How do "recommended" questions work on My Ask? March 31, 2015 8:55 AM   Subscribe

I always visit AskMeFi via My Ask. I have three categories turned off that don't interest me: Human Relations, Pets & Animals, and Work & Money. However, several of the 14 questions listed as "recommended" for me in the right-hand sidebar at the present moment fall into categories I don't want to see (three are in HR, one in W&M). I realize this list is, of course, machine-generated, but it would seem to make sense that if I've excluded a category in My Ask, a question in one of those categories should not get recommended for me. Mods, how exactly is the recommended list created, and any thoughts on tweaking how it works?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to MetaFilter-Related at 8:55 AM (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

The recommended questions in the sidebar at My Ask are designed to be a way to discover questions that you wouldn't normally see based on your My Ask preferences. So the idea is to show you questions that the system thinks you might be able to answer based on your history, but couldn't show you on the main page because they don't fall within your chosen preferences.

So the fact that you're seeing questions outside of your choices is by design. When you load the page, the site takes a look at your answering history and assigns a score to various Ask categories and tags. It finds posts that match up with those scores and don't already appear in the main part of the page.

It's completely understandable that you'd get tired of seeing questions in specific categories. That's why the recommendations are in a sidebar where it's fairly easy to ignore them. If you really don't want to see them at all you could create a Stylish style to hide the sidebar in your browser.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:00 AM on March 31, 2015 [4 favorites]

Thanks for the answer. They certainly don't bother me, but it makes the recommended list less useful to me, and it feels a bit paternalistic ("let's show you stuff you've said you don't want to see"). But maybe it works for others. Do a lot of people use My Ask, and do those people often click through the recommended list?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:48 PM on March 31, 2015

I'm sorry you're getting that from the site—recommended questions are not intended to be paternalistic. The idea is to show you things that you might like based on your history. There's no requirement to read or act on them. The main recommendations on the page are the ones you self-select through your preferences.

Yes, people do use My Ask but not too often. In the last 30 days or so among members, My Ask had less than 1% of the views of the front page. Around 3,000 members have set up My Ask preferences. We don't track what people are clicking so I can't answer whether people are using the recommendations or not.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:03 PM on March 31, 2015

I occasionally use My Ask and now that I know how the recommended list works I'll start paying attention to it. Thanks for the explanation.
posted by languagehat at 2:47 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

I didn't mean to sound so complain-y. I'm as big a fan of MetaFilter and AskMe as there is. It was just this one little quirk that stood out to me. Obviously some people like it, so to each their own!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 3:49 PM on March 31, 2015

Huh. I didn't know about that sidebar. The main reason I don't use My Ask is that I'm worried I might miss out on cool stuff that is relevant to me from categories I haven't included. Now I know about the sidebar, I am more likely to use My Ask. So thanks!
posted by lollusc at 10:09 PM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Count me in with lollusc. Both a great question and a great answer.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:19 AM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

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