I happen to be the obscure expert you need June 11, 2020 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Perhaps my favorite thing about Ask Metafilter is when someone asks a question that could best be answered by a very particular, obscure kind of expert, and then that exact expert shows up and answers, expertly. Can you post great examples of that here? The more perfectly precise the match between the needed expert and the one who shows up, and the more improbable it is that the right expert would have come along and answered, the better.

And if you want to humor me even more, it might be especially fun if you all want to post your answer in this format...
"I happen to be a [type of expert linked here]."

For a fairly decent example that I hope many of you will beat:
"I happen to be the owner of a website with 3000+ cat food reviews."
posted by daisyace to MetaFilter-Related at 3:53 PM (58 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

As an expert in MetaFilter history, the phrase you’re looking for is “ I actually know far more about this subject than I think you can imagine.”
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:27 PM on June 11 [23 favorites]


There’s always this AskMe, where the poster asks about a print they saw of Steve Wozniak as a wizard, and the Woz himself took a photo of said print hanging on his wall, with zero other comment.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:29 PM on June 11 [28 favorites]


While not exactly an expert, I happen to have years of Cricket magazine from my childhood. So when someone asked about a recipe, I was ready.
posted by donnagirl at 4:55 PM on June 11 [12 favorites]


In 2010 someone wanted to set themselves up with the proper tools, supplies, and equipment to make anything they wanted and were looking for advice for that task. They titled their AskMe "When I Grow Up I Want to Be Adam Savage."

Adam Savage saw it while on a break filming Mythbusters and first said "I will answer more in full later" and then he did.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:32 PM on June 11 [19 favorites]




"I happen to have co-taught a course on hermeneutics," and that might be the only time it was useful.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:02 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


I LOVE THESE.

I confess I was a little disappointed when I asked my recent question about guards at the Hermitage giving tours of the empty frames during World War II, because I really half-expected someone to pop in and say "Well, when I was a curator at the Hermitage in 1944 ... "

Two of the recent examples I can think of were:

this question about who creates credits sequences for TV shows, and answers included "I just asked an editor at the studio I'm working at" and "I’m a motion designer and know a lot of folks and studios who do exactly this work."

and

How do I sneak up on a frog?, with an answer that begins, I am a professional frog catcher (no, really).

(Also, it wasn't an Ask, but I definitely think the revelation that the only person in the world who understands ‘Cats’  is one of MeFi's own is a perfectly cromulent example.)

Thank you for asking this, so I can have a canonical list to enjoy on days when this is exactly the sort of thing I need.
posted by kristi at 6:32 PM on June 11 [9 favorites]




I'm an electrician and collect images of electrical and electrical related equipment. I answered this question on an unusual wall outlet. Sadly my image links no longer work.

maniactown was looking for information on a painting. The painter's daughter answered revealing that she was the person featured in the painting along with some other information. (Metatalk).

There was also one where someone was looking for information on a person and someone working on some of museum answered the question. I want to say it was some sort of holocaust or immigration museum in Europe. Strike a bell with anyone?
posted by Mitheral at 7:07 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]




The Meta I linked links to this question about a poem where even the author of the poem couldn't help the asker out on where to get a copy.
posted by Mitheral at 7:16 PM on June 11 [7 favorites]




In 2010 someone wanted to set themselves up with the proper tools, supplies, and equipment to make anything they wanted and were looking for advice for that task.

That someone was me and I'll be forever grateful to everyone in that thread, not just Adam, for helping me start down a path that has completely changed the way I think about who I am.

I came here in here to post the Road Runner one but dhruva beat me to it. The last line of that comment is one of the best sentences I've ever read on Metafilter:

"Having had the Road Runner himself pass me the gravy, however, I can confirm that he pronounced it Meep Meep."

Someone once asked a question about the Dropkick Murphys and at the time, my brother*, who had a very short stint as a Mefite, had a niece who was married to one of the band members and was able to ask directly. I'm not sure that qualifies as expert advice but I think it's fun any time an AskMe answer comes directly from a source.

*He's my brother so if he needed a kidney I'd probably give him one but I'm really glad he didn't last too long here.
posted by bondcliff at 7:49 PM on June 11 [15 favorites]


I happen to be a vintage garment restoration expert.
posted by ananci at 7:50 PM on June 11 [6 favorites]


I enjoyed when Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The asked about a spider, and the Mefite who showed up to answer them first was SaltySalticid. :)
posted by Pandora Kouti at 8:13 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


This is a slight variant, where clawsoon summoned an expert...ON THEIR OWN IDENTITY!
posted by Gorgik at 8:34 PM on June 11 [7 favorites]


7921
posted by clavdivs at 8:40 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


this remains the single best thing that ever happened on the internet.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:14 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


That thread is truly disturbing, clavdivs. Not least because of how many of those user names are still active, which I can only assume means they've all gotten away with it so far.
posted by biogeo at 11:40 PM on June 11


I can’t find a link right now, but I remember a question about what was on the bottom (or back?) of an Oscar statue and like two or three mefites could lay hands on one to look.
posted by Weeping_angel at 2:39 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


7921

That thread is truly disturbing, clavdivs. Not least because of how many of those user names are still active, which I can only assume means they've all gotten away with it so far.


I'm dying to know what this is about.
posted by marimeko at 3:29 AM on June 12 [3 favorites]


marimeko, it's this AskMe from long ago.
posted by cgc373 at 3:46 AM on June 12 [5 favorites]


(Heads up for folks who want to know what thread they’re clicking into: it’s about “If you killed somebody, how would you dispose of the body without getting caught?” with some very detailed answers)
posted by sacchan at 5:45 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


The phrase "First, be smart from the very beginning." is seared into my memory.
posted by matthewr at 6:07 AM on June 12 [18 favorites]


The phrase "First, be smart from the very beginning." is seared into my memory.

That applies to so much in life and probably meets the criteria for a responsive answer to 95% of AskMe questions.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:22 AM on June 12 [9 favorites]


xkcd.
posted by Melismata at 6:57 AM on June 12 [7 favorites]


There was also one where someone was looking for information on a person and someone working on some of museum answered the question. I want to say it was some sort of holocaust or immigration museum in Europe. Strike a bell with anyone?

How can I get my hands on a Vienna phonebook from circa 1938?
posted by zamboni at 7:01 AM on June 12 [10 favorites]




Cat Person.

Relatedly, the wiki has a roundup of “hey, that’s me!” moments.

(Not exactly obscure expertise but an adjacent & delightful sort of relevance.)
posted by miles per flower at 7:47 AM on June 12 [5 favorites]


That's it zamboni.
posted by Mitheral at 7:50 AM on June 12


for "hey, that's me" in the wiki, does qualify?
posted by rmd1023 at 10:56 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


This happened just the other day in an ask about wood decking in this answer from user zenon.

Well it's finally my time to shine.
posted by rekrap at 11:03 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]




One of my faves is this one, about which I wrote further down the thread, 'This is why I love MetaFilter: "I don't really know much about this topic, but here is nine thoughtful and informative paragraphs addressing it."'
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:24 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


marimeko, it's this AskMe from long ago.

Thank you, cgc373. I should have known!
posted by marimeko at 4:23 PM on June 12


> for "hey, that's me" in the wiki, does qualify?

Huh, it's by far mostly male names there. Do we not post about women, or do women keep their identities hidden more?
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:19 AM on June 13


Huh, it's by far mostly male names there. Do we not post about women, or do women keep their identities hidden more?

That page was last updated once in 2017, and before that 3 times in 2015, and before that in 2013. Both of your suggestions are probably right, and also very much of the wiki is a relic of a former time.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:23 AM on June 13 [3 favorites]




Hey, that body disposal thread was insanely helpful when I was writing a Winter Soldier fanfic! I should have known when I began searching for the best real methods to do it that those roads would lead to metafilter and just started there.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 10:33 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I wonder how many of these there are where we don’t know. As an example, someone once posted about my PhD advisor’s work. I commented but did not identify. (A colleague actually said he thought it was pretty funny that, essentially, I knew more about that FPP than anyone reading my comment was likely to imagine).

I didn’t identify because I (female) was at that point still trying to be somewhat anonymous.
posted by nat at 4:09 AM on June 14 [7 favorites]


Like nat, I also wonder about "stealth experts." I've answered questions related to products I've helped develop on both green and blue, but tend to be a bit circumspect about it; I'm under NDA with those companies, and don't wish to draw attention to my answers. (I'm reasonably certain I've never said anything I'd get into trouble over, but I don't want to deal with the hassle.)

And I signed up for a Metafilter account to comment on a FPP about one of my projects, but I'm not on the "hey, that's me" page.
posted by reventlov at 4:45 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


It happened just a week ago: https://ask.metafilter.com/345446/Your-experience-with-cracked-glass#4948115

Hello, in case you’re still on the fence here, I have a masters degree in glass science and I would not use that pitcher to hold liquids again, nor would I ever pick it up by the handle again
posted by Tehhund at 4:58 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


Hopefully this hasn’t already been posted - a former lumber inspector chiming in on a deck AskMe.
posted by hilaryjade at 3:34 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


along time ago I commented somewere
that metafilter had enough collective brains to form an intelligence agency and the wisdom to implement it. I do believe both are true in that agency is in open forum discussion and research not to mention the oodles of advice and concern.

it had a few right coughs in the beginning, I certainly asked a few... well. But kinda proud of two or three of my own.

is there a list of questions that were never answered? or escaped answer thus far?
askme askme is sorta habit forming.
posted by clavdivs at 4:31 PM on June 14


I remember being frustrated (and amused) back a million years ago when there was an FPP about the building I was sitting in at that very moment, but I didn't have an account yet and sign-ups were closed.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:36 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Ooh, I answered one! Someone was asking for the exact make and model of a briefcase used on a TV show, and it just so happened that the prop master on the show was my co-worker's daughter.

Actually on reflection I answered a second one, but over private message so nobody saw the answer. Somebody was asking about strange behavior in a piece of software. I turned out to manage the QA team for that software and reached out to the user via MeMail. It happened that they had discovered a very serious bug that we hadn't known about, and we were able to get it fixed for them.
posted by phoenixy at 3:03 AM on June 15 [8 favorites]


Thanks for the callout, Tehhund.

Last year there was another discussion regarding intermetallic formation that was fun as well.

I am always here for your materials science related questions. ;)
posted by blurker at 7:39 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


I guess I wasn't an expert exactly but in another life I was in the right place at the right time. (Also I can't go into details but I got to have this type of experience IRL last year and it was quite gratifying. Someone alleged that something historic happened for a particular reason and I was wondering if it was true, and shortly thereafter I got to meet the person who did it and ask them, and the answer was basically that it was arbitrary.)
posted by ferret branca at 10:06 PM on June 15


Once I was able to answer a question in an area I know a bit about (not anything super rare), there were a number of other answers already ranging from speculation to well-meaning suggestions.

My answer was basically "that's a felony under (link to statute), people in that specialty will be extremely interested in tuning you in and following up, they will easily learn about your activities in these ways, and you should request this question be deleted"

Not sure if there's still a deleted questions archive, but I'm not going to link to it for obvious reasons.
posted by yohko at 3:50 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


A recent one in the Ask about getting shower rods to stay up: "I have actually worked on shower rod development for the past decade"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:41 PM on June 17 [5 favorites]


Has anyone mentioned the science leeches yet?
posted by VyanSelei at 9:16 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Maybe not as obscure as some of these examples, but here's where MeFites translated Sappho's then just-discovered/ announced discovery of her sixth and seventh poems, apparently ahead of anyone else on the 'net.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:22 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


These are awesome and I’ve been reading all through them. VyanSelei, nope, no leeches yet, and a site search shows a number of possible posts... Which one?
posted by daisyace at 6:11 AM on June 21


I believe they are referring to this comment in the most recent leech FPP by a professional leech-dispenser.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:52 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Thank you Dip Flash! That is indeed the comment I referred to. I just imagine a leech trying to get away leaving a slimy blood trail like a snail. I thought leeching was from 'ye olden days' but I guess not. Yay science!
posted by VyanSelei at 8:32 AM on June 25


It happened that they had discovered a very serious bug that we hadn't known about, and we they were able to get it fixed for us them.

Easy mistake :P
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:44 PM on June 30


Whoa! I just ran across this post and do I have an example:

16 years ago the lamentably long silent swerdloff posted The Truth Is Out There regarding how a funeral picture of the coffins of the seven astronauts from the space shuttle Challenger was mistakenly used as one of fallen soldiers in the Iraq War.

I made a comment regarding how the stories of how soldiers returning from Vietnam were called baby killers and spat upon in airports were misrembered myths, if not outright lies.

Which was something I had then recently come to find out while commenting in another thread to a contemporaneous post now beyond my powers to locate this morning.

While one can't prove a negative as in these things absolutely did not happen, it is a fact that while such anecdotes abound, there simply is no documentation of such things contemporaneous with the war -- such stories seem to have begun with a line from Sylvester Stallone uttered in the first Rambo movie First Blood.

In fact, a book has been written on the topic: The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam by Jerry Lembcke.

After a vociferous back and forth with the long but not lamentably so silent troll David Dark, I ended up emailing Jerry Lembcke, seeking his opinion and ended up posting his response in the thread.

And, on a side note: Boy, and here I think I am long-winded now...
posted by y2karl at 8:48 AM on July 8


Man, I missed that Sappho post at the time and am so sorry I did.
posted by y2karl at 9:11 AM on July 8


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