
Shakespeare on War
Shakespeare on Death
notable quotations from Shakespeare according to which play they appear in

Wade through those a bit – you'll find a good number of very thoughtful things. Hopefully that way you won't have to keep trying the Ask Metafilter angle.
posted by koeselitz at 11:14 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

(I would give you my favorite Shakespeare quote, but it's the entirety of Love's Labours Lost, and that would probably take up a bit too much screen real estate here to be worth it.)
posted by koeselitz at 11:22 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I often wish the man was with me, just to talk to you know bounce ideas off me. Universal genius that he is.

I think he might be doing experiments on me right now.


I turn on the TV...I see a giant moose stuck in someone's swimming pool.

What would he say about that?

We defy moose noggery...something like that...

I just want to encourage you too. I think it's a good idea that you have. Spit it out later if you want.
posted by sirlikeitalot at 11:42 PM on March 26, 2013

what (sayeth him)
posted by lordaych at 11:45 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

And I don't think "If you want to know some great Shakespeare quotes, go read Shakespeare" is what the site is for. I'm here to ask humans to share their expertise and experience, and to share mine. But I do really appreciate your links, and I'll look at all of them before I decide whether to make another AskMe.
posted by kalapierson at 11:45 PM on March 26, 2013

I loved those little Russian made animations that used to be on HBO.
posted by sirlikeitalot at 12:03 AM on March 27, 2013

I like to have it spoke at me. Reading it isn't the same.
posted by sirlikeitalot at 12:05 AM on March 27, 2013

I'm here to ask humans to share their expertise and experience, and to share mine.

Except you're not really sharing anything. You're being coy and evasive about your art project, or whatever it is, while expecting others to be generous and forthcoming and contribute to it, without getting any credit, while knowing nothing about it.

That's what feels a little discourteous about your question, to me.
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:15 AM on March 27, 2013 [9 favorites]

There's nothing wrong with not wanting to color your results by asking a question in as nonleading a manner as possible. It seems that you're concerned that you're going to get the same quotes that are used whenever a TV show or the like feels the need to beat its audience over the head with the fact that "HEY, YOU MORONS! THIS IS SHAKESPEARE!", usually from the same handful of plays that everyone trudged through in high school.

Why not just come out and say that?

Given the number of AskMe's that are little more than "What is your opinion on some issue for which there is no definitive answer that will validate my preconceived notions?" I'm kind of boggled by all the Grarr! you're getting here.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:40 AM on March 27, 2013

Yeah, this is not grarr-worthy, but these kind of questions can be a little frustrating. Even if I knew anything about Shakespeare, I wouldn't really know how to answer that. Plus it has a little of that "hey do my homework for me" vibe.

The only AskMes that ever bugged me was someone trying to identify a song, which it turns out he going to win $100 on Reddit for, and when he got the general "not cool", said "I don't care. I need the money."

Then there was one that was pretty much "Thinking about moving to Europe for a year. What should I know?" thing that was strangle-worthy for its vagueness.

I think you're fine in the request, but just need to find a way to word it more clearly to get better answers.
posted by timsteil at 1:17 AM on March 27, 2013

And... just thinking about this general area a little more (and definitely not attributing this to kalapierson's question), I feel like one thing that is really a bad use of Ask Metafilter is one in which the OP is attempting to employ the user base as a kind of "test group" – as an abstract or research experiment, or to gather demographic data or pretty much any purpose that exploits (my word) members to collect info on the "user base." I realize that the way I've phrased this is not crystal clear, but it's often a sort of "know it when we see it" thing.

The occasional exceptions to this are people (usually established members) who are doing academic work, usually directly related to the site itself, and who contact us fully revealing all details of the project, usage, and the ethics reviews and policies that are in place, etc., and this is usually presented in Metatalk with all the particulars, and participation is 100% informed and opt-in.

And then there are also some sort of vague questions that may feel like a more directly commercial sort of exploitation wherein people may want to use the site as R&D or similar for producing a product. A question like, I have developed X-type product, but I need help figuring out how to sell online / manufacture / market is usually fine (as long as it's not stealth advertising/promotion), but something like "what's your favorite X" or "would you be more likely to purchase Y or Z" because the asker wants to use that info to come up with the product that people like Mefites would buy is a whole lot more iffy and not what the site is meant to do.

So, "mysterious" poll-the-audience stuff can easily appear to edge a bit too much in such directions, and as a general guide for folks who are working out how to ask certain sorts of questions, it may be helpful to keep this in mind in terms of how your question is presented and how you explain your problem to be solved. Questions that require too much guessing, either on the part of people trying to answer the question, or on the part of moderators who are trying to keep questions within the general purview of the site are more at risk for deletion.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:40 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was reading some Frank Kermode.

Forms of Attention.

He was talking about C.J. Sisson... a Shakespeare scholar.

I don't know. Kermode's book is about separating knowledge from opinion.

My voting district is named 'Sisson'.

Named after "Granddaddy Peace." and the first family that settled here.

There's a Peace Vallis on Mars now, so I hear.

I don't know, it's like Shakespeare is from another planet.

All you want to know is..."what did he tell you on the phone?"

I like that idea.


On preview...let the mods in on the deal, man. You don't think they get bored? That they're not

modern? I don't know I'm just kind of brain storming here.
posted by sirlikeitalot at 1:47 AM on March 27, 2013

sirlikeitalot, you're sort of new here so you may not understand this part of the site so much, but it's intended to address questions and ideas about the site itself – policy concerns, how we interact, guidelines, site bugs, development ideas, that sort of thing – and is not meant to be a chat space or place to do stream-of-consciousness sort of musing.

Once a question or proposal has been discussed and basically (hopefully) more or less resolved and things wind down, it can become more free form conversational and even silly, but until that point, we kind of need to keep a clear channel for people to discuss the topic that has been presented in the post.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:58 AM on March 27, 2013

Also, just as heads-up on this (since I noticed it in your last comment), the edit function is really meant for typos and small errors only, not to add or delete content from your comment (or make significant changes). There are some quick-and-easy guidelines on the edit page itself, spelled out a little more here.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:05 AM on March 27, 2013

I'm sorry. I'll try to be more quiet.
posted by sirlikeitalot at 2:07 AM on March 27, 2013

No problem; it takes everyone a little while to get used to the conventions of any new spot.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:09 AM on March 27, 2013

I'm sorry. I'll try to be more quiet.

That's not what taz suggested.
posted by OmieWise at 3:30 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Kalapierson, just ask people for sources of Shakespeare quotes. Make it clear that you want a diversity of quotes not just the same ones over and over again. You'll get plenty of quotes to work with.

Beyond that what you're asking for is chat about Shakespeare, which is not what AskMe is for.
posted by alms at 4:25 AM on March 27, 2013

When I try posting again, can I say there is a specific reason/use but I want to not mention it in order to avoid restricting what people think are good responses?

It's a fine line between using AskMe as a list generating tool and looking like you're using AskMe for one purpose but actually using it for another. If you don't trust people to not give you what you're looking for once you've told them what you are looking for, then yeah that's not really what AskMe is for. Maybe it would be good to ask about your meta-question "Where can I find good sources of Shakespeare quotes on various topics that aren't just going to be the same old top fifty quotes that everyone knows?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:14 AM on March 27, 2013

That's not what taz suggested.

While this is true, without further explanation it seems like it could well be a bit of drive-by chiding. Of course, it could just as easily be a heartfelt hand up, but its opacity leads one to wonder. How significant is it? Why anyone would bother writing it? The same could be said of this comment: is it meant to be helpful, some kind of guidance, or am I just doing that MeTa thing where the urge to push is overwhelming?

In any case, I don't think it's a very good use of the subsite.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:28 AM on March 27, 2013

I have no idea what you are saying. I mean, I can't parse your comment.

taz was quite straightforward in her comments, and neither of them remotely suggested that the user should "be more quiet." To my mind replying that way mis-characterizes taz's comments to make them seem as if she was being a bully or somehow was in the wrong.
posted by OmieWise at 5:31 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

It was definitely not my intention to be brusque (though maybe it did come off that way because I was dealing with a few other things at the same time, and could have expanded my explanation more than I did), but the name of this part of the site can be confusing for new users who sometimes mistake it for general chat area. It's not an unusual reading for people who aren't yet familiar with all the subsites, and I really did mean it in a "by the way" way, and not as a scold.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:43 AM on March 27, 2013

I thought taz was clear in what she was saying. I saw OmieWise piling on, on behalf of authority, which is a gross habit. I was trying to leave room for doubt, to assume the possibility of good intent on OmieWise's part. I see that a couple of sentences in my comment were poorly worded, and that leaving wiggle room obfuscated my point. Next time I will do a better job of editing.

Actually, next time I'll try to be a little more quiet.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:57 AM on March 27, 2013

There's some kind of joke here about all the linguistic imprecision going on in a thread about Shakespeare quotes.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:14 AM on March 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

Oh, right. Come see the violence inherent violence in the system!

Though I'm not sure what the project is, I have had many interesting conversations about the memorable/moving bits of Shakespeare and why, and hope the OP is successful in reframing. I can understand why it appears as not completely kosher, but it is really not far from being a useful and productive question. To me, there are a lot of shades of usage that people might make of question answers: yes, raw R&D/market research seems inappropriate, but people do use it to compile playlists (sometimes for events or radio shows), blog posts, idea lists, menus for their taqueria, marketing approaches for their beading blog, etc. I suppose it's just that more transparency would help - not that we don't approve of gathering people's ideas in response to a project, but that before we go there we'd like to know about what the project is.
posted by Miko at 6:20 AM on March 27, 2013

The only AskMes that ever bugged me was someone trying to identify a song, which it turns out he going to win $100 on Reddit for, and when he got the general "not cool", said "I don't care. I need the money."
Does anyone know the link to this?
posted by Flunkie at 7:38 AM on March 27, 2013

Vox Pop: What's your favourite "X"?

[  ] The Professor thereof
[  ] The Men thereof, but not the Professor thereof specifically
[  ] The "Men" thereof, but only the ones who are women
[  ] The Files in-relation-thereto
[  ] The Spot marked-by-which
[  ] The "HOT SE" suffixing
[  ] The one between IX and XI, thou plebian
[  ] The Factor regarding
[  ] The Rays of such designation
[  ] The Generation that ... whatever
[  ] The Malcolm relevant-to-such
[  ] The one that, raised to the power of "n", and added to a "y" also raised to the power of "n", does not equal "z" raised to the power of "n", where it, "y", "z" and "n" are all positive integers.
[  ] The chromosome - and preferably both of them, because guys suck ass.
[  ] The one you get in scrabble when you already have the letters "i", "p", "h", "o", "i" and "d" and there's a triple-word square waiting for you and you look at your opponent and think, "Ha ha ha, it so sucks to be you right now".
[  ] Any of them - they are all fine by me.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:29 AM on March 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

[X] This one right here
posted by shakespeherian at 8:35 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I try posting again, can I say there is a specific reason/use but I want to not mention it in order to avoid restricting what people think are good responses?

I think you're making an assumption here that you might want to question. Maybe try saying what the project is, and if the results are too narrow, make another question in a week's time? I suggest this because I feel like people are pretty free about how they answer AskMes.
posted by BibiRose at 8:35 AM on March 27, 2013

Exene is my favorite X.
posted by rtha at 9:18 AM on March 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

I saw OmieWise piling on, on behalf of authority, which is a gross habit.

Well it isn't my habit.
posted by OmieWise at 9:33 AM on March 27, 2013

The cyrillic one, having the same appearance but different sound.

Followed closely by the Canadian National one; the last hurrah of summer.

Do I win a particular prize?

[not sirlikeitalot-ist]
posted by Kabanos at 9:35 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hey you know, I don't give a shit, so what if it's not your habit. Suit yourself, come off as you like. It looked like you were doing a kind of shitty thing to someone who was apparently unclear on how things work, and I took a damn roundabout way to pointing it out, but keep on with your waterproof self, slick.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:19 AM on March 27, 2013

Knock it off, folks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:19 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks, jessamyn, I just realized I've been making a mountain out of a molehill here, and doing myself no favors. You really shouldn't say "folks," it should just be "knock it off, Ice Cream Socialist," because I've been the problem here.

I'm sorry, OmieWise. I shouldn't have been so testy towards you this morning, and I should have been able to drop it like an adult. It just doesn't do to go around pointing fingers like that. I should take a long look in the mirror and stay off MetaTalk until I can be more reasonable and civil.

And I'm of course sorry to the mods for raising a stink. I know paying attention to this kind of shit just adds negativity to your day, and you don't deserve that. Nobody does.

I apologize to everyone for my poor showing here, and I'll try to do better in the future.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:33 AM on March 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

Wow. That was one of the best apologies I've ever read on Meta.
posted by blurker at 10:38 AM on March 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Ice Cream Socialist, thanks, that was very classy, but largely unnecessary from my perspective.

I should have used more than one line in my first post to make clear that I hoped sirlikeitalot understood that he wasn't being told to be quiet, but was being told something else. Figuring out the site takes time. Similarly, I was trying to briefly convey that I agree with you that piling on on behalf of authority is a gross habit. Miscommunication all around, for much of which I am responsible.

My brevity---soul---wit meter must need recalibration.
posted by OmieWise at 10:45 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by cooker girl at 10:52 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Don't make us have to watch another HR video.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:53 AM on March 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yes, I would absolutely like to get in on a hug, that's for sure. Or a walk in the sunshine. Maybe a banana split. Enough for everyone.

Thanks for your consideration, OmieWise, and thanks for your patience, jessamyn. I feel much better after addressing my foolishness. Maybe there's a lesson in that for me.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 11:01 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

So now that's all over we can inaugurate the

2013 MetaTalk Worst Apology Contest

Dear MeFites,

I would like to apologise for not raising a stink on MetaTalk. The truth is, I have wished you all a violent death for some time now, due to my wholly-justified contempt for you and your views on everything. I should - like a responsible, mature adult - take more time to concentrate on becoming frustrated and irritated by that thing you do, and to needle you about it in various fora on this website - particularly through the use of crude expressions and inappropriate analogies to infamous historical figures and notorious sex-offenders. I would also like to apologise to the mods for not taking up more of their time dealing with my outpourings of bile and my outrageous, but utterly correct, insults and death threats. However, in my defence, I have been extremely busy with my other hobbies - racism, sexism, peadophilia, and developing biological and chemical weapons for unelected government authorities to use on the most vulnerable in their societies. Also, I was the Sony Executive responsible for getting Dan Harmon sacked from Community. So I hope you will take that into consideration. Thank you.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:28 AM on March 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

posted by invitapriore at 11:46 AM on March 27, 2013

Here's my entry:


because fuck you, that's why
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:56 AM on March 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I know someone who types the phrase "sorry not sorry" on her phone to such an extent that auto-correct, in its infinite wisdom, has lately been correcting "sorry" to "sorry not sorry".

You can imagine the fun when she recently texted her sympathies to a friend in the middle of a breakup.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:58 PM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

My entry:

I'm sorry you interpreted this comment as a sincere apology.
posted by maryr at 2:19 PM on March 27, 2013

Kalapierson, why do you need to ask other people to provide evocative, interesting, and relatively brief Shakespeare quotations (to paraphrase your question)? Is there a reason why you can't just wade through lists of quotations on the Internet?

I mean this sincerely. Perhaps answering the above question(s) would help tailor your request so it's more appropriate for Ask. I'm just not understanding why this needs to be an Ask vs. something one could do individually using the internet, various books, printed copies of the plays, etc.
posted by pecanpies at 3:40 PM on March 27, 2013

Huh, I'm genuinely kind of confused (not outraged) at this deletion. Would it have been an okay Ask if it had been phrased "What are some..." instead of "What are your favorite..."? Is it just that the "your favorite" framing is heading into murky waters, or is there something more basically flawed with the question? I'm actually asking because when I posted this question today, I wondered for a moment or two whether it was borderline, having a similar "give me examples of" form to the Shakespeare question.
posted by threeants at 6:43 PM on March 27, 2013

I saw those both and for me the difference is that your question, threeants, was a lot more like "I am making a list, I am sure there are some items on this list I have missed. Can people help me fill out my list?" where the goal is finding the short set of things that fit your criteria.

In a "What's your favorite X?" sort of question there are a ton of possibilities and there are no criteria given other than "your favorite" and so it just becomes a situation where anyone who knows Shakespeare has an answer and all answers are basically the same for all intents and purposes. And a lot of people will be like "Well here is a list of good quotes" and it's unclear why the OP can't find what they are looking for someplace else and, because of her reticence to explain more about the question's purpose, what would make a good vs a bad answer.

Contrast this to "Help me name my turtle" questions which are not really my favorite kind but are also list generators and usually there is some criteria "We already have a cat named Sparky and the turtle has red spots. Suggestions?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:57 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry that you aren't intelligent enough to understand what I meant.

I'm sorry. Do you accept my apology? Do you? Do you forgive me? I can't live with myself knowing that I hurt you. Did you decide yet?

I'm sorry. Everything I've ever done I did for your own good. Some day you'll thank me.

I know more about apologies than you could possibly imagine.

I'm sorry. This hurts me more than it hurts you.
posted by medusa at 7:54 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're not sorry enough.
posted by zoinks at 9:46 PM on March 27, 2013

I'm sorry your feelings were hurt by what I said.
posted by k8lin at 10:37 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe the most passive aggressive non-apology ever committed to vinyl, if you don't count Dylan's Idiot Wind.
posted by OmieWise at 5:05 AM on March 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

"We already have a cat named Sparky and the turtle has red spots. Suggestions?"

Could be turtle measles, but I'd have to run some tests.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:18 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've apologized for things you people wouldn't believe. 1000-comment threads on fire off the shoulder of a single-link NYT Style Section article. I watched cortex's tears glitter in the dark near the Preview button.

All those apologies will be lost in time, like comments on a deleted MeTa.

Time to die.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:09 AM on March 30, 2013

I'm not sure how "What is your favorite lesser known Shakespeare quote?" is really much different than the majority of the AskMes at the top of the most favorited list, such as Please tell me a book you think everyone should read and why.
posted by philipy at 7:19 AM on March 30, 2013

Please tell me a book you think everyone should read and why

That question was asked in 2006 when the site was much smaller and the guidelines were still evolving. It was flagged a lot and nowadays likely would have been deleted with a "tell us what you're asking?" reason. If the OP contacted us back with a reason, we'd likely add it to the question and re-open.

We didn't have 24/7 staff in 2006 and AskMe was less than three years old. There's nothing wrong with "Tell me your favorite X" questions as long as there's some stated (or strongly implied) reason for asking people to generate these lists of favorites.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:27 AM on March 30, 2013

« Older Bye   |   Look, I know it's a crazy thing to ask, but.... Newer »

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