Using askme as therapy? April 13, 2014 7:55 AM   Subscribe

I don't want to call anyone out specifically, because I don't want to bring extra negative attention to people that are clearly having a hard time, but I think anyone that reads askme regularly will notice certain repeat askers, who always ask variations on 'I am depressed, and my life is terrible, tell me how to be okay with that." And basically never take any advice from anyone. Is there a point where the mods will tell them that it's not a great use of askme? Or should they? Is everyone okay with using askme as a therapist when they clearly need to be in actual therapy?
posted by empath to Etiquette/Policy at 7:55 AM (225 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

One, eponysterical.

Two, AskMe and therapy aren't mutually exclusive.

Three, it's only at most 52 times a year.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:57 AM on April 13, 2014 [29 favorites]


Is everyone okay with using askme as a therapist when they clearly need to be in actual therapy?

I can't think of any repeat users that have this problem at the moment. I can think of a few users who are going to therapy and are having a hard time in therapy (or finding and keeping a therapist, dealing with health insurance, that sort of thing) and that becomes one of the things that they are coming to AskMe about. At some level, we'll stop people from asking the same question over and over again. We'll also stop people who seem to be getting a lot of advice that they are consistently ignoring and who seem to be using AskMe as a processing exercise or as an odd reassurance exercise. We've done both of these things.

However, if people have a string of questions about different topics because they're having a particularly bad time of it, that's a totally okay use of AskMe.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:04 AM on April 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


On the one hand, there are a handful of people who we've spoken to privately about this and said, you need to stop asking this same question, or you need to stop aggressively rejecting advice.

But on the other hand, in general we let people ask the questions they feel they need to get help with. We give people pretty wide latitude to exercise their own judgment, on what to ask, how to ask it, and which answers to choose. Mods only step in on the most extreme cases, and there are going to be a lot of cases that don't exceed that threshold.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:04 AM on April 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, while I suggest people don't start linking to examples here you can always email us privately and we'll let you know any particular situation looks on our end.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:06 AM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yup, I flagged the last such question as a double because it was exactly the same stuff like the last 3-4 ask.mes by that person. It was not deleted by the mods. It took dozens of answers before a few people mentioned inthread that the OP should go reread their old questions and take the advice they've gotten there. What a waste of time.
posted by travelwithcats at 8:07 AM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sorry, what's the problem with people asking these questions and getting the standard, 'you should be in therapy' 'you asked the same question last month, get into therapy?'
posted by angrycat at 8:08 AM on April 13, 2014 [9 favorites]




What a waste of time.

It only wastes your (or anybody else's) time if you choose to participate. It's only wasting the OP's time if depression (or any other mental struggle) is an on/off switch.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:17 AM on April 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


"Sorry, what's the problem"

Let me quote a mod here:

"Hey, this is just a repeat of a previous question you asked, and that one is still open; AskMe doesn't really allow for asking straight-up the same question over again. -- LobsterMitten"

"I'm sorry you don't feel you got enough answers the first time, but it's not really ok to ask the same question over again. -- LobsterMitten"
posted by travelwithcats at 8:19 AM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, so those examples. The first was someone literally verbatim copy-pasting the exact same question. The second question is no longer available (it was eaten in the SSD crash we had) but it began with the line "I asked this last week but didn't get enough answers so I'm asking again."

The line between "this is the exact same question" and "this is similar or obviously closely related to previous questions" is thin in some cases, but in general we try to push it toward allowing people to ask their question. So someone who's previously asked "I'm depressed and sad and not sure about my job" can then ask "I'm depressed and sad and not sure about my love life" and those will count as different-enough, even though they are awfully similar to regular AskMe readers.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:32 AM on April 13, 2014


using askme as a therapist when they clearly need to be in actual therapy

This is an opinion being stated as fact. And none of us are in a position to diagnose another over the internet.

Frustrated by someone's Ask? Don't have any answers to it? Don't feel like the person is "progressing" at the rate you think they should? Walk away from the question. It's simple.
posted by nacho fries at 8:34 AM on April 13, 2014 [29 favorites]


I had a similar askme about relationship questions and got some great replies for it here.
posted by Megami at 8:34 AM on April 13, 2014


The thing about crippling depression is how it destroys the ability believe that anything can help and inhibits the courage or mental fortitude or whatever you want to call it to actually take action. So, maybe it takes someone hearing the same thing for the 63rd time to actually make what can be a terrifying leap of faith.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:35 AM on April 13, 2014 [77 favorites]


Is everyone okay with using askme as a therapist when they clearly need to be in actual therapy?

This is a conversation we've had from time to time. If I recall the consensus was: If someone isn't ready/able to work with a therapist they are going to reach out somewhere for help. Barring them here just means they'll be getting life advice from Yahoo Answers.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:36 AM on April 13, 2014 [33 favorites]


I tend to see multiple similar questions from the same person more as a storyline than as tedious repetition, and very often some small but crucial morsel of additional information from a later question makes me think I might possibly have something to offer in an answer.

And zarq, it understandably may take awhile for new users to realize how much usernames around here can resemble the names of new suburban developments.
posted by jamjam at 9:16 AM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


We haven't sold a single unit of this development. Why don't people want to live here? Could it be because we named it The Estates at Double Block and Bleed Downs?
posted by double block and bleed at 9:32 AM on April 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


Is everyone okay with using askme as a therapist when they clearly need to be in actual therapy?

I'm not really okay with it but there's not really anything I can do about it, either. Sometimes I just roll my eyes and click back out of the question. Sometimes I give a little concrete advice if I have any and also mention that the OP has asked variations on that questions X times in the last Y weeks, and have they done anything with the answers they got in those?
posted by rtha at 9:33 AM on April 13, 2014


It is so frustrating to see someone ignore helpful suggestions over the course of several questions. I get the sense that some people would actually get help if they didn't have the bottomless pit of AskMe's empathy to cry into. Why get therapy when I can just get validation every few months? We are all friends who live across the country: we can offer words but can't actually show up at their door and kick them in the ass. But what can we do about it other than keep encouraging to actually get help and get frustrated?
posted by munchingzombie at 9:44 AM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's about a dozen regular posters whose lives seem so fragile I would be scared to respond. But it's their "right" to ask questions, and there's never a shortage of people who feel qualified to answer them.

"Skip that question" is pushed as the micro-solution whenever someone voices concern. But let's discuss macro-solutions. Stand-alone suicide questions get rightfully clipped. Yet a dozen troubling questions spread over a few months are acceptable?
posted by 99percentfake at 9:46 AM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I keep a list of these people and read their questions for entertainment.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:47 AM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I keep a list of these people and read their questions for entertainment.

I'm surprised that you admit that out loud.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:48 AM on April 13, 2014 [89 favorites]


My life really sucks and has for some time so my options for people to feel better off than are quite limited. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 9:50 AM on April 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I only get itchy if someone has, say, a tech or household question, gets some great advise, and then doesn't write back for a week to make everyone understand whether the advise has helped. …And then a week later writes some huh-I-still-don't-get-it one-liner that makes it so very clear that every single one of the answerers has put more energy in trying to understand the nature of the question than the OP her/himself.

I think personal struggle questions are so much more difficult…some or other cyclic pattern may just be part of the problem that's not seen, and is indirectly being asked about.

Oh, and if one doesn't like a question, one doesn't have to read or answer it, right.
posted by Namlit at 9:52 AM on April 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


If you go through the deleted threads blog it's clear that there's a line where the mods start deleting the same sad questions being posted over and over. They probably have a higher tolerance than I do before it kicks in (which is fine) and it's not a common situation but it clearly does happen, the deleted threads are there.

I can also think of a few posters who have repeatedly asked the same or similar sad questions in the past who now are doing so much better overall based on their more recent posting history. Sometimes it takes longer and more questions than maybe we'd like but the system can work. So I think we're generally doing OK with ask.me as it is.
posted by shelleycat at 9:54 AM on April 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


Who decides what is a "helpful" answer, though? From the outside looking in, we might think certain solutions are obvious. But perhaps those solutions really aren't what would help the Asker. It's presumptuous to decide on their behalf.

Also: because the user base here changes over time -- we get new members -- it's possible that in asking a similar question again, the Asker will in fact get a new perspective that will end up being the one they find useful.

I understand that saying "Just skip the question if you don't like it" sounds dismissive, but it's not intended to be so. It's just an acknowledgment that no one is required to provide an answer to any or all questions, and that certain questions are going to be frustrating for each of us.

People are allowed to develop or evolve (or not) at their own pace. Taking it personally that they appear to be stuck is a bit ego-centric.
posted by nacho fries at 9:58 AM on April 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


For me, the thing that really sticks in my craw isn't "repeated questions about same general malaise" - it's "poster is not asking question in good faith". There are some posters who DO legitimately want help/advice, but who have a hard time taking/following/implementing others' suggestions. Those are okay. But there ARE the (very) occasional posters who seem to be using AskMe as a sounding board for their own self-flagellating misery-masturbation. Those are kinda infuriating, but for all I know, this is part of their own personal journey towards a healthier state of being. I try to remember that getting upset at other people's pain probably says worse things about ME than it does about THEM.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:15 AM on April 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


I've found that a lot of the black-hole-of-depression askers mention that they are in therapy.

As a therapist, I generally deal with a number of clients who come in and hash out the same problem week after week after week for months, with slight gains in insight and behavior. The deeper and longer-lasting the problem, the slower the progress. That's how the process works -- big problems take a long time to break down and figure out and change.

While I absolutely agree that it's frustrating to be giving answers to people who seem to be rejecting all help, I also think it's important to remember that a dozen or so anecdotes or pieces of advice from mostly untrained people can't cure depression and to therefore keep our expectations in check. Making someone think a bit more concretely about a problem can be helpful. Repeating advice someone has already heard (and heard) can be helpful. Reinforcing something the asker's therapist has already said can be helpful. Telling someone that what their therapist said sounds fishy can be helpful. Basically, giving a depressed catastrophizing person some handholds for even thinking about how to climb out of their black hole can be helpful.

If you're answering those questions with the expectation that you're providing a ladder out of the black hole rather than with the expectation that you're pointing out where the asker might find a bit of a rock to grip onto when they do start climbing, that may be part of the problem. And I totally get that frustration, when the answers seem so obvious to the person who's not in the black hole and why won't they just start climbing already???, but that frustration is often because the answerer's expectations are unrealistic.

(None of the above applies to crisis mental-health situations, which I'm glad generally aren't allowed here.)
posted by jaguar at 10:17 AM on April 13, 2014 [97 favorites]


I keep a list of these people and read their questions for entertainment.

I'm surprised that you admit that out loud.


I'm surprised that you're surprised.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:21 AM on April 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised that you admit that out loud.

I dunno. I think it's a totally legit reason and way to read questions like that. It's not any more shameful than me reading them and either thinking Jesus Christ, OP, just fucking get it together already! Or, alternately, because my life is pretty smooth and drama-free, to read them and count my damn blessings. I've been the various OPs who are so caught in the dark spiral, and I'm so glad to not be there any more.
posted by rtha at 10:23 AM on April 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


Keeping my list probably stems from the same personality defect that also compels me to watch TV shows that used to be good but aren't anymore yet I still want to know how they end.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:37 AM on April 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am not sure comparing ask.me to therapy sessions is helpful. The person I am thinking of asked multiple questions about their unhappiness since the beginning of this year and received ~200 answers. They used exactly the same words in their last question as in their very first, verbatim. I truly hope they will get better. Given the limitations of asking internet strangers, I hope there are other resources this person is reaching out to.
posted by travelwithcats at 10:47 AM on April 13, 2014


I just know from my therapy that it takes a zillion different little bites of the apple to see that not only that certain emotional reactions are wacky but that the roots of said reactions are x, y, and z. Plus sometimes it takes getting to rock-bottom to see therapy as a means to a better place, as opposed to an inconvenient pain in the ass with dubious benefits.

So I don't see any user's comment as a waste of time. I had people tell me in my twenties that I needed therapy, and it took until my late thirties to understand that and take it seriously.
posted by angrycat at 10:48 AM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


it understandably may take awhile for new users to realize how much usernames around here can resemble the names of new suburban developments

Are you insinuating that I am not actually an ocher-colored dragon? *puffs smoke rings indignantly from atop a hoard of gold*
posted by ocherdraco at 10:49 AM on April 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


To come at it from another angle, I posted this Meta thread and now regret it because we never heard from sansgras again (under that name, at least).

Maybe she wasn't doing a weird fanfic. Maybe she was a real girl who lost a resource when I posted that thread. Maybe after 52 questions like that she would have gained some relationship skills that went against what was already ingrained behaviour. Maybe that kind of shift takes time and practice and hearing it lots of different ways.
posted by heatherann at 10:57 AM on April 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think it's a legitimate use of AskMe. Human Relations trolls are what really concern me.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:09 AM on April 13, 2014


That sansgras meTa will always have a place in my heart because it was my first longboat. Hail, Vikings!
posted by rtha at 11:26 AM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I like the series of questions from people who want an amazing website and refuse to pay for it.
posted by michaelh at 11:27 AM on April 13, 2014


(it was eaten in the SSD crash we had) but it began with the line "I asked this last week but didn't get enough answers so I'm asking again."

Wow, mods can read eaten comments? There is no limit to what they can do!
posted by Melismata at 12:03 PM on April 13, 2014


Some people are just lonely and have no one to talk to. Isn't that ok?
posted by Cranberry at 12:08 PM on April 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


Some people just take a while longer than you'd think to work through a problem. Everyone is different and everyone is fighting their own battles, so maybe cut them some slack?

If you think it's an issue, flag it and the mods can have a look at it.
posted by arcticseal at 12:17 PM on April 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


Let's think about this a little from another angle. If one person posts ask.mes about the same thing over an over again, how long will it take until the quality of responses changes from helpful to unproductive?
I think we've seen in the past that multiple questions revolving around the same issue can be read as not genuine by the community. Comments of lesser quality might not only require a higher involvement of mods, but are not a great representation of the overall quality of ask.metafilter. I would think that new visitors to the site are likely to read the freshest questions, even if they dig around the site by tag.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:32 PM on April 13, 2014


I'm really surprised this thread was promoted out of the anonymous queue, and actually came to MeTa to see if it was already being discussed. This seems to fall well on the "way too big a problem for an arbitrarily selected group of strangers to tackle" line to me.
posted by gerryblog at 12:39 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I disagree. The poster isn't asking how to fix his suicidal tendencies, he's asking about one particular issue and getting insightful answers. It's a good question.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:47 PM on April 13, 2014 [24 favorites]


I wrote about this a bit in my latest column. Me, I pick up my god damn phone and want to Facebook or tweet about whatever absolutely insane thing is going on in my life, but then I stop because I'm worried about seeming weak. I think people should probably err on the side of generosity when encountering these threads because the world fucking sucks and we can all use a little solidarity.
posted by Mistress at 12:48 PM on April 13, 2014 [25 favorites]


I really wish people would restrain themselves from using bold font in those sorts of threads. Do they not realize it can come across as shouting; and shouting at a person who is in a vulnerable position isn't particularly helpful. Trust the Asker to decide for themselves what advice is emphatically best for them, maybe? Calm, "inside voice" might be the more useful tone of voice to take.
posted by nacho fries at 12:53 PM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I really wish people would restrain themselves from using bold font in those sorts of threads. Do they not realize it comes across as shouting; and shouting at a person who is in a vulnerable position isn't particularly helpful.

Relax, Francis.
posted by kbanas at 12:55 PM on April 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


The (not particularly major) problem I have is that "chatfilter" is used pretty aggressively for "I just want to talk about X" kind of questions where the person is not looking for an actual answer to a question, on any other topic. While I have all kinds of sympathy for the people who I've seen doing this, I do feel like the questions basically amount to "I just want to talk about how my life is rotten". If the answers they got in previous questions have not fixed it, then what they're looking for isn't an answer, what they're looking for is people to talk to, and it's been clearly identified that AskMe is not that place, hasn't it?

At the same time, I don't feel particularly put out that they don't get deleted, but I wouldn't really have a problem with it if a lot of more speculative questions were allowed to stand, either. I don't feel like the modding here is being particularly consistent, basically, but I don't really have a preference about which way it goes.

Tongue-not-entirely-in-cheek, sometimes I think we could use a HugMe subsite for "I just need people to talk to" questions.
posted by Sequence at 12:55 PM on April 13, 2014


Relax, Francis.

I'm calmer than you, maaaaaaan.
posted by nacho fries at 12:56 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


HugMe subsite for "I just need people to talk to"

I always thought that is the reason we have chat.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:59 PM on April 13, 2014


Mistress: "the world fucking sucks and we can all use a little solidarity."

That's a bumper sticker if I ever saw one.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:05 PM on April 13, 2014 [18 favorites]


Relax, Francis.

No, it's "Lighten up, Francis." Get it right.
posted by Melismata at 1:24 PM on April 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


I am having a hard time seeing how this is a significant problem for the site. The vast majority of users aren't going to see even one of these a week, and members who are bothered have the option to not participate or to comment along the lines of "Your previous questions show that you are kind of circling your problem week after week. You don't seem to be in therapy, but approaching a therapist in X way might help. Here is a list of resources in your area," and then let it go. It's not like AskMe askers sign a contract that they will follow the advice that they are given...
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:26 PM on April 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


Now I wonder if Francis's list was of people he finds silly and yet checks in on from time to time because their silliness amuses him.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:32 PM on April 13, 2014


I occasionally get a sense that someone could be a bit of a drama lama, or looking for validation (not sure you're describing the same thing). I don't need the mods to validate that for me, and I don't need to go point it out to the person. I might be wrong about the usefulness of the thread to the asker, and sometimes I'll still read the thread for various reasons. Though I think it would be wrong to go participate (maybe even fave) in a thread if you have an assumption of bad faith.
posted by Tobu at 1:45 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


If it bothers you, you should skip their AskMes. I personally see progress happening in some of those "repeats." If they can't afford therapy or are using AskMe as additional therapy or whatever, all of us have the option to just skip answering anything that personally annoys us as individuals. I certainly exercise that right when something makes me just want to be snarky.

I kind of feel like, if anything, the mods should crack down on some of the answers that go "Based on your last six questions about this same topic..." because those are sometimes just the worst, most unhelpful (sometimes downright hurtful) answers. I mean they aren't always bad answers but often I get the impression that this is not someone who has clicked the user name and spent the afternoon researching the history but is someone who maybe spends too much time on the green, recognizes the name, and is going "Oh, YOU again!" If that's how you feel and you have already given your 2 cents worth in previous questions, hey, there is nothing wrong with stepping back and letting other people give their 2 cents while you bitch (offline) to your (non-Mefite) SO about what a loser this internet stranger is. Maybe someone else's 2 cents will be more useful to this person.

(I am not talking about people giving really good, compassionate answers who are citing Ask history as a way to say "In view of this larger context, I really think we have enough info to conclude..." I just mean shit that sounds to me like they are being really dismissive and impatient and crabby and affronted at "How dare this person have a personal problem that was not magically resolved with one ask! How dare they ask for yet more support for something bigger than a hangnail!")
posted by Michele in California at 1:53 PM on April 13, 2014 [19 favorites]


As a therapist, I generally deal with a number of clients who come in and hash out the same problem week after week after week for months, with slight gains in insight and behavior. The deeper and longer-lasting the problem, the slower the progress. That's how the process works -- big problems take a long time to break down and figure out and change.

This is totally why I am not a therapist. By the third week I would be slapping clients.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:57 PM on April 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


but is someone who maybe spends too much time on the green, recognizes the name, and is going "Oh, YOU again!"

You don't have to spend too much time on the green (a bit judgy, that) to recognize the names. Mainly because they show up every 7-10 days with extremely similar question titles/opening paragraphs.

I don't mind. I just don't read them anymore. Because IANATherapist, IANTTherapist.
posted by kimberussell at 2:05 PM on April 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


By the third week I would be slapping clients.

That's a different kind of therapy. Rates are about the same though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:08 PM on April 13, 2014 [20 favorites]


You don't have to spend too much time on the green (a bit judgy, that) to recognize the names.

You recognize them. You just don't read them anymore. I think someone who feels not only compelled but entitled to get all up in their shit because "Oh, YOU again!" probably does need more of a life. Recognizing them is not what I am talking about. Recognizing them and being a butt-in-sky, unhelpful jerk is what I am talking about. I feel okay about sounding "a bit judgy" about that.
posted by Michele in California at 2:11 PM on April 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


Back when I was having my really rough breakup from my 15 year-long relationship, I was in therapy AND I used AskMe to get advice for particularly rough issues that therapy wasn't really helping me out with, as well as logistics related to breaking up and moving.

It was really valuable for me to have, in addition to the therapists, a way to find out what the sort of average conventional semi-public reaction was to particular situations and questions.

And I'm really glad that AskMe was here so I could do that. Facebook wouldn't have worked, especially in the early stages before I'd really IDed who was and was not on my side. Especially since I was trying to (unsuccessfully) navigate the breakup such that we'd remain friends.

Nowadays, there's a lot I look back on with 20/20 vision and I wonder just what the fuck I was thinking. And sometimes I got reactions like that (that I desperately needed) from the AskMe answering community.
posted by kalessin at 2:21 PM on April 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


I don't mind people asking the same kind of question many times because if that's where they're at, that's where they're at, and it's not up to me to judge their process. If someone is in a bad place and they bare their soul to internet strangers because that's how much they feel they need help, then they need a lot of compassion, and I don't think that should be saved just for the Askers who we think are doing it "right". People like to feel helpful so offering advice and then seeing it ignored can feel frustrating, but that's our own stuff at that point. If you don't think you have anything helpful to add then close the question, just like every other type of AskMe.
posted by billiebee at 2:24 PM on April 13, 2014 [19 favorites]


I don't know. I wouldn't have left my abuser when I did if it hasn't been for me essentially asking the same question multiple times here. It wasn't the only reason I left, but it helped. Maybe it bothered some people that I was stuck, but I was already in individual therapy and it wasn't working, and everyone's answers here helped me a lot. Even though I asked about what was going on multiple times.

If it bugs you just walk away, like pretty much everything on the Internet. No one is making you read their questions.
posted by sockermom at 2:32 PM on April 13, 2014 [58 favorites]


Some people are just lonely and have no one to talk to. Isn't that ok?

It's not really what askme is meant for.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:41 PM on April 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Just this morning as I was washing the dishes (after having read AskMeFi), I was wondering why person X just didn't talk to their friends about what seemed to be an ongoing issue. And then I thought, well, maybe person X just doesn't have any friends or doesn't have friends they feel comfortable hashing out this issue with. Maybe AskMeFi is their version of friends.

And I decided, ultimately, that I'm okay with that.
posted by cooker girl at 2:42 PM on April 13, 2014 [26 favorites]


I'm really surprised this thread was promoted out of the anonymous queue

It was totally within the guidelines. User is already getting professional help. Just using the word "suicide" doesn't mean we won't approve a question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:44 PM on April 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is totally why I am not a therapist. By the third week I would be slapping clients.

Military bootcamp: your fast-results therapist.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:53 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Military bootcamp: your fast-results therapist.
Suicide is a serious, ongoing problem in all branches of the military, so maybe not.

empath: I haven't especially noticed this to be a problem that creates the sort of disruption that I think the mods are best equipped to handle.
posted by kavasa at 2:56 PM on April 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


nacho fries: "Who decides what is a "helpful" answer, though?"

This is a problem with all relationship askmes: there isn't a provably correct answer in the general sense.
posted by Mitheral at 3:11 PM on April 13, 2014


One of the reasons AskMe was so important to me at the time was that one of the tactics my ex used against me when we were breaking up was turning almost all of my friends against me. So while I was going through the breakup I was also navigating a situation where I only had a few friends left loyal to me and she was working hard to try to turn them too (she was not successful). But having AskMe there to provide a reality check when the few RL friends left to me were busy with their own issues was really helpful for me.
posted by kalessin at 3:14 PM on April 13, 2014 [16 favorites]


I guess I'm just either not reading AskMe enough or not paying enough attention to usernames. Unless they mention that they've asked about things before, I almost never catch on if they have. I guess I don't feel possessive of AskMe, so don't overly worry if someone is using it "wrongly." My advice on mental health issues is not precious angel gold, if someone doesn't take it, eh, oh well. When I answer it's because I want to, not because I think I'm really going to have the one magical response to solve their problems.

At best, I might give them some idea or perspective that will come in handy as they do the hard work of dealing with whatever they are dealing with.
posted by emjaybee at 3:17 PM on April 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is everyone okay with using askme as a therapist when they clearly need to be in actual therapy?

I'm not worried about AskMe. It's been around for years now and has only grown in popularity and usefulness to thousands of people. Yes, it's a bit weird at times and things I do not like or approve at all occur there. But so what. Like life and people, AskMe is messy and a little nutty and downright fucking strange at times.

Stop worrying about other people and their problems or the sites that help them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:49 PM on April 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


One often reads that a woman will leave her abuser and then return to him about 6 or 7 times before leaving for good. I know it's not exactly the same, but I look at repeat AskMe questions in a similar light--sometimes people need to hear an outsider's perspective several times before they can really believe it or know how to follow through with the advice.

I think it could be an issue if someone is using AskMe as a crutch to avoid actually getting help, but there are enough times when people do need to hear something several times before they're able to act upon it that I don't see this as a problem to stamp out.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:50 PM on April 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


I have a hard time with repeated questions, too, but I think what's helping me view them in a different light lately is not to take it personally when someone I've reached out to repeatedly comes back again with the same query they've asked 4-5 times before. This is their journey, not ours. The process varies from person to person for a reason. Instead of getting angry or frustrated, it may be better to simply acknowledge that they're still struggling, and that you hope they keep making progress. And then, much like in real life, you may need to draw a boundary and not engage anymore because their struggle is pushing buttons you don't know you have. There are a few specific users that I have made a mental note about so that I never enter their threads because nothing I could say to them at this time in their lives would be helpful or kind. Them's the breaks. We cannot control other people. We can only control the choices WE make. I'm finding that more and more true AND more and more comforting the older I get these days.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:54 PM on April 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


I look at repeat AskMe questions in a similar light--sometimes people need to hear an outsider's perspective several times before they can really believe it or know how to follow through with the advice.


This may become the case with me, needing to ask several times -- a summary of the past eight months of my life would be rejected as too cheesy for a country song, and I may get around to asking, and if I do I am certain that valid cases will be made for involving a therapist in at least one area. I'm thinking about it myself, too, but am a ways from making that move.
posted by mr. digits at 3:58 PM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I really wish people would restrain themselves from using bold font in those sorts of threads.

I flag them as HTML error.
posted by winna at 4:18 PM on April 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Is everyone okay with using askme as a therapist when they clearly need to be in actual therapy?

How do you know they haven't already tried therapy? How do you know they "clearly need" to be in therapy?

1. Therapy doesn't work for everyone. Nothing works for everyone.
2. It's hard to find a good therapist.
3. Therapy costs a lot of money. AskMe is only a fiver.

Also: what sockermom said.
posted by jammy at 5:05 PM on April 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


I will say something about this: when these folks ask how can I be okay with this?, I rarely see responses which actually answer that question. The relentless assumption that the Asker has an XY Problem means that their actual stated question does not get answered and so they ask again and again.

What if you are not good at making friends, and you just want to know how to be OK with being alone? The respondents will give you more friend-making tips (have you checked out Meetup.com?), suggest therapy (the go-to!), but it's somewhat rare to find someone who comes out and says, "This is how I made peace with being alone, step one ..."

I'd be super-interested in the results if the XY responses were deleted as not answering the question and some to-the-point responses were left in their place.
posted by adipocere at 5:15 PM on April 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


Look at it like someone who is trying to learn a language. In reality the only way to learn to speak a language is to drill over and over, hear words and patterns again and again and get used to responding to them. But if you're trying to take part in a Language Conversation Circle, or meet weekly with someone who speaks a rare, exotic language, you simply can't have those sessions devolve into endless practice. It's boring and drives away the very people who are necessary to get anything out of it. It's different when someone is being paid to be a language instructor, of course. The latter is like Psychological Therapy, the former is like Ask Metafilter. If it's having a bad effect on the mass population of all us answerers, then it's not a good thing, even if it might feel good for the asker.

I do think there's a point when you have to step away from AskMe, though. Recognize that most askers aren't regular daily users, and so will lean on catchphrase in-joke crutches to try to create a feeling of solidarity (special snowflakes hope me), or will ask things that sound way too much like something someone asked last month. If the repetition gets irritating, it's time for a vacation.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 5:18 PM on April 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


"The thing about crippling depression is how it destroys the ability believe that anything can help and inhibits the courage or mental fortitude or whatever you want to call it to actually take action. So, maybe it takes someone hearing the same thing for the 63rd time to actually make what can be a terrifying leap of faith."

Yup.

This kind of thing is why I don't ask my "waaaah! I'm unhappy and I can't figure out for the life of me how to fix it in an appropriate manner!" questions on Ask Metafilter, where there's a record of exactly what I ask and people will look back and point out how much of a fucking whiner I am and how I've said this five times already and rejected everything. I do it anonymously in more obscure areas of the Internet instead. I'm in therapy, and even my shrink and everyone else I've ever gotten counseling from is stumped as to what to do with me. I'm stumped and I'm vomitously sick of this extended "dark night of the soul" crap going on and fish oil and vitamins and exercise aren't finding me something that I want to chase after in life. I will periodically get the urge to start asking questions like this because I and everyone else I know IRL are out of fucking ideas and I'm still whining and miserable and can't find a way to make myself okay. I'm sick of trying to figure out something else to do for a career in my life, but not being okay with what I do now either no matter how hard I try to be fine with it.

Unfortunately, what I usually hear when I do cave in and start whining anonymously on the Internet is, "GO ON DEPRESSION MEDS YESTERDAY AND FOREVER," but I have issues with pills and terrifying side effects (sorry, but I cannot afford to be fucked up at work because I have chronic headaches for six weeks while I wait for meds to make me feel better), hence why I continue to look for any goddamned answer that isn't that one.

I kind of assume that whenever someone else is asking this kind of question, they're feeling just like I am. They know or "know" what the right and proper answer (i.e. meds, therapy)/ solution to their problem is, or is supposed to be, or might be. But for whatever reason, they have had terrible experiences with trying that or really don't want to and are just hoping that some random stranger out there has a reasonable working answer that ISN'T that. They still keep looking. But in the end, they always just end up annoying the shit out of everyone reading because they don't want to take the (same) advice that everyone gives, and getting the same "meds and therapy" answers, and it just doesn't work for them so they don't take the advice. Then they'll feel like shit some more and stop asking....until the urge builds up again.

Bottom line is: if you don't like this, then stop reading and don't respond to these people.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:35 PM on April 13, 2014 [21 favorites]


Yeah, if you're some kind of super high-functioning awesome human who resolves deep-set personal issues about abuse or depression or whatever other awful thing by reading a few lines of text exactly once, more power to you, but it doesn't work like that for me or anyone I've ever met.

Shorter: I do not have a problem with people who need help getting help, no.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:57 PM on April 13, 2014 [24 favorites]


I don't mind. I just don't read them anymore. Because IANATherapist, IANTTherapist.

Precisely this. I'm not qualified to provide competent assistance, particularly when a question mentions suicide or self harm, deep depression, or a specific mental health issue such as bipolar disorder. And I've noticed the same pattern as the poster of this MeTa -- that people ask the same questions again and again. So since I can't offer useful help, and the people asking often don't seem to be progressing from question to question, I don't even read those questions at all at this point.

I don't think they should be deleted or should be handled differently than they are, and I'm happy for the people who do find them useful, but currently I am simply sidestepping them as the happiest and healthiest approach for myself.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:09 PM on April 13, 2014


A young man jumped into the river last night from a high bridge very near my apartment. They didn't recover his body until today. I don't know any details and don't want to. But I've been at a level nearing that one in my life and will never forget the sense of hopelessness that overwhelmed my every moment, the absolute inability to make my body move - to go again to the mental health people someplace and ask for help. And I was in my early 50s, not a young man in his 20s, beat up and beaten down, looking like a junkie just because he's too damn down to bother trying to appear as something he isn't just so the person behind the desk will talk to him.

No job, no money, no family, no hope - the 400 lb weight of depression hanging around one's neck. "Get therapy" - oh, my. One woman said, about this young man's suicide, that she didn't understand why "these people" don't "just face their problems head-on" and solve them instead of being selfish and "killing theirselves."

For years now I've practiced one simple method of avoiding posts that don't work with me: I just don't read 'em.

I'd just skip AskMe if it bothers you so much and let others use it as the moderators see fit. It is a community, after all.
posted by aryma at 11:02 PM on April 13, 2014 [23 favorites]


I describe AskMe as a modern day Ann Landers/Dear Abby. Neither of them had psychology degrees.
posted by brujita at 11:40 PM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


There really ought to be a separate tellmeaboutit.metafilter.com. There is an obvious split between "What is a good X for less than 20 dollars" and "My boyfriend just doesn't love me like I need him to love me. What should I do?" Then you could rewrite the rules as needed for the therapy section (1. All responses must start with "Oh, honey.") without messing with the straight ask section.
posted by pracowity at 12:21 AM on April 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


If this is a poll, I have no issue with repeated questions, but I do have an issue with all the OK Cupid profile reviews lately. I was trying to make analogies. Would the following be OK in askme?

Look at these pictures of my hairstyle. How do you like it, how can I improve it?
Look at this website I designed. Do you like it? Why and why not?
Would I look prettier with breast augmentation surgery?
Read this short story I wrote. Please critique below.
Help me edit my resume.

So writing these down, I guess I realize these kinds of evaluative personal questions are maybe allowed?

But it does feel like they have a different tone or feel to me from other askmes, in ways I don't feel super articulate about.
posted by latkes at 12:26 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I describe AskMe as a modern day Ann Landers/Dear Abby. Neither of them had psychology degrees.

Are you kidding? Askme is becoming more of a modern toilet stall. Someone sits there and carves out something like "what can I do to be happier?", and like the guy who would have written "suck my dick" with a marker, everyone writes "go to a psych".

I seriously see the okcupid shit as the same thing. Sometimes I just want to write " of course nobody wants to date you. You are posting your personal profile on metafilter so you can crowdsource a profile that others would like. And that's why your dates based on that profile fail. Those people don't want to date you, they want to date the people that made your profile."

But I just usually opt out. But seriously, it's kinda dumb.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:39 AM on April 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


I know that whenever I've asked for help with a personal issue the answers have always been helpful if only because it's the added perspective of many people who can help me better see the forest for the trees.

Sorry if this feels like a hijack, but every now and again I'll come across a relationship question that seems familiar and I'll click on the user profile to see if they've asked a similar question.

In my mind, I'm doing it because it can help frame my answer because I can see that someone's written about a variation of the same problem previously (and sometimes, 5 or 6 or more times).

I feel slightly stalkerish doing that, even though it does help to see if a user has a pattern.

I'm wondering how other MeFites feel about the practice of checking a user's history and mentioning a repetition of the same issue in their response.

Is that creepy, helpful, something else?
posted by kinetic at 3:36 AM on April 14, 2014


Is that creepy, helpful, something else?

It's the norm. You do remember those April fools askme jokes, right? One could figure out they were gags, once you clicked the username to see the profile.

It's not stalkerish, it's how it works.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:57 AM on April 14, 2014


I think it's helpful to see if there's a pattern. If an individual has been in three different relationships, yet had the same problem in each of them, then maybe the problem lies with the individual, rather than with the people they're meeting.

The X/Y thing annoys the hell out of me. But, people can only offer what they can offer, even if that's really useless information. The mods are the final arbiters of what stands and doesn't, and thankfully I don't have their job, so I leave it up to them.

I'm in two minds about the validity of asking the same question over and over. I think it becomes a little chatfilter-esque when it goes on for too long. There are only so many things that can be suggested as an option, realistically, and asking the same people the same questions over and over again won't really net someone anything new. At that point, it comes across as just wanting to talk about the problem, rather than solve it, which Ask isn't really designed for. Sometimes, a question will pop up that can't actually be answered by the community - "why is she doing this? why is he doing that?" - and all the community can do at that point is offer ideas, which isn't really the point of Ask.

On the other hand, sometimes people just end up in the shit and have nowhere to realistically turn, other than the internet. I'll be honest and say that I've thought "you're being a bit silly about this, now" when another iteration of the same question that's been posted three or four times before appears on the front page. But this person is stuck, and I try to ask myself if I can help, and do so in a constructive fashion. Possibly, possibly not. If I'm going to post to that person's thread, though, I make myself do so in a productive fashion, with the hopeful intent of helping. Sometimes the situation warrants asking what the person has done to help themselves - "have you tried putting some ice on the burn? Have you tried just not picking up hot pots and pans, like we suggested last time?" - but it always warrants treating the person like an actual, suffering fellow human being. That's not easy sometimes, when you're finding your buttons being pushed.

If you're finding yourself annoyed by the very existence of these questions, you can just killfile the users who post them. Nobody but you knows, and the problem literally vanishes.
posted by Solomon at 4:05 AM on April 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think Askme is great, even with repeat questions. It's not like everybody wakes up #flawless and doesn't need practice, help, or reminders to get to their best self.
posted by spunweb at 6:19 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is there a problem here that couldn't have been solved by asking the moderators directly? Going through the community just smacks of using Metatalk to shame one or two people, to be honest.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:03 AM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Is there a problem here that couldn't have been solved by asking the moderators directly? Going through the community just smacks of using Metatalk to shame one or two people, to be honest.
It was more of a "take the temperature of the community" question than an "ask the mods what the policy is" question, and didn't name anyone. Seemed like a perfectly reasonable use of MetaTalk to me.
posted by dfan at 7:14 AM on April 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


I seriously see the okcupid shit as the same thing. Sometimes I just want to write " of course nobody wants to date you. You are posting your personal profile on metafilter so you can crowdsource a profile that others would like. And that's why your dates based on that profile fail. Those people don't want to date you, they want to date the people that made your profile."

Seeing the recent set of review-my-profile threads kind of made me tempted to start a thread of my own, since I'm not having a lot of luck on OKC at the moment and was thinking that some critical feedback might help give me a fresh start on the site. But, nevermind, I think.
posted by pemberkins at 7:23 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's /r/OkCupid if you prefer to use that.

rules (covers profile critiques), tips
posted by Tobu at 7:38 AM on April 14, 2014


hal_c_on: "It's the norm. You do remember those April fools askme jokes, right? One could figure out they were gags, once you clicked the username to see the profile."

Wow I almost never click thru the usernames unless I'm trying to figure out where a person is located in order to provide relevant advice. I'll have to revisit the april fools page.
posted by Mitheral at 7:40 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't get too excited, Mitheral; all the fake accounts just lead to a "no, no, this was an April Fool's thing" landing page. No clever user profiles or anything.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:52 AM on April 14, 2014


No-one's obliged to take your advice and no-one's obliged to give advice. If you're getting annoyed by repetitious askme's then you're probably the one who needs to back off. Most people who are posting continuously about how much their life sucks are probably not doing it to annoy you.
posted by h00py at 8:01 AM on April 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


I can see both sides of this.

One one hand it's just a few words on a page made of electronic bits, which one can opt in or out of.... but on the other hand:

I can remember a time when after typing an answer which was long and heartfelt, upon preview, another poster had mentioned they had asked basically the same question before. After clicking on the OPs AskMe history, I definitely felt as if I had wasted my time. A long history of reading answers just like mine to the same question, with no indication of any attention paid.

Even worse, there was also one clear time where (to me at least), upon reviewing the prior feedback, the poster had simply changed their wording and how they came across in the question in order to get the answers they wanted.

I don't make it a habit of always checking someone's AskMe history, but when something seems a bit off, or if there is someone in the thread who mentions some familiarity to the question, I now will.

Though, I guess in the grand scheme of things, jaguar's answer above really hits the nail on the head.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:01 AM on April 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


Would that we applied the standard of "endless cyclical repetition gets deleted" to MeTa.
posted by spitbull at 8:09 AM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, on the off, small chance that this place is someone's lifeline of connection to other people just once in a rare while, and figuring no real harm is done to someone with an anxious need for processing or reassurance other than self-exposure, I vote for the light hand of moderation in these cases to continue.

If you've ever been really depressed or known a really depressed person, you know the line between survival and collapse is very often one little thread of human connection. If we are ever that for anyone, it's worth a lot of wasted time. It's not like deleting someone's question will lead them to realize they need actual professional help more effectively than hearing it from concerned strangers over and over again every time you raise the subject, as those strangers gradually become less strange.
posted by spitbull at 8:12 AM on April 14, 2014 [47 favorites]


spitbull: " If you've ever been really depressed or known a really depressed person, you know the line between survival and collapse is very often one little thread of human connection. If we are ever that for anyone, it's worth a lot of wasted time. It's not like deleting someone's question will lead them to realize they need actual professional help more effectively than hearing it from concerned strangers over and over again every time you raise the subject, as those strangers gradually become less strange."

Thank you for saying this.

It might also be possible for answers to help down the line if an OP isn't quite ready to deal with or accept them when the question is being asked. I posted an anonymous question a couple of years ago, but it took over a year before I was ready to process the answers I received and take action. At the time, I knew that I needed to ask for help, but taking further steps was just beyond me.
posted by zarq at 8:48 AM on April 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm wondering how other MeFites feel about the practice of checking a user's history and mentioning a repetition of the same issue in their response.

I do this sometimes, but only if a question or its wording seem really deja-vu-ish.

More often than not, for me this results in an immediate "Oh, it's that guy again" closing of the browser window rather than answering the new question -- but for people who do respond I personally see no problem at all in referring to an asker's question history, so long as it's pertinent to the current question. "Hey, we can see you've been dealing with the same issue for at least nineteen months now, maybe it's time to try ______" is a reasonable and potentially helpful answer (since when you're the one in a situation it's maybe not always easy to recognize that it is in fact the same situation you've been in for the past nineteen months.)
posted by ook at 8:59 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Would that we applied the standard of "endless cyclical repetition gets deleted" to MeTa.

Metatalk's more like a seder. "Why is tonight different from all other nights?" "Is the site down for everyone else or just me?" "I think I saw Matt Haughey on Heroes?" Etc. It's part of how we maintain our cultural traditions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:10 AM on April 14, 2014 [36 favorites]


The annual December Best Post contest is filled with cool Afikomen prizes. :)*
posted by zarq at 9:14 AM on April 14, 2014


I'm wondering how other MeFites feel about the practice of checking a user's history and mentioning a repetition of the same issue in their response.

I've made it a personal policy to only really do this if it pertains to expecting someone else to change - as in, to show that 2 years later, the person in question hasn't changed and thus you should stop expecting them to.

It could be done by saying "people don't change, so either accept them as they are or move on", but I feel that gets done already and it's not a bad thing to come at it from a variety of angles.

I once had an email forwarded to me by a friend who had absorbed a recent complain session about my partner at the time - it was from 6 months previous, and was nearly word-for-word what I said this time around. I was dumbfounded and broke up with the person that week. In the day-to-day of life's changes, I had no idea how much of a rut I was in with respect to my relationship and how much it was noticed by the people around me.

I do think, though, that I might in the future send it as a MeMail message (assuming the poster isn't anonymous), as the whole potential for it being seen as public shaming is something that could be avoided pretty easily.
posted by rutabega at 9:35 AM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


"I just want to talk about X" kind of questions where the person is not looking for an actual answer to a question, on any other topic. ...

Tongue-not-entirely-in-cheek, sometimes I think we could use a HugMe subsite for "I just need people to talk to" questions.


While acknowledging that's not going to happen, I would use that, at least once, if it existed.

I have something I've been struggling with for a while. I've thought many times about posting to AskMe about it. But whenever I think about what I'd write, I could write paragraphs describing the situation, but when it comes to figuring out what my actual question is, I get stuck. My first instinct is something like "what do you think about this situation?" but that would (rightly) be deleted as chatfilter.

If I try to come up with more specific, answerable questions, I come up with at least a half-dozen wide-ranging questions, which together still don't cover everything. I understand that multiple questions are allowed in a single AskMe if they are related, but in this case they'd be so wide-ranging I doubt they would qualify...and anyway I'd feel like they were just a way to meet the letter of the "ask a specific question" guideline but not its spirit, as the real question I want to ask is a vague "Advice? Thoughts?"

In many of the forms I think about asking, I imagine what the responses would be, and often one of them is "What is the question here?" If someone else posted it and I was responding, that would likely be my response.

So I've been looking at reddit instead and thinking of posting there, and have found a subreddit or two that might be suitable for my ramblings/processing/"question." I'm not much of a fan of reddit overall, but it may be the best option available for that sort of thing.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:42 AM on April 14, 2014


I'm happy when it seems like someone is making progress with whatever it is they're having a hard time with but kind of assume that that's going to be the exception not the rule and that progress is generally going to be really slow/non-existent (just like it is for myself and people I know in real life who are struggling with various problems).

Also, ask metafilter is not just for the person who asked the question. I personally have been helped a lot by some of the answers to certain human relations and mental health questions, even when my situation isn't exactly the same as the asker's. I see multiple questions about the same situation as contributions to the site, not as a misuse of it.
posted by treese at 9:43 AM on April 14, 2014 [16 favorites]


But whenever I think about what I'd write, I could write paragraphs describing the situation, but when it comes to figuring out what my actual question is, I get stuck.

One thing to keep in mind is it's okay to sort of check in with us at the contact form if you're trying to wrap your head around something you'd like to ask but aren't sure how to navigate. We can at the very least give you a heads-up before asking if there is a non-starter sort of problem with the framing so you don't have to worry about a deletion after the fact or whatever.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:48 AM on April 14, 2014


I get the sense that some people would actually get help if they didn't have the bottomless pit of AskMe's empathy to cry into.

This is the point where I have to acknowledge that I actually do understand why this statement, which makes me want to claw my eyes out of my skull with rage, nonetheless feels so true. Because we all know you "have to hit rock bottom" before you can change, apparently. And maybe yeah, a lot of people do.

But pushing someone to the bottom, with the secret motive that it might make them move more on your personal timetable is still, in my opinion, not really the right move.

I say this as someone who's been pushed off that cliff by people who were partly well-meaning, but mostly just bored of me and frustrated by my issues. And yeah, the push probably did help me to build some skills that later made it possible to get my shit together. (The message was, "you can talk to us if you fake being normal." So I faked it. Which was very helpful in getting a new job, which had insurance, which therapy, etc...)

But I don't really care for any of those people anymore, and still feel like they'll ultimately put their desire to Not Be Bored over anyone else's pain and suffering. Mind, I don't think they're bad people, but I don't really wanna be their friend.

Whereas there are people who I now see just sort of stepped back a little. Maybe they didn't answer the phone so much. Sometimes they would just insist on distracting me until it finally worked. Sometimes they kept the conversations real real short. Those people, they're still my friends. They didn't allow me to bulldoze them, but they allowed me to believe that even at my most depressed and boring, I was lovable and worth hearing...for a bit.

So that is why, in an analogous sense, I feel like these repeater threads merit "click away and ignore," rather than "flag and delete." Sometimes the sense of being heard is more critical than anything else.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:49 AM on April 14, 2014 [29 favorites]


I seriously see the okcupid shit as the same thing. Sometimes I just want to write " of course nobody wants to date you. You are posting your personal profile on metafilter so you can crowdsource a profile that others would like. And that's why your dates based on that profile fail. Those people don't want to date you, they want to date the people that made your profile."

There's a Cyrano remake in there somewhere, I just know it. This could be big; it's been too long since Roxanne.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:31 AM on April 14, 2014 [13 favorites]


I seriously see the okcupid shit as the same thing. Sometimes I just want to write " of course nobody wants to date you. You are posting your personal profile on metafilter so you can crowdsource a profile that others would like. And that's why your dates based on that profile fail. Those people don't want to date you, they want to date the people that made your profile."

Ehhhhhhh, not necessarily. That's sort of assuming that a person's dating profile as they've written it is an accurate representation. It's not; it's a series of choices about how to present themselves. And in a brief snapshot, it's easy to give off the wrong idea about who you are. It's entirely reasonable for a person to ask some peers if they're coming across how they think they are.

Example: one of my partner's co-workers wanted us to look over her profile to see why she was getting such duds. What we saw immediately was that she'd been so intent on finding a "man's man" who would share her interest in sports and socializing, she'd overemphasized everything related to that and had come off as more of a "guy's girl" than she really is. The guys showing up to date her were as surprised and disappointed that she showed up in tailored clothes and wanted to talk about books as she was that they were backwards-hat wearing, macrobrew chugging louts. We encouraged her to add a few things to act as dog whistles to scare off the dudes who assumed she'd show up in a halter top with a Blackhawks tattoo. Maybe by broadening how she showed herself, she wouldn't get such one dimensional dudes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:52 AM on April 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Isn't it ironic, don't you think, that someone with the user name "empath" posted this?
posted by zizzle at 11:08 AM on April 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


I understand that multiple questions are allowed in a single AskMe if they are related, but in this case they'd be so wide-ranging I doubt they would qualify...and anyway I'd feel like they were just a way to meet the letter of the "ask a specific question" guideline but not its spirit, as the real question I want to ask is a vague "Advice? Thoughts?"

I hear you on letter versus spirit, but it's worth going deeper and thinking about the reason there's any spirit of guidelines in the first place: to keep AskMe on its rails. If you're a longtime user and not a troublesome one, if you're posting one borderline question and it's not your behavioral trend, then I suspect you have leeway. I get asked ethical questions a lot by fellow lawyers, and part of my standard answer is that if you're handwringing about the issue, then you're almost certainly safe. The people who run afoul aren't worried about ethics. They're worried about getting caught.

Obviously I don't know your situation, but just spitballing, I might try one of two ideas. First, you could post it as one big thread. At the end, you write, "My immediate question is, _______. But I'm struggling with the larger scheme and I would also welcome any feedback that might help." Or second, post individual threads as you said over a course of weeks, then finish with one that links to those prior threads and say something like, "Here's the context. I've received some great advice about these issues individually, and now I'm looking to put everything together and move forward. Have you ever been in a similar situation? If so, or even if you just have advice that might help me, I'd appreciate your input."

Yeah, there's some shoehorning there. So what. The rules have loopholes. ("I'm writing a novel.") The loopholes are known and nobody has proposed closing them because they aren't being abused to the site's detriment. As long as that remains true...? If they can be used to help someone, especially a longtime and trusted member, and nobody gets hurt in the process, then what the hell, loophole away.
posted by cribcage at 11:29 AM on April 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Isn't it ironic, don't you think, that someone with the user name "empath" posted this?

What would be ironic would be if your username was Deja Vu.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:30 AM on April 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


hal_c_on: "Are you kidding? Askme is becoming more of a modern toilet stall. Someone sits there and carves out something like "what can I do to be happier?", and like the guy who would have written "suck my dick" with a marker, everyone writes "go to a psych"."

Are you being "edgy," or just nastily uncharitable toward everyone who asks or answers questions in AskMe?
posted by desuetude at 11:39 AM on April 14, 2014 [20 favorites]


"My boyfriend just doesn't love me like I need him to love me. What should I do?"

I think this is a kind of different thing from what this post is about, though, no?

There's a difference between "My husband and I are from different class backgrounds and can't agree on what kind of fridge to buy. How do we negotiate all these little landmines better?" and "I'm miserable. I've tried all the things people try when they are miserable. How can I not be like this anymore? Therapy is not an option", asked weekly or monthly across a long span of time.

I don't have a real problem with those kinds of questions for all the reasons mentioned above (I can just skip those questions, it's probably helpful on some level for the asker, etc). But I think it's weird to lump in all non-practical-solution questions in with the therapyfilter stuff. Because, yes, "what should I do about my relationship?" is an answerable AskMefi appropriate question.

Personally, my pet peeve AskMe style is the "referendum", where there's no real question beyond some level of "my girlfriend is being an asshole, right?" But I'm aware that there's nothing I can personally do about those questions continuing to exist. So I just either don't answer them, or if I feel compelled to answer, I sort of pretend they asked a real question and answer what I think that question is.
posted by Sara C. at 12:13 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also the number of OKCupid profile evaluation requests has inspired me to wonder whether there's money in guiding people through the process of online dating.
posted by Sara C. at 12:15 PM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am either reading the wrong questions or going to the wrong toilet stalls.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:18 PM on April 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


Sara C.: "there's money in guiding people through the process of online dating."

Yes. It's a subset of dating/relationship coaching, which apparently pays well.
posted by zarq at 12:22 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Of course, if it actually worked, people would be millionaires.
posted by Melismata at 12:26 PM on April 14, 2014


Maybe I've been watching too much Bored To Death lately, but a part of me is tempted to hang out a shingle via Craigslist ads, charge half of what that NY Times article mentions, and just be like "dude, you're fine, more pictures, no fedora, yeah sure probably just get it out there that you smoke and like Ayn Rand."
posted by Sara C. at 12:31 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


This thread was entirely worth it just for the sansgras/un owen reference. The memories have aged like fine wine. "Hurf durf butter eater" remains in my lexicon to this day.
posted by norm at 12:41 PM on April 14, 2014


There was one repeat poster who I was legit worried enough about that I sent a note to the mods kind of like, "has anyone talked to this person" and it turned out they had dropped the person a line.

Also

"I'm miserable. I've tried all the things people try when they are miserable. How can I not be like this anymore? Therapy is not an option", asked weekly or monthly across a long span of time.

I give anything where people are like therapy is not an option, repeatedly, a pass because it's just too frustrating. It's too much like, "what should I do about my severely bleeding hand? Medical attention is not an option."

It's not that I want to say they can't exist, they are just too frustrating for me.
posted by sweetkid at 12:47 PM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


But is therapy really that easy to get if you can't afford it? I remember looking into getting therapy I could afford when I wasn't making much money. I called several therapists who were supposedly "sliding scale" and they either didn't respond to me or weren't interested in taking me on after I revealed I had no insurance and couldn't pay full price. I don't think it's as easy as people assume.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:53 PM on April 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


I don't think it's as easy as people assume.

No one assumes it's easy, but if someone's question amounts to, "I need to make serious far-reaching changes to deep-seated aspects of my personality, and I don't think I can possibly be happy until I do," it's not really about easy so much as that it's the only useful answer that can be given in some situations.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:59 PM on April 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am not personally crazy about the general notion that "people need to hit rock bottom before they change." I am well aware that an awful lot of people are very resistant to change and only change when push comes to shove. But the fact is that some problems are simply really super hard to resolve and take a whole lot of time no matter how smart, hard-working, blah blah blah (list of other virtues) you are.

Yes, I know that having options can help someone refrain from doing The Hard Thing. But that does not mean that doing The Hard Thing is what is best for them.

I was molested as a kid and had an undiagnosed (deadly) medical condition. I got married at 19 as probably my only viable way out of my hometown.* I turned up pregnant unexpectedly pregnant early in the marriage or I likely would have divorced. I spent a lot of years trying to figure out how to get back to school, how to leave with health problems and two special needs kids, etc. My oldest was nearly 18 when his father physically moved out some months after we filed for divorce.

The fact that it took basically two decades to get out of my marriage is not proof I was not trying and would have been better off if someone had just given me a good kick in the pants somehow. I very strongly suspect that I or my oldest son likely would have died had I said "Fuck it. I am just going to suck it up and do The Hard Thing and leave." Neither of us had a diagnosis for our very serious condition. Sticking him in daycare and making me work fulltime and do the single mom thing would have been pretty catastrophic.

So, in some sense, I tend to have a lot of patient with other people. The annoying as shit Presenting Problem they keep asking about is very likely just the tip of the iceberg. They very likely have deeper problems that they haven't yet identified and therefore cannot ask about because they don't know they need to ask. And the assumption that letting them take their knocks will solve it quicker a) is not necessarily true -- it could just mean the problem literally kills them and b) is rather obnoxious. If that's how you feel about it, hey, skip the questions that make you want to throw these people to the wolves and insist they "hit rock bottom" or something. Some people have problems that just aren't going to be solved without a long period of limping along as best they can. Speeding up the process can sometimes be disastrous -- not because the person is somehow defective in character but because some types of problems are just like that. They just are.


* Yes, I considered joining the military. I concluded I would not make it through basic training because of my health. Yes, I considered going away to college. I called someone to come pick me up at the end of the day on my first day on campus during the summer when I was supposed to be getting introduced to the area. I was too sick from the experience to stay. Yes, I considered and tried other option, all of which turned into dead ends.
posted by Michele in California at 1:00 PM on April 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


It's not. I speak as someone who has dealt with the whole "what to do if you need therapy but you can't afford therapy" problem, many times over.

However, I just don't know that it's a useful approach to AskMe.

I just upgraded my OS and discovered that a bunch of expensive software I still need but cannot afford to re-purchase is not compatible. I'm not going to Ask Metafilter how to edit my screenplay that I already started in Final Draft, but getting access to Final Draft is not an option. That doesn't make any sense. There are some questions that are just not good questions for AskMe, and that's OK.
posted by Sara C. at 1:00 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am not personally crazy about the general notion that "people need to hit rock bottom before they change."

To some extent this is tautological, a bit like the fact that you always find something in the last place you look. "Rock bottom" can be defined as "the point at which you can no longer ignore the fact that your avoidance has made your reality worse than your terror of the thing you were avoiding."
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:21 PM on April 14, 2014 [16 favorites]


But your idea that it is "tautological" still assumes they are avoiding the problem rather than doing all they can and just not getting the kind of progress you as an outsider with a completely different set of circumstances think they "should" be getting. And that is part of my point.

As just one example: In cases of abusive relationships, just up and leaving without preparing and planning can result in the abused person's murder. That does not get them a better life, though, surely, they will finally STFU and stop annoying internet strangers who do not want to read a seventh question on the same subject from the same person.
posted by Michele in California at 1:26 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I understand and agree; I was just making the additional minor point that it's not a terribly helpful observation in the first place.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:30 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


To some extent this is tautological, a bit like the fact that you always find something in the last place you look. "Rock bottom" can be defined as "the point at which you can no longer ignore the fact that your avoidance has made your reality worse than your terror of the thing you were avoiding."

Which is why, in my mind, the statement feels so very true to the people who make it, but is not in fact a particularly helpful strategy. Because if you tell someone, "you're not allowed to talk to me about your depression anymore," and they do (or just drop out and stop contacting you), well, from your perspective, they're a ton better! So much less of a drag. Not at all depressing to be around. Or alternately, "wow, look how long it's been since she called in tears! I guess she's doing pretty great."

And it's real easy to leap from that to, "all I had to do was kick her in the pants, and she magically got better! See? Some people just need to hit bottom."

(not arguing with you--but it's a really pervasive observation because it's so satisfying to the observer.)
posted by like_a_friend at 1:32 PM on April 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


No one assumes it's easy, but if someone's question amounts to, "I need to make serious far-reaching changes to deep-seated aspects of my personality, and I don't think I can possibly be happy until I do," it's not really about easy so much as that it's the only useful answer that can be given in some situations.

I think sometimes these questions can be variations on "How much am I actually supposed to suffer?" It's easier to see in questions like "I got back from the dentist after XYZ procedure. I am in so much pain that I can not sleep. They can get me an appointment in two weeks. How can I manage until then?" and getting a chorus of "If you are in that much pain you actually need to go back to the dentist (or the ER, or whatever) because that level of pain is actually not acceptable." This is less straightforward when people are talking about emotional pain. But I think at some level there's an open question "How much am I supposed to suffer?" and for people with varieties of mental illnesses, terrible upbringings or various other things that can obscure what others may be able to see, having a bunch of people saying "You're not supposed to suffer this much" can be helpful. Even if it doesn't get further than that. Even if all you've really learned is that yes, your suffering is actually sort of big-seeming even to outside people and no, that's not just "What god thinks you can handle" or whatever other stupid thing people say to people who are dealing with what they feel is unendurable.

And no, getting therapy isn't easy but it can sometimes help. Quitting drinking isn't easy but it can sometimes help. Connecting/disconnecting from family isn't easy but it can sometimes help. Trying out medications isn't easy but it can sometimes help. Making life changes isn't easy but it can sometimes help. Addressing the elephant in the room isn't easy but it can sometimes help. Sometimes strangers are good at telling you what the elephant in the room is.

Many people have gazed into various abysses and lived through it, that can sometimes be useful knowledge if you're currently having a hard time living through whatever it is that is hard. There's a difference between saying that a thing is easy and that a thing that is very very hard might be better than the amount that you're currently suffering. Very few people want to be miserable.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:22 PM on April 14, 2014 [59 favorites]


Woah wait, we got this deep into the thread without anyone bringing up this thread?

We had almost entirely the same MeTa almost exactly a year ago.

And i'll say the same thing i've posted before, but apparently didn't post in that particular thread. I think that after a certain point it should be totally kosher to "You've asked this same question like 10 times, are you ever actually going to do anything?". I've seen posts like that stand, and posts like that get removed on the green. Generally it's the really terse/snarky/mean ones that get pulled down, but i think sometimes people totally deserve that.

Then again, i'm a bit of a dick, so yea.

Basically i don't think the mods need to do anything, but that everyone else should be allowed to call it out when they see it... which seems to be ok most of the time if it's slow walked enough? So i guess, i see the system as working properly?
posted by emptythought at 2:53 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


which seems to be ok most of the time if it's slow walked enough?

If it's slow-walked enough, yes. Many people here are not as good at that slow-walking as I think they may think they are.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:01 PM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm not going to Ask Metafilter how to edit my screenplay that I already started in Final Draft, but getting access to Final Draft is not an option.

This is a perfectly answerable question. It's either possible with other software or it's not, and either way, the person asking it comes away with more information than they had when they started.

This example is actually one of several reasons I use AskMe so rarely. MANY people bring their own baggage and egos with them when they answer questions, and that's normal. But too many answerers over the years seem to have subscribed to a judgmental/tough love worldview and that's definitely not always required. Sometimes, askers need a simple answer, not a referendum on site etiquette.

Ask is a fantastic resource. But if someone's personal reaction to questions is, "this person has no common sense" or "this perfectly answerable question is bad for AskMe" then it might be worth considering whether they should just flag it and move on.
posted by zarq at 3:02 PM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really wish people would restrain themselves from using bold font in those sorts of threads. Do they not realize it can come across as shouting; and shouting at a person who is in a vulnerable position isn't particularly helpful. Trust the Asker to decide for themselves what advice is emphatically best for them, maybe? Calm, "inside voice" might be the more useful tone of voice to take.
posted by nacho fries at 3:53 PM on April 13


I have asked about this previously, and was told that caps indicated shouting and bold indicated firmness.* Just to be clear, are both bold and caps a form of shouting? Would "calm, inside voice" in AskMe basically be no use of special text formatting? (which seems to be what is preferred and being asked for).

*and am now a bit confused.
posted by Shouraku at 3:06 PM on April 14, 2014


So I just either don't answer them, or if I feel compelled to answer, I sort of pretend they asked a real question and answer what I think that question is.

I might gently suggest you reexamine that approach to what you describe as your "pet peeve" questions. If you are feeling compelled to answer someone's Internet question, that's sort of your issue that maybe you should hash out privately without venting into their thread. You might also give this some thought in light of other MetaTalk discussions.
posted by cribcage at 3:08 PM on April 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


But too many answerers over the years seem to have subscribed to a judgmental/tough love worldview and that's definitely not always required.

Agreed. I also feel like the people who take this tone are living out their fantasies of how they wish they acted in real life, but don't. I don't have any real data to base that feeling on, so maybe those tough-love answerers really are that hard-/bad-ass in real life -- but it often seems they're missing the point. It's easy to outline what one should do; it's harder to figure out why, exactly, one isn't doing it, which is what it seems like the question sub-text often is.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 3:30 PM on April 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Sort of inspired by cribcage's remark above:

One of the things I was thinking about last night is that a lot of these "repeat" questions get like 40 or 60 replies, many of them quite long, in spite of a high percentage of people saying (in essence) "This is your SIXTH question about this, so DTMFA." So maybe part of the problem is the fact that these repeat questions often get the asker quite a lot of response? My last question got only five replies, so not all questions get that kind of response. It makes me feel like this is a case where the community is putting out the fire with gasoline by going, "gawd, what an attention whore -- let's all pile on to this train wreck and give them loads of attention!" as if that will actually discourage what they feel is attention-whoring.

(If it really is attention-whoring, let me suggest that giving more attention, no matter how negative, won't likely stop them from asking again. People who have known nothing but bad relationships will keep coming back to wallow in the negative attention. They may not even realize it is particularly negative. If the bf is literally beating them, a tongue lashing in text form may not even register as hostile.)

So maybe some people need to rethink why they feel compelled to keep talking (answering) even though they feel their advice is being ignored and so on. What is with that? Maybe that's a bigger issue than the fact some folks have stubborn problems that don't get readily resolved.
posted by Michele in California at 3:44 PM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


But is therapy really that easy to get if you can't afford it?

There are all sorts of barriers to entry, on top the financial ones. e.g. People living in small towns or rural areas are going to have a very limited selection of therapists within a practical distance; and those therapists may have a backlog.

There is also the reality that, in some cultures and sub-cultures, therapy simply isn't done. Period. Even in America. There seems to be an assumption among many in the "seek therapy" crowd that therapy is inherently a best practice. It ain't.

There also seems to be an assumption that any therapy is better than no therapy for those who are suffering. Again: not necessarily true at all. A crap therapist can do a lot of damage, or just keep a person in an unhappy holding pattern for too long (and at too great a cost), while creating the illusion that the sufferer is "working on" his/her problems.

Talk therapy is just not the right approach for certain types of mental health conditions. It's naive to think it is, and it's willfully ignorant to "prescribe" it for others here.
posted by nacho fries at 3:49 PM on April 14, 2014 [17 favorites]


it's willfully ignorant to "prescribe" it for others here.

Saying "You should talk to a trained professional about these issues that seem to be deeply troubling to you" is generally an okay way to answer a question. The fact that it may not always be effective does not mean that it's an ignorant approach. The fact that there are barriers to receiving effective therapy does not mean that it's a net negative to suggest it. "Talk therapy" is not necessarily what is being suggested when people suggest therapy.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:55 PM on April 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Talk therapy is just not the right approach for certain types of mental health conditions.

Empirically, it actually is, often in conjunction with medication, for a huge majority of common mental health conditions.

Just as the existence of bad doctors doesn't mean Western medicine isn't effective, the existence of bad therapists doesn't mean therapy isn't effective.
posted by jaguar at 3:58 PM on April 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, sure, when people suggest. But when they browbeat or badger...nope.
posted by nacho fries at 3:58 PM on April 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Just to clarify, when I said "feel compelled to answer", I was referring to, like, I see a question that is sort of like that, but I feel like I have a valuable and unique contribution that functions as an answer to their question. Usually the challenge is to figure out what their question even is.

Typically if I see one of those "referendum" questions and I don't have anything useful to contribute, I just don't.

I don't think I would want that type of question banned, they're just not my favorite style of question.

Jeez.
posted by Sara C. at 4:13 PM on April 14, 2014


> We had almost entirely the same MeTa almost exactly a year ago.

Well, cortex did say upthread that "Metatalk's more like a seder"....

> I think that after a certain point it should be totally kosher

Exactly!

Note: Everyone needs a Chag Sameach.
posted by Westringia F. at 4:26 PM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Would "calm, inside voice" in AskMe basically be no use of special text formatting? (which seems to be what is preferred and being asked for).

I can't speak for anyone else, but in AskMe I find weird attention-grabbing formatting of any kind wildly annoying, including spacing sentences so they take up more room than they would normally. It comes across as controlling and dictatorial.
posted by winna at 4:29 PM on April 14, 2014 [16 favorites]


"Talk therapy" is not necessarily what is being suggested when people suggest therapy.

I actually think it usually is. Mostly what people think of as "therapy" is some sort of talk therapy, including CBT. Otherwise you're talking about things like play therapy or art therapy or somatic therapies.
posted by jaguar at 4:39 PM on April 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I can't speak for anyone else, but in AskMe I find weird attention-grabbing formatting of any kind wildly annoying, including spacing sentences so they take up more room than they would normally. It comes across as controlling and dictatorial.

Ah okay, thank you. Also, this is actually a much more accurate way of stating what I was trying to ask.
posted by Shouraku at 4:53 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Many people here are not as good at that slow-walking as I think they may think they are.
posted by Melismata at 7:22 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Melismata: "Of course, if it actually worked, people would be millionaires."

Why would this be the case any more than any other personal coach?

Sara C.: "I'm not going to Ask Metafilter how to edit my screenplay that I already started in Final Draft, but getting access to Final Draft is not an option. That doesn't make any sense. There are some questions that are just not good questions for AskMe, and that's OK."

That sounds like a great question for Ask; like maybe you can import it into LaTeX or something.
posted by Mitheral at 8:35 PM on April 14, 2014


(I think maybe she meant "I've started a screenplay in (Software X). I want to edit in Final Draft but don't have access to Final Draft." Which makes no sense and can't be answered.)
posted by gingerest at 9:31 PM on April 14, 2014


Nope, gingerest, I think Sara C is referring to this:

Final Draft 9 is compatible with Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks).
Final Draft 8.0.3.1 is also compatible with Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks). If you have Final Draft 8.0.0 through 8.0.3, you can download the free 8.0.3.1 installer HERE.
Final Draft 7 / 6 / 5 are not compatible with Mavericks.
If you own Final Draft 7 / 6 / 5 and you want to run Final Draft on a Mavericks computer, you will need to upgrade to FD 9. This upgrade is not free.


Emphasis mine. Upgrading Final Draft 7 or earlier to work with Mavericks will run you $99.
posted by misha at 10:37 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's still answerable. Which is the whole point of AskMe.

Judging people because they don't know an answer to something you happen to think is obvious is toxic behaviour. Especially since Ask's sole purpose is to be a welcoming environment for asking questions.
posted by zarq at 3:17 AM on April 15, 2014 [15 favorites]


Especially since Ask's sole purpose is to be a welcoming environment for asking questions.

True. However, I can say as someone who is super annoying IRL without text in front of her to make her think "Hm, wait, I should stop this," people will get super annoyed at you for asking and asking and asking without taking their advice and shutting up about it. That is just human nature, and that's why we have this thread chat yet again.

But still: don't read 'em if you can't stand 'em. And for the people like me out there: well, it wouldn't hurt to think back on what you posted here previously and look at the old posts and think about whether or not you actually have anything new to add or say to the same old angst again.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:04 AM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I haven't read this entire thread, but has anybody referenced this yet? I mean, really, again?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 11:02 AM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


jenfullmoon: " True. However, I can say as someone who is super annoying IRL without text in front of her to make her think "Hm, wait, I should stop this," people will get super annoyed at you for asking and asking and asking...

Sure, but Sara C.'s initial comment and the followup replies from gingerest and misha were about a hypothetical question Sara C., felt was bad for Ask because (she thought) it was inherently unanswerable. Not about asking the same thing repeatedly. So that's what my response was to.

...without taking their advice and shutting up about it. That is just human nature, and that's why we have this thread chat yet again.

But still: don't read 'em if you can't stand 'em. And for the people like me out there: well, it wouldn't hurt to think back on what you posted here previously and look at the old posts and think about whether or not you actually have anything new to add or say to the same old angst again.
"

Yes, exactly. It's definitely annoying when an OP asks the same thing repeatedly without listening to advice. I happen to also think people who are answering should check their egos at the door when that happens and try to be compassionate and helpful in their responses. If someone just isn't getting it then it's perfectly acceptable to walk away without responding. It's also fine to ask questions like, "I remember that you brought this up in a question once before. I see that there was a lot of advice suggested in that thread. Can you explain if you found any of it helpful and why or why not? I'd prefer not to repeat an answer you've already decided isn't going to work for you."
posted by zarq at 11:14 AM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's possible to both "don't read 'em" and also have private opinions about the green and what is a great question vs. a permissible question.

I don't think it's wrong to talk in a MeTa like this about what kinds of questions are interesting.

I have no problem AT ALL with the "repeated advice" questions. I try to avoid asking questions like that myself (which is really the only place that "private opinions about what makes a good question" comes into it at all), but yeah, if I notice it and have a real problem, I just stay away.
posted by Sara C. at 11:22 AM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, I think my software analogy was a bad analogy, not me insisting that some answerable questions are sucky and I don't like them and they should be deleted, or whatever.

My point was that asking a question where you already know the answer but just don't like it is not super great AskMe behavior. Whether that's about therapy or anything else.
posted by Sara C. at 11:25 AM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sara C.: "My point was that asking a question where you already know the answer but just don't like it is not super great AskMe behavior."

Knowing an answer intellectually and actually taking it to heart can be two very different things.

Sometimes, to get from one to the other, people really do need some sort of reality check. I think it should be okay to ask for one and talk things out. Perfectly normal behavior, which definitely does not automatically have to be bad for the site as a whole.
posted by zarq at 11:32 AM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, totally.

Which is why I'm not saying those questions shouldn't stand, just that I don't love them.

It's OK for me to privately have thoughts about what makes a good AskMetafilter question.
posted by Sara C. at 11:34 AM on April 15, 2014


Sara C.: " It's OK for me to privately have thoughts about what makes a good AskMetafilter question."

Of course! But in this case your private thoughts are being voiced in public. In an area of the site where people's judgments about whether questions are good or bad for the site can lead to actual mod action and changes in site policy.
posted by zarq at 11:44 AM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]



Of course! But in this case your private thoughts are being voiced in public. In an area of the site where people's judgments about whether questions are good or bad for the site can lead to actual mod action and changes in site policy.

Wha...Sara C. has already said she wasn't asking for a change in site policy just talking about whether or not she takes a pass on certain questions and why. That's also what this part of the site, discussing things like that. I mentioned questions I take a pass on as well, as have several other people.
posted by sweetkid at 11:54 AM on April 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


sweetkid: ".Sara C. has already said she wasn't asking for a change in site policy"

Sure. Afterward.

She's entitled to her opinion. I'm entitled to disagree with her. I'm also entitled to explain why. She and I both agree that she offered a bad analogy with her Final Draft comment.
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on April 15, 2014


It just seems like it's getting far afield from the original point when you're saying "your private thoughts are now in public." Many people have said what topics they personally want to respond to and which they don't.
posted by sweetkid at 12:42 PM on April 15, 2014


My point was that asking a question where you already know the answer but just don't like it is not super great AskMe behavior.

I am okay with someone asking just to be sure there are no other alternatives they are missing. It's a big wide world. Maybe the answer you are confident of is not the only answer. Or maybe hearing "Yup, blah is the one and only answer" will help you move forward and stop hoping against hope that there might still be another (better) answer somewhere.

I asked for some software feedback once where the sum total of the responses I got ended up boiling down to "yup, that software you already downloaded but kind of forgot about" or something along those lines. And then I began working on my project, with my half-assed software that I was hoping was not as good as it would get but was, in fact, as good as it was going to get. And my project moved forward (and more than a year later, I expect to post it to projects some time soon).
posted by Michele in California at 12:45 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Of course! But in this case your private thoughts are being voiced in public.

That's exactly what we have metatalk for. Community opinion can change over time and it's fine to discuss certain site-related things from time to time.
Plus there is the flagging option, which is semi-public, and it's also fine to use that to flag questionable questions/comments.
I do.

computech_apolloniajames, we decided pretty early on not to point the finger.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:46 PM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


sweetkid: "It just seems like it's getting far afield from the original point when you're saying "your private thoughts are now in public.""

This is ridiculous. Are you even reading my responses to her?
posted by zarq at 1:00 PM on April 15, 2014



This is ridiculous. Are you even reading my responses to her?

yea and I think they're kind of taking the least charitable view. Also other people have chimed in to share their opinion as well and it seems like people's personal views and judgements of answerable questions is OK as a topic here.
posted by sweetkid at 1:12 PM on April 15, 2014


if I can throw in a little Dickinson strictly on general principle here...

Speech is one symptom of affection
And silence one --
The perfectest communication
Is heard of None.
posted by mr. digits at 1:23 PM on April 15, 2014


yea and I think they're kind of taking the least charitable view.

No, not really. I'm responding to what she's actually said.
posted by zarq at 1:41 PM on April 15, 2014


Dear AskMe

There's a group of people I hang out with sometimes and they're mostly really cool. But sometimes they just start arguing out of nowhere and it gets a bit stressful to be around. I think it comes from misunderstandings because they're nice people, but its like they think the worst of each other. Should I step in to try and diffuse things or is it better just to stay out of it and let them get on with it? Or should I maybe talk to a therapist? TIA!
posted by billiebee at 2:25 PM on April 15, 2014 [26 favorites]


sweetkid, Sara C., if I'm being dickish, I apologize. Will bow out for the evening. Having an unusually stressful day, and the last thing I want to do is take it out on people here.
posted by zarq at 3:07 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't speak for anyone else, but in AskMe I find weird attention-grabbing formatting of any kind wildly annoying, including spacing sentences so they take up more room than they would normally. It comes across as controlling and dictatorial.

Well, you speak for me. I know there's probably nothing to be done about it on the mod level (is there?), but I find it vaguely obnoxious. Especially when the commenter inserts a break between every sentence and then double breaks for things the commenter seems to find extra-super-important.
posted by lalex at 3:16 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


We'll occasionally (rarely) delete comments that are just all over the place HOLLERING and bold and blinky so feel free to flag if they're egregious. People who include a lot of this sort of stuff in their question may sometimes find it edited out. Again, this is a rare thing and I know sometimes people get agitated about their ability to have their Very Important Information stand out in a sea of words, but part of the trust that we expect people to place in this community is trusting that people will read what you wrote.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:30 PM on April 15, 2014


I appreciate that, but there are certainly a few very very frequent AskMe answerers that use this type of formatting basically on a daily basis. I don't know if I'd characterize the incidence of these types of comments as "rare".
posted by lalex at 3:35 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know sometimes people get agitated about their ability to have their Very Important Information stand out in a sea of words

My comments are so important that I insist they be accompanied by an auto-playing jingle. As the reader scrolls down to my comment it should play La Cucaracha. I feel that this is essential to ensure that the reader gives my golden prose the attention it surely merits.
posted by winna at 3:47 PM on April 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


I don't know if I'd characterize the incidence of these types of comments as "rare".

Right. I feel like that is basically limited to one person (maybe two?) and we will drop them a note every so often when they seem to be on a tear with them and tell them to dial it back but that's basically all we do. What I meant was, we'll rarely delete them, not that there are people who rarely but sometimes do it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:48 PM on April 15, 2014


Just want to opine that I like (most) repeat questions, because even if the question is the same, it's being put in front of a (mostly) different group of people, so there's the possibility of getting some fresh insights or information that wasn't offered previously.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 3:52 PM on April 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can definitely think of at least two, but I was being genuine when I said I'm not sure if there's anything that can be done about it; it's hard to tell folks to stop expressing themselves in the way they feel is most appropriate.
posted by lalex at 3:52 PM on April 15, 2014


It's okay to drop us a line at the contact form if you want to let us know about something that feels like a pattern of behavior, for sure. Even if our answer is "nah, it's basically fine" we at least know we're seeing what you're wondering if we've seen that way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:57 PM on April 15, 2014


I think that the best way to handle things like this - having a problem with someone's formatting or repetition or whatnot - is to just message the mods about it and maybe use a Greasemonkey script to just hide their comments.

I don't know, since everyone is pretty self-focused just as a general rule, I can't help but think that it's me that is the commenter who uses formatting improperly. I know I am guilty of using spacing between lines a bit more than maybe most other people do. It's because I am separating out my thoughts as I write, not because I am trying to draw attention to my comments. And that's no good that I feel that way. I like commenting here, but when I read these thinly veiled comments on MeTa it makes me feel a bit bad and crummy, like there is a club of people and they all know who the "annoying" commenters are and since I'm not in that club I must be one of them.

I understand that this is difficult because calling people out individually is pretty crummy too, but I think that when we talk about the way other people behave we need to be very careful, because it can be concerning to a large number of people when it's opaque.

And yeah, that's self-centered, but when people talk around the problem it's hard not to examine my own behavior and wonder. And I can't be the only one who feels that way. Saying things like "yeah we all know some people have a problem with formatting, I'm not naming names or anything" just seems like it has the potential to make a lot of people worry and feel bad needlessly.
posted by sockermom at 4:04 PM on April 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


Week 1: "I left this fish out in the sun, is it still ok to eat?"

A: No don't eat the fish.

Week 2: "So that fish, I didn't get around to eating it yet...what about now?"

A: Definitely you shouldn't eat the fish.

Week 5: "My wife and I are moving to Norway, can I take that fish with me?"

A: I think there are probably regulations about international transport of rotten fish.

Week 38: "Loving life in Norway. We had our new friends around for a dinner party, will it be okay to serve up that fish?"

A: Yes! They love that shit over there!

Basically, wherever you go, there you are.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:16 PM on April 15, 2014 [16 favorites]


Weird spacing is not as bad as bold text, which mesmerizes me as if I were a catfish at a petting zoo goggling at people standing near the pellet dispenser. That said, the problem with weird spacing is that if you're using a mobile device it makes a single comment scroll by endlessly like the first scene of Lawrence of Arabia. If you feel that your comment is worth the first scene of Lawrence of Arabia treatment it's up to you, but until I get my La Cucaracha theme music to play when my comments scroll by (I will compromise and accept only the first few bars be played) I will be bitter as my poor scrolling thumb grows ever more gouty in my headlong rush toward the tomb.

Now imagine if you had to scroll and scroll to get past the weird image of an elderly be-thumbèd catfish at a petting zoo watching Lawrence of Arabia. Lord only know what would occur if I stuck some bold emphasis in there. Possibly people would force me to pat banana slugs and eat pop rocks like poor Justinian has to do when we transgress.
posted by winna at 6:33 PM on April 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


I am part of the "If it bothers you, don't read it" school of thought for the most part. People can post whatever the hell they want to post. People obviously get something out of answering questions, and hopefully the posters get something out of the answers.

But: Is it behavior that I like? That I think is good for Metafilter? No, not really.

This is the crux of the issue:

My point was that asking a question where you already know the answer but just don't like it is not super great AskMe behavior.

Yeah, it's not the repeat asking. It's the attitude in some questions that makes me cringe.

I've done everything but nothing works! Throw me a pity party! (Literally, like, everything. You won't be able to help me. Trust me).

Or even: I tried to do that thing you guys all told me to do, and it didn't work, so there! I am unfixable! You guys are wrong!

I cannot fucking deal with those questions. Sorry. Maybe I'm not compassionate enough, but life is hard for most people. Some depressed, down on their luck people are pleasant to deal with, and some are not. Suffering isn't inherently noble. I obviously don't answer questions that would inspire me to write something like, "You are a pain in the ass," though. Just close that browser window and move on with my life.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 6:38 PM on April 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


I have had multiple occasions even just today where I've wanted to reply to someone "Seriously?" or "Oh my God, this again?"or "No one cares what you think" and the only reasonable response is to close the window, because it's clearly me, not them. Nobody is obliged to answer questions or comment on articles or talk in MetaTalk. (Well, except the mod-on-shift, and they only have to answer in their mod-hat-wearing capacity.)

Seriously, the world will keep spinning and life will go on if you refrain from grumpy, irritated, unhelpful-but-true comment.

I recognize the irony here.
posted by gingerest at 6:43 PM on April 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, I just learned that the spacing I use in my comments is probably offending some folks. I'm surprised - I had no idea the way I spaced my lines and words would get under anyone's skin. I'm old school, y'know, and maybe you don't know just what all that entails, but it means I spent 45 years typing material in which there were two spaces after every period, every sentence began with a capital letter, semicolons were perfectly acceptable forms of punctuation, and paragraphing was correct. In a short (very short) memo or note, paragraphing could - sometimes - result in single-sentence paragraphs, all in the interest of brevity.

Now, brevity isn't my speciality, but I do separate specific points I'm making - that's the way I was taught and it's served me well for many years. I don't follow the rules of punctuation any more, either, in that I use hyphens to separate clauses because I'm too lazy to reconstruct the sentence to make it work correctly. I also read a lot - a whole lot - and much of the way I write takes after the material I read, for better or worse. So I'm very sorry for offending anyone by the way I write - I guess. To be honest, I think that if we're supposed to ignore misspelled words and total lack of punctuation all in the spirit of getting to the material - the context - the important part - of the message, then picking about how many paragraphs are in a post is a bit much.

To get back to the original discussion, I'm amazed to learn that it's possible to simply block comments from anyone you don't wish to hear from for the umpteenth time - or from anyone whose writing style annoys you. Now that I know that blocking is possible, I have to wonder what on earth the question is about in the first place. Why start a big discussion involving possibly changing the way the moderators do things because certain people just drive you nuts? Why does it not make sense to just block them and let it go at that?

Again, sorry for those I annoy, but - oh, well.
posted by aryma at 9:52 PM on April 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I also feel like the people who take this tone are living out their fantasies of how they wish they acted in real life, but don't.

I don't comment that much on Ask, possibly because of how often I've started to respond to a question and realized the actual target of my advice is me.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:28 PM on April 15, 2014 [19 favorites]


aryma: "Why does it not make sense to just block them and let it go at that?
"

Blocking isn't a site supported feature. I guess some people are using a greasemonkey script or other means to kill file users but that has got to be a vanishing small percentage of users and it isn't an option on all platforms.
posted by Mitheral at 11:33 PM on April 15, 2014


Plus, since each thread is one long post, blocking has much less usefulness because it would mean that person could still be quoted by others or the words could really affect the tenor of the thread, but you're piecing together what happened by the ripples it left without seeing the original stone.

Unless blocking has taken some major steps forward, in which case blocks for all!
posted by gadge emeritus at 12:28 AM on April 16, 2014


Yes, I've seen blocking used in blogs when it completely fragmented the thread, so I think it's worthless myself, but then again I'm not complaining that too many people do things in a way that annoys me. If blocking isn't a workable solution, I guess the next best thing is just to ignore or skip over comments from annoying people. I know that can be done, though it takes some practice to get used to checking for the name of the person posting before reading the post, but it does work.

There are so many people using MetaFilter and AskMeFi, happily and effectively - I just don't think it can ever be perfect for all. I'm happy as it is.

Over and out.
posted by aryma at 12:49 AM on April 16, 2014


I admit to an occasional morbid fascination with some of those threads, but they also help remind me of how "lucky" I am to not be confronted with those problems or not have the mental issues that lead to certain kinds of reactions when confronted with what to me appear to be fairly run of the mill difficulties.

When I think of it in that way, it also makes it easier for me to reflect and to say "hey, if it helps them, that's great." Unless there's a claim being made that allowing similar questions from these kinds of people is actively harmful to them, I don't think it's something to get too worked up about.

It's also worth remembering that askme is not just a resource for the people asking the questions - the answers are read by many people, who may face similar issues but have no resources to draw on. Thus, the existence of the question and its answers are of far more value than to just the OP.
posted by modernnomad at 2:34 AM on April 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


For what it's worth aryma unless I'm missing something your comments were not the target of any criticism here. I think it's more about really gratuitous line breaks, i.e. more blank lines than is necessary. I can see why some would consider that to be poor form, it does draw attention to a comment in a way that says nothing about its content.

And personally, I wouldn't want to make them mandatory or anything, but as far as I'm concerned the day the semicolon stops being acceptable here will be a sad day indeed.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 4:14 AM on April 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


If its a legitimate question, then it should be allowed to stand. Its not like anyone is harmed by it. If you don't want to read it, don't click on the link.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:45 AM on April 16, 2014


May it please your Honours, I would make certain arguments as amicus curiae in respect of the excessive line breaks issue, which is a canker on our society. Can I refer your Honours to certain works of Mr K. Vonnegut (deceased), particularly Timequake? "YO CHECK OUT MY PROFOUND THOUGHTS, READER - HERE'S A COUPLE EXTRA LINE BREAKS AS WELL, 'CAUSE THEY'RE SO PROFOUND 'N' SHIT THAT YOU'LL NEED EXTRA TIME TO ABSORB THE PROFUNDITY". That is Mr Vonnegut's submission, your Honours and, may it please the MetaCourt, it should be ruled as an abuse of process. I am not concerned with AskMe in the slightest, but I ask the MetaCourt for leave to dig up Mr Vonnegut's cadaver and give it a severe reprimand. I also make a petition for costs.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:14 AM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


If you're having a hard time grasping how someone could ignore all the good advice left in an AskMe, only to have (what might seem to you) the same convo again and again, consider how many times you had to hear "Just don't answer questions you find annoying" before you took that good advice.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:11 AM on April 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


I am probably guilty

of too many

line breaks

and

excessive bolding.



So it goes.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:53 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am not concerned with AskMe in the slightest, but I ask the MetaCourt for leave to dig up Mr Vonnegut's cadaver and give it a severe reprimand.

I am to trouble your lordships in answer to this objection, which to me is perfectly new, which to me is totally unlike any that I have ever read or heard of; and I find that the gentlemen who here support this objection, very properly don't produce before your lordships any one instance in which such an attempt was ever made, much less an instance in which such an attempt succeeded; for myself, and for those for whom I stand here, as they have no wishes upon this subject but that justice should have its course, they certainly will not desire me, nor should I find myself at all inclined to give any resistance to the motion that is made, if I did not think that the very proceeding required it, and that the objection is without the least appearance of any legal foundation.

Since it is manifestly clear to persons of good will and discernment that, if such a manner of publick forum may even allow such artistry to develop within its bounds, our peaceable realm does not at this time, nor hath it heretofore, had Kurt Vonnegut as a participant in the activities and practices which constitute the pursuit of replying to queries on Ask Metafilter, I protest that my objection (indeed it has become clear to me through the course of this inquiry that I am seconded in this objection by a number of good metafiltarians and true, alike viewing the scourge of excessive line breaks upon our erstwhile gentle and profitable practice of assisting the querents to this establishment) must hold true up until and not prior to the happy day upon which we will receive within our ranks a writer of the puissance of Mr. Vonnegut with the ample free time to devote to the avocation of responding to the concerns of the populace on diverse matters (such as whether or not a food be good to eat, or whether or not to depart from a querulous and hag-ridden amour) I will gladly recede from my position and welcome such creative formatting within our hallowed halls with a right good will. Alack! Such bliss does not seem soon to pass for either our beloved pastime or for the world, for the like of such a writer as the aforementioned is a comet; blazing in our hearts and minds and leaving the Stygian vaults of heaven after its passage ten thousand times more dark and loathly than 'twere before.

Howsomever, gracious lords, ladies, and members of the Grub Street brethren, I am as before and in perpetuity your most humble and obedient servant. If I err, it is but in devotion to this perfect concourse of instruction to the seeking and to (sadly all too true!) my plebeian preference for the Word over the Void which it superseded, as we may read, in Genesis. If my faults have become excessive in your eyes you need but instruct me and see how I will mend my ways.
posted by winna at 10:23 AM on April 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think the key is that people answering an Ask truly want to help the person or other people in the situation. I don't see a problem with people posting the same question again and again when they are suffering, even if they aren't following advice. Eventually someone may say something that triggers a positive result. Or maybe not, but why stop trying?
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:27 AM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


All of these people who are apologizing, it's really one or maybe two people in certain Human Relations related Asks that do line break/bold things in a really annoying/egregious manner.

it looks like this...

Listen OP, I'm just going to tell you this one time, so listen up...



RUN.

or

He didn't put the cap on the toothpaste?

RED FLAG


He has a futon?

RED FLAG

She kicked the cat?

RUN.

If you read enough Asks, you get an idea of who it is and if it's you.
posted by sweetkid at 11:29 AM on April 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


winna: "which mesmerizes me as if I were a catfish at a petting zoo"

Wait, this is a thing that exists?
posted by scrump at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's a thing that should exist, but when I was a wee slip of a lass in 1993 we went to Busch Gardens and there was a bridge which one crossed in order to pat the Clydesdale. By the bridge was a pellet machine to feed the fish. Instead of pretty goldfish they had monstrous hoglike catfish, a score of their heads breaking the surface of the water and their legion of horrible mouths pulsing open and closed in sickening concert. The impression I got was that they'd eat the pellets, but they'd rather feed on human flesh.

Ugh I can see them now in my mind's eye. The Clydesdale was nice though.
posted by winna at 11:44 AM on April 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


If you read enough Asks, you get an idea of who it is and if it's you.

You really find this that annoying?

It's one of those things like, if you disagree with what they're saying write a response to the OP that disagrees with them. But how they post their advice shouldn't really be relevant, just what the advice is.

This is a pretty tiresome nitpick, imo.
posted by emptythought at 12:01 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is a pretty tiresome nitpick, imo.

It's one that we hear regularly and often from a fairly large subsection of users. I get that what you are maybe trying to be heard as saying is "Hey that doesn't bother me" but what you seem to be saying is "What you are bothered by doesn't matter" and that's not so useful. Our assertion on this site is that style matters, a little, and people should be mindful of that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm just responding to several posts apologizing for the way they respond to things. But it's not most people, it's one or two and they tend to dominate Asks and write that way in every comment. All the RUNs make me think the question is about training for a 10K, not a relationship problem.
posted by sweetkid at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]



You're a paleobotanist at a mysterious experimental resort in Costa Rica and there's a thunderstorm?



RUN
posted by winna at 12:11 PM on April 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


yea in that case....
posted by sweetkid at 12:15 PM on April 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have to say that now whenever I see it I will laugh because of the 'he has a futon?' one. So that will help!
posted by winna at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


The community has conventions, which create expectations, and defying expectations is inevitably conspicuous.

Sometimes it's trivial. For instance, we all use italics to quote other comments. A few people here use a script that also adds a hyperlinked attribution to each quote. That's outside convention, but I doubt it slows down anybody's reading. At the other end, some people break convention in ways that really stand out visually: no capitalization, unusually long paragraphs, or yes, line breaks every few sentences. If your reading has settled into a pace per convention, those deviations can feel interrupting.

I think everybody notices different ones differently. The line breaks don't bother me so much, while a longtime member eschewing capitalization feels a bit like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe because I used to do the latter myself (elsewhere) and now feel stupid about it.
posted by cribcage at 12:19 PM on April 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


It occurred to me today that I have asked several questions that really, for me, are about solving the same issue. But I am not being given a ration of crap for it because after the first ration of crap (which was generally less crappy than the reactions I have gotten elsewhere when asking about the same thing), I chose to break it down and ask about specific pieces of the process. So (I think) no one has ever said to me "This is your Xth question on this topic..." Even though, um, actually, it is.

Yes, I feel pretty clear that some members give assholish replies to me rooted in "You are merely neurotic and annoy me and I have zero respect for you" but most replies I get are helpful. I seem to tend to not get many answers and I sort of have the impression that I have a talent for making people feel like not speaking to me works better for them than lecturing me and pissing on me yet again. Of course, I can't prove that. That's just a vague impression.

Anyway, I have no clue how the site could help people with "repeat questions" about the same problem break it down and thus get better responses from the community. I sometimes wish my questions got more replies, but, in the aggregate, I am okay with getting a few sincere answers and having my questions largely left unmolested by people who clearly find me annoying. So I kind of find myself wondering if it is possible to foster a culture of erring on the side of not replying if you are just wanting to be a jerk to them combined with maybe finding a way to help guide people towards a more effective questioning style or "best practices" of making questions or something.

I hesitate to say it because I don't want "This is your sixth question on the same topic, let me refer you to our Best Practices FAQ" to be the new means to be a dismissive jerk to people with intractable problems but I am wondering if this is do-able, over time, as a community in some way.

(I will also note that I have something like 6 years of college, including an AA, two technical certificates, one of them the equivalent of Master's level work, and I am a few classes short of my bachelor's. Plus I took more math in high school than a lot of people with bachelor's degrees have taken. And I am 48. So I think someone who is 19 or just less educated or whatever really should not be expected to just know how to do what I have done and should also not be given a ration of shit for not knowing or not picking it up fast enough.)
posted by Michele in California at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2014


You really find this that annoying?

I find it annoying, although I acknowledge that it's hard to explain why. It's just like, we're all sharing space here, and when a user consistently commandeers a disproportionately large amount of that space with totally unnecessary formatting choices (ugh, the double or triple line spacing must end), the implication is that their input is important enough to require extra emphasis.

I also suspect this annoys me more now than it did a few years ago since I access the site much more frequently on various smallish mobile devices, and scrolling through several screens that only have a few lines of actual content is just off-putting.
posted by lalex at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


As far as the formatting issue, I will suggest that different eyesight ability and different neurological things can make some formatting issues a big deal for some people, and it's not because they are jerks. It's because their eyes and brains honestly have a much, much harder time dealing with it (or, as others pointed out, different technology can make it a bigger issue for some people than for others).
posted by Michele in California at 12:33 PM on April 16, 2014


jessamyn: I feel like that is basically limited to one person (maybe two?) and we will drop them a note every so often when they seem to be on a tear with them and tell them to dial it back

Well this rules me out as the worst offender. I know that sometimes I rely on bullet points and other outline devices to help me organize my thoughts so if I'm a formatting "Don't" I'm happy to get feedback on that.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:00 PM on April 16, 2014


I'm glad to learn that I'm off the hook for being a major annoyance from the standpoint of formatting - thank you, goodnewsfortheinsane and others.

I'll bet a significant part of the problem here is the type of device being used to read the posts - that makes perfect sense when you think about it. The amount of text on a computer screen compared to that on a mobile device is so different that a person's eyes and brain would have to make terrific adjustments to read the same material comfortably in each form. I'm so old-school I don't even use a mobile phone except for emergency calls - I use an old-fashioned computer all the time. Last Christmas my son bought me a wider monitor and it nearly drove me nuts because now I have to move my eyes back and forth to read the entire text; I think I read the text with only very minimal eye movement when my monitor was the older width.

I read a lot of books and have actually noticed the adjustment as I move from reading from the computer monitor to the book. I love how quickly I can absorb the material from the book; it's crazy, but it makes reading the computer monitor seem like work(!), which is clearly ridiculous. However, I'm very, very sure that if I were to trade down from book size (even paperback) to a mobile device, I'd go bananas. Maybe it's just a matter of getting used to it, but in my crotchety old age I reflect on the changes over the years in visual screen sizes from mini-TVs to 60+ inch screens and all the array of sizes in handheld devices as we go up and down and up and down trying to find the perfect size. My older digital camera has a 2" screen, but even my $39 cell phone has a bigger one now. Remember the amazing camcorder? The early ones were nearly as big as TV cameras, then they got smaller and smaller until they hit the 2" mark, but that was such a disaster that they had to get bigger just so the person doing the recording could see what they were recording.

Yep - I've now convinced myself that the real problem as far as spacing and style is concerned is the size and type of the device a person is reading from.

And this has been a very interesting conversation, BTW.
posted by aryma at 4:19 PM on April 16, 2014


Aryma, take your browser out of full-screen mode and adjust the window width to what's comfortable for you.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:37 PM on April 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


cribcage: For instance, we all use italics to quote other comments. A few people here use a script that also adds a hyperlinked attribution to each quote. That's outside convention, but I doubt it slows down anybody's reading.

I do it manually, because I thought that was the convention. :(
posted by daisyk at 4:16 AM on April 17, 2014


Me too, daisyk.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:26 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Link to script for adding hyperlinked attribution to a quote here - it works fine in Chrome, too.
posted by needled at 6:24 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


> Link to script for adding hyperlinked attribution to a quote

Ooh. Nice! I was afraid I'd need to install Greasemonkey, but it's a bookmarklet. Thank you!
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:46 AM on April 17, 2014


Keeping my list probably stems from the same personality defect that also compels me to watch TV shows that used to be good but aren't anymore yet I still want to know how they end.

Except of course that one is getting your kicks off people who are suffering, and the other is getting your kicks off over-priced hacks driving BMWs.
posted by aught at 7:20 AM on April 17, 2014


Is everyone okay with using askme as a therapist when they clearly need to be in actual therapy?
Late to the party as usual, but yes, I am absolutely OK with AskMe being used as 'therapy'. A couple of people have mentioned reasons for people doing this, from no money to not being ready to admit they need therapy to their ex having stolen all their friends. I'm not criticising any of these, because they're all valid reasons for seeking help from a community with a long history of providing it (not only because they're all part of my current position).

Most importantly, there is that small but important chance that AskMe is somebody's last resort. Plenty here will scoff at someone being so weak-minded that the balance of their life depends on a bunch of strangers on the Internet, but I've been there. As a person who is generally a 'pull yourself together, man' type, I can tell you that, sometimes, all it takes is a friendly word to let someone see the precipice for what it is and pull back. That one friendly word can, literally, save lives. I'm pretty sure we can, collectively, manage to grit our teeth enough to deal with a few repetitive questions if that is the cost.
posted by dg at 2:56 PM on April 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


> script for adding hyperlinked attribution

It even works on my iPad (iCabMobile browser)! Excellent!
posted by Westringia F. at 7:00 PM on April 17, 2014


Is everyone okay with using askme as a therapist when they clearly need to be in actual therapy ?

Well, it beats going on Jerry Springer.

Not to mention Dr. Phil.

Not to mention Kitchen Nightmares.
posted by y2karl at 9:49 AM on April 19, 2014


needled: "Link to script for adding hyperlinked attribution to a quote here - it works fine in Chrome, too."

Thanks, needled! The script you linked didn't actually work for me, probably because of a clash with something else I have installed, but I just found this link to Plutor's Mefiquote script and thought I'd leave it here in case it helps someone else (and also to try it out :).) It's working fine but does require Greasemonkey.
posted by daisyk at 2:11 AM on April 23, 2014


Well, I had my first free therapy session yesterday. (I've had lots of therapy in the past, but I've always paid for it.)

I spilled my guts about my issues, which are all to do with anxiety related to academics and achievement and economic survival. Although it did seem the therapist might not be fully present, given clues like, she spent most of the hour squinting her unfocused eyes, yawning, and picking her nose / at her face, I thought I'd do my best to be open. (Really, she actually picked at her face, the whole time. Dug into her cheek; scratched flakes off her jaw - some flakes were more resistant and required a pinch and tug; took a goodly bit of wet material out of her nostrils - just had at it.) I thought, well, it's disgusting but she's free, I'm here, what the hell, I'll try to hear her thoughts. Which were: "have you tried online dating?"

(Lest anyone think this was tactical, an effort to suggest adding balance to a perhaps too-singular focus - that wasn't it. Her reasoning was: you are in your late 30s, clock's ticking. She was a legit asshole.)

I can't even imagine a situation in which AskMe would come up that suggestion for the issues I presented, and if AskMe is ever picking its face, I can't tell. If this woman is a reasonable representation of the quality of care some/many people can access, any issues I might have had about using AskMe for therapy have been plucked away.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:34 AM on April 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


All that said, I doubt very much that this woman represents all or most providers who work in public systems. (It's just that in case people run into this sort of thing, I can easily see why AskMe might feel more welcoming.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:33 AM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


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