AskMe Black Friday Fundraiser November 3, 2022 12:11 PM   Subscribe

The simple idea: Over the next two weeks, we post some interesting gift questions on AskMe, then on Black Friday, collect those in an FPP and promote the FPP heavily across the internet. I’ve created a project plan and framework, got approval from staff and the supreme council, and am looking for advice and volunteers to help tune this idea into a winner.

Here are the parts of the project I could use some help with:
Project goal: to (A) drive more traffic towards AskMe, and (B) drive clicks towards affiliate links. My hope is that (A) we get more membership/donations through this, and (B) we make some money from the affiliate links.

I’ve already confirmed this idea with the mods and the supreme council, who have both given us the Green light to move forward. That said, because of the current staffing levels, much of this project will be done by myself and anyone else who can volunteer some time. Additionally, according to Loup, we currently have only an Amazon UK affiliate account, our US affiliate account was closed without response.

Here is our current project plan. Anyone with the link can add comments (PLEASE DO) and if you’d like to join the project team, please send me your email address through MeMail and I’ll add you to the google doc.

Here are my question ideas - but please make suggestions here or in the google doc for new questions that would engage new audiences in AskMe.

Kids gifts
What are some STEM-related gifts for kids, that I can do with them in an afternoon?
Are there any cheap musical instruments that kids can pick up and play real music with?
When I was a kid, people would give me college money. Is there a similar investment that I can be making in the lives of the kids in my life?

Adult gifts
Please recommend a “learn to make this thing” kit for around $100
What books have helped you get away from modern society for a little brain break?

Self gifts
Help me give myself the gift of freedom. What is something you used to do, that you thought was very important, that you stopped doing, and didn’t notice a difference?

Good for the world gifts
What are your favorite sustainable gifts?
What are some great charities doing great work that folks can invest in?
posted by rebent to MetaFilter-Related at 12:11 PM (45 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Hi, I have a question idea about gift-giving, but it's not really related to end-of-year holidays.

My partner will be gaining Canadian citizenship in 2 weeks and I would like to gift them something to commemorate the occasion. Difficulty level is that we have been living in Canada for the past four years, so salmon treats & maple syrup from the tourist stores won't really cut it. Would this question fit into this project?

I was going to post the question to AskMe, anyway, but can delay a bit if you'd like to include it. Thanks for considering.
posted by tinydancer at 2:50 PM on November 3, 2022

We can add it to the list :)
posted by rebent at 3:01 PM on November 3, 2022

Not sure how to word this as a question, but I am pretty much constantly looking for gifts for young kids (newborn through 3rd grade approx) that would make kids happy to open and utilize, but not cause distress to parents who are relatively minimalist or constantly trying to cut down on clutter and excess spending. For instance, I am currently looking for a Chanukah gift for a four year old and a six year old but their mom has a pretty hard no new toys rule (they buy from thrift and resale shops mostly) unless handmade, their dad despises stickers, and they are big library patrons so books and dvds etc are not special things to these kids. I’d do an experience gift with the kids but it’s way more special imo for a little kid to open a wrapped present, than some kind of abstract promise from their weird aunt to do an activity some nebulous time in the future. There are a bunch of other kids in my life with similar gifting limitations and I refuse to be like the adults their parents complain about (the grandma who always buys new dresses the girls never wear, the uncle who shows up with plastic gadgets that stop being fun in two weeks, the grandpa who gifted the toy drum set…) but I am very strongly on the side of loving to give gifts.
posted by Mizu at 3:41 PM on November 3, 2022 [7 favorites]

I am looking forward to reading and contributing to these threads!!!!
posted by wenestvedt at 4:46 PM on November 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

Mizu, can you wrap up a box of ingredients along with a family recipe -- and cook it with them? That would be a very cool inter-generational gift.
posted by wenestvedt at 4:54 PM on November 3, 2022 [6 favorites]

What are good books for kids to help develop progressive values?
posted by NotLost at 6:12 PM on November 3, 2022

If you want to mine suggestions from previous AskMes, I have a continuing project of collecting What Should I Buy? AskMes.
posted by zamboni at 6:16 PM on November 3, 2022 [9 favorites]

Also, reference books.
posted by zamboni at 6:18 PM on November 3, 2022

(Black Friday is the 25th of November (this year?) to maybe save other non-Americans from having to look it up too)
posted by Dysk at 10:01 PM on November 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

got approval from staff and the supreme council

Who is the supreme council?
posted by bendy at 12:27 AM on November 4, 2022

How about:

I’m looking for gifts for an elderly person with limited mobility. What are some small things that might make life more convenient or more fun?
posted by eirias at 12:37 AM on November 4, 2022 [4 favorites]

Time is something you can never really get more of, but what can I give someone that comes closest to giving them more time? An example would be a meal kit or delivery service -- what else is out there?
posted by amtho at 3:44 AM on November 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

Who is the supreme council?

I do not know, but I suspect that is a joking or casual reference to the Steering Committee. Rebent, this is a fabulous idea and thank you for the work you have done so far. I will figure out if I can help in some way.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:56 AM on November 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

What a great idea and great example of doing something rather than waiting for something to be done! Kudos.
posted by fruitslinger at 6:44 AM on November 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

Howdy! This is not intended to derail this very fine idea. I just noticed a couple of things, however. At the very end of the FAQ, it lists this link:

I used that link to get to US Amazon and log on. So I have questions, which I am posting somewhat randomly.

1. Who needs to know that this link still exists? (I have sent a message to the moderators.)

2. Who used to work with the US affiliate account? I would really like to try to help get it back up or a new one created before Christmas.

3. Can we add a link to the Steering Committee email address somewhere on the site separate from individual posts? Then I could communicate with them directly.

Again, apologies for the derail. Will get back to you by Monday, rebent. Thanks again!
posted by Bella Donna at 7:28 AM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Just calling attention to this comment in another thread that links to a reason it might be complicated to simply link to a "use this affiliate code!" link. It's been a long time since I've used Amazon affiliate codes (or Amazon) -- so others may have better/more recent information -- but I did also experience problems not linking to a specific product or collection of products.

In any case, this idea has potential for buzz, clicks, attention, and discussion beyond just linking to a retailer. So it works on multiple levels!
posted by fruitslinger at 7:49 AM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

For books...have you guys considered doing Bookshop's affiliates program?

Anyway...I really just love gift guides in general and clicking on all of them, so I think this is a great idea.
posted by toastyk at 8:35 AM on November 4, 2022 [6 favorites]

We've had questions along these lines in AskMe before, but the interest seems to be ongoing: buy-it-for-life products; ways to personalize an office or a car or an apartment; best subscription services; best food-prep services; best apps for x or y purpose; best board|card|phone|console|pc games...
posted by box at 12:11 PM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone for your support so far! I am... Nervous that this will be a flop, so your encouragement is doubly appreciated, Bella Donna and Fruitslinger :)

The questions themselves are going to be easy to write, especially with all the fantastic ideas out here. I super can use help writing the fpp, and also help knowing the best other websites and communities to send the fpp to.
posted by rebent at 12:20 PM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Some thoughts on the announcement:

- Would be awesome to include 1-3 very cool examples of the gift question areas; this will give a sense of why some people might find our "gift guide" more interesting than, say, whatever Amazon or Oprah are putting together (could be a short bulleted list, or a phrase like "from [area] to [area]";

- This is a super tight timeframe, and this might not be realistic, but: if people are going to be shopping _on_ black Friday, it might be nice to get the word out slightly before that date, like even the day or night before;

- I have no idea how to phrase this, but it feels like saying a few (5? Or just 1-2 adjectives?) words about MeFi -- what Metafilter is and/or why we would want to support it in this way -- could help get the charm/prosocial message across.
posted by amtho at 12:26 PM on November 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

I just don't have the bandwidth to follow half a dozen fundraising threads, so I'm sure I'm missing a lot happening on the gray here, but I love this idea!

Personally I love the audiobook recommendation threads on ask, and seems to have an affiliates program. Best holiday audiobooks? Best audiobooks to maintain your sanity during holiday travels?
posted by the primroses were over at 6:02 AM on November 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

FPP announcement is posted
First question is posted

Things aren't looking super great for the Affiliate links, folks. I don't have the bandwidth to get them set up, so I'm going to focus on getting new members, and pushing towards the donate button.
posted by rebent at 10:54 AM on November 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

rebent, if you can point me toward information on how to get the affiliate links set up, I would love to focus on that. Feel free to direct message me if you have the energy. I am in Sweden and it’s my bedtime but I will check in tomorrow. I truly truly truly appreciate everything that you are doing!
posted by Bella Donna at 1:53 PM on November 6, 2022

I can help send out press releases.
posted by NotLost at 3:50 PM on November 6, 2022

Things aren't looking super great for the Affiliate links, folks. …

For what it’s worth, now that we’re in that spot, I think no affiliate links, in the case of Amazon at least, could be a selling point, as it were.

So many large media sites use their OWN affiliate links and might be reluctant to link to us if we have our own, because it could supplant theirs.

So I think attention, awareness, and membership/donation promotion is a totally legit goal for this!
posted by fruitslinger at 6:02 PM on November 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Gift question idea: gifts ideas for folks with chronic illness/pain/disability and otherwise limited spoons. Both from a personal interest and because I don’t see enough annual gift guides that target this audience!
posted by bluloo at 9:25 PM on November 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Also, ADHD/neurodivergent gift recs!
posted by bluloo at 9:25 PM on November 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

I think I agree that affiliate links are a mixed bag at best. My adblocker regularly warns me about redirectingat, shareasale, and hundreds of other trackers, ads, and etc., and none of them seem to add any value to the user.
posted by box at 4:27 AM on November 7, 2022

Blulou, both of those sound fantastic. I am not sure how best to write that question though. Any suggestions?
posted by rebent at 4:35 AM on November 7, 2022

Quick question: I read the project doc linked in the OP. Am I understanding the document correctly? Has our Amazon US account been shut down? Or is that a reference to something related to Amazon being shut down?
posted by chrominance at 9:28 AM on November 7, 2022

question 2

(Chrominance, that does seem to be the case - I'll ask the folks looking into that to summarize, because I don't uite understand the "why/when/how/now what." )
posted by rebent at 10:20 AM on November 7, 2022

Rebent, I can draft questions for both of them later this afternoon!
posted by bluloo at 11:44 AM on November 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Fantastic, you may either send them to me in MeMail or post them as comments on the google doc linked above. Or, as others have done, you may post them yourself using the MeFiGiftGuide2022 tag. Looks like a few fine folks are doing so already!
posted by rebent at 2:00 PM on November 7, 2022

Hi friends! Week 1 came to a close and week 2 is beginning, so I wanted to share a status update:

13 Gift Guide questions:
Posted Questions:
  1. An afternoon with the niblings - How to make it fantastic?
  2. Fiction about plants/trees/botany/gardens
  3. Baking, but not for beginners?
  4. Insert Hot Flash/Flash Sale Joke Here
  5. Tech recommendations for how to stay connected with family?
  6. Gifts for the modern rabbit
  7. Best Book + Materials Combo?
  8. A useful gift in cute clothing
  9. What is a gift that makes office life better?
  10. Small, personal-connection-enhancing, awesome gifts to ship overseas.
  11. What are your favorite sustainable gifts?
  12. What are your favorite ADHD/neurodivergent friendly gifts?
  13. Gift ideas for those with chronically illness or disability?
And some other gift-related questions that did not include the #mefigiftguide2022 hastag Next Steps and Help I need:
- I'd like help drafting the Front Page Post. Here is my current outline. I'd really appreciate help because ... how do I put this... my FPPs often get derailed pretty early on, and if folks from outside the community are visiting, I'd like the conversation to be attractive.

- More suggestions for questions to post would be really useful. What I have been doing is thinking of individuals I would like to buy gifts for (including myself, haha) and asking the question "How can I make this situation generalized to cover many recipients, and how can I spin it to appeal to people who want to go shopping?"

- Suggestions for WHERE AND HOW to spread the word across the internet once the FPP has been posted.
posted by rebent at 6:44 AM on November 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

It is very weird to me that answers are getting marked as Best Answer in these threads. Since they’re general purpose and not for a specific individual, it feels … weird.
posted by Bottlecap at 1:13 AM on November 14, 2022

I wonder if this question on cocktails might be a good addition to the project. Apologies if I'm misunderstanding the project; I saw that question and thought it might relate.
posted by hydra77 at 8:27 AM on November 14, 2022

Thanks for the though, hydra! It's exactly what I hope to gather.
posted by rebent at 10:23 AM on November 14, 2022

Hi rebent, just posted this one:

I hope I did all the right things! And unlike the others, this particular Ask is for a specific person. Hope that's OK.
posted by tinydancer at 10:26 AM on November 14, 2022

I just posted one...Only added the tag. I hope the rest of the paragraph is added by someone else? Thanks!
posted by tiny frying pan at 2:39 PM on November 14, 2022

Now I feel bad I didn't add the paragraph about the hash tag and such! It had links and I was posting fast on mobile.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:31 PM on November 14, 2022

I love the creative thinking and the initiative behind this, but I hate that the questions are including fake ones, if I'm understanding that right. Am I? If so, why is it ok to post fake questions? It's for the best of causes and with the best of intentions, but I really object, and I wonder if I'm the only one.
posted by daisyace at 5:51 PM on November 15, 2022

Reading the italics on one of the posts, I see that -- even worse, to me -- part of the intent is to attract new members to MetaFilter. So, the first introduction to the site for people who don't have a history with its authenticity will be... fake questions? And specifically, fake questions with a potential connection to affiliate links, thwarted only by feasibility? I wouldn't have thought it was consistent with the MeFi ethos to join the legions of fake, affiliate-driven content that's ruined a lot of the web. SC/Mods/Jessamyn, could you comment?
posted by daisyace at 5:57 PM on November 15, 2022

SC/Mods/Jessamyn, could you comment?

I think "fake" may be putting too strong a spin on this? I think the idea is, as stated, to generate gift questions in a slightly more proactive way than the usual organic gift idea stuff we always see. I have not been involved in this project, I don't have an issue with it. There's a whole other drama about the affiliate program. MeFi's US Amazon affiliate program was shut down by Amazon a few years ago for unclear reasons. Part of the month of fundraising plan is to try to get a new one spun up and functional. So this is mostly not pointing people towards affiliate links, even if that may have been the well-intentioned intent.

My understanding is that this is a fundraising-month project, largely taken on by volunteers, trying to help the site out. Yes if it were an ongoing thing that weren't clearly marked (and again, I've been involved in other aspects of Fundraising month and am not deep into this one) it would be something that might not be the way we wanted to be going. As it is, I think it's okay. If rebent wants to talk more about what's going on on the back end discussions, I hope he will.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:31 AM on November 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Daisyace, I'm really grateful to you for bringing this up. I'm struggling with finding the best way to describe to new visitors how amazing Metafilter is because we have such strict moderation around spamming, affiliate linking, etc.

I've written every question so far based on real people I want to buy gifts for. I do NOT encourage anyone to spam askme with questions they think may be popular - that kind of, to use Reddit's term for it, Karma Whoring is what makes places like reddit toxic and places like metafilter amazing. It's part of the problem with social media. I'd love to find a way to capture how special and unique Metafilter is because of this, to try to draw new (paying and donating) members to our organization.

That said - Metafilter, just like the nonprofit I'm trying to help with a membership drive right now, is bad at creating targeted messaging, assuming that visitors will instantly grok how amazing we are based on the activities and content. That's why I've been writing my questions in such a way as to avoid typical derails, engage interesting answers, and show off our best aspects. But if I faked it, it would have bad answers, be boring, and then what's the point?

Is this totally unorthodox for Metafilter? Yes. Am I good at this? I suppose that's TBD. Do I know what I am doing? absolutely not. But I suggested this idea and the SC said "thanks for volunteering" so here I am! I'm very grateful to everyone who's sent me memail notes, and the Aielen, cgg, BellaDonna, staff, and others who are talking behind the scenes to slowly pick away at making this work.

You can take a look at the FPP draft I'm working on here. I am stumbling my way through putting this together and would be incredibly grateful for suggestions on how we can really achieve the best outcomes.
posted by rebent at 3:13 PM on November 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Rebent, thank you for being so gracious, and Jessamyn, thank you for your reply. I'm sorry I used the term "fake" when I could have asked for clarification instead. What I was interpreting is this part of rebent's prior comment in this thread:

What I have been doing is thinking of individuals I would like to buy gifts for (including myself, haha) and asking the question "How can I make this situation generalized to cover many recipients, and how can I spin it to appeal to people who want to go shopping?"

I was taking that to mean that the posts are creative writing inspired by things that rebent imagines wanting to buy himself or people he knows. So, rebent, I thought you might not actually have any intent to buy gifts for, e.g., real nieces and nephews of the ages you asked about, and the dilettante friend who's dabbled in all those hobbies, and the 15-25 staffers in your husband's office, and so on.

In your reply, you said, "I've written every question so far based on real people I want to buy gifts for." So, when you say "based," you don't mean loosely based, like fiction that's "inspired by a true story"? You mean for real, you're intending to try to buy those kinds of gifts for those real people?

If so, I'm 100% for what you're doing, I join everyone else in thanking you for it, and my apologies for misinterpreting.
posted by daisyace at 7:02 PM on November 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

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