What purpose do AskMe categories serve today? December 26, 2021 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Every time I post an AskMe, as I am pondering which category I should post it in, I wonder... Does anyone use these categories? Are they helping discovery or search in some way? Am I missing something by not using them?

I'm not really suggesting getting rid of them. They don't bother me. But I've been using this site for a long time and I realized that I think the only time I even remember they exist is when I have to pick one for a question.

(I guess they exist here too; I forgot until I went to save the post!)
posted by primethyme to MetaFilter-Related at 10:59 AM (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Here's where mathowie originally talked about the categories; Here's a relatively recent discussion where restless nomad says we're not really looking at a category revamp in 2018. Just for some background.

Personally I don't really use them either -- I'm much more likely to use tags to find a question category/type I'm looking for -- but I do know some people use them to curate their Ask experience. People are totally welcome to talk about whether and how they use those categories here -- it will be interesting for the staff to hear how people are and aren't using them. We may not be all that interested in revamping the categories, but knowing more about how people use or ignore them will be helpful information as we make other changes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 11:08 AM on December 26 [2 favorites]

The categories are useless to me, just another captchaesque-step before posting my question. I personally wouldn’t miss them, and would welcome a box to type in a tag and find posts with that tag instead.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:19 AM on December 26 [2 favorites]

Sometimes I use them to read all the recent human relations questions or whatever, especially when I've been off the site for awhile. They are also used to populate MyAsk for the people who use that.
posted by twelve cent archie at 12:09 PM on December 26 [24 favorites]

I use the categories a little, but often when it's a holiday and I want to look at a specific subset of holiday questions. I feel like the categories could be used to terrific advantage paired up with tags (i.e. find something in THIS category with THAT tag) but advanced search has never been a thing that is a priority here (I get it, but my librarian heart is sad about it) so I feel like they're a little useful but not as useful as they could be.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:34 PM on December 26 [8 favorites]

Sometimes the categories are useful if I know I've seen a question (or worse, a comment on a question I only half remember) in the last 6-12 months but cannot seem to find it by search. I'll work my way backwards through the category until I find it.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:34 PM on December 26 [16 favorites]

Sometimes the categories are useful if I know I've seen a question (or worse, a comment on a question I only half remember) in the last 6-12 months but cannot seem to find it by search. I'll work my way backwards through the category until I find it.

I use them the same way.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:43 PM on December 26 [2 favorites]

I'd like to retract what I said earlier. I just realized that I actually rely on categories all the time…on FanFare!

This realisation also made me curious about site analytics. These could tell you a whole lot about category usage vs. tags, across subsites, etc. If you're ever looking to simplify the site or rebuild site code, the usage analytics + user feedback could tell you a lot about what's going on and what's worth working on further (or not).
posted by iamkimiam at 4:33 PM on December 26 [1 favorite]

For me, categories are a minor feature but one I’m happy to help build each time I post a question. Choosing the right category hardly takes any time. I’ve clicked through a category view 4-5 times ever but I don’t see that as a failing.
posted by michaelh at 5:27 PM on December 26

Similarly to twelvecentarchie, if I haven't read AskMe in a while, I'll often catch up with questions by category (Pets and Animals is a fave).
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:44 PM on December 26 [1 favorite]

I use them occasionally, but not the majority of the time.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:17 PM on December 26

I've also used categories to find something recent that a search wasn't turning up. I'd try a few versions of what I'd think something was and then if I can't think of more ways to say it, I'd go back through, say, all of writing and language until I either find it or got to around the right time. (Then find out it was in media and arts instead.) It's mostly helpful because searches rely on remembering the same words not synonyms, but this can way at least I remember there was a book in December I want to find again and find it without more information. (I'm making this up, but since I'm always finding more books to read it seems like a good guess.)

Being clearer about what the categories are or what they mean seems like it could be helpful. Like, which one does books go in? Most people put it in writing and language, but if you're not actually writing it, it makes as much sense to put it in media and arts, with other media that gets consumed.
posted by blueberry monster at 8:11 AM on December 27 [2 favorites]

For me, every single time, I feel like my question does not really fit and I am making some miscategorisatoin error.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:24 AM on December 27 [7 favorites]

I use them, usually if I’m in the mood for hanging out here and I’ve read everything recent of interest to me. I’ll dip into a category that interests me and browse that, and often find things of interest that I’ve missed.
posted by penguin pie at 8:49 AM on December 27 [1 favorite]

Human Relations 100% for the drama
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:40 AM on December 27 [15 favorites]

I like to look for travel questions to answer, so that feature suits me.
posted by biffa at 11:25 AM on December 27 [3 favorites]

I usually try to answer reasonable questions in my area of expertise (dentistry) in a timely fashion. Sometimes, if i've been away for awhile, i will use health and fitness to get me to any potential questions without scrolling through the rest.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:29 PM on December 27 [1 favorite]

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