The problem of favorites September 23, 2014 12:45 PM   Subscribe

When the bulk of answers in an AskMe thread go unnoticed because of heavily favorited answers toward the top of the thread

I've started reading AskMe threads from the bottom up because I find that there are plenty of less or non favorited answers that to me are as good as or better than the heavily favorited answers in the first quarter or so of the thread. I think we all look for the heavily favorited answers close to the top and read those and just skim the rest, for energy's sake and time's sake, and assume that those answers are the best, and that's totally understandable. But there's sort of a pile-on thing at work, almost like a groupthink, and I think a lot of deserving answers go unnoticed. But I'm not sure there's a solution to this. It may already be the best it can be. Anybody have any ideas though? Maybe you could sort the answers from least to most favorites? But that would lose the sequencing of the answers. Maybe once an answer gets more than 5 favorites, replace the "5 favorites" with "5+ favorites"--maybe make it so you have to click on that to see how many favorites exactly? Or maybe just don't show the exact number at all? But people might still do the work of clicking on all the 5+ answers, or they might just see the 5+ favorites and read those and ignore the rest like they do now.
posted by early one morning to Feature Requests at 12:45 PM (79 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

You can turn off your visibility of favourites across all subsites from your "Preferences" link in the upper left hand menu. It won't help how other people interact with them, though.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:48 PM on September 23, 2014 [10 favorites]


To be honest I think the earlier ones get more favorites just because they've been there longer. Are you worried about the OP missing out answers, or is it a personal issue for you? You can also turn off seeing favorite counts if you find that they are interfering with how you want to read and interact with the threads. I think there's a firm no on anything that involves changing the chronological nature of threads.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:49 PM on September 23, 2014 [12 favorites]


You can turn off the counts in your preferences, if you like, and there is at least one Greasemonkey app that alters the display to make it vaguer. We are definitely not reordering comments - favorites are not upvotes, and we don't treat them that way - and we're unlikely to substantially change the way they work at this point. The current state is something of a fragile peace.

I don't know about y'all, but I don't rank AskMe answers by favorites in my head at all. I will skim for Best Answers, sometimes, because that's a different kind of measurement. But reading a thread, I don't pay much attention, and if it's my own question, I'm reading all the answers anyway, because that's the point.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


@jetlagaddict -- that's a good point that they've simply been there longer, but I think that only explains part of it. And I'm worried less about the OP than the rest of us readers. I know when I ask a question I always read all the answers, but again I'll be influenced by the favorites count.
posted by early one morning at 12:51 PM on September 23, 2014


Like jetlagaddict says, the top comments get more favorites frequently just because they've been there longer. The other reason they get more favorites is related --- it's probably because they've already said what a later reader might have also said: sort of a "yeah, what he said" effect, rather than a comment on how or how well the poster wrote their answer.
posted by easily confused at 1:06 PM on September 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


Stop looking at the favorites
posted by Greg Nog at 1:07 PM on September 23, 2014 [14 favorites]


I think we see a lot of good answers early in AskMeFi threads because we have a very smart/wise readership in MeFiland. I often favorite early answers because they said exactly what I'd recommend, or something better.

Speaking as someone who has gotten a lot of helpful guidance from my AskMe posts, I'd add that as the OP, it is all good regardless of favoriting . . . I definitely read and value all responses. I think you'll notice most OPs mark best answers right down the thread to the point they have gone off to implement whatever they are going to do.
posted by bearwife at 1:07 PM on September 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think we all look for the heavily favorited answers close to the top and read those and just skim the rest

You should never assume we all use Metafilter the same way.

I've never once used favorites in AskMe as any kind of indication of anything. Then again, I avoid relationship and parenting questions like the plague. That way lies madness.
posted by bondcliff at 1:18 PM on September 23, 2014 [22 favorites]


I think we all look for the heavily favorited answers close to the top and read those and just skim the rest

That seems like a strange assumption. I can see why someone might do that if they were trying to get, like, the most efficient AskMe experience possible, but I don't think most people use the site that way.
posted by threeants at 1:31 PM on September 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


Display alternatives were tried out once upon a time (check further in the posting for links to the original announcement threads which you may read for some participants getting pretty darned worked up over the whole thing). Pretty much people generally said no.

(Also the occasional suggestion to make favorite-front-loading phenomenon even worse).

I never turned favorites display back on after the experiment, I gather I'm in the minority there. Of course I routinely go to my own profile to see what I've said that's gotten favorited because it makes me feel like a smarty-pants. It's the most extreme form of favorites-biased comment attention. I think it's pretty debatable whether this is actually a problem, and there is a demonstrated significant resistance to obfuscating favorites counts without any clear evidence of benefit. I think this is a non-starter.
posted by nanojath at 1:35 PM on September 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


restless_nomad: "You can turn off the counts in your preferences, if you like, and there is at least one Greasemonkey app that alters the display to make it vaguer. "

The vagueness is built in. Possible values for "Comment favorites style" in Preferences:
Show Favorite Counts
Show "has favorites"
Hide Favorites
Metafilter: The vagueness is built in.
posted by zamboni at 1:37 PM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


You should never assume we all use Metafilter the same way.

Bingo.

This is not how I read metafilter and I say that as one of those people who often has an early comment that garners more than its due of favorites. (Because I hover back and forth around Ask all day like some kind of lab rat hoping for its next fix of pellets. Mmm delicious laboratory pellets.)

I really like GraphFi to browse long threads. It's not the comments with the most favorites that are the most interesting to me. It's the comments that have the most connections. Helps you follow the thread of conversation better in the real long ones.
posted by phunniemee at 1:42 PM on September 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oops here is a link to GraphFi.
posted by phunniemee at 1:42 PM on September 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


this is not how i interact with metafilter. sometimes i only read the top of a thread because i lose interest or i click away or something shiny dangles in front of me, but this has nothing to do with favorites on early comments.
posted by nadawi at 1:48 PM on September 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


Thanks zamboni, it's been so long since I looked at it I forgot the vague-view was still an optional setting.
posted by nanojath at 1:50 PM on September 23, 2014


Vague-view is the best, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Maybe once an answer gets more than 5 favorites, replace the "5 favorites" with "5+ favorites"--maybe make it so you have to click on that to see how many favorites exactly?

This is pretty much exactly what it does, except I think the threshold is less than 5.

Try it, you'll like it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:54 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I pay absolutely no attention to the favorites as I often disagree with the "favoriter."
Those might be YOUR favorite comments, but they are not mine!!!
posted by calgirl at 2:05 PM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have missed
the problems
that were in
your MeTa

and which
you were probably
saving
for pitchforks

Forgive me
they were assumptive
so vague
and already solved
posted by cashman at 2:09 PM on September 23, 2014 [14 favorites]


I basically never notice favorites unless it's a Human Relations question, or unless I've posted an AskMe and I'm getting a bunch of conflicting advice. (In which case I assume favorites are roughly equivalent to lurkers/people who came in to say exactly what was already said.)
posted by Sara C. at 2:20 PM on September 23, 2014


Personally, in every Ask I've posted, I've read each answer. None of these have been hundreds of comments long threads, but even in that case I'd read as much as time allowed and come back to read more later. As for threads other than ones I've started, I've read many insightful answers that don't have favorites (save for the one I add) and weren't marked as best answers.

There's really no way to tell whether OPs fail to notice "deserving" answers short of their continued participation in the thread & a final comment before the thread closes (which rarely happens and is at odds with the culture of AskMe). If people do fail to notice worthwhile answers, I think a more likely explanation than favorites is the biases we all carry with us, leading us to reject answers that don't fit our preconceptions, and that's not something a revised interface will change. People offer answers in AskMe. What askers do with those answers is up to them.
posted by audi alteram partem at 2:21 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think we all look for the heavily favorited answers close to the top and read those and just skim the rest

Another data point for "this is not how I read AskMe."
posted by soundguy99 at 2:36 PM on September 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


I have favorites disabled. The main criterion I use to decide whether to read an answer in AskMe is whether it has an ascii art cross section of the flowerpot in question, or whatever.
posted by aubilenon at 2:40 PM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


See, I think cause and effect are reversed there. AskMe threads seem to get the general leading answer types out of the way pretty quickly. People keep answering with essentially the same thing, but adding personal details and "Nth"-type endorsements. Which is perfectly ok with me, but I tend to favorite the ones that make me go "hm, didn't think of that." By the end of the thread, I've thought of that.

I read them all, though, in the threads I'm interested in.
posted by ctmf at 2:48 PM on September 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


I guess I don't really see the problem here. If it's my own question (or somebody else's question that's important to me), you better believe I'm going to read--and re-read--all the answers. The only time I wouldn't is if it's one of those where everybody agrees and they're all saying the same thing and there are a ton of answers; it gets kind of repetitive then. But I don't pay attention to how many favorites an answer gets; I pay attention to whether it's good advice.

And once again, isn't the issue that people will use the site in their own way, and it isn't up to the rest of us to try to control how they do it? If somebody writes a question and then doesn't pay attention to all the answers, isn't that their business, not the mods'? If the issue is that you don't feel your answer is getting enough attention somehow, you could always memail the asker. I think the better solution is just to let people use the site the way they want to and take or leave the advice they get based on whether it works for them.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 3:20 PM on September 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think that the only way that this issue sort of intersects with the way that I use AskMe is that I will often not answer a question that has more than say, 30 answers, figuring my 2 cents will get lost in the noise. it's not hard and fast rule.

count me among those who ignore favorites in Ask unless the answer to the question somehow hinges on the popularity of the answer.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:30 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


The closest I come to this is that sometimes I will start reading a question because I think I have an answer and then I stop reading when I favorite a "that's what I was going to say" answer. The main attention I pay to number of favorites is that if a comment has 20+ already, I won't favorite it just out of agreement. I will only favorite highly favorited comments if I really want to be able to find it again later.
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:01 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


But I'm not sure there's a solution to this.

I've got an idea, how about if people who want to read all the comments read all the comments, and people who only want to read heavily favorited comments read those?

But I guess this solution depends on people using the site how they see fit, instead of how someone else assumes they do. It'll never work!!!
posted by yohko at 4:10 PM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


And I'm worried less about the OP than the rest of us readers.

The rest of us will be just fine. It is, after all, the OP who has the issue and I'd certainly hope that they're reading all the answers given.
posted by librarylis at 4:21 PM on September 23, 2014


I didn't elaborate before, so I will now. When I was using the regular view of favorites, I found them hard to ignore even though I didn't believe they were really salient information I wanted to have in all cases. I found them distracting; a little part of my brain couldn't stop treating the number as if it were salient information. (Sometimes I would get grumpy/annoyed about favorites in one way or another -- why so many for this answer? why so few for that answer? there's no justice! who are all these weirdoes? why are my shoes so tight?)

Not everybody has this problem, I think. Certainly when we've discussed it in the past, plenty of people feel like they can ignore the number easily enough. But for me it was definitely a thing.

Turning on "has favorites" view really solved this problem for me in a nice way. It lets me ignore them, turn off that vigilant involuntary-number-observing part of my brain, while still letting me easily check to see how many favorites a comment has if I choose to. If you are like me, and you haven't tried it, I recommend giving it a shot.

It's under Preferences --> Comment favorites style --> Show 'has favorites'.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:23 PM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Maybe the answer is obvious, and I agree with it. So I favorite it. That's better than cluttering up the stream with my "just the same" answer. Or maybe it's someone in trouble, and I want to help emphasize the good answer, because the person before me said what I would have said.

Question: "This hot stove burns my hand, what should I do?"

Answer: "Take your hand away from the stove!"

(50 favorites)

OP: "But it's not possible to take my hand away from the stove right now? What do I do?"

Answer: "Take your hand away from the stove, stat! Or it will burn you and you will suffer for a long time from these burns. Trust me, I have burned my hand before, and it really hurts."

OP: "I don't want to threadsit, but I really can't remove my hand from this stove because I am stuck here in front of it and my hand is out in front of me and it's OVER the stove right now."

Answer: "Let me tell you, OP, I was in front a stove once, and I had to see a therapist to remove my hand from it. It was really painful, and there were wounds and therapy involved, but it did get better."

Answer: "You should listen to your boyfriend about that hand. He knows best."

Answer: "My hand was burnt once, and I put baking soda on it."

Answer: "What the hell are you doing in front of that stove anyway? Get away from the stove now!"

Answer: "Please update us, because I am worried about you."

As you can see, there are many answers in a thread to favorite. I may or may not favorite them, but I probably agree with the most obvious one, which probably happens to be the first few in a question.

Yes, there are great answers all the way down, just like turtles, but unless it's a Latin translation or something really obscure, there will often be a best answer in the first few attempts. It's a matter of timing, not totally best. We're all pretty smaht, deayah.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:28 PM on September 23, 2014 [16 favorites]


I have the fuzzy favorites on.

I also do scan answers for favorites. Unless I asked the question. If I asked I read all the answers. If someone else I check the favorited ones, since no reason chiming in again.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:57 PM on September 23, 2014


I used to have a Greasemonkey script that was awesome. It would basically replace the favorites count with *, <3, and ♥ for one, many and most. I find ignoring favorites calming.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:33 PM on September 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


Answer: "You should listen to your boyfriend about that hand. He knows best."

Answer: "My hand was burnt once, and I put baking soda on it."

Answer: "What the hell are you doing in front of that stove anyway? Get away from the stove now!"

Answer: "Please update us, because I am worried about you."


--

Answer: You need to decide whether you want to continue living with a stove that treats you so disrespectfully.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:36 PM on September 23, 2014 [14 favorites]


I'm another person who doesn't limit my reading to heavily favorited comments, but does often favorite an answer that is very similar to what I would have answered.
posted by TedW at 5:40 PM on September 23, 2014 [10 favorites]


Answer: If you are not burning something, you're not the cook; you're the hand being burnt.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:36 PM on September 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


How about: if you're burning, you're not the cook, you're the food.
posted by jamjam at 6:57 PM on September 23, 2014 [19 favorites]


I use GraphFi for the longboat threads, but generally ignore favourites since I can make up my own damn mind.
posted by arcticseal at 7:06 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


How about: if you're burning, you're not the cook, you're the food.

So much better.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:14 PM on September 23, 2014


Thanks, but you're the originator of the idea, which is more significant.
posted by jamjam at 7:20 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Answer: Whatever you do, do not eat that hand if it's not thoroughly cooked and has been left out for more than six hours.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:47 PM on September 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


(Marie's hypothetical reminds me a lot of this wonderful "trapped in a well" scenario from Something Awful)
posted by Greg Nog at 7:48 PM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I find ignoring favorites calming.

I just find it an interesting (but very blurry) piece of information. It tells me something about how people are reading and reacting that comment A gets no or few favorites and comment B gets hundreds -- sometimes I'm in synch with that and sometimes I'm very much not, and either way it's interesting.

If I found it angering or otherwise unenjoyable I'd switch the view option immediately, and I think having that option makes the site better. (And I do wish that when they were introduced that a more neutral term had been chosen; "favorites" is just short of calling them "points" or even "how popular are you" for some people and the term adds to the tensions over how they are interpreted.)
posted by Dip Flash at 8:33 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Favorites are, at their heart, another way for MeFites to place a publically-viewable mark on the perpetual and dynamic text which is MetaFilter. So, if you don't want to see favorites, you are essentially telling all MeFites that you are not interested in one of the simplest and most basic contributions they make to MetaFilter. In other words, you hate every MeFite and all that they stand for. Well call me old-fashioned, but I don't hate my fellow MeFites - far from it. I value and respect ALL their contributions, whether a long, well-crafted post or comment or just a tiny tick-mark at the end of a sentence. Because, isn't that what democracy is all about - each of us making our little mark on society, which, when added together, form into an unstoppable expression of the common will? That's why quidnunc kid will NEVER ignore your contributions to MetaFilter - unlike the current mods and retired mods, who are happy to sit in their ivory tower on Capitol Hill and spend your hard-earned user fees on such unMetaFilterian self-censorship devices as "fuzzy favorite" counters. Let's just remember that MeFi's founding father, mathowie, coded the favorite function into MetaFilter's very constitution. Do you hate the Constitution??? If not, vote #1 quidnunc kid for traditional MeFi values. But if you do, why don't you go back to Al-Qaeda.com and let us have our FREEDOM back. Oh - and in case you're wondering, this comment has a few favorites too - its favorites are JESUS, LIBERTY and UNCLE SAM.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:44 PM on September 23, 2014 [30 favorites]


Answer: OP, sorry, but my somewhat condescending solution to your burn problem probably came across as handsplaining.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:49 PM on September 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Favorites are like suppurating ass polyps.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:27 PM on September 23, 2014


JESUS, LIBERTY and UNCLE SAM.

Flagged as [noise].
posted by pompomtom at 9:38 PM on September 23, 2014



Favorites are like suppurating ass polyps.


I was thinking exactly the same thing
posted by philip-random at 9:39 PM on September 23, 2014


When I have favorites showing, I can't help but accord them a significance they don't deserve. Come to think of it, I judge front page stories by the number of comments they have. Would be nice to hide that as well.
posted by yath at 9:56 PM on September 23, 2014


I show favorites, but it is not something I have focused on until this post. I think favorites are treated so many different ways by users that they are meaningless. All of my favorites mean something to me, but I doubt anyone would even see my favorites as I have them set to private.
posted by 724A at 10:14 PM on September 23, 2014


...I doubt anyone would even see my favorites as I have them set to private.

MetaFilter doesn't have a way to set favorites as private. All favorites are public.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:36 PM on September 23, 2014


MetaFilter doesn't have a way to set favorites as private. All favorites are public.

I dunno pb, I can't see any of 724A's favorites! When are you going to stop denying the existence of cabal-private-favoriting?
posted by kagredon at 10:46 PM on September 23, 2014


I don't think it's so much that people read the favorites at the top, but rather that they are more likely to read *any* answers near the top when threads get to be absurdly long. Especially when there are 80 basically identical answers (or 60 and 40 basically split between two camps), yeah, my eyes start to glaze over as I make my way down the page, and I don't read later answers as carefully, so I'm less likely to favorite them. You reach a point where you're like, "Oh, another post saying the same thing, and another, and another, and didn't we have a thread like this just last week anyway?"
posted by ktkt at 10:55 PM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


The point of Ask.Me is for the asker to get good responses. I think favorites are often used to say yes, I agree with this answer, I hope you will pay attention. Or as bookmarks, or whatever. If you ask a question, and don't read past a heavily favorited answer, that's kind of silly, except for accurately answered things like What time is it? or What's the name of that movie? I see them but don't weight them too heavily.
posted by theora55 at 11:11 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's a mistake to assume OPs don't read all the answers they get. They might write them off for ridiculous reasons, but I'd be really surprised if they were just skipping them.
posted by bleep at 11:35 PM on September 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


I do find favourites on ask me genuinely surreal. I find that on other parts of the site, favourites seem to correspond roughly with how I would expect: witty or insighful comments gather the most favourites. That.. doesn't seem to happen on ask? Often I've found on my own questions I end up best answering almost everything but the favourited answer which actually missed the point of my question entirely... Oh well.

It'd be neat if you could turn favourites off on one part of the site and leave them on on another.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:04 AM on September 24, 2014


I think favorites are often used to say yes, I agree with this answer, I hope you will pay attention.

This is exactly what I use them for. I see more utility in one person writing a well-written, insightful answer and 50 people favouriting it, than one person writing the good answer, and then 50 people posting "I agree with that guy ^^^^". They convey the same information, but the first one is more efficient, space-wise.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:52 AM on September 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


I feel so weird. Most of the time I don't even read who made the comment, least of all favourites. I use favourites really erratically too.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:12 AM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I really don't like favorites and use adblock element hider to remove them. I feel they give the site a more aggressive feeling and permit a less balanced discussion as they often project a "shut up, can't you see you're in the minority here" image which shuts down dissent from the accepted viewpoint. I also see lots of favorite bandwagoning where a comment is favorited in a "me too, this must be great" way, often because it's high up and not because it's particularly incisive - the incessantly witty karma people are often those that get in early, post a zinger, which then gets a tonne of favorites and derails the entire thread.

Personally, I wish favorites were off by default - I believe the site would benefit from it. Nevertheless, I have used favorites a lot to save comments that speak to me, but I'd prefer that to be private.

For those that don't like favorites, try reading the site and blocking the favorites with element hider (Firefox). And to get an even more balanced feel from the comments, block the usernames as well - it completely anonymises the site and gives each comment a fresh start with no baggage/history to color it (although if you're looking for a social network/community feeling from the site, that may be reduced).
posted by guy72277 at 1:26 AM on September 24, 2014


For favorites, you can just block them from your preferences page. Look for "Comment favorites style."
posted by taz (staff) at 1:55 AM on September 24, 2014


I look at favourites sometimes, if there are a lot of comments with a few of them, I just ignore them, but if there's one comment with loads of them, say, 100+, I pay more attention to it because I presume it will have something interesting to say. That assumption isn't correct all of the time by any means, but I'd prefer to read something boring, than to miss reading something interesting so it doesn't bother me.

The other thing I'd be missing out on if I turned of favourites would be the threads where all of the best answers are all the comments with the fewest favourites. That normally means the poster is in disagreement with almost all of the commenters. Often that's because the question is one of the 'help me change X, but I'm unwilling to change Y, even though the only away of changing X is by changing Y' sort. I probably shouldn't admit this, but I'm filled with glee when I see a comment that says 'here is a really comprehensive summary of why you can't change X without changing Y, and also, here's why you should be changing Y anyway, and here are some resources to help you' [100 favourites] followed by one that says 'my cousin knows a guy changed X through vodoo, maybe try vodoo' [1 favourite] - marked best answer.
posted by Ned G at 2:22 AM on September 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think favorites are often used to say yes, I agree with this answer, I hope you will pay attention.

I read favorites this way (even though I don't personally use favorites this way). They are useful in that they give you an idea of what most people think, which is definitely not the same as the "best answer".

I find that the early, high-favorite answers can help me frame my answer, particularly when my opinion differs from the popular answer(s). They give you an idea of how other people are interpreting the question, which can help when you want to articulate underlying/unsaid assumptions that the OP and/or answerers are making.

Whether low-favorite answers go unread by other readers is kind of irrelevant. What matters is that the OP reads all of them, which is incumbent upon them.
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:50 AM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's also the "favorites as bookmarks" angle. I sometimes favorite product recommendations, recipes, or methods of doing or saying something as favorite because I want to try that thing rather than because I agree with that thing. So it would be a mistake to read all favorites as n-thing.
posted by erloteiel at 4:40 AM on September 24, 2014


I use favorites to bookmark posts and replies. Nothing more. Please do not take a favorite from me in AskMe as an endorsement of any particular answer. If I want to support, second, or agree with an answer, I will say so.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:01 AM on September 24, 2014


I don't favorite many comments, but a lot of time it's just because it was a funny comment and I like to go back and laugh again. The other thing I favorite is long comments by experts - I just like to read someone who clearly knows exactly what they are talking about show their expertise. Instead of you know, just jumping in and assuming you know what the person should do.

Rarely I'll favorite something because I agree with it, but that's usually because it's a dissenting, unpopular opinion. When someone comments a view I know isn't askmefi standard and someone favorites it, it makes me feel like I don't stand alone, there are others who think as I do. So I like to make others feel that way too, they are not alone. Silly maybe? Yeah but I think a kind gesture even if it seems insignificant can mean a lot to someone.
posted by Aranquis at 5:28 AM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think it's a mistake to assume OPs don't read all the answers they get.

Dunno. Sometimes follow-ups make me thing the OP hasn't read their own question or any of the answers.

OP: Please don't tell me about my stove. I had a discussion with the stove and everything is fine. Just please explain why my cat is weird.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:17 AM on September 24, 2014


When the bulk of answers in an AskMe thread go unnoticed because of heavily favorited answers toward the top of the thread

Emphasis mine, to highlight the point that this statement is flawed in the premise. There is no metric by which to measure if a later comment is "noticed" -- read, scanned or ignored. People may well read a comment and just not favourite it.

I think we all look for the heavily favorited answers close to the top and read those and just skim the rest

Extrapolating from your own behaviour to everyone else's is a really bad idea. Certainly my personal use of Ask does not correspond to yours.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:18 AM on September 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think we all look for the heavily favorited answers close to the top and read those and just skim the rest

Nope. I generally don't notice favorites until I've at least started the comment. Also, if I'm interested enough to read an question, I'm interseted enough to read the comments.

I never have skimmed/skipped comments beacuse of favorites. When I skip a comment, it's generally because they are massive text walls or use small font.

Are more of a AskMe reader than a MeFi reader? I think this might be a difference in how you came to the site: some who are generally AskMe people might look at it as more of just an answer site than a discussion board. Maybe they use favorites that way, but it's not really how they're intended.
posted by spaltavian at 8:58 AM on September 24, 2014


I too almost never noticed the favourite count - it's small type, and pretty unobtrusive.
posted by stray at 9:01 AM on September 24, 2014


I am yet another who pays no attention to the favorites count WRT which answers to read. That seems really strange to me. Skip to the end of the comment and check the number before I decide whether or not to read it?

I don't read particular answers largely because of fatigue or boredom. Ah, a raft of people suggesting moving your hand away from the stove. Scroll scroll scroll.
posted by chazlarson at 9:47 AM on September 24, 2014


i think comments should be sorted randomly on every page load, across all subsites.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:22 AM on September 24, 2014


I really don't like favorites and use adblock element hider to remove them. I feel they give the site a more aggressive feeling and permit a less balanced discussion as they often project a "shut up, can't you see you're in the minority here" image which shuts down dissent from the accepted viewpoint.

I feel like your observation is somewhat backwards here: favorites probably produce a _less_ aggressive site, more balanced site. Many people (myself included, if not consistently) use favorites in place of a "me too" or "this is funny" comment that would clutter up the thread without adding a lot of information. Imagine a contentious thread where each strong opinion is followed by twenty or thirty such comments - the bandwagon effect would be much stronger. Perhaps the effect would be less pronounced (possibly easier to moderate) if it was part of the main thread rather than confined to a side channel some people choose to ignore, but popular opinions are not popular because favorites exist: it's the other way around.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:24 AM on September 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's not just that earlier posts were there longer; they were there when the kind of people who are more inclined to mark everything "favorite" arrived, and that seems to be shortly after the post appears. I don't know how you all keep up.

Favorites in the first half of the comments here so far: 181. In the second half: 64. Of the first ten comments, only one has no favorites. Of the latest ten, seven. Even a comment from quonsar has none and it's been there for hours. Probably would have hundreds by now if it was there yesterday.
posted by sfenders at 6:31 PM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think there's an element of comment fatigue. As others have mentioned, sometimes I stop reading comments after I find one which said pretty much what I would say. I might add a favourite as a "me too" and then read something else. It's a bit like news stories: tell them all the salient points in the first paragraph. Everything else is just expanded examples, supporting evidence, etc. Doesn't mean it's not worth reading, but if you're not that interested or don't have a lot of time, it means you don't have to.

Thanks for the tips on vague favourites - have turned those on and will be interested to see if it changes my MeFi experience!
posted by Athanassiel at 7:55 PM on September 24, 2014


I've been using vague favorites continuously since it was available as a preference. It's so much nicer reading threads without the pull of a 'high favorites count' to distract me from whether others liked it or not. I don't care *how many* people liked something, so much that I care that *anyone* did, really. (And once in a blue moon, I click through to the favorites and check out the people listed, to see if they have any interesting posts.)

I suppose I never realized that the top couple questions in AskMe posts were more highly favorited - and I generally read them all the way through, because there's so many interesting things to see.

Thanks again for the preference, site folks.
posted by crysflame at 2:14 AM on September 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have seen cases where some comment got faved a bunch but not best-answered. To me, this suggests that the OP is perfectly capable of deciding for themselves if an answer has value to them as an individual, independent of how many other people chose to favorite it for whatever mysterious reasons they chose to do so, which none of us are ever required to divulge so it's kind of silly to think we really know what a gazillion favs actually means. It also suggests that other individuals can decide for themselves if a comment had some kind of value to them, independent of how useful it was to the OP.
posted by Michele in California at 1:15 PM on September 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing that actually drives me nuts on AskMes isn't the top-heavy favoriting. It's the predictable embrace of contrarianism as a means to try and make a late-in-the-game impact. You can often peg the rough life expectancy of activity in an AskMe by noting when the well-actually-you-are-bad-people-doing-it-all-wrong-though-I-didn't-actually-read-what-anyone-said-I-just-scanned-for-stuff-to-disagree-with gang comes in and estimating that as the 2/3 to 3/4 point in the probable final page length.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:05 PM on September 25, 2014


Dr Dracator - I totally take your point on the fact that favorites used in a "me too" or "this is good advice" manner in an Ask Me thread help keep the site less cluttered.

I'm probably talking more about general Metafilter (even though this thread's about AskMe) when I say that I just prefer to read a comment and decide on its value myself. I think I have little interest in knowing how many people agree with a viewpoint if they have nothing to add to it, and still believe heavily favorited comments set the tone of the thread and can serve to shut other viewpoints down unless dissenters are particularly brave.

I should be able to just ignore favorites but sadly I am incapable of doing so. Hence my adblock hack (which I use because it is just one click to disable if I need to see a name).
posted by guy72277 at 7:16 AM on September 30, 2014


Many people (myself included, if not consistently) use favorites in place of a "me too" or "this is funny" comment that would clutter up the thread without adding a lot of information.

I think this goes a long way towards explaining the top-heavy favourites. I don't know about anyone else, but when I read a thread with a bunch of comments that are all pretty much the same answer, just rephrased, I'll favourite the first one but not any of the others, unless there's something extra insightful added. The answers themselves are all equally deserving, I suppose, but we don't need to see a separate comment from every person who has more or less the same opinion as the 20 posters above them, so I'm not going to reinforce that habit by showering everyone in the thread with favourites equally. It seems like a lot of people either don't read the comments before replying, or don't care whether they're adding anything new to the thread.
posted by randomnity at 12:55 PM on October 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Tag-line opportunity ^
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 1:20 PM on October 2, 2014


« Older Yes, PepsiBlue, I know.   |   Fanfare pony request: Ability to not specify an... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments